Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Handing the art in was strangely anti-climatic, perhaps because my brain was a bit numb from the two month intensive creative purging. But a pleasant stroll in Central Park with Alvina and chat with Hans Christian Anderson helped.
Well, it helped enough that I could be fairly coherent during a little audio interview Little, Brown will put on their website as a promotional for the book. At least I think it was coherent. I realize I am not the best judge.
But I do know, the thing that most cured my mental blahs was this:
YES! My elusive half-moon cookies, called in NYC-speak "black and whites." To me, they will always be half moons and they will always be my remedy for lethargy. For as soon as I ate one (or two) I felt ready to go again.
Which is good, because I am now doing a three-week marathon of school visits in Texas. Yes, three weeks. I had to bring my bunny slippers so I could make my hotel room feel like home.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
An old straw mat, roughon cat 's paws, pricks and tickles...hurts and feels good, too.
Poor Wabi Sabi!As simple as a brown leaf.So ordinary!
A warm heavy bowlcomfortable as an old friend--not fine, smooth china.
The Blue Rose Girls were very flattered to hear that a Motherreader has given us an I *Heart* Your Blog Award! Thanks Motherreader, we love your blog too! In the spirit of passing on the love, here are some of our picks. Of course there are many more we love... here is just a sampling:
ANNA: Shelftalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog is written by the book buyer (Hi Alison!) at the Wellesley Booksmith here in the Boston area. Her writing is warm and funny and she always has something interesting to share (and she loves Project Runway as much as I do, what could be bad?).
LIBBY: A Crowe's Nest
I agree with Anna about Alison! My pick is a new blog from writers', agents', editors', and, sometimes, marketers' points of view. Yes, I'm biased -- the blog was started by my agent -- but even if it hadn't been, I'd find all these different perspectives fascinating....and for anyyone like me who adores Asian food but can't get it where she lives, chez pim has foolproof directions for making Pad Thai, Pad See Yew, and other delicious things from panzanella to pop tarts.
GRACE: Greetings From Nowhere and Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
With my huge deadline, I stopped reading blogs for a while but am thrilled to be catching up again. I love Barbara O'Connor's blog--her writerly day-to-day happenings make me feel like we're best friends...though I never comment so maybe that makes me a stalker? Yikes! Anyway, Jama's blog always makes me smile. I always go there when I feel a little blue--she always has some sort of yummy food picture or recipe that is a great pick-me-up.
ALVINA: I, too, had stopped following blogs for a while, because of multiple deadlines at work (and still going!), but a relatively new one I love is Justina Chen Headley's Wordlings by Justina. Justina recently moved to Shanghai, so it's been great to follow her travels there and drool over the food.
ELAINE: I’m a faithful reader of quite a number of blogs. My two absolute favorites are Seven Impossible Things and The Miss Rumphius Effect. Jules and Eisha of 7-Imp have some wonderful blog features--including their “Kicks of the Week,” interviews with authors and illustrators, and great reviews of picture books. Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect, an educator like me, posts about using literature across the curriculum, has some excellent thematic book lists, and challenges blog readers with her “poetry stretches.”
Here are rules for those chosen: 1) Add the logo of the award to your blog, 2) Add the link of the person who awarded it to you to your blog, 3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs, 4) Add links to those blogs to your blog, 5) Leave a nice warm message for each of your nominees!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Here's some Frost for an autumn Friday. Do you think this is Robert Frost’s autumnal version of his well-known classic Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening? (I've got rungs to climb before I pick, rungs to climb before I pick.)
After Apple Picking
By Robert Frost
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
You can read the rest of the poem here.
At Wild Rose Reader, I have a short acrostic for autumn. It’s all I could manage. I’ve been too busy watching news programs and reading political blogs lately.
Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I'm THIS close to quitting making books. Drama. I'm sick of it. I'm going to be a painter. And yes, I did say I'd stop posting... and this is my way of "not" posting... by posting.
p.s - the painting isn't done yet. 5 gold stars if you guess who it is and what movie she's acting in! This is part of my new "drama movie" series.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It's done! I've finally finished the art for WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. I can't believe it. I almost feel like there is a part of my brain missing now, I had gotten used to the constant pressure of creation. It is very strange. I think I might be babbling incoherently...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I've been building a new web site for one of my books coming out next year (What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?) and looking at some other illustrator sites for inspiration. Just thought I'd share some of the great sites I've come across (and artwork that makes me drool):
Susie Ghahremani- Love the art and the site! The design of her web site is so seamless with her aesthetic, and I love all the patterns...
I've also always loved Jen Corace's art, and her web site is just as great. Nice and simple, but again really representative of her art style. She's got a great dress up video game that reminds me of playing with paper dolls.
Trish Grantham also has a really impressive site and really graphic, fun artwork. I love the floating clouds on the home page.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Although nearly everything is still growing green around me, there is that “autumn is nearly here” feel in the air. Fall is my favorite season so I welcome it with open arms--even though it signals the coming of cold days, long nights, and the eventual cocooning indoors for a few months.
As summer finally cedes to autumn, it often evokes my most robust childhood memories of collecting chestnuts, scrunching through fallen leaves, the scent of burning leaves, school harvest sales, and my maternal grandmother’s enormous pans of apple squares that she baked with fruit from the trees in her yard.
by Bruce Weigl
I didn't know I was grateful
for such late-autumn
yellow in the after-harvest
sun before the
cold plow turns it all over
I didn't know
I would enter this music
that translates the world
back into dirt fields
that have always called to me
You can read the rest of the poem here.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Huh? What? Why is she posting this?
The school put me up in this gorgeous B&B, The Claremont House, so with the break in painting and the beautiful room it was a nice change. I was a bit nervous, this would be my first school visit of what is scheduled to be a very hectic presentation year for me. I wondered if I'd be rusty and, since the school year had just begun, if the students would be ready for me.
But I shouldn't have worried. The Darlington School, under the direction of the lovely librarian Ann Glass (whom I mistakenly and repeatedly called Ann Darlington) prepared the students so well that I was amazed. The school had made the day before I came into an author appreciation day with activities based on my books. They wrote and drew season haikus, like in my book OUR SEASONS:
stretched their imagination with UGLY VEGETABLES
and shared their fears like OLVINA:
That's only a sampling of what they did. They also made origami, kites, soup...so by the time I arrived, the students were excited. And it showed--their enthusiasm washed away any rust I might have had and it was a wonderful visit. I think it was a great way to start of my school year!
Thank you, Darlington School!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Maurice Sendak celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday with a benefit in New York, so they ran this great interview with him on npr last week. The original broadcast was a few years ago, but still worth a listen here.
There is also a great interview with him here, in the Herald Tribune. Interesting that after so many accomplishments he still worries about being a "mere illustrator":
"Sendak is pleased with the coming birthday celebration, just as he is about his awards and honors, but in the end, he maintained, they don't add up to much. They 'never penetrated,' he said. 'They were like rubber bullets.'
It's not that he isn't grateful. 'They made me happy, but at a certain point in your life, you see through them,' he said. 'You don't mock them, you don't hate them, you feel sorry for them' - tiny, inert emblems that just aren't up to the task of answering pressing questions about meaning, soul-touching greatness and durability."
Its comforting to hear his persepective. Its easy to get caught up in looking for some kind of validation of your work, but I think the key to achieving greatness in this profession must have to do with how much you can engage with your own creative process, not what other people think of it.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Hunger at Camp Jaslo
By Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint
Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
they all died of hunger. "All. How many?
It's a big meadow. How much grass
for each one?" Write: I don't know.
History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
A thousand and one remains a thousand,
as though the one had never existed:
an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
an ABC never read,
air that laughs, cries, grows,
emptiness running down steps toward the garden,
nobody's place in the line.
You can read the rest of the poem here.
At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original poem about chocolate pudding and a link to a Szymborska poem I posted yesterday in remembrance of September 11, 2001.
Jennie has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Biblio File.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I've been busy brainstorming ideas for ways to get the word out about What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, my craft book that comes out next spring. I'm no marketing genius so I've been reading up on the subject and putting together my take on a press release (still a rough draft). What do you think?
Monday, September 08, 2008
Okay, and now let's look at the U.S. cover again:
Can you believe this is the same book?! And what's more shocking is that the UK publisher chose to tone down the horror elements in their edition. And yet they're using a cover that screams HORROR! So interesting. I'll be curious to see which edition is more popular.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
And since it's in England, the old houses on that street are still there (I also saw some of the whole street after the blitz: all Georgian houses, built in around 1805) -- I think this one was hers:
From behind the house -- or maybe her own windows if she lived on the top floor-- she had a view not only of the park but of something like this:
Not too shabby! Knowing that she was in this beautiful place at the end of her life has lifted a huge weight from me and from this book, too. I kept telling myself that I didn't NEED to know about all that to tell the story of her childhood, I tried not to think about it -- but I couldn't stop. I guess I've become kind of obsessed by her and her family and finding out as much as I can about them all. Now, I can let it rest for awhile (at least until I am researching the next books in the series) and concentrate on the story of her childhood. I hope I can do justice to it.
And one GOOD thing about being so obsessed is that just as imagining her miserable was making ME miserable, picturing her in this beautiful place makes me happy. Someday, I'll go there and see it for myself -- maybe I'll even get to stay in her house. It's now a hotel. In fact, if anyone publishes the book, the advance can fund the trip and further research!
Friday, September 05, 2008
Here’s my poetry selection for the first Poetry Friday in September:
To the Light of September
by W. S. Merwin
When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not
and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground
You can read the rest of the poem here.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
But that is why when Alvina showed me this I was extremely happy. Or maybe my days of isolated nonstop painting are causing me to develop euphoric lunacy...
This one ain't coming off. Consider this my last post for a while. I think that there are a lot of people in publishing who are hypocritical. It's fine to make trashy teen books full of sex without consequences, but god forbid anyone post a painting of a nude figure. It's fine to have books about puberty for children... just as long as no one actually looks at any of them and notices that there are nude figures drawn on the inside.
What's sad about the video above is that it's clearly one woman doing the complaining... and she got what she wanted. Even if the rest of the darn city thought the statue was beautiful, they became the unimportant voices. I think that's sad.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Well, I had a fun weekend + labor day working. I won't get into how horrible it was. The customers are REALLY getting on my nerves--rude, stupid, etc. Nobody, for example, seems to use whole sentences anymore. They just shout stuff out... as if I"m not worthy enough to get a whole sentence. GOSSIP GIRL! or BATHROOM! Jesus.
I've been really thinking hard about health insurance vs. no health insurance. Do I REALLY need it? I have managed to go over 100,000 worth of dr visits and tests within 2 years--spinal tap, 3 skin biopsies, nerve and muscle biopsy, at least 8 MRIs...and I've had more blood taken than a war victim. BUT... I still have no treatment. So what's the point???
I'm happy to see that the others had a good time though!
Anyway, I've spent a lot of time putting up my book Show Dog online. You can read it in its entirety here--
This weekend we had a little BRG get together up in Montreal. Sadly not everyone could make it, but we did manage most of the group:
Montreal is a beautiful city, the weekend was full of wandering down charming cobblestone streets and catching up on all our current and future projects. We had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of the art for one of Grace's upcoming novels WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON (she posted about it here) that is INCREDIBLY beautiful.
While I didn't get any pictures of any of that stuff, I did document our other main activity: eating. Lots and lots of eating. I think Alvina has some better 'before' pictures, but this is what our table at an all chocolate restaurant looked like after we descended... we managed to consume an order of chocolate fondue, profiteroles (chocolate covered cream puffs with hazelnut ice cream), whiskey chocolate pudding, raspberry cheesecake and two different kinds of thick old fashioned hot chocolate.
Breakfast the next day was strawberry pavlova (hand made by Grace), chocolate croissants and brioche.
Sigh, good times. And yes I will be going to the gym today.