Last summer (2008), I started taking some of my first big steps to becoming a real illustrator. I had been checking out picture books on a regular basis from my local library to get better acquainted with the world of children's books, and in particular with authors and illustrators. And somewhere along the way, I came across the work of author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka. I read Punk Farm and Baghead, and really liked Krosoczka's style. I visited his webpage, and eventually wrote him an email to say that I liked his work and to seek his advice on getting into the world of children's books. I was thrilled to get a reply from him, and the biggest piece of advice he offered was to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Later on in September, I learned that Tony Diterlizzi would be coming to Atlanta for a book signing of his latest title Kenny and the Dragon. I had read and loved Spiderwick Chronicles, and thought it would be a great opportunity to go to the book signing and meet the author/illustrator. It was a great experience. Not only did I get to hear Tony read an excerpt from Kenny and the Dragon in person, but I also got invited to come up and create a sketch of a dragon with him! Later on, I asked Tony for his advice on getting into the world of children's books, and he said something I had heard before: "Join SCBWI!"
Needless to say, I took their advice and became a full-fledged member of SCBWI. By the time 2009 rolled around, I had booked a flight to New York City to attend my first SCBWI New York Conference. It was an amazing experience. I even got to meet Jarrett Krosoczka and thank him in person for his advice!
(J and J - yeah, that's how we roll.)
Since the conference, I built my website, created some new illustrations, and started going through my copy of Children's Writers and Illustrators Market to find out more about contacting publishers.
And that about brings us to the present!