Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in scholastic (5)


Interview with Vijaya Bodach, who sold her TEN EASTER EGGS picture book mss to Scholastic through an Inkygirl post

Back in 2013, I posted an interview with Scholastic editor Celia Lee, who invited Inkygirl readers to submit picture book manuscripts for a limited time. Two book contracts came out of that, including Josh Funk's PIRASAURS! story (see my interview with Josh Funk and the illustrator, Michael Slack).

I'm delighted to interview the author of the other book that sold. Vijaya Bodach's story, Ten Easter Eggs, illustrated by Laura Logan, published by Scholastic in 2015. For those in the Mt. Pleasant, SC area, Vijaya Bodach will be doing a Ten Easter Eggs Reading at the local Barnes & Noble.

Click to read more ...


Behind-the-scenes: How new picture book PIRASAURS! was created, with insights from author Josh Funk and illustrator Michael Slack


Back in May 2013, I posted an interview with Celia Lee, an editor at Cartwheel Books / Scholastic, and Celia invited Inkygirl readers to submit manuscripts for a limited time; apparently Celia received over a thousand submissions (!). A couple of years later, I met Josh Funk at nErDcampMI and found out that he had sold one of his picture book manuscripts to Celia as a result of my Inkygirl post, and it was being illustrated by Michael Slack.

Click to read more ...


Interview with Patricia Storms: Process, Personal Growth and NEVER LET YOU GO (Scholastic Canada)

I met Patricia Storms through her Booklust blog and then the National Cartoonists Society, and have enjoyed watching her children's book career blossom. She has illustrated 20 books, three of which she is author as well as illustrator. Patricia says she was twelve when her first cartoon was published in a Toronto newspaper. She got paid five whole dollars for that cartoon, and has been inspired to write and draw ever since.

Where you can find Patricia: Website/Blog - Facebook Fan Page - Pinterest


"I have described NEVER LET YOU GO as ‘The push and pull of parenthood’. Amazon’s description is quite nice, too: “Tender but never cloying, Never Let You Go gives a great, warm hug, followed by an encouraging pat as it sets up young readers to take their first big steps on the path to growing up. This story is destined to be a favourite read-aloud for parents and children alike, as the simple but powerful message of enduring love and support is one little readers will take to heart.”"

Q. What was your writing/illustration process for NEVER LET YOU GO?

I wish I could say my creative process was smooth and organized. It is not. So often things just kind of ‘happen’ for me. The idea for this book came to me about 3 years ago. I was feeling really down in the dumps at the time, to be honest. And I had a massive migraine. I tried to take a nap to relax, and I was in this odd dream/awake space and that is when this image of a penguin parent and her child popped into my head.

Click for bigger image. ©2013 Patricia Storms.

I had just recently read the novel ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro, so I guess that title was sifting in my head. I kept seeing this image of the child going back & forth to the parent, with the refrain ‘Never Let You Go’ playing over and over. After that the rest of the words starting flowing in as well. It really was one of those rare times when the book came almost fully formed like a gift from the stars. I was so tired I didn’t even have the strength to write down the story, so I called out to my husband (who was in the computer room across from the bedroom) to write down my idea before I forgot it.

Click for bigger image. ©2013 Patricia Storms.When I felt better, I worked on creating a tight storyboard on large newsprint, and then I scanned the storyboard sketches and using Photoshop, I put the text in where I thought it would flow best. And then I promptly...let it sit on my desktop for a year.

The story was so different from anything I have ever worked on before, that I simply could not believe that anyone would like it. One of the reasons I was so uncertain about the story was because it was so personal and, well – ‘straight from the heart’.

Over the years my cartoon/illustration work has been cynical, angry, snarky, cheeky and silly, but I’ve generally avoided the heartfelt stuff. It’s not that I’m not capable of doing that work, but I was burned big-time when I was a young naïve teenage artist, and I’m still not sure if I’ve ever gotten over those experiences.

Click for bigger image. ©2013 Patricia Storms.Creating this book was a very cathartic experience for me, I must say. Let’s just say the story is a lot about working out childhood issues. I suspect this is the case for many artists and writers in this business.

Q. What was your publication process?

Once again, my process is not, I think the ‘the norm’. But perhaps there is no ‘norm’?

The only reason that any editor ever saw this manuscript is because someone approached me. An editor at Scholastic had been looking at my old blog ‘BookLust’ (which now no longer exists) and was intrigued my some of my artwork.

Since we were getting along in our emails, I figured, what the heck, and asked if I could send her this manuscript I had sitting on my desktop. There aren’t very many words in the story (112), so it didn’t take long for her to read it. Basically, she wrote to me that she was very excited about the story and that’s when the whole process began.

Click for bigger version of colour work. ©2013 Patricia Storms.After that it was a matter of getting the rest of the editorial team excited about the idea, and after that, well...it was a matter of convincing the next various levels to get excited about the idea, too. I had only sent black & white sketches to my editor, so at this stage I did some basic colour work in order to give the folks at Scholastic an idea of how I envisioned the story to be, with both words & colour.

It was almost exactly a year later before Scholastic finally offered me a contract. I don’t have an agent at this time, so I hired a literary consultant to negotiate my contract, and then the real work began. Because I had sent such a tight manuscript, there really wasn’t a lot of editing of words or layout that needed to be done. The major work was really getting the colours just right.

Click for bigger version of final art. ©2013 Patricia StormsI had a lot of help from my art director as well as my editor. I was terrified most of the time, but it was a very supportive, nurturing environment. It was particularly scary because I was trying out some new styles. Usually I just hand-draw my art, ink it and then colour it in Photoshop. But this time I wanted to create a more warm and organic look, so I outlined the penguins with charcoal pencil (something I’d NEVER done before!) and I experimented with new brushes in Photoshop, and even added Japanese paper in the background for a wee bit of collage effect.

It was quite a growth experience for me, both artistically and personally.


Q. What advice do you have for aspiring children's book writer/illustrators?

Don’t be like me! Ha. What I mean is: be more proactive, get your work out there, don’t wait a YEAR before sending something out. I still struggle with this issue – a great deal of my success is because others have found me, not because of me ‘getting my stuff out there’.

I find it SO easy to just talk myself into the blues and thus not send work out because I figure, who the heck is going to like it? It’s a terrible battle I have in my brain. I would also recommend seeking out people who are also interested in writing and/or illustrating for children, be that writer’s groups in person or online, as well as organizations such as CANSCAIP or SCBWI.

I would also add something that I think is pretty important, and it’s an issue that I still grapple with, too – try not to be too obsessed with what is selling in ‘the market’. There is SO much information out there right now, it’s pretty overwhelming.

Be aware of what appears to be selling, but I think what will serve aspiring writers & illustrators best is the strength & confidence to discover one’s own voice, and to develop one’s own unique path & stories. Ultimately there is no ‘set way’ to be published.

It’s really about discovering who you are, and what stories you want to tell. I’m still working this out for myself.

Cake from Patricia's Toronto book launch. Photo: Dorothy Kew.

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?

I’m working on a couple of picture book stories that are very close to my heart – one about a super cute monster and another about a girl & a rhino. I hope they eventually see the light of day. These stories also have a lot of heart and emotion. I think it’s where I’d like to go, if the universe will allow it. Plus I have a lot of picture book ideas which my husband keeps nagging me to develop.

It’s the same old problem for me – I keep thinking they are silly and dumb and no one will like them. I’ve really got to get over it. Regarding upcoming events, well – I’m hosting a launch of my new book, NEVER LET YOU GO at A Different Drummer Bookstore in Burlington on Sunday November 10th at 2:00pm. There will be homemade cupcakes at that event!

Patricia doing a drawing demo at her book launch, ably assisted by her husband. Photo: Dorothy Kew.

Where you can find Patricia: Website/Blog - Facebook Fan Page -Pinterest

Related links:

Quill & Quire's review of NEVER LET YOU GO

49th Shelf review of NEVER LET YOU GO

Scholastic Canada page about NEVER LET YOU GO


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.



Cartwheel/Scholastic submissions update

Since some of you have been asking...

To Inkygirl readers who submitted their manuscripts to Cartwheel/Scholastic during the special window in July, please note that the estimated response time (for those who included SASEs, that is) is expected to be around 6 months, according to Celia Lee.

Fingers crossed for those who submitted!


Interview with Celia Lee, Assistant Editor At Cartwheel Books (Scholastic), open to unagented submissions from Inkygirl readers for limited time

  *** PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBMISSION WINDOW HAS NOW CLOSED. Response time (only those who included an SASE will receive a reply) is expected to be approximately 6 months. ***

Celia Lee is an assistant editor at Cartwheel Books, Scholastic’s 0-5 imprint. When she’s not reading, she’s talking about reading. And when she’s not talking about reading, she’s thinking about reading. You can follow her on Twitter @VitellusD.

How did you come to work at Scholastic?

So I had been going to grad school (for Publishing) and doing various editorial internships for a few publishers in the city for about a year, when a wonderful, kind, generous classmate of mine told me she was leaving her current Scholastic Book Clubs job for a new position in the company.

This was HUGE news for me, because Scholastic was the first publisher I ever knew about, due in part to the Book Clubs flyers I poured over when I was in elementary school. So being the enterprising individual that I am, I applied and interviewed for the job…which I didn’t get (but a very good friend of mine got it instead, which is a whole other story!).

Luckily for me, the kind classmate heard about another opening in the Book Clubs division and passed along my resume. Et voila! I got the job, worked for a few years for the wonderful Book Clubs, and then moved over to my current position with Scholastic’s Cartwheel imprint. I guess I’m a Scholastic gal through-and-through.

What is your typical work day like?

Mornings are usually the calmest part of the day. That’s when I can write a few emails, organize our imprint’s various internal charts and grids, catch up on the latest children’s book reviews/announcements, look at production passes, and review and respond to submissions. Afternoons are a little busier, because that’s when most of our meetings happen—with production and planning, or editorial and design, or even with our Book Clubs and Book Fairs. But I also squeeze out more emails and work on submissions in-between meetings. So essentially my day consists of writing, whether it be emails, proposals, or copy; reading, either emails, manuscripts, or proofs; and meetings, with anybody and everybody!

What's the best part about your job?

Working with so many talented authors, illustrators, designers, and editors!

What's the most challenging part about your job?

Working with so many talented authors, illustrators, designers, and editors! Seriously, all of these guys are so creative and inspiring—they really challenge me to be the best that I can be. It’s great…and it’s hard work!

Is Scholastic open to unagented submissions from writers and illustrators? If so, could you please give us more details?

Scholastic’s current policy is that we are not accepting unagented submissions. However, our Cartwheel imprint is opening up a 2-month window starting today, where we will review unagented submissions. 

*******NOTE FROM DEBBIE* - Submission window is now CLOSED, so I've removed the contact info. Unagented submissions are no longer being accepted and will not receive a response. Thanks to Celia for allowing Inkygirl readers the opportunity! **********

Note from Debbie: I asked Celia if she'd be the person who would be reviewing submissions and what kind of submissions was she especially looking for/not looking for, plus if she was open to submissions from illustrators who are NOT writers. Celia says that she'll be the primary reviewer though other editors may also take a look. From Celia:  

"In terms of what we’re on the lookout for: holiday; tried-and-true subjects like transportation, community, or new experiences; interesting novelty formats; and new ways of addressing core concepts. Things that we’re not looking for are nonfiction, anything older than 1st Grade, and “love” books. And we can certainly take a look at illustrators who aren’t writers! They can send a postcard with their url to their portfolio."

What advice do you have for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators? 

Really explore the book market out there. Go to your local bookstore or a Barnes and Noble and see the kind of books that they display. Then go to stores that have a book section—your Targets, your Walmarts, even your Gaps and Anthropologies. An understanding of what booksellers of all kinds are selling out in the world is invaluable, and can really help you market your stories to publishers.

Related online resources:

About Scholastic Children's Books Publishing & Distribution

Also see my other Inkygirl interviews.