Hello Sub It Clubbers!
In amazing news, illustrator Nancy Whitesides shouted “BINGO” just eight days after author Candice Conner became our first “Small Steps to Success Bingo” winner of the year. If this is any indication, 2018 is going to be full of Sub It Clubber success stories!
So, without further ado, let’s meet Nancy and learn about her creative journey.
Kirsten: Who, the heck, are you? 🙂 (In other words, tell us a little bit about yourself.)
Nancy: Hello, hello! First, I have to pinch myself to check this is all real and I DID win illustrator’s rejection bingo. But how ironic I won this bingo by being rejected. Is this an alternate universe? What is this? Who are you? Who am I?
I am Nancy Whitesides. I am a writer/illustrator, a self-taught illustrator. I was born and raised in a small town (small at that time), north of Manila in a “barangay” where I was lucky enough to play in rice fields and climb a tamarind tree taller than my grandfather’s two-story house.
I moved to California with my family when I was a young adult, and I now live amongst chaparral and parched trees in a single-story home with my husband, two brilliant daughters, and our rescue dog, Pippin.
Kirsten: Tell us a little bit about your writing/illustration journey… What genres are you working in, etc.?
Nancy: It is a formidable journey on a dark tortuous path, full of cruddy illustrations, time-wasting distractions, and rip-you-to-pieces rejections. Please, do you have a handkerchief on you? Sniff…sniff… What? Do you think I am joking? No, kind miss.
Many nights and days, I struggle to write and illustrate my picture book stories about tiny and big humans and/or funny talking animals (apparently frowned upon by some), while I also try to work chapter by chapter on my YA fantasy with a goblin for a protagonist (apparently maybe even more highly frowned upon.) I’m not sure about that actually. Don’t quote me on that last bit.
Kirsten: What made you decide to join Sub It Club? Are you actively querying?
Nancy: I joined Sub It Club a year ago because I felt I was close to submitting again, and I hoped Sub it Club would be an impetus for me … and gosh, it was. It is! When I saw the post for Writer’s/Illustrator’s Rejection Bingo, it was as if I was transported back in time, and saw myself being signed on by my dream agent and so actually I was transported to the future looking back….to that. So here I am. NOW.
I am querying now. Yes, I am. I stopped for a bit to regroup and refocus. This querying stuff…this submitting and waiting, and being rejected, this is not for wimps. But yes, I am querying.
Kirsten: Any tips for those in the query trenches, for example how to stay motivated, handling rejection, etc.?
Nancy: My tip is this…clears throat, takes a deep breath, and looks straight at you…think of your favorite book, the one with your favorite hero/heroine, the main character, the protagonist, and imagine it is YOU. You are the hero/heroine, you are the protagonist, and it is you who must be your own champion for your stories and art. You must battle countless foes over and over and a big foe is yourself, your own worst critic and negative-talker you. Silence your critic and foe, and battle on. That is my advice and that is what I tell myself over and over.
Kirsten: Do you have a favorite rejection food/drink?
Nancy: Gosh…ehem…I wonder how those empty wrappers for Trader Joe’s Swiss Milk Chocolate with 30% Whole Hazelnuts got here, by my feet, and my chair, and back pockets, and hair. Seriously.
Kirsten: Can you share a fantastic book you’ve read lately?
Nancy: I don’t know how much room you have for my list. I love to read old and current books, and I reread my favorites a lot: JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen. For the more current ones, I love DON’T CALL ME CHOOCHIE POO by Sean Taylor and illustrated by the brilliant Kate Hindley. I am also floored by these picture books: POOL, a wordless picture book by JiHyeon Lee which will just blow you away, THE NIGHT BOX by Louise Greig and illustrated by the sublime Ashling Lindsay, JOAN PROCTER, DRAGON DOCTOR by Patricia Valdo and illustrated by one of my illustrator heroines, Felicita Sala. THE LIZTS by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by another heroine of mine, Julia Sarda. I am also reading and enjoying THE STORY OF OWEN by E.K. Johnston, and SPOOK’s: THE DARK ASSASSIN written by another favorite of mine, Joseph Delaney. I have more to list and I feel bad for not mentioning them but I acknowledge, here and now, how I am a much better writer and illustrator because of them. I am grateful.
Kirsten: Wow, that is an amazing list! Any final thoughts?
Nancy: Thank you so much, Sub It Club, for your guidance and the gems I pick up from your website and Facebook page. I have gotten further along in my journey thanks to you. I hope to connect with more writers and illustrators. I am grateful for all the hard work the Sub It Club administrators provide for writers/illustrators/creatives like me. A big hug to you guys.
Thank you for having me here.
Finally, a message to the writer or illustrator who might be eating a bunch of chocolate, which is not filling the empty holes in your spirit: you are not alone and please, don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep illustrating. Keep submitting.
Nancy is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and you can see her profile on their website. Find her on Instagram @nancyillustrator or at her forlorn blog, nancywhitesides.blogspot.com. She’s won a critique of her work from the incredible author/illustrator, Julie Rowan-Zoch. (Thanks, Julie!)
Thank you, Nancy and Kirsten, for this encouraging interview. I’ve paused and regrouped several times. Nancy, you are pure inspiration!
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Thank you so much! I hope you will continue your work. Don’t give up.