28 August 2013

What someone can do with an illustration

Betty's original embroidery has bought an illustration I had posted on Etsy.  It was saved as a pdf file.  She had contacted me to know if she could do embroideries with my designs...
I accepted not imagining what she could do with my drawing.  So she sent me what she did.
Here is the wonderful work she did!  You can see her stuff on her website :  www.bettysoriginalembroideries.com.

27 August 2013

Our first freebie on Teachers pay teachers!

Yes, we are officially online at teacherspayteachers.com.  Thanks to my beautiful daughter and son-in-law.  They told us to go on that site, that our graphics would only be welcomed.  So we did.  Also we will be working on projects together with prettygrafik and ourselves for teacherspayteachers.  For now
here is the picture of our freebie.  If you want it, go to this link :

Please don't hesitate to comment if you like.
Please enjoy!

25 August 2013

Best Teacher Tools logo

So here we are, Desmond and I on a Sunday night, and guess what we've been doing?  We just finished our Best Teacher Tools logo.  We wanted something that would best represent what our store on Teachers pay Teachers would sell.  Tools for teachers that teach from the heart!  Living with a teacher has taught me how much unpaid time a teacher gives out of class for the kids he or she teaches.
So our logo had to have a heart in it.  So here it is... you will be able to visually identify us by this symbol.

 In the next week we will be posting up cliparts to start.
High quality cliparts to decorate your class, to create crafts and activities.  We will be posting a couple of free coloring pages for the young ones as well!

So? Do you like it?
Anne-Marie and Desmond

24 August 2013

Yum Yuck - evaluation received.

I was on the phone with my son-in-law, Gabriel when my email notified me that Susan Hughes had sent her evaluation!
I felt like I was waiting for the results of an exam... instant nerves...brought me back a few years.
So I hung up on Gabriel and screamed excitedly to Desmond, who was working in our shed.
"It's here!  Susan answered us... quick come and see!"
"Hurry up, I didn't peek... I am waiting for you!"

I was waiting impatiently on the porch, I knew better.  I knew if I went inside the chances are I would probably wouldn't be able to resist reading it.
So we both walked into the house and I opened her email... after reading the preliminaries I downloaded her evaluation and comments and suggestions she had done on the manuscript.

We sent her just the manuscript - no illustrations because in our research we read that a book has to stand alone.  So isn't that the ultimate test?

So in a nutshell her comments were...

Content has Clear beginning, middle and end.
She likes how Mattie's story begins -takes her out and returns back home.
Mattie is convincing as a character! Dialogue is convincing and moves into a sing-song, repetitive style which works well.  The setting is in modern day mixed with fantasy. We get a good sense of the setting through the minimal description and, of course, visuals will add to this.
Our point of view is used consistently, our technical ability of writing is strong.  She suggested
rethinking a few word choices. Our style is consistent throughout and appropriate for a picture book manuscript.

General Comments :  She liked the circular effect of the story, the sequence the learning aspect.

That in itself is great...
HOWEVER...we had things to reconsider.  She made us re-think some aspects which we corrected.

She found that Mattie had a little hard side to her... so we softened her up by the way she would ask questions.  We did and what a difference it made.

In her opinion, Mattie was saying yuck too often and she questioned if that made her seem a little negative.  We loved the rhythmic aspect to it and we were afraid we would lose it.  When we read the story over and over... kids would always know what to say when the next page was turned, and we didn't want to lose that.  We pondered and questioned and tried different things to see if the sing-song aspect was still there... In order to keep the sing song rhythmic storytelling the change we made for Mattie to come up more positive required that we add a sentence with every animal she visitied.  I am glad we did.

Susan also found it hard to understand the relationship with her bear and the bear at the end... which gave us the perception of an editor.  So we fixed that and made the relationship clear.

When you have your nose in your own manuscript, you understand it... and when you know how your going to illustrate it... it is very CLEAR to you... because you see the different elements that make up another side of the story which is the visuals which usually add on to the written work.

Also we added all sorts of different things in the thumbnails that we feel children will absolutely love!
I get so excited about this part.... It's sooo cute... and if I feel like that about it... then it's a good thing.

What this process has done for us is made us see through the eyes of an independent editor.  So now after we do modifications, we put ourselves in an editors position... anyhow we try... I am sure it is much more complicated than that.

Her questions also made me see the book in another way and from that I was able to turn some aspects of it around and make it into a big positive plus... let me explain... Mattie goes from animal to animal  and when Susan asked us about the different animals, I made a list and then I made a visual map who Mattie goes and sees first.  Well, we decided it would be a good thing to have that as an end paper...like a treasure map that you can follow.  I thought it was a good idea... however I know that if a publishing house picks it up, they might just scrap it.   Hey it's part of the deal... we are totally open!

You have to be open for things like that because it is the nature of the game.
Desmond corrects some of my words because I'm completely bilingual, but here in Quebec... completely bilingual can also means mixing languages...
On the other hand... Desmond is sooo English... and I correct him in the French...
But then he's so much better on the italian than I am and he's not even Italian!
Open-minded... that's the answer.  Hey I am even open enough, that if a publisher wants someone else to illustrate the book, okay... Doesn't mean I wouldn't be disappointed...

So next step... the dummies....
Anne -Marie

Do you need "stuff" for your classroom?

Hi to all my teaching colleagues,

Ok, as if writing a children’s book is not enough of an intense time consuming endeavour. Now we are adding something more to the whole business ... I (we) will be putting up, in the very near future, graphics and printable manipulatives for teachers. The goal is to produce original, useful and inexpensive materials. 

We all know that schools don't exactly open the vault when it comes to purchasing for a teachers classroom needs; graphics, PowerPoint’s, graphic material / content for Notebook, printable activities, things to decorate your classroom, etc ... So A-M and I decided to launch a boutique on Teachers pay Teachers. 

Now, with a view to producing really useful fun stuff, let us know what you want, what do you need, what would be a valuable addition. We'll see what we can come up with for you. 

Bookmark the site below. Best Teacher Tools is the name of this new part to what we are about. You can also connect via our shop boutique list. We will be putting up stuff for all grades levels and subject matter as the inspiration and the suggestions arise. 

Stay tuned!


TeachersPayTeachers  - Lesson Plans,Teaching Materials and Other Teacher-Created Resources

21 August 2013

Sending YUM YUCK for an evaluation from an editor

I am so excited and nervous.  We sent off our manuscript to someone I happened to see on facebook in one of my new groups called : writing workshops and events.  Her name is Susan Hughes, author and editor.  She has quite a few books and awards under her wing.

So Desmond and I talked about it.  We read the story to a couple of people in close proximity to us, but family and friends as precious as they are, will think anything you do is great.... right?
Exception : my daughter Sarah.  Don't get me wrong... she loves what I do and what Desmond and I have done together but she is not afraid of speaking her mind and telling us what she really thinks.  Yup, that's my girl!
So of course when she gave us her comments, both Desmond and I loved it and inserted a big missing link in the book.  Not long after revision 12, we discussed sending it officially to an editor for evaluation... after all we needed input.  We think it's good, but how would an editor see it?

Will wait for comments... I think it is a good price, she charges 150,00$ for an evaluation of a picture book.

Stay tune!

The difference between a good drawing and illustrating a children's book.

Needless to say, that magical filing cabinet has tons of projects and books that have been sketched out, of course.  However, before embarking on this whole process I decided to search out the subject on youtube.  Oh my!  Amongst the tons of not really useful stuff you can find pearls.  I did.
I fell upon an illustrator called Will Terry. 
You can find him on : willterry.com

Wow! He is a wealth of information, on sketching, character development, planning, layout, marketing etc.  So after listening to his free online videos.  I bought a couple of his tutorials.  I had some major catching up to do.  You see there is a world of difference between painting; oil and acrylics; and watercolor and inks; which are all hand drawn and the world of digital painting.

A digital painting can look like the real thing, but there are tremendous advantages to digital work, which I will get into at another time.
Now don't dismiss digital painting before you see it.  Here is a sample of Will Terry's work.

After buying his online courses I decided to go back to school!  
Online classes with Will Terry and Jake Parker, both accomplished illustrators.  Will is an accomplished illustrator with many books under his belt as well as a teacher at University of Utah and Jake Parker also an accomplished illustrator, has worked for Blue Line studios; on Horton hears a who, Ice Age etc... 
So I am well surrounded, I've got the best as far as I'm concerned at this stage of my life.  Going through this SVS storytelling course has helped me tremendously.  I understand how it is not simple to illustrate a children's book.  It takes skill, patience, imagination, good layout skills, understanding the script and in my opinion you have to think like a child.  You have to be the child that will read the book.  I want the books that Desmond and I write to be the ones that kids love to read over and over again.

Will we accomplish this dream... I hope so.

Next : My first layout of YUM YUCK!

A children's book... not as easy as you would think

Actually attempting to illustrate a children's book is quite something!  I was a little foolish to think that my past experience such as being a graphic designer, owning a print shop, working on everyone else projects and bring them to fruition, art expositions (oil painting) creating coloring books and activity books, creating products that sold all across Canada would prepare me for illustrating a simple children's book.

Really? No.

It is one thing to have a dream.  To pine over the dream, to wish you can achieve the dream.  But all dreams take a lot of work.  For some reason I had the impression that since I can draw, it would be easy.  I seriously think the writing is easier.  But I've always enjoyed writing and poured out my soul many a times on paper.  Paper was never a challenge for me, be it for writing, ideas or drawing.  

After being with Desmond and purging stuff to enhance our living situation, the subject of the filing cabinet in the basement came up.  "Are we going to get rid of that?" 
Scandalous question.  
"Never!" I answered defensively.  "So sorry, my love, don't know what got into me..." I apologized and proceeded to show him the drawers of dreams, wishes, stories and concepts hidden within this inconspicuous, nondescript piece of office furniture.
After a couple of hours of describing some stories and showing him characters that were developed etc...his response was.
"We've got to do something with this stuff.  It is absolutely incredible!"
The funny thing is when we embarked on "Yum Yuck" it wasn't in the filing cabinet. (she chuckled).

Yes, the simple children's book. 

So before deciding to embark on this adventure, after all we are not in our twenties, thirties or forties.
We did our research.  We bought books, we looked up the market, we looked at the possibilities and we discussed it in length.  There are of course pros and cons... but the love of  writing and illustrating surpasses the challenges that may lay ahead.  

Next... First challenge... the difference between a good drawing and illustrating a children's book.

Ciao for now, 

20 August 2013

The other half of this great adventure

Well ...... Where to begin ... my life has been a convoluted journey. Many adventures, successes and failures. Won't bore you with the whole story, but needless to say, I have seen and exprienced much as a singer/actor muscian and more recently as an educator.

Fast forward to now and here I am with this absolute dynamo of a woman Anne-Marie Buscio!

She has always had a dream. Write and illustrate childrens books. As I have said to her from the earliest days of our relationship, "You are an absoluted volcano of ideas, enthousiasm and passionate creativity."

Really inspired ideas. Some were realized, but most were bottled up, filed away, never having had to the chance to be out there. When we combined our two lives together we did alot of purging and editing of our "stuff". Just a cursory glance through her old files of drawings and stories she produced over the years, blew me away. It also became, to maybe put mildly, an obsession within me to somehow uncork the bottle on this talent.

And in this process of discovery of Anne-Marie, I have also discovered a dream and passion. Educating through entertaining, engaging, and finding the joy. Words, images, music.

I have been a passionate life long learner. I feel as if Anne-Marie, the love of my life, and I were destined to cross paths here at this point in our lives. To create special things.

Stay tuned ....

So, let the adventure begin.


Dynamic duo

Here we are at the start of a new adventure!  Yes we've decided to go for it... we are going for a long time dream of mine - writing and illustrating children's books.

I found the perfect partner!  A very interesting mix of a man... Desmond Byrne.  Yes the Desmond Byrne an opera singer...wish you were a fly on the wall when we are at home... Completely insane in here.  Yes he is my life partner and he is also a science and math teacher here in Canada.
What we've decided to do is a his and hers blog.  So we will be both posting on our adventure.
So Desmond is in my opinion an intellectual English professor type who does voices in different accents (did I mention he did voice over in Mona the vampire) as for me, I am more the Italian creative spontaneous woman.

 I am an early bird filled with ideas early in the morning from a sometimes good night's sleep.  As soon as my eyes are open I bombard him with new book ideas almost bursting into song even before his eyes are open.  Actually I do burst into all sorts of songs in the morning... anything that pops up in my brain. Hardly any opera though.... before Desmond I didn't know much about classical music.  He knew little about pop songs... So we have an incredible musical mix in this house.

So we will both be posting our take on the progress of this new adventure from concept, illustrations, editing, marketing, finding a publisher or publishing ourselves till we find a publisher... posting, facebooking, going to tradeshows, everything that we go through.  Of course we still have our jobs to do in the mix of all this creative stuff.  Should be fun!

I can proudly say, we have finished writing our very first book together called "Yum Yuck"
a book for young children - between 4 and 6 years of age.  It is such a fun book!  Love it....

Actually we've are writing a series of books with as Mattie the main character of the book.  Along with Max her dog and her favorite bear, Bear.  She goes on all types of adventures discovering the beautiful world we live in.  Of course, as you probably suspected... it has a touch of science in it!  As for Mattie, she is a very strong willed little girl with a wild imagination.

A brief description of Yum Yuck :

Join Mattie in her first adventure!  Yum! Yuck!  Where she discovers the incredible variety of things her animal friends eat to finally return home wanting to eat what she was afraid of eating in the first place.  There is no place like home especially when it comes to food!

So I'm posting one of the first final black and white sketches of Mattie... I still need to work on Max... 
Tell me what you think... is she loveable enough... do you think she has what it takes to be popular with the kids.

Signing off: Anne-Marie