Tag Archives: art

Nerd Camp CT 2024

I went to my first NErDCampCT in March over in West Hartford, CT. It was the first in-person one I'd been to, and I wanted to share my experience. I think this event is a really wonderful way for librarians to connect with each other as well as authors in the area.

The way it works is really up to the attendees. Upon arrival and registration, you mingle and together with the others present, create a schedule for the day. It is that informal!

It was such a whirlwind of information and connection with educators, librarians, and other authors and illustrators.

We (child and I) learned to make 'zines and learned about nonfiction books.

Lens-Artists Challenge #246 – Still Life…

MV Obsession 2023-03-25 15:47:31

Thursday Trios #71…

Part 2, Sketch to Final: Abuelita and I Make Flan

 from sketch to final for abuelita and i make flan book

Back in 2017, when I started writing ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN my story looked like a list of ingredients (literally) and a recipe. I took this to my first writing critique group (!!Qué pena!! but you have to start somewhere). I had a hazy vision in my head for a story about a grandchild and grandparent making flan together.

The story changed shape many times between 2017 and it's publication in 2022.

Abuelita and I Make Flan early draft


In between, I realized the story was missing 'the heart'. So I combined a memory of baking with my own Abuelita with that feeling where you think everything's going wrong, but you're still safe and loved and accepted as an imperfect child deserving of love. This was a big step in learning to write for kids. There needs to be some kind of heart or hook or something for kids to relate to.


thumbnail dummies for abuelita and i make flan children's book
Next, I did a sketch dummy from Debbie Ohi's site:  https://debbieohi.com/resources/. I played with different thumbnail illustrations until the story made sense to me (and my agent!). Then I enlarged it to a full size dummy, refined the illos, and began the back and forth of editing and revising.


I needed to add more tension! Here are some of the people who saw it and offered editing thoughts: critique partners, mentors, teachers from various courses and organizations, professional/industry critiquers, peers, and my mother*. And this jogged a memory of me breaking my mom's wedding plate while we were moving back in with my grandparents.

*For my second and third books, I did not have to take it so far and wide for editing. It took a lot for me to grow confident in my writing abilities! Also, sometimes your family doesn't know what makes a good children's book!

And that was the key! Once I added that broken plate, it all came together and we sold the manuscript to Charlesbridge in 2020, and it finally came out in August of 2022.

These days, my process for writing is more like a yes/no flowchart: outline or list, then a test draft in prose (does it work? yes/no), if no, a draft in lyrical language. When I think something's working, I'll exchange with a critique group (love/hate/boring?)... rinse repeat until it's feeling ready-ish enough to submit to my agent.


From Sketch to Final Art: ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN

page from ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN by Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom

The story of ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN is a combination of several real-life events. I was inspired to capture a moment in time where it felt like everything was going wrong as a kid, but still able to find safety and love from my grandparents who accepted me as an imperfect child deserving of love. Anita, the main character, is a blend of real life people in my own family including myself. The Abuelita character was drawn from a combination of several real-life people including my great aunt, both my grandmas and their friends. 

What’s real-life inspiration and what’s not? I really did break a wedding dish, but it belonged to my mother, not my abuelita. The truth is my family did not bring much more than their suitcases with them from Cuba. I really did - and still do! - make a LOT of flan, but I helped my great-aunt, Marta, who had severe arthritis doing all the things Anita does in the book. In real life, I did more crafts like sewing, crochet, and cake decorating with my grandma. I chose flan because it’s delicious and it reminds me of our big family get-togethers which I miss very much.

I started work on ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN back in 2017. It was in large part thanks to SCBWI which connected me to a critique group which then led to a mentorship program at WNDB, critiques at SCBWI conferences, Highlights Foundation courses, Storyteller Academy and other educational resources and eventually my agent! Community has been pivotal for growth and feedback in the publishing world, and the success of this title making it to bookshelves everywhere.

Tumbling into A New Year – 2022 Wrap Up


Happy New Year!

The last few weeks of any year for me are typically about reflecting, month by month on the year that just finished. I snatch any quiet moment I can during the holiday rush to write down my thoughts on what went well and what didn’t professionally and personally.


Then the first few weeks of the year are a mirror of those last two weeks, and I take time to think about what I want my year to look like. I ask myself questions like: How can I participate in successful, fulfilling activities that re-energize or inspire me? What are some activities that drain me?

What elements of my life need to be edited out? I make a deliberate effort to imagine where I want to be at the end of the year, to imagine what success feels like, and then I write it down. This is how I set my intentions for the year. 


So it’s gone for six years now. 2022 brought to fruition a lot of seeds planted years ago doing these kinds of reflection and intention exercises. The path of my life has finally brought me here, to reflect upon the publishing of my first book as an author and illustrator.

This is no accident! It’s the course I set for myself, and worked toward year after year. It’s the learning and revising, and reflection all adding up. You too can set the course of your creative year, and I encourage you to take the time to reflect and set intentions for 2023.


Wishing you a super 2023!


Some favorite success-building creative activities:

  • Reflection journaling or sketching like The Year Compass (https://yearcompass.com/en/ - it's a free journaling tool).

  • Setting intentions and creating a plan for success

  • Choosing a word of the year for motivation or focus

  • Idea generation community activities like Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (https://taralazar.com/)

  • Editing workshops or critique group meet-ups
  • Accountability communities like 12x12 or Storyteller Academy or your local SCBWI conferences

PPAC # 56 – Circle Art

This plate of the original 13 states is in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA


adjective Scot. and North England.conspicuous; easily seen or recognized

I think these easily recognizable 4 speak for themselves 🙂

CBWC: Looking through or Into a Window…

Into New York holiday window

Into art gallery windows

Into church window

Through window

Into and through window

#PPAC: Photographing Public Art Challenge #1…

Public art is which encompasses any form of art you see in a public place, large or small, statues, murals, graffiti, gardens, Christmas lights, even buildings or bridges. The art should be visible from streets, sidewalks or outdoor public places. I chose to post photos from the list below.

  • Graffiti
  • Statues and Sculptures
  • Murals
  • Transportation
  • Car Shows
  • Artistic Construction (Bridge, benches and buildings)
  • Wall Art

Bridges…George Washington Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge

Statues…Upper left, the Field Gallery (Martha’s Vineyard) – Upper right, Marquis De Lafayette, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, General George Washington (Morristown, NJ) Lower left, Atlas (Rockefeller Center, NYC) – Lower right, Martha’s Vineyard.

Cube and sculptures at Grounds For Sculptures, Hamilton, New Jersey

Statue at Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, NJ honoring the search and rescue dogs of 9/11…

Classic car shows

Murals, dogs and graffiti…