We are excited to launch a new series of blog posts, highlighting our published members and their work. So join in me giving a hearty SCBWI Switzerland welcome to Simona Ceccarelli!
Her new book is called “SOIC and SOT: The Microchips” and it’s a lovely picture book.
Tell us about your new book.
“SOIC and SOT”, written by Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo, is a friendship story…only the friends happen to be microchips! After a harsh separation at the assembly line, they experience all the scary stages of electronics production and finally get to meet again in the most fantastic of ways: through the network.
The book is published by Pragma Media, which has set itself the goal of making electronics approachable and interesting for children. It is part of a three-book series, with the next two scheduled for next year.
Every page of “SOIC and SOT” has QR codes that link to a webpage with additional information about each step of the friends’ journey - for the most curious engineers-to-be.
What inspired you when working on this project?
I had to learn a lot about electronics myself to illustrate this book - and it’s a fascinating topic. It was thrilling to have experts review my illustrations and provide feedback. The author, Jeff Dunnihoo, is an electronics engineer. He was always happy to explain the hows and whys behind every detail: I ended up learning a lot more than what is included in the book and stand in wonder at what happens inside all our electronic devices.
Having a scientific background definitely helped.
Tell us about the creative process for this book.
It was a fun challenge to make microchips interesting and relatable as characters, convey emotions and have some dynamic range of expression. That’s why the first step of the process was extensive character design.
Finding the right style for the final illustrations also took some time. We wanted the book to have a painterly feel, but there had to be sufficient details as well. At the end, we settled for a colored-pencil look, which allowed to have both texture and fine linework.
I work digitally, but in a way that emulates traditional media.
The hardest part of creating the illustrations was collecting the right reference, because all technical details had to be caricatured yet accurate. There is a circuit board on many spreads: to keep consistency, I created a model of it in a 3D software to use as reference. Pragma provided a lot of images as well as technical files of the components and there were many changes before the board looked right: it’s completely fictional but looks like it could work!
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on this project.
I found myself watching factory training videos to know how the inside of the assembly machines looked like.
Now for something completely different! Autumn or Spring, Why?
Autumn. Red and yellow are my favorite colors!
Thank you very much Simona for giving us an opportunity to learn more about your new book and your creative process. I must say it’s so interesting to hear how much you had to learn in order to produce accurate yet charming illustrations.
We wish you all the best on your continued journey as a children’s book illustrator and look forward to more books by you.
Bio – Simona Ceccarelli
After an exceptionally nerdy childhood, Simona left home with a passion for both art and science, a large library – which has been growing out of control ever since – and a dream that life would offer wealth beyond riches and several roads to travel. Her first journey was to study science and, after earning a doctorate, she worked as a medical research scientist for more than 10 years.
Art eventually lured her back to follow "the road not taken.” She studied illustration and visual development at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and since 2013 she’s been happily doing illustration and animation projects for magazines, advertising and scientific education.
In 2016 she joined SCBWI and focussed almost exclusively on children’s book illustration. She has since illustrated two direct-to-school reading books for Rubicon Publishing (“The Horse of Seven Colors” and “Circle of Friends”), designed the cover and characters for a successfully crowdfunded book by the Microactivist Foundation and illustrated the “SOIC and Friends” book series for Pragma Media, of which “SOIC and SOT” is the first book. She is currently working on several educational titles for Rizzoli/Mondadori and Scholastic. Her first trade book as illustrator: “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon” with Sterling Children’s Books (written by Joyce Lapin), will be released in April 2019.
Simona lives in Basel, Switzerland, with her husband and two children.
For children’s books, she is represented by Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency
Our Autumn Retreat 2018 was a few weeks ago and i have asked participants to look back on it and let us know what they thought about it. Here's what a couple of them said.
"It was an amazing and tranquilizing experience to be able to work in such a beautiful and silent village with such a beautiful group artists. The working sessions were very productive with the pomodoro method. I was able to go hiking with the bells of cows as a background music in the coffee breaks. Meals were delicious, hotel was cosy and the staff was friendly. Hope to be joining next year too. Perfect place to wash out all the gibberish in one's brain and concentrate on work and relax at the same time :)"
"A small hotel in the alps was the perfect place to kickstart work on my second novel. I prefer to work in solitude, so it was perfect to have a desk with this inspiring view--glad the weather didn’t stay nice the whole weekend or it would’ve been difficult to stay indoors. Getting together for informal meals was great to break up the working day and chat about writing."
It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Why don't you plan on joining us at the next retreat?
Next year's dates will be announced here on the blog as well as in our regional newsletter.
In the meantime, here are some photos of our hard-working writers and illustrators who were at this year's retreat.
Do you have questions about writing or illustrating for children (anything from craft to marketing) and are not sure who can help?
Well, come to one of our regional meetings and let us help you.
Here are some details:
Zurich - 14 October 2018, Sunday, 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Location - Jack & Jo's, Gustav-Gull-Platz 2 - Zürich, 8004
Please register here for the Zurich meeting so we know who to expect.
Lausanne - 21 October 2018, Sunday, 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Location - Hotel Alpha Palmiers, Petit-chêne 34 - Lausanne, 1003
Please register here for the Lausanne meeting so we know who to expect.
Hope to see you either in Zurich or Lausanne.
On behalf of the SCBWI Switzerland team,
Autumn has arrived; it's time to get out the long sleeves and warm coats, it's time to get cosy. And that is exactly what we plan to do here at SCBWI Switzerland's new blog space.
We hope to be filling this space with news of our latest events and other points of interest for writers and illustrators of children's books. So stay tuned and we hope to see you at some of our upcoming events!
Do check out the About page if you are new to SCBWI and feel free to contact us via the Contact page, should you have any questions.
On behalf of the SCBWI Switzerland team, WELCOME!
It was a fabulous sunny day on 16th of June, 2018 and some of our members met up for our annual Summer Scrawl Crawl. Here are a few photo impressions.
This article was first published in our 2018 Q2 Switzerland Newsletter. I'm re-publishing here for the wider public, with different pictures.
My first Writer’s Retreat with some fabulous fellow-creatives was definitely an inspiration and encouragement to keep on writing.
The place was a quaint little Swiss hotel, run by some lovely people, who catered to all our needs. And because SCBWI was already there before, it felt just a tiny bit like family. The rooms were simple but clean and very nice. I love the sense of history in the place, especially the beautiful landing with its vintage furniture, which joins the two wings. The food was excellent, it took some willpower not to overeat.
The weather was amazingly inviting, sunny and bright all weekend, which made the gorgeous views even more spectacular; making the mountains and lake really sing.
Elisabeth and Monika have done superbly, finding this truly stunning place.
Have I used enough superlatives to tempt you to come for the next one yet? No?
Well, here’s more.
I did not tell many people I was going for a writer’s retreat. I mean, what would they think? “Can’t you just write anywhere?” That’s what we hear most often about a writer’s work, isn’t it? “Oh, all you need is a desk, just sit and write, correct?”
On the one hand, that may be true, to a certain extent. But on the other hand, there is something to be said about having someone else, sitting across from you, facing similar struggles, trying to get that bestseller from brain to paper – and it’s called camaraderie or some prefer community.
We helped each other solve plot problems, we encouraged each other, giving constructive feedback, we shared our creative pains and we took refreshing walks which led to unexpected little adventures (one involving a little black lamb – go ask the participants for details).
All that sharing gave me a new perspective and insight into my craft, which I would, otherwise, not have gained if I just sat at my own desk all the time. I am so glad I took this opportunity to be with and hear from other creatives.
To quote The Write Practice, “We need each other. We need encouragement and kindness as we struggle against the forces of unkindness in this world, and the worlds we imagine. We need community like we need cold, refreshing water on a hot, summer day.”
So thank you all for being such an awesome community. See you at the next event.
There was a jam-packed schedule at the Fair on Tuesday.
I'm told by those who attended (I was working at the booth) that the NY Times panel discussion was outstanding and it was just one of several presentations and panels on the schedule for the day.
At the SCBWI booth, we had a full schedule as well: from personal showcases, to free walk-up portfolio reviews, to our popular dueling illustrators.
The highlight of the day was our reception celebrating the BIG Illustration gallery honorees. Two of them were at the fair so it was particularly nice to be able to recognize them personally. SCBWI co-founder Lin Oliver spoke briefly about SCBWI and its mission of supporting authors and illustrators at every stage of their careers.
We're looking forward to another great day at the Fair on Wednesday!
It was a busy day at the SCBWI booth (Hall 26, B76) on Monday.
In addition to showcasing books by some of our members and art from the BIG (Bologna Illustration Gallery) winner, honorable mentions, and short list, we had a variety of special activities throughout the day.
There were personal showcases (pictured left is Ale Diaz Bouza) and the ever popular duelling illustrators.
These fearless artists faced off to illustrate the top manuscript submissions to our Dueling Illustrator Manuscript (DIM) contest.
The booth was staffed throughout the day by a few of SCBWI's many volunteer Regional Team leaders, Sarah Baker from SCBWI hq, and the ever-smiling Chair of the Board of Directors Chris Cheng, and SCBWI Co-founder Lin Oliver.
Til our next update from the Fair, Ciao!
The SCBWI elves were hard at work today setting up the booth for tomorrow’s opening day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.Tomorrow I’ll show you the booth, part of which features the art of our Bologna Illustration Gallery winner, as well as the honorable mention honorees and the short-listed illustrators.
You can read an interview with the winner and two illustrators who received honorable mentions over at the Cynsations blog. You can also read an interview with the judges of the 2018 Bologna Illustration Gallery.
Book Fair Quick Tip: buy a “City Pass.” It allows 10 journeys on the bus. Line 28 is running additional buses Monday-Thursday (see yellow signs at the bus stops for the expanded bus schedule).
Bongiorno from Bologna!
As you can see, the city is already welcoming those who are arriving for the world's only book fair dedicated exclusively to children's books.
We arrived this afternoon, got settled in to our accommodations, and after some shopping for essentials (gotta have our healthy snacks!), we capped off the day by eating dinner with some of the other SCBWI crew that are here for the fair.
Tomorrow we'll be setting up the booth so that we'll be ready to greet fair-goers bright and early Monday morning. We'll be posting updates here on the blog each evening, along with snapshots throughout the day over on the @SCBWISwiss Twitter account.
You can see even more at @SCBWIBologna on Twitter and Instagram. Follow the tag #BBF18SCBWI to see all the posts about SCBWI at the fair.
So until tomorrow, Ciao!
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!