Tuesday, November 27, 2018

First Runner Up in Sub Six Banner Contest


Recently, I entered an illustration contest just for fun. I've decided to get my work out there more this year, so it would be a fun way to play and work on my skills. It was for a Facebook Banner for Sub Six. The assignment was to draw a wild animal that represents the group which is basically support for children's book creatives (AKA the subtitle of the banner). I chose a turtle because you have to be patient in the publishing business. It's not typically a quick & easy journey. There will be many ups & downs and times when you don't think it's possible, but you have to dig deep and continue if that's what makes you happy. Well, I'm so excited to announce that I was First Runner Up! I'm so proud of that! There were so many amazing illustrators from different countries. The winner is from Thailand and the Second Runner Up is from Chile. Pretty darn cool!! :) Here's my design. I hope it makes you happy.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Being creative brings me joy

I've had a really rough couple of years. In July of 2016 my Dad died suddenly. I live in Texas, my parents, sister and in-laws live in Michigan. It was a horrible time for me as I've never really experienced death that closely and I felt like my Dad and I had a special bond. The next summer, my husband's favorite aunt died of lung cancer. Shortly after that one of my aunts passed away too. Then last March my mom was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I feel blessed that I visited her for a week in January for my birthday - just a fun week without talk of cancer since we had no idea of what was to come. While she was going through chemo treatments & blood transfusions, I visited often. I thought she looked really good in April when my husband and I flew up for his father's funeral, but by the end of May my mom was gone too. I was blessed to be there at her side for a few days before she passed and also a week afterward helping my sister get through this devastating loss. So, if you're keeping track, that's 5 people I've lost in the past 2 years (both parents within 22 months). I feel like my life is completely different than what I'm used to. The upcoming holidays are not as exciting and I have to keep reminding myself that no, I can't call my parents and tell them about my day and ask how they're doing. Every day frustrations don't bother me that much anymore because I know there are worse things that happen all the time.

So, in order to put a smile on my face and live a happy life like I know my parents would want me to do, I focus more on my goals of writing & illustrating children's books. I've also added in creative projects with paper mache, sewing, cross stitch, and crochet. This year, I entered 4 items in the State Fair of Texas and won two 2nd place ribbons (Mister Rogers cross stitch & paper mache Conan O'Brien) and two 3rd place ribbons (crochet Mister Rogers and stuffed llama that I sewed).


I'm also working harder on my writing. I am determined to become a published author. It has been a goal of mine since I was in elementary school. I've gotten sidetracked throughout the years at various times, but it's always been a fire in my soul. I'm not giving up.

Life is short and if you want something badly enough you have to work hard to grab it before you're gone. If you're going through a rough time and are feeling defeated and sad, try something creative. Watch a youtube video of someone painting or creating something, bake, draw, get messy with paint/clay/paper mache, listen to upbeat music and go for  walk and think of things you're grateful for with each breath you take. That's what I do. It's easier to push down your grief when you're working on something joyful. It's the one thing I can control - I can't change the past, but I can control my happiness by doing what brings me joy.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fabulous things are happening at Deb Meyer Creative




I thought I would post a little gratitude about something I'm hard at work on. I feel like the windows are open and the fresh, spring air is flooding the room.

Recently, I was contacted to work on a rather large project for a Christian publisher involving Sunday School for preschoolers. What's really cool about this whole thing is that 1)I had never heard of this publisher, so I didn't send out promotional mailers to them - they found me. 2)I had literally prayed about having an opportunity to work with a Christian publisher and specifically for preschool children. 3)I instantly felt extremely confident about this project and being capable of doing a great job (honestly, there is usually a moment of panic on whether I'm good enough or have the time due to my day job or just my inner Eyeore that tries to ruin the moment, but not this time!)

My soul-searching has paid off. Prayers have been answered. It feels wonderful to be working in illustration again and to feel confident about my abilities. I'm grateful and proud every time I get an email back from the publisher that says my sketches have been approved or that it was unanimous that they wanted ME! Wow. What a great feeling.

Plus, I'm writing again and enjoying every minute of it. Looking forward to putting together a dummy book from a story I wrote at the airport while waiting for a connecting flight.

Thank you, God, for planting this desire in my heart and for guiding me through the ups & down. I'm honored you chose me.

Friday, December 22, 2017

I vow to live a more creative life in 2018

I haven't posted much on this blog and if there is anyone but myself who is interested in what I'm doing over here, please feel free to read on. Otherwise I'm talking to you, Deb Meyer and when you are frustrated or unsure of your path in life, remember this and get it together! It's important!!

Here's the deal. I have a deep desire to live a creative life 24/7. No getting out of the house to work in an office where I create spreadsheets and deal with budgets and hear the clock ticking ever so slowly & loudly behind me. I want to be a full time artist. But a full time artist that is successful financially too. (or at least to the extent that the office gig pays, how about that - trust me, that is NOT asking for much.).

My dream is to write & illustrate children's picture books. A friend of mine recently said to me, "Be honest. What have you been doing to actually accomplish this goal?" Ouch. This is my response to that: I go to SCBWI conferences, I write stories, I belong to a critique group, sometimes I submit manuscripts and/or dummy books to publishers, I read new picture books and really research what is working in that published book so that I can crack the code myself (AKA "read like a writer"). I draw a lot too and have been sending out promotional postcards to art directors. I have social media accounts and post about my work there. But for the past 3 years . . . 0 illustration jobs/0 writing jobs. Maybe there has been a move for me in the direction of my dreams somewhere in the Universe, but I'm unaware of it. I don't feel any further along than I was 10 years ago. I've been feeling very frustrated & stressed at my lack of achievements and question all that I feel drawn toward and my abilities to become part of that world.

Recently, I took time away from the whole process to fill the creative well and explore other avenues. Creating, just for the sake of creating without any real plan sounded like a good idea. Maybe I would just enjoy the process and relax. I crochet, so I learned how to make hats and along with my crochet group, we made 51 tiny red hats to donate to the American Heart Association for babies born in February. I also created some items out of paper mache - a Day of the Dead skeleton, Santa, and some fine arts performers. I absolutely loved making those characters and am excited to make more.
Paper Mache Santa with crocheted cap

Day of the Dead Paper Mache Skeleton

Choir - paper mache

Dance - paper mache

Orchestra - paper mache

Band - paper mache
Art - paper mache

Theatre - paper mache


So, how do I parlay all of this creative energy into achieving my goals? Especially when working 40 hrs a week at that office job? Here are things that I could try to make some cash from my artistic abilities:

Crochet: create hats, scarves, stuffed animals to sell online or at craft bazaars. Also, I'd love to donate hats to hospitals for cancer patients.

Paper mache: create figurines on stands to sell online or at craft bazaars, maybe submit articles to magazines to teach children how to create paper mache, research how to submit samples to companies that mass produce figurines (like Kelly Rae Roberts does or paper mache artist Lori Mitchell)

Illustration: Change up my entire style to find something more unique, marketable, but also able to create finished illustration quicker considering there's that office job taking up the day. Revamp the portfolio, submit new portfolio to an agent and postcards to art directors/editors. Put more designs up on my Zazzle site.

Writing: Take classes to become a better writer. Work on several stories a month. Submit manuscripts/dummy books every month. Try your hand at writing short stories for magazines.

Also, be patient. Don't get frustrated by not seeing a check come in for your creative endeavors. You can't afford to NOT be creative. It's a worse life than you could imagine. Don't give up and become an office drone. Work hard each day on something creative, put yourself out there, and believe with all your heart that "if you build it, they will come." Keep going. You got this!!

"God, give me the grace to accept your timing."



Friday, September 29, 2017

My SCBWI Eyeore Moment

I almost didn't write this because I don't want to discourage anyone on their journey, but I decided to post to help folks realize that a journey is not always straight forward and filled with rainbows and unicorns. There are days you are completely unmotivated and discouraged, but if you want to achieve something you push through it and move on.

Last weekend, at the N TX SCBWI Conference, I realized that I have been a member of SCBWI for 19 years. Although I'm proud to be a member of such a fabulous organization, I immediately thought to myself, "Seriously?! Nineteen years and I still don't have a book deal!" I felt like a total wannabee and more than once thought maybe I should just save myself the frustration and say I tried but it's not in the cards. How do you know when you're just fooling yourself into thinking you are capable of doing something but really aren't? Yeah, not the best attitude, but that was my reaction. It is what it is. I do realize that I have accomplished some goals - I have had two articles published in children's magazines, illustrated 5 coloring/activity books for a Christian publisher, had an art rep for a few years, illustrated a few things for the educational market, and have gone to the national SCBWI conferences in LA and NYC. But 19 years is an awful long time, you know. I had what I call "An Eyeore Moment."

The theme of our conference was "It's Your Business". Not, "It's Your Hobby", or "You Can Give It A Try For Awhile But Feel Free To Quit When You Get Rejection Letters And Feel Like A Fraud" - frankly, that's really way too long for the conference folders anyway. Back to our conference . . . It was filled with people in the wonderful world of children's publishing - editors, agents, writers, illustrators, raffle prizes, a fabulous silent auction, and even a cookie break! Everything you could want in a conference and all in the great state of Texas.

Kayla Olson gave the first keynote and talked to us about her path to publication. Her book The Sandcastle Empire was published this year. Basically, she shared the same frustration I feel frequently and reminded us to "Give Yourself Grace". I needed to hear that since I was beating myself up. She kept with it and is living the dream. I can too.

I had a really encouraging critique of my dummy book from writer/illustrator powerhouse Salina Yoon. I absolutely love her work, so this really made my day. It was the boost I needed. I loved meeting her.

One of my favorite things about the conferences is that I can reconnect with friends I haven't seen since the last conference! Our chapter covers a lot of ground, and that's one reason why I'm grateful for our conferences. We can all come together and lift each other up and get the lessons & inspiration we need to continue on. It's like a cool drink when you feel like you're lost in the desert, crawling your way to Publishing Land.

After lunch we heard from Brett Duquette, an editor from Sterling, and Oh. My. Gawd. I want to work with that man. So hilarious. I told him my goal was to write something he absolutely loves and wants to publish it. That's a mighty task, but I'm eager to make that happen.

So, how the heck do I achieve my goal of having my very own book published? Well, I'm going to seek out ways to learn how to do this better - taking writing courses, watching YouTube videos and podcasts, committing to writing & illustrating each day even if it's just during my lunch hour and again after dinner, I'm going to study picture books and "Read like a writer", I'm going to submit stories to my critique group and then submit to publishers when I feel they're ready (or maybe sooner because there's a chance I might never feel they're good enough). I'm going to re-vow (is that a word?) to do whatever it takes to become a published author/illustrator and I'm going to continue to go to conferences to learn and be inspired all over again. Quitting isn't an option. It's been a dream of mine to work in children's publishing since I was a kid, and how can I deny Little Deb of that?!?!


Saturday, August 05, 2017

Saturday Inspiration - Amazing Vector Artwork in Children's Publishing

My main goal is to write and illustrate books for little kiddos - babies & preschoolers. I love working in Adobe Illustrator too. So, after my local SCBWI Illustrator meeting today, I went to Barnes & Noble to check out my favorite section - board books & picture books for toddlers & preschoolers. My main goal was to find vector art in these books.

OMG! I was so excited to see the crazy-good work out there! Like this book by Greg Paprocki A is for Atom. WHAT?! It's the coolest!





And I've been a big fan of Helen Dardik for years, so you know I got all excited when I saw The Story of Noah's Ark. (I LOVE THOSE WAVES!!!)

And these adorable animals by Natalie Marshall from her book Farm and also Garden



I could post a ton more amazing vector artwork. So inspired! There are so many different style of artwork being used in children's publishing, and I love that. I know that some people prefer watercolors, acrylic or oil paintings, but I prefer the bold, clean lines of Adobe Illustrator. I love how easy it is to revise, resize, change colors, etc. I love how easy it is to submit my files to the client. I am grateful that it was created way back in 1982. (another stellar thing that came from the 80's!!!) I'm happy that it's possible that I can become a published author/illustrator using the tools that I know & love. Whooohooooo!!  Thanks for the inspiration fellow AI artists!




Sunday, July 23, 2017

My take homes from the SCBWI LA Conference 2017

I have been blessed to attend many SCBWI conferences in Texas, Oklahoma and both national conferences in NYC & LA. This summer was my third time attending the conference in LA. I've come to realize that so much of what I gain from these conferences is friendship and networking with those who have cracked the code and have made it into the world of children's publishing.

Recently, I was the winner of a new book - not yet released - by Mitzi Tulane and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi entitled "Preschool Detective: The Secret Ingredient". Debbie emailed me to tell me I had won her contest and then proceeded to email back & forth with loads of encouragement and tips to get my work noticed. What a huge gift that was. I think she is one of the most creative & sweetest gals out there! So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I'm sharing with you what I learned in LA.

Fellow introvert, Kat Yeh
First of all, if you are like me, AKA an introvert, it's okay. Don't worry that a big conference is going to be overwhelming. It might be, but you'll be with a room filled with folks just like you and so it's much easier to handle, I promise. For instance, the adorable & very talented author of The Truth About Twinkie Pie, Kat Yeh, gave a keynote speech in front of the whole room where she told us that at her first conference she was so nervous, worried she wouldn't know anyone, and was sure it would be just like high school where she wouldn't be able to hang out with the cool kids & their cliques. She even ate lunch in her hotel room by herself. She made some friends at the Saturday night gala and BOOM! she felt like she had found her peeps. (I saw her in the elevator later that weekend and told her I could relate to her story and appreciated that she shared it.) You don't have to be the center of attention, be loud and vivacious. It's okay to be quiet. Sometimes extroverts ask me if I'm okay because I'm quiet - that's fine. I figure it's their deal if they're interpreting my quietness as an issue because I am doing great without being super talkative. But that's probably just me - I think understanding the different reactions between introverts & extroverts helps. Just know that SCBWI is like a family reunion - you will find those you love to hang out with and some you might enjoy from afar. The good news is that it's a big event and you can hide in your room when needed.

Speaking of the Saturday night gala. This year was The Silver Lining Gala. Even though I looked like an eccentric, nutty old lady, I had fun getting my glitter on.
My roomie, Rebecca Evans and I at The Silver Linings Gala. I've decided to wear those sparkly glasses when I work on my writing and illustrating from now on. :)

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is the real deal, folks!
Which brings me to the keynote speech that everyone who attended will remember forever. One of THE BEST gems from the whole shebang! The keynote that kicked it all off: Vanessa Brantley Newton! I was too busy being mesmerized by her, laughing, crying and doing the hokey pokey (honest, we did) and didn't get a good photo. (Plus, my iphone seriously takes less than fabulous photos) Here's one of me and Vanessa at her book signing on Sunday.Click on her name above to check out her blog. She is so incredibly talented, but also has a heart of gold. I have been following her on Facebook for a while now and when we finally met on Sunday, she gave me the biggest hug that really touched my soul. During her keynote, she spoke of overcoming adversity and how you need to "Shake it off and pack it under!" Don't let it all drag you down, you just shake it off. You learn from it, grow from it and when it's packed under it will lift you up to where you belong. I thought that was beautiful. Remember that the next time you feel broken. Shake it off and pack it under! You'll get there. :)
North Texas SCBWI members enjoying lunch together in LA

So, honestly, the biggest thing I learned, is that there are so many great people in SCBWI who are more than willing to help you achieve your dreams. Make a point of going to your local chapter and getting to know the folks there . I got to know my group better  while I was at the conference, and I'm so glad I did. What a fun bunch! So encouraging and eager to share their knowledge or help out if they can. Like illustrator, Sean Qualls, who shared his process during a breakout session. He had so many samples of his work and showed us how he works from a book dummy to finals. So very giving of his time and experience. I truly appreciate that.
Sean Qualls book Lullaby and the book dummy he pitched
Sean Qualls, sharing his process


I was also blessed to take part in a peer group portfolio critique by a group of Illustrator Coordinators who are all good friends. Thank you for including me, ladies!!! It was a little intimidating because they are all wildly talented, plus the fact that literary agent, Jennifer Laughran stopped by the table just as they were starting my critique and she stayed for the whole thing . . . whoa. I kid you not when I say that I learned more in those 15 minutes than I have in years. Thankfully, there were some pieces that worked just the way they were (whew), but to get feedback on why something isn't working and suggestions on how to fix it . . . PRICELESS! Honest to goodness constructive criticism!! YAY! So, don't be afraid to put yourself out there.

If you do, you too can meet and chat with your favorite writers & illustrators! Just like fast friends!
Fan girl moment with illustrator Joyce Wan 
One of my favorite funny writers, Bruce Hale

Sean Qualls is so talented & super nice too!

Out of body experience: I met Judy Blume!!
That's right, I grabbed the opportunity to meet Judy Blume. I was told she's super shy and really doesn't enjoy all the hoopla, so I asked nicely if I could have a photo and was very respectful of her personal space. She's an American treasure. Look how nice she is to stand there and smile with me! 

So, here's the deal. If you have the overwhelming desire to work in the field of children's publishing, you NEED to get yourself to an SCBWI meeting. Go to local conferences, and save your pennies to go to a national conference either in NYC or LA or both. THEN, get out there and say hello to people. Don't be afraid to say "Hey, I love your work!" Who doesn't love a compliment?! Most people have moments where they might question whether or not they're good enough, and you might be that uplifting voice they needed to hear. Plus, it's an opening to be able to talk to them which is great if you are like me and are better when someone else makes the first move. Learn all you can from these lovely people and work on your craft. Don't be afraid to put it out into the Universe through social media and conferences. That's the only way you're going to get noticed and find an agent/art director/editor/publisher. Actually, I think that is a huge part of cracking the code! All the work you put in learning, working on your craft, networking, revising, working some more . . . it's all leading up to the day the lock springs open and HELLO, you get the joyful news that someone likes your work so much that they have to publish it! WHOOHOO! Oh how glorious that must be. 

Remember to enjoy the journey. :) And on that note, I'm off to work on some sketches. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!