Sunday, March 4, 2012

Contest for the 12x12x12 Challenge and Beginning The Hero's Art Journey

For picture book people in the 12x12x12 challenge, I've offered a free one hour consultation to help you with your picture book manuscript starting March 5th and lasting until March 30th (the winner will be announced April 2nd). To enter visit Julie Hedlund's blog where I have a VERY helpful post on March 5th about the 4Ps of getting your picture book published. After reading it - do come back here and post a comment below about which of the 4 Ps is most challenging and how you might address it. Good luck and do join in. As April Chu - remember her name and where you heard it first, (one of my recent picture book consultation clients) said, "Mira, you should bottle your talent and sell it. You really are the Picture Book Whisperer" : ) Of course it made me happy. Looking forward to reading your comments.

For artists, those with a creative spark in their hearts who would like to explore art, picture book authors and illustrators, therapists and teachers, I wanted to give you a glimpse at tomorrow's introduction: "In the beginning" for the Hero's Art Journey e-course. The course will never be this inexpensive again nor will it have this magical combination of people or a FREE major value e-book of course content combined with a 100% money back guarantee if you don't find it fantastic value. Fortunately, enrollment doesn't close until Sunday March 11th as it's easy to catch up  but if you can start on the 5th - do! Here's an easy link to sign up with for only 99.00 (when you take the course - you'll see how underpriced this is) - you don't need PayPal - simply click the link, then click on the link that says Don't have a PayPal account? and then go to the 2nd panel on the right that says, Don't have a PayPal account? and use your credit card. Easy peasy.

And here's a glimpse at some of our incredible contributors.

In the beginning
When I first created the Hero's Art Journey e-course, I used Joseph Campbell's work on the archetypal hero's journey from Hero with a Thousand Faces as a conceptual frame or structure to create a course that would empower and nurture students to work through "stuff," build art skills, learn more about how stories and narrative work, and promote a sense of adventure to access or deepen creativity.

I wanted the course to help very beginners to professional artists, and left brain folks to learn to play with their right brain, and picture book people to deepen their understanding of, and skills with, art and narrative. I also wanted it to be helpful for teachers, and therapists to use with their students and clients as well.

Because of my passion for multiculturalism, mythology, and different forms of spirituality, I wanted to integrate these as well, so Campbell's Hero's Journey formed a perfect structure. As a former university professor who hated all the BS of academia but loved treaching, I also wanted to integrate art history, contemporary art, and some theoretical knowledge about the connections between art, history, and politics AKA cultural studies so I did. Being a loving extrovert, I drew some of my wonderful fine artist and children's book friends into the course, some of whom will be participating, and interviewed them about techniques and ideas related to the projects that I had created inspired by Cambell's idea. Because the course is only 5 weeks long (with content available another 3 weeks), I narrowed it down to 5 projects with a couple of bonus projects for those that have the time to play with or do later. I condensed some of Campbell's  steps and omitted others, so the course is not a purist approach to his work but rather a launching pad for experimentation, growth, fun, community and deepening of art skills.

In the Resources section you'll find lots of step by step pdfs, elements and principles worksheets, lesson plans, and other goodies. Do as much or as little as you are up for. If you've never taken an art class before these will be especially helpful for you. I'd like to take a moment here to introduce Marge who you can meet in the About section. Marge has been invaluable in helping me create this course and will be appearing all over the place. She was my intern and is now my friend and occasional employee. I know you'll love Marge as much as I do.

Last year I came across Valerie Frankel's From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine's Journey and it blew me away. I am so grateful that she agreed to be interviewed for the course, sharing her encyclopedic knowledge of mythology and how it relates to women. The podcast is a little over half an hour long and if you are interested in learning about narrative, folk tales and fairy tales, kids' books and how Campbell's research into the masculine hero's journey diverges from what Valerie's research found about the heroine's journey -  push the arrow key and find out.

In this case - it's click the link 
You won't regret it : )

And here's a glimpse of me wearing one of Maya Gonzalez's delightful necklaces. Photo by Marge : )

Finally, I've been lucky enough to receive some mentoring from Beth Barany (as well as the wonderful Steff Green in the current home page story). Beth suggested that folks might want to know what they leave the course with in a more succinct way so here's some of what participating heroes will receive :

By the end of your Hero's Art Journey you’ll have a wonderful portfolio of art, improved self-awareness with wonderful self-care strategies, knowledge about diverse cultures and mythology, a big old bag of art tricks and techniques, and a wonderful community of fellow heroes.

In this interactive online 5-week course, you'll receive guidance from Dr. Mira Reisberg, and a wide range of successful picture book professionals and fine artists to:
Uncover the archetypal story that so many plot driven stories are based on in your own life
Discover your animal allies or totem animals, your inner gods, goddesses or guardian angels and much more in super playful and practical ways and create either adult process or experimental art or fabulous children’s portfolio pieces
Learn about art history and contemporary art, multicultural art, mythology, and spirituality, and children’s picture books
Gain skills and confidence in your life and work
Achieve extraordinary things in ways that you never imagined in a safe and welcoming environment


Sounds so good - I think I'll sign up myself : )


bobbie said...

Great post. For me, the hardest 'P' is persistence. I love to paint, I love to write, but I fall short on selling. I find it hard to send out my work and one rejection makes me want to give up.

Robyn Campbell said...

I read your post and I am P for patience or should I say lack thereof. I truly loved reading your advice in there. It is now in a folder, lest I forget, I can read it anytime. As to how I can address this bad P of mine eludes me. I was thinking that I can practice my patience on every draft that I know must be redone. (Even though to me, every draft I write is perfect. Ha haaa) I especially loved your timely advice on joining Lawyers for the Arts, if I have one in my area and seeing an intellectual property lawyer. Thank you for taking the time. *smiling*

Pam said...

I'm a beginner, therefore ALL P's apply to me. Yet the one that resonated with me the deepest was, PRODUCT. I read and re-read this post. I want my work to be exceptional. Learning to do "...whatever it takes to have your work be the very best...
whatever the characteristic" will be my mantra. I have much to learn and much to do. I thank you very much.

Jennifer Lee Young said...

Thank you for all your advice Mira. I struggle with patience. I'm learning from my mistakes though.

Elizabeth Stevens Omlor said...

Mira! Teach me! I am learning to be more patient, however it is the P for product I struggle with the most. I love to write and read how to write and read what others write...I guess I am just waiting for my product to be ready and polished enough for the world to see!

Cindy McCown said...

Wow...all the P's have their own struggles for me, but I would have to say Patience is the hardest. Not just with Picture Books, but in other areas of my life as well I hurry to get to the next level, next thing, next goal. Taking the time to wait and see, to take deep breaths and have faith over time is my biggest challenge. Thanks for the wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Mira, I'm willing to live by the law of the 4 P's - dedicated, devoted, and dutiful - but the hardest by far is Product, since I'm terribly hard on myself (dare I say "perfectionist"?) I hope and dream that time and experience will help to address this little "P" - and continued attention to the "P" for Patience.

Thank you for the inspiration!

NotAnonymously yours,
Melissa K.

(melissakelleywrites at

Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

Your 4 Ps are so interwoven it seems impossible for me to discriminate! The way you describe passion is what I would call an affliction and I can't function any other way! It is the driving force for the rest. I feel good about all four P's, but Product is what I would choose here. I cannot afford to attend a conference anytime soon, so I am reading everything I can to make up for it as best I can; I write every day, draw every day - I don't go anywhere without my sketchbook! Thanks Mira, for prompting me to really think about the 4 Ps.

Gail said...

Great advice, Mira. My P downfall is patience: Patience with myself when I'm frustrated feeling that I can't overcome whatever writing challenge I'm facing and Patience in waiting to here back from editors or agents, knowing that one person's work isn't right for all and that rejections are a part of the process. I have the Persistence to go on (after a little sniffling or cursing over a rejection). Have you considered adding PROCESS as another P? As in any profession, there is a process to learn and follow in order to master the craft. So many newbies (myself included sometimes) don't understand the process one needs to go through, first the writing/revision process, then the connection to agents/editors process, and finally the publishing process. It does truly require PATIENCE, PASSION, PERSISTENCE, and a good PRODUCT!

Darshana said...

Thanks for the post. My hardest P is persistence. I am a beginning writer and a perfectionist, so needless to say I have an impossible time writing first drafts and most days I feel like my writing is mediocre at best. Luckily through SCBWI and the 12x12er's I have made a lot of friends that keep me chugging along. My other downside is I get nervous when talking to strangers. I dread the day I have to pitch my book to an agent or editor at a conference. Hopefully by then I will have confidence.

Penny Klostermann said...

Wonderful post. The “P” I struggle with the most is patience. In particular, the revising. I want to get it right the first or second time, but have learned that revisiting is unbelievably productive. It continues to amaze me how I see things differently after I let my manuscript “simmer” a few days or weeks.
On a positive note, I want to mention the "P" that I feel is my strongest. That would be passion. I love picture books. I frequent the library and have 30-40 books checked out at all times. Some stay in my house longer so that I can reread and study the craft. I try not to bore others who aren't so interested in picture books, but really know in my heart that they are missing out on one of the joys of life. They sort of look at me funny when they are talking about their latest novel and I say I am reading picture books!!! I love novels, too. But my heart is taken by picture books.

Cathy Mealey said...

I do try to mind my P's and Q's - Product and Quality!

Passion, patience and persistence are my pals.

The last P is for Puzzle - putting all these Pieces together!

Thanks for a fun post!

Kirsten Larson said...

I think the biggest challenge is patience for sure. Children's publishing seems to move at a snail's pace compared to industries I've worked in: PR, marketing, fundraising and business. I think just reminding myself of the tortoise and the hare could help. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Kirsten Larson

Genevieve said...

Having patience is difficult for me. I live in fear of being a one-book-wonder. I TRY to be patient and look at each rejection as a stepping stone toward success, but aargh! It's tough.

Genevieve Petrillo

Vivian said...

Thank you, Mira, for sharing a simple way for picture book writers to assess themselves so they succeed. I think these four P's could apply to any goal we strive towards.

Passion: check! I've been passionate about picture books for over 60 years...cannot bear to leave a picture book at a yard sale...feel I have to rescue each one. Persistance: check! My husband says I am the most tenacious person he has ever met...and he has known me for almost 50 years. Patience: check! We are all given at least one great gift...I am patient with everyone and everything. Product: hmmmm. Yes, product is where I must concentrate my energies. Thanks to Julie. Susanna and the others in this amazing picture book community, I'm writing picture books again...can you see my beaming smile?

Heather said...

Persistence is where I fall short in my work. Ideas I jot down and don't pursue, sketches that never make it into finished pieces, half finished portfolio's. I am actively working on this aspect of my creative self. Your post on Julie's blog is wonderful.

Wendy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your passion with us, Mira! I don't need a picture book whisperer, I need a picture book hollerer. I have the passion (or I must be tetched to keep at this) and the persistence. It's a combination of patience and product placement (a double P!) that resonates with me. I'm not an illustrator, so my words have to leap off the page, past the agents who only want author/illustrators, straight into an editor's heart. It's a big jump, and I know I have to train like an Olympian. Ready, set, go?!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Enjoyed the 4Ps post at Julie's. I need more patience in my writing and in many aspects fo my life. Thanks and now linking over to explore your ecourse.

Lisa Birenbaum said...

Patience is definitely the hardest for me...patience to persist, patience to know that my writing will improve over time and practice, and patience to know that simply because it isn't right now doesn't mean it won't be right after another revision (or at least closer to right).

Tina Cho said...

Mira, Thanks for sharing your 4 P's. My struggle is with Patience, as I always want that first draft to be really good. To counter that, I'm studying the craft, taking classes, being a part of writing critique groups, reading blogs, and trying to soak up as much as I can!
~Tina Cho

Beth said...

Thanks for the post, Mira.

I'm not sure which is the hardest. They seem to take turns. Lately it's been persistence, because it can be frustrating to come close and never quite make it. That's when you've just got to enjoy the journey and move along. : )

Jarm Del Boccio said...

Thanks for the inspiring post, Mira! For me, it's passion. I love to read and write PBs, but, I don't take the time to enjoy them as often as I should. I am making an effort to visit our children's library each Friday to read picture books that are similar to my WIP. That way, I can compare and contrast them, gleaning good ideas for my own works.

Tim McCanna said...

Patience with a capital P. I'm constantly reminding myself to relax and enjoy the journey. Thanks, Mira. Your post was helpful. Tim McCanna

Belinda said...

Mira, I'd have the say my biggest "P" challenge is Product. I love words, books and children, and I have no shortage of ideas. I strive to elevate the quality of my writing and am very open to learning from the right teacher...maybe you?! Thanks for your interactive post! I'm so glad that I discovered you and Julie.
Belinda Brock

PJ Sheridan said...

Mira, thank you for your post. Persistence is my biggest "P" challenge. I have so many ideas and am interested in so many things, I feel I get sidetracked too easily.

PJ Sheridan

Shai said...

Hello Mira,
Your 4Ps post was spot on. I was having trouble figuring out which one is the most challenging for me so I decided to go in the opposite direction. I think patience is the least challenging for me. Om. :-) In fact I have a Michelle Obama quote taped on my wall that reads "The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction. Everything else requires time."
My Product is also improving. I started writing for children over ten years ago. Now, whenever I pull out those old drafts that I thought were so perfect and polished back then, I giggle at my naivete.
I don't feel like I'm passionate. But everything that you described that a passionate author does, I do. I research all the PBs getting buzz and put them on hold at the library (twenty at a time). Each trip to the library then feels like Christmas morning when the librarian hands me a stack of all the things I asked for.
So I guess that brings me to Persistence. While I do keep plugging at this dream of mine, I'm not doing it with all the gusto it deserves. I don't write everyday and I hate to admit it but there have been months, even seasons that have gone by without me bringing pen to pad. I think that's more of a confidence thing than anything else. But, I'm still here in the game and that's got to count for something.
And now for my shameless plea: any help from you would be a huge push for me and would be greatly appreciated.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Erin Pearson said...

Product is biggest challenge for me...getting a manuscript from good to great. After a while is can be hard to tell if I'm making it better or just different. I use my trusted readers to help. I also will put a manuscript away for a while until I can look at it with fresh eyes.