Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spending a day at the Met

and what a wonderful day it was.

Yesterday was a return trip to another one of my favorite places, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every time I go there I come away with new insight on a few art works. Because the trouble is that the museum is so vast you almost have to focus on a select few rooms, art pieces and/or periods. You can only take so much in at one time. It can be overwhelming.

We, all five of us spent the entire day there. But the main reason for going this time was Charlotte's insistence on being our personal educator of Baroque Flemish/Dutch art -- her first Art History course at University. And she knows her stuff, apparently. And she LOVES it to death.

I never appreciated this group as much as I do now knowing what they were really after. They were after reaching the mind and soul of their subjects. Getting into their heads. They were after the "right now, right at this very moment."

(I kept insisting that it was all about the light source (optics), the geometrics, the multiple rooms. But that apparently is not the most important discovery these masters contributed.)

Rembrandt -- It is also about what you emphasize and what you choose to leave out. And getting into the mind.

What really made my day tho, was what my husband said about a latter day famous Dutch painter's (van Gogh's) work, a painting featuring a man, his young son and his wife tending an overgrown garden. He remarked on the storytelling, the fact that it pulled you in and found a spot in his mind, the right here and now. He remarked on how the subjects felt about tending the garden, how the garden had a life of its own and how van Gogh used his own imagination to bring the painting to life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deserts wanted to teacher holiday luncheon:

Oh, I'll bring these!!!!!!!!!

Dried fruitcakes

Evaporated Christmas pudding

Sun Baked Trifle

Fried Ice Cream

(PTA Newsletter Headlines can be funny... or not)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Favorite pbs and what matters to me as writer/artist of picture books

because what matters matters.

And after being thankful and full of turkey, I want/need to find sustenance in something more than calories.

So I weigh out those meaningless calories... those being words, cliches and stereotypes, and think about great pbs I love...the latest being "The Curious Garden."

I savor this book because:

The mc child affects the plot therefore making a difference. The mc cares about the outcome, and causes and changes it. And it is not about him and his issues. It is about what he believes in. It is about what he cares about. Essentially, he is a hero.

And the illustrations are amazing. The illustrator cares beyond compare. It is his book and it shows.

The mc is a hero and the emphasis is really off of him.

The approach is fresh, not cliched and non-didactic.

There is a real story and growth of character and some conflict. It follows the sole creator's vision and passion and interpretation, and indeed his inspiration. The creator cares about what he writes and illustrates and it shows.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It is not safe anywhere

(or just keep your yap shut)

Yesterday I visited one of my favorite locales, my local art supply store. I always have fun there and usually spend more than I intended... (oh, that pretty piece of handmade paper). I can use that, I know I can. I'll just buy it and put it my grand stack-o-collage papers waiting for a project. We stare at each other a lot, those papers and I. Some people collect stamps. Some people collect rocks. I collect beautiful paper.

But all I really needed on this trip was some Itoya(sos)dummy binders and some illustration board.

Doesn't seem like much to excite the average person but I always get more than I bargained for at my local art store.

As I approaced the cashier I noticed the conversation between the cashier (a young aspiring and cute artist) and an elderly, clueless woman making a purchase.

"What media do you work in young man?"

"Oh, I used to work in oils but now I am going digital?"

"Really, why?"

"Well, they are so expensive and I really want to be an illustrator."

"Oh. Have you done any books?"

(Oh, God I can't help I say)

"You need these Itoyas to make your book dummies (you cute cashier you)."

They both look at me, and my purchases.

"What media do you work in?"

"Primarily collage/mixed media."

"Are you an illustrator?"


"What do you illustrate?"

(God help me now.)

"Children's books."

(God help me.)

"I wrote a children's book. Can you illustrate it for me?"

"I am booked up for the next ten years...sorry."

(I lied.)


And she left without a trace... (of how this business works).

And the cute cashier looked down at the register, and thought about what I said. Maybe I got through.

And this customer walked out, drove home and marched up to her clean, organized studio, and began another piece of art.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When time is dictated by a machine

I spent four hours today scanning, printing and assembling four copies of one dummy. Four/4 hours at 60 minutes each.

I am not even sure I am going to send all but one. And it probably won't even be accepted.

32 pieces of paper times 4 is 128 pieces of paper. Right?

128 pieces of paper.

Publishers should start accepting edummies or CDs. Faster, more economical, and no or little postage. Really. Instead of thirty-two dollars (a dollar a page) to mail it would cost me 2 or 3 dollars. I figure that when I finally get bought I will have made a net loss.... (JK... better not.)

The system needs an overhaul. And when I get published I am going to lead the cause into action.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


This weekend we watched The Exorsister, The Amightyville Horror, The Sick Sense, Poultryghost.

I love children.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween memories

I love Halloween now, and I loved Halloween as a kid. And luckily the one year that I missed it as an expat was not a total loss... as we celebrated Fasching in Munich (kinda like the Februation of Mardi Gras in N'Orleans and Shrove Tuesday in Britain) but not really the same.

The concept of dress up and parading around the neighborhood in the dark on a candy mission is priceless. And scary things falling out of the sky. Tripping over terror. Getting nickels instead of Neccos.

So as tribute to this wonderful day I finished my third doll installment! And I am so very happy with it. And now I get to dummy it. Dummies for mummies.

And I've taken my memories good and bad, happy and sad, and wrote with that. Bittersweet, batty, heartfelt and funny.

Now we will see how it evolves once again.

Hopefully, I'll finish the dummy by Christmas. And then I'll get the inspiration to dummy that story too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

7 Days Until Halloween

I don't have a pumpkin,

have not decked the house

I ain't got no candy

I am such a louse

My son has no costume

it hasn't yet shipped

This mom is unraveled

completing her script

I have just one page left

and then I must dummy

my Halloween story

like a good mummy

And the goal is to get this first draft done by Halloween which is a week from today. It has been a productive weekend but obviously things don't always go according to plan. It is coming along nicely though, and I think it will be done in by the end of the week. I want it finished so I can start laying the dummy which changes things for the rewrite. It is all like a puzzle really.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am bored and when I get bored I

look at other illustrators sites and get ideas that take me out of my comfort zone.

So last weekend I attended my daughter's Parent's Weekend at UVa (home of Edgar Allen Poe who pretended he was rich but he was really po, Faulkner, Couric... Jefferson?!!) and Grisham's home town. We visited their small yet classy Art Museum. Of course we saw the Jeffersonian architectural drawings of all his campus "Grounds" buildings and quadrangle "Lawns" landscapes which are so beautiful and smart. And freshman here are not freshman. They are 'first year'. And sophomores here are not sophomores. They are 'second year' etc. etc.. And don't you ever forget that... you parents, you! But ooooh, ooooh, ooooh..what's this?

Did I see a coupla Goya? Original Hogarth? Original Odilon? Odilon of Poe(dilon)?
I did.

Yes, some of my favorite illustrators of yore were making appearances that weekend. I have always been a sucker for Goya because his simple illustrations tell stories. Pierrots. Pastiches. Pasquinades.

And Hogarth's while they are far from simple say multitudes about society and politics in yester England. I never imagined his Gin Lane and the Beer Street to be so 'libational.' Water in London and the like was not water back then. It was 'im'potable, impossible, unthinkable, undrinkable. So Hogarth made a caricature about how booze embodied and 'de'souled society.
The downfall of it all. Happiness in a glass. A glass half empty perhaps but nevertheless an underclass with a glass of libation and liberation even if fleeting.

But these illustrations are black and bleak.


I've tried black and white but I can't seem to stick with it. I love color. Lots of color. Color is hope and ...

I must try something new. So I've looked at some of my favorite NEW illustrators and have decided to try these awesome monochromatic techniques. But I adore these artists who stay in one color range and I simply have to try it.

And more white space.

It is like writing for me. I love to try new things that I read that I love. I don't think I am ready to leave the picture book arena altho I would love to attack middle grade illustrations. As long as there is humor, heart, cleverness, structure and sophistication...

So tomorrow I have the day off. The day to finish that rough draft of my Halloween doll story since we are coming up on that Hallowed Day, the day to lay out the colors and ideas for portfolio illustrations and to scrutinize and fine tune my pig dummy. And maybe find a few new Mother Gooses to 'besterdize' my collection of Up in the Air Verses.

Lots of irons in the fire. But that is me...

And I started the art and it is going to be a fun challenge. Working in confines. Like writing picture books. I love challenge. That is creativity!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When what you write goes where you never thought it would

I never thought I'd be writing a continued character pb book. But here I am on number three. You know that if you are in this situation that you are obsessed and in love with the first book. But what you really know is your character and her actions, and that she is doing something uniquely her own, how the setting and situation can evolve and what the story has to be about.

Why, half a paragraph down on the first page...I know it is right. :)

And how.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I got twittered by a teacher!

I am not much of a twitterbrain or a twitterbug or a twitterbird or whatever you call it because I don't have the time nor the inclination, and would rather invest same in my books and art and LIFE... got twittered by a teacher I know who vaguely knows me and knows my kids well ...who has taught my kids...well.

Not a writertwitterati, mind you, but a twitterteacher.

Someday sweet teacher I will be reading my pb biography to your students.

How cool is that? What a way to start the dreary day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why it is so hard for people like me to get noticed

I saw this on Craig's List today:

I am in need of a publisher who can publish my children's book.

blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah

(this was in the NJ Bergen County jobs section)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A kinder, gentler keyboard

Finally, a keyboard I can live with. And type with.

The kind that produces quiet clicks, a gentle touch and a springy action.

It feels good on the finger pads. It bounces the letters along.

It is responsive.

And I finished the dummy of an old and majorly overhauled script. Only took a few years but it is here and it is so much better than the original. I like it.


I have a lot of irons in the fire and a few of them are gonna get bought. I know it.

Including this one if I can help it.

Thank you critique groups. Thank you editors.

Now back to retyping the manuscript on my new keyboard.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Momming in the Morning

On the pleasant, stress-free drive to school today I tried to have a love-in, tender 'mom'ent with my thirteen year old son.

"Did you remember to bring your lunch?"


"Did you remember to brush your teeth?"


"Did you finish all of your homework?"


"You look nice today!"

"You don't."

"Hey, watch your mouth!"

"How do I watch my mouth? I am too busy watching yours."

"True dat, Henry."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Double entendre anyone?

"I am up for renewal myself, and probably will not renew. I rarely read the discussion board anymore, have established contacts, know how to write and submit, realize the importance of hooks and market knowledge, and can find pretty much anything on the net if I dig enough. And I know my local SCBWI conference coordinators for possible events....

And from this....

I also have a kid in college and thus much less expendable income. Ouch. (Those dummies cost a lot to send out!)"

...a reply from a friend of mine on the Blue who shall remain anonymous here was:

"Ok, obviously it's been a long day (six hours pressure-washing my fence & deck)--but I thought those sentences had something to do with each other! "

Waking up to a laugh is the best way to start a day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Are you supposed to work on Labor Day?

Got a funny email from my college kid today asking if was going to work today.

Well, no. You don't work on Labor day. Technically, no one works on Labor Day. That actually applies to one of our computers as well.

And everyone around my house seems to be doing something constructive right now.

But I am working. I am redoing a dummy after a ms critique. Except it is not just work. It is fun. Especially when I start laughing uncontrollably at some of the scenarios I've created. This is why I do what I do. Because it gives great pleasure

I love humor and devising funny situations. And angry, sad, confused and curious ones. Because that is what life is. I have a hard time with illustrations where everyone is smiling all the time. People don't smile all the time. They are not wooden and plastic. Or sheep. Or computers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I want all of my characters to have real guts.

Maybe because I don't. I am too emotional. But I can give them what I have always wanted in myself.

So all of my characters will be heroes.

I finished a second page of my continued pb doll Christmas story. I thought it would be easy in that I could just fill a template using the first, but no that is not true. 

These books look simple but there is so much going on not only in the plotting but the art. This is not a language driven story probably because it is first person. But the language is snappy and brisk and lyrical.

Now figuring how the individual dolls work in this one, the important doll and how to bring the spirit of Xmas thru. A challenge but a fun one.

I love writing and plotting and structure of such more than ever.  But my characters must be just as important.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If Walls Could Talk

Once upon a time there was a little girl who moved into a small dorm room at a big university. 
She had big plans to make her small room complete. But she was going to be sharing her room with someone else.

So she emailed and Facebooked her roommate weeks before the big day to see what her roommate would bring.

On move-in day the little girls moved big and little things around and talked refrigerator and microwave and printer and scanner talk. Everything fit nicely. Fans and cables and outlets and surge protectors worked seamlessly, and bedspreads and rugs didn't clash too much.

But the real test presented itself with the finishing touches.

The posters!

Charlotte was warned.

Erika was warned.

The face off began (and as far as I know is still going strong)

The stare down between Edward and Harry continues. Who will win?

(My guess is Harry. Because Harry will be a classic. It probably already is.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It is a small voild after oil.....

The world is a small and strange place sometimes. And strange bedfellows can coexist in close quarters of one another.

I (we) just got an invite to a fundraiser party here in town hosted by one of the creators of "Dora the Explorah." Not book I would choose... but so what.....millions do... so.....and it bridges a gap between Spanish and English speaking children

(And it for a great cause: Jazz House Kids...that is what matters) :)

The welcome mat is out. Come in and explore.

Maybe we will schedule permitting.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Can you do five things at once? Or how to get around a tunnel.

You multitasker you!

Reading various opines on writing series and sequels today, and coincidently I am writing a continued pb story based on a character book I am subbing.

Husband asks crazy woman? You haven't sold the first yet (errr...grrr...I haven't subbed it too much either...just a little)

No, I am not a Neanderthal. I have an idea. I like it and I want to work on it. And then maybe another one. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe no one will buy the first. But I wouldn't write it if I didn't feel another story growing from the first. I am keeping common elements and shifting others. And reading PB series books that work and trying to figure out why.

And doing a few dummies of other stories, and illustrations, and writing others.

Call me crazy. Call me nuts. But I wouldn't be doing this at all if I were totally sane. Passion and a bit of crazy (no, gumption!) make a happy writer/illusrator.

Plus, I like to work on different things at once or else I get tunnel vision. Never liked going through tunnels.

And to continue. Don't listen too much to others. Just enough to what you need. Trust yourself cuz you got nobody else.

Right now listening to River Dance and it is forever music to my ears.

Write/make art and love with your heart.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advice from advice

I've been reading up on some of my favorite illustrators and author/illustrators.

One who has been intriguing me for years is Marla Frazee. Today I read about her workshops and how she encourages her students to go deep. I take that to mean to go deep in themselves as their childhood selves. Of course. Real feelings, emotions, experiences. And to make a real story around that...not a slice or issue. Nothing inane, superficial or forgettable fluff. (And to me an adventure with an unusual yet hopefully grabbing plot structure.)

And then I read about Steven Malk who really stresses the dummy mock ups for submission (OF COURSE...C'MON...OF COURSE). I do not think author/illustrator submissions work without the proof in the dummy. And this has been clarified to me recently by editors, art directors and illustrators. SEND THE DUMMIES TO THE ART DEPARTMENT. And wait. 
(Advice from nice Knopf editor who really was genuine to me...I love Michele...yes you!)


And I love how Mem Fox talks about writing from experience not imagination. That is what makes stories eternal. Amen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art Nest or "Birdie out of Control"

My HAWT NEST is a mess.

You know that you've been working hard when your work space encroaches all around you and you can't get up without stepping on what might be a valuable piece of paper. Or an exacto-knife or a French Curve or a wooden posable figure with sharp appendages.

My work space is small. The ceilings are cracked, sloped to roof-line and in need of a fresh coat of paint. Cept there is so much taped to the walls that you don't even notice.

I love my little haven. Because it is mine. My messy space. It holds my ideas and blood sweat and tears (anyone for Lucretia McEvil?). It is pure heaven.

Someday I am going to paint it and fix the cracks. But it won't be with house paint. Actually, forget the paint. I might collage the whole thing. Yes, I'll turn on the air-conditioner and collage that HAWT NEST.

But first I must flawk around and clean it up so I can work on new stuff. 

Two types of writers, two types of illustrators, two types of editors

Oooooh. This going to be a weird topic and I mean no offence or judgement in my post. Just an observation (and I could be wrong, of course).

I've met and spoken to many writers, illustrators and editors over the years trying to find myself in my own work and what I have found is:

There seems to be an internal responder and an external responder (here comes the sociologist in me). What I mean is some folks look for and react to the inner feelings of the work at hand and some look for and react to the outer/external.

I am a bit of both but I would say that the internal wins out. And I have noticed that books that have the internal are my favorites.

Now I am going to lay on the couch and talk to my shrink.


Back to the morning writing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

So You Want to Be A Children's Picture Book Illustrator

(Or, I Was You Not Long Ago) but I listened and I learned, and I put together an appropriate portfolio and I keep adding to it.

To the wannabes:

"I am a graphic designer who wants to illustrate picture books."

"I am a portraitist. I am ready to start illustrations for a picture book."

"Look at my lovely landscapes. I have illustrated a picture book called Arborvity Visits The Arboretum. I wrote it too. They say you can lead a horticulturalist to a swamp but you can't make her drink. (Or maybe it was you can't make her can't make her do anything)."

"My pet pictures lend themselves to storytelling. They are anatomically correct. You can tell the males from the females...look see!!! And they are pristinely rendered. A hair in every place."
(Maybe it should be facial hair and body language...tattoos for the older kids?)

Listen up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Illustrating (and writing picture books) is a required skill (and if paired with talent, inspiration and innovation...a gift). Beautiful doesn't count (at least not all by itself).


VISUAL STORYTELLING....dah dah ta da dah daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! :)

FACIAL EXPRESSION AND BODY LANGUAGE (she sank to the floor when her teddy bear lost his squeak)

KNOWING THE AGE OF YOUR READER AND REMEMBERING CHILDHOOD, SENSITIVITY (I am never, ever cleaning my room.... and btw that trait seems to linger into adulthood.)

ACTION, INTERACTION, REACTION WITH CHARACTERS...a smirk often says more than a smile.

PACING...take chances here...don't be afraid...(otherwise you'll be formulaic). I am a firm believer in taking chances after you've memorized the rules.

Added bonuses:

INSPIRATION...this comes from the unique you and only you...find it and nurture it and keep it going from book to book.

INNOVATION...this also comes from the unique you and only you....find it and nurture it and keep it going from book to book.

ORIGINALITY...again same as above.

UNIVERSALITY...think about what everyone has felt, experienced or somehow can relate to in your theme(s)

ENERGY... equals movement, viiiiiiiiigor, happiness, angst, tensiiiiiiiiiiiiion, fear, hope, bravery all with a swiiiiiiiiiiiiift kick in the pants

BRAVERY is fear, will, confrontation and just doing it.

THE ABILITY TO REACH YOUR READER (read everything here)

TIMELESSNESS is thinking about the stories you've read over and over again every year. They never become stale or campy, less funny or sad etc. and they grab you in the gut. They often have something to say but say it subtly. And their plots and/or themes are always clever and interesting. The ideas and messages never fade. (Think "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Think Chicago's timeless modern music. You hear it today and and it still sounds as good as when they played it originally. I DON' CARE ABOUT TIME)

INTERACTIVENESS (is that a word ? look it up.) Readers love to participate somehow. How are you going to do it?

VOICE to me is the most subjective part of writing. It is like showing someone a group of prom dresses and launching in as to why you love this one and then everyone immediately is drawn to the next rack. But if you succeed at the above items you will find a hearty group of fans. So make you voice come through with the help of the above items if that makes any sense.

and enjoy yourself while you create...that might be the most important thing...enjoy the process!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Eight states in seven days

New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
and back to New Jersey
New Jersey

unload and drop daughter at school
dead tired
saddest/happiest day for me

Too tired to write
Too sad to write

But I have an idea at least

Life first
Write later
And the idea made it to my Christmas Doll book (book two). I have the premise. Finally. Took a while for me to get it down and right.
On to page two and follow the same structure as book one.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

6 ingredients for a successful pb

1. An inspired concept

2. Larger than life characters

3. A high-stake story

4. A deeply felt theme

5. A vivid setting


Check, check, check, check, check, check. (I hope, hope, hope, hope, hope and hope.)

(I lifted this from an agent interview at 2009 SCBWI LA blog) She talked about novels but I think this can apply to pbs as well.) I am going to add an original presentation.

And the stakes only have to be high and of uttermost importance to the protagonist.

There can be more than one theme. I say themes that we all can relate to and have experienced.

'Inspired concept' is key. Being inspired in writing and illustration is critical. No 'so what' allowed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I've gone batty on vacation

I have done a little bit of writing but mostly tackling logical plotting this week.

And I asked the vacation gods for some hoopla to jazz up this quiet week.

Well, they delivered. This morning we awoke to a trapped bat in the house. I've been listening to them in the fireplace all week. They are supposed to be nocturnal but the bats here chat whenever they like. 

Chatting bats is fine but bats on the loose is more than I bargained for.

Get out the for your lives, there's a bat on the loose.

(They are kinda cute but not at five in the morning)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Children have hearts and they're bigger than ours

So write for them with all of your heart and your heart will grow.

Write for them with hope and your hope will grow.

Write for them with wisdom and you will become wiser.

And write for them like you are their friend and they will become your friends.

And have fun. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How long you write tiddrens bewks

I start writing tiddrens bewks at turn of de tzenchurry.

De ferst bewks I write are crumsky.

Bewt I imprewve and I go to confeerenzes.

De mewst impertent ting is dew rrrrrrite tite and twe tink tiddrens. Dew yew remimbbeer hwat eet ees like twe bee a tiddren?
(Oh dear. It has been a long week.)
It is certainly the right time to go on vacation with pencil and paper and in-progess scripts, and try to act sane in front of the in-law contingent...or else. Phew. Crazy writers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good deed of the year goes to


My son's drum teacher, musician extra-ordinaire, beautiful songwriter, wild performer and great friend has been introduced to my cuz, Surfer Stu, LA screenplay music editor, by meeeeeee.
You go Robbie!! You are going to make it. You are too good.

I love to help great talent along the crappy journey of gettin out thar.

Connections, connections, connections

t'all helps.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julie and Julia.

Trying to get published

Thursday, August 6, 2009

John Hughes dies

at 59 of a heart attack

My John Candy, Molly Ringwald, Breakfast Club impresario.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

Sites I love for pb people

I'll add more later when I have time

but these should keep you engrossed for a long while.

They are fantastic!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm free

and it feels so good. I am writing... writing... writing... writing and will only respond and reply to positive vibrations. Happiness is a warm author/illustrator.

And I miss my art so much... so much. So much. But I must clean up the messy (always) workspace and make love to my illustrations.


Keep loving and seeing and reading:

A Snowy Day

The Polar Express


Skippyjon Jones

Alexander and the..........................................
And of course Where the Wild Things Are

and mush them all together and you got me.....little old me. And a new story using qualities of all these books...I am writing A Christmas Story (No, not the movie)...Yes, a Christmas Story. The continuation of an existing story that I love to death. And it is working as I follow the plot structure of the initial book. That helps a lot. A lot. It is gonna be good. :)
I ask myself what are the things about these above books that haunt me, nag at me and bring me to my five and then I try like the dickens to put them in my writing and art. You can't go wrong with that. And you can't pull books out of the air. It has to come from inside and what you remember and how it affected you as that child. You have to remember and then improvise/exaggerate/delight to the benefit of the story and the reader you hope to engage. You MUST engage.
And then there is the premise. Now I always try to get the premise down first and the end next, and then I plot with one thing happening after another. And the emotion bit just comes from me. That is the easiest thing for me to achieve. Maybe because I am too emotional and I care too much. Can you ever care too much? I think not. I don't think you can ever care enough. I ramble.

Little old book.
Finished first draft of first page :) And you write and you write and  you make it work. You make everything in the plot tie together. Everything.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Each Peach Pear Plumb

My brain is numb

All night all day

I work word play.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Wanna Be

I Wanna Be Busy

I Wanna Be An Indian

No, I Wanna Be A Cowboy

Then I Wanna Be With My Friend Alan at the Zoo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I've got a new idea for another picture book sparked from two illustrations. This time it is non-fiction (I think) and poetical concept???

I am crazy in love. Crazy. In love.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Early storytelling in art

Yesterday, we spent the day at the Cloisters in New York City. I'd never been in all the time I lived in the city and after I moved to the burbs. My daughter got free passes for us and begged us to go. We were blessed with a gorgeous day and receptive children. And a daughter who knew her stuff (private tour guide).

I must say that the highlight of the day was the viewing of the Merode Altarpiece which I remember studying in college (but as a tiny image in a text book and a distant slide view the impact is not so great.)

The triptych by Robert Campin from the earlyish 1400s is pure genius and an example of early storytelling in art using symbolism. And the precision to detail and craft is superlative.

I could have spent the entire day looking at this painting. There are somethings in this world that are brilliant beyond compare.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life lessons, parenting and children's books

I wanted to write about something that I feel strongly about that kinda bugs me about certain books I see on the shelves and feel I need to get it out of my system. Something I hope to carry over in my pbs because I feel the great picture books are for the soul hugging of parent and child (of course there are exceptions but they are another topic).

One is dishonesty and the other is negativity.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The big project

Continuing on with the verses. I realize now that I need to create hooks...lots of hooks and one of them is going to be audience participation if I can swing it.

Choices: And it is (at least for now) bold

Can you find this?
What do you think it is?
What comes next?
Turn the page and find out.
Would you do this?
What do you do with this? (Sorry Steve)
Why does...because.
Clever illustration
Mixed Up Verse

What have I got myself into? (No, that is just me thinking out loud.)

This is fun. This is funny. This is going to take a while.

12 down ...4 to go and then REVISE

Friday, July 17, 2009

Departure inspires return

While I wait the long waits I have started a new project inspired by a piece of art that tickles me chartreuse. I've been staring at this piece forever trying to think of what text would suit it. And then it came to me (cliched but true). On vacation while jumping enormous waves and swallowing sea.

I am altering existing old literature that is "gasp" in rhyme. Modernizing.

But I am managing to keep a recurring theme (what am I trying to say), humor, visual necessity, and storytelling and emotion and action/reaction. Oh, and child friendly subject matter and text/art for that age group... and adults... (that is the hard part). I always ask myself if the reader will really appreciate it. Always. And is it interesting and dynamic and smart and clever and universal. I find this to be a problem in a lot of picture books.

Six verses down and ten to go.

This is challenging and unlike anything I've done before and a bit frustrating in a 'I can't put it down way'. (Like crosswords puzzles and my new discovery... code word puzzles. Yes, code word puzzles. Look for them, they are maddeningly great!! And addictive. They may not be new (I don't know) but they are to me...mwah hah...........)

But it is a fun project and if I can manage to come up with a few more art samples, I will finish it , have it critted and send it off. It is real thinking outside of the books :}

I was dry for a while but I am back with the writing bug.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And out those good impressions comes

it wasn't even read. Not with the NJ Conference sticker on it nor the professional letter and submission. He didn't even look at it. No form, no personal, no cover letter taken he never read it. He never looked at it.

20 bucks down the drain...and no help from the conference "sticker."

There goes my theory.

This business can kill your soul. My kids tell me to quit...why do you do this to yourself, they ask.

But I persist. And I won't quit. After all how do others make I any worse than they are .

No. I am not.

But no more conferences in my future. I've been to too many.

Vacation awaits.

And new stories are begging for life and I just can't stop. I refuse to concede to failure.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making a good first impression

I'm sending my first dummy package to Hyperion today and it may be my only submission unless/until I get an agent...because they won't except anything unagented due to legal reasons. But conference attendees get one month to submit.

So I've checked my Ps and Qs and dotted my Ts. I've scanned my art and dummy, and covered my cover letter. So even if they don't want it, I think they will be pleased with my professionalism and presentation (but maybe they'll want it???!!!!) and they will ask for more. Figners figners figners crossed.

AND let's not forget Knopf...they are getting it too. Let's hope they feel the same.

(And I have a new idea for my floating mice illustration....oh boy.)

Once in a lifetime you have to make a good first impression because it may be only once in a lifetime.

As my illustrator critiquer said, "You want them to remember you!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Stuff.

I've got some new artwork up on my site and I am excited about it.

Per just about every AD's recommendations I have decided to stick with collage mixed media and forgo straight watercolor...except my birds. They say my collage is much more distinctive and I am wild about that art form. And that is okay.

Time to query...

and time to finish another dummy....

And now back to the insane work week

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lasting greatness

I've been thinking a lot about what I think makes a picture book great. And there is no one thing or formula.  But gosh, I want to find a common denominator. And I think that that is the big idea and or the format of text and or visual. These are the ones that last. They must be universal, innovative (and original in the way they are done and what they say), accessible, expressive, narrative and very visual with both language and art...and I also love movement and gesture and body language. And I am sorry but they appeal both to children and adults because we are the same except for the accumulation of years in don't insult our intelligence)

I think I have done that with mine out there...God I hope so................

Long live Steig, Sendak and you newercomers like Portis, and not so newcomers but in the middle like Small and Bliss etc..

You rock.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Yesterday, an artist friend and I treated ourselves to manicures and pedicures ( a yearly event at best). This was spurred on by our daughters' prom. And elephant like heels.

I was discussing potential subject matter for my next pb biograhy. I want to write about an artistic person who had an extremely interesting and possibly turbulent life. Lots of action and visual material. And it is so hard to find someone in the vein of my currently circulating subject. He really circulated.

But I want a woman. 

My friend mentioned someone.

"How about Alice Neel?"


Perfect. I got a lot of research to do. (Before someone beats me to it.)

(Oh, I gots pretty feet now!!! Pretty beautiful feets)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

In the Spirit of Teenage Party Downness

I call myself Promniscient.

I can spend 10 hours looking for the right dress at the right price that isn't hideous or tacky for an extra petite. I can convince her that she looks stunning in it.

Then I can wade through the thousands of pairs of shoes and find the perfect pair at the very LAST SHOE STORE. And they are gorgeous, the right price and not too high in the heel (she won't come home with a twisted ankle and put a damper on our vacation). I can convince her that she looks stunning in them.

And for the final purchase: I can convince her that not everything has to be real patent leather. Not for a simple clutch. And I can convince her that she looks stunning. And she does.

Tomorrow nails.

Next day hair

and delivery to the prom.

I am promniscient. I know.

Oh...and I get a free pedicure, too....ooooh.


PB editors are looking for more plot in their submissions. It seems that the market is concept heavy at the moment. They say that plotty books hold up to more readings.

Voice is everything. Authentic voice...especially in MG is hardest to find.

One Art Director's favorite is another's toss.

Editors are looking for more "experimental" formats/structures in PB but be careful not to sacrifice plot.

Most writers have an internal age group where they write from.

One agent said that novelists have a hard time writing pb, but pb authors seem to manage longer works.

Quiet book still sell but they need real hooks. Not everything has to scream.

One writer (who I know) asked,"In this economy what one thing are editors and agents not looking at." An agent answered something like...his vacation on a tropical island.

One writer asked,"If my agent doesn't want to represent something I wrote can I have another agent do it." The agents seemed to agree that if you were persistent about it and insisted that they were probably not the right agents for you. "We're trying to build a career with you and specific us." Something like that.

Witnessed a pb writer's school act/show/performance!! At first I thought...oh no...
But she was quite good and I can see how the little guys would eat it up and how more books would sell. Good job Klesmer Girl.

I also learned how nice editors can be. My critiquer was as sweet as they come. Honest, but not patronizing. Told me to sub my packages to the art department.

More later maybe.

(And when you are make typos.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Confearenza 2009: What I learned...and what i know

1) Good thing I didn't register for Friday. That intestinal bug knew which day to strike.
2) Good thing I didn't stay up too late listening to Bill's band at the party last night...because it doesn't matter how late I go to bed I still wake up with the birds

3) Okay...back to the conference
a) listened to the panel of eds and agents...I know what agent I want if I get a contract and I share their philosophy. I love her agency's philosophy thru and thru. I tried to find her but... there was like no time to pin someone down in the tightly mapped out schedule.  But I heard her out and LISTENED to her. 
b) I know why /DisneyHyperion is agented ONLY! It is not why you think!  Ha..Ha. Gonna send the AD a package ONE MONTH. I hate lawyers.
c) First pages... nice voice and language for me...some logic problems (duh...I know) but read on....
d) Nice critique with lovely Knopf editor who heard my first page. Showed her my art. If you are a writer/illustrator she suggested sending a dummy package to the art department. She said that this is a different situation from the pb author alone one because we/such people use both skill sets to tell the story and the eds often don't see that in the the text.
e) Had a folio critique with E.B. White. My goodness he did something completely different than what I am used to. And he told me what he thought was my strongest piece which is my favorite. More later...

I got lawst and am tres fatigue maintenant.

Bon soir...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Bon nuit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

CSK and EA's post

I read this with interest.

I think of all the oppressed immigrants who settled in this great country of the United States of Irish, Scottish sp? :}(skittish... yeah), German (yeah), English (yeah), Dutch (yeah),  Scandinavian and Jewish, Italian ...........Catholic and Protestant and Jewish descent who have no constraining PB writer/ illustrator award just for them.

I embrace the melting of the cultures. All races, cultures, and religions have so much to offer which can make an artistic work such as a children's book unique, universal, timeless and great.... if well made

Time to take those badges away and think about content, quality and character. Those last three things are not necessarily applicable to the other qualities. 

Those last three qualities have no color, religion, race. They have heart, soul, honor, pride, respect, dignity and hope. And a story and writing that translates to the young and lasts in the young's minds.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Praise for prose

Years ago when I was younger than I am now I wrote my first (and only) picture book manuscript in rhyme. The rhyme is elegant and trips the light fantastic. But it is lofty.

The story concerns a gargoyle with a gift, and an original, universal theme/premise. Great.


the plot is still looking for some trouble; and the resolution walked away in a huff. The remaining manuscript put out a want ad for a great ending but so far not one satisfying ending has surfaced.

I digress.

Any preschooler will slip into early naptime on dad's lap after the first stanza. And then dad's feet will fall asleep and he won't be able to get up. Any early primary child's eyes will become permanently crossed and his hearing impaired.

The writing is so beautiful for adults or anyone who has survived the middle ages.

(I look at this masterpiece and I think I will tea-stain it and send it to a monastery. Or make it into an illumination. It is so beautiful.)

For me prose with plot is hard enough but worth the effort because plotting is fun if you work at it. It will come. (This particular one is just being stubborn.)

Point: Rhyme is best bestowed on professional rhymers who are discerning, remember pre-school and the love of sounds, or are clever enough with humor/vocabulary for school age picture book readers...but most of all patient. And can handle rhyme with plot if necessary. And to make the language and meaning full... not empty.

To me it is a hindrance. To me it is hard.

I thank the leader of my first critique group for nipping this rhyme urge in the bud... early and candidly, and for helping me to put it to bed for an extended nap. Save the children.

(Now if I can ever solve my Gargoyle picture book problems it won't be too soon. It is calling me again. And when it calls I answer.)

Happy prose!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

From pram to prom

I'm still your mom.

And hip hip hooray 

it's UVa...

(Did I hear English major????) Journalism...Katie Couric...anyone?

Go Charlotte!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fencing in Hell

You go Gauguin! I knew it was you who done it.

And Vincent kept it a secret between friends to save Paul's face.

So it was Paul who cut off van Gogh's ear to spite his face.


Crazy painters.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

All white

Not really but just enough and very, very pleased.

I'm departing a bit from my full color mode and am entering a spare approach with my latest samples. All I am using is expression, movement, limited palette, playfulness, energy and shape to create the line and story. Very simple yet intricate. Young, funny, sweet and (I think) clever.

I am finishing my robot, robotic animals and little boy series and I LOVE IT. At first I thought who am I kidding... What do I know about robots? 

Well, they are a blast to manipulate... and they like the boy a lot even though he is in charge. And they follow him. Maybe they will get in trouble and he will guide them. Well, I am having so much fun...I might write this.

And it is all on white. Not much background. No distractions. Young. Right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's my party. I'll cry if I want to.

1) Kids are in Florida after a harrowing airport experience (toughens them up... except they're crying)

2) Work is INSANE for the next few weeks (toughens me up... except I'm crying)

3) We picked a painter for the house (no crying...yeah!)

4) Got my ms out for conference critique (I hope the editor will not be crying)

5) Have till early June to do new samples for AD at conference (no crying, just smiling)

6) Must try to re-dummy that same script (on the verge of crying and smiling simultaneously)

7) Charlotte must pick her college by the end of the month (me crying, she... I don't know but IT IS HER DECISION so I can cry if I want to)

8) Three Birthdays including mine in ONE week (Crying, smiling whatever...pass me a Bloody Mary)

You would cry too if you had all this to do!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

12 unbroken eggs

This is the first year in 18 years that they've all remained uncracked whilst boiling!!!! 

 I take this as a sign that my 2 book/illustration packages will come thru unscathed and uncracked because they are well targeted and well done! Color me perfect!  

Monday, April 6, 2009

Professional writers who don't write well (and me?)

Today I spent a good portion of my work day with my boss editing a marketing letter. The letter was laden with repetition, misused comparatives (like 'more true'), delinquent header info and sentences all starting with We (in the same paragraph). Then there were the split and unnecessary paragraphs and poor word choices like 'free advice'. This letter also contained a really bad opening line that read, "They say things come in 3s...well." What it should have read is something like "You may think things come in 3s...well," which clearly draws the reader in.

People get paid a lot of money to do this, and I get paid a little to edit them. And I am no editor. Just a good writer. :) Because I am starting to read closely. That is what pb writing does to you. And cover letter writing...and query writing.

I should write marketing letters. I'd do better than this guy. More true.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life is a beautiful book.

True, honest, funny, painful, sad, sincere, weighty, and round words and story, and with a rich emotional and profound resonance. It lasts. It offers more than simple humor. It speaks volumes with few words yet offers layers of nuance that reach many human readers.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Get in the Car and drive!

(Sorry Freddie...changed the vehicle)

Yesterday Rutgers Honors....VERY VERY NICE school and price

tomorrow NYU (and your wallet)

Looking at schools is FUN, FUN, FUN with your teenage piece of academic brilliance and judge of parental failures.

It is not is the econome.

Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Waiting, waiting, hard.

I am starting to get restless on the waits.

I need to start a new project and revise two manuscripts. But they are not inspiring me at the moment. I think the key is to just tackle the suggestions offered by the editor and agent and group critique from last conference. Just sit down and do it.

One of the mss sparks me a little: but I have come to the realization I am better with people as subjects and not animals (the writing part). I think that is because I like an humorous, honest and true sentiment....not so much quirky. 

And it seems that there are a ton of quirky animal characters out there and way fewer children as characters with real emotions and inventive plot lines. 

Sit down and look at the revision suggestions, you... and dummy. The proof is in the dummy. 

RIP beautiful Natasha

You will be missed. :(

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rules for life

So I go to pick up middle kid from High School. Cops are aboundin. Here a cop ...there a cop... everywhere a cop cop. I drive nice nice...crossing the cross walks carefully with aTTenTiveness.
I slowdown at the stop signs. I look both ways Twice. I signal lefT. I signal righT.

(They are everywhere)

I explain to my daughter how they put points on your drivers license, and when they add up they take that license away.

She says, " You mean you get points. That sounds like my school."

I say, "LIFE IS SCHOOL." You never graduate. There is always somebody there making sure you obey the rules.

I've never seen her look so terrified.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's in a name?

I never knew until today that Ludwig Bemelmans based his Madeline books on his daughter so aptly and appropriately named Barbara ( I LOVE LUDWIG). He was of Belgian and German descent (I LOVE LUDWIG). He was forced to move to America because he shot a waiter and thus would be put in an institution for the artistically brilliant yet misunderstood mind (I LOVE LUDWIG). And then he became an illustrator for the New Yorker, etc.  (You are ours now wmahahaha... I LOVE LUDWIG). 

And Viking turned down the initial book but Simon and Schuster saw genius.

He never considered himself a writer (mheeuuh) but more an illustrator (huueehm). Poo poo.

Someday in my next life we will meet and discuss his brilliance.

Now to read the real biography of a great children's book creator.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Side by Side by Sondheim

"Keep away from her
send for Chino
this is not the Maria
we know
Modest and pure
polite and refined
well bred and mature
and out of her mind"

If you listen to this music you'll appreciate the stresses and "off" stresses.

A mild thrill for me when I think about writing. Simple pleasures...greatness.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When my husband's band plays bebop

I wanna drop
and get up and
kiss Lee Morgan.

And they now have their equivalent of Paul Desmond. Nice new addition. 

I'm in love with a wonderful band. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another soft yet swift kick in the pants today

 REJECTION ...............but I believe. 

It is so hard to see agented illustrators get job after job. Especially in projects you've been working on.  It really isn't fair...but that is the way it is. 

But NO ONE will do the two I have out... with publishers. NO ONE. And especially the way I have done them. They consume me.  I am obsessed. And that is that! 

I hope to fall in a ball of velvet.  The real kind. (Not the fake velveteen.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pardon Me Boys is this the Chattanooga Choo Choo?

Well, shit. I don't know. You have to wait and see.

Bill is waiting on his cool jazz arrangement of this.

I just sent a ms package to an agent I met last weekend. Let the waiting beguine.

Charlotte is waiting to see if she got cast as Jo Jo in the high school (aka Broadway equivalent) version of "Suessical" and college apps (HUH???)

We are all waiting for Henry to get home from his PA trip

and for Emily to help with dinner so Bill and I can go to JAZZ HOUSE KIDS!! jazz, wine, d'oeuvres benefit for kids in need.

Everyone is WAITING. WAIting. Waiting.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personality tests...are they for real?

My daughter made me take yet another personality test today and as usual I am designated a humanitarian....I just don't get it.

I really wanted to be the observer because that is how I see myself. I always felt that I was an observer. And I think too much and question too much and try to understand "why" too much.
Like why did you arrest this man for Jay Walking when he saved these peoples lives? (Cause he's breaking the law...yeah that is right...just sit back and let them die....I just don't get it.) He did something "wrong" and became a hero. This may be a theme that I want to streak thru my picture books. So far heroes seem to emerge for the most part.

And of course Charlotte is the surprise there...that is an understatement...and it was just me. Ever live with one of those? And she smiles when she tells me. Do you know what perfectionist means? It means it is not is you!"

And the career choice says that I should be a financial analyst. I work for one and she is so humanitarian. But alas it neither my calling nor my aptitude. And she will die when I leave her...which I will when I get what I want. Observer/humanitarian....pb children's writer/illustrator....yeah baby!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fascinating snippets from the mentorship

And this one did not disappoint...the mentorship that is.

There are three schools of thought on pb writing:
1) The writing should stand on its own.
2) The illustration carries the book not the writing (I hope I got that right)
3) The illustration, and writing don't stand on their own; they work together...that would be my choice probably because I am an illustrator; and they are my favorite kinds of books.

If an editor is mad on an illustrator he/she will fight for the book regardless of how much work the writing needs, and they will work with the illustrator on the writing. (I hope I got that right...that is what I took from this editor). Interesting. Still, I want my writing to be the best it can be for submission.

All writers have blind spots, strengths and up your strengths. And listen to others regarding your blind spots. (I know what mine are but I can't see them. Frustrating that.)

The editors and agent were extremely forthright, truthful and businesslike...and friendly. And smart. And cool. And diplomatic. And real.

They don't know what they want till they see it. Altho, some clearly do not do certain genres and formats.

When you are put last for a critique you are so tired that your nervousness is killed, and you are relaxed, agreeable and sedated in order to listen to critique with open eyes and open ears.

Don't be afraid to say you are proud of something when you really are. That is two projects for me. 

You know having lunch with editors is great when the volume in the room is at a peak and lots of laughter ensues.

When an agent compliments and when he critiques...listen.

Your group critiques are AWESOME. You give, they give and you all come away with fresh perspectives and ideas for improvement.

First pages are fascinating ways to learn about craft. And to learn about editors peeves and passions.

Good day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maybe it is just me...but...

that featured artist on SCBWI is showing a rather frightful sight.

One blow of that birthday candle and you are all potential toast.

I leaves you all with that. SPARKS. 



Saturday, February 14, 2009

It is Valentine's Day You Big Wally

and you forgot the chocolates?

My kids are on my case. Hope there are some left......somewhere.

On a neater note....I got this email stating that Quincy Jones is petitioning Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. Please sign Valentine.

(Okay, okay I'll do it. I'll be the new and first Secretary of the Arts.)

After I get my first books published. Okay...I guess I won't be the first Secretary of the Arts.

I think Quincy Jones should put his money where his mouth is and nominate himself.

Now that would be cool.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

You are my standard

You are my standard
my only standard
you make me happy
when skies are grey
you'll never know dear
how much I love you
please don't take
my standards away

Reading an EA Blog rebutting Bach etc....quality literature in favor of self-publishing "and it is good enough for my kids". I cannot comment for lack of connect.

I continue to ponder my idea of bios about American Brilliant Musicians with exciting illustrations.

That groundhog did not see his shadow.

He came out of his tunnel and innocently ...might I add ignorantly looked up and saw YOU and YOUR friggen shadows. And he freaked out and said "Sheeet. They are going to cover me and put me in a friggin cage, and ship me off to 'guitar string land' before I devour their devine garden landscape."

"You can have the rest of the winter of your discontent. I am perfectly happy right here in my hovel. I just heard all this cacophony, and if you want me you'll have to come in and get me. And if you come after me you really are fools under the hill."

(You can tell I hate dumb traditions).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What makes Shakespeare and Beethoven great

Them I should love till I die (pardon me Meredith Wilson for the pluralization)

Technique which could mean structure and/or voice
and knowing thine audience
Guts and determination and being stubborn and and and neeeahhh.

and the rules ye learn are the foundation... not necessarily the final product. 

And ye know when it is right and then ye go

Gargling with Joe Jackson

Everyone has an answer
Everyone has an answer
Not just one smartypantser
Everyone has an answer

Don't touch that word
Don't be absurd
Just take this line
and make it shine

Don't write long
don't spell wrong
Don't make it too sing song


Don't draw all night
Don't write all day
You'll blur your sight
and lose your pay

More caffeine
More protein
More booze and
Remember -- 

(Rinse and Repeat)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lost Fiction

Frost Nixon.

How many great movies can one see in a weekend? (Ahem...three but I comment on one.)

And Frank Langella as Tricky Dicky? I grew up with this man. I grew in love with this man but now he is this sad character. Still dreamy but kinda pathetic. Frank you rock!!!!

I love non-fiction treated in a larger than life yet history infused way that almost reads like fiction. Kinda like my biography stuff. Larger than life has always grabbed me. Good and bad and somewhere in-betweeen.

Too bad I only remember the real stuff that my dad had on when I was a Watergate kid and a teenage Frost/Nixon newbie.

I loved the commentary about how the media shows a mere small shot of the big picture. This is the blessing and the curse of all media. Because most of the sheep only see what they see. The sheep who hate the pasture want the big picture and big idea. Like me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

When will I ever learn.

This is the third time in 4 months that I have been reprimanded by a cop. It is not that I blatantly commit misdemeanors when I see a man in a uniform, or that I am masochistic, or anything. Or that I have that horrible disorder where I make myself sick through pure unadulterated acts of idiocy.

A few months ago I was getting out of the driver's seat and into the back seat just before my daughter took her road test(now she is in the driver's seat). Ahem, why did I do that? Always sit in the front passenger seat and don't leave it until they "tell" you to.

On my way to work I happened to disregard the orange cones and men at work, and drove on what appeared a perfectly drivable path and right past the cop who asked me "Just what do you think you are doing?" I said "yes" I did read the sign and saw the pretty orange cones...but I work right down there. He was nice because I flashed him.... a pretty smile. :}

And today I let my son out in front of his school without having pulled into a parking spot...right in front of the cop crossing the kiddos.

"Never do that again," he said. 

(It is not like everyone doesn't do it everyday. It is just that the crossing guard was out today and he lets everyone get away with it. He knows how much tax we pay to bus all those kids, and some of us don't ever get bussed. Just busted.


This has absolutely nothing to do with writing and illustrating.

But I believe I have illustrated my frustrations with bureaucracy. And right now I really want to stick it to the man. Any one have a night stick?


This morning he gave someone ticket. That someone being a parent taking their child to school. 
He gave them a ticket right in front of the school. I hear lots of people complaining in my little busy brain.

Friday, January 16, 2009


My artwork is gonna be in the next edition of "Sprouts."   Yeehaw!!

El Barrio a la Barbara.

Did you know that Barbara means 'red beard' in Spanish. It also means 'strange or stranger...barbarian'. 

Thanks mom. You could have named me Linda (my sister's name) which in Spanish means 'beautiful'.

That is okay. I forgive you. For now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm going on a blind date

What are you looking for?

Humor (can it have substance...intelligence?)

Good looks (good writing)

Truth and honesty (theme)

Interesting conversation (plot)

Interesting conversation (ahem...voice)

Technique (that comes after the first few dates((rewrites))...meaning I am aiming to please... with originality ...not too weird...okay)

You know your age group (I am not into these May/September...October...November...December...January whatever things)

Universal ( it lasts forever thru think and thin, and covers most folks around the world) I've been many places and I want to go back...I like to travel outside of the U.S.A.

Illustrations (you'll love them...not too pretty...nice can curl up with them and be intimate like two little kiddos under the layers of covers having a campout with spooks...lights on)

I've done this before ...really... and I've been happily ever after for a long time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What to send...what to send

to the mentor agent or editor.....aaaaaagh.

The giraffe isn't ready enough to go. I want to send it but I can't.

My two strongest mss/dummies are at big publishers so they are not going

and the others have already been crittered.

I am getting ahead of myself as usual. Neck in neck with dreck.

Maybe it doesn't matter.

Miss Nelson...???? Miss Nelson!!!!

You are not missing. You are back. I found you and I'm keeping you. Forever by my computer and drawing table.

Yesterday I went thru children's books with my oldest daughter and decided which to keep and which to donate. The keepers were by far the smallest pile (thanks to my years of learning how to be discerning...and my ability to laugh, sigh and smile at enduring greatness). And my daughter who is truthful.

I relish my daughter's comments such as: Why would any kid want to read a book with an adult as the main character. My retort being 'only if they are childlike and FUNNY.'

Or: Why is there SO MUCH TEXT in this picture book? And the illustrations are too creepy and somber. My retort being 'Yeah. You go Charlotte.'

Or: This book is SOOOOOO dated. ' sooo EIGHTIES (Hey. Wait a minute).

Anyway, I remember my mom who was a kindergarten teacher(a highly regarded kindergarten teacher in Connecticut) bringing home these stellar picture books by Allard and Steig and Sendak. I wonder what she would bring home today were she alive and teaching. Maybe she'd bring home my books. Would she?  Would she!!!

Mrs. Litten is missed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I heard that an AD I met at 2 recent conferences (and did an assignment for, that he liked, as well), who liked a group of my pieces (as did another AD at one of them) has been let go.

I hope the editor who is securely there has interest. She does biographies. But Monday is coming... and they are clearing off desks......) Yet, it appears that editors acquire and not ADs ...they bring in unagented talent...

I know what they are looking for as the AD and another assc. editor there made it clear at the conference workshop. Alas, she was let go as well. She was a peach and a picker upper.

This book has merit in the pb biography world. I could do such a great job with the art. I have great plans. I have lots of great plans and enthusiasm.

Update: And the classy Art Director sent me an email saying he was released, and that he has passed my work onto an editor. Well, he is cool and polite and someone I respect. Not enough people like him. Someone I want to work with.

And an editor from Holt is now going to the mentorship. Cool beans. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

My New Year's Resolution

is to break the rules.

I have come to realize that ALL of my favorite picture book writers/illustrators break the rules. I am sure they know them by heart as I do. What they do have is distinctive technique and the ability to connect strongly with their audience.  What they have is remembrance of being that child they write for.

So out go the formulaic rules and in goes my technique. And strong dummying storytelling.

It is going to be a good year.