Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Next Big Thing: "When Mommy Got Cancer", a picture book illustrated by Lisa J. Michaels and written by Karen Garcia

If you are an SCBWI member, then you know my friend, Alison Davis Lyne

You may be thinking, I do?? 

If you've read your SCBWI Bulletin Magazine, then yes, you have undoubtedly run across her excellent and helpful column, "Art Tips". (You'll find it on page 12 in the current July/August issue.) 

A week ago, she tagged me for "My Next Big Thing", a global blog tour started in Australia, as a way to showcase authors and illustrators currently working on a picture book set for publication.

Below you will find the answers and images that I provided for the Q and A for this tour, which will be passed along to other talented folks on Friday, July 5th. 

I hope you will enjoy seeing my "work in progress", and I sincerely hope that you will follow the links I provide to view the other many talented artist on this tour as well. 

Big hugs and many heart-felt thanks to Alison for including me!

1. ) What is the working title of your next book?

When Mommy Got Cancer, Creating Joy Together”. It will be released in 2014.

2.) Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Even though I’m the illustrator (not the author), I can still answer this question. Karen knew she was dying of cancer and would not live to see her daughter grow up. In the time she had left (after her diagnosis), she decided to make her days as positive and happy as possible for her child. She wanted her to have wonderful memories that would sustain her throughout her life, and reminder her of the love they shared. 

This book is a loving tribute to Karen's daughter, with the hope that it will bring her peace, gentle reminders of their mutual admiration, acceptance of that which is out of our hands, and most of all, JOY! 

3.) Who is publishing your book? 

Unfortunately, Karen passed away before the book could be published, but the editor at Hibiscus Publishing had promised her that they would see it through. The knowledge that the process had begun gave Karen great comfort in her final days.  

4.) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Since the first question answered this question and I'm the illustrator, I'll answer as to how the illustrations developed. 

Hibiscus looked high, low, long and hard to find just the right illustrator. They considered hundreds of artists across the globe before narrowing it down to just a few. Then they sent out a "call for samples" to those they were considering. We were all given a few small excerpts from the manuscript, and allowed to pick two scenario's to sketch.  

In all honesty, I wasn't the one Hibiscus really wanted, but the universe, fate, divinity (or whatever you wish to call it), stepped in to favor me. The preferred artist wasn't available, (she had too many other projects, poor thing) so they sent my samples to Karen's mom for consideration. 

She wept when she saw them, as the resemblance to her daughter and grand-daughter was uncanny. When the editor informed her that I'd not been given any photos to work from, nor had I ever seen  any, she was convinced that I was meant to be the illustrator on this project. Too many of the little details I'd drawn were spot-on, just as they were in reality. Was it coincidence, or something more? 

5.) In what genre does your book fall? 

Karen often considered the many other people (with small children) who might be going through a similar experience.
She thought a gently narrated (in first-person) picture book might be just the ticket for parents who are attempting to explain the passing of a loved one and the feelings associated with terminal illness. This book falls within the category of Juvenile Fiction Picture Books.

6.) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Like everything and everyone else involved with this project, this question is sort of serendipitous in that I have thought about this many times prior to the question being asked. Without doubt, Andie McDowell would be perfect for Karen's part. She's the spitting image of her... and for our main character, Alicia Morton would be perfect, with her gentle, sweet nature and her impish, joyful smile! 

7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

Since I'm the illustrator I'll take that question by substituting it with; "How long did it take to produce the sketches and finalize the line art?" 

 My first meeting with the editor was on April 11th, 2013. We discussed how the project came about, the time-line, payment options, the proposed layout, and how I had been chosen to produce the illustrations. I was given until May 30th to complete the ready-for-color line art. Then life got in the way (as it always does) and the struggle to meet my deadline began! 

 Editor's have a job to do that does not include babysitting illustrators.  I learned long ago that they don't have time to worry or even think about how we go about our jobs...or the fact that we take on more than we can handle as a means of financial survival. Such was the case for me when this project began, but there was NO WAY that I was going to turn down a traditional publishing opportunity, and the chance to work with a professional editor! Everything else had to be put on a back burner, and I got to work on this project immediately. 

 Since then, I have been astounded by the differences between professionals and the self-publishing world. Although I love to help self-publishers achieve their dreams, it simply can't compare to the freedom found in a trusting, compassionate, creative editor. Finally, the dreams being achieved are my own! 

 8. ) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

 "Personally, I'm not sure that it compares to anything already published. This is a subject that has been avoided by most publishers, because of it's delicate nature. Illness is something we all experience at some point in our lives, but as parents we attempt to shield our children from the harsh realities until they simply must be addressed. The author envisioned "When Mommy Got Cancer" as a tool to help parents approach this rapidly growing issue of death by cancer, and I believe she managed to do it with dignity, honesty, and love. In my humble opinion, we are past due for a book like this and it should be applauded. 

 9.) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

 Well, we'd have to ask the editor what she thinks on that one, but being a writer myself, I have an idea that it would go something like this; This picture book depicts a mother's struggle with terminal cancer and her determination to teach her child how to express all of the feelings and emotions that such an ordeal creates... at the same time, she explains that reaching for JOY is the answer, and through sharing it, we discover the key to true happiness and ever-lasting life. 


10.) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Attention to detail is something I take pride in. Throughout the book, there are little things that catch your eye, like dancing butterflies flitting across the page, the caring and realistic expressions on the face of their pet feline, lovely background textures that add richness and color, etc. 

As an illustrator, I strive to give my child readers little details that will surprise them each time they revisit the page. 

With each project I take on, my goal is to use what I've learned from the last project, to be better than I've ever been!

Thank you for taking the time to read about and support me in my endeavors. I LOVE my blog readers, you guys ROCK!!!!

On July 5th, be sure to check out my talented and creative friends, on "The Next Big Thing" Blog Tour:

1 comment:

Mary Lou Rosato-Caine said...

Hi Lisa! Today I'm visiting some of my followers, since I've let a few cobwebs invade my blog as of late. Congrats on your up and coming book. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing the pics. What a special project you were able to be a part of! Best to you Mary Lou~