#chapterbooks · #kidlit · #writing · block printing · Children's Book Academy · fabric · Hillary Homzie · linoleum printing · Mandy Yates · Mira Reisberg · Photoshop · printing ink · Speedball Carving Tools

It’s May and the MATS Bootcamp is back! April was a bit of a break for Bootcamp attendees because it was dedicated to the MATS A and B courses. MATS stands for Make Art That Sells which is a course run by Lilla Rogers.

This is not to say that I remained idle in April. No chance of that specially since Mira Reisberg, Hillary Homzie, and Mandy Yates were holding the Chapter Book Alchemist class at The Children’s Book Academy. So while I was still working on some fabric designs, most of my hours were dedicated to learning all I could about writing chapter books.


Every morning, I eagerly geared up for class posts, wondering how in the world I’d ever remember everything I was reading. Then there were trips to Goodwill which turned out to be a great source of used chapter books. Mira suggested marking up chapter books to see how one character’s voice differed from another’s. It was a great idea but I didn’t have the heart to do that to new books. So it didn’t matter if the ones I found were a tad ratty–they served my purpose beautifully!

The town library is always a great place to look for books so some afternoons were spent reading in the children’s area. My other resource was the digital library which allowed me to listen to a few of the chapter books available via the One Click Digital app. Freebies are always good.

Speaking of the library, I did have to haul my butt over there a few times just to write. The great thing about these courses is that you can choose to be part of a critique group and other than receiving great feedback and guidance from classmates, you have deadlines to meet. Nothing gives me more focus than having to meet a deadline. When I’m in the library, I’m like a horse with blinders.

When the course ended, my chapter book was only at its halfway mark. I ended up starting from scratch at one point, after already revising a few times. After coming up with six chapters, the first three had to be condensed into one. The story morphed into something almost completely different from what I had in mind when it first began to take shape. The process was not entirely different from writing picture books but it felt as if the rewrites were more epic. I had to use that word–I can’t think of a better one at the moment. Still, it can be a bit of a thrill when things come together and you begin to actually like what you’re reading.

I’m not quite at the finish line as of this writing. There is a bit of research that needs to be done particularly because my story has to do with Philippine mythical creatures. I don’t intend to be supremely faithful to each and every detail that’s been written about the creatures but it certainly helps to know what’s been written about them. I’ve even come across articles where the author claims to have actually seen a particular creature and it’s the one I chose to be in my story. Fancy that!

Anyway, this post will not be complete if I don’t post some artwork. This one has nothing to do with writing chapter books although it could lead to how I might want to do some illustrations in the future. It’s my first ever attempt at lino block printing. If you’re an expert at it, then my work will probably look crude. But, it’s my first and I came out of it unscathed! Not a single Band-Aid had to be fetched in the making of these prints!

This is the trial print on a used brown paper bag. It’s a good way to recycle them and if I ever want to use the print in a collage, it’s got an interesting background built in.

I cleaned up the block after seeing the debris that I thought I’d wiped off the first time.
I needed another element to add to the bunch and came up with a surfing star. The quote from Deepak Chopra came about because as I was listening to him during one of the meditation sessions with Oprah, I decided liked what he said. This scrap of paper with the star was the closest thing I could grab to write on.
Here’s the surfing star all printed out.

I couldn’t resist showing off my son’s Mother’s Day present. The carving tools I originally used were digging into my palm. This Speedball version should make carving more comfortable!

And finally, I put in the scanned images into Photoshop and added color. Final step will be to see how it works as a repeat so I can adjust the layout.