Mike’s Big Book Deal

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Greetings, Danned visitors! I realize some of you may already know about this, but I just had to take a little blog-space to share some incredibly exciting news (and to shamelessly brag on my amazing and soon-to-be-famous boyfriend).

Earlier this week, Mike, who has long aspired to be an author-illustrator of children’s books, announced to the world that he’s landed his very first book deal! After considering several generous offers, he’s agreed to a three-book hitch with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. (Apparently, a three-book deal is quite the coup for a first-time author). Here’s the official press release as it appeared in Publishers Weekly:

Laura Godwin at Henry Holt has bought world English rights to three picture books by debut author-artist Mike Curato, featuring his character Elly the Polka-Dotted Elephant; the books are scheduled to come out annually beginning in fall 2014. Curato, a graphic designer living in Seattle, won the Portfolio Award at the SCBWI winter conference earlier this year. Brenda Bowen of Greenburger Associates brokered the deal, which Godwin won at auction.

Yep, that was in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. You know. No big.

Needless to say, Mike is elated beyond words. I believe “in a surreal trance” best describes his state of mind over the past few days. This is basically the realization of his lifelong dream, so yeah, he’s in a pretty good mood. I know I’m far from alone when I say I could not be more thrilled for him, and I am SO EFFING PROUD OF HIM.

This is a journey Mike’s been on since long before we knew each other, of course, stretching all the way back to wee Mikey’s first pre-school art classes. Indeed, his dream of becoming a great illustrator was one of the very first things I learned about him. Not long after we met, I noticed that every bookstore visit with Mike included a lengthy browse in the children’s section. He told me of his then-stalled efforts to break into the business, showing me the sidelined mock-up he’d pitched to at least one major publisher. And with a look at his exceptional work, it was quickly apparent to me that Mike is a serious, out-of-my-league talent who is destined for great things.

Since then it’s been quite a ride for Mike professionally. In the four years we’ve been together, he’s gone from freelancing as a graphic designer, to heading up the design team of a Seattle tech company, then back to freelancing, to anxiously pouring his heart into the launch of his own specialty wedding-invite business. But amidst the all-around craziness of life, Mike still made time here and there to perfect his art, and to kindle his simmering aspirations.

Late last year, after illustrating an author-friend’s self-published debut title, Mike put together a successful and spirit-boosting exhibition of his recent work, enthusiastically (and appropriately) hosted by Cupcake Royale in Seattle. The show featured a series of charming new portraits of one of his best-loved characters, Elly the Polka-Dotted Elephant. Naturally, the pairing of delectable sweets and enchanting images like this one proved irresistible to local admirers. Seattle was in love.

Things really began to take off for Mike when he attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) winter conference in New York earlier this year. On little more than a long-shot whim, he entered the conference’s Portfolio Award competition, and was, to his own amazement, awarded first place. His win was immediately followed by an overwhelming barrage of solicitations from agents, editors, publishers, and other folks in the biz eager to snap up this emerging talent and his adorable little elephant. In an exhilarating instant, Mike had been discovered, and was tagged as a rising star in children’s literature. It was now simply matter of choosing the right agent, and locking down the best book deal.

Mike has since teamed up with the fabulous Brenda Bowen, who, in their short time together, has become his tireless advocate, deftly brokering the extraordinary book deal we’re now celebrating.

At this point I would say, “and the rest is history,” if only that remotely resembled the truth. But the reality is that most of the story here has yet to be written. A lot of craziness is about to come Mike’s way (believe me, I’ve seen some of the book-deal deets, and this publisher has big plans for little Elly), but truly wonderful things lie ahead for him as well. This is just the beginning of an exciting new journey for Mike, and I feel privileged just to be along for the ride.

So congratulations to you, my love Mike! I can’t wait to see you achieve your dreams, to share in your upcoming adventures, and to watch the world fall in love with Elly!

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