Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Paintings from Sprout Street Neighbors

Here are a few of my favorites from the first chapter of Sprout Street Neighbors, the chapter book I've been working on. It's been a lot of fun painting without color, it sort of frees me up to think more about the values, textures, and patterns in a painting. I like spending time in this cozy black and white world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Never finished, only abandoned?

Stephen King says that novels (or any work of art) are never finished, only abandoned -- but I think sometimes you DO feel done. People have asked me how you know when you are, and I've answered that question differently than I'm about to now  -- even here on this blog when no one was asking! Maybe the answer is different for each book.

The novel I sent to my agent last week (for the fourth time!) feels really and truly done because I've stopped thinking about it. Oh, I still wonder each time I check my email if I'll have heard back from her --but I would be surprised if she asked me to do anything else. And all the space in my head that was taken up imagining scenes or revising them has been wiped clean.

Sometimes after finishing something it feels like a loss, but now I'm glad to be able to concentrate on wherever I am and whatever I'm doing  -- like weeding my herb garden:

The mint is from last year, the window frame was given to me by someone here, so I can start seeds under glass. And maybe preparing the ground to sow seeds is where I am in my writing now, too: not ready to start a new novel yet but getting ready -- another way I know I'm done with this one!

Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm working on a "how to" and this is the sped up version...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to (really) avoid jetlag


Several of the Blue Rose Girls have been traveling lately: Grace is in Hong Kong, Alvina was in Italy, I'm in Scotland, and our long-lost Linda was in Israel. So since no one has been posting much lately I am describing the five-step plan for avoiding jetlag.

I've heard of various methods:
  •  always be exhausted, so you sleep wherever you are -- this was what a work-aholic boss always did
  • drink a lot -- "Works for me!" a builder/pirate-fighter (really) on the island said cheerfully
  • follow the anti jet lag developed by the US Air Force.
These are the five steps that worked for me, starting with the Air Force diet.  I slept for 12 hours the first night  and did not have ANY jetlag at all after that, thanks, I am convinced, to this five-step plan developed by trial and error over the years.

1. My version of the USAF anti-jet lag diet
The science behind this diet is that your liver plays a big role in setting your body's internal clock -- how and why this is, and how these foods play into that, I don't know. I just know it works.

How you do this varies depending upon whether you are going East (it's later at your destination) or West (it's earlier).This is the going East version.

 Five days before the flight (counting the flight day as day 5), alternately feast and feast.
 They said no caffeine, but I had white tea. They said no alcohol, but I had wine with dinner two of the feast nights -- two glasses. They said to start 4 days before the flight, but I started 5....and I drank as much water as I could stomach every day, especially the day of the flight.

The details:
Day 1, fast -- MY version of fasting is to have liquids (berry smoothies and green drinks) or salad (baby greens with an avocado: no cheese, no meat) and a light supper of cooked vegetables or eggs
Day 2, feast -- high protein breakfast AND dinner (avoid carbs both days), lots of water
Day 3 -- fast
Day 4 -- feast, and on THIS day, have a dinner that is high in both protein and healthy carbs.
Day 5 (the day of the flight) -- fast: smoothie for breakfast, salad or nothing for lunch, salad for dinner (a bit of protein with it if you wish), and as much water as you can drink.

2. The day of the flight:
Get a massage. It's a nice treat and in my case, I think it really helped.

3. On the plane:
If it's a red-eye, try to sleep -- and drink as much water as you can. No alcohol on the plane!

4. Wherever you are (on the plane, at your destination) when it's wake-up time at your destination:
Have caffeinated tea or coffee. Remember, the destination time zone is the time zone to use for this.

Have a high-protein breakfast at that time, too.

5. First day at the destination:
Stay up until bedtime -- and walk around a lot, outside, in the morning. Morning light helps you adjust to your destination time if you're traveling East.

If you are really really tired, take a nap at around 4 (no earlier or all your efforts will have been wasted). Sometimes I take a short nap in the afternoon but this time I did not and I think you adjust much faster if you just stay up. This time, I stayed up until 9.30 -- and slept for 12 hours!!!

I admit that one reason I was able to do this is that I got an absolutely hideous haircut and the drama, stress, and sight of it kept the adrenaline flowing. Perhaps you can add a little stress to your first day and let that keep you up.

Continue to drink as much water as you can.

Is it worth it?
To me, definitely.  I'd take the bother of the diet -- which is simpler than it may sound -- over feeling out of it and off for the first two weeks. It's true that I was completely incompetent and out of it the first day -- but when I woke up after having slept soundly for twelve hours that was worth it, too.

From then on, I was on local time.

What's worked for you? And if you try this, will you report back on how it worked for you?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Sprout Street Jacket

Here is the final painting for the jacket of Sprout Street Neighbors. I began with this sketch. I'll post the jacket design soon!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I get scared

Recently, I read this disturbing post and it made me worry about my privacy online. As authors, we are told  to "be real," to "share" and to "connect" with readers as well as others. And, honestly (when I  have the time) I rather enjoy doing those things. I love sharing real photos of my life, my baby, my studio. I love connecting to readers and hearing how they've read my book. The purpose of being an author/illustrator is that you want your ideas, your images, and (not to be cheesy, but truly) your heart to be shared. Otherwise, why bother to publish--just keep everything in a box under the bed!

But, I get scared. That same baby I love to share photos of--am I risking her safety? Am I risking my own safety, my family's safety by revealing--by "sharing" so much of our lives? I don't want to be afraid, but I don't want to be dumb, either.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Inside Random House: Bringing Our Authors' Books to Life

I've been off the radar because I have to move... to where I don't know. All of my books are now in boxes--over 35 and counting! Yeah, I have a lot of books. This whole process is just really draining for me. The day I'm supposed to be out of my apartment I have a school visit so I've been working on trying to add some material to it today. I have tons of school visits coming up in the next two months. Something I struggle with is how to explain how a book is created. I found a good video FOR ADULTS. What I'd like to do is create one for kids. But oh, how to find the time...