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.