Friday, April 29, 2016

National Picture Book Writing Week - Get Ready, Get Set...May 1-7, 2016 - JOIN IN!

What is National Picture Book Writing Week? 
It's WRITING seven picture books in seven days, with your host,
author extraordinaire, Paula Yoo!
Logo artwork by Janie Bynum
She'll have wonderful guests on her blog for all of the seven days, and I am SO incredibly honored to be a part of her line up. You'll also get a chance to win prizes including a print from yours truly. :)

This year’s NaPiBoWriWee will be May 1-7, 2016 with lots of fun writing advice blogs plus Q&A’s with some special guests.

Here are the basic rules from Paula:

From Midnight May 1st (your time zone) to 11:59 PM May 7th (your time zone), you must try to write 7 picture books in 7 days. We go by the Honor Code, so you do NOT need to send me any “proof.” Please participate daily by posting a comment in my blogs. I will keep track of everyone’s names and put them all in a hat for a fun contest prize random drawing on May 8th. You are allowed to BRAINSTORM IDEAS, RESEARCH and even OUTLINE before May 1st. But absolute NO MANUSCRIPT WRITING until the big day! 

For more details on this entire event, please visit the ABOUT section of my website here:
This will be my first time trying it, I'm nervous, excited, and know I'll be a bit of a mess trying to write, write, write, as I know it is hard work, but it is incredibly exciting and I am SO pumped up for the challenge. Paula, this couldn't have happened at a better time for me and my creative journey, and I'm just so thankful to you for creating this event (since 2009!!!, congratulations!!) that helps so many writers out there keep moving forward on their creative journeys. I'm looking forward to the inspiring Q&A's that will help guide me and push me to keep that pencil to paper. THANK YOU again!

OK everyone, are you ready for the challenge? GO FOR IT and I'm cheering you all on!!! See you Sunday, May 1st! ~ Shirley

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Danny and the Blue Cloud: Happy Book Birthday!!!

I'm so pleased to share with you a wonderful book I had the privilege of illustrating recently....

Happy book birthday to:
Danny and the Blue Cloud, Coping with Childhood Depression
by Dr. James M. Foley, DEd, published by Magination Press!

When I received the opportunity to work on this book, I read the manuscript and immediately wanted to hug little Danny. Though I have not personally experienced or have known someone with childhood depression, I have had the days where I feel that my mood and demeanor is completely different. For me, I'm sure it's aging, but thinking about little ones who may suffer from childhood depression, I found it very important to try to portray the feelings of sadness, grumpiness, and dilemma that Danny feels. Dr. Foley's text and Barnaby Rabbit's "Feel-Good Rules" are encouraging, lively, and motivating for little Danny, and I hope that his experience in the book gives readers some tools for their toolbox of coping. It's been a true delight sketching, illustrating and receiving kind reviews such as this one by 5 year old, Bryan!

The very wonderful folks at Magination Press also interviewed me recently, and I'd like to share that with you here. Also, here is an interview of the is great to read of his background and writing endeavors!

I'll have a book giveaway soon, so stay tuned, and many thanks dear readers and friends for all of your support through the years! It's been an amazing journey and I am just so happy to be doing what I've loved for so long, illustrating picture books. This is one of those moments in time that I am pinching myself. ~ Best to you! Shirley

Danny and the Blue Cloud is available today!
At the American Psychological Association's Magination Press site: Includes FREE shipping!  

or on Amazon (currently 15% off)
Click here

Monday, April 4, 2016

Congratulations, Grandma Nancy! You're the winner!

So very happy for Grandma Nancy and her little readers! I thank you so much for participating everyone, and I wanted to share that the publisher let me know that the books are already in reprint, which is fabulous! I hope they reach an amazing amount of readers out there. Thanks again to the wonderful folk at Lee and Low Books, my sweet agent, Nicole Tugeau, and the talented Paula Yoo for the opportunity to work on these. I'm currently working on the next two stories and am thrilled!

Have a great April and week ahead everyone! ~ Shirley

Friday, March 25, 2016

Winners # 2 and # 3! Congratulations Mary, and Bella! ONE last chance to WIN! :)

I decided to pick two winners today - thank you so much for entering, ladies!
Congratulations to Mary and Bella! I hope you enjoy the books..I'll be in touch with an email to get your addresses.

Happy long weekend and Easter to you all if you celebrate. Happy Good Friday!

May the Easter bunny, and his little sister visit you and yours this weekend!

For one more chance to win, you can comment here, or visit at FB, or Twitter, by 3/31/16, midnight PST. I'll pick the last winner next Friday, April 1, 2016. 

Thanks everyone! ~ Shirley

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hello! Happy weekend everyone!

I want to congratulate Dow Phumrik on winning the first set of books by Lee and Low, Dive Into Reading with the Confetti Kids! YAY Dow! 

For a chance to win a set of books, you can comment here, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Thanks so much for your support everyone!

Wishing you all a great weekend ahead! ~ Shirley

Monday, March 14, 2016

***WIN*** Lily's New Home and Want to Play? - A new early emergent chapter book series by Lee & Low Books!

It's a multiple book giveaway and I am happy to share with you the release of two wonderful new books by Lee & Low. These Dive Into Reading books are a new line of early reader chapter books 
featuring the C O N F E T T   K I D S !

Introducing these cool kids:
Lily is an African American girl and an only child. She's a little shy at first, but once she's comfortable, she likes to ask a lot of questions.
Pablo is a Latino boy and a New York native, he's the only boy in a family of three sisters. He's a bit of a bookwoorm and can often be found sitting on a corner reading a book.
Mei is a Chinese-American girl, and much to her dismay, she's a bit klutzy. She has an older sister and lives with her parents and grandmother.
Henry is a Caucasian boy who like Lily, is an only child. He likes to play sports, play the drums, and motivates the others to participate in different local events.
Padma is a South Asian girl, who's a bit sassy and outspoke. She lives with her parents, older sister, and younger brother. 

Lily's New Home features Lily, a bright young girl who moves from a home in a suburban neighborhood to an apartment in New York City. Lily is used to living in a house on a quiet street. When they arrive at their new apartment, Lily notices the amount of activity all around. Kids play jump rope on one corner. Buses and taxis zoom by. Lily feels like a small ant on such a busy block and worries that she’ll never feel at home. As she and her parents explore their new, multicultural neighborhood, Lily discovers that sometimes change can be a good thing. 

Want to Play? A Junior Library Guild Selection! - features Pablo, a smart and fun young boy who loves to read. On a warm, sunny day, Pablo and the gang head to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Henry wants to play basketball, and Padma wants to play Follow the Leader. Finally Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!

HOW TO WIN: All you have to do is leave a comment below, and/or help me spread the word about this new line of books by sharing this post, by social media, and/or by word of mouth. Is there a bookstore in your neighborhood who you would like to carry these books? Are there teachers or librarians you may know who don't know of Lee and Low books? I'm committed to sharing these books with my community and would very much appreciate your support sharing the information about this new series.

Thanks friends for your support! 
I'll be picking one winner (you'll receive one of each book) each week for the next 4 weeks. I'll be updating the blog with winners, and sharing on Facebook, Twitter (@shirleysillos) and Instagram (@shirleysillos). 
Good luck! 
LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest multicultural children's bookpublisher in the country.  Their story began with a simple mission: to publish contemporary diverse stories that all children could enjoy. They are also one of the few minority-owned publishing companies in the United States, as well as a throwback to what many publishers used to be: independent, generational businesses in which the people running the company have a personal stake in its success.

 And, if purchasing directly, Lee and Low books is offering a  
25% off discount and free shipping until April 1, 2016. 
The code is CONFETTI, and it is case-sensitive.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The 2016 New York SCBWI Conference!

Hello everyone! I'm back from New York (landed late last night) and have to send out an initial warning: this is going to be a long post, as I try to write in my jet-lagged state. Please forgive any errors or omissions from this post as I know I will have left someone/something out very unintentionally.

As this was my first ever "big" SCBWI conference, and my 2nd time to New York (my last trip was in the very early 90's), I knew I was in for a complete treat and I wanted to soak up every detail and experience to the fullest so I decided to not focus on social media for the weekend. The only "commitment" (which admitedly I did not do very well) was tweet! I must say, I am so glad I tweeted a bit, and posted one Instagram post for if it were not for that, I would not have met some of the most wonderful people!

So here we go! I'm "bulleting" my thoughts to hopefully make things a little easier to find should you wish to check out any of the links I'll be adding (check 'em out if you have a chance) -
New York - what an incredible setting. The taxi drive into the city was beautiful as the city came upon me. The excitement after a long flight was building. I loved the Grand Hyatt hotel..the room was spacious and contemporary..and you can't beat the location, so wonderful to be connected to the historic Grand Central Terminal! Besides being artic-ly cold (in the single digits!), I thoroughly enjoyed the Big Apple.

• Community: I was blown away by everyone.. honest, generous, sincere, cool, witty, hilarious, awesome, encouraging, warm & welcoming, self-deprecating, crazy, and down-to-earth..these are just a few words to describe so many people I met or listened to this weekend.

Along with panel discussions and presentations by some of the industry's biggest stars, our focus that day was on career longevity and planning.
• The conference panel discussions, breakout workshops, and keynotes, kept me writing and writing in my notebook. Great information about the state of the industry, perspectives and advice.
• The Portfolio Showcase was 200+ strong. Some truly wonderful work!

• The wonderful presentations by Sophie Blackall,

were fantastic as they gave perspectives about their personal careers and paths to publishing as well as their thoughts about how to keep you working during the lulls in your career. Their commitment to their craft was incredible..research time and energy, and then execution of their efforts is what makes them the top-of-the-top in the industry. It was incredibly inspiring.
Lin Oliver was quite witty and smart and so enjoyable to listen to each day! Her "fireside chat" with the acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell was a highlight and made me want to read, read, read!

• Nancy Siscoe, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, gave a great breakout regarding "Finding Your Unique Voice"
• Author April Halprin Wayland read her story, "More Than Enough", illustrated by Katie Kath during was wonderful and a great little respite from the buzz of the conference..thanks April!
• It was a treat to listen in my 2nd breakout to Elizabeth (Liz) Bicknell of Candlewick Press speak about picturebook text. It was great to hear her speak about some of the greats for her house, Jon Klassen, Carson Ellis (I won her beautiful book, Home, in a raffle at the Illustrator Intensive...woot!), and the upcoming book, Toby, by the incredibly talented Hazel Mitchell. I can't wait!

The next day, thank you's were made to the incredible group of people who made the SCBWI Winter Conference possible...thank you everyone, it was SO well organized and executed, and the coffee and bagels were aplenty!

The renowned Jane Yolen gave the award for the two winners of her Mid-List Award:

 This year's Bologna competition winners were announced:

 Past Student Illustrator Conference Scholarship winners were highlit:
 and the 2016 winners were announced:
This year's Tomie dePaola Awards were announced:

 and finally, the Portfolio Showcase winners and honors were awarded:

We were treated to a keynote by Author, Rita Williams-Garcia, titled "Dos and Dont's in Children's Publishing from a Definite Don't"

and unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the rest of the conference or autograph session due to my travel schedule. Oh how I wish I could've gotten autographs for many of the books I purchased at the bookstore:

I had an incredible time at the conference filled with great moments that I know I will continue to remember more and more as the days and week go by. I took from this event two powerful things and that is that
#1) STORY is king..first and foremost. Paul Zelinsky's quote (you'll find it below) resonated with me, as did Dan Yaccarino's visit to the SF Illustrator day many years ago did as well, which is "why do you want to do this?" "Why is this book relevant?" Paul's quote is that it's not about you (the author/illustrator/publisher), it's about IT (the story). Yes.

#2, the people you "meet" online are indeed REAL! Meeting those who've I've admired and followed and enjoyed on social media for years in REAL LIFE was one of THE BEST things about the conference experience. To turn around and have a discussion, a "hello", a hug, or share a meal with someone you've known only through social media, well all I can say is was incredibly rewarding and simply a beautiful thing. Beyond meeting those I've "known", getting to meet others in this industry, writers, illustrators, industry experts, and more, it was an awesome experience and I will forever remember this experience.

I'll leave you with the pre-conference prep work, printed postcards and business cards and pins, and some new pieces from the portfolio. I'm really happy that I was able to create 6 new pieces and share most of them in the book. If anything, I gathered very valuable feedback, some incredibly kind and generous feedback, and the knowledge that I was able to push myself to work towards a final body to represent myself at the event. I didn't give up and learned some wonderful techniques as I created the pieces..that is incredibly valuable on this journey. I'll also leave you with some inspiring quotes from the conference..yet another incredible body of information to reflect upon in the coming year as I continue working on my craft and stories. Hope they help you in your quest to make wonderful books!
Pre-conference prep: A whirlwind of a few weeks, and I have to thank my husband and daughters first and foremost for their patience with me as I was a bit of a mess before the conference trying to prep for the portfolio showcase that I almost didn't participate in. did a great job printing my new business cards and postcards as well.

This past month or so I have been finalizing color illustrations for a second book by Magination Press, and so with not much time left to prep for the conference, I decided to simply to create as many pieces as possible before the trip. This was probably not the best idea as how possibly could that be any good work, right? But, I knew that I wanted to push myself. I sometimes feel that given that hard deadline and the ability to say that the point of the process was for me to create, gave me this extra energy to think, sketch, execute in a manner that I only have done once before and that was before the most recent SCBWI event I attended, the Illustrator Day at the Fort Mason in Sept. 15.

I recently watched a wonderful online video by Lee White, titled Visual Storytelling Techniques from Will Terry's Society of Visual Storytelling's site. It was something I've been needing to help me craft new work with the techniques in mind, and I can't wait to learn and grow in this manner as I continue in illustration. After the tutorial, I thought, "Wow, what if I focus on "storytelling" in my new portfolio of work?" and so I started sketching concepts specifically for my first piece so that I could take it to the printers for new postcards and such. 

My work turned to "storytelling" and storytellers and so, with that, here is the final postcard:


 I thought that since I was printing purely for the conference takeaways, that I should just use up all of the space, front and back, for illustration..and so I hope that it tells a story..did I succeed?

I also had some business cards printed, and my daughters helped me put together a few buttons to hand out as well....

This little piggy is writing...and rewriting...

This is not quite the story-teller image, but more of a continuation of a real story I have been tinkering with...

Little Hopkins the fox is reading about his famous relative..another story I've been tinkering with.

So long from Grand Central Terminal!

Some notable quotes:

"Go out and hustle a are the driver of your career!" - William Joyce
"Getting a good review in the NY Times doesn't make a big difference." - William Joyce
"Winnie the Pooh, by E.H. Shepard - the illustrations drew me in and I loved that book." - Sophie Blackall
"Keep busy." (referring to the time between working on books, and in this reference was to her blog illustrations for Missed Connections, which then led to the book itself) - Sophie Blackall 
"Be connected to the community such as visiting sites like: The Niblings, A Fuse #8 ProductionSeven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, 100 Scope Notes, All the Wonders, Nerdy Book Club, and Design of the Picture Book." - Sophie Blackall
"Take risks, take leaps, people will begin to trust you, be nice to everybody." - Sophie Blackall
"To improve your writing, find other writers (authors) whom you love, and read." - Sophie Blackall
"Put your colors on your palette in the same place all of the time (meaning, don't switch places), as that way you don't have to find them (making it easier and more of an innate motion to paint)." - James Ransome
"Flex your muscles by illustrating scenes with lots of buildings or crowds. Give more and put as much effort as possible into each and every piece of work you do." - James Ransome
"I was the strange guy who sat in the kid's section of the bookstore and read children's books." - Mike Curato 

"To journeys!" - Mike Curato 
"Don't be afraid to break the rules" - Paula Wiseman
"Persistance and adaptability."- Holly McGhee
"Be that person who sits in the kid's section of the bookstore and read children's books." - Paula Wiseman
"Harry Bliss wanted to move his work to children's books and went to the library every night and studied five picture books..he did this tirelessly." - Holly McGhee
"It's not about you (the illustrator or author), it's not about them (publishers/editors/ADs), it's about it (the book/story)." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Let your hand be the work." - Holly McGhee
"Don't think about the next book deal (focus on the book at hand)." - Paul O. Zelinsky
On advice to those embarking on a career in illustration:
"Rule out the possibility of doing anything else." - Holly McGhee
"Don't quit your day job before you've moved into the field with steady bookwork." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Get to know the history of children's picture books and illustrators." - Paul O. Zelinsky
"Crippling's common and reassuring that it's part of the process for everybody." - Peter Brown
On age in the industry: "It doesn't matter at all. Beverly Cleary is going to be 100 on 4/9/16."- Laurent Linn and Paul Zelinsky
"Every single one of you brings something to the table no one else does." - Cecilia Yung
"It's the best time to be in children's books." - Jean Feiwel
"Write for that audience. If you're writing for a 6-year old, know a 6-year with a 6-year old..get to know that audience and write what you believe in." - M. Loehr

Well, it's crazy late...I took a bit of a break to catch up with my girls and take them to see Kung Fu Panda 3..(I highly recommend it!) so until next time! Thank you SO much for surviving this long read. I hope you all are doing well and have enjoyed a bit of this post! 
I had an extremely rewarding time in New York. Thank you SCBWI and my family for putting up with me!  ~ Shirley