Saturday, 31 October 2015

October / Inktober 2015

October is my favourite month of the year as it is my birthday month and because of Halloween, I just love spooky things.  I’ve been working on some portfolio pieces and this one is appropriate for the season; a witch taking a night flight as a swarm of bats spirals by.

Night Flight by Claire O'Brien
Night Flight by Claire O'Brien, 2015, gouache on paper


I took part in #Inktober again this year.  Just to recap, Inktober is a drawing challenge to make one ink drawing a day for the entire month of October.  Inktober was started in 2009 by an artist called Jake Parker, who set himself the challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.  I am pleased to say that I made a drawing every day except for the last.  

Doing Inktober was as fun as last year, I even took some requests this year for subjects to draw which added to the challenge. Inktober really motivated me to draw every day and the quality of drawings ranged from throwaway sketches to not bad, I even sold some prints and have been commissioned to draw in my ink style.

You can see all of my Inktober drawings on my Facebook page but here are are some of my highlights:

"Playing in the Garden" by Claire O'Brien

"The Gentleman" by Claire O'Brien

"I Found a Fox" by Claire O'Brien

"Kate Bush - Before The Dawn" by Claire O'Brien
"Halloween" by Claire O'Brien

There was also lovely a meet up of some sociable SCBWIs, Top, 2016 Carnegie long-listed, YA author Teri Terry was in town for writing research so a gang of us had dinner and viewed the SCBWI Illustration Showcase exhibition at Seven Stories.

Geoff Lynas, Maureen Lynas and Janet Foxley outside of Seven Stories

Teri Terry, Geoff Lynas, and Maureen Lynas

"Maureen and Teri" by Claire O'Brien

Up month is Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month a where you come up with an idea for a picture book every day of November.  






Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Sociable SCBWIs - Rebecca Colby

I have written before here and here about how how friendly the world of children's literature is and I am going to do it again in this post.  Last month, when I asked my online friend, fellow SCBWI member and brilliant picture-book writer; Rebecca Colby, for some advice for things to do with kids in her hometown, she not only responded with some great ideas, we also decided to meet up and had a lovely time eating ice-cream and talking about writing.

Rebecca and I

I love Rebecca’s latest book "It's Raining Bats & Frogs", it is really well-written with some lovely poetic refrains and is a great example of picture book plotting.  I adore the art and have enjoyed reading illustrator Steve Henry’s blog posts on his working process on this book, covering concept design, final art and I especially love this post about layout.


For the aspiring children’s picture book authors and illustrators reading this, you must check out Rebecca’s guest Sub It Club blog post about querying agents.  She reads between the lines of her successful query letter for "It's Raining Bats & Frogs" to show what your letter is  actually saying to agents about you and your story.  It has certainly helped me craft my own query submissions. 


I know that we can expect a few more picture books from Rebecca in the future and you can also get her debut book "There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie" .  "It's Raining Bats & Frogs"
isn’t available in UK shops yet but it can be ordered pretty quickly from Amazon, I highly recommend it to you and if you get the chance to meet Rebecca, I recommend her too.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

03 - Spread Of Wonder: The Robot and the Bluebird

Welcome to the third post in my ‘Spread Of Wonder’ series where I talk about spreads from picture books that I admire, I look at them and analyse why I think they make a good spread.  This month’s spread is the 10th spread of David Lucas’ “The Robot and the Bluebird” which was published in 2007 by Andersen Press.  



I do not know if David Lucas is a picture book superstar, but I personally, did not know of him until I recently came across this book in my local library.  It is a beautiful, whimsical story of an old, broken hearted robot who is put on the scrap heap but finds new purpose and friendship when he shelters a weak, migrating bluebird in the cavity where his heart used to be. It is illustrated with dip pen ink lines and coloured with watercolour, somewhat a traditional media in children's picture books.  




In this spread, the robot is at the hardest part of his journey, carrying the bird in his heart over a mountain.  He is moving left to right in direction, moving us through the story just as we have seen demonstrated in my previous choices of Spreads of Wonder.

What is great about this spread for me is how the illustration of the setting contributes to the storytelling.  The robot is crossing a mountain, a difficult thing to do at any time but even harder when it is raining and snowing like Lucas has drawn here.  Again Lucas uses direction in the diagonal lines of the falling rain and snow, pelting down against the robot's back.  Lucas has drawn grey thunder clouds that look like symbols from TV weather forecasts, with jagged arrowed, lightening coming from them, they are not soft and fluffy, they have hard outlines and their shading shows their solid form.  The mountains are also pointed and jagged, as are the trees with their icicle spikes and bare twig branches suggesting danger everywhere.

Lucas use uses a limited colour palette to great effect in this spread using only washes of blue, black and red against the white of the paper.  He uses the cool and muted blues, blacks and whites in the environment which contrasts starkly against the warm rust red of the robot.  Apart from the clouds, as already mentioned, and perhaps the robot, Lucas hasn't really used the colour to describe the form  of objects through shading, instead he applies colour as a bodycolour wash and uses the pen line to describe form.  This seems to be an often-used technique in children's picture book illustration and I wonder if it just adds to the clarity for children?    

What can the aspiring illustrator learn from this spread of wonder then?  This spread teaches us mainly about using illustration to contribute to storytelling. 

Storytelling - make the environment show the feelings of the story 
Direction - Use physical direction of the action to move the narrative forward, left to right and show hardship and struggle with right to left direction
Use Contrast of colour temperature to highlight a character.

Please comment with your own thoughts on this spread, or make a suggestion for a future Spread of Wonder candidate for me to analyse and don’t forget to follow this blog to receive a notification of my next post.  Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Promotion

I have had quite a fun-filled children’s book-related month so far, I have been to some promotional events, I have even been promoted myself and there are some great opportunities for more promotion to be had, not just for me but for other aspiring children’s picture book author and illustrators too!

Promotional Events
First up was Seven Stories’ Jodi Picoult talk and signing at the lovely Tyneside Cinema.  Jodi and her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, have co-written a YA (Young Adult) novel “Between the Lines” that is a book about a book, a fairytale book, with characters coming out of the page.  Jodi and Sammi gave a great talk, the pair of them in conversation, no compere!  The book also features striking illustrations by Yvonne Gilbert and enchanting silhouettes by Scott M. Fischer.  Let’s hope we see more YA novels with illustration adorning their pages in the future.

  


Next up was the launch of Gabrielle Kent’s Middle Grade novel “Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle” at Stockton Library.  I’m so excited by the book because I’m a friend of Gabrielle. We met at Teesside University when she was my tutor and then, when I worked there, my colleague.  “Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle” is her debut and it is the start of a series.  It was a lovely book launch with readings, signings and fun activities for children and Stockton Library looked like a really good libary.  I’m so pleased for Gabrielle and look forward to seeing how her writing career turns out and I know she is cheering me on in my own writing endeavours.

 


The last of the events that I went to were some illustrator talks that kicked off The Festival of Illustration in Hartlepool.  The talks that I attended were great, they were by Chris Riddell, John McCrea (comic artist) and Sara Ogilvie. The festival has been well-organised by Cleveland College of Art and Design and the main illustration exhibition and is held in the beautiful former church, Hartlepool Art Gallery.  The exhibition runs between the 4th June to the 4th July and it is well worth a look (and a second visit from me) as it features some top illustrators all-round and as well as children’s picture book illustrators.   I attended with some SCBWI friends and it was nice to meet Chris Riddell, little did we know he was about to become the Children’s Laureate, check out his five point plan for the role. 

 
Left to Right: Lucy Farfort, Claire O'Brien, Maureen Lynas,
Chris Riddell, Cathy Brumby and Katherine Lynas

Chris Riddell by Claire O'Brien 


Promotion of Me
This month saw the release of my first ever interview!  It was for the brilliant Kidlit TV who have featured me as their Community Member of the Month for June.  KidlitTV is a great community and YouTube channel that features original Kidlit content, particularly fantastic interviews with authors and illustrators in their ‘Story Makers’ series (a title I came up with).  As well as providing great content, the Facebook group is a mine of information about video creation and marketing, so if you make videos, you need to join.



SCBWI has launched a new email magazine INSIGHT, every month there is a drawing prompt for members, everyone who submits gets included in the gallery and two are picked to be featured in the email itself.  This email will reach agents and editors so it is worth submitting to.  You can see my entry for the ‘Bounce’ prompt here, leave me comment if you look.


Let’s Get Promoted
I have already mentioned being featured in SCBWI’s Draw This prompt, this month’s prompt is ‘Adventure’, here are the guidelines if you’re a SCBWI member and wish to submit, but hurry, the deadline is June 20th.

Another SCBWI opportunity is Undiscovered Voices, a competition for unpublished and unagented children's book writers and illustrators living in the EU.  Submissions are open on the 1st of July and close on the 16th August.  The illustration criteria give the opportunity for drawing some twisted fairy tales 

Here’s a contest to win a critique from talented illustrator, teacher and YouTuber Will Terry and $30 credit to his SVS online courses by submitting an illustration to the prompt of: “Amanda was so excited for her first day at the cottage until…”.  The deadline is 12:00 noon EST, June 25th.

And just for fun and cool prizes there is Susannah Hill’s illustration contest on the theme of Discovery, you have until the 26t of June to submit.

Good luck with these if you enter, why don’t you post a link if you do, I’d love to see.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

02 - Spread Of Wonder: Oh No, George!

This is the second post in my series ‘Spread Of Wonder’ where I talk about spreads from picture books that I admire, I look at them and analyse why I think they make a good spread.  This month’s spread is the 6th spread of Chris Haughton’s “Oh No, George!” which was published in 2013 (in paperback) by Walker Books.  

The cover of "Oh No, George!" by Chris Haughton
The minimal art in “Oh No, George!” could not be more different to the intricately detailed art in last month’s spread from “The House in the Night”.  The main reason that I have chosen it is its excellent demonstration of sequentiality.  If you have been reading my “Creating A Children’s Picture Book Illustration Portfolio” blog posts, you’ll know that being able to successfully show storytelling and characters in sequence is a requirement of picture book illustration and something I’m aiming to get better at. 

The story of “Oh No, George!” is about a dog who is left home alone and promises to be good but he just can’t help himself.  It is beautifully structured with a setup of things that could go wrong, followed by a pause with the 'What will George do?' question, then the page turn reveals the results of George’s actions alongside the 'Oh no, George!' refrain. 

In this Spread of Wonder where George sees Cat, we see three depictions of George across the spread, two on the verso (lefthand) page and one on the recto (righthand) page.  And just like in "The House in the Night" spread last month, the direction of George’s actions are moving us forward left to right, through the story with him either moving to or looking towards the right.  


The spread has a white background with some minimal lines suggesting the location of the last spread; the floor and some remains of cake.  Haughton uses a flat, cutout style with bold colour and strong silhouettes, this is accentuated by him using no outlines (apart from on George’s eyes).  Like most artists working in a flat style he does not use light and shade to model the shadow of three-dimensional form but his colouring is far from flat.  George is red but he has a slightly lighter underside and a purple nose and there is always a pencil scribble somewhere on him.  I think the colouring is digital and rather than using Adobe Photoshop’s gradient feature I think Haughton has used the cutout technique for colouring too, as we see the straight edges where the colour subtly changes.

As I have already stated I have chosen this spread because it excels at sequentiality both within the spread itself and in context of the whole book.  This spread comes after George has eaten the cake that he shouldn’t have and before he chases Cat. The previous and following spreads show George’s chaos in full colour backgrounds which contrast with our spread which has a white background.  Unlike comics, picture books don’t often use panels to show sequence.  George is shown in differing sizes on the white background and this change in scale somehow visually signals to us that is a sequence and not three different dogs.  George is drawn consistently regardless of his different poses, he doesn’t change colour and his proportions don’t change, this also confirms that we are looking at a sequence of the same dog. 

Previous Spread


Following Spread
What can the aspiring illustrator learn from this spread of wonder then?  This spread teaches us a lot about Sequentiality and some of the elements that go into it: 
  • Show Contrast - in pose, size and mood when depicting a character in sequence 
  • Be Consistent - keep your characters and settings ‘on model’, don't change proportions, colours, etc. 
  • Establish a Rhythm - Haughton's example is a setup, a pause and the following results

Please comment with your own thoughts on this spread, or make a suggestion for a future Spread of Wonder candidate for me to analyse and don’t forget to follow this blog to receive a notification of my next post.  Thanks for reading!





Sunday, 12 April 2015

01 - Spread Of Wonder: House In The Night

This post marks the first in a monthly series! I’m calling this series Spread Of Wonder and I’m going to talk about spreads* from picture books that I admire because it will be nice to share with you and because it will help me in my quest to become a Children’s Picture Book Author and Illustrator.  You can’t make picture books without reading them and really looking at them so this series will help me do that and analyse what makes a good spread.

 * - two facing pages of a book, see my Anatomy of a Picture Book video if you need more clarification

The first spread that I am looking at is the 8th spread; “all about the starry dark.” from the gorgeous, Caldecott-winning “House In The Night” written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes.  The copy I have is a board book that was published in 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the UK and I bought it from the Seven Stories bookshop where it just jumped off the shelves as being so striking.

The House in The Night - Spread of Wonder

The story, on its simplest level, is about a girl going home to her bed, reading a book and going to sleep as night falls.  It is so much more poetic than that, with beautiful language.  The girl is shown as reading the same book as we are, but for her the bird in the book comes to life and carries her through the night.  In fact that is what this spread shows.  In the top right corner we see the girl riding the bird as it spreads a blanket of darkness over the land.

As the book is about dark and light, day and night, what better way to show this with the bold black and white scraperboard technique, picked out accents of yellow?  Where Krommes needs tone, she makes lots of little marks. The closer the marks are together, the lighter the tone.  

Detail of The House in The Night - Spread of Wonder

I know from experience how difficult it is to work in scratchboard, not only physically in making tiring, little scrapes in the inked clay surface but mentally in how you have to draw in reverse, scraping the highlights of an object onto black.  It is also hard to repair the surface if you make a mistake and it is a nightmare to reproduce with lots of postproduction required.

 "This Crooked Way" Scratchboard by Claire O'Brien
"This Crooked Way" Scraperboard by Claire O'Brien

Formally, Krommes has flattened the perspective of the landscape, describing the hills as overlapping semi-circles.  The roads curve slightly over the hills to describe their 3D form.  She disregards diminution, things only get slightly smaller, the further away in the scene that they are.  This is a clever device as it makes the image full of detail for a child to immerse themselves in.  The blanket of dark is drawn over the landscape with an undulating outline and creates a beautiful contrast with the light ahead of it.  In the dark, the stars, house lights and car lights are picked out in yellow and in the light ahead, the yellow also accents the bird’s song, a washing line, car, roof, flowers and a sign.

How does this spread aid storytelling?  The direction of the bird is moving from the left to the right which is the norm for Western, linear story telling, so the spread moves us forward in the story.  If we look at the preceding spread we see that it follows a close, dynamic shot of the bird and girl flying out of the window, which shows a clear change in location and makes them two very different spreads. This is unlike the following spread, where, although seen from a different angle, the bird is practically in the same position, same size and same location as it was before.

The House in the Night - Preceding and Following spreads.


What can the aspiring illustrator learn from this spread of wonder then? 
  • The physical Direction of the action contributes to the narrative of the story
  • Perspective - simplification and lack of diminution aids creating detail
  • Limited Palette - The black, white and yellow are very striking

You can see Krommes’ working method here and read Carter Higgins’ feature on the book in her Design of the Picture Book blog

There is just so much for a child to look at and for an adult to admire in this beautiful book.  Please comment with your own thoughts on this spread, or make a suggestion for a future Spread of Wonder candidate for me to analyse and don’t forget to follow this blog to receive a notification of my next post.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Creating A Children’s Picture Book Illustration Portfolio - Tips for Improving Your Portfolio - Part 3

This post continues my series about creating a children’s picture book illustration portfolio. First I covered quantity and quality and then I covered format and content. In this post I dig deeper into content and suggest some tips and tools for improving your work, I start by showing the new work I have added to my portfolio (if you just want the tips scroll down to the end of this post):

"The Four Seater", Gouache by Claire O'Brien
"The Four Seater", Gouache by Claire O'Brien

"Laughter in the Leaves" Ink by Claire O'Brien
"Laughter in the Leaves" Ink by Claire O'Brien



"Boy at the Computer" Pencil by Claire O'Brien
"Boy at the Computer" Pencil by Claire O'Brien 

"Horsebox" Ink by Claire O'Brien
"Horsebox" Ink by Claire O'Brien 


In previous posts I established that my aims are to:
  • Produce work in a landscape format.
  • Produce consistent looking sequential images that feature characters doing different actions and showing different emotions.
  • Include more settings/backgrounds (move away from white backgrounds)

I have removed “When Mum Came Back”  because it is in portrait format and on a white background.  I have removed Jack Frost as, though it has a background, it is in portrait format and is too ‘Fantasy’ to stay (I may remake this image one day, as I would like to try and the capture a winter scene and the Jack Frost character more successfully and in a children’s picture book style).

“When Mum Came Back” Gouache by Claire O'Brien
“When Mum Came Back” Gouache by Claire O'Brien
"Jack Frost" Ink and Watercolour by Claire O'Brien
"Jack Frost" Ink and Watercolour by Claire O'Brien 

As a result of these changes, I have increased the quantity of my portfolio from six images to eight and hopefully raised the quality too.  The majority of the images are in landscape format now but I must aim for all of them to be.  The new illustrations don’t add enough action, the dogs in the horse box, the family on the sofa and the boy at the desk are all at static and at rest really.  Only the girls laughing in the leaves are mid-action. I’m not sure if I have successfully shown different emotion yet too with the new work, there is joy in the girls in the leaves and tiredness of the family on the sofa but neither of these are sequential which help show a change in their emotions.  Unfortunately there are no background settings in the new pictures so I have actually added more white space! 

My Portfolio at a Glance by Claire O'Brien
My Portfolio at a Glance by Claire O'Brien


What tips will help me, and you, improve our portfolios?  Here are three suggestions:

Make Lots of Work! 
The more work you make, the more chances you’ll have of increasing the size and quality of your portfolio.  If the standard of your work is not yet portfolio-ready, making lots of work gets the bad stuff out, as Disney animator and drawing teacher, Walt Stanchfield said: 

“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better”.  

Making lots of work helps you practice your craft, you can only improve!  If you are stuck with what to make work about, draw from life so you do not rely on your style and what you think things look like, again this can only improve your work.


Look At The Best Work Currently Being Published!
Analyse what the illustrators and designers are doing in a children's picture book spread so that you can emulate it in your own work.  Look at the backgrounds, are the characters in white space or in a fully illustrated setting?  What sort of settings come up a lot?  Where are the characters placed in the spread?  Does it change depending on viewpoint? Long shots, closeups, bird’s eye views, etc. What are the characters doing? What do their poses, gestures and movement directions show us about what is happening in the story?  Does the character’s pose and expression convey an emotion?  Does the lighting echo the emotion, add to the mood?  Where has the illustrator left space for the text? Is it a white space or a quiet part of the illustration?  Is the illustration in duet with the text, showing what the text says or is it counterpoint and saying something different? 


Evaluate And Be Critical About Your Own Work!
Look at your work as a whole, add all of your portfolio images into one document and look at them on the screen or in a print out.  What stands out? Is it for good reasons or bad?  What similarities are there?  Look at the viewpoints you have used, where is your camera? Is it always close, far away, straight on?.  What are your backgrounds like?  Non existent like mine or fully realised?  Do you always use the same colour palette?  Is it always saturated or muted? Do your characters always face the front or the side but never anywhere in-between?  Are they always making the same pose or expression?  Do your characters look different to each other? Are they the same gender or age?  If all these things are similar, draw them differently to show variety and skill in your work.


Well, I still feel my portfolio does not quite fit the bill of a children’s picture book portfolio yet.  I’m going to follow my own tips and really focus on creating sequential images that feature characters doing different actions and showing different emotions in a background!  I’m also going to start a series of monthly posts called “Spread of Wonder” where I’ll present an example of a published children’s picture book spread that I admire and tell you why I think it is so great, follow my blog so that you get a notification of when I post it. And if you are stuck for what to actually draw check out these great suggestions from Robin Rosenthal.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Reading to Write - Why the Aspiring Picture Book Author and Illustrator Needs to Read Picture Books

Part of the process of writing and illustrating children’s picture books involves reading them, lots of them, and not just reading them to children but really studying them and analysing them for yourself.  This helps with many things, you get to know the picture book form, it gives you a feel for their rhythms and their concepts.  It helps you to get to know the market, what is popular and what you like and don’t like and what you want to emulate.  It goes without saying that you need to read the pictures as well as the words too.  All of this undoubtedly informs your own picture book writing and illustrating.

Here is a video of me reading Leo The Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose Areugo, 1971, Harper Collins to my son.

***UPDATE - Video removed due to refusal of permission to show it - UPDATE***



Next month sees ReFoReMo, the Reading for Research Month Challenge run by Carrie Charley Brown.  It’s an opportunity to read ten selected mentor picture book texts along with a community and may provide new insights and approaches into analysing picture books.  Registration is open now, I’ve signed up if you want to join me.

I have been planning on sharing my picture book analyses on my blog for sometime.  A resource that I am using for a framework for this is Eve Heidi Bine-Stock’s “How to write a children's picture book : learning from The very hungry caterpillar and other favorite stories”, the first of her three books about the picture book form.  Of course I will reference other theories from books on the craft of writing too.  The first book that I will analyse is “Leo The Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus and Jose Areugo, 1971, Harper Collins.  Ideally I should analyse current picture books to get a clear idea of today’s market but I think there is value in looking at the classics too.  And I’m sure I won’t be covering the same ground as ReFoReMo as a result.

     


And here’s a great review of Eve Heidi Bine Stock’s book by author, Nancy Freund:



Follow my blog (using the button on the right) or connect with me on Google+ to get a notification of when I post my Leo The Late Bloomer analysis.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Well it has been one year since I actively started blogging so I thought my first post of 2015 should be a review of 2014 and establish some New Year Resolutions.  In my very first post I stated that my aims were to document my quest of becoming a picture book Author and Illustrator, I still haven’t made it as an Author and Illustrator yet as it requires a lot of hard work, so this blog will continue along those lines again this year.

So what did I achieve last year? 

  • I completed Dr Mira Reisberg's Children's Book Academy course on writing children's picture books where I came out with my best manuscript so far and an illustration for its first spread which went on to be selected for the 2014 SCBWI BI Illustration Showcase.  This was a goal I set for myself here
  • I took part in Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 challenge to write twelve picture book drafts in one year, one per month.  I didn’t quite manage twelve, more like six which is better than nothing.  It was really worthwhile doing it, the community there is great and they share their knowledge.  I’ve enrolled again this year too, at Gold level, eek!
  • I successfully completed PiBoIdMo, Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month which runs in November where the challenge is to come up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November.  So I have 30 more ideas in the bank than I did before.
  • The most daring thing I have done this year was submit a manuscript to two agents.  One via a pitching webinar and the other via #PITMAD on Twitter.  Both came back as rejections, one with feedback too.  I’m not as discouraged about it as I thought I would be and I am looking forward to making more submissions soon.
  • I’m still a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, and I attend my supportive SCBWI crit group once a month at Seven Stories.  Once of the group was taken on by an agent so I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.
  • I released a free Picture Book Template for Scrivener and an accompanying video on YouTube which have been well-received and they have certainly raised the profile of my online platform.
  • I was a member of the CBI, the Children's Book Insider, a paid subscription website and Facebook group all about writing children's books.  I didn’t renew my membership this year, if I am honest their website was a bit of a let down for me as I found that lots of their pages were randomly offline and the Facebook group was mainly full of members’ self promotion.
  • New web adventures have included a few of my blog posts being featured in the SCBWI British Isles online magazine Words and Pictures.  And I loved getting my weekly email from Kidlit411, it’s so full of useful information to children’s authors and illustrators as is KidLitTV (I had the honour of naming their programme “Storymakers”).
  • Regarding learning and working on my craft I have been using Craftsy, Linda.com, Skillshare and Udemy videos and the brilliant Path to Publishing with The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson and Agent, Jill Corcoran.
  • Oh I went to the hottest ticket gig of the century when I went to see Kate Bush at her residency at the Hammersmith Apollo.  It was so amazing and inspiring, words don't do it justice, I'm still thinking about it!

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn - Claire O'Brien
Kate Bush - Before The Dawn - 2014


My New Year’s resolutions are to:

  • Improve my portfolio via my critical findings
  • Write more manuscripts and improve my writing craft
  • Increase the frequency of my blogging, post at least 18 posts this year.
  • Submit to agents with an aim of representation
  • Produce more videos and develop my YouTube channel 
  • Read more picture books
I wish you all the best with your own resolutions and I hope to see you back here soon.