Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First Naught

First Night of Montclair beckons me. Little Feat, Ballet of NJ....the Big Apple Circus.


I'm getting old and sedentary.  No.

The First Night of  Barbara.

Bill's Latkes and Bacon.

A Fire in the Fireplace.

Relaxing music.

Sleeping in... in flannel.

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Write as rain

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas
Just like the ones without the snow
Where the tree tops drip down
and people slip down
on ice black invisibo

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas
with every Christmas card I write (early)
may your hands be cramp free and light
and may all your Christmases be write(rly.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jumanji? You mean me?

I was watching this movie for the umpteenth time with my kids this weekend and realized how much I LOVE this creator. His books...his art...the movies "they" took from him. They are profound and exquisite and beautiful and funny and scary and in touch with the reader. 


I adore him. He is a visionary, a true story teller. Perhaps his picture books are too old for the youngest and biggest picture book audience... but they are truly timeless, honest, original, heartfelt... and from his soul, that I feel they reach everyone around the world. They are universal.

That is what I want to do. My audience is a bit younger but that is my goal.

His books encompass everything I hope to, and they work on so many levels and that is exactly what I want to do.

I continue to reach for that star in my work. Fantastical yet true and real and honest.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bad Christmas Joke Number One

What do you call Peppermint Bark left over from last year?

Petrified Bark

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another conference another show

It is called the incentive I need to finish a project, and have it ready to send in by such and such a date for mid-February Mentorship. This means da da da the dummy for the little girl/giraffe my eyes are bigger than my stomach book. I don't even know if that is the one I am going to send but heck but I will assume it is because I need to finish the ms and do the dummy, and the mentorship sets the goal.

And I am making some writer friends who live nearby and are going which is extremely important. Advanced writers who may become life long friends who can hang out.

I've got a lot of work to do and December is tough. 

That leaves January.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'll sneeze and I'll snore and I'll blow this whole blog down

I am a little snot rag
my best friend is a booger
and when my best friend lands on me
I squish and mash and hug her

She lands inside the trash can
I drop behind her gently
until my master picks me up
and snorkles un-avently.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A bad charades day

I'm mad at you

I'm mad a yous

A mad a yous

A mad day yous



Sunday, November 16, 2008

The first of many bad turkey jokes...

What jazz piece do I listen to when I baste and bake the big bird?

Rondo a la Turkey.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Don't bug me I'm illustrating

What do you do
with a silverfish in your shoe?
You scream, you run
you gasp, you gag.
And you call your husband
or daughter to snag
that bugger.

Oh, I'll never be the same. Scarred for life. Scared even longer.

But Bill and Dave playing Charlie Parker brings me back to life.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Falling Asleep to the Scanning Machine

When making a dummy

the sound of the scanner

can put you to sleep

in an uncanny manner

Those 32 pages

slide through in two passes

and drop on the tray

like drippy molasses

Then before you know it

an hour has passed

and where does the time go

when things don't move fast

You're snoring along

as the dummy progresses

and you run out of toner

and you cuss what a mess this is

Another hour goes by

and the dummy is done

but you forgot a copy

of that sample...that ONE

That colorful sample

you sent to the printer

looks pretty good now

as your brain starts to splinter

But you swallow your coffee

and you belch and you yawn

you'll get this thing mailed out

if you work until dawn

Suddenly it is Saturday

Will the post office close

sooner than most days?

Better get on your toes

You kiss them goodbye

those three little bookies

and wait a few months

for those editor look sees

(and you work on something new)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Great day

Great day!

Great, great day!

The critique of the assignment went well. Now I just have to adjust two of my characters poses and send samples to house #1. I know which ones to send and why. What a great learning experience and look into how the process lots of revisions. The AD is so nice and funny and thoughful. I wish I had done this years ago...but I was not ready, my work was not ready. And now it is! I'd love to work with him!

And portfolio critique with S and S AD went very well. Said my work is unique, energetic, well composed, has real young child appeal and is expressive ( a few pictures in particular) and little things to fix which are easy enough. This man put me at ease, was very warm and extremely articulate in his assessment. I'd love to work with him.  And we have a friend in common in the suit of Barkley the Dog. I could feel his love of children's literature shine thru. Me too!

Both of them.

Samples to bet your booties!

Every illustrator who wants to do kids books should do these!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Patience and Patriotism -- The Writer's Pledge

I pledge allegiance
to the publisher
in the Big Apple
called New York
and to the editor
for whom I write
one manuscript,
under slush
with dummy
and art samples
for all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Obama Red Pajama!

Presidential poetry for the very young.

What can I do with this one?

Give me some time.

It is going to be a busy week
(After much deliberation, I have decided not to pursue this as I see myself behind bars writing and illustrating children's literature, and it is hard enough as is.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Working like a dog

to get ready for the Illustrator's Day. 

The next dummy is just about done (for now) to show, time allowing. The first person, emotional, discovering life and danger and independence and bravery one. This probably has too much action one but hey...that is what it is. Words and imagery folks. Tension and rise rise rise rise of action and a fall into a satisfying finish. 

Baby it's cold outside. And dark and wet and I am afraid...............

I am psyched... 

and nervous. 

Actually, it really is dark outside. It is too early for this. But Belgium and England were worse.

What was I talking about. Oh, I know my final is one of my best pieces and I truly loved working on it and think I solved the problems with great thought and vision (I hope) and artistry. This piece is me.

And I hope I've chosen my best (which is a relative word) 15 pieces that reflect my vision as an illustrator (This is HARD) and I take it seriously (perhaps too much at times). There may be two or three me zzz.

So we trudge forth.

Because we have this love. How many things in life give you this feeling?

Oh my God I have to VOTE tomorrow.  BLECH.

Well,there you go. How many things in life give you that feeling? Most.

Oh, and  Emily's birthday is I have to go shopping with her. 
(They NEVER have chairs for patient parents. But they have that tee shirt.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Found a tee shirt

I found the perfect tee shirt yesterday
at one of my favorite expensive stores in town.
It has a scene from Where the Wild Things Are on it.
I wanted that shirt so badly.
But I didn't buy it. 
When I get my first book I'll go back for it.
I'm sure it will no longer be there.
But I'll have them order it for me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You don't have to be one to know one.

I finished it. I am so pleased with it.

The funny thing is I don't have a speck of Spanish in me.

Did Aaron Copland have a speck of the West in him? 

No. He didn't. But he captured it in his music. Like no other.

And I think I captured the Spanish(ness) in my art. 

He wasn't a poser and neither am I.

Now back to the neglected dummy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

200 percent about face

I look at my "stuff" from two to three years ago. I have done a 200 percent about face. I now compare myself with my favorites and I am ..................SMILE.

Sigh. Knowledge is power, talent is inate yet constantly refined, and the market is a constant lesson.

Cabbage control

Dear fellow illustrators,

Whatever you do -- make sure that what you draw (cut, fold, staple, mutilate... whatever) is what you love.

Me -- I love cabbages. So much that I have been cutting out cabbage colored paper because I love cabbages. The very shape of a cabbage sends me into a collaging frenzy. (They are actually very good for the diet). The real ones. I wouldn't encourage anyone to ingest paper.

P.S. It helps to have some Brubeck handy. Then you can bounce around your studio and clap your hands to Take Five. (Make sure you put down the exacto knife first.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Creativity is solving problems

I am about half way done with this intricate Barrio collage having most of it built and now I apply the finishing touches of detail, light, contrast etc.. I looks great IMHO with young child appeal.
But with many projects come the little problems and how to solve them. Here it is color. When you work in color you must think carefully of your palette. If you apply too many colors you will kill your focus(es) and your overall look. After a great deal of thought I solved my little problem.

Also, with collage you must think about stages of application. Like those fire hydrant sprays will be the very last thing applied. 

The AD provided a wonderful critique of initial sketch because it was objective only. You get a passage of text and know what has to be there. But how do you do it with your space given?How do you make solutions to problems?

If this leads nowhere, it will be a great portfolio piece. And proof that I can figure out solutions and work with people who ask questions and provide guidance and encouragement. 

And this has bolstered my confidence and enthusiasm for illustration. I love this. I am good at this. And I have something of value to offer that holds up consistently.

I just need the opportunity. This would be a great house to work with, I know that!

And if Henry the Hotspur asks me to cut out his artwork for his playing card Halloween costume, I am going to have to say, "You can solve this yourself. YOU can do this yourself."

And you can. That is what creativity is.

Now if we can just get our financial system to figure that out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's good, it's good,it's good!

He liked my sketch and gave me very doable suggestions for improvement, and ideas to ponder. But he liked it and my style. I have three weeks. I might have my foot in their door for a real job, I hope!

And something I love to do. Three weeks for the final. Hopefully all this blood, sweat and tears is finding its home.

Bad week. Good sketch

Dear Dairy,

This has been an absolutely horrible week.

I got a form rejection which knocked out the wind out of my sails.

A friend of my daughter died of a brain hemorrhage after a second concussion from football blows to the head. I hate contact sports. This should not have happened. The entire school and town are in shock. I can only imagine how beat up the team, coach, doctor and family are. I am not much on religion but prayers are in order.

The good news is I finished and sent off my sketch to the AD for revision. I should get it back any day and proceed with the final. I just hope it arrives soon because I need two full weeks to make it the best it can be. And I need to get most if not all of the dummy done to show for advice. 

Next year will be a better year...I hope. Maybe I'll get a nibble. Keep the faith whatever faith that is.

And my friends on the Blue Board threw me a private surprise party too! I love them!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Drawing dangerously

the doll saver is turning into a mystery adventure picture book with each and every dummy sketch. Funny, sad, meaningful, deep, light and a heck of a lot of sketch. The is all in the necklace...perhaps............

and how to sell yourself to an agent...yeah...right...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

To thine own self be true

Reading EA's blog about too many cooks. Makes me sick.

I trust myself and look for editor with same.

It is called integrity and trust and conversation. 

I am not afraid to say "no" but I am not afraid to listen, either.

Your mission should you choose to accept it....

is to choose from one of the four manuscipts sent and to sketch one passage from it ( you have one week).
Well, that was an easy process of elimination and I felt an immediate, direct, and personal connection to the Barrio one. And I am not Spanish in any way, nor do I speak Spanish. But I love Spanish art, music, food, people, architecture and I am all about color....and ethnicities and cultures. It has soul. I didn't even have to mull over my decision. I knew it right off the bat. It makes me smile when I read it. It is poetic.

So it is no to the punctuation ms. This manuscript is not what I do.
So it is no to the dog ms. I am not a dog person.
And it is no to bigger, faster etc. ms. I felt like I COULD illustrate this
but I WANT to illustrate the Barrio. And if you want to do something and love it, it will show in the end result. It is like those old manuscripts I wrote...some of them left not impact on me. It is the ones I think about all the time that I won't let go of. I see them. I want to illustrate them. And if you can visualize something as an artist then it is right. I believe that in my heart and soul.

This is going to be an interesting assignment. Sketches first! (No. Research first...)

Finals second. And it will be collage. It has to be collage. And it will be beautiful. And full of life and feeling and honesty.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Drunken Pumpkins

I have the greatest friends.
Always thoughtful, always comedic, always.............sick.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mission Impossible and dodging arrows

got a response from an agent today. Story sweet (well maybe a bit but not my realization)but not edgy enough. Funny how another agent said my work is edgy. The problem is that my story is not fully realized yet as the illustrations are not done. And to me it doesn't matter if one does not see it as edgy enough. To me it is the story, the meaning, the execution, the voice etc.. This is mission impossible. I have real doubts about any agent connectoin without an editor connection first.

Another arrow in my heart.

Sigh. I EFFING SEE IT!! How do I make you see same???


Nibblin on checks blank
Watchin the banks tank
All of those brokers
covered in shame
Betting my nine yards
on Goldman Sachs cards
Casino! It's part of my game

Betting away in Casinobankaville
Searching for my last banker of late
Someone said there's bad credit to blame
but I know this investment is great!

(I always get Jimmy and Warren mixed up. They are so similar.)

I've got to stop messing with perfectly fine lyrics. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Drum role

My son's drum teacher has new student up the street. Converses with his mom. Mom is an art director in children's publishing. (I have a free agent.) He calls me and says, " I am your mole. Let me work on this. Give me a few weeks. (I love you.) I love this industry! Is say, give up the drums and become a literary agent. He says, "I'll think about it."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why I think queries count.

If you write an effective query, I believe you have found the meeting point between you and your agent/editor. Because you have discovered what your book is really about and can thus go from there. It is kind of like your stance, your theme maybe, where you and story are coming from. Hopefully, your reader will see that and help you take it where it should go... in both of your eyes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


1. The roundest knight at king Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island,

but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker,

but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because

it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder

and got a little behind in his work.

6. Now matter how much you push the envelope,

it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road

and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in

Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race.

They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow.

Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.

The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway.

One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger.

Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital.

When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was,

a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle,

he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was

a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now

a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In democracy it's your vote that counts.

In feudalism it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary,

they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults:

Practice safe sects!

Those bolded over bowled me over.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I did it!

I sent my first query with my pb bio, art and dummy to AAL today! I don't think I could have targeted better having read his website content, and meeting and listening to him. This ms has been thru critique and art approval for years, tho the dummy is still loose. So he will have it soon enough...and I will show him Doll Saver when the dummy is done...hopefully not too long.

And my lovely daughter.. the Harry Potter ready to eat at the Back Off (her name for the Outback). Must go chomp down some sirloin.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Dear: Your Query is your Voir Dire!

I love writing queries. Not only because I am telling what my book is about, but because I am getting to the essence of it. It is a fun challenge!!

I can tell why my first manuscripts didn't go. Because I couldn't say what they were really about. Were they about anything? What is the truth and meaning about what I have to say about my character and story?

Today, I use M.T.A's (Manhattan Transit Authority?...I think not) Handel Biography to see how he does mine is comparable... somewhat.

In his jacket copy, his first two lines sum up the man in his story.

Throughout is life, George Frideric Handel always knew what he liked. And he was never afraid to do what he liked LOOKS SO SIMPLE...DOESN'T IT?

From childhood Louis Moreau Gottschalk loved the musical sounds he heard around the world. He mixed them all together in his own musical ragbag, then took them out and shared them.

Has been changed to: Louis Moreau Gottschalk soaked up every musical sound he heard around the world. He mixed them in his own musical ragbag. Then he took them out and shared them. (Better I think...and off it goes.) YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then we talk a bit about the hardships along the way. And his determination.

Getting there thru trial and error

getting there.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I found the perfect car

for David McKee and Elmer.

Hidden Talents

Picture Number One: Well, Emily did leave the house...sort of.
Picture Number Two: Emily secretly wrote poems. Secretly.
Picture Number Three: Lavinia discovered them. But look carefully at Lavinia. She is as pale as a ghost. She sees somebody in the room...
"There's somebody in the room!"
it's... it's...
"No. I'm nobody! Who are you?"

Friday, September 5, 2008

So You Want to be Vice President

I'm illustrating a YA picture book and looking for a writer. Must like shotgun weddings.

And she locked herself away until she finished her first draft

The first thing you should notice is the note on the very top of the page.
Poor Emily. She was homely. She never left her room. She brooded. But she wrote incessantly and became famous.
Sometimes that is what it takes. I am going back to my room to finish my book pb first draft. Whatever.
Stay tuned for the art. It will knock your socks off.

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Unexpected Guest and Memories of Summer Stock

My inlaws gave us tickets to this. Unexpectedly. And the Red Barn is just the way I remember it when I was about 10. When dad brought us here for the summer while he directed summer stock. The Barn still creaks, smells musty and boasts great amateur theater. The people still creak too. Photos of actors...all around. People I remember as if were yesterday.

The thing that I love is that every show here is done very well, the speech and acoustics are clear, the artisitic direction is simple yet effective, and the actors are for the most part top notch.

I understood every Agatha Christie bit of dialogue (in quite good Anglo-parle) and was of course surprised by the Christie ending. She is famous for her endings and the way she unravels her plots and characters. And the Whodunnit always makes everyone gasp. Never who you'd expect (well, usually never except for the lady behind me's best friend.... grrrr.... who has to let everyone know how brilliant she is).

The Receiver: But something is not adding up...what did I miss? It wasn't in the middle. It was something that should have paralleled with the beginning and the end. Guess I'll have to read this. I love a good mystery and get antsy when something is not quite right (It is right, but something went over my head and I have to catch it).

The Creator: What does this have to do with illustration and writing? For me, if something is not quite right, I have to figure out why and catch it.

Back to My Accident.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And here's one I thought of

If I Were a Rice Man

I'll tang of mao when mai ears become unclogged.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Official Beijing Olympics Fakebook

PMSubject: Beijing Olympics Fakebook The Official Beijing Olympics Fakebook (Thanks to Dave for the Compilation)

A Stranger in my Own Home Tong

A Whole Lhasa Shakin' Goin' On

Beijing the Beguine

Canton Races

Commie Irresponsible

Dimsum On the Ceiling

Ginseng in the Duck

Gong With the Wind

Great Wall's Afire!

Hello Dalai

I'm Getting Sent a Mai Tai Over You (Bronze Medal)

In The Coolie Coolie Coolie Of The Evening

If You Knew Suey Like I Know Suey

It Might As Well Beijing

It Was Szechuan of Those Things

Kimono My House

Mao Swell

Ming To Me

Mr. Sampan (Bring Me a Dream)

Oolong Has This Been Going On?

The Mao I See You

The Suey With the Fringe On Top (Silver Medal)

Tibet Is Yet To Come

Tickee To Ride

Wokking My Baby Back Home


Yangtze Doodle Dandy (Gold Medal)

You Gotta Acc-U-Punc-Tu-Ate the Positive

(The bolded ones are my faves and the winner is stated)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Worn out, washed up, played to death


Summer cleaning, mother grieving
Fourteen is a time of leaving
magic marker eyelined
painted henna hair steaked
plastic pretend.
And packing up
played to death dolls.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A fun and stressless summer project

while I wait for decisions. Rather than starting a new project, this summer I have decided to do something for pleasure unadulterated by any form of stress. I am going to casually revisit my old mss that need revision. But right now I need to work on fun. Just fun. It will reflect in my illustration.

And while buying required US Poet Laureate for my daughter's AP Senior English Summer homework assignment (she chose Billy Collins) I found a collection of William Carlos Williams. So for inspiration I snatched up this last copy (sorry'll have to place an order) and will take a few poems and illustrate them. Potential portfolio pieces perhaps. And if something comes of be it. But right now I need a mind tickle , in the worst way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Saying goodbye to a van

a van. I almost cried as my 12 year-old van was towed off the drive way today. It is just a van but man... no it is not just a van. This has been thru the mill...a thunk, a tow and new transmission, scads of new batteries and memories of me waiting for AAA and the happy battery man. Hitting a deer on our way home from Vermont (those damn hunters), a blown air conditioner and hot summer with fresh air and wind-blown hair. Two rear enders but a strong non-dent-able bumper..."is everyone all right? Yeah, everyone except the car behind us!" A car accident with a thunderstorm and heavy rain and three kids balling forever while we waited for the damn cop to appear...and two appearances by me in court and I represented myself and I WON!! HA HA. Oh, and the carpooling, and Charlotte learning how to drive and me holding on to the seat so hard I though my circulation would quit... and my breathing, as well.

But the tree smashing this van was the last straw..I suppose.

So I get all choked up over something so stupid (I mean we could have been IN that car when the tree fell on it. The deer could have gone through the windshield and impaled us. The transmission could have dropped mid-highway, Triple AAA might have been unavailable in this neighborhood, I could have lost the case. But this van took all the heat (we did last year,too)and finally succumbed to the weight of a tree. 

This van held more than people. There is a story here. I hope I have illustrated it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gotta take a test drive on

my husband. Not necessarily a no-no, either.  My toughest more ways than one. Gottschalk gots the thumbs up..finally. It helps to have a fellow musical being to evaluate the rhythms and onomatopoeic sounds I used in this biography. And he said what I believe. That if "I just read the manuscript and didn't read it as it would appear in the dummy with the illustrations, I wouldn't get the full effect. But now it does, and the way you've handled the writing works. If this doesn't sell it is no reflection on the writing, dummy or art." 

Gotta believe this. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You say tornado...I say today no!!


today no!

Afraid so

those winds blow

Let's call the whole thing awful.

A tree falls in Montclair. On my car and over my front lawn. The power goes out. My backyard looks Third World for all the electrical wires entangled, and strewn with various straggly limbs and stumps. No power, no school, severe internet withdrawl. Who cares about this week's food supply melting in the fridge. We want internet and we want it now.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

While it is fresh

Conference recollections:

Firstly, it is again the hottest day on record in NJ, and I could not sleep a wink last night.

The day started with intros from the panel.

But my biggest bit of news is that I was matched with an agent rather than the editor I asked for which turned out to be just fine. They win awards...lots of awards.

The session from Holt on how the editor and art director work together was so well done. What they really brought out tho, was how MARKETING intervenes.

My critique with the CD was JUST what I expected. He LOVED my biography art and dummy. Then he asked who I was having my ms critique with and I told him the agent.

Then he told me my art for Gaudi was too late. They are already doing a pb/bio on him. Grrrr.

Then I met with the agent. She was SOOOO nice and loved my folio. She assesed it and told what pieces were my strengths. She told me that it is European (and she said you won't know what that means...but I think I do). She said your work is not HC but more like Roaring Brook (but they are agented....and I'm not...yet...) She said your work is special and that is why it is hard to place you right away...but it should lead to developing you as a unique voice. And that is just what I want ...I just am getting impatient as I see so many generic illustrators get job after job. Oh, and she gave me great and constructive critique on my gargoyle. I really like her. She was genuine and her face lit up when she saw my art (you can't fake that).

She wants to see my biography and asked how my crit went with the CD.

But another wonderful thing is I had lunch across from Ted at FB. This young engaging Ted. He is so funny and cool and told me all these tidbits about the books he'd acquired and why. I must say I like those kind of books but I don't write them unless they are for fiveish. I asked him how to query FB with what I do, and he did... so I will. He said to choose your fave Pb and mention others. I just wish I knew what that was.

What I do know is if I get agented, not all of what I have done or will do will get represented...unless I am extremely lucky.

And I see revisions of sugerplums dancing for the agents.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Triangles and stripes forever

How to stripe a tiger in three easy steps:

1) Simplify - my god, if I have to stripe the tiger fourteen times I am going to go out of my mind (Keep thinking about where Waldo might favorite Martin must be twice shy of can do it you can do it!!)

2) He is young thus fewer stripes...heh heh heh...use triangles (really, it works here)

3) He is angry. He just might lose a few. Especially with little Ms. Monarch the perfect little flutterby.

I feel great! Wonderful, productive day!!

Earning my stripes!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A tiger in my tank

I've spent months and months and months looking at my tiger illustration trying to get an inkling of where I am going to take this. And today...holy came to me... the emotional core to fit the tiger happening on the page and me(and it is different... the image, I mean). Now I have to plot it. The fun part. Heh.

Hint hint. He's having a bad day and he's pissed off.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I think I know what literary is...gasp!

And it has taken me a long, long time to grasp the asp.

And it didn't kill me. But I think I was afraid of it. It might have been afraid of me.

It has meaning. It has an emotional, lasting story which hovers over plot. It has beautiful, sensitive language and substance. And it is put together in a well thought out, creative, respectful and deliberate way. And that is where I want to be.

Commercial is great if it is literary. Most commercial for commercial sake deserves a snake bite, though.

I feel good and confident and I know what I want and am looking for same.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is a spondee some kind of underwear elastic ?

Is a trochee some kind of condom?

Is an Iam(Bic) some kind of cat food with a free pen?

Is molosses some kind of syrup?

Is metynomy some kind of self loathing?

Mais non....I LOVE myself...IAMmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I naively suggested some thoughts on the finalists in EA's non-rhyming poetry challenge, and one of them completely threw me for a loop. One LONG loop.

But I admit...I am all ear. Not terribly analytical (in anything). And when Mr./Ms. anonymous enters the scene completely prepared, and by the last two paragraphs has reiterated my suggestions exactly (obviously, more explicitely) I felt kinda like "I may be dumb...but I am not stupid." He/she said what I heard. Cool.

I ain't no dummy. IAMme...IGOTTABEme

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I rained

during her "Parade." Everybody did.

Six shows. Two weekends. One final song that made me fall apart.

What a wonderful, beautiful, sad and important musical.

I am an emotional wreck, right now, but so proud of these kids and the crew and directors for producing such a brilliant, BRILLIANT production ...and all the tears and LOVE after.

And my daughter who says she can't act gets all these compliments. You, my darling CAN. You can. You can.

Sometimes,often it is hard to believe in yourself. I know. I know. But you must. Six times over.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Less between words

Reading comprehension was a problem for me as a child.

Funny thing, is now when I write I don't give the reader everything there in words. I leave enough there for the reader to form his/her own conclusion....or to form his/own imagery. I say enough to start a dialogue in the readers brain and and try to leave out description.

I wonder if the reason it took me so long to find books that I loved was because 'that' writer knew this is what hooked me.

I can't get past a first page of description. And I wonder how many kids labeled as reluctant readers would be 'unlabeled" if they were given such books.

Just a thought.

And these are the books I pick up. And they win awards and last.

Different minds. We are not all the same.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Writing while waiting

up for my daughter to come home from her post show romp.

"Parade" premiered this evening at the HS. A true story. Sad, dark, edgy, angsty. I'd never heard of it which is always nice.

My husband asked a friend why this musical never really made it on Broadway...yet it won a Tony?? I think.

His friend answered,  "Well, musicals about hangings are a dime a dozen."


Anyhow, well done. Might as well be a Broadway production. These kids are good. They work hard and it shows.

I work hard and I am tired and I want to go to bed. 

But there is no clock in the adolescent head.

She's home!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Layers are good

Tyger! Tyger! story might (I need help to start this picture book)

In blurried hopeful sight (and then I have to make a sample or two),

What immortal hand or eye (shit...and dummy as well??)

Could frame thy fearful artistry? (A dummy as well???????)

In what frequent dummies tried (Oh, no...)

Drained the focus of mine eyes (And my markers)?

On what spreads dare I aspire? (What, you mean FINALS?)

What mine hand dare sketch the line..ner? (Now forget it. A dummy, sketches. samples and no deal yet??)

Friday, April 25, 2008

525600 minutes...56 entries

My portfolio has 56 pieces in it. I realize that that is 41 too many. But each and everyone there is a reflection on me and my vision and ability. So I''ll be damned if I'll take anything out. The CD can be patient. I've been.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Geometry or Algebra...

For me it is geometry. I sucked at linear math. Spatial elements put me in my element.

Which brings me to logic. My favorite. My weakness is this:

I look at the logic problems I get from critiques and try to attack my mss with connecting elements throughout. This takes a real step back and much thought. But I can do it and have done it. It is like solving a puzzle. I love puzzles.

Why dummies work for some like me

I revisited three editor critiques on my alligator friendship story ( I seem to gravitate towards relationship stories with action and emotion). The writing initially frustrated me, but the dummy flowed fairly effortlessly if not for the rendoring. After a year plus, I took those criticisms and worded in my dummy. I swear, dummies help (if they also really help to tell the story). You rely less on being so clever in words. Yes, clever is good but let the imagery do its part.

And then go back to the words and fine tune.

This is fun once you bypass the the HARD part. The starting part.

Two of those critiques were more helpful than I imagined. And I let them sit for a year before I used them.

Time to start a dummy I need, and a new story, and samples ( my favorite).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where do I fit?

I've been reading Cheryl Klein's wonderful insights over and over again as she is going to present and critique in June. And I feel this HUGE pedestal right there in front of me. She is sharp as a tack and I would LOVE to have her critique me. I might. But...........

......I am not so sure that I am that literary a writer. My gut says somewhere between literary and commercial. God, I'd love to have her attact my gargoyle if I could just let go. I myself don't know where that ms should be. I'm almost done with the dummy but the ending is proving difficult. Shit, it is just a page or two more but I don't like it enough....yet.

I have had a devil of a time choosing an editor for critique. I'm not looking for a contract. But I am looking for a GOOD critique. Cheryl would be good, I know that. But would she be the right one knowing that I am not sure if this is literary or commercialy/genre...yyyy. What I need to decide is where I see it. It would help to have second opinion. This is what is so hard about working without any feedback or help. And I fear that I will never get anywhere. It makes me lose hope.

But I keep hope.............I can't wait to meet the Holt team. My folio is something I am so proud of. I must say it shines more now than ever. I've worked so hard on it. Fingers crossed. There is an editor at Holt looking for biographies of lesser known artistic people done in a stylistic manner. Fingers crossed upside down and twisted around. Keep hope at bay, Barb or you will be disappointed.

I would so like to meet with Philomel, too. I LOVE THEIR BOOKS.

This is a tough choice.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bad Editor Joke number 1

Where did Henry the Eighth find Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard after he found their sonnets, and what did he do about it?

It was off with their eds.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stick with chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate.

The Belgians are coming, the Belgians are coming.

With books.

Um. I don't see an understanding of the American market here...what exactly is supposed happen here? Do we get out guns and greet them on the beach and take them in and come to some kind of understanding. Vee arrrr niiiiisss peeeples and vee hav boooooks vor chlieldrrrren. Vanna buy?

What I can tell you is you have a heap of sheep ready to pounce (do sheep pounce...they do if they have manuscreeeepts ...baaa...baaaa....blaaaaaack sheeeeep havu enee vool ). Can American sheep read Dutch ( I mean Flemish)?

I'll tell you a real secret. The Belgians make the BEST chocolate in the world. And their restaurants rock. And if you like lace go visit Brugges (probably the most pictureseque town around). But publishing to Americans...I'll try to stay tatted (I mean tuned)

....not every business proposition is like great chocolate...fresh and distinctive and well marketed and well made (or appreciated for that matter...but that is not my concern).

I'll bet the Belgians do better with chocolate. And not Hershey's.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Arresting Imagery and Child Psychology

When I illustrate I try to think about what it was like being a four or five year old looking at pbs. Granted, the ones available to me at the time.

I remember being fascinated by the tigers turning into butter as they ran around a tree
I remember a little kitten hit by a car, and a little pool of blood on the road (he lived).
I remember a fairy drinking poison to save her friend Peter( she lived).

I remember drawing a picture of a bare bottomed kid pooping, and me being sent to my room (I lived).

What is my point?

My point is that I think many writers of pbs for preschool and early primary are out of touch with the age group they write for. Like rhyme about social studies, or football. Little kids don't like or understand or appreciate this. Their world is simple and immediate and confusing. And about them.

And these images that I cite reflect a basic psychological reaction.

Do you know why writing a pb that hits YOUNG kids is hard? Because it involves knowing child psychology; and knowing what the rules are. Don't write a rhyming book about sports.

Poop done well will sell.

A broken nose done in prose will sell.

And tigers turning to butter....Well, I can't wait to start my next project. But it won't be butter.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Motivation 101 except for me it is more like 2010

I'll be attending my tenth conference in June (and probably last, unless something happens soon).

I will have a critique with an AD, from S and S who has already expressed interest in my art. This time I'll have dummies to show and a smashing portfolio. I have so much to do including a weekend of getting my art to Dave in the proper format (ugh).

But I can't do the newbie crud anymore. I am so tired of it all.

I just want to be working on a great project with great people and after a while this all feels like BS.

I see people getting published everyday who make me wonder what the F am I doing wrong. Besides not submitting.

If I could just spend half of my day in my studio making my art I would be the happiest person I could be. That is what I do best. And all this is BS.

Venting 201.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Favorite Illustrators

Petra Mathers: Playful, colorful, vivacious and has a real child like sensibility and very imaginative and interesting content

Peter Sis: his imagination and style are the most unique (is there such a thing...yes, in this case)

Chris vA: magic

David McKee: extended elephant phase but what he is in his element

Gris Grimly: Line and ink master of monster

David Shannon: Far out and not afraid

Colin Thompson: Fantasy fan to see...see it!

Maurice Sendak: Sensitivity

Alan (Allen) Say: realism that makes you collapse with awe

Steig: Primitive grit

Jenkins: COLLAGE....yes....even though his is realistic (her her)...JK

Judy Schachner: Because she writes as well as she illustrates and in total SYNC with it

David Macaulay: thinker inking

Martin Hanford: Anyone who can illustrate five million people...that is LOVE

Harry Bliss: He can really expand on the text. Seems to jive with the words.

David Wiesner: Although I am not a real fan of wordless pbs...his are works of art. I do prefer his worded ones, though. His work is ethereal and makes the world endless.

David Small: Funny, clever, also expands well on the text

Holly Keller: Sensitivity to her subject matter both text and art

and why do I love them so much (well, much of it is subjective...I could say I love the ones that are very popular...but I don't). Because they are distinctive, artistic, appeal to kids ( and adult kids), prolific and have their own VOICE . They have something strong that sets them apart from functional art.

And I am just spinning my F**king wheels. But if I didn't have these role models, I'd have plenty of nuthin. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunshine on my cathedral makes me happy

David Macaulay, the brilliantly talented author illustrator of Walter Lorraine fame is starting his own imprint. This can only be wonderful news (and there is so much depressing news) as great talent forges forth into management. I love this. I love him. I have so much to do.

My first writing teacher showed me
"Black and White" and hooked me into this insane business. This book made me what I am today. Anxious, excited, neurotic and a thinker. It also made me the brainchild of a gargoyle with sunshine on his cathedral...which was written for this class and has been written a million times. and maybe one day will be on published paper.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

keep talking

Take Me to the Bookstore

I don't know why I love her like I do
All the changes she puts me through
Take my edits, my manuscripts
I've haven't seen the worst of it yet
I wanna know that you'll tell me
I love your way
Take me to the Book Store, drop me in Bestseller
Take me to the Book Store, drop me in Bestseller
Pumping me up, pumping me up

I don't know why you treat me so bad
Think of all the books we could have had
Words are an ocean that I can't forget
My sweet fiftieth I will never regret

I wanna know that you'll tell me
I love your way
Take me to the Book Store, drop me on best seller
Take me to the Book Store, drop me on best seller
Pumping me up, pumping me up

Scrap me, crop me, add me, tease me
Till I can't, till I can't, till I can't take no more
take me to the book store, drop me on best seller
push me to the bookstore, drop me on best seller
Pumping me up, pumping me up

I don't know why you edit like you do
All the troubles you put me through
Sixteen spreads there in the book
I'm not a fool just take a look

I wanna know that you'll tell me
you CAN revise
Take me to the editor and get another revision
one more time with editor then another revision
When will it end...when will it end....

More talking

And She Wasn't

And she was sitting in the group
And she could hear the ed start reading
And she could see the nearby exit
She's making sure she is not screaming
See the heights of the manuscripts
Now she's starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And she closes up her eyes

The eds were nodding and she was right there with them (and she wasn't)
The eds were nodding and she was floating above them (and she wasn't)

And she was drifting through the office
And she was putting on her coat
And she was moving very slowly
Rising up over New York
Moving over the manuscripts
Drifting this way and that
Not touching the piles at all
cutting through the clouds

And she looked down at the all the eds
Who said"This one will be a novel"
She had a pleasant revelation
This time she'd have real vacation

Kicking piles of massive mannies
Missing just one but she'll feel alright
(and she does).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Talking Eds

Burning Down the House

And you may ask yourself
how did I get here
And you may say to yourself
"This is not my beautiful house
This is not my beautiful book."

Psycho Editor

qu'est ce que c'est
We are brave and we're not blind
I hate writers when they're not polite

Crosseyed and Painless

Lost my brains trying to read the manuscript
Can't stop cuz I have to read this Bull*@#!
am changing my name -it was all a bad accident
They're back - to explain their lack of brilliance

Manuscripts Piling Up

I can see those mannies piling up
stretching from my office to the stairs
I work in this house where I'm employed
When I was throwing up - my hands cuz
I could never keep my spirits up
I remember daze and crazy nights
Are there any writers worth their s#!^
And if they ever polish up - they'll have
a revision by morning.

More to come. Stay "Tuned"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Still in print.

Bill got another royalty check yesterday for a book he wrote over 17 years ago. I've taken it for granted. It is still going strong, and I was wrong.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Poetry as we knowitry

Got this definition off the internet. It is generic yet accurate:

Poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response (YAY). Poetry has been known to employ meter and RHYME (shhhhhh), but this is by no means necessary. Poetry is an ancient form that has gone through numerous and drastic reinvention (sometimes YAY) over time. The very nature of poetry as an authentic (what does that mean? Huh?) and individual mode of expression (I have to express myself through a picture book....because it takes little time and can be done in quick rhyme) makes it nearly impossible to define (even though this is a definition).

I guess it wasn't as impossible as 'you' thought. HA HA!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

spring forward, fall back, winter between and summer somewhere

I hate winter. I hate cold. I hate snow.

But the birds are telling me that spring is coming very soon. And this depressing cocoon is going to break open and a gorgeous butterfly will break out.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

next subject aka victim.

Getting ahead of myself, as usual with great expectations, as usual.

My portfolio of projects thus far:

Flamingo story (must need a plot or premise change, I am sure) but this could be a real visual dream of a story

Pig story (must need a plot change, I am sure) Another visual story

Gargoyle story (in perpetual progress and the one I am really focussing on, at the moment... has so many possibilities but the ending might need a transformation...doesn't seem too hard at this point). yeah right.

Doll Saver story (satisfied)

Alligator story (in perpetual progress..probably a simple fix that I can't realize)

Composer Biography (in perpetual progress...this one will really work with the pictures) but that is going to have to wait.

Gaudi story (beginnings... after many drafts)

And my next victim (ha ha) is going to be a little boy tiger (i have one too Disneyesque a sample that can be morphed into a another less Disneyesque rendition I have done in basic). What is your story.......shit, I don't know...yet.....

And the pb prince pb is not yet realized nor the three flying mice but perhaps down the cloud....

so Barbara's mind continues to whirl forth into illustration madness...

how could i forget the wallabe story...because i did that one sans art which i never do

and the girl and giraffes which keeps changing...and i'm rambling....good grief...i need to get more sleep

Monday, March 3, 2008

Got your art on my stick

Bill got my new stuff on his stick (the kind for your computer). Progress. Soon this and others will be on my new website.....Dave??

Color, and Black and White...or Grey?

After watching Ms.Persepolisse I've thought much about the interplay between color and black and white. Or ahem... grey for little Mister Gargoyle. And I found it!!

Roses are red, gargoyles are grey, this gargoyle can gargle his troubles away.

And troubles are grey most of the day. Except when I say hey, hey... thank you Marjan, thank you Peter Sis!! I had this idea all along and you just validated it!! But I am doing it my way.....I love you both soooooooooooooo much!!

This is going to be fun to try and get across in a dummy. Heh...heh...heh...............

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Persepolis - Le film impeccable

Holy smokes! What a great movie! So well done and engaging. Great graphics and animation. I feel inspired to go out and write a graphic novel and then work with screenwriters and cinematographers and ...............just kidding.

Read it and then go see it...go see it...go see it!

I feel inspired to make something so magnificent; one brain celluloid at a time.


Friday, February 29, 2008

A family of artists is a great breeding ground for artwork

Charlotte got into the high school musical today after several attempts and years of auditions. And she got a part. She sings, she acts. she dances. Our school system boasts a "Broadway calibre talent" and it is true. These kids are Broadway bound. As a matter of fact, many of them are already auditioning on Broadway. They know rejection. They could take "American Idol" out to lunch. They know the ropes and the strings and knots. So I am thrilled for her. I have been there.

Bill's band is thriving and they are sooo gooood.

Emily's dancing is coming to fruition with her next concert.

And Henry's animation and comic illustration, and drumming make me shiver.

And my next endeavor into illustration is playing with color, and blacks and whites. When I get bored...and I am sooooo bored right now I love to expiriment.

I can't think about submission right now. I only want to create.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How do you know when your writing is good enough to submit for pbs?

Read some thread on the Blue about this today, and I find it fascinating.........

I also find it fascinating that, for me, submitting art samples is less stressful. Probably because I've had better luck with it. More takers than for my writing. My writing is much more of a precarious gesture when I send it out.

Almost always letters in return (except FSG, in which case always forms...can't get into their heads). So lately, I don't feel it is a comment on my writing but more of a comment on what I am writing...could be wrong but just an observation...I am not filling a need, but I write my own could I possibly illustrate anything without my (a) storyline? I know everyone says illustrate a folk or fairytale. I don't do those.

My critique group is not so good for pb critique because 99 percent of the writers in it are mg and ya.

Pb is a highly specialized mindset, and if you illustrate that makes you somewhat of a freak. I'm a freak.

Back to that unanswerable question...look at the market...really...How do you know when your pb is good enough? My question is how do you know when your pb is great? Enough said. Because good enough isn't enough...for me anyway...always striving for the moon...I look at the greats...and they are great for a reason....they transcend.........I want to be do I do that...that is MY question.

Call me a dreamer...what is right with that?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Progress ...yesssss

Got a lot done today on the dummy. Yay. Much more to go!! SMILE


"Parents don't have time to read to their children?" Fewer words is the "terrrende...this year." This comes from trickle down SCBWI conferensics. Sometimes I think these conferences are more harm than good.

What? Oh, silly me. Reading to my children is (was) the one thing I love(d) having time for. I'd have to make that goddamned time. Oh, life is tough all over. Reading to your children..what a bore. I could be watching Oprah. I could be painting my nails. But no, I have to sit down for a half an hour and enjoy a story with my kid. Oh, you know what? This might be a good time to multi-task. It gives a chance for the nail polish to dry.


Old, old, old

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nonfiction and the hard sell

Reading a thread on the Blue, and it caught my eye...

It bemoans the writer of this thread (and me, too) that the state of non-fiction for children in the state of California's libraries and bookstores is so limited (funds, and buyers interests). This writer talks about what a hard sell her non-fiction was; and she's multi-published.

The thing that makes me so frustrated is that my biography's strength, or one of its strengths is in the execution of the illustrations. It is in the dummy but more so in the actual finished art. Because pencil sketches to actual finished collage/mixed media are like skeleton to flesh.

This is why I find it so difficult and frustrating to sell everything as a unit (especially over the transom).

I've gotten letters on this project. Compliments. But obviously something is not working. And I don't know what that is because no one will say so. Just that my subject is obscure.

If you think about it just about every historical, artistic, scientist figure is obscure to a child. May be it is the parent/adult who wouldn't know my subject well enough to reach for it. Maybe there is not going to be enough demand.

Hell, my kids have brought home books about astronauts, poets and scientists I have never heard of. Could it be curriculum tie-in? Mine is not. I don't think so anyway.


1) Obscure colorful American composer/virtuoso/idol

2) Conflicts -- overcoming adversity/prejudice, and hardships on the road (trains and the lack of).

3) Amazing/wild things he did besides what he was known for (very visual). He was a daredevil and show off.

4) Nice art (very visual...ha..ha..ha)

5) Onomatopoeic (sp?) language to match his music and musical rhythms. Bouncy language.

6) Involvement in Civil War...he played on the battle grounds and for Lincoln. Product of New Orleans

7) Precursor to ragtime

8) Multi-cultural themes and characters

9) Entertaining more than educational.

10) Theme: travelling the world for multicultural voices to incorporate into his own music. And this is something that is shown in the symbolistic art.


1) Hey Jude!! Too Obscure (Barbara shakes head in disbelief)

2) trying to do too much.........hmm...maybe?? Dunno. I cut this from 1,700 words to 750 words without so much as a blink. Streamlined, if you will.

3) Does the end need more of a twist even though it is visual whopper?

Which brings me back to hard sell.

Maybe it is not my book at all. Maybe it is the market.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Half way

I am half way thru my dummy. Yay!! But I know I am not really. When it is finally finished I am going to go thru with this critical eye I have developed over the years. What a difference five years makes! Fingers crossed.

Mood: Very happy, satisfied and ready for tomorrow's work..........I love what I do and I feel lucky that have this. Very lucky. No complaints. Just anticipation.

And to pick up my mood yet further.........Bill tells me that his jazz band is going to be announced on go!! And more gigs to follow. You guys rock!! (and hopefully you will pay off the new keyboard after a few gigs...heh...heh...heh...and then we can talk about my scanner...hee hee hee)

No deadlines yet....but.......

Reading these posts about deadlines, as I dummy, makes me realize what an extended process this book making business is. It is a series of steps. With no guarantees. Strategic planning would help though.

Right now it is no pressure as I am doing spec and random art samples only, and if I ever submit again, mss. The writing is going to stay here, with me for now. Submitting both is becoming too much. Maybe because my stories are not hooky enough...yet. But my stories are still breathing and maturing. And I like them. I never disliked my own writing. Ever. And I compare a lot to what is out there and I just don't get it. But maybe I am an idiot. I don't know.

I might get brave and send a dummy to AAL, but I am so not sure and insecure and...and...and...

Once that contracted deadline looms the pressure will show its face. A flushed face I remember all too well. My low blood pressure will begin to stabilize.

Going back to work will serve its purpose here, if not for preparing me once more for deadlines. It took me a month to get back into a rigorous work routine. And to feel confident and productive.

And that doesn't mean dinner on the table or laundry in the washer. 

A Snow Day**************


*I can work on my book all day...yay...yay...yay...*

*In my warm little studio...ho...ho...ho...*

Sunday, February 17, 2008


"Thank you, mommy for correcting my grammar all these years."

I am no wiz but I am more than decent. I love grammar, vocabulary and to some degree spelling. Punctuation is pain the a@@.

And the upcoming SATs have been so much fun to relive.

Take one Ephemeral every six hours and your migraine will be fleeting just like mine.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Too much information running through my brain

too much information driving me insane. No this is not "The Police" music.

I read a few thoughtful and generous blogs over the last few days regarding the mid-winter SCBWI New York conference. Well, I have to say for the most part as someone who truly cares about, loves, has studied and worked on pbs...the pb consensus made me completely depressed. (Thank you, Arthur for being what appears the sole optimist for speaking up... you seem to have that effect on your audience and me, as well...and I believe you. I couldn't do this anymore if it weren't for people like you...really. We should call you King Arthur of the Round Table. Let's have a round of applause).

Unless, of course this proclamation was used as a deterrent for the ninety-percent of conference submissions that aren't good enough etc.. (that might be a good reason to wave the night sticks).

I guess my point is not to read too much into everything you hear. Perhaps that is why I am trying to wean myself from the Blue Boards, etc. (I DO love them but lately it has been a real creative and motivational suck and I don't need that...real artists just do). And I want to go back to five years ago when I was fresh and happy and couldn't wait to get behind the illustration board. And that disappeared for too long because of all this extraneous extradraineous stuff.

This is called gunk. Real artists use their eyes (for visualizing), their minds (for solving problems and creating which is perhaps the same thing) and souls (for giving their stories and characters life, heart, hope and personality). Not their ears (unless it is music of course).

And the stuff that I read recently is not music to my ears.

I want someone to use my talent not suppress it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I like to draw poopoos and peepees in my children's illustrations. How do I make them most effective in picture books? Is there some limit as to how far I can go?

Oh my god, no. You can shoot for the moon. You can do a Jackson Pollock splattering effect. You could just color the whole page brown and write 'poop' for the text (of course that would have to be drop-out type). What a great idea!! I just know people will love it....I mean poople... or peeple...get it???? You're gonna be rich!!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I am sick. I hate being sick. I wanted to write a blogical in the worst way but all that comes out is globbishness.

I tried to work on my gargoyle and all that came out was garglob.

I went to my paying place and had a tete a tete with my boss. My globheadedness left her for dead.

And tonight is my daughter's Nat'l Honor Soglobitty Ceremony. I was supposed to ladle a loving cup but instead I cradle a croupy cough.

The light at the end of my globstrel is Dave and Bill's jazz gig at a local club on V-Day. I hope I feel better by then.

Post suck. My kids are having a look at my gargoyle character and have mixed feelings about the size of his cuppy ears. Bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller. I suppose that has to do with how much he has to drink. There is always food for thought and room for change.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I am spending a large amount of time on my gargoyle dummy. The third I've done. The first is obsolete, the second a precurser to the third.

I have a theory. If every picture book writer could dummy as they write, chances are, they would have an easier time writing. Now that will never happen. And I don't dummy as I write, either. But I do change my text after I dummy (I did not initially).

My problem now is that I don't always agree that the problem should be stated right away. For one thing, the problem could be something shown in the visual, or something that seeps out in the first few pages. But I know certain editors insist on that. I have decided not to dwell on it.
That rests.

Pacing. What I have learned is that the first few spreads are a set up (including problem) the middle is real plot, and the ending three or so pages wrap everything up with a twist or something interesting at the end. I can handle that.

I just don't want my stories to be canned, formulaic, campy or cheesy. So even though these rules apply, they are not a template for me.

As I write and dummy I keep asking myself how can I express myself beautifully, clearly, logically, and with humor and heart, and appeal to a child. And if you are writing a fantastical situation you must remember that your character no matter how fantastical, embodies a child.
So you put yourself as child in that situation and give your character the same fears, insecurities and hope etc. for his situation that could be yours were you him. So here I am up on this cathedral like it is my bedroom, or school playground...whatever. And I think about what my character wants and the things he needs to go though to get it.

This is not an easy book to write but if I get it together it will be so worth it, and it is coming together!!

That is how you (or I should say, I must write). And that is why this dummy and writing are a process.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Have you ever gone outside into a snsnsnsnowstorm to ppppaint? I jjjusttt ddddid. Mmmmyy ppaintbbrush ssstututuck to the cccanvasss. I cccan't ffffeeeel mmmy ffffingers.

Oh yes, bravo for you!! You braved the elements. This is called en plein air painting. Doesn't it feel great!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I am not a birdbrain

but I do love birds and drawing them. I always found them to be expressive in movement, face and song.

This one is old and fairly simple yet it captures the mood and tone of the story line.

Essentially, the chorus line of finches drives a cat out of his mind until he becomes a birdbrain.

This story will never get published, either

Monday, February 4, 2008


I can't tell you how angry I am right now. My utterances are ineffable. How am I supposed to illustrate a picture book that doesn't have any words in it? Oh, wait a minute. Here is one. Honk.
Oh, make that three. Honk honk honk. How am I supposed to know if they want a car or a goose?

Cars beep. Geese honk. And so do blowing noses. But if you don't believe me you can always ask the writer what he has in mind.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Blood money.

In a thoroughly depressing conversation yesterday, a nice woman expressed her admiration for my (our) fortitude. "You artists have so much to work against," she said. 

"You must do it for love," she continued.

You got it, lady. 

Illustration=love. Another easy formula.

Altho, money would be a close second.

Illustration=love=money. The formula is getting a little more advanced but you can't go on if you don't grasp it.

Now pass me another Bloody Mary.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Will you illustrate my haiku book for me...for free?


I have learned to say it so easily and effortlessly recently. I swear, I come home from a big blow out Bat Mitzvah and two people are writing books. And this is what they ask me. My retort is "Only if I am under a paying contract. Period. And that would be a genuine publisher's contract."

Seriously, everybody and their mother is writing a book. It is crazy. And scary.

I realize I am one of them but let's get real. This is something I have been working at for years. And I know not to ask such a cavalier (altho tonight it was caviar) question.

And illustrating is, um, work. For me that means money. Ya know.

Illustrating=Work=Money. Simple formula.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rub a dub sub

Another publisher is keeping my art samples....yay, yay, yay! I love coming home to good news. 

It makes all the stinky rejections sink.

And it motivates me to do more.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Great Monet Breakaway

Or why is this creature being attacked by a giant lily pad? I don't know what provoked me to do this. But I had these mad visions of images in paintings attacking their viewers in retaliation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What makes the illustration and writing great in a pb

For me...that is easy.

Soul, personality and gumption. And originality to boot. And part of the creator's mind.

To me all the technical skill in the world can't match the five things above.

Using the opposite side of the brain

can benefit the most frequented side. I started a part time job in finance. Two minutes or less from home (eeeeyesss). I like it. It is challenge for someone like me who is good with language(s), art, music and the like. But numbers are another story.

But I like it and my boss loves me and is teaching me the biz from the inside out. She's mentoring me. "You can decide if this is something you want to pursue and eventually get a license to do it or not."

Me, I don't know yet. I don't know where this is going to go but I've got to do something. Because I need something for me. The kids are independent, my art is out, I know what kind of writing I want to do, and with all my hope and heart maybe someday I will find the right person but until then I need something real (even if it is the shitty, volatile stock market...)

What does this have to do with illustration anyway? Zippo bippo. But it kills the waiting. And makes some money. I like money.

But still I can't WAIT to get back to the drawing table...........the most frequented side of my brain is there. If this ever takes off and becomes tangible, then I'll revisit and review the situation.

But a normal together person cannot keep going like this with hope against hope. And luck ( son won an Ipod Nano today in a raffle of 500 happens...he really did ...LUCK...yet I digress)

Right now I need something real that I can hold onto and see results in.

So the point I nimbly make is keep going toward the "dream" but don't make the dream a nightmare. Be happy...keep doing what you are good at ...and something ELSE you might be good at...especially if it is offered to you. You never know. The opposite side of the brain can do wonders for the frequented side of the brain.

Chin up. Go forward and finish that illustration or two.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

You know you are writer when

you get a form letter and you know it is one before you even open the envelope. You hold it up to the light. You read the publisher letterhead and feel for some kind of texture (a signature with real ink....gasp??? Not this time). No there isn't one... this it is Pfftt right into the garbage can. No emotion, no effort, just that one handed-toss that you have perfected over the years. With your left hand if you are a rightie and vv.

For me, my right hand is for making art, and the left hand is for taking aim.

I am an artist, not a thing to throw away. You throw me away and I throw you away,too. Cathartic. I may never get anywhere in this insane business. But you will never make me feel like I am not good enough. I love to create and as I said before I hate to sub. I really hate it. If I could find one editor who loves my work that is all I would want. And to keep making wonderful art/mss. I don't like all this agent/editor subbing and I'm not good at it. But I am good at the art part and the writing is coming together.

And if you hear enough feedback sometimes it feels like clutter.

I know what to do and what not to do. But there is so much flippetygibbit to filter and after a while you start to wonder what is right or wrong. This is where that post came in about trusting yourself and staying true to yourself enough so that when the times comes you can trust your editor.

Feeling GROUCHY yet productive and confident. I did a lot today. And it turned out well. My standards of course. Two sketches a day and I hope to be done in a week...she says sheepishly. I feel great about my art and better about my writing. I have noticed that dummying a ms really helps with the writing in the end.

And as you can see, rejection letters are annoyances...kind of like flies on great food.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Favorite new picture books

Editorial Anonymous talked about her/his favorite picture books from last year and because I LOVE EA's blog I had to check them out.

Yes, 'That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown' is delightful.

And it is me. Through and through. I loved everything about it. The story, the artwork and the "speaking to children" aspect. It does all three to me. Just the way I like it.

And I bought my son 'Wednesday Wars'. Another recommendation.

My bookstore sales clerk likes me. And knows me.

I hope some day she will be selling me.

Dummy smarts

For my last dummy, rather than binding, or folding in half, or stapling whatever, I took apart an ITOYA 8.5" x 11" portfolio. I took the clear sleeves apart from the black plastic cover. Then I inserted the individual sketches. And dps' are(were) simply two singles facing each other. That way if there were changes, it wouldn't be such a big deal to re-do the dummy. The only drawback is that it must be portrait. I wish I could find a landscape version of such a portfolio.

And I can scan at home rather than xerox at a copy center.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I am picture book writer who is niew to industry. My story is about crane who delivers babies to Ukraine but they all get sick. It is called SIBERIA,YOU ARE BACTERIA. I try to send story to editors. But they refuse to open. Why this?

I hear ya. I once wrote a story called The Bacteria Bear about my two-year-old's loved to death teddy (and no editor would open the envelope).

Children's book editors LOVE foreign writers, but I must say bacteria is a word favored by science and medical book editors.

Send it to them with samples. Just specify the sample names on the envelope. Or include them with your mss.

Dos vedanya!

Literary/commercial/literary/commercial.... aaaagh

I spent a part of today rewriting a picture book but too much of that was wondering if it is commercial or literary. This is a complete waste of energy to me because how can a writer possibly know what the outcome is going to be. And why can't the two coincide?

I tend to write pretty (even if it is gross), elegant (even if it is a gargoyle or the like), funny (smart not slapstick) and wry (I love irony and I always have). Does that mean literary? How the heck do I know that?

I am a doer and think too much. But am no judge when it comes to yours truly.

Getting back to literary for a moment. I know what literary is. It has depth. It is beautifully written. It has a real story floating out of the written/plot story. It has impact. It lingers. It haunts.

All that commercial means to me is that it appeals to lots of people. That is about it.

So if it is neither literary nor commercial it is....

in trouble.

Avoiding the inevitable...

my studio. It is a complete and utter disaster (worse than my kids' rooms and that is BAD). At least there is not stuff growing in the rugs.

I get tired just looking at it. I don't even know where to begin. Kind of like starting a dummy...but instead you have everything everywhere not nothing anywhere.

So today I started the dummy and I started my studio. The dummy has about 14 or so undone illustrations to show for it. The studio has about 100 done illustrations to show for it.

But I can't finish the dummy until I finish the studio. Because I can't find anything.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Husband home sick today. Kids home today. And I finished an illustration I started yesterday. Yay.

This project is going to be a combination of collage/mixed media and watercolor. I might even add photography if I am daring enough. 

I love trying new things. And I know that one should be good enough and confident enough with new materials to venture into new territory.

I have decided that out of the ten or so mss I have written, five or maybe six of them are projects I wish to pursue in the future. 

And Monsieur Gargoyle is the one commanding my attention right now. He looks a hell of a lot different than he did years ago. You wouldn't even know him.

The question is should I send him back to his former jilters, or send him into new and open arms.

Well, I have time to think about it. And time has become nothing to me. Quality and knowledge have replaced it. Maybe I just think too much.


Pudders, why did you choose this background for your blog, pray tell?

Why it is because I like ellipses...of course.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I am an illustrator who juggles all kinds of contact lenses and glasses all day long. For heaven's sake, I have twelve pairs of glasses and three different pairs of color coordinated contacts. Sometimes I even resort to a monocle. I try to wear glasses or contacts that match my attire and make me feel like an illustration fashionista. But, it is so tiem consmuing, looking all ovre the plcae for the rihgt piar. And it is strating to afefct my vsion adn illostrusion. Waht do you sugesgt?

Oh, what a bother. I know. Have you been to an opthomologist? I was given the best advice recently from mine. He said, that if you do very detailed, precise work, it is best to wear nothing at all.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Love makes the manuscript go round

I am one of those people who will never give up on something that I believe in. I am one of those people who if I had lost something I loved I would try like the dickens to get it back.

I am also one of those people who can walk away when others say you must keep submitting this. I mean I can say, "No, I don't really love this enough to blanket the town with it."

Which brings me to a story I wrote years ago about a little gargoyle. Except at the time he wasn't little. He was big and ugly. He got lots of requests but no one wanted to keep him. They didn't love him enough.

Well, I figured out why. One being that he was too big and ugly. He was also too long, too versical (is that a word?) and didn't have enough conflict/resolution in his life to make him appealing and interesting.

Then I rewrote it completely and kept some of the language I loved, but mostly I made it much shorter and bashed the rhyme into rhythmic prose.

Then my computer crashed and I lost it. And then I lost it. I went into a temporary manic depression as I had no back up or hard copy to speak of. I stopped writing. I stopped making art. I stopped. For a pretty long while. (Sulking sucks...don't do it.)

Then my husband said (and was probably thinking I can't live with this woman unless she writes again), "Rewrite it. Just do it."

I looked at him, cried and said, "I can't do this."

He said, "Yes, you can."

"Okay, you are always right...usually," I said.

So I rewrote it slowly trying to remember the basic elements of the story. The lines that I laughed at came back in trickles. This was tough.

And now after a long while, my gargoyle is as cute and funny as a little gargoyle can be. He's got a problem or two that I hope kids will find endearing and he solves them too. And he does something magical for everyone to ooh and aah at. And he's got hope and vulnerability to boot. And he gets what he wants. (There are four 'Ands' beginning sentences in this paragraph but I don't care.)

But he still must be properly dummied. SMILE.

So the moral is, if you really believe in something and love it with all your heart...and if at first you don't succeed...try, try again.

But only if you LOVE it.

And if you don't have back up or hard copy, you are going to get screwed.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The most important thing that I remember...

besides the fact that I hate taking notes is..........

there were very few newbie questions and such. There were one or two but thankfully, no one dwelled upon them. I put my face in my hands and counted to ten. And then the coast was clear.

And one of the eds used the F word a few times and that picked me up. Phew.

Why can't there be more events like this... small (like less than thirty people), nice cosy Ottoman type place (until the Salsa got going in the next harem...I almost went over there), cheap heavy drinks and cool, low key, smart and savvy, approachable people...and free (well...yeah). Nice.

And subdued lighting.

It is not that I don't like regular conferences. But I am finding them less helpful. And definitely more beginner. When you start to outgrow message boards, conferences and the like, does that mean trust yourself more? I think so.

An editor held up a copy of "The Arrival" and talked about how much he loved it.

Will I ever produce anything that good?

What I really need is a writer/illustrator who knows a lot about pbs (experienced)...and who is super talented... to critique with. And I haven't found anyone near me. I don't think I could do this thru a computer. Isolation is frustration.

Back to work. Must get samples out. Must finish dummy. Must work on queries. Must must must dust.

I am in a DAYS or What else do I remember from last night?

This is hard because I know that I had a martini, and it was enormous, and it was so strong it tasted like glue. Yuck. Usually, drinks are so watered down or puny that I spend too much money on them.

This one wasn't any part of that last sentence. I finished it over the course of the seminar and my questions were not garbled or unintelligible.

Queries. I talked to a published author who said he spends DAYS on them. What other word in this previous sentence makes the word DAYS meaningful?

The eds said to make it clear why you are picking them. Make it clear that you know their tastes, their line and what your book is really about and why would someone want it to read it.

Comparisons are fine but don't say your book is the next thing (that they already have). Read their webpages.

PB writers: you are telling part of the story. Your PB is not yet a pb (that is easy for me but I imagine it is harder if you don't illustrate).

The market now is tougher than ever (but I see some awesome pbs out there so there).

YA is all about VOICE. They are always looking for new and fresh voices (good thing I didn't stand too close to the eds after that martini).

Try to understand the difference between institutional, library, school Sometimes that is hard.

I have a lot to do. DAYS of work.

A Tale of Two Editors

Not really. They were certainly not polar opposites. But a few different takes on writing, submissions etc..

Anyhow....WOW! While it is fresh in the ole brain....................

I attended this seminar last night and came home feeling exhilarated, enlightened and inspired. Boy, did I need this right now. And I learned how they want their writer/illustrator submissions presented (which is nice because it seems different folks want different strokes (i.e. dummies or no dummies...worded in...not worded in.). I went up and asked. I am getting braver.

This was one of the best sessions I've been to. Not only were they funny (which I need) but they were honest, informative, human and genuinely in love with great books. And they said that buying a ms means you have fallen in love with it. Of course, it does. Would you work on something if you didn't love it? (That applies to marriage as well..the problem with that is it never ends).

And it seems a big thing they want to see in writing (and I have to believe art) is the creator's PERSONALITY. ........yeah. And I am also going to say LIFE and CHARACTER. I know when I buy a book that is the first thing I notice...or don't notice and don't buy.

They also said to stick with one genre/format and make it GREAT (over and over) before you move on to another. There is too much mediocrity out there.

Word lengths of picture books....lots of rolling of the eyes. Can you have a 2000 word pb?....sometimes...yes. Depends. These rules we hear OVER and OVER again are not set in stone.

Are pbs always 32 pages? NO. (BTW...I've noticed MANY pbs now are longer....yay!! )

The only time a non-artist writer should send illos is when it is a concept book.

Illustrator notes pretty much only for contradictions. Even then not really necessary.

Will editors look at writer/illustrators for a first book ?.....YES!!!!!! But they also might not. Depends.

Re: Agents. The consensus seems to careful (you are putting a lot of trust in someone).
As a matter of fact, both seemed to think first timers should go right to the editor, if possible.

Anyway, I realize now how much work I have to do before I sub to them. WHEW!!

On a lighter note, a friend of mine was there and he just got his novel pubbed by one of them. Way to go!!

And maybe another commercial at my house... the location scouts are coming back for a second look. EEEP.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Why is a dummy called a dummy? I mean I do them, and I am not stupid.

Oh course you are not.

I believe the original meaning comes from Alexandre Dumas. He had to come up with dumb things that musketeers might do if they were challenged by Cardinals (my favorite birds) and Dauphins (my favorite sea mammals). So he wrote a mock up book about these guys and it was so good that they eventually made it into a movie. And you know, movies are visual. So the producers said give us a dummy, Dumas. And he did. The term stuck.

The really cool thing is that there is an extra muskateer. Can you find him?

His name is d'Artagnan.

Just ask Martin Handford. Where's d'Artagnan???

When are you satisfied?

When you work on something and it comes out in a way that you did not in sigh...better. You get a high from it. Sometimes you struggle for a while until you get it, but then it happens. And when it happens it is euphoric. People who don't do this neither understand nor appreciate this (and why should they?).

I'm having a good day.

What are we working on today?

"When are you going to come down...when are you going to land..."

Swiss cheese kites.

There has got to be a way to make those mice come back down.

Kites?? Maybe I should send this into the Bulletin.