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, March 05, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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
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 ADUTLS. What I'd like to do is create one for kids. But oh, how to find the time...
Posted by Meghan McCarthy at 1:57 PM
Thursday, February 13, 2014
When I first started out in this business, I thought that if an editor told you to change something you had to do what she said.
Now, I think that when an editor makes a comment, you have to do SOMETHING -- you can't just leave it as you had it -- but even good editors aren't always right about WHAT. That's why they're editors, not writers. So when an editor comments on something, I take it as a sign that it's not working, but may come up with an idea that works better as I rewrite.
And I'd always, always like to do the rewriting myself! I've worked with two publishers who just did it themselves without even consulting me (NOT Little, Brown!) and would never, ever want to work with them again. I think this is highly unusual, though.
What about you? How do you (authors and editors) handle comments and rewrites? How much rewriting do you, as an author, do in response to comments? How do you, as an editor, expect your authors to respond -- and what do you do if they don't do anything?
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Thursday, January 09, 2014
Like many authors, I had a great laugh at these videos of children's authors reading their harsh online reviews. However, a couple days later I was looking up Ellen Oh's book Prophecy on Goodreads and found myself reading this, an example of how online readers show their ire when authors respond to negative reviews.
And honestly, I do understand that, to a point. When a book is published, it no longer belongs to the author. It becomes the reader's book and its their experience which an author has no right to criticize. The big unwritten rule when it comes to reviews when you are an author seems to be KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Personally, if I can help it, I try just to not read reviews (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't read reviews at all, though).
Sometimes I wonder, though, what they expect from us. Once and a while, I'll get an e-mail from an irritated or even angry reader who wants to know what I meant by this or that, and I never know how to respond. Just as the reading experience belongs to them, the writing experience belongs to us. Every author I know has written their book to the best of their ability and I've always assumed that readers take it on faith that authors are not out to create books to annoy them. But, perhaps, they just want that agreement acknowledged. So, most of the time, I usually respond, "I'm sorry your reading experience was not what I intended." However, sometimes, I think the best course of action is to follow the rule and keep my mouth shut. What do you think?
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
"Of all the questions I have been asked as an author of children's books, the most frequent one, without doubt, has been 'How do you get your ideas?' Most people seem to think that getting an idea is both mysterious and simple. Mysterious, because inspiration must come from a particular state of grace with which only the most gifted souls are blessed. Simple, because ideas are expected to drop into one's mind in words and pictures, ready to be transcribed and copied in the form of a book, complete with endpapers and cover. The word get expresses these expectations well. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
"It is true that, from time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge. The sense of instant recognition with which we pull this image into the full light of our consciousness is the initial impulse of all creative acts. But, though it is important, it produces no more than the germ of an idea. Each book, at the birth of its creative history, has such a moment. Some are fortunate enough to have, from the outset, a strongly identified hero, one with an inescapable destiny. Others are blessed with a promising beginning, or perhaps with the vision of an ending (which means working backwards to a surprise opening). Others stem from a clearly articulated conflict situation. Sometimes, I must admit, the motivations of a book may be found in a sudden, unreasonable urge to draw a certain kind of crocodile. And it may even happen that in the dark of our minds there appears, out of nowhere, a constellation of words that has the bright, arrogant solidity of a title. Only last night I was jolted out of a near-slumber by the words the mouse that didn't exist. I am sure that, temporarily tucked away in my memory, they will eventually become the title of a story for which as yet I have no idea.
"To shape and sharpen the logic of a story, to tighten the flow of events, ultimately to define the idea in its totality, is much like a game of chess. In the light of overall strategy, each move is the result of doubts, proposals, and rejections, which inevitably bring to mind the successes or failures of previous experiences.
"Inspirational raptures may happen, but most books are shaped through hard, disciplined work. Creative work, to be sure, because its ingredients come from the sphere of the imaginary. But the manipulation of these ingredients requires much more than mere inclination or talent. It is an intricate process in which the idea slowly takes form, by trial and error, through detours and side roads, which, were it not for the guidance of professional rigor, would lead the author into an inextricable labyrinth of alternatives.
"And so, to the question 'How do you get your ideas?' I am tempted to answer, unromantic though it may sound, 'Hard work.' "