This is my journey in creating concepts, writing, illustrating, finding a literary agent, and becoming a published children's book author and illustrator for the picture book genre.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

the aspiring lull....

Yes. That is what I have hit. What do I do now? I am still working on my picture book. Currently, I am writing a song for it. During this process, there has been a pile of paper accumulating on my desk. To top it all, I am under the weather which makes writing a bit tough at the moment. The highlight of my week was being contacted by huffington post to contribute to their writing segment. It was simple, really. They needed a video question about the industry to ask a seasoned professional. Well, I have tons of those! Unfortunately, the internet was not cooperating at the time and they were unable to air it. They did ask me if I would consider another segment in the future...YES! What an honor. I am aspiring and currently at a loss as to the next step of my adventure.  Waiting is hard. For now, I am continuing to work on my illustrations and soon will rework my query. Luckily, it is near perfect. I need to tweak the characters, but soon I will start submitting to agents and reintroduce myself to the proverbial slush pile of internet submissions. As always, I will continue to post my illustrations!
My new illustration includes the music I am writing for my story. Yes, friends sing. What do they sing about? Well, friendly things. Here is the new illustration I am starting for this page. It will be an illustration split over two pages. As I finish this page, I will post the updates. I also have a facebook page that I update more often. It is aspiring children's book author- Cassaundra Dunbridge. Please join it if you wish to follow my journey in more detail!
Here is the completed page without the text. I am not sure whether to add the text via computer or to hand write it out. I can think about it! The other side of the page has been sketched out and will be finished soon. for now, parental duties are calling me. I need a break! All that detail is time consuming! Enjoy!!!
As always, still aspiring! One day at a time!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

the great and powerful critique group...

I finally attended my first critique group. I can't begin to tell you what an amazing experience this was. There were only three of us and two works to discuss. Although I was the only illustrator of the group, their feedback was insightful. One member of the group is a copy editor. Made me miss my very own super hero. Need a super hero of your own? Check out this one!
What a wonderful experience. It is always nice to be surrounded by those who love to write. It was nice to discuss experiences from those who have been aspiring for a longer period of time than myself. Experience can be the greatest gift when shared.
As for the great and powerful critique groups that are referenced often in all kinds of author society sites, they can hinder or help the writer. It has an opportunity to inspire or cripple the writer in their pursuits of storytelling. This particular group was intimate, kind, and full of tranquil interjection. Tranquil interjection? What is that? Well, all opinions and comments were calm and centered. They were addressed by page. Yes, the flaws were heightened and  straightforward. At first, they were hesitant to contribute, I pleaded for their input. I petitioned them for constructive criticism that would assist my growth. I want to develop my talents and sculpt them into a proficient writer and illustrator of children's literature.
I have learned that one can write, but to write well you need a critique group to help sort out little aspects that don't synthesize with the overall writing. As I read my story aloud, I changed word tenses that were written one way and verbalized differently. Out of this discussion, I have decided to add music to my songs in my story. After all, how fun would it be to illustrate a page of music and incorporate it with a nature scene and characters. If a child plays the recorder, they will be able to play this song. This idea manifested from a discussion with another writer who has been published by a small publishing company.
At the end of the group, ending formalities were exchanged. We discussed the possibility of sending work over the internet for review by others as a possibility. Next Friday, I will attempt to attend this group again with work ready for critique. This week, more illustrations of my story will continue. I will post them as they are created.
For those aspiring, find a critique group that brings the best out of you. I had my doubts, but now I understand. To flourish and become what we aspire, one cannot walk the road alone. We must walk hand in hand with those we pull inspiration from and give it in return. I am grateful for what I have learned.
I am writing. I am illustrating. As always, I am aspiring....Someday, I hope to be a published author/illustrator of children's stories promoting etiquette in the new generation of adults in training.

In the words of the great Emily Post,
 “There is no reason why you should be bored when you can be otherwise. But if you find yourself sitting in the hedgerow with nothing but weeds, there is no reason for shutting your eyes and seeing nothing, instead of finding what beauty you may in the weeds. To put it cynically, life is too short to waste it in drawing blanks. Therefore, it is up to you to find as many pictures to put on your blank pages as possible.” 

To the Great and Late Mrs. Post;
I am finding many pictures to put on my blank pages! There are far less blank pages now and more pages filled with colorful illustrations depicting a little ant's journey learning to ask for help from his friends.
Cassaundra Dunbridge, Aspiring Children's author and illustrator

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Andy continues on

I am starting another page off my dummy. I wonder if others have the same issues that I have. After sketching everything out, I find changes that I want to make when I re-sketch it on my water color paper. This page will include text of a song that Andy and Lilly sing. Keep checking as I update it!

just starting with the background after the primary sketch
first layers of water color to the characters

here is the end result before text.

lost in thought...

In a dreamy time and one not so long ago; our worlds faded from many into one against a common foe. We gathered together; hands bound by loyalty and time. What we faced ahead was more than an evil crime. The black masses of airless mist invaded our homes as evil hissed. Our protectors were taken from their beds that long and endless night. This was the start of a doomed and timeless fight. Gates were closed and magic lost. One world ended at imagination’s cost. 

Our worlds, including yours, are dependent upon a powerful rock crystal. This crystal maintains our worlds' dimensional walls; both apical and distal. Please allow me to share in what ignorance has kindly afforded. These planes that were once accessed by all have now been magically boarded. Imagine a world of worlds shared by souls of many. To travel, all one must do is pay tribute with a penny. This isn't the copper that you may know. In the light, one's true intentions will show. A dream, a thought, or even a dance; intentions are known with only a glance. These pennies were once common, but no longer so. This is where my story must go. As you are reading this now, hope is more than a prayer.. I know that it is you who truly will care. In your heart, you are true. I offer this as your first clue. To find me, you must believe. Our existence is where the lies and truth weave.

Dreams are lost to reality as fiction books close. I am not what you think. We are not foes. Embrace me, fantasy. Embrace me, dreams. Together we must pursue and break the barrier’s beams.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Process...

Well, as an aspiring author and illustrator, I must keeping moving forward. One hurdle has been accomplished and others await in the wings. It is easy to compile a list of all the ideas worthy of completion. One must start and finish the project before completing another. Therefore, my ant story must continue. Once again, I will continue to post my progression as I create my paintings.
I must admit, I am feeling some frustration as to the next step of my process. Creating is only part of the battle. Now I need to find a way for an agent to look at my work, like it, and believe in it as much as I do. Back to the SCBWI site and find out if I need to finish the book's illustration before querying an agent or query before I am finished with the illustrations. So much to do. So little time to do it in. So little time? Yes, I am a mom of three boys and a wife to a very busy husband. Not much time for this project. I must make the most out of the time allotted. Still aspiring...
color starts

more color

details...can never have enough detail
the final result

Here is the link to my portfolio on the SCBWI site:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

can I write?

That is a great question and one worth looking into. The question was proposed to me on another social sight about my talents as a children's writer. This is a great question. I began my journey as an author. My story is simplistic in plot and with a focused viewpoint. Is it something kids would want to read? Am I children's writer or a writer? Well, to properly answer that question, I think it is imperative to look at the difference between the two. Is there one? Should we dumb down context for fear our children will not relate? In today's generation, technology exists without limits. Children live their fantasies through video games and cgi. Imagination is still present but exists in a small place hidden by tangible existence of reality. My generation has opened a door to limitless ideas and possibilities. Amongst these gifts, we have sidestepped certain cultural expectations. There is a reason why shows like Downton resonate well in our generation. We crave that what has become obsolete. There is a need for enrichment, culture, and refinement. We can still enjoy refinement. It isn't stuffy or old. It is a right of maturity. We can cultivate the new generations in basic etiquette and sensitivity towards others' needs. Using pleasantries isn't passe. It is a lost art. Yes. As adults, we can introduce our little ones to etiquette and encourage them to use social graces instead of hiding behind a keyboard or game controller. They need to know how to eat at a restaurant that doesn't serve toys with its meal. These are life skill sets to enable the newest generation to be globally savy.
I can write. I can doodle and facilitate a canvas of imagination while educating by example. A gentile movement is in its early development. I say, "bring back the tea parties, napkins, and kind words." Can I write? Yes. Can I write for children? My little men continually tell me so. They like the rhymes. They love the doodles. One doesn't pontificate opinions and ideals to educate the masses. To educate; one must encourage, inspire, and lead by example and repetition. Andy manages to do all three. It doesn't stop there. Dreams take work. I must continue to be hungry. I must continue learn and be receptive to help. Art is subjective. Not everyone enjoyed Twilight...I did. :) I know that my point of view is strong. Mrs. Post would be proud. Over 100 years later and her name lives on.
As always, I am still an Aspiring Children's Author and Illustrator. Dreams are worth the work. We are all worth the work. It is apparent where my passion lies. I hope that you will share in it with me. A journey is far better with friends than on your own. Thank you for being a part of it.

Still Aspiring....

Monday, April 1, 2013

I should write!

What a crazy few months. Sometime last year, after my mom gifted me with a membership to SCBWI. I began to work towards making my author aspirations come true by looking for and contacting agents. After so many responses of the generic nature, I came into contact with a nice woman from an agency in the western states. She gave me a chance. We had a few email exchanges and she looked at my manuscript. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good fit for her. She was gentle about the parts that didn't work. What she didn't know is that I took her critique to heart and a new path of aspiration took root. I began re working that manuscript to allow for illustration possibilities and keep the same point of view. In order to understand its illustration potential, it needs to be illustrated. I began working on my own illustrations. I now have a love of color and painting that I didn't know existed in me.
After perusing the SCBWI member site, talking with others who are working on their manuscripts, and frequenting libraries, I began setting other writing goals. A girl needs a resume'. It is difficult to break into children's literature as an author/illustrator. At least this is what I have been told. I have found it to be a challenge to meet others that aspire to do the same thing. Most just write. And, as a writer, it is not an easy task. Writing is hard, but the more difficult challenge for me was the illustration. 14 pages of illustration to be exact. FOURTEEN! 3 of these where completed in watercolor. I found awards that I met the criteria for.
The goals have been set and the real work started. I am not going to lie, this was challenging artistically.
Now, with every dream comes help to achieve it. No one ever achieves alone. Support is always needed. I have a great support system that I am very grateful for.
Without all of this, I wouldn't have finished the requirements needed. Now, I look at the work I finished and marvel at how it translates to a book. There is still more work to do.  For now, I am going to take a small break. Below are some samples of my grant/award submission. Mind you, they are not in perfect order. I just wanted you to see what I have been working on. I hope you like it. Most of all, thank you for aspiring with me. Dreams only become reality when you work for them. I am still aspiring.
Cassaundra Dunbridge, Aspiring Children's Book Author and Illustrator