7 Qs with debut #kidlit illustrator Shiho Pate

Raise your hand if you love to doodle or draw!

Random fact: So do I–which is why I LOVE learning about the

illustrator’s process in a picture book.

Today we’re chatting with Shiho Pate (pronounced SHE-ho)

about her debut illustrations for


(Kane Miller / Henry Herz)

A rollicking space adventure

with humorous pirate talk!

Don’t you love Shiho’s “Exuberant, distinctive, action-packed

Shall we learn more? 

Q 1: Can you describe your process for 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT? Did you have a visual image of what you wanted right away? Did you research Pirates and robots? Did the art director request certain elements?

Shiho Pate: I think character design is a good example. We focused on characters first to get on the same page about the style and the tone of the book. First I did a traditional pirate look. They wanted a more high-tech, space pirate feel so I took away most of the traditional pirate clothing and added lots of high-tech patterns and weapons. The result was a bit too much, too scary.

So I pulled it back and we came up with something high-tech and friendly. Once the characters were set I was able to pull elements from those character designs back to the ships and the rest of the world. I did a lot of research on pirates and robots throughout the iterations. I looked at books, movies, video games etc. I showed my sketches to my daughter and that was fun because she would always gravitate towards characters with a smirk.

Q 2: How did you choose the color palette?

Shiho Pate: I knew the story of 2 ROBOTS + 1 PIRATE occurred in outer space which meant that the background was probably going to be on the dark side. So I chose brighter colors for characters and ships to make them pop. I color coded Jetsam’s crew so they looked like they were one team. I chose red for Mad Morgan because he is a aggressive pirate. I wanted him to look intimidating and angry even from far away. I also loved using solid colored backgrounds for more emotional pages. It felt like a nice change after few pages of outer-space, dark backgrounds.

Q 3: Since this is your debut picture book, was the process what you expected? Any surprises?

Shiho Pate: The overall process was what I expected, but I still learned a lot. The biggest surprise was how much they let me explore. An example would be making some texts more visual. When I saw “BAM! BAM!” the sound coming from Mad Morgan I knew I wanted to illustrate that. But I wasn’t sure if that was appropriate thing to ask. I definitely didn’t want to overstep the designer’s boundaries. I’m glad I asked because they said to try it first and they would decide whether to keep it in. I was happy they kept it (there were some that didn’t make it into the book but that’s ok too!). It’s a fun quick foreshadowing of what Mad Morgan looks on the next page.

Q 4  As it happens in #kidlit, you weren’t done once the book released. I enjoyed the fun video you made for your publisher, Kane Miller. (Click here to view.)

Any tips for a shy illustrator or author—to help overcome your shyness during presentations or videos—or even on social media?

Shiho Pate: I love this question! When I was making the promo video it really helped to have my daughter by my side (she hands me the whiteboard). My husband was filming so seeing him nod and smile behind the camera helped too. Also talking slower and with fewer words. When I do that I can breathe better and lets me focus on the message rather than the words that are coming out of my mouth. Social media is a good practice for that as well. Very few people are going to read anything below the fold so I try to write as simple and to the point as much as possible.

Q 5 What books have you been reading to your daughter lately?

Shiho Pate: I just attended SCBWI Summer Spectacular so I rushed to my local library and picked up books from the panelists! We loved reading SHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Hudson Talbott and ¡VAMOS! LET’S GO EAT! by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay.

Q 6  What would you say to all the young Shiho’s out there, who dream of working as an illustrator some day?

Shiho Pate: I knew I wanted to create children’s books when I started my art career, but it took about 10 years of being a game artist and having my daughter to start focusing on that path. I’m glad I took the game artist path first because I learned so much on how to create art, manage time, and collaborate with others (especially those that are not artists). So be flexible, take opportunities that comes your way. But also stay focused. I still remember making book dummies and showing it to my game studio art director.

Pirate interior

Q 7 Where can we find more of your work?

Shiho Pate: You can visit my website at shihopate.com and on twitter and instagram by searching @shihopate. Come say hi 🙂 I am repped by Deborah Warren at East West Literary. Here is my feature from a recent Illustrator Highlight.

PS Click here for a fun coloring page that goes with the book!

Thank you, Shiho, for sharing your process with us today!

Happy reading–and drawing and writing–friends. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll chat with the author/illustrator team of GURPLE AND PREEN: Linda Sue Park and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 



Teen Blog Takeover: 5 Questions with #YA Author Elizabeth Tammi

Attention young writers with PUBLISHING DREAMS! This post is for you:
5 Questions with 22 year old #YA author, Elizabeth Tammi.
Tammi’s novel, OUTRUN THE WIND, released in 2018 with Flux
when she was twenty years old!
“What grew from two girls who could barely stand to talk to each other into a classic story of heroes and love is one you don’t want to miss.” Teenreads
“An original, deftly crafted, and impressively entertaining young adult novel.”
Midwest Book Review
Her second novel, THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL,
followed in 2019 with North Star Editions. 
 “A solid purchase for any collection.”
So you can see why I was so excited for Elizabeth Tammi
to share her publishing journey
–thus far–
on this guest blog takeover with Victoria Krol. 
Let’s dive in: 
Victoria writing!
I am so glad I got the chance to interview author Elizabeth Tammi.
Tammi’s novel, OUTRUN THE WIND, is the perfect blend of invigorating adventure and heart wrenching romance. The legend of Atlanta juxtaposes itself beautifully with the conflict of a modern day love story. OUTRUN THE WIND is a story that will leave you spellbound, ensnared between its pages. 
Read on for a conversation about her books, her love of mythology, and her thoughts on the writing process! 
Q1: What made you decide to become a writer?
Elizabeth Tammi: One of my earliest memories is being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I remember answering, “Author.” I wish I remembered more about what led to that conviction, but I think it honestly boiled down to the fact that I’ve been infatuated with books for as long as I’ve been alive. My parents read to me a lot, and I loved books so much that it just felt natural that I’d want to write them, too.
Q2: Where and when did you get the idea to write OUTRUN THE WIND?
Elizabeth Tammi: I’ve always loved mythology. It has this amazing capacity to be both a consistent “time capsule” of older times, while also having a tremendously fluid quality that’s the perfect foundation for new possibilities and reinterpretations. After all, at the core of all mythology is contradiction.
As a teenager, reading books like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles showed me how relevant and interesting these really old stories still are to modern audiences, and how we can use our current perspectives to imagine what might have happened in the “background” of old stories.

Elizabeth at the Parthenon in Greece

The summer before I started college, I read more about the “full” story of the Greek heroine Atalanta, a name I’d only heard in passing growing up. When I learned more about her story, I was absolutely captivated…but also incredibly confused. I instantly connected with her character, but had so much frustration about how her story ended and certain decisions she made. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and found myself imagining what else could have happened in between the lines of her story. Who else was there? How did she really think and feel and act, outside of the lens of male authors? The story snowballed slowly from that core frustration.
Q3: How did you manage to write a novel and keep up with school at the same time? I’m currently trying to do that now and it’s hard!
Elizabeth Tammi: It’s definitely challenging! But at the same time, I found that it actually helped my time management skills. It’s really bizarre that for some reason, I got a big amount of writing done while classes were in session, and way less during winter and summer breaks. I think I’ve always been better at making time to write when I have less of it, which is a weird personal quirk. Outrun the Wind was the second novel I’ve ever written, though it was the first to be published. When I was in high school, I’d written a book and queried it, but it got rejected literally everywhere I sent it (and for good reason!). That experience taught me a lot about how to approach a long-form story, and what to expect on the other side in terms of preparing it for the querying process.
Tip: Try the “Three Sentence Rule”
I was pretty ruthless when it came to drafting, and I honestly don’t know how sustainable that is for me or for other writers. But for that project specifically, and for that time in my life, it worked for me to block out about an hour or two every night to work on drafting. Obviously, that didn’t happen every single night, but I did have a bare minimum policy that I used (and still use) while drafting called the “three sentence rule”. Basically, no matter how terrible of a day I had or how busy or tired I was, I’d write at least three sentences per day. Starting is always the hardest part for me, so I often find that once I start writing I’m fine to continue. But if I am truly too busy or brain-dead, then at least I’ve moved the story forward a tiny bit and stayed in the story’s headspace and can call it a day. Drafting happened during my first semester of college, and I’d had the previous summer to plot out the book. It helped having that outline, though some writers prefer to “pants” their way through a story, which can work too! I also have zero qualms about writing just a genuinely terrible first draft. You can’t fix what isn’t there.
Having that blocked out time at the end of the day (usually pretty late at night) meant that I had a concrete deadline to finish my homework and other responsibilities, which kept me fairly disciplined academically. I promise I didn’t make myself a recluse! That’s important too. It’s obviously good to keep consistent progress on your draft, but in school (and life in general!) you shouldn’t push off socializing or new experiences for writing. The writing will always be there.
Tip: “Just finish it.”
Anyway, it’s clear that my advice is somewhat flimsy– that’s because it changes with every project, and every writer is different. I think overall it’s helped me to make an effort to write a little bit every single day while I’m in the drafting process, and to have a pretty extensive outline as well. Also, if you’re working on your first ever novel, the best thing you can do to learn is just to finish it. I had so many false starts on novels that I had to throw out because I’d get excited by a premise but fail to think it through, and then lose the motivation as everything piled up and became too complicated or boring after a few chapters.
If you think you’ve found a premise you want to pursue, I’d encourage you to consider if it’s something that really sets your soul on fire. You’re going to be spending months and years with these characters in this world– there are always hard days when writing, but make sure it’s something you still care enough about to want to go through all the difficult parts of the writing and publishing industry with.
Q4: What are your thoughts on deadlines? Love them, hate them, avoid them? 
Elizabeth Tammi: Since I was a journalism major in college, deadlines were pretty much my baseline. I wasn’t super scared of them, and it’s always helpful to have a concrete timeline. When I wrote my first book (the one that will never see the light of day), I gave myself a self-imposed deadline of finishing before I turned 18. And I literally scribbled out the last paragraphs on the eve of that birthday, but I made the deadline. However, I’ll admit I’ve had difficulty with self-imposed deadlines ever since I got my first book deal. Maybe that’s because, after that first deal, deadlines are a part of the business. Suddenly, writing becomes a business.
I feel tremendously fortunate that I’ve gotten to see two books to publication, and it’s genuinely been a dream come true. But the most surprising part of becoming an author was realizing that a tiny part of me actually misses the writing I’d done before I had a book deal or literary agent or anything like that. With my first book in high school, and while drafting Outrun the Wind, I had literally no idea if anyone else would read those stories. I wanted desperately for them to be published, and almost made myself miserable with that ambition. But it was also freeing, in a way– no one knew what I was writing. If I failed or changed my mind, no one would ever know. It was just for me, and it was my own world.
What you might not know:
Some new writers don’t realize that even after getting a book deal with a completed manuscript, there are almost always more edits and revisions you make with your editor at your publishing house. There were some fairly substantial revisions that Outrun the Wind went through between signing the contract and its release date. That was my first experience with a true deadline, but it wasn’t that stressful because the story wasn’t changing very much. I had a firm foundation to go off of.
My second published book, The Weight of a Soul, was a whole other can of worms. You might hear authors complain about the “second book syndrome”. I definitely experienced that. I sold The Weight of a Soul on proposal, which is something authors can sometimes do if they’re hoping to work with the same editor or publishing house on a future project. Basically, I wrote out a full synopsis and the first few chapters of that book, sent it in, and it was accepted. I was given a book deal for something that wasn’t even close to being a real book yet. It was exciting, but also scary– I actually had to write the full book, and no matter what, it was going to be a real book. I’d never before written a novel knowing it would be a “real” book before, and that was equal parts reassuring and terrifying. I knew the work wouldn’t be in vain, but I was also anxious about pulling it off. That was a stressful deadline. I’m proud of how it turned out and don’t have any regrets, but that deadline was a lot to deal with, especially since it was during my junior year of college…my most academically demanding year ever.
It all turned out fine, but I’m relieved that I made the choice to step back and work on my current project just by myself for now as I navigate next steps. There are no stakes, so it’s just me and the characters for now. Something I’d taken for granted before entering the publishing industry!
Q5: Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in journalism? 
Elizabeth Tammi: A journalism degree can set you up for a huge range of careers– traditional journalism, multimedia storytelling, public relations, publishing, you name it. I was really involved in my high school’s news broadcast program, which inspired me to pursue journalism in college. I had a fantastic time and had great courses and internships. I just graduated last month, and recently started a full-time position doing social media and outreach for NASA, with their Hubble Space Telescope mission. It just goes to show what a versatile major and field journalism is!

She’s not kidding, friends!

If you’re considering a career in journalism, just be prepared to work under tight deadlines and listen to your gut. It’s a field that requires a lot from you, but there’s also so much freedom in finding stories you want to tell and how to tell them. Journalists are so important, and even though I didn’t enter the field of true, traditional journalism, I’m glad in my choice of major. It’ll teach you how to talk with people, structure stories, and make sure they get to the audiences that need them.
That was my interview! It was super cool to see Elizabeth’s perspective on the writing process and everything else we talked about. Stay safe everyone!
Victoria Krol is a 15 year-old soon to be sophomore in high school with an absolute passion for reading, writing, and website design. She is currently working on a novel with her co-partner Charley Ramos, which is in the midst of its second revision and currently has a plot that resembles lasagna. She met Erin dressed in full 70’s gear at the 2019 SCBWI LA Summer Conference, where their instant friendship resulted in her as a guest blogger. You can find her at victoriaannekrol.com 

It’s true. I actually think Victoria might have taken this pre-COVID hug-shot at SCBWI 2019 with these incredible authors, Meg Medina (L.) and Elana K. Arnold (C.). Good times!

To learn more about Elizabeth Tammi and her books check out ElizabethTammi.com and follow her on Twitter @ElizabethTammi and Instagram @elizabeth_tammi.


Introducing QuaranTEEN, the website for Teens stuck in #quarantine.

In the intro of my guest teen blogger’s last post, the book review of Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold, she mentioned building a website for teens stuck in quarantine. 

Guess what?

Within days of that review going up, QuaranTEEN successfully launched! 

After checking out what they had created, I invited Tori to share it with all of you here.  Take it away, Tori…

Hello everyone!

Here’s a brief description of what we’re about:

QuaranTEEN is a showcase of the creative talents of a group of teens in Southern California. We have an active blog filled with posts on art, literature, music, culinary recipes, and much, much more!! 

“The world is on pause. We are not.”

I know creativity in this strange time has been a challenge, but our posts and our writers do their best to get your creative gears up and running. 

“A place where we can use art as an outlet.”

“We’re living out the end of our childhoods during this mess.”
Here are the links to our site, our Instagram, and our Twitter!  
Instagram: q_uaranteen 
Twitter: @Q_uaranteen

“Our generation was made to continue creating while the world burns down around us.”

Smile, stay safe, and I’ll ‘see’ you next time! Most importantly, keep creating! 

 All the best, 


Blog Takeover! Teen writer Tori & RED HOOD by Elana K. Arnold

What are teens doing between #DistanceLearning and #shelteringinplace
Some are struggling with online school and others are having a hard time finding motivation. 
I’ve been there, back, and there again. Amidst the crazy of #shelteringinplace, I’ve  been working on my novel (finally!), building a website for teens stuck in quarantine, and reading. 

Here’s my review of Elana K. Arnold’s RED HOOD. You will notice it’s written in 2nd person. You’ll know why once you read the book… 

From the moment you first open RED HOOD, Arnold’s world feels warm and comfortable. You feel warm and comfortable. And above all, safe. 
warm and safe
If you’ve ever gone to a school dance, you know this scene like the back of your hand. The loud friend, the blaring music, the romance of a partner there with you. Almost instantly, the plot takes off. You read and see and feel the main character’s feelings. Bisou’s fear is evident on the page. 
fear is evident
And when you keep turning the pages, earnestly, the scene gets darker and darker, until Bisou is running through the cold, dark, night. The plot winds and spins and spirals, some parts dark and twisted, others bright and clear. But more shadows start to appear, overwhelming the sun, creeping slowly, like thick, black, mud. There are long kept secrets that are kept coiled up tightly, each one harder to read than the last. Still, you find it harder and harder to look away, to slam the cover shut. 
dark and twisted
shadows like thick, black mud
 Wolves and men begin to flit through the artfully written pages, and the stuff of your nightmares starts to cackle and grin. You see Bisou find friends in the unlikeliest of places, and you see her struggle to trust them, not knowing what is happening to her. Her monthly need to go and fight and defend and kill. Men die. Hushed whisperings spread through the town. Tensions rise. A nosy reporter worsens things considerably. 
long kept secrets
wolves and men
Bisou’s terror starts to increase, and you discover the horrors of involuntary celibates. Incels. Men who feel they deserve sexual relationships; that women are pieces of property.  A team is formed. Bisou, Keisha, the reporter, and one other victim of the crimes of an incel, Maggie. Banded together by fear and desperation, a desperation for answers.
burning questions
Eventually, Bisou’s grandmother answers your burning questions. The story you see, the one that Mémé tells, is not one you will forget for a long, long time. A cryptic note left by Mémé alarms the young team.
girls who’ve grown up too fast
unlikely to succeed
They are girls who’ve had to grow up too fast and are unlikely to succeed, unlikely to be a team at all. They fix what they can, ending the beginning of Bisou’s story. They close the door on Bisou’s dead father. They save Mémé, the girls united and strong, but human. Fighters, warriors, but just girls. Broken, bruised, beautiful. 
broken, bruised, beautiful
Arnold depicts the power of women, or the lack of it, at the hand of men, through a twisted version of Little Red Riding Hood. 
If you like fantastical books that can make your skin crawl, with imperfect female heroines, or  you’ve enjoyed the titles MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russel and FROZEN BEAUTY by Lexa Hillyer, this book is for you. Put RED HOOD on your TBR list. Better yet–buy it at your favorite Indie. (Support Independent bookstores!)
Victoria Krol is 15 year-old Freshman in high school with an absolute passion for reading, writing, the arts, and horseback riding. She is currently working on a novel with her co-partner Charley Ramos, which is in the midst of its second revision and currently has a plot that resembles lasagna. She met Erin dressed in full 70’s gear at the 2019 SCBWI LA Summer Conference, where their instant friendship resulted in her as a guest blogger. 

Writing and Reading Resources from the #kidlit community

Hi friends. I’ve put my Teacher hat on and compiled some awesome resources and ideas that #kidlit friends have been sharing, for student lessons and activities during this challenging #shelterinplace time:

(You can write to me too, by the way…)

  • OR…Write A Letter …to a grandparent, the neighbors, your best friend, your teacher…Use Beverly Cleary’s DEAR MR. HENSHAW or Mark Teague’s DEAR MRS. LA RUE as mentor texts.

With so many staying home, why not make it #WriteALetter Day every Wednesday?

  • Illustrators are sharing too. Here’s the link to daily ART lessons from Jarrett Krosoczka!  

Stay healthy! We can DO this!