Sunday, November 27, 2011

from the BRG archives: marathon painting

I am a week short of a deadline and painting like a maniac. Recently a 9 to 5er pointed out that as freelancers we don't HAVE to do everything at the last minute... painting into the wee hours, and ignoring any and all other commitments to make a deadline. Its true and a really good point I think that many times there is an option, that a carefully planned out schedule could prevent the last minute crunch that often happens. Now granted there are times when a publisher will rush you, spend a long time with revisions and then expect that you can magically cut your work time in half to make the deadline. But that is not always the case.

Often times I think we illustrators (and writers perhaps too?) let this situation happen on purpose. There is something about the momentum of focusing ALL your time, energy and attention on one thing that is really gratifying. Its like a little break from your ordinary life where everything becomes really simple and your paintings become the only thing that is important. Even when you are doing other things... eating a meal, talking with a friend, making the occasional venture outside the house, your creative mind is still engaged. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation about, I don't know, the weather or something, I will bust out with "WAIT, thats what I need to do, a little more green!" Usually the comment is met with silence. Or if the person knows me, they'll just say "Go."

This kind of feast or famine intensity is something I've struggled with over the years. There is something satisfying about it, and yet as I get older, sometimes I don't want such an extreme lifestyle. Sometimes I want to be able to disengage and go to the movies, without obsessing about the project at hand. But its a tough balance to strike. Sometimes I just think this is the nature of the beast.

Originally published October 10th, 2006

Saturday, November 26, 2011

the cake we made

For Thanksgiving, my mother asked me if we could bring the dessert. The Sasquatch and I had thought about making pie but I saw a recipe in Martha Stewart's magazine for a gingerbread cake. It looked yummy, so we made that:

We decorated it with gingerbread cookies (that is the Sasquatch's specialty. He makes amazing gingerbread cookies).

And we added a surprise....


Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As we all rush off to turkey dinners (or in my case, most likely, some sort of sushi or Chinese fried fish), I wanted to take a quick moment to thank all of you for being our readers! I know I haven't been good about blogging lately, but I DO appreciate your interest and support--as I know all the BRGs do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A birthday

Clearly we've all got a lot going ton right now, as is evident by the lack of posting, it's such a busy time of year with the holidays looming and lots to wrap up by the end of the year. Today, at my house, we take a step back to do some celebrating; it is little Tilda's first birthday! Over the weekend we had a few friends over for cake and singing. Today we'll go to lunch and open presents. What a wonderful year it's been.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I have/had two booksignings this weekend. One was today... only I thought it was tomorrow! I had posted on facebook that it was tomorrow. Thank goodness another illustrator (Lauren Castillo) came to the rescue and informed me that it was today! I was an hour and a half late but I made it (it was an event from 12 -4 so I made most of it). So 1) thank goodness we help each other out and 2) thank goodness for ... eek ... I can't believe I'm going to say it ... the entity that is Facebook.

My next signing is with Julia Sarcone Roach at 11 am on Sunday at Bookcourt if anyone wants to come on down.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Remember the Bookie Woogie's video review of "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon?" School Library Journal has chosen it as a finalist for the 2nd annual Trailee Awards! The winners are selected by public vote. You can see all the finalists and vote for your favorites in 6 categories HERE!

Voting ends December 16th!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mish mash

Last week we lost our internet, a result of the big storm, so this week I am digging out of emails and catching up on this and that. Highlights of the week include a Skype visit with some first graders in Pennsylvania, beginning the somewhat daunting task of sewing a new slipcover for our sofa (my fingers bear the battle wounds of pinning velcro all night), and finally finishing a pair of baby legwarmers for Tilda.

On the agenda for this week: finishing the relaunch of my Etsy store, making some web site updates, and finishing the party decorations for Tilda's one year birthday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Play On: Picture Books

Breaking news: Peter Brown has grown a beard!

Also, he's done a great series for the Etsy blog about picture books. I adore (most of my jewelry comes from etsy). And I adore picture books. And I adore Peter Brown. This is the perfect combination! Check it out here.

And in case you missed it, here's the trailer for You Will Be My Friend:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

my bully project...

I'm starting a project. I want get author/illustrators together to make a really great graphic piece of work of short graphic novel pieces about being bullied and being a bully. This has been on my mind for a long time and I finally feel that I really must just go for it. I didn't want to "announce" any of my plans except that I need a little help - I want to invite teens to submit their stories. My idea is for some of the stories to be chosen and illustrated. Then of course I'd like to try to get this thing published.

I've made a webpage for this that isn't "launched." None of the links work except for the "about the book," and, of course, there is no book. Ha. Anyway, I do plan on making the whole thing work shortly.

What I want help with is spreading the word. If you know of a published author or illustrator who has a good story about being bullied or being a bully then send them my way! I do want this to be fully illustrated - no just text so if an author is involved then somehow their text would have to be illustrated. I'm also now thinking that it would be cool to put some photography in the piece here and there. Also, the biggest part I want help with is looking for teens. If you know of a teen who has a story have them write it and send them to me!



Monday, November 07, 2011

Halloween 2011, plus Occupy Wall Street

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Halloween. For the past few years, we've had work celebrations, and it's become tradition to come dressed as characters from the books we publish. This year was no exception.

Last Monday, I dressed up as the chimaera Madrigal from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone:
(Madrigal has antelope horns--which were surprisingly hard to find. I had to make do with the devil-like horns I bought on The bat wings are also from etsy.)
Here are a few of the other costumes:
Connie Hsu at the kid on the cover of Todd Parr's The I'm Not Scared Book
Andrew Smith and Ames O'Neill as the young Jane Goodall and her monkey Jubilee from Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Allison Moore at Birdie from Birdie's Big Girl Shoes by Sujean Rim
Liz Casal as Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers.
(more of a creative interpretation than literal)
Leslie Shumate as author Laini Taylor! Hard at work.
This is a cake. Dressed up as a skull. Really.
me, "Laini", Faye Bi as the marionette Zuzana, and Zoe Luderitz as Karou, all from Daughter of Smoke and Bone

There are more pictures from L,B and other publishers over at Publisher's Weekly. Love all the creative costumes. Did any of you dress up?


Friday, November 04, 2011


What do you guys think about putting a weapon in a picture book? I'm working on a book about how to become a police officer and at first I thought I wouldn't include the gun part at all but then I thought... well... all kids know that police officers carry guns. It's the elephant in the room. I may as well deal with it. My plan is to simply list it as a thing the police officer carries on his belt.

What do you think?

Julia Anna Comes to Stay...for a Few Days

Anna wrote about the snowstorm that hit Massachusetts last weekend. Her area got much more snow than mine. My daughter and her husband lost electrical power on Saturday evening. It was too cold for them to stay at home with my little granddaughter Julia Anna—so they packed up and moved in with my husband and me for a couple of days. They arrived on Sunday morning—and left on Tuesday afternoon. Then they returned again early Wednesday evening because they lost power again.

I so enjoyed having the three of them as house guests. It was such fun having Julia Anna around for an extended stay. In addition, it got me prepared for December when I’ll begin my “nanny granny” duties. At that time, I’ll start living with my daughter and son-in-law three days a week. I'll be providing daycare for Julia from Tuesday through Thursday every week.

It was really strange when I arose Sunday morning. I looked out the window and saw snow on the ground…and green leaves still on the trees. It has truly been a strange autumn where I live. Usually most of the leaves on the trees have changed color and fallen from the trees by late October...and we rarely have snow at this time of year.

I didn’t take any outdoors pictures like Anna. I was too busy snapping photographs of my adorable granddaughter.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have a post about Dare to Dream…Change the World—a poetry anthology that will be published by Kane Miller next fall. A poem that I wrote about Jonas Salk will be included in the book. In my post, I have a letter poem that I wrote to Jonas Salk that will not appear in the anthology.

Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The comments from hell

I couldn't help comparing this set of "notes" on a ms. with Alvina's careful,thoughtful approach!

I've received comments that weren't helpful (not from you, Alvina) but never anything like this.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Snowed in

New England got hit with a big storm this weekend, some of us are still digging out! It took us a bit by surprise, it is October after all, so we were a bit underprepared for loosing our power and water. Still, it was very pretty out here in the country. Tilda just stared and stared.

That lump in the yard is a picnic table.

It was surreal seeing the yellow and red fall leaves underneath all that snow.

Hope you all are staying warm and cozy!