Illustrator interview - Alvina Kwong

ILLUSTRATOR INTERVIEW

1. Tell us about yourself, your background, and/or your credentials and degrees.

I am an illustrator who loves to draw and paint! I started drawing since the time I held my first pencil. When I was little, I drew a lot of unicorns and horses. In my mind, unicorns were real! I carried my sketchbook everywhere I went because I wanted to capture all of the beautiful things I saw. In high school, I took Studio Art AP and in college I studied Illustration. I worked very hard in my college years to get to where I am now. When I graduated with a BFA in Illustration, my professor told me that I came in as the worst student, but graduated as one of the top few. That meant a lot to me because I worked so hard those years doing my best, and it finally paid off.

2. Tell us about the process of illustrating pictures for a novel. What inspires you?

When I receive the manuscript for a book, I read the whole story first. Then I talk to the publisher and ask them what their thoughts are on the illustrations and if there are any specific things they need in the illustrations. Then I go through the book again and decide (with the help of the publisher) which parts will be illustrated. Then I do some thumbnails of each illustration. Thumbnails are mini quick sketches of my ideas of the illustrations. Then I go through all of them with the publisher to see which ones will fit the best for the story. At the same time, I am working on the design of the characters. After we pick out the thumbnails, I go into more detail of the thumbnails. I also do a lot of research on the things that will be in the illustrations. For example, the illustration where Myrtle is in the lab, I had to find pictures of lab rooms and things that are found in a lab. That way I have a more accurate illustration to work from, even if my illustrations are stylized. Then I send the drawing back to the publisher for approval, and once they approve of it, I go to a final drawing. If it is color, I do several different color schemes and send them to the publisher for approval, then go onto the final color illustration. It is a long process, but each step is important so that the illustrations are done correctly.

A lot of things inspire me when I am working on illustrations. Some of the things that always inspire me are other great illustrators like Norman Rockwell, Frederick Remington, Howard Pyle, and Frank and Ollie (original Disney animators). I love Norman Rockwell’s details and Frank and Ollie’s animated expressions. They are also my reference when I am working on characters. When I visit different places like Chinatown, the beach, and going into my backyard full of pine trees, I get inspired. My personality shows in my work too. I’m a very happy and positive person, and I try to show that through my work.

3. Tell us a little about your first and latest book.

The first book I illustrated is called “The Magical Melting Pot” by Michelle Greenwald. It’s a wonderful multicultural family cookbook. It is filled with delicious recipes from famous chefs from around the U.S. who are of diverse backgrounds. I started this project when I was in high school, and finished it when I was at BYU. My first book’s illustrations consisted of pen and ink, and it was my first time learning and using Adobe Photoshop. It was a wonderful experience as I transitioned from high school art to college art. I learned how to use Adobe Photoshop to clone my illustrations so that I could make a pattern. It was much easier than drawing each object over and over again.

My latest book is called “Rock a Bye Baby in Hawaii” published by BeachHouse Publishing. This book is a spin-off of the song “Rock a Bye Baby”, using native Hawaiian animals in the lullaby. The illustrations in this book are done with Acrylic paint-medium viscosity. I learned about this medium in college through my favorite professor and mentor, Richard Hull. He taught me how to use this medium and how to make it look wonderful! It’s similar to watercolor, but stays vibrant and solid like acrylic.

Alvina Kwong illustrates children's books - Broccoli Chronicles and Rock-a-Bye Baby

Alvina Kwong illustrates children’s books – Broccoli Chronicles and Rock-a-Bye Baby

4. What insight would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Being an illustrator is hard work. All the great illustrators that I admire all worked hard in their jobs. And at the same time they loved it. To be successful, you must work hard, and never give up. There were many times I almost gave up. There were times when I was at school and thought I would not make it. To this day, I still work hard and never give up on my work. The illustration industry is a very tough industry. There are many many talented illustrators out there and everyday I have to compete with them. There are many days where I feel like giving up too. For the hundreds of postcards and emails I send to Art Directors, I might get 1 job from it. So it can be discouraging. But I keep going and remember to never give up. Besides talent, hard work and perseverance is what makes or breaks you. And you can’t take criticism personally. At the same time, I love my job and the people who I work with. And I love making new wonderful friends who are also illustrators. We may all be competitive, but most of us are kind and helpful to each other. The illustration friends that I’ve made over the years are some of my greatest friends who have supported and helped me in my career.

5. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Illustration is an exciting and wonderful career. It’s my love and passion, and I enjoy it. I hope that when you see my work, it will bring a smile to you.

Where to find illustrators

Inspired by Alvina’s story? Get in contact with her!
Twitter
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Website

macys.com

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


A summary and review of A Raisin in the Sun

Title: A Raisin in the Sun
Author: Lorraine Hansberry
ISBN: 978-0679601722
Publication Date: 1995
Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition
Hardcover: 176 pages
List Price: $15.95
Book Description: “Never before, the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage,” observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959.

Indeed Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America–and changed American theater forever. The play’s title comes from a line in Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which warns that a dream deferred might “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”

“The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun,” said The New York Times. “It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic.” This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry’s landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.

book review of a raisin in the sun

Book Review: Dreams are often delayed and in some cases ignored which causes our inner anger to rise and skew our look on life. A Raisin in the Sun is based upon the poem “Harlem” also known as “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes which posses the question, What happens to a dream deferred?

The Younger family receives an insurance check for $10,000 which provides hope of one day owning a home and leaving the life of poverty. Mama, the head of the family, purchases a home in an all white community – where this African American family is not wanted. This decision infuriates Walter Lee and causes him to berate his wife and ignore his child. Out of love and sympathy for her son, Mama gives the remainder of the money to Walter Lee to manage, but instead, he loses it to a bad investment deal. This buries a seed of bitterness inside of him causing his negativity to escalate. Out of anger, Walter Lee attempts to sell the house back – only to make matters worse. In the end, Walter Lee decides not to sell the house back and realizes that the love and respect from his family is greater than his love for money.

This novel is used among many high school teachers due to its message and family structure. This book is great for thematic units and teaches kids about the importance of family and how to conquer conflict when it arises in our home. This book proves that the love of your family is far greater than money, fortune, or fame. It also addresses the notion that dreams are often deferred and if we let them sit out in the sun for too long, it can dry up just like a raisin in the sun.

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Quiet room to write

Don’t let meaningless noise distract you from writing. My advice – find a quiet room to write!

Finding solitude in your home or office can be the first step in starting or finishing your novel. We don’t always notice it, but there are built-in distractions that sort of leach away at our time and focus, leaving us drained and distracted.

How do we avoid this? The answer is simple – designate a specific place for writing.

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Advice for Writers: Find the Right Editor

I’ve learned early in my writing career that time is our most valuable commodity and once our time is lost, it can never be returned. In knowing this, I practice locking myself inside of my home office for at least one hour a day so that I can think, plan, and write. Aside from prayer, this ritual has become the basis of my success. Understanding how time works and how to utilize every precious moment can be valuable to writers.

How do we start? Well, FIRST make sure that you designate a place that is solely for writing. Don’t try to combine your workout room, television room, and writing space all together in one. This can cause a distraction for you which can ultimately hinder your ability to focus and write.

SECOND, make sure that you notify your friends and family of your solitary moment. If you wait until the last-minute to notify your child that you will be unavailable during the same time that he or she has soccer practice, then this could cause chaos. You must understand that this is another form of distraction which we are trying to avoid.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Advice for Writers: Find the Right Illustrator

THIRD, disconnect or turn off your phone. This step is probably the hardest to adjust to since we live in an era where our phones have become our best friends.

NEXT, make sure that you have all of the supplies and resources that you need i.e. Pencil, paper, computer, cup of coffee, light snack, etc. You don’t want to stop right in the middle of a sentence just to head downstairs for something to drink which could possibly break up your creative flow and hinder you from finishing.

LAST, try to relax, stay calm, and just write! Your novel will thank you later!


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TIPS FOR WRITING
1. Find a quiet room in your home or office to write
2. Try to find a space that’s dedicated to just writing
3. Be responsible – notify your friends and family that you will be unavailable during that time
4. Disconnect your home phone, cell phone, iPad, iPod, or any device that you’re not using to write with
5. Don’t start writing until you have all of the supplies that you need
6. Make sure that you relax, stay calm, and just write

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Advice for Writers: Build Your Author Platform

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Writer blog, author blog, self-publishers blog, children's book blog by Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. Tell us about yourself, your background, and/or your credentials and degrees.

I noticed about five years into my teaching career that I wanted to become a children’s author primarily due to the lack of reading amongst most inner city students. It took about six years to write and edit my first novel, Broccoli Chronicles. Since then, it has won two awards – the National Indie Excellence Award and the Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Award. As it relates to my educational background, I have two Master’s degrees – one from Chapman University and the other one from National University. I worked with the award-winning Lynn Hightower through UCLA Extension Writer’s Program where I learned how to hone my craft. I have written over 60 articles on my blog, in which two of them have been published in IBPA’s Independent Magazine.

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva at Merced Fair

2. Tell us about the process of writing and publishing a novel. What inspired you?

I started writing children’s books sometime around 2007, halfway into my teaching career. At that time, I noticed the decline in graduation rates and the scarce number of children that read. I wanted to create a book series that not only motivated them to read more, but also encourage them to find their voice and true potential in life.

3. Tell us a little about your first and latest book.

My first book, Broccoli Chronicles, follows Myrtle Beckle and her quest to cure cancer through broccoli. It is educational, humorous, and very inspiring. It’s awesome to know that even a ten-year-old girl can actually change the world. My latest book, Little Kids, Big Voices Math Workbook, Grades 1-3 is a workbook that covers arithmetic, fractions, and decimals. It’s a great resource for beginning learners.

Little Kids, Big Voices Math Workbook, Grades 1-3

4. What insight would you give to aspiring writers who are interested in publishing?

First of all, stay true to yourself, your vision, and your craft. Second, try to create characters that are unforgettable. Next, spend valuable time on marketing and building your platform as an author. Last, have fun!

5. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

The sky is not the limit – reach higher!

Inspired by Taneeka’s story? Get in contact with her!
Twitter
Google+
Pinterest

macys.com

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Find an editor to copyedit your manuscript

Aspiring writers can now gain access to free advice and information for finding an editor.

You are pretty much done with soliciting valuable feedback from your friends and family and now you believe that your story is complete. After long writing sessions, gluing yourself to the computer, falling asleep with your face inside of the dictionary, and joining tons of writing groups…what could possibly be next?

Your next step is to hire an editor. It is time for them to critique your plot and story elements, and then flush out any spelling or grammatical errors that may hinder the flow of your story. When looking for a qualified editor, please use wisdom and common sense. Double check their website, references, credentials, past work experience, social media presence, etc. Ask tons of questions regarding their availability, expertise, and pricing. If they are genuine and professional, they will answer any posing questions that you may have. Lastly, make sure that they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement which protects the confidentiality of your work.

Finding the right editor can be very scary for new authors. It’s hard turning over your manuscript to someone in fear that they may actually butcher it.


Here are three things to remember!

First, make sure that the editor has a degree in English, a resume, a writing portfolio, and a current client list, all of which show their talent and expertise. Next, search for someone who is great at listening to directives and instructions, but allows their editing genius to turn your manuscript into an award-winning novel. Lastly, hire someone for the long haul. Most likely, you will work with this person on multiple projects so having a good relationship with them will pay off in the end.

After working with the award-winning Lynn Hightower through the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, I spent about two weeks looking for someone to professionally edit Broccoli Chronicles. I solicited several editors, in which I clearly learned that forming the proper relationship is the only way that this thing could actually work. Shortly after, I stumbled across Julia Temlyn who has become a great fit for me and my company. Through her, I have learned a lot about grammar, word choice, punctuation, and so much more!

Julia Temlyn edits for Building Voices and edited the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles

In the small time that Broccoli Chronicles has been published, it won the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award in Children’s Fiction and won Honorable Mention in Foreword Reviews’ 2014 ‪INDIEFAB‬ Book of the Year Awards for Juvenile Fiction! I contribute this success to my whole team!

If I could leave you with anything, it would be this…Remember to do your research, trust your gut, and do not be afraid to ask questions!

This post can also be found on the Children’s Writer’s Guild website.


Grammar Check

RELATED ARTICLE:
Advice for Writers: Find the Right Illustrator
Advice for Writers: Build Your Author Platform

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


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