Monday, September 12, 2016

INTERVIEW: Writing and Illustrating's Kathy Temean, Creator of Free Fall Friday, Illustration Saturday and Take-a-Look Sunday

Today, I am pleased to interview the Creator of one of my all-time favorite blogs – Writing and Illustrating ( and, as well as former SCBWI NJ Regional Advisor. 

Kathy's blog provides information and support to both unpublished and published children’s writers and illustrators. Kathy does this in the form of a diverse variety of methods -- tips, interviews, give-a-ways, book buzz, articles, agent and editor features, illustration critiques EACH Sunday, AND one Free-Fall Friday each month in which you can submit for a chance to get your first page reviewed by an Editor! Plus, every Saturday she features a talented illustrator, interviews them, shows off their illustrations, and shares a step by step of their process of their work.

Lynne Marie: When and how did the concept for this fabulous blog come about?

Kathy Temean: Eight years ago, I started thinking about all the information coming across my desk and how it would help the members in my chapter. I resisted blogging, because so many people at the time where blogging about what they ate for breakfast or other frivolous things, so I decided blogging was a waste of time. One of the problems at the time was building an audience with a blog. When Twitter hit the scene, I realized how it could drive traffic to a blog, so I started with the idea of sharing things to help writers and illustrators get published and signed up for Twitter.

LM: How do you come about the content for the blog – is it all generated from you, or do people work with you to provide this treasure trove of children writing gems?

KT:  I do not have anyone who helps me, though I encourage people to offer articles they write that could help other children's writers and illustrators. Erika Wassall (the New Jersey bFarm Scribe) was writing an every other week post for Writing and until she had a baby and had to take some time off. Other writers have written other articles, too. It's a win-win – I win because I get a day off and the writer gets their name and writing seen by over 3200 people who visit daily from all over the world. My followers include editor, agents, art directors, and other industry professionals, besides published and unpublished writers and illustrators, so it is a good marketing tool.

LM: About what is the reach / readership of Writing and Illustrating?

KT: My blog automatically is shared on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. It has grown each year in both followers and visitors. Currently, it's at 3200 visitors daily, not counting Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. I don't count them, since there probably is some overlap.

LM: I see you have a call out on your website for Illustrators to share content. Are there any other opportunities? What are your current needs?

KT: Illustrator have lots of opportunities to show off their work on Writing and Illustrating. There is Illustrator Saturday, where I feature a talented illustrator. On Take a Look Sunday, illustrators submit two or three sequential illustrations for an artist rep to review. Illustrators can send in illustrations to use in daily posts. This is a good way to get your work seen and a great way to keep your name out there.

LM: Two of my favorite focuses of your blog are the amazing Agent and Editor opportunities. How do these come about? Do the industry professionals contact you, or do you contact them?

KT: I do a lot of research on the Internet to find agents who might be interested in looking for clients and try to provide what they are interested in, so a writer doesn't waste their time submitting to agent who would never represent them no matter how great the writing. I do a lot of surfing to discover what editors are open to receiving unagented submissions and what type of books they like. I also, attend conferences and talk to agents and editors. Agents and editors do contact me and ask if they can be on my blog.

LM: Do readers sometimes update you with their success as a result of these feature? If so, please share a few success stories.

KT: I really like when writers and illustrators let me know when they are successful. I love doing Kudo posts to celebrate their achievements. It is so very sweet when someone points out how I helped. I wish people would remember to share their successes, since it is not only an inspiration to me, but to everyone reading the post. We all need encouragement to keep pushing forward and I like to think this is needed, too. Note: Anyone can send me a success, even if it had nothing to do with me.

LM: Another favorite focus of your blog is the Free Fall Friday. How do this type of feature come about? Do the industry professionals contact you, or do you contact them? Do readers sometimes update you with their success as a result of these feature? If so, please share a few success stories.

KT: I am always looking for ways to help writers and illustrators. I started Frist Page Sessions while the New Jersey SCBWI Chapter RA. About five times a year, I would bring in two industry professionals to listen to first pages. Everyone who attended had their first page read. Critiquing all is not feasible on Writing and Illustrating, but writers can learn a lot from hearing what is said about another writer's first page. Many of the problems talked about can apply to things other writers make in their work, so I continue this on my blog. Each month I ask an editor or agent if they would help out by reading and critiquing four first pages. I appreciate the many agents and editors who have participated and shared their thought and knowledge. I think it has helped a lot of writers.

LM: How does the selection process work for this? Do you forward all submissions to the editor? Or do you screen and submit promising submissions based upon your knowledge of the editor or agent’s needs?

KT: I take all the submissions that followed the guidelines and randomly pick four.

LM: What tips can you share to writers to maximize their chances with regard to this opportunity?

KT: Follow the submission guidelines. Make sure your story is formatted correctly. I figure if you can't follow guidelines, then you will have a tough time getting published, so this is a good place to learn.

LM: I am a huge fan of illustration Sundays.  How do this type of feature come about? Do the industry professionals contact you, or do you contact them? Do readers sometimes update you with their success as a result of these feature? If so, please share a few success stories.

KT: This actually took hold because of artist rep. Christina Tugeau. She said I should do something like the first page critiques for Illustrators. I had been mulling over in my mind how I could do something like that for illustrators, but I hadn't come up with a good way to do it. Christina brought it all together. I like the feature and hope it continues. It will as long as the illustrators out there send in their work. Right now, I need submissions. Nicole Tugeau owner of Tugeau2 (Christina's daughter-in-law) has agreed to do the rest of this year, so I hope the word gets out to the illustrators to submit.

LM: Is there anything else you would like to share about your blog?

KT: Yes, I just started showing off new books, with a book give-away and sharing the books journey. The books journey can be very interesting and provide ideas for other authors and illustrators, plus it is fun to win something and it's a nice way for authors to promote their book. Sometimes I do an interview, like the one coming up with Ginger Scott. She is my new favorite author. She wrote 11 novels in three years and self-published all of them. I had to find out about that, so I contacted her and I will be featuring her next week to help readers discover her books. They are so polished and so well-written. I love seeing someone do the self-polishing thing right.

LM: Please tell us a little bit about the writing retreats you host.

KT: This is the best thing I have ever put together. While I was RA I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to have and editor or agent read a full manuscript and help improve the work, but there wasn't a way to do this with a whole chapter, so after I retired, I came up with the fall writer's retreat. It's small. This year, Session One has two agents and six writers and Session Two has eight writers and two agents. Each writer gets a full manuscript critique with one agent and a 35 page critique with the other agent. We also work in groups to discuss each other's manuscript – lots of great ideas have come out of this. We even do first pages, too – so many of these have turned into published books. I rent a house where we all work, sleep, and eat together. It is a ton of fun and it gives everyone a lot of opportunity to ask questions and mingle with the agents/editors. We've had lots of success come out of this writers retreat. Many have signed with agents and quite a few manuscript have ended up as published books. It also has brought people together and built friendships. Writers have flown in from all over the world – France, Puerto Rico, Canada, California, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, plus all the East Sates – to attend the retreat.

LM: You spend so much of your time helping and promoting others. Is there anything that you would like to promote that I can share here as far as your writing and illustrating?

KT: I just finished my YA novel POLEGATE and a MG novel I HATE BOYS – NOT. I am working on the first draft of the next book a continuation of my YA and finishing a first draft of another YA titled, Violated. As far as my illustrating, I illustrated books and articles when someone tracks me down. Not because I don't love illustrating – that is what I studied in college – but because it just doesn't seem like there is enough time in the day.

LM: Please share a little bit about your other children’s writing related work – teaching, web design, etc.

KT:  I have a business called Temean Consulting. I help writers and illustrators market their work. I do critiques, develop websites, and consult on how to get noticed and published.

Check Out Kathy’s Blog at:
and Temean Consulting at:


  1. I have followed Kathy’s blog for several years. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into sharing Writing and Illustrating information. And thanks to Lynne for this and other great interviews.

  2. Thank you, @Manju Howard. I am blessed to have such a talented writer as one of my blog follower and, in my critique group! XOXO

  3. Great interview! I'm a HUGE fan of both of your blogs. Both you and Kathy have contributed so much to the writing community. THANK YOU!!!

    1. Awww, thank you -- I am a huge fan of you and your work as well. So glad to be part of your writing world! XOXO

  4. Each day I am delighted to find 'Writing and Illustrating' in my inbox! Thank you for contributing so generously to our community. I began reading your blog in 2012, and learned to work with illustration prompts for the Free Fall Friday critique opportunities. In fact I still have one posted on my blog as a writing sample! Someday I will attend the NJ-SCBWI conference and thanking you in person, Kathy, will be one of my top priorities.

  5. I know, Cathy, right? Best Blog EVER, and Kathy is the best!

  6. I love Kathy's blog, too!! Thanks for this interview, Lynne Marie :) I didn't know Kathy did consulting as well, but I'm glad I found out. She's helping so many writers and illustrators, it's amazing.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, @Rosie.Pova. Glad you enjoyed the article and learned more about our wonderful Kathy. Congratulations on your news!