SCBWI Mid Atlantic Fall Conference – Day 1

Today I attended Day 1 of the Fall Mid Atlantic SCBWI Conference. I had the pleasure of attending an intensive workshop lead by author and illustrator (and so much more!) Pat Cummings. With over 30 children’s book under her belt, she is a wealth of information for those like me who are just starting to navigate the world of kid lit. The main message that I took away from the 3 hour class was don’t be discouraged and do what you’re passionate about; just be you.  While, yes, there are many unspoken “rules” to discover in the industry, sometimes you just have to forge ahead and try to take advice from those who’ve learned these lessons already (like Pat Cummings). I also learned to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!  Find those publishers and editors that match you and what you believe in. While there are many industry standards, there’s also room for new and exciting ideas, creative superstars and just ordinary people who are passionate about making books for children. All of this can happen but not without plenty of hard work. Below are some resources that Ms. Cummings mentioned today. 

Children’s Book Council:  www.cbcbooks.org

AAR – Association of Authors Representatives, Inc. (for contract help):  aaronline.org

The Authors Guild: www.authorsguild.org

Society of Illustrators: www.societyillustrators.org

New Online Store!

Just announced – Looking for artwork that’s not only different and unique, but positive and affordable?  Check out my new online business: Hawk & Vine Design!  Featuring artwork by me, Patricia Kouttab. Hearts, flowers, butterflies and the occasional skeleton, there’s something for everyone. Thank you, fans, for your support!  The link: www.hawandvinedesign.com

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Arts Alive! Festival on September 16, 2018

CANCELLED!  – Due to the impeding weather from Hurricane Florence the event has been cancelled. Hopefully it will be rescheduled and if so, I will let you know!

I will be at the annual Arts Alive! festival this year sponsored by the Prince William County Arts Council. Come out to see visual artists like me, theatre, music and more!  I’ll be selling some of my latest paintings as well as all three of my coloring books.

1:00 to 5:00pm on Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas VA 20110

“The Tall Lillies” by Patricia Kouttab, acrylic on canvas 14″ x 18″

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Searching for Publishing Options

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve just begun my search for an agent or publisher for my first children’s picture book and I’m feeling pretty discouraged. I’ve only sent queries to three agents and three publishers in the past 2 months. I’ve been extensively researching each company or agent, as I’ve read you’re supposed to do, but at this rate it will take years just to get any response at all. I know, I know, that’s how the industry is but the entrepreneur in me is kicking and screaming to get the book out to the public. Even if I found an interested publisher, I know the process could take a very long time, years even.ResearchSketchSo, while I continue my search for a publisher or agent, I’ve decided to research the self-publishing industry. I already have three self-published coloring books through Amazon’s CreateSpace. While this works well for black and white books, it’s not cost effective for color. It’s a great way to start if you’re printing black and white and you’re low on funds because it’s a print-on-demand service with no upfront costs. On the down side, there’s no support for marketing or distributing from Amazon and I’m still trying to figure out how to get the books noticed by shoppers on Amazon. I’ll be looking into different options for self-publishing over the next few weeks and I’ll share what I find here with you. 

The Search Begins…

I’ve been wanting to become a children’s book author and illustrator for… well, let’s just say it’s always been in the back of my mind, maybe even subconsciously as a very young person. Now it’s in the front of my mind and has been for the last 3 years.  It’s what I really want to be when I grow up (I’m 41).  I finally have a book that I’ve written and illustrated that the perfectionist in me says, “It’s ready and more than good enough-it’s great!”  Of course, I still have my doubts but I also feel that it’s time. “It’s time, Patricia!” It’s time to get out there and try to get published. I’m going to share my journey with you here, wherever it may lead. I’ve honestly been studying the children’s book industry for the past couple of years. I’m a member of the SCBWI and I’ve attended some wonderful conferences and met amazing writers and illustrators and people just like me who want to succeed. I go to the library and check all the award winning picture books and hot new artists and writers. Now that I’m more familiar with the industry (although I’m pretty sure I’ve just scratched the surface), I’ve started researching agents and publishers. I’m going to send out queries and see what happens. Not all at once!  Because you’re not supposed to do that but to those people or agents who I feel I could connect with and who my book may fit with. If that doesn’t work well, on to the next blog post. My book is called “The Griffin” and here’s a tiny glimpse of it (very tiny). Wish me luck!

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Holiday Window Painting

Every year around Christmas I am asked to paint some fun holiday decor on the windows of the restaurant Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington, Virginia.  Customers who see me painting are so friendly and intrigued. I love when they stop to talk to me!

I never really know what I’m going to paint ahead of time and luckily Whitlow’s trusts me to come up with something great. This year I painted festive snow people. Local news site, ArlNow, snapped a photo of me while I was painting.

This year I was asked to paint windows on two other local restaurants.  At Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse in painted the windows with festive garland and a nutcracker holding an Irish flag. For RedRocks of Old Town Alexandria I painted garland and “Happy Holidays”.  With lights around the inside of the windows it really looked great in the evening.