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.