Events

It took three years to publish this book

Filed under: Events,Gifting Books,My Books,On My Mind,Shanda's Journey | September 1, 2022

It takes sooo long for a book to go from deal to release day. I signed the contract to illustrate this book in March of 2019. At that time, we had never heard of covid, and we still wouldn’t be affected by it for another year! And when it did hit the US, I was in the middle of working on this book. The world shut down in March 2020.

It was weird. All of a sudden, I couldn’t get in contact with the publisher. Months and months went by in silence. But I just kept working. I didn’t know what else to do.

Eventually, the publisher reached out and said that Little Red would need to publish later than originally expected, which was fine with me. And here we are!

LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR releases on Tuesday, Sept 6th! I hope you consider ordering a copy (or two) from my favorite indie bookstores below.

If you order at least two books, Little Shop of Stories will ship for FREE! And with the holidays coming up, consider purchasing 2 copies of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (one for your family and one for your child’s teacher/classroom).

If you fancy SIGNED (by me) copies, then definitely place your order of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR with Read It Again Books! Be sure to request that it be “signed by Shanda” in the notes section of the order.

If you’d like to come see me in person (because I sure want to see you) I’ll be at the Decatur Book Festival on October 1st with Little Shop of Stories and then with Read It Again Books for a fun family launch event on October 8th!

Wow, 10 years makes a difference!

It’s so true.

Yesterday, my husband (Ben) texted me the image (below left) and said “You’ve come a long way in 10 years”.

side by side old work and new work

These postcard images were created by the same artist (me) and had the same theme (little red riding hood) with a frizzy red-haired character. The difference is 10 years.

That first image is odd, right? Not very kid friendly and extremely stiff. It humbles me to look back at this, because now I remember what a beginning beginner I was!

Sometimes I forget. But looking back at this reminds me how patient and kind other creators and industry professionals were with me at conferences or other bookish events. They didn’t dismiss me and say “you just don’t get it”. Thankfully, they found tidbits of good in my work and praised those things while also giving me gentle nudges to improve over and over and over again.

My dreams were never crushed, and I’m so grateful for that.

Little Red and the Big Bad Editor cover

Just 2 weeks until Little Red hits shelves!

Preorder below!

Read It Again Bookstore (Suwanee, GA) Request a “signed by Shanda” copy in the order comments.

Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA) Order 2+ books for free shipping!

Bookshop.org

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Book Depository (International)

I invite you and your family to join me at Read It Again Bookstore in Suwanee, GA on Oct 8, 2022, 12-2pm. This in-person event is perfect for Kindergarteners, 1st graders, 2nd graders, and their teachers. We’ll be reading, drawing, coloring, and writing a thank you letter just like Little Red!

Everyone will get a bookmark and stickers, and of course I’d love to sign a book for you or your class :)

Teachers: I’ll be giving away one FREE in-person writing workshop for students! All attending (K-5) teachers will be eligible.

Read It Again Bookstore
3630 peachtree pkwy, suite 314
Suwanee, GA 30024

Thanks so much for reading!
Love, Shanda

Join me for a special story time at the Computer Museum of America
July 1st, 1PM

Filed under: Doll-E,Events,Free Stuff,Growing Up Reading | June 27, 2022

Computer Museum of America
5000 Commerce Pkwy
Roswell, GA 30076

Tech Tales – Storytime for Young Explorers.

Each week, children will hear stories about computing, technology, creative problem solving, space, robots or famous people in tech. Following the story, children will dive into a fun (and shhhh…educational) hands-on activity. Plan to arrive earlier or stay later and visit the museum exhibits. Consider a membership and bring the kids for multiple Fridays. For group reservations from daycare centers, please email info@computermuseumofamerica.org in advance. Tech Tales, free with admission, starts at 1 PM and runs from June 17th through July 30th. Recommended for ages 5 – 10.

July 1, 2022
Doll-E 1.0 and T-Bone the Drone
Guest Reader: Shanda 
McCloskey, Author of Doll-E 1.0 and T-Bone the Drone
Author and illustrator of Doll-E 1.0 and T-Bone the Drone Shanda McCloskey will read her books and lead the activity this weekProblem-solving and technology go hand-in-hand as these protagonists save the day. This is Shanda’s second year reading at Tech Tales. She will teach youngsters how to draw her characters and then fly a drone. Participants will also fly mini indoor drones. (Shanda will have books available for sale.)

July 8, 2022
Computer Decoders
This week we are learning about ‘Hidden Figure,’ Dorothy Vaughn, who loved all things numbers! Computer Decoders delves into the life of a fascinating woman who was a highly respected mathematician. This story describes how Dorothy had to overcome many challenges with grace and perseverance. After the story, Children will learn how to convert a special date into binary code.

July 15, 2022
What Do You Do with A Problem?
Today’s book is What Do You Do With a Problem? This story is a heartwarming tale for anyone who has ever dealt with a problem. No one is too young to learn the importance of courage and persistence. Children will put on their engineering hats after the story and solve for how to grab something just out of reach.

July 22, 2022
One Giant Leap
One Giant Leap is this week’s selection and we’ll be reading near the Lunar Module replica in the Tribute to Apollo exhibit on the moon floorChildren will learn more about the 1969 moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. After the story, participants will create their very own moon rover.

July 29, 2022
Rosie Revere Engineer
We are wrapping up this summer series reading Rosie Revere Engineer. This story follows a young girl who has aspirations to one day become an engineer. Where some see rubbish, Rosie sees inspiration to create something great. After the story, children will become engineers for the day by building and then testing their own structures. Just how much weight can their creations bear?

Artist/Writer in Residency at Sonoraville Elementary!

Filed under: Events,Growing Up Writing,Parenting,School Visits | October 1, 2018

All last week, and for the first time ever, I had the pleasure of working with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders of Sonoraville Elementary School in a writing and illustrating workshop! It was so much fun and very successful I thought! (But my feet thought otherwise :) I was definitely reminded how hard teachers and media specialists work for our kiddos. Much RESPECT.

Mrs. Beth Mitchell, the Media Specialist there, was awesome to plan and scheme with. She almost never sits down and remains die-hard-patient with her students. I was impressed an encouraged to be more patient with my own kids after watching her. Our whole Artist in Residency concept began with her approaching me and just throwing the idea at me. And because I’m local to her school, it worked out really well and simply.

In order to maximize the potential of our program, Mrs. Mitchell spoke with the teachers of the grades we wanted to involve and asked those educators what they would like to see covered in the program to help reinforce skills their students are already working on. After that, Mrs. Mitchell and I developed the 3 day curriculum, and I worked hard to add in some good ‘ol cheesy fun too. We put it all to the test last week, and I think we have a winner!

If you are interested in me doing this 3-day workshop at your school, click here and scroll to the bottom.

-Shanda!

This sheet was inspired by Debbie Ohi’s character sheet on DebbieOhi.com!

Doll-E 1.0 selected for B&N National Storytime on 7/28/18!

Filed under: Coolness,Doll-E,Events,Shanda's Journey | July 22, 2018


My first book publication experience has been nothing short of awesome! I am very honored and grateful, because I realize this isn’t the norm. My book has some very hot themes in it … STEM, STEAM, girls in tech, and robotics, so my publisher, Little Brown, has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure DOLL-E 1.0 gets in the hands of kids! And one of those awesome efforts led to DOLL-E 1.0 being selected for Barnes and Noble’s National Storytime! This means that on July 28, 2018, EVERY Barnes and Noble IN THE COUNTRY will be reading my book during their 11am Saturday story time! Whaaaa?! There’s even Doll-E activities to follow and a discount on the book if you are a member or a kids club member.

I’ll be involved in this national event at my local B&N in Cumming, GA at The Collection! Please join me this Saturday at 11 am if you can! I’d LOVE to meet some new friends and visit with old friends, read my book to you, show you how to draw some of the characters, and sign some books too!

Here’s the Barnes & Noble blog post about it: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/kids/visit-your-local-bn-saturday-july-28th-at-11am-for-a-storytime-event-featuring-doll-e-1-0/

Special thanks to Shawn Foster and the Little, Brown sales team and to Barnes and Noble!!! Thank you for selecting DOLL-E 1.0 for B&N National Storytime💙🤖💙 I also want to constantly thank my Heavenly Father, my husband- Ben, my girls, my parents, Ben’s parents, my big family, Ben’s big family, my friends and church friends, my agent- Erica, my editor- Andrea, and last but not ever least … my Trail Mix Critique Group and best buds: Colleen, Bonnie, Christi, Shannon, Jaclyn, Vaughan, Tosha, and Kim!

The Little, Brown Picture Book Event!

Filed under: Events,Illustration,Shanda's Journey | February 28, 2018

Before the details of this awesome trip to NYC slips my mind, I wanted to write about it here.

Every year, Little, Brown hosts a Picture Book Event where they invite media, book stores, and librarians, etc. to see original art from their upcoming Spring books. They also get to meet 2 author-illustrators tat are a part of that Spring list. Caldecott Medalist, Sophie Blackall, was the main attraction as she spoke about her beautiful upcoming book HELLO LIGHTHOUSE. And the other author-illustrator was ME! I spoke about myself as a new kid on the block and my debut book, DOLL-E 1.0. (My anxiety meds work well, because I wasn’t nervous!) Let’s just say, the attendees got to know the real Shanda – southern accent, tripping up on several words, a few tears and everything when I shared about my eye struggles. Why not? This is me :)

The space where the event was held was decorated with my characters and Sophie’s too! Each place setting had Doll-E and Lighthouse Valentines, sweet hearts candy, and a magnifying glass to find clues in the presentations. It was the cutest! And I finally got to meet the team I’ve been working remotely with in person: Andrea Spooner (my editor), Hallie Tibbetts (Andrea’s assistant), Jen Keenan (my art director), and Saho Fuji (art director) among others! I felt so welcomed and celebrated. It was a breakfast (and lunch) I’ll never forget, because I know this doesn’t happen to everybody, and it may never feel like this again … but that’s why this blog post is here … to document this wonderful moment in my journey!

Shanda “like panda” slide sketch in my presentation.

 

Me and Sophie

Office of fun!

Signed my very first book!

LEGO Self Portrait Success!


This summer, the Sequoyah Regional Library System’s theme is “Build A Better World”. So, yesterday I spent a couple hours at Pickens County Library leading 20 very cool kids through a LEGO self portrait! Each one created a totally unique piece. It always lifts me up to spend time with kids! We used a grid technique to draw a large LEGO guy base. It was tough to do, but they mastered it. Then they added adhesive foam hair and details to showcase their personalities. Last, they colored them with oil pastels. I hope the kids had as much fun as I did! I’m thankful for the extra hands I had there too – Barb McCloskey, Ethan Walker, Harvey Jane McCloskey, and Gracie Helton!

How Did I Come To Be … Here?

Filed under: Events,Growing Up Artsy,Lessons of an Artist | September 21, 2015


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Before I answer this question I want to say that I experienced one of the the most magical conferences of my career this past weekend with SCBWIMidSouth and my critique group! It was my first time attending this particular conference, but I was blown away by the surrounding talent, the speakers, and the kindness I encountered. And I’ve been to lots of conferences, believe me- this one was stellar!

I also had some encouraging feedback (the kind that will carry me through another week … another month … another year)! John Rocco even high-fived me! He’s awesome. Him being on the faculty list sold me on this conference in the first place. Not only did I get to hear him speak and have him sign my favorite book, “Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom,” but he said I had “mad skills.” I’ll never forget THAT. 

So…. “how did you come to be here sitting in front of me?” Kristen Nobles from Candlewick asked as I sat down for my portfolio critique. She wanted to know a little about me and my background up to this point. I answered her back, but what I said wasn’t strung together very well spur of the moment. And of course I was a little nervous. But when I left the conference, that question circled and circled in my head. It’s a really good question, and I’d like to have a really good answer should anyone ask me again.

So here’s my answer… my long, thought out answer…

I was the art kid. I was good at it in elementary school, middle school, and high school. It was a strong sense of my identity and still is. It’s what made me (feel) special. 

I was not a particularly gifted reader, I was so very average. I loved the book fair! It made me want to want to read – are you following? In 3rd grade I was given a little money each book fair to get some books. I usually bought picture books (even though I was “too old” for them). But I could see that words and pictures played beautifully together. Then, I picked up “The Witches” by Roald Dahl… it was a thick book with a pretty witch on the cover. So I started it…and finished it- a thick book! (Revolutionary for me :) Again, it was words and pictures. I fell in love with reading then. I still wasn’t a bookworm or anything, but I experienced a secret, sweet, magical something when I found that perfect book. It usually had pictures and was funny. 

Fast forward. I go to art school. I figure out that I gravitate to art that reaches many people vs. art that hangs in galleries. It was the art that almost every person could relate to, feel something from, and get a hold of that I wanted to make. I finally figured out that what I really wanted to do with my life’s work was make pictures for the words in books. 

 I didn’t quite know how to make that happen. It’s not a straight path. So, I became an art teacher in a high school to pay the bills, but I knew this was only a stepping stone and not my calling. But I don’t regret it one bit. I learned how much I loved kids, even the big ones. I shared my love of books and illustration with them! I’m not sure if I affected any of them, but they affected me. I wanted to practice what I preached to them about following dreams, so I quit. And my husband and I moved to Brooklyn, NY!

It was only for a year, but I had my New York experience in a little apartment living in the same city as so many artists have, are, and will. I worked at Fishs Eddy near Union Square, and attended night classes at the School of Visual Arts. I will never forget THAT. 

I joined SCBWI in the middle of teaching, but I didn’t get very active until I came back to Georgia and longed to be near artists and writers again. SCBWI filled that void well and continues to feed my soul. I met my writers group through SCBWI, and this single thing has shaped my work more than anything. I am surrounded by talent that abounds me once a month. In their midst, I started writing and really began pushing my art. I’ve also met and/or become friends with several inspirational people: Lori Nichols, E.B. Lewis, Kelly Light, and now John Rocco are all mentors of mine whether they know it or not.

Then I had a child. There isn’t anything more bonding than experiencing stories together. I fell in love with books again, as a mommy. Now, the draw was/is bigger than ever. I WANT to be a part of that world. I want to be among the creators of children’s books!

So, that’s my answer. That, in a nutshell, is how I came to be … here!

-Shanda

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Superhero Self-Portrait Success!

Filed under: Events,Growing Up Artsy | June 12, 2015

super_portraits

I had a blast hanging out with 10 boys (yep, all boys) last Saturday at Pickens County Library in Ellijay, GA! I was able to share my drawing powers with them successfully (as you can see from the rad portraits they created above)! Thanks for bringing your kids to my program – they were kind and AWESOME! Special thanks to Brooke and the Sequoyah Regional Library System, who invited me, and to Ethan (my nephew) who was a HUGE help to me and the little artists.

green_hero

brooke_me
brothers

 

Can’t wait to see what programs these libraries will do in the future! It was a pleasure being a part of the “Every Hero Has A Story” Summer Reading Program! Now, go make the world a better place … with ART!

-Shanda

While I was gone, I had a baby!

Filed under: Events,Growing Up Artsy,Shanda's Journey | September 5, 2014

Me and Beni

Me and Beni

If you saw me at the New York SCBWI conference or the Atlanta SCBWI conference, you might remember that I was expecting my second little one. I had lots of energy then, and I accomplished much on my “to do before the baby comes” list (including attending my first national SCBWI conference in NYC!) But soon after, I hit the wall… where it took ALL my energy just to do basic tasks like showering or tying shoes. Every woman who has ever been 8 months pregnant, knows this truth :) So for a while there, I couldn’t tie up the loose ends on my projects or submissions, because I was too distracted to do my best work. I had to close my “book” (so to speak) to give this season of life all my attention…

And here she is… Beni Lois McCloskey! Named after her precious daddy (Ben) and his zealous grandmother (Lois).

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Beni Lois

Beni Lois

Beni Lois

A lot has changed adding a second child. Having 2 kids is pretty crazy! I still have pregnant brain, and have to write down things like when I bathed each kid last and if I took my vitamin yet. It’s like my short-term memory is struggling to function, but I hear that’s pretty normal… hopefully.

Our home also went through many changes leading up to Beni. My husband and I used to share an office/studio together upstairs, but we had to move our bedroom up there to make our old bedroom, Beni’s. My husband now rents an office outside of our home, and we squeezed out a little space in our living room for a studio for me. It’s tight, but good. Here are some photos of my new office…

Shanda's Studio

Shanda’s Studio (behind the couch)

 

Shanda's Studio

Shanda’s Studio

Dana Tanamachi print (frame made by my dad) hangs above the cradle (made by my Pop), in the living room near my desk.

Dana Tanamachi print (frame made by my dad) hangs above the cradle (made by my Pop), in the living room near my desk.

And here is Beni’s woodland room… (I was dead set on using lots of white for some reason :)

Beni's Room

Beni’s Room (Garland made by my cousin Audrey, the moss B made by my mother-in-law Barb, the table under the lamp was made by Ben’s grandmother Lois, the bookshelf was made by my grandfather Pop, and the painted furniture was painted by my mom!)

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I painted the flowers on the wood plank that my dad prepared above the mirror.

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My husband, Ben, trimmed our crepe myrtle and hung a branch!

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photo 3There you have it! Now I have 2 beautiful girls to inspire me! Hopefully, I’ll be posting new work again soon. I am working on it :)

Sisters!

Sisters!

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author