Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas and bat poop.

One of the best things about working thru a holiday (or ok just really close to a holiday) is that you can catch up on all your work since everyone else is gone. I'm leaving for Texas tomorrow, and today I got a really nice treat! Not only do I get to finish up the 18 (EIGHTEEN!?!) Beverly Cleary books uninterrupted but I got a few books delivered from production, whee!

UNINVITED and GENIUS FILES #4 : FROM TEXAS WITH LOVE.  I think we've covered Uninvited so I won't pester anyone about it again. But GF#4 has quite a fun story....

I didn't start this series, but it sure is fun to work on now. Especially this book. Perhaps you noticed the subtitle, From Texas with Love. I used to live there! Heck I'm going tomorrow (see above paragraph for repetition, welcome.) Anyway, when the author found out I lived there via his wonderful editor, Andrew, he had a few questions. Our telephone conversation went something like this.

Dan Gutman: Sarah! Andrew tells me you used to live in Austin, is that true?

Me: Yup! I lived there for 5 years, I think you're including the bridge on Congress Ave. with all the bats flying out from under it? That will be a very cool cover!

DG: Yea, Coke and Pep will have to escape the bad men while being tied up under the bridge, right when the bats fly out. It should be very cool action.

Me [interrupting]: That happened to me once! Well, I wasn't tied up under the bridge but I was stuck in traffic on the bridge once right at sun set. At the time I was driving a 1984 Volvo the color of a Crayola green crayon. The AC didn't work so I had all the windows down when the bats flew out, it was terrifying! Why did I tell you the car was green and from 1984? Anyway, it was really cool.

DG: ....

Me [internally]: Why am I such a freaking spazz?

DG: Tell me something, could you smell their guano?

Me: Yes you could sir.

DG: I'm going to thank you in my book Sarah.

Me [internally]: Best conversation ever.

Flash forward a few months, and here we are! And oddly I am just realizing this cover is the exact same color as that car—it's insanely green. I guess I gave myself (and that car) a nod too. Well congrats to that...

Uninvited & GF #4: Gloss UV • title embossed & foil stamped

Enjoy your Christmas y'all!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving presents!

New finished books for the holiday season.

New Stuff: The Book of Love, Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, Lost on a Mountain in Maine!

New paperbacks: Genius Files, Pivot Point, Boundless!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To the future! Summer 2014.

In the words of Angela Chase, we had a time. 

This past summer was by far my favorite. It somehow just came together. I think I was outside almost every day. I ran, swam, rode my bike, climbed a few walls, river rafted, laughed, ate and danced in the rain at Celebrate Brooklyn each chance I got. I am lucky to have had such a summer. While it was hard to push it back inside, at work I'm already wrapping up Summer 2014. If these book covers have anything to say for the future, it's going to be another kick ass summer.

First up, Teen Fiction:

My first time working with Ms. Jody Lynn Anderson, I absolutely love these color combinations, I think they really invoke cool, creepy beautiful:

Matte finish with textured spot UV on title & boarder (by Sarah Jane Coleman)

And my second cover for Ms. Lauren Miller—The effect on this type was the happiest accident I've ever had in Photoshop. Adding in a 5th color will really help this leap off the printed page.

5 color job + matte finish with glossy spot UV

And of course, where would we be in the Republic of Texas without Wren and Callum?
Reboot 2, Rebel (I somehow keep getting away with graphic covers for this, and I love it!)

Glossy finish with matte spot UV + emboss

Ending in Middle Grade:

How are we already on Book 3 of the CASE FILE series? Doug Holgate is really bringing the fun and funk in this series. I can't love it enough: (plus you guys, an orange forest? Come on.)

Matte finish with glossy spot UV

There's a few more floaters out there but they aren't quite available to share yet. I got a awesome Neil Gaiman / Craig Russell project in the works... but that's going to be a while still.


So I guess it's on to Winter 2015—while it's too soon to tell what will happen, I've been wearing this crown around the office a lot. It's good to be inspired for work, yes? (That's foreshadowing y'all!)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rejoice! Jupiter Pirates are here!

It's hard to tell here but this book is crazy shiny and sparkly. It has a super cool hologram effect in real life. Awesome use of sculpt emboss and printing over silver foil. I love it!

Printed over silver foil, sculpt emboss title

And naked, if you're into that sorta thing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Advanced Reading Copies!

Oh yea, the first set of ARE (advanced reading editions) are in for Summer 2014!

Check out the awesomely beautiful cover for VANISHING SEASON by Jodi Lynn Anderson. What a nice treat for lunch time!

Specs: Matte/textured spot UV on boarder and title

Looks like I get two copies, who needs a creepy read just in time for Halloween?

Photo by Trevillion images / hand drawn boarder by Sarah Jane Coleman 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday presents!

Looky what I found on my desk this morning: Case File 13: Making the Team.

Matte Finish with Spot UV

Spooky fun times.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Clean up days

My office will be moving to Battery Park this Spring. In order to prepare for the move, they have been hosting "clean up days".

I've already donated a few dozen books I don't need anymore. I can't believe what a difference it's made in my work space! Too bad there isn't a "before" picture, bit I'm quite pleased with the "after"...

Spines & Toys

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fortunately, this day is looking up!

One of the the best projects I've ever worked on in my entire life was finished and waiting for me at my desk today after lunch. This really helped curb my stupid cranky mood I was in. Wait, let's back up because a few cool things happened around lunch today.

To set the scene as to why I was so cranky: I woke up and it was raining which made me sad. It was cold even though it's the middle of August. I always get a little down this time of year because I know my weekends of going to the beach or riding my bike to various awesome places are limited. When it's cool enough for a sweater, I quickly go into "slippery slope" thinking mode and start dreading snow—which is not really snow in New York City but black gross stinky slushy stuff that people call snow. But it's still only August, so I digress.

So to cheer myself up during an unseasonable dreary day I wore my best Houston Texans shirt (yes I have more then one) to work with a super cute black and white printed skirt. This must have channeled the happy police because when I stepped outside for lunch there was an honest to God real life taco truck parked on Park Avenue. Y'all, I ordered in Spanish, and my friend Kate took a picture. Day's looking better. Thank you Texans Shirt.

Could I be any happier?

Anyway, I got back to my desk after a really nice eating-tacos-outside lunch to see this:

It's a real book!
Here it is naked:

Oh, hi little balloon!

And some interior spreads, proof!

I'm involved in another Gaiman project right now that I think I'll be equally excited about. But I know in my heart that this project will be my proudest. I remember reading the printed word document on the D train last summer and saying to myself, this is something special, this is amazingly special. I'm sad to see it finished because I guess that means it's really done. I'm happy it's finished because . . . it is wonderful.

Fortunately, The Milk comes out September 17th. If you were a weird kid or you want to channel your inner weird kid, or hell you know a weird kid, this book is a phenomenal read. I might have fallen in love with each of Skottie's illustrations just a little bit (a whole lotta bit) And I would have given anything to have read it when I was 7, and I love that I could help with it now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

thunderbird: illustrated.

A few weeks ago I was asked to give a presentation on how I do my job. After I gave a rather lack luster Power Point presentation, there were questions from those who attended.

Q: Where do your ideas come from and how do they evolve?
A: Like most things in my life, I make it up as I go along. I trust who I work with and hope for the best.

Lucky for me I make friends easily.

While I am still working on the most effective process, I had a great time with one of Winter 2014's lead titles. In what proves to be a team effort on how a cover is designed: An illustrated evolution of Kelley Armstrong's upcoming book, SEA OF SHADOWS.

Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead, where the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and pay respect to the spirits who have passed. 

Idea #1: Well we have to have a forest.

Forest inspirations

Idea #2: What if one of the animals from the story emerged from that forest, like an icon?

Icon inspirations

Idea #3: Let's make this animal icon out of leaves . . . Who can do that?

Rhythm and Hughes has a bottomless bucket of talent. After a few rounds of sketches, notes from the author of what a thunderbird looks like, and we land on this:

Rhythm and Hughes gives us the Thunderbird

Idea #4: Type treatment should look grown up, I would love for an adult to want to pick this novel up.

Type treatments

Smack 'em all together:

Sea of Shadows goes on sale this April

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A sweet paper fort and PANIC cover reveal

You guys! Check out this sweet fort I built out of last season's interior passes/back up. There are 17 books in these stacks, all of which are headed to the recycling bin. Oh joyous day to clean out a cubicle! (PS I'm kneeling on a chair.)

Summer 2013 Fort 

Yesterday was also the big cover reveal for Lauren Oliver's new book, PANIC. I've been waiting so long for this reveal I almost missed it! When a co worker came over to say that someone had mentioned it on Twitter I—erm—panicked. I thought I had accidentally uploaded it and the whole shebang was ruined! When I realized the reveal had happened and I didn't muck it all up, I relaxed and laughed at this tweet. It reminded me of how awesome my job can be and how happy I am that other readers like to geek out about books.

It is awesome @oopsireaditagain (aka best Twitter handle ever)! And I think you for reminding me when I'm swimming in paper forts. 

Lauren Oliver's PANIC (which is really, really good) comes out in March. As I'm the designer I already have a copy, suckers. ;)

Specs: Crown foil 420 (silver) on title treatment. Gritty Matte/Spot UV. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Who likes space pirates! We do! We Do!

Last winter when my Art Director told me one of my bigger titles of the Winter 2014 season would be about space fighting pirates, I naturally almost peed a little. Who in their right mind wouldn't want this?! And why hasn't it been done before? (Space Cowboys* a close why did this take so long second)

It seems weird that the initial conversation about Jupiter Pirates took place so long ago. It was a no brainer picking out the right illustrator—the super fun Tom Lintern. The logo however wasn't as flawless. Getting the right amount of pointy awesome and readability took quite a lot of revamps. But I couldn't be happier with the result. 

Ta-Da! Jupiter Pirates:

Yea it's totally awesome.

There are still a few more big books on the winter list that aren't ok to put on the Internets yet. I hope those are fair game to share soon—there were a lot of cool cats this winter list. Say! Here's some more. Handlettering done by the oh so talented Joel Holland—a real stand up guy if I do say so myself.

Book 1 of a 2 part series (redesign of the hardcover)

And the sequel

Even though there's still more Winter books to come, let's enjoy our real life (and personal favorite) season, SUMMER! 

Who wants to go play and read outside? 

* Please note I never did see this film but still have every intention of being disappointed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bye Bye Fall, What's up Winter!

Most of the Fall books are out of my hands and on to their next home. In fact, I think I just finished up the last book of the Fall season, CASE FILE 13: MAKING THE TEAM. It's hilarious. I love working on these books and if you like gross spooky humor (and you're 8) pre-order it on amazon, indie bound or visit your local library and snag a copy come late September. Oh! what a great back to school gift this may be:

Book 2!

As we say adios to our Fall 2013 list, I invite (foreshadowing pun!) the Winter 2014 list.


UNINVITED was one of my first books to work on from absolute start to absolute finish. Basically the main character tests positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, aka “the kill gene,” and is thrown into a whole new world she's never known. My job was super fun on this one: how do we show an innocent being deemed a killer?

After playing around with a few ideas, we settled on focusing on the character's DNA. And after we settled on that idea, we played around with different executions. Finally, we decided that we did need a model, we did need a lot of hair, and we also needed me to work a fan to blow that hair around and around. Oh, and the craft service table should be visited as often as possible.

Me working the fan

I wasn't the only one interested in free food.

After we shot the model the photographer thought it was a good idea to dump some glitter in a fish tank for good measure. I couldn't agree more. Got to love a place where there's a glitter bin:

So. Much. Glitter.

So we took all that stuff and smooshed it together and got this:

First book of Winter 2014, exciting!

What do you think, fun right? I can't wait until the rest of this season's books are released into the wild. We got a lot of cool stuff coming up: space pirates, mythical birds that are made of leaves, a dangerous game fought in a rotten town....ya know stuff!

Monday, April 8, 2013

This has nothing to do with books and that's ok.

Last week was not fun. Each day laughed at the day before. Monday was a jerk, guess what! Tuesday was a bigger jerk... Anyway this went on until Saturday when I ran* my first trail race in New Jersey. This race killed me. It hurt. For the first time I said "I hate this" and for a short while I meant it.

For some reason my friends take care of me. When I'm acting like a super baby they really go all in for me, I'm lucky. They text me jokes and invite me to things early in the morning. Kim bought me more then one Bloody Mary—fitting concerning my shins were split. They buy me onion rings and give out Cadbury Eggs for cheer. They listen to my theories on NJ gravity strength vs. NYC gravity. They don't judge me to my face. They listen. They're just there. Always.

But as my mother would suggest, one does have to take care of ones self. I woke up Sunday expecting another bad day, the dooziest of all bad days. I expected it for 5 full minutes. Then I put on my running shoes, grabbed my keys, my phone, and an odd thing: my grandfather's bird seed. When he died last April we decided to make little bags with bird seed and a ribbon that said "Feed the birds and remember Rob Burns," or something to the effect. I'd kept mine for a year.

His passing was the hardest goodbye I have had to say. I could go on as to why, but the basis of it is simple: he was a great man. He worked hard, loved his family, country, and God. He was a listener, a great jokster, and he loved me without question. I know that no matter what I did he loved me, I think that's actually really rare in a person. I'm lucky to have it throughout my family but my Grandfather was solid about it. No matter what, we were all one of the "good guys."

Events around that time were no easier. My sister had flown from Hawaii to Michigan for the service and then came with me to New York after. We were here for a few days before taking the bus to Boston for the marathon. My father ran his 4th or 5th Boston Marathon that year—in record temperatures. We watched runner after runner limp past us and onto Boylston St.. None of them looked good, they were all miserable and and tired. It was fitting in a way, I know my mother and I were tired too. But we stayed and waited for my Dad who did come limping up that underpass eventually, severely dehydrated and scowling. He was dry and had stopped sweating. When I suggested something to drink he said it was pointless. When I suggested he slow down possibly even walk a bit he said "I'll be damned if I'm walking anymore." Well I could understand that.

Almost a year later, this past Sunday, I ran my gimpy, beat-up self up and around the park that I love so much. I ran by the Canadian honking geese and swans. I passed the ducks and sparrows. I ran past the horse stables and the children's carousel. I ran all the way up north hill with that little bag of seed and piled it up next to a tree with a few robins poking around it. I'm sure they would have preferred a hot dog, but they were looking a bit chunky and deserved some solid healthy food.

It was silly to wait a year and I didn't say goodbye to my grandpa, but that bad week sure did take a back seat.

*Really this means I fell over and over again, flailing myself along the forest floor of Tenafly, NJ . . . located somewheres across the Hudson where gravity is much, much stronger.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday's unexpected tempo run—and its faultiness.

I just wrote this entire blog on my phone, copied over it with a link from my clip board and realized there is no "command z" on an iPhone. This blog post just got a bit more ironic.

Start over:

Yesterday a deadline moved up on me by two weeks. I lost 10 working days on a rather intensive interior. If people didn't like this book I'd be freaking hard but since most people are responding positively to it I'm mildly annoyed. (Truth? I'm stressed, worried about its completion and thus freaking hard core.)

See I'd missed two days of work recently—stuff piled up. Yes taking two days off yields hilarious amounts of work. But my absence had also given me a lot of positive surprises. Behold! New finished books for the shelf:

See my Leggo Edgar Allen Poe? He's good friends with bobble-head Kenneth.

Notice most of these titles are of a Mr. Gaiman persuasion? The latest, UNNATURAL CREATURES is so cool I could scream. Granted I had little to do with this cover. You know you have a great illustrator/artist when you say "a hand-lettered cover with 'unnatural creatures' drawn in would be cool." With a talent like Iacapo Bruno you get this:

I wish I could eat all this talent.

All this rad-ness aside, I still have to figure out how to handle my current situation, what to do. I decided to combine the two things I love most to figure it out. Yes, let's run thru Central Park (Oh! I work next to a park, right! Let's go!) while thinking about book design. I left at 5:00 for a slow run—about 5 miles through some seriously awesome scenery, right? Wrong.

Somewhere around 105th st. I realized I was out of breath, struggling, and dizzy. Was I sick? Was I really that stressed? Was last night's TRX class really that hard? A quick glance and a few short maths later I realized I was flying thru this run. This easy run had turned tempo—and had been for a while. Now I was really in trouble. So I stopped, took a breath and a picture.

There is nothing here to note: nothing.

How to deal with these long work days and runs? I'm not so sure. But I know the two can not interfere with each other. I will finish this project and I will train properly for this marathon. I just need to slow down, take a breath and kill it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I love books, Valentines Day edition

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Usually I'm not really into this holiday but quite honestly a lot of awesome has been going on and I'm totally killing it. So lets celebrate the season with my first true loves: books!

Last night (or maybe early this morning who can tell) the New York Times bestseller list came out. Guess what? It's the first time a book I worked on made the list. Hooray! My Art Director and I had an intense revamp of the hardcover edition, causing a lot of internet buzzing and well I suppose people like it. Congratulations to Shatter Me! 

Second, Skottie Young and Neil Gaiman tweeted their first collaboration (and my current obsession), Fortunately, The Milk earlier this week. And according to my Twitter stalking, their readers/fans are loving it! So i think it's ok for me to share on my humble blog. While it'll be some time before I can share the interior, the cover snap in all it's glory:

Just hug it, you know you want to.

Yea that's not the professional digital copy that's online but a sweet picture of my bulletin board at work. There are several of Skotties sketches and finals surrounding that Sales Conference proof, and every day I look at it I love the whole lot a little more.

I was thinking about how much I loved this book while waiting for my taco fix from Domo Taco. I thought to myself, how lucky am I to work on a book so well cared for by both artist and illustrator? How much more awesome could this even get? Then I saw my reflection in the store front and realized I'd dressed like a girl Johnny Depp—or Slash either way....

Johnny Depp hat & hair, Slash jacket & pants

I'm pretty pleased with myself as you can tell. 

Have a great Valentines Day, lovers of books and words . . . and/or tacos.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ramona Boxes

Have you been saying to yourself, "Gee I like Ramona Quimby books but I wish I could buy them with a little house to keep them in."

Well if by "house" you mean "box" then boy-howdy do I have a treat for you! 

The Ramona Quimby Collection:

And for our big spenders out there, the complete collection:

The Complete Collection

A little bit more about Ramona: This project was a beast! Look at all those lovely spines, all lined up in a pretty little row, no easy feat my friends. Anyway, eight books were commissioned, illustrated, typeset (which involved a rather painful Quark to Indesign conversion), copy edited, color corrected, and printed within six months. I'm pretty sure this is some sort of record; I'm currently on hold with the Guinness World Records people—yea that's totally still a thing—to find out. I couldn't have been more proud of my small involvement in these reprints. I couldn't be happier they're all done.

Many congrats to all the managing editors, production people, camera rooms, freelancers and color wheels for making our little Ramona that much more special for young readers. Up next? Ralph S. Mouse and my personal favorite Ribsy. Heck yea!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How was your summer, fall, and erm, winter?

Oh my lord it's been forever since I did much else besides whine about work and run. Have I mentioned the running? Because I've been doing a lot of it. If you are interested about why I'm running then you're obviously not friends with me on Facebook because that's all I talk about. I can't help it—it makes me happy.

It makes me so happy that though I am running the Bermuda Triangle next weekend (one mile race Friday, 10K race Saturday, Half Marathon race Sunday) I just signed up for summer season. I've been lucky enough to be picked for mentor again, this time we're going to San Diego. Oh, and is that another fundraising bar off to the side of this blog? Yea it is. 

Anyhoot. This was supposed to be a design blog but then I fell off the face of the earth and well let's pretend I'll keep doing this for a while, shall we? Yes!

Back in July (SIX months have gone by?!) I was talking about the Ramona reprints. Guess what y'all. They. Are. Done. That was the fastest book reprint in all of human history. Google it, I'm sure it's true. Somehow the illustrator (an amazing lady by the name of Jackie Rogers) finished up 8 covers and interiors without our short deadline. Jackie did an excellent job with Ramona—still full of grit and cuteness. And while the cover design didn't go my way, I'm still proud to be a part of this project. Come February if you see this little lady anywhere on a shelf, pick it up and flip through. Oh, what lovely interior type design she has!

Stuff I helped make...

Some other stuff has been going on in the past few months too! Here's some fun covers:

As soon as it's allowed, I'll put my new passion up—Fortunately, The Milk by Mr. Neil Gaiman (ah! pinch me seriously!) To say I'm obsessed about this project is a vast understatement. Can you marry a work in progress? The illustrator on this book, Skottie Young, is a pure bonafide genius. Each day I get to work on that book is amazing, I'm in love! I'm in ridiculous kick me in the teeth love with that book. Hey weird kids, I got you guys this go around. And you're going to love it.