It started with a doodle of a girl picking at a strand of string. The sketch turned into a sequence of small images all trying to answer the question, “What did she find at the other end of the string?”

Girllustrator Vanessa Roeder looked at her page of little pictures and thought, “hey, this might be a book!”

Her new picture book Lucy and the String was published August 7 by Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin). She’ll conduct our next live session in the workshop series, Going from Good to Great with the Girllustrators series set for  7 p.m. (CST) Thursday, August 30. (Keep scrolling down to find out more about The Girllustrators.)

“I’ll be talking about the process I went through to make my book Lucy and the String, from the initial idea, through all of the revisions to the final product,” Vanessa says.

“One aspect of the book I really enjoyed exploring was the juxtaposition between the size of this small. ambitious and persistent little girl to this large. disgruntled, exasperated bear.”

“Not only did their size difference make for dynamic visuals in the book, but just the idea that you’ve got this girl versus a beast helped me to explore their relationship in this story,” she adds.

And now for your assignment, should you choose to accept it.

“My illustration prompt for you is based on the word Opposite,” Vanessa says.

“I encourage you to create an illustration depicting some sort of opposite – whether it be light vs. dark, tall vs. short, square or circle, young and old – the possibilities are endless,” she says. “One thing I want you to think about when you’re creating your illustration is how opposite aspects of your illustration will affect your scene, or your characters and how you can use that opposite to drive the narrative of your illustration.”

Deadline for the Thursday, August 30 live session, as she explains in the video is Tuesday, August 28.

Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder (cover)

She’ll pick some of the submissions to talk about after her presentation where she’ll share with us how Lucy and the String, “came from a single sketch and how it led to getting an agent for the book.”

She’ll also talk about working with the editor and art director at Penguin through a gauntlet of revisions of the book, including a wordless version, a rhyming version and finally an image-driven version with many panels of wordless or sparely worded sequences.

A standing-room-only launch party for “Lucy and the String” at BookPeople

On Wednesday, September 12, we’ll follow up with a live sit-down with Vanessa’s agent, Rebecca Sherman of the New York literary agency Writer’s House.

Rebecca will talk about how she works with Vanessa and other illustrators who come to her with stories. Her special love is illustrated middle-grade novels but she’s also partial to picture books where the illustrator is also the author – and vice-versa.

“I have a soft spot for fresh re-tellings and inventive folklore, fairytales, etc. I’m equally excited by contemporary stories, particularly friendship stories,” she states in Publisher’s Marketplace. In her workshop, Rebecca will pick pieces based on Vanessa’s prompt Opposites to comment on.

Enrolling in the Girllustrators series lets you participate in both sessions, as well as the October series finale with the Girllustrators team.  Registrants also have permanent access to the replays of all workshops, including the June and July sessions with the full Girllustrators panel.

You can join Thursday’s live workshop with Vanessa and the full series of five Girllustrator workshops, including next month’s with agent Rebecca Sherman of Writer’s House by clicking this button:

Register now

Going from Good to Great With the Girllustrators

The Girllustrators

The Girllustrators

The Girllustrators are a group of talented women in Austin, Texas who unite for sharing, support, and shop talk in the field of children’s illustration. They’re provided this instructors’ panel for a series of online workshops to help and encourage fellow illustrators:

Patrice Barton is the illustrator of the award-winning picture books MINE! by Shutta Crum (Knopf, 2011) and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf, 2013). Her chapter books include the Junior Library Guild selections The Year of the Three Sisters, an Anna Wang novel by Andrea Cheng (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) and The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (FSG, 2009). She’s represented by Christina Tugeau of The CAT Agency.

Marsha Riti has illustrated 12 books and all of the covers for The Critter Club series of picture books for Simon and Schuster Publishing.

Lalena Fisher has designed characters and backgrounds for TV’s Blue’s Clues and The Wonder Pets, and created graphics for The New York Times. Her educational press clients have included Oxford University Press, McGraw-Hill, and Benchmark. Her first picture book, Pursuit of the Magic Piece was published in 2015. She’s represented in children’s books by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Luz Marie Iturbe, fine artist, graphic designer a native of Mexico is writing and illustrating a series of apps that helps children learn Spanish as well as picture books teaching children about craft and traditions.

Vanessa Roeder, aka Nessa Dee, has illustrated six picture books, including The Angel Guardian, Varla’s Gift, and Useless and for Highlights Magazine. A muralist, too, she creates art for children’s magazines, picture books, and homes. She’s represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writers House Agency.

Emma J. Virján is a graphic designer the author-illustrator of the popular Pig in a Wig picture book series, published by HarperCollins. She’s represented by Edite Kroll of the Edite Kroll Literary Agency.