This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Announcing The #writedummy Challenge

2016 will kick off another round of the Picture Book Dummy Challenge. In anticipation of this, and to help everyone gear up without getting overwhelmed with all that happens at the beginning of the new year, #kidlitart is announcing a writing challenge for Fall of 2015!

Isn't this great? Moderator Rubin Pingk created it.
We'll help you along with getting a picture book story written with a basic schedule and chats covering: basic story elements, writing as an illustrator, and getting feedback from critique groups.

As part of signing up to participate in this challenge, you must read and sign the Honor Agreement linked below. It's mandatory and will help us prevent any misunderstandings about sharing work.

Participants will be sharing drafts and switching critique group partners three times to maximize feedback and to give everyone a chance to revise their stories and get them solidified before the year is over. Your critique group assignments will be emailed to you by #kidlitart moderator Blythe Russo.

In order to be considered for a critique group, you need to email Blythe at: blytherussoillustration (at) gmail (dot) com) state that you want to be part of the critique group, and that you have read the honor agreement, and include your signed copy of the code as well. 

Deadline for participation in this challenge (in order to be part of the critique group formation) is OCTOBER 1, 2015. 

If you would like to ask questions, discuss progress, or anything else outside of the #kidlitart chats and Twitter you are more than welcome to join our Facebook group here.  Please DO NOT post your manuscripts-in-progress in that group as there are folks from previous challenges in there who may not be participating in this current challenge.

Writing Challenge Schedule: (subject to change)

Brainstorm Three Ideas
September 10
Pick Story, Character Interviews
September 17
Outline Story: Plot Chart
September 24
Draft #1/Sign-Up Deadline
October 1
New Crit Group Assmts:
Finish Draft #1
October 8
Swap Draft #1 w/ group, feedback, revise
October 15
New Crit Group Assmts:
 Draft #2
October 22
Finish Draft #2
October 29
Swap Draft #2, feedback, revise
November 5
New Crit Group Assmts: 
Draft #3
November 12
Swap Draft #3, feedback, revise
November 19
Finish Draft #3
November 26
Final Draft.
Homework: Elevator Pitches
December 3
Elevator Pitches
December 10

Honor Agreement Can Be Read and Printed from HERE

And it goes without saying that if you're part of this challenge you will be upholding your end of the deal by reading and providing feedback for all manuscripts you may be sent. It's only fair as you're seeking the same for your own story. Those who consistently fail to uphold the agreement will be removed from the challenge and critique groups.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Howdy #kidlitart-ers! I hope everyone is having a lovely summer. Here at #Kidlitart we're about to hit the end of our calendar of topics, so it's time to hear what you'd like to talk about on our weekly chats. I think we've established a few favorites, so we will definitely be revisiting : Postcard BoostShow N Tell, and Art Crushes.

Do you have specific topics on craft you'd like to discuss? Promotion? Research? Publishing? Agents? Anything and everything to do with being an illustrator in the children's publishing industry is up for grabs. Give us your ideas in the comments, and we'll see what we can do to meet your needs.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Twenty-Eight Day Art Challenge

Howdy, #kidlitart-ers!

We're so happy you're jumping into February's Twenty-Eight Day Challenge with us.

The topic for the chat on January 22nd was all about finding your voice as an illustrator. Our idea is to give y'all a chance to springboard yourselves further into finding the answer to that question.

Here are the guidelines:

1. Draw something every day for the month of February. (Or really, as often as you can.) The medium is up to you: traditional, digital, combined mediums-whatever works.

2. Each day should feature a theme, creature, idea, character, etc. that you LOVE. You are illustrating things that you are ALL ABOUT. Not just as an artist. As a person. What tickles your fancy? What do you geek out about? What stories would you tell if you just had the chance?

b. You can choose to focus on ONE theme the entire month, or do a different theme every day.

3. The finish of each illustration is up to you. It can be a simple pencil or pen sketch, or you can take it all the way to full color.
      b. You can challenge yourself by setting a time limit. Say, 28 minutes? 

4. Post every day (or as often as you can) to tumblr, Facebook, etc., but especially Twitter (so #kidlitart-ers can see) your love of the day. And tag it with #kidlitart28

5. No, you do not have to be an official member of #kidlitart to participate. Everyone is welcome.

Our hope is that at the end of this challenge you will be able to look back at these sketches and see the stories, themes, and characters that appeal to you the most. With a bank of beloved topics, who wouldn't be inspired to then create a new picture book, comic, or novel? Wouldn't you want to take at least one of those illustrations further and see where they take you?

We hope so.

So start brainstorming about what you'd be happy to draw for twenty-eight days straight. Challenge kicks off on February 1st.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

While we know our chats seem effortless and often fly by the seat of our pants, we do put some thought and planning into them. We try to meet your needs as professionals in the publishing industry.

With that in mind, here is another call for topics. Brainstorm and consider all you wish to discuss, learn about, figure out, and just plain understand. No topic is too silly or taboo-as long as it's related to illustration and/or the children's publishing industry.

We still have a pretty great line up of topics through the end of the year, so anything posted here will most likely put into rotation starting in January.

You guys helped create a pretty great little community, and we'd like to keep that going, so be sure to leave your thoughts down in the comments section.


Thursday, July 17, 2014


Congratulations on completing the annual #kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge, everyone!  We know it was a struggle at times, but you stuck with it, and now you get to say you're winner! Congratulations to everyone who participated. We hope you have a solid picture book mock-up ready for submission to publishers and/or agents ready to go.

(Winner's badge forthcoming. The tablet and pen are being real tools right now. haha! Get it?)

To celebrate all of the hard work you have put into this challenge, we are rewarding you with a surprise! Julie Matysik, editor of Sky Pony Press, will read #PBDummy Challenge submitted pitches and select one or two for submission. That’s right folks, your picture book dummy could be reviewed and critiqued by an editor!

Now, in order to participate:
1.You need to have signed up with us here
2. You have a complete dummy: complete manuscript, sketched out spreads, plus at least one completed final art spread.
3. You must submit your two-sentence pitch in the comments section of this post by midnight on July 24th
4.If you need help on formatting a pitch check out: this post or this one or this.

Well done, everyone. Now that you've completed the process, the next one should be a cakewalk. HA!

Good luck!
Diandra, Renee, and Russ
ps.- Don't forget that next week we will have Postcard Boost #2. Get those promo sketches ready!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Critique Groups!

Last week we discussed Critique Groups on our weekly chat, and it was a lively discussion (as most of them are.) You can read the transcript here

We thought it'd be helpful to our #kidlitart community if we listed folks interested in getting together with other illustrators to form a critique group, whether face to face or online, the parameters are up to you, dear chatters.

Remember, to make the most of your group, set a regular deadline: weekly, bi-monthly, etc. at a regular time. Decide on the number you want to cap your group participation at, and state what you hope to get from the group up front so you guys are all on the same page. Deicide what form works best: Skype, Google+ Hangouts, email, private blog, etc.

And don't forget, when performing your critiques, use the 'Sandwich': Start with a positive assessment, move on to something that needs improvement (suggest a possible technique or approach to help with this if possible), and close with a positive comment. Remember, you're not supposed to tear each other down, but you're not supposed to blow smoke up each other's bums, either!

In no particular order:
(Click on their name to contact)

Rubin Pingk
Andi Butler
Mary Flynn
Tami Traylor
Sue Rankin Pollard
Chris Jones
Eliza Kinkz
Dustin Hansen
Christine Mix
Scott Soeder
Emily Wayne
Lisa Thompson
Erika Barriga
Dani Duck
Takako Fisher
Autumn Seybert
Jo Swartz
Paul Weiner

If you're looking for a group, and your name is not on this list, add it in the comments section along with your twitter handle!
Happy Critiquing!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

NKH- Interview #2

You see that lovely Spingtime banner up there? That was created by the lovely Jenny Woodward. 

What? You don't recognize her? How could you not know Jenny? She's a #kidlitart regular! She's....oooh. You might her know her more like this: 

 Is that better? Right, moving on. Here's a little bit about the adorable art featured on the blog/
-What was your inspiration for the header?
 We have a lot of birds that live in/visit our backyard (when the squirrels aren’t chasing them off). I try to get outside in the mornings and watch them at the bird feeder we have close by. One morning there was a mama bird feeding her baby bird and that’s where the inspiration came from.
-What is your primary medium for the header?
Everything was done digitally in Photoshop using Kyle T Webster’s brush pack. Mostly I work in Photoshop using a Yiynova tablet but the banner was created with my laptop and mouse (what I had with me at the time).
-Are you currently working on any projects?
I’m currently doing some graphic design work and sketching ideas for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola prompt.
-Where can we find you online?
Website: (in the works)

-What are your favorite children's books?
There are sooo many! I’ll try to keep the list short :)
I’ll start with the book that got me into kidlit and back to drawing again- 
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (really any book by Peter Brown)
Big Plans- Bob Shea/Lane Smith
Let’s Do Nothing- Tony Fucile
Tea Party Rules- Ame Dyckman/Keith Campbell
Can I Play too- Mo Willems
The Day the Crayons Quit- Drew Dewalt/Oliver Jeffers
- What's the best advice you've received from #kidlitart?
To keep drawing even you’re having a bad day and you think everything you draw is horrible. Some days I struggle to draw and might do 20 sketches and only have one that I end up liking...but it’s one more drawing I have than if I’d been too discouraged to start at all. When you’re really having a hard time then switch to something else whether it’s cooking, sculpting, reading etc. Sometimes you need that break to get the creativity flowing again.
I think the best thing about #kidlitart is that everyone is so kind and encouraging. You couldn’t ask for a better group of people. I always leave the chat feeling energized and ready to create. There’s lots of helpful information being shared, plus you get to connect with some extremely talented, genuinely nice people.
-Great! Any favorite #kidlitart topics?
My favorite chat so far has been the postcard critique. I loved seeing everyone’s artwork, their process and learning from the critiques. I’d like to see a topic on authors/illustrators and how they got started with picture books...what that process was like and what they learned after landing and completing their first book.
Thanks so much for your contribution, Jenny! We look forward to seeing more from you in the future. If you see Jenny online, be sure you thank her for the fabulous banner!