Monday, December 31, 2007
What are some of your professional resolutions/goals?
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2008!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I had promised myself that I would send out some of my poetry manuscripts in 2007. I never got around to it. I received a lot of sad news about friends and family in the past year. One of my closest friends and two of my first cousins were diagnosed with cancer. A good friend, a dear uncle, and the daughter of one of my best friends passed away. Worry and sadness can wear a hole in one’s ability to concentrate on reading and creative writing…and tending, in a regular organized fashion, to things that must get done. At least, that is what I found.
I can’t say I that I accomplished what I had hoped to accomplish in the last twelve months. I guess the only writing I have to show for the year 2007 is my solo blog, Wild Rose Reader. Sometimes I wrote for my blog when I should have been doing other things. Oh, well! Now that a new year will soon be upon us, I guess it’s time for me to think about sweeping out the old one and beginning afresh with a plan for 2008—the Year of the Rat!
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets. (Her book Red Suitcase is one of my favorite books of adult poetry.) For the last Poetry Friday of 2007, I have selected a poem by Nye that speaks to my feelings about my lack of productivity. I hope the coming year will bring better tidings for so many of the people I care about. I hope, too, that at this time next December, I will be able to look back at the year that has passed and savior a feeling of accomplishment.
BURNING THE OLD YEAR
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Click here to read the rest of the poem.
I have an original poem entitled Winter Ballet at Wild Rose Reader today.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Check It Out this week.
Happy New Year to you all!
Monday, December 24, 2007
On Dec. 23, 1997, on his site, Robot Wisdom, Mr. Barger wrote: "I decided to start my own webpage logging the best stuff I find as I surf, on a daily basis," and the Oxford English Dictionary regards this as the primordial root of the word "weblog."
Other early blogs were CamWorld and Scripting News. It's incredible that these blogs are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries this year--I wonder who among us will still be blogging 5 or 10 years from now. Will I?
The NPR.com page also has a little chart about who blogs and why people blog. I'd say the reasons why I blog are pretty much in line with the reasons why most people blog.
So, in the spirit of the long life of blogs, I'd love to hear a little more about what you'd like to see happen with the Blue Rose Girls blog in the next year. Any type of posts you'd like to see more of? Should we bring the question of the week back? Does anyone out there even have any questions for us?
I've never seen the real Northern Lights, but I've always wanted to -- the Golden Compass descriptions of those "shimmering curtains" and "sheets of light and energy" made me want to even more. I haven't been posting lately because I am DETERMINED to finish the rewrites on my novel before the year ends, and blogging takes energy away from that. When it's done I'll be better about posting; and in the meantime: light and energy -- and a Merry Christmas -- to all!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Here is my contribution to Poetry Friday this week. WARNING: Do not let the little Santa believers in your house read this poem!
The Death of Santa Claus
by Charles Webb
He's had the chest pains for weeks,
he's let his Blue Cross lapse,
open, waiting rooms upset
until, feeding the reindeer,
stop squeezing. He can't
Click here if you to want to finish reading this poem.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at AmoXicalli.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
What I will talk about: other projects that I want to do that have nothing to do with kids' books; the book I'm working on now; and I don't know... everything’s blurry right now. Talk amongst yourselves. If any of you have any questions for me, ask them! If any of you have any topics you'd like to talk about, post away.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I have to admit it's been a while since I've gone shopping in a real store. I tend to do internet shopping; but since I was getting all high and mighty, I realized I should support an independent bookstore as well. So I went into my favorite children's bookstore and...was completely overwhelmed.
There are just so many books out there, crowding and overcrowding the shelves. I went in determined to buy a gem from a no-name upcoming author, but the sheer chaos was disheartening. Suddenly, from the consumer angle, I realized how intimidating it can be to buy a book. The pressure of choosing something age appropriate, reading-level appropriate, taste appropriate for the child, taste appropriate for the parents...suddenly, those cute baby shoes were looking like a good gift choice.
But just as I began to take a step back, I was given an epiphany as a present. I make a living making these books. How is that possible? It was humbling, and the prior feeling of self-righteous pride became one of intense gratitude. Some lovely, kind, patient people must have taken the time to find my books in this mess of a publishing universe,and that's rather a miracle. And one that deserves to be paid forward as a holiday tradition.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Thought I'd post this as well, in case anyone has not read about the new upcoming Paddington book. At first I thought it was a spoof, but have read about it in at least 3 places now (Meghan's nonfiction rule), so it must be true. Either way, its brilliant! Children should learn about the injustices of immigration and naturalization! Kidding. Sort of.
Check it out here.
Monday, December 17, 2007
As always in the weeks leading up to the holiday break, there have been a lot of social obligations, holiday parties, etc. I hope you won't think that I'm getting paid by Sony to talk about the Sony Reader again (I'm not, but if someone wants to pay me, I'll take it), but I've found myself "showing off" the Reader to a lot of people at these events and parties (but was so sad that I forgot it at work when I went to the Kidlit Drink night last Monday! Sorry, Kate). In fact, I've just purchased a new iPod Nano, which is truly a thing of beauty, but have been showing off my Sony Reader so much more. What's been exciting for me as an avid reader working in publishing is that it's not just publishing folk who are interested in seeing the Reader: people I don't necessarily consider to be book lovers are really fascinated by the gadget. Who knows, maybe electronic book readers will create some new readers!
Another interesting thing I've discovered while continuing to use the Reader is the mechanics of how I read paper books. I am somewhat of a speed reader, so when reading a physical paper book, I tend to start turning the top corner of page before I've finished reading the bottom of the current page, because when I'm dealing with actual paper pages, my eyes are able to finish scanning the last few lines before I fully turn the page, my eyes jumping from the bottom of the page to the top of the next page. Of course, I never actually fully realized I did this until I started using the Sony Reader, because obviously, you can't do that with the Reader. I don't know how many times I've had to push the back page button after pushing the next page button prematurely and realizing that I hadn't read the last lines of the previous page.
And that is all I'll say on the Sony Reader. Until next time.
I'll end with a bit of news: promotions at my company were announced on Friday, and this year it was wonderful to see a long list of promotions across departments, all very well deserved. Well, with the possible exception of one: I've been promoted to Senior Editor. I don't quite feel worthy, but it's definitely exciting for me, although nothing much will change in my day-to-day job responsibilities. But it's lovely to know that I can work in a job and industry that I love, and continue to grow.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Now eighty-nine years old, my mother still spends money from her meager retirement pension to buy birdseed. After a winter storm, one can see the snow in her yard littered with tiny seeds for the wild birds.
The following poem is for my mother who taught me kindness toward animals and generosity of spirit.
by Nancy McCleery
You can read the rest of the poem at American Life in Poetry: Column 39.
Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
It is an interesting coterie that we have formed. When we first began the blue rose girl blog, it was mainly for professional and promotional reasons--but the bonds that formed behind the posts have become stronger than I ever imagined. These were the women that stood by me when I was running on empty, when the suffering was almost too much to bear and waited to catch me when the inevitable finally forced me to fall. These were the women that drove six hours to a foreign city for a funeral; they were the ones who madly rearranged, repainted and removed the horrors from my apartment so that I could return to a true home. These were the women who refused to let me be alone and scheduled their days to be with me; the ones who helped me pick up the pieces of my life, watched me heal, encouraged me to go forward and pushed me to look at my future with hope. They are the ones who are sincerely happy for me when I now feel joy and celebrate with delight anytime life brings me good fortune. These are the women who have taught me what true friendship really is.
I probably shouldn't need a ring to remember that. But, it's a good excuse.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Yes that is a three tiered cupcake tray in the middle of the table, Grace makes the best cupcakes ever.
From left to right below: Rebecca, Alvina, Grace, Libby, Elaine, and me:
When the festivities were over it was time to get back to work, Saturday I had a table at the RISD holiday sale. I do this sale every year, its a good way to sell some books... but mainly it gives me the opportunity to do something crafty, which always gets me in the holiday spirit. This year I framed little prints of the illustrations for the book I'm working on now (Red Shoe):
Here is me, sitting cheerfully behind my table before the mad rush of craft enthusiasts hit the scene:
Another perk of doing the show is all the other artists you get to meet, and sometimes trade with. This year I made two trades with artists Gregory Poulin and Dorothy Imagire. This is Gregory's work below, he does these amazing still lives of food and other household objects. I traded him for a beautifully rendered painting of garlic, which now hangs proudly in our kitchen.
Here is Dorothy's work. She makes these tiny photographs dipped in wax (called encaustic), I traded her for an image of a honeybear and a pastry cutter that I couldn't love more. You can see more of her encaustic work here.
I had the pleasure of sharing my booth with Karen Bessette, who makes really lovely collage/paintings such as this one that remind me of Romare Bearden:
Well that about wraps it up... I returned to Boston Sunday to spend the day painting... a deadline waits for no one!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Last Friday morning, I drove my rental car down from San Francisco to Big Sur. Highway One was breathtaking, and I couldn't resist getting out of the car a few times to take pictures:
We had a lovely faculty orientation/lunch at the Henry Miller Library. It was great seeing some familiar faces, putting faces to name, and meeting new friends. The weather felt fairly warm to me then, but the temperature would quickly drop--we would be cold all weekend; good thing we had fireplaces in our cabins for heat:
Here is the view of the conference center from my cabin:
I really liked the structure of the conference. Each faculty member would facilitate three separate critique groups of 4-5 attendees. The first group would meet once on Friday, and then again on Sunday, where ideally the author would have revised according to feedback.
Each attendee would also have a one-on-one consultation with a faculty member, meaning each faculty member would have 4 or 5 consultations. One of the biggest draws of the Big Sur conference is the high faculty to attendee ratio--it's truly unlike any other conference I've been to.
One of my one-on-ones was with fellow blogger, Disco Mermaid Eve. The other Mermaids made a surprise visit for dinner Saturday night:
Speaking of blogs, several attendees told me that they read and enjoyed either this blog or bloomabilities, which was nice to hear. If there are any Big Sur attendees reading this, Hello!
Saturday afternoon, most of the faculty escaped for a little R&R while the attendees had some writing time to revise. And yes, perhaps there was just a little talk about the manuscripts we had seen--but don't worry, mostly good things:Saturday evening, the editors spoke on a panel giving some background about our publishing houses, talking about the type of books we edit and what we're looking for for. It was an interesting variety of perspectives, from small publisher to large: Tricycle Press, Chronicle Books, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, and Dutton/Penguin were represented.
The questions asked were quite good, I thought: what a "platform" is for an author, and how important it is (general consensus: it's not crucial, but it sure doesn't hurt!); where to send "sad" books (smaller publishers may be more open to publishing more "niche" books than larger publishers); what type of books we might be seeing too much of (fantasy with Lemony Snicket-type narration, pirate books); and so on.
And after a good-bye lunch on Sunday, we were on our way home, bid farewell by a gorgeous double rainbow:
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I think both attendees and faculty enjoyed themselves immensely; I highly recommend it.
P.S. I still love my Sony Reader, and couldn't resist showing it around at the conference and sharing the love.
Friday, December 07, 2007
On a fun note, Lidia from the cooking show on TV bought two copies of City Hawk for her grandchildren last night. I thought that was cool. She wrote two names out on sticky-notes and walked off for a bit so I was left alone to figure out whether the first name, which started with “Man…” was for a family or an individual. So I started to write “To the M..” but stopped, afraid it was for a person, not a family. Turns out it WAS for a family. For whatever reason I forgot that I screwed up the first copy (but really didn’t screw it up) and wrote it all out again. So I hid the "screw up" in the pile of books that weren't sold. Now there’s a book that’s going to be returned that was for Lidia that says “FOR THE MAN.” Lovely. The receiving dept. is going to wonder about that one!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
11/06/05: The auctions have started and I'm curious about the bidding. At the gallery, I heard an offhand comment after Ki-Ki mentioned how unique the snowflakes were. "I guess that's why they're worth so much," someone said.
But their worth really does go beyond the pretty pictures. In all the press, I emphasize the famous names, the exclusivity, the collectability of these snowflakes. Because that's good marketing. No one wants to hear the depressing stuff. But, the sad stuff is what gives these snowflakes a value beyond their starting price.
Bid for everything cancer touches. Bid for the nurses and the doctors who know their words are cold comfort. Bid for the spouses that suddenly realize that "in sickness" and "death do us part" is for real. Bid for the kids who have no hair and are pulled to treatment in a wagon. Bid for the parents who age 10 years in 10 minutes. Bid for the friendships that fade away because people just don't understand or know what to do. Bid for Chad, the boy who lost his father to cancer and flew in from Virginia just to see the snowflakes. Bid for David, an artist that dedicated his snowflake to his brother who died of cancer. Bid for Steve, the volunteer who hand cut all 200 snowflakes with his scroll saw in his garage. Bid for Jon, the computer programmer, who stayed up past 2 AM night after night working on the website. Bid for Robert who sat alone in the infusion center while all the other patients were surrounded by friends and family. Bid for yourself and all the days you'll remember and wish you didn't.
Bid for all of these reasons. Or bid for some them. Or bid for none of them at all. Just bid and know that no matter what you pay, that snowflake is worth so much more.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
(click here to go to the auction)
Barbara Lehman has a really gorgeous snowflake in this auction- its hard to tell in the photo, but the tiny shutters in the painting stand out from the window in 3D, so lovely. Right now here snowflake is less than $300! As she is a Caldecott award winning author/illustrator, my guess is her illustrations sell for thousands of dollars...
Each of the following snowflakes is currently less than $200:
Another gem is Connie McLennan's 'flake... when I saw this one in person at the galleries I was surprised at how striking it was... in person it has a three dimensional quality, its so photo realistic you feel like the butterfly is going to flap its wings and fly away.
Another snowflake that inspired everyone who saw it at the gallery shows is the one created by Consie Powell. Again, hard to tell from the photo, but the back side of this snowflake is actually a hand carved wood block that the artist used to print the image on the front of the snowflake. So not only do you get the block the artist printed with, but a beautiful hand colored edition of one... so creative!
Giles Laroche has created an amazingly intricate snowflake- if you know his work you know that he hand cuts and assembles paper sculpture to illustrate his books and he's done the same with his snowflake. Both the angel and the bird he has sculpted are hand cut and assembled- each tiny feather on the bird's wings has been glued in place with meticulous craftsmanship.
Laura Graves is another artist who really went above and beyond- the painting she has hung from her snowflake (which is quite large by the way), is absolutely beautiful. It is soft and sweet and so intricate in its detail... it reminds me of the fairy tales by Mercer Meyer I used to love as a kid.
I wish I could buy all these snowflakes myself, but since I already own three I have to use some self control!! There are so many gorgeous ones to choose from, the artists have made it really hard this year to resist!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
BTW I have permission from her mother to post it for those concerned.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
- Bidding begins at 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Monday, December 3rd.
- Bidding ends at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Friday, December 7th.
- Starting bid price: $150
- Bid increment: $25
Saturday, December 01, 2007
So I sent her the picture, warning her that *I* looked kind of dorky but that thought the background (the light and that beautiful Inca stonework) was worth it. She agreed: well, she didn't say "You're right, you do look like a dork," she said it was "a nice picture" and that she liked the idea of the picture going along with the book, too. [NOTE: The images are sharper and the colors are deeper in Photoshop than here on blogger.]
So I asked what size they wanted, she found out, and I sent her this, as instructed, a little bigger than the final print sized so the designer could crop it:
A few days later I got an email from her saying:
"So much for thinking outside the box," and then giving the designer's comments....I better not quote them, but the gist was that they wouldn't use the picture because:
*the eyes were closed
*the sun was shining right on my face (that was the whole point, it was in the Temple of the Sun I'd written about in the book)
*all the other author photographs were head shots
blah blah blah
I'll get another picture taken, I should have a real one anyway -- but it seems bizarre to me that when the author and editor both like a picture we can't use it. If I don't mind looking like a dork why should the designer? I WILL get a professional to take a real author photograph; but I don't expect to be going to Peru anytime soon so it will have to be taken here. I have mixed feelings about how important it all is anyway: has anyone ever not bought a book because they didn't like the author's photograph, or bought one because they did? But come to think of it, probably how you look does have a lot to do with whether or not you're invited to schools, and red isn't the best hair color for me (what was I thinking?)so it will be just as well to have a better photograph. But I still think the picture should be up to the author.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Just a reminder that the second round of Robert's Snow auctions ends in a mere few hours at 5 pm EST! There are a surprisingly large number of really reasonably priced 'flakes up right now (many under $200)... children's book artists don't often sell their original art, so this is a really great chance to snag a beautiful piece of kid's book art for a great cause!
Click here to see the snowflakes and bid.
Anyhow, my new blog is going to be all about what I’ve been dealing with, perhaps in graphic detail, with some fun photos thrown in... which I think I'm going to do anonymously. Why is this? Because I need to deal with what has been going on with me but I still don't want everyone to know everything and furthermore, why would anyone care to read about it? No one wants to read the sad details. But for me I need this. I'm considering it therapeutic. This way I can keep the fireside chat and this blog illness free. No more talk about it! Right now being sick is a very big part of my life but I think it will be fun to separate it. Besides, my website blog is supposed to be funny, not awful. I'm cutting out the awful. I'd also like strangers to read my new and anonymous blog in the hopes that it will help them, if they're dealing with something similar. And believe me, those people are out there. I found a blog called something like MS or Lyme? I have a lot of the same symptoms so reading it is comforting for me.
My other worries--on the topic of making books I'm worried. What will happen if I don't have the creative energy to do it anymore? A lot of people who have the type of neuropathy that I do go on disability. I REFUSE to do that so I drag my sorry self into B&N even when I'm really sick--dizzy, ready to vomit, in severe pain.... But the problem with making books is that it's harder to do than to drag oneself into a mindless job. Creativity takes mental clarity. I think it also takes a certain POSITIVE mindset, at least when making kids' books. I'm not in the mindset right now. And what will happen? I only earn 150 or so per week at B&N. I can't live off of that! Being freelance is a scary thing and an endeavor that I sometimes regret entering.
But let's forget about all of that. On to more cheerful things! My blogs will be my split life/personality from now on. No more depressing talk.
Since Hanukkah falls in early December this year, I thought I’d post a poem for the holiday that was written by one of my favorite children’s poets—Aileen Fisher
Light the Festive Candles
by Aileen Fisher
Light the first of eight tonight—
the farthest candle to the right.
Light the first and second, too,
when tomorrow's day is through.
Then light three, and then light four—
every dusk one candle more
Till all eight burn bright and high,
honoring a day gone by
Click here to read the rest of the poem.
Note: I found Fisher’s poem thanks to Lunchbox Poems, an online journal feature at the website of the Poetry Foundation. The article was written by two fabulous kidit bloggers—Julie Danielson and Eisha Prather of 7-Imp. I suggest all you poetry lovers head on over to the website and read their piece.
Quoting from Julie and Eisha: "Poetry can be a great way to connect with children. Why not, as Kenn Nesbitt suggests, slip some verses into your children’s lunchboxes to share a giggle or remind them that you’re thinking of them? To get you started, we’ve paired a few poems with momentous days of the school year."
In their article, Jules and Eisha include links to more than twenty poems that would be great for a parent to print and pack in a child’s lunchbox or bag. The poems would also be fine for sharing in an elementary classroom.
I have reviews of two Hanukkah books for children at Wild Rose Reader today: Hanukkah Lights: Holiday Poetry and I Have a Little Dreidel.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Two Writing Teachers today.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So, I received the official hardcover of the Year of the Rat! With my second novel and a third one on its way, I feel like a I can honestly call myself an author/illustrator, instead of "just" an illustrator. This is much like Fabio in the movie Zoolander:
"Yes! Yes! With this 'slash' award, it means that you consider me the best actor/model, and not the other way around. "
Monday, November 26, 2007
I remember when I was going to art school one of my parent's friends asked me how I felt about the fact that I was going off to study a dying art form (book illustration). I said that even though technology changes the context of art, that doesn't mean it has to die. Photography changed the nature of representational painting (when we could take photographs, painting suddenly evolved to serve a different purpose than capturing reality), but this didn't cause people to stop painting.
I wonder how much that metaphor can be applied though, now that technology like ebook readers are getting closer and closer to the experience of reading a book. So my question is, what is it that is special about reading a printed book?
I can quickly list the tactile things that I love about reading paper books: the weight in my hands, the smell of the ink and the old browned paper. The anticipation that builds as you turn a page, the sound of that page turning, like the flap of a bird's wing.
I can also quickly bring to mind the things I hate about reading on a screen: the haze that comes over your eyes from long stretches of staring at something bright, the lack of design (most web sites use the same, universal type faces for the text). The confusing mish mosh of information and advertisements that, when poorly designed, can be overwhelming.
But apart from these tactile differences, which technology promises to overcome at some point (as the show above points out, it was only 50 years ago that a single computer filled a room), what about reading a printed book would be lost if all goes digital? Ultimately when you are really lost in a story, does it matter in what form you read it? Is there an inherent difference when it comes to children's books in particular?
Because picture books are so much about the art, it seems that the readers out right now are a far cry from catching up to duplicating the experience of a printed page of artwork... so perhaps printed picture books will live a longer life than printed novels. But it does beg the question, what do we value about reading with children, and how will the essence of this change or stay the same as we move away from printed books, if this is the trend?
One of the guests on the show points out that these new devices help us connect with authors more, since we have access to more information about them... blogs for instance open up the writer/reader relationship in a whole new way... more and more it seems necessary that writers actively interact with their audience for their books to be successful. Do ebooks provide ways to further this connection?
If reading a book must increasingly be an interactive, participatory event for the reader, so that they can feel part of the story and the author's world... and if technology makes this easier, does that take some responsibility away from the author/illustrator to accomplish this with the skill of their craft alone?
Well, I love it so far. Most agents nowadays prefer sending submissions electronically, and while I generally tell them, when given the choice, that my preference is still receiving a hard copy, it certainly saves time and shipping costs to email. In the past, when I've received an emailed submission, I've forwarded it on to our receptionist to print out and log in. Apparently, each 400-page novel that we print out costs the company $7, not including the environmental impact. And this is such a waste, especially considering that the entire manuscript might not get read (for the record, I tend to give a novel at least 30 pages to pull me in, but if it doesn't do it for me by then, I stop reading). Every time we bring a manuscript to our acquisitions meeting, we copy and distribute approximately 20 copies. That's $140, and 8,000 sheets of paper (is my math correct?). That's crazy.
We're trying to go Green. Or, at least greener. And I think this is a great first step. I loaded up my reader with a bunch of novels in anticipation of my vacation--it takes Word documents, in Rich Text Format. No longer am I lugging heavy, bulky manuscripts across the country in my suitcase. All I have is a very portable, attractive gadget. The screen is great, you can read it in sunlight, I've read one and a half manuscripts so far, and it hasn't bothered my eyes one bit. In fact, I often bring my hand to the top corner of the machine, forgetting that I need to push a button to turn the page.
I'm in love.
A few wishes: that there was a backlight so I could read in the dark, that the pages loaded a tiny bit faster (although it's not bad at all), that the page turn buttons were a little bigger, that I could actually edit the file on screen--then I could use the Reader not just for reading submissions, but for actual editing as well. Maybe in the future...
I'm curious--has anyone else used an ebook reader? Any other publishing folks starting to use them? There's been some recent buzz about Amazon's Kindle as well. My assistant and I had lunch with an agent recently who told us that all of the agents in her company use ebook readers now. She loves it, too. I don't know if the Reader will replace actual books for me, at least not for a while, but as for manuscript submissions? I'm ready to get rid of them immediately. The hard copies, I mean. ;)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Just curious--did anyone win a snowflake? I was bidding on a bunch, and hoped to win at least one, but I totally forgot about the time difference now that I'm on the West Coast and wasn't able to bid again before the auctions ended! Bummer. Can't wait till next week...I MUST win another snowflake!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I left off establishing the color relationships and patterns:
Next I started layering some texture onto the bunny's fur, laying grey highlights over a black foundation:
This is the finished painting. I tightened up the edges, finished off the textures, and filled in the remaining colors:
Here is the poem that goes with this illustration:
Jack’s blanket was stained,
it was damp,
it was done,
A mere ghost of a blanket,
made pale from the sun.
The fabric had worn,
a soft gauze to the touch.
Jack gave it a squeeze
for he loved it so much.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Conference went on this past weekend here in NYC, and the ALAN workshop is continuing now. I spent most of Saturday at the conference, having to be at the ALAN breakfast at the ungodly hour of 6:45 am. The breakfast started at 7. I felt really sorry for all of the West coast teachers for whom it felt even earlier. But the event was well worth it. Jerry Spinelli was the keynote speaker, and his speech was hilarious and inspirational. One moment in particular that I loved was a question Jerry said that a kid once asked him: "Did being a kid prepare you for being an author?" His answer was "hell yes." (Okay, he didn't actually say "hell yes")
Jerry signed copies of Eggs, Maniac Magee, and Space Station Seventh Grade at our booth in the afternoon. It was great to hear how many schools had made Maniac required reading.
Wendy Mass also signed in the afternoon--we had all four of the books she's published with us available: A Mango-Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall. A Mango-Shaped Space was by far the book that most people were familiar with. One woman hadn't been familiar with it, but was extremely ecstatic when she heard that the book was about synesthesia--she said she had a student who had synesthete, but when she tried to tell her students about it, they thought she was making it up.
Wendy and I walked the floor quickly after her signing (we only had a half hour until the floor closed), and got books signed by Peter Sis at the Harper booth, and then Pale Male by Meghan McCarthy, and said hi to authors Holly Black and Sarah Beth Durst.
Last night I attended the ALAN cocktail party--it was packed with publishing folk--agents, editors, a ton of authors, teachers, marketing folk, etc. I won't name drop like crazy this time, but will mention two things. Thank you to Betsy Bird for introducing me to Susan Beth Pfeffer. I loved her books as a kid, especially Kid Power. Another highlight was giving Sara Zarr a hug for her National Book Award nomination for Story of a Girl. Sara and Sherman Alexie had been in the office here and there last week for the various festivities, but I hadn't had the chance to actually say hello.
And on that note, Congratulations Sara and Sherman for your National Book Award nominations, and congratulations Sherman for the Medal for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I absolutely love both of their books, so if you haven't had a chance to read them yet, I highly recommend them--they are both absolutely amazing.
And now go bid for your favorite snowflake and help fight cancer!
Friday, November 16, 2007
by Mac Hammond
The man who stands above the bird, his knife
Click here to read the rest of the poem.
by Harriet Maxwell Converse
Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here
to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered
that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products
to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs
for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming
from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows
for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder
and lightning that water the earth.
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Kelly has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Big A, little a this week.
I went to Texas a few weeks ago. Let me tell you, Texas librarians are SO friendly! They made my first potentially scary author trip wonderful. And it was hard because I'd just had a car accident and was getting dizzy/balance-problem spells.
Oh, the waiting....
There was a rain storm and I sat in the plane for 3 hours on the tarmac!
When I got off the plane I was greeted by a friendly Texan who took me to my hotel, which was wonderful and spacious!
Then a librarian picked me up and brought me to dinner. We at by the water at a crazy place that was half amusement park and half eatery. This is a picture of a scary but beautiful looking wooden rollercoaster.
Then the next day I did my big talk. I think it went well. Unfortunately I forgot my camera! What I want most is the photo of the giant construction paper George Upside Down that was in the lobby of the school---very cool indeed!
After the talk several librarians took me to NASA since I said I was doing an astronaut book. I had a lot of fun. This is a photo of one of the Texan librarians pointing to a wall with all of the US astronauts on it.
There are lots more photos to come. Lots of cool rocket photos! Stay tuned. I'm also going to write more about the trip on my personal blog--the good ol "fireside chat."