Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On my desk

Recently I joined a book club, thinking it would be good motivation to start reading books for an adult audience again. Sadly, I haven't finished one! My reading time is so limited now that I'm a mother, there is only room for the books at the top of my list. That is, children's books.

Here are a few I've had on my desk lately. Since I've been writing in a new genre (chapter books), I've been trying to read up on some new ones, as well as review old classics. Most recently Winnie-the-Pooh has been on my nightstand. I had forgotten how utterly hilarious those books are, what genius. I can't wait to read them to Tilly when she's older!

Monday, May 28, 2012

art process for "Starry River of the Sky"

So I've been hard at work on the art for Starry River of the Sky. It starts with a sketch:

my sketches are actually drawn very small

This I scan into the computer and adjust to the right size, adding the border and cropping as needed:

the border is just for placement,  I paint a different border with each painting--the  corner icons will be different

I transfer the enlarged drawing onto watercolor paper:

I use graphite paper but it usually only transfers the main image and I have to redraw the details on the paper

It's a lot of prep work before painting:
Here you can see the sketch in scale to the prepped painting

But after a about week of hard work, the finished painting! Voila!

Hope it looks good in the finished book!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In the studio

Much of the past year has been spent at my computer, writing and plotting and organizing myself. In the past few months I've set up my studio again and begun to paint. It's a little makeshift at the moment, but the view is great:

Some character sketches for my new project:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pocket Pacy at the theatre!

Lovely reader Naomi, who celebrated Lunar New Year with Pocket Pacy, recently brought Pocket Pacy to the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon theatre production:

She even met the the actor who played Dragon!

Sunday, May 20th, is the last show! See it if you can (more info HERE). I hope it was a great run!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Join me this Saturday

This Saturday afternoon I will be giving a talk for kids at the Meekins library in Williamsburg, MA about how a children's book is made. If you live in the area, come join me! The talk is ideal for grade schoolers, but all are welcome. There will be a drawing activity for the kiddos and books for sale. Book sales benefit the Meekins, a truly fabulous little library Tilly and I adore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Frankly: writers' conferences and retreats

My impression of writers' conferences and retreats is pretty negative. I think of competitive people sucking up and looking down -- and feeling like I'm in 7th grade, NOT as part of the in-crowd. But Alvina's post yesterday got me thinking. Maybe I am being way too negative, maybe it would be fun to go to one, and useful, too.

As you may have guessed from my last post (and like everyone else, I apologize for not posting more lately), I'm living on a small Scottish island. I am writing, every day except Sunday, but I want this book to be good so much that I'm clutching. The word comes from a pitcher on This American Life who said no matter what he did, he couldn't get the ball near the batter and the harder he tried the worse it got. They say in baseball that you can't think and hit or pitch at the same time, and maybe the same goes for writing.

A retreat or writers conference where I could do some exercises and get some tutoring on how to get out of my own way, and have some laughs with the other attendees in the evenings and MAYBE have someone read my work without having a meltdown (that is me I'm worried about melting down, not them) -- might be just the thing. 

There is a retreat for writers in Scotland, above, where no one seems to take themselves too seriously (the bio of one staffer described her as making a huge change in her life "in a mad fit")....and someone who attended one of the workshops described her experiences as "magical." A friend of mine in America went to a workshop on the writing process at  Kripalu (the teacher didn't read anything they wrote, just talked them through sitting down and getting it done) -- three months later, she's still getting up at 5.00 a.m. (two hours before her children) to write. I know a lot of it will be the luck of the draw -- who the teachers are, how they like me and my work, what the group dynamics are -- but maybe it's worth the risk?

What do you think? Have any of you attended a conference as a writer/student (not one of the teachers) and had good experiences? Feel free to answer anonymously if the answer is no!

As a first step, I am definitely going to a one-day workshop at the Scottish Story Telling Center (for 1/20th the cost of a weeklong retreat). They have lots of classes to choose from  -- I'm going to the one on fairies in Scottish legend, literature, and song, that has everyone singing as well as listening to talks and practicing their own story telling. No way can I take myself singing seriously! And it will be fun to go back to Edinburgh, which I have finally learned to pronounce. Here they say Edinburra.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Long time no see!

Sorry, I haven't been a very good blogger this year. What have I been up to lately?

Well, in the middle of April I was in London for meetings and the London Book Fair. A colleague from subrights and I visited our UK sister companies, which included Hodder UK (both children's and adult), Orchard, Headline, Orion, and Atom (part of Little, Brown UK). We also squeezed in some sightseeing and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, and I wandered around the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels. We had a dinner with the international publishers of Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers, and I spent a day at the London Book Fair meeting with UK agents and publishers. And I saw some old friends, too--took a trip out to a friend's home in the English countryside (kinda), and had fish and chips at the local pub, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert! Yum! I absolutely love London. I fantasized about living there, of course.

The weekend after I got back, I was off to the "Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice" conference, led by the amazing Donna Jo Napoli and Mitali Perkins, featuring special guest Kathryn Erskine, and editors Stacy Whitman and myself. It was held in the beautiful conference center in the Poconos--I stayed in my own private cabin! It was a beautiful, enlightening, stimulating time. Great, passionate discussions. I would highly recommend attending a conference run by Highlights--the locale itself is inspiring and beautiful (see photos here.) I'll try to post more about this later...

Work has been crazy busy--two weeks ago we had our Focus (sales) meeting for our Spring/Summer 2013 list (editors presented the list to in-house Sales for the first time), and catalog copy and ARC copy was due. All of us editors have been scrambling to get the novels on that list into copyediting, too--lots of deadlines!

Also, I'm off to Singapore at the end of May for the Asian Festival of Children's Content. Grace and I were originally going to go together, but--well, she had something come up! :) I've never been and am excited to see the city. Recommendations welcome, and if you're in Singapore, let me know! Perhaps we can meet up?

And on a personal note, wedding planning is still ongoing (the big day is a little over two months away...), and I had a fun bachelorette party and wedding shower weekend amongst everything else going on--which featured Karaoke, of course!

So, yes--I've been a bit busy this fact, I think all of the Blue Rose Girls have had a lot going on! Apologies for our sporadic posting. Thanks to our loyal readers for sticking with us!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

my first mother's day

May Showers...
makes my Rain Dragon sleep for hours and hours. 

Hazel Maisy, my rain dragon born two weeks ago!

Happy Mother's Day, all!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good-bye Maurice

In case you haven't heard the sad news, Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday at the age of 83. The Juniper Tree will remain one of my most treasured possessions and his work such a profound inspiration. I got to hear him speak once in Cambridge and to shake his hand briefly afterwards. I'm not one to push my way through a crowd usually, but that day I did to get the chance to meet him.

From an interview with Terry Gross on NPR:

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." - Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

24-hour Library

I'm spending several months on a small Scottish island, something I've wanted to do since I was a teenager.

This is the island's library:

 It is, as it looks, in the back of someone's house and is open 24 hours a day. You take what you want and bring it back when you're finished --

A sign urges you to consider other readers, but there is no limit to the number of books you can take. You don't sign anything or leave any notes -- you just take them.

A locked door (probably the only one on the island!) separates the library from the house.

The books are replaced four times a year from the mainland.

None of the Blue Rose Girls' books are in the library at the moment,

though I plan to donateBlow Out the Moon and maybe some others, too. One family on the island is going to China (or the parents hope they are) -- when they were asking the kids what they thought of the idea. The middle son said yes, let's go, and when asked why said:


So of course I told him about Dumpling Days.