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Viewing Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Most Recent at Top
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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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1. Coloring Page Tuesday - Rockin' Bunny!

     Here comes Peter Cottontail! Rocking down the bunny trail? Why not! I hope you have a lovely Easter full of pretty blooms and ruffles.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
     **A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**

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2. A BIRD ON WATER STREET is a GOLD Medal Award Winner!!!

A BIRD ON WATER STREET will be officially released May 7th and has already won TWO awards - wahoooo!! The first was the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) SPRING OKRA PICK:
And now - ABOWS is a Mom's Choice GOLD award winner!!! WOWSA!!!! Color me giddy!

Doin' the snoopy dance around here! After ten years of work to get this novel to the light of day, this is SO validating!!!

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3. Nice shout-out on BOOKTUBE NEWS

So Elizzie does weekly shout-outs about all the books she's reviewing for the coming week, and today she gave a lovely shout-out to A BIRD ON WATER STREET right at the beginning! Almost 20,000 folks subscribe to Liz, so that's some darned nice exposure! AND she's from West Virginia - a sister region to the mining community of Copperhill, Tennessee where my story takes place. Very cool.

Click the image below to go see if the embedded video gives you any trouble.

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4. Jarrett J. Krosoczka has a new picture book out!

It's called PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLYFISH and OMG I can't wait to read it! Check out this adorable video about his process:

If the video above gives you any trouble, click the image below to go check it out on YouTube.

Thanks to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for the heads up!

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5. Peter Salomon on ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I adored Peter Salomon's first novel HENRY FRANKS so am thrilled to have him on today to talk about his latest novel, which has just about the best cover EVAH! Here's Peter...

      In the period of time between the sale of my debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, and the actual release date I had one primary goal: sell my second novel before that release date. So, with that in mind, I got right to work.
      I started writing a YA dystopian novel, because it’s the law: every author is required to write at least one, no? Halfway though, I realized two things: the ending no longer worked and I didn’t really want to write a YA dystopian novel.
      So, I started writing a different book. This one was more YA Action/Adventure, I guess. It was great fun to write but it, too, didn’t sell. By the time I was finished, though, I’d figured out how to end that pesky YA dystopian. That one didn’t sell, either.
      Then, HENRY FRANKS came out in Sept. 2012. One thing quickly became apparent: my genre was definitely YA Horror. With that in mind, I decided my next book had to stay in that genre.
      That, of course, still left me trying to figure out what to write. In the meantime, I continued to interview other authors for my blog to help promote their work. One of the questions I asked horror author C.W. LaSart (www.cwlasart.com) was for her favorite word. Her response was ‘ghastly.’
      Why is that important? Because in talking with her after receiving her answers I responded with this comment:
     I've always loved 'ghastly' by the way, though I ALWAYS wanted 'ghostly' to be far more popular than it actually is, it just feels like 'ghostly' became too watered down (probably by cartoons: Casper for instance) so that it lost the menace and creepiness that it should have had. Oh well…
      Yes, I actually dug up the actual message thread to share this story. So, we discussed the word ‘ghostly’ for a very short while and then she most likely completely forgot about our conversation. On the other hand, I kept thinking that ‘Ghostly’ would make a fun title for a story. If I had ever written a ghost story, which I really hadn’t. So I decided I should.

Peter's writing nook:
      I started brainstorming a ghost story and sent my agent three chapters, totaling about 10 pages (they’re very short chapters). My agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, then asked me one very troubling question: ‘So, what happens next?’ (I might be paraphrasing there). The only problem was, I didn’t actually have an answer.
      All I had was 3 chapters and a title: GHOSTLY. So, after more brainstorming (which basically consisted of driving my kids around town listening to pop music) I came up with a very brief synopsis and sent that along to my agent. She then sent the proposal to my Editor for HENRY FRANKS.
      And Flux bought GHOSTLY.
      Of course, I hadn’t actually written the book yet. All I had was 3 chapters. Written in a very strong, very unique ‘voice.’ One I was terrified that I’d be unable to sustain for an entire book.

Because for the most part I’d thrown out a lot of the traditional ‘rules’ of fiction writing for those 3 chapters. Whether it was the rule against run on sentences or sentence fragments or repeating words, didn’t matter. For GHOSTLY I relied more on the rules of poetry than fiction. And it was a constant struggle to write the book without losing that voice.
      It’s not written in verse or anything like that. It’s prose, through and through. But it has an internal rhythm of language that owes a tremendous debt to poetry.
      For example, this is the final paragraph of those first chapters that were sent to Flux:
      In the corner of the room the shadow screamed, burning the air around me until I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t think, and everything went black and everything changed and everything disappeared and all I knew was pain. Unending, unceasing pain. (to read the first chapter, CLICK HERE.)
      So, in one paragraph, there’s a run-on sentence, a sentence fragment, and two different words repeated 3 times each. There’s also a definite rhythm to the voice, and it was an exhausting battle to sustain that for the novel. But I did.
      Unfortunately, I lost the battle to name the book GHOSTLY. Which, truth to tell, I didn’t fight too strenuously. The word has really lost it’s creep, sad to say. So, now, it’s ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, which captures the poetry of the book far better than GHOSTLY ever could.
      And all because CW LaSart loves the word ‘ghastly.’

GIVEAWAYAs soon as he receives his author copies from Flux (which may not be until later this summer) Peter will generously giving away a free, signed copy of ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS to one of my lucky commenters in the US or Canada. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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6. Friday Linky Lists - April 11, 2014

At HuffPost: 23 Gorgeous Bookplates That Will Give Your Books Serious Style

At From the Mixed-Up Files - Being Small is Good: A Conversation with a Small Press

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7. IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK by Brianne Farley

I love to feature unusual or high-design-looking picture books like Brianne Farley's debut picture book IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK, especially since I teach Design in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books at Hollins University each summer. I also love Ike's story - he's the ultimate procrastinator when it comes to writing. Not that any of us can relate to that. *ahem* Brianne dropped by to talk about her cutting edge style...

Q. Brianne, CONGRATULATIONS on your first picture book IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK! You've been an illustrator for some time now, how did you fall into picture books?
Thank you! I’m so happy that INK is a real book. Sometimes I see it at a random bookstore in the middle of nowhere and it’s always weird and surprising that this thing I made is out in the world, loitering in random bookstores.
      I’ve always loved books and always loved drawing. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were my childhood heroes. As a kid I spent a lot of time reading while sitting in a tree, for some reason. It’s actually very uncomfortable. I don’t recommend it. I went to college as a Creative Writing major and Studio Art minor. At the time I wanted to be an editor, but after a few internships realized it wasn’t for me. College is where I was first introduced to and fell in love with printmaking and became interested in combining words and pictures. A few years later I went back to school for my MFA in Illustration and focused on picture books from the get-go.

Q. Your style is so cutting edge - almost editorial or with that elusive "European look." Do you have a philosophy behind your style?
Ooh, thanks! Well, my work is usually finished digitally but I’m very much inspired by printmaking. There’s a wonderful printmaking technique called chine-collé that I was thinking about when I made these illustrations. Also, I made the first draft of INK while in grad school, and getting it published was the farthest thing from my mind. So, I was able to focus on making illustrations I would like to see in a book, rather than something I thought would be marketable. I was also just hoping to write and illustrate a good story, not necessarily a children’s book. The picture books I like best are the ones that have something to offer to any age reader. That being said, kids are smart people with giant imaginations, so they’re a great audience.

Q. How do you work? I see hints of cut paper, computer, pen and ink...
Yes, good eye! The illustrations for IKE’S INCREDIBLE INK were first drawn with ink (um, I mean incredible ink) and a dip pen. I then scanned these drawings along with a “library” of ink splotches for Ike’s body and an embarrassing amount of found paper (beautiful handmade paper, old graph paper, dry cleaning tags, etc.). I “cut” the paper digitally and layered it behind the ink drawings. You can see some of the process HERE.
      INK is a story about writing and story telling, but it’s also about craft! It’s about ink on paper. It’s about getting your hands messy and having an experience worth writing about. So, that’s part of the reason I chose to use ink and cut paper. My next book (yay!) is about an imaginary tree fort (of course!), so the illustrations are a little looser.

Q. Can you share a photo of your studio?
Haha look at my studio. I like my desk to be perfectly clean and my walls to be a perfect mess. My studio is in a little nook in my apartment that my roommate was kind enough to let me take over. My desk is a glass-top kitchen table I turned into a giant light table with some cleverly placed Christmas lights. It’s probably a fire hazard.

Q. Being your first picture book, I'd love to hear your path to publication.
I made the first draft of INK for a class in grad school. We were asked to complete a cover and three finished spreads, but as a total crazy person I decided to finish the whole book. Author/illustrator/friendly-human Peter Brown was on campus to give a lecture on picture books and stopped by the illustration grad studio (where I was working like a crazy person). He liked my book and suggested I send it to his agent, Paul Rodeen at Rodeen Literary Management, who is now my agent. It took a while, but the wonderful Elizabeth Bicknell at Candlewick Press gave INK a home. She and Ann Stott and Heather McGee and the rest of the Candlewick team helped me refine and improve the work I started in school. They’re a dream team.

Q. Ike does everything in his power to stall having to actually write. Might your own situation have inspired the story?
Haha MAYBE. The line in which he needs to “find his favorite pen” before getting to work is definitely inspired by real-life events. Sigh. BUT I would also make the argument that INK isn’t all about procrastination. It’s also about getting out and finding your story. My favorite thing about Ike is that he isn’t afraid. He wants to go to the moon so he just starts building a rocket. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing but no matter, tally ho. I want to be like that.

Q. Are you working on another book?
I am! I’m working on another book with Candlewick. It is about an imaginary tree fort, but it’s also about siblings. It’s inspired by one ANONYMOUS bookish older sister and one enthusiastic younger sister who, many years ago, spent a lot of time together in the woods in their backyard, drawing plans for tree forts.

Sounds great, I look forward to it!

Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away a free copy of IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK. Copyright © 2013 by Brianne Farley. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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8. You're invited to the ABOWS release party!

You, your friends and family are invited to attend the
release party on
Thursday, May 8th at 7:00pm
at Little Shop of Stories
Decatur, Georgia
with live bluegrass music performed by
Playing on the Planet!
Click the invite for more details!

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9. Coloring Page Tuesdays -

     Easter is coming! Have you ever heard the phrase that if your ears are itching, somebody must be talking about you? Can you imagine how that must be for a bunny rabbit? Gads!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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10. Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival!

I'm off to the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi this week! On Wednesday I'll talk about "Saving the Environment One Book at a Time" (of course tied in with the story of A BIRD ON WATER STREET). I've never done this festival before, but I've heard wonderful things about it. And I can visit my artwork, which is archived at the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. Thursday evening, I ve been invited to attend the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards Celebration. That should be fun! So if you are attending - I hope you'll come see me on Wednesday at 11:30 and then party with me on Thursday! Tally-ho!

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11. The Blue Ridge Writers Conference

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia about "What to Do When the Story Finds You." What a lovely conference with top notch speakers!
     It's held in the restored courthouse, now home to the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association. Of the several speakers I had two faves...

     Claire Cook, author of MUST LOVE DOGS (made into the movie with Diane Lane and John Cusak) was the keynote speaker and awesomely nice lady to boot! We ended up munching lunch together in the kitchen and she couldn't have been any more down to earth and easy to talk to.

     Jennifer Jabaley, author of LIPSTICK APOLOGY and CRUSH CONTROL gave two talks - one about finding ideas and the second about building tension. I learned SO MUCH from her I can't even tell you! And my agent will be happy to hear Jenn helped me flesh out my next novel. Shhhhh!
     Michelle Moran gave a one-day workshop called "Overcome Your Blocks to Find Your Unique Voice." Along with being a great writer, Michelle owns Harvest on Main, the BEST restaurant in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I recommend the scallops.
     I gave my first formal talk on A BIRD ON WATER STREET, and while its always a bit nerve wracking that first time, as I figure out how long the slideshow will take and how long my stories will take to tell, the response was fantastic and there were several locals in the crowd who knew the history of Copperhill all too well. Happily, I answered all their questions accurately and passionately and they all bought the book. In fact, the store sold out again! That's the second time - wow!!!
     Thanks to Carol Crawford, Kay Kendall, and all the BRMAA staff and volunteers who made it such a great event. If you ever need a creative mountain getaway, I must recommend the Blue Ridge Writers Conference!!!

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12. Sunday Smile - Baby Rhinos!

I've met baby rhinos in person. (Here I am with Stan on our honeymoon in Africa petting Omni, a baby rhino they'd saved from poachers. They asked him to lay down for the picture after Stan got goosed by that horn - almost not funny.) Anyhow, I had no idea baby rhinos made such adorable noises! This will get you grinning! (Be sure to listen all the way to the end.)

CLICK HERE or the image below if the embedded video gives you problems.

Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up!

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13. Sarah C. Campbell's MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS - Guest Post

I have been a fan of Sarah C. Campbell's scientific picture books for years now. From WOLF SNAILS to GROWING PATTERNS: FIBONACCI NUMBERS IN NATURE (which I use in my classrooms to teach design). I'm thrilled to help Sarah celebrate her latest - MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS: FINDING FRACTALS IN NATURE. She stopped by to tell us more about it...

      My greatest stroke of luck in creating MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS: FINDING FRACTALS IN NATURE was securing the help of a mathematician who was a colleague of the discoverer of fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot.
      Michael Frame, who teaches math at Yale University, checked my writing and photographs for accuracy and wrote an afterword that included stories and photographs of Mandelbrot as a child and discussed ways we use fractals today.
      How without Michael would I have learned that when Mandelbrot died of cancer in 2010, he believed one piece of his unfinished business was a book for children?
      I found Frame through an online course on fractals he taught in person at Yale.
      During our recent correspondence, Frame mentioned his desire to share MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS with Mandelbrot’s widow, Aliette.
      “She knew a project for this audience was on Benoit’s mind, but he died before we could get to it. That the project was done, and done so well, would have delighted Benoit, and will delight Aliette,” Frame wrote.
      Having an expert review a manuscript for accuracy is a critical step in the process of publishing nonfiction. Based on my experience with three nonfiction titles, all published with Boyds Mills Press, here are a few tips for finding an expert and working effectively with him or her.

      Expert review is a step that happens very late in the publishing process – after the text, images and design are complete. This is because all the elements contribute to understanding – or misunderstanding. As a writer of nonfiction, however, I begin interacting with experts long before the final draft. In the case of my first book, WOLFSNAIL: A BACKYARD PREDATOR, I first interviewed Dr. Melissa Harrington, a neuroscientist who studies wolfsnails in her lab, and consulted numerous print sources. When it was time to have the final manuscript reviewed, however, my editor and I agreed I should find a snail scientist. At Harrington’s suggestion, we asked Dr. Timothy Pearce, a malacologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Know the financial terms.
      With my first two books, Boyds Mills Press asked expert reviewers to review manuscripts without compensation. In my experience, many people are very generous with their time – especially for a children’s book. The hardest part of asking for people’s time without paying them is dealing with the vagaries of publishing deadlines. By now, I more or less know what I’ve signed up for – shifting deadlines, seemingly impossible turnaround times, etc. But it’s hard to pass that kind of uncertainty along to someone who is doing you a favor. With MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS, we had a small stipend to offer. Also, even though I suggested Michael Frame as our expert reviewer, it was up to my editor, Sarah Zhang, to do the formal asking and handle the correspondence. Sarah also edited Michael’s Afterword.
Sarah's workspace:

Don’t be afraid to ask.
      It’s easy to be intimidated by the term “expert review.” It sounds a little like a test that you’ll either pass or fail. In reality, I’ve had good back-and-forth discussions with experts. Knowing an expert will come into the process down the line does not excuse you from doing your homework. For example, I was having a hard time explaining how clouds are fractals. I had a small debate with myself about whether I should admit to Frame that I didn’t fully understand how clouds were fractals. When I wrote to him, I explained why I was confused, using two examples from difference sources. In his reply, he acknowledged that clouds could be difficult, and that Mandelbrot’s mathematical proof (with Shaun Lovejoy) was too complicated for most college freshmen in Frame’s classes. He suggested a possible approach. In the end, I had to cut clouds as an example because I couldn’t get the explanation and an accompanying photographic example just right. If anything, my willingness to share my unease with the cloud aspect of fractals probably helped Michael see me as serious about getting it right. When the final draft was finally ready, he found one thing I had gotten wrong. And, I was grateful he did.

Be open to new ideas.
      I’ve already said that Michael wrote an Afterword. What I didn’t say was that it was his idea. By the time Michael came into the process in April 2013, Sarah Zhang and I were already worrying about how we were going to fit everything into the 32-page book. When Michael offered to write a section – either a foreword or an afterword – I was worried we didn’t have the space. I understood, however, that as a colleague of Mandelbrot, he could write about him in a way I could not, and he was offering to get childhood photographs from Aliette Mandelbrot. I agreed that his contribution could make it a better book. And it certainly did. Each of the book’s reviews thus far, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, has mentioned the Afterword.
     Last autumn, after the book had gone to the print house, Richard and I were in Boston visiting family and friends so we took the train to New Haven to meet Michael in person. In this photograph that Richard took, you can see that Michael has a patch covering his left eye. Through all this time we’ve been working together, Michael has been living with an inoperable tumor. I remain in awe of his generosity in sharing his energies with me, and with all the readers of MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS.

Sarah has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

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I am so thrilled to be on Katie Davis' brilliant podcast all about Kids Lit, Brain Burps About Books. She interviewed me about my novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET and she asked some great questions, which I humbly think you really might enjoy hearing the answers to. CLICK HERE to go listen!
     And by the way - to give credit where it's due... I completely butchered my talented designer's name. Bad me!!! She is Leslie Iorillo and she came up with that iconic and symbolic image which graces the cover of the book. Also, my publisher is LITTLE PICKLE PRESS - love them! They are a Certified B Corp, which means they operate in an environmentally friendly manner - which is so appropriate for my book. ABOWS is printed on recycled paper with soy ink - as it should be. My publisher is Rana DiOrio. My editor who I gushed about is Tanya Egan Gibson. And my publicist is Heather Lennon. Audrey Lintner actually came up with that amazing tagline, "When the birds return to water street, will anybody be left to hear them sing"? Truly, my barrel of pickles has been amazing and I can't recommend them enough!!!
    A BIRD ON WATER STREET is available now in e-book formats and will be officially released in print on May 7th - although early copies are sneaking out to some of my speaking engagements now. Here's a list of my upcoming events:
April 4-5, 2014 Blue Ridge, Georgia: Blue Ridge Writers Conference
April 9-11, 2014 Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival
April 24, 2014 Huntsville, Alabama: Alabama Library Association Annual Convention
May 8, 2014, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Georgia, 7:00pm: Launch Party—everybody is welcome!
May 10, 2014, Blue Ridge, Georgia - the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association, open to the public!
May 17, 2014, The CITY of Copperhill, Tennessee (where the story takes place) is going to throw a city-wide shindig for ABOWS - open to the public!
August 29-31, 2014 Decatur, Georgia: The Decatur Book Festival
October 17-18, 2014 Auburn, Alabama: The Auburn Writer's Conference
     Oh! And I can't believe I didn't mention that ABOWS has already won an award as a Southern Independent Booksellers Association Spring OKRA PICK!!! GADS, how did I forget to mention THAT?
     Also, CONGRATULATIONS Katie on her new YA, DANCING WITH THE DEVIL! Thanks again for having me on chickie!

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15. Friday Linky List - April 4, 2014

This weekend I'll be speaking at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia about "What to Do When the Story Finds You." I can't wait! (Last minute walk-ins are welcome to this one.)

Laurel Snyder wrote a lovely response to a letter she received about her book PENNY DREADFUL: Twent Has Two Mommies.

At BookRiot - A Censored History of Ladies in YA Fiction. What do you think?

My 2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day and Springmingle Wrap-Up!

At 100 Scope Notes, a wonderful collection: 2014 Book Spine Poem Gallery

I shared these in my Springmingle wrap-up, but they're worth a re-look:

Corey Godbey
MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - Hollins University
The Cockeyed Caravan
Wes Anderson palettes
Brad Hill - Key Techniques
Brad Bird on How to Compose Shots (For Storyboard & Layout Artists)
Adorable list of "45 Simple Safety Rules For Living Life & Not Dying" by Noah

I always forget the name of this one, so am listing it here. GIMP is a free program many people use in place of Photoshop. So if you can't afford the big dog, this might do ya!

Are We Rushing Kids Out of Picture Books? by Elizabeth Bluemle at PW

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16. SOPHIE'S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller - GIVEAWAY!

SOPHIE'S SQUASH written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf has set the entire kidlitosphere abuzz. So much so, SOPHIE'S SQUASH recently won the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Award for best picture book text. Wowsa! It even has its own facebook page! And it deserves the attention for the spot-on humor and cleverness. Truly, half way through I wondered "How is Pat going to get herself out of this quandry?" And she did! In such a charming way. Sweet magic.
     I'm thrilled to have Pat on my blog today...

Q. Pat, SOPHIE'S SQUASH is your debut picture book - and what a debut it is! How long have you been writing and what's been your path to publication?
I have been seriously working on picture books for about six years. But before that, I was always writing something. Newspaper stories, magazine articles, corporate communications … But I can honestly say that writing picture books is the most fun, by far!
      My path to publication was like that of a lot of debut authors. Loads of rejections, a few close calls, many more rejections and then, a yes! I had almost given up on finding a home for SOPHIE when Anne Schwartz of Schwartz & Wade called.

Q. How did the idea for SOPHIE'S SQUASH come to you?
The initial idea came from something my daughter, Sonia, did when she was three. We were shopping for groceries, and I put a butternut squash in the cart. When it came time to check out, I couldn’t find the squash. That’s when I realized Sonia was rocking it like a baby. When we got home, she drew a face on it and carried it around like a doll. We never did eat it.
      So that got the story going. Then, I added a lot of things that hadn’t really happened to make it a better story. That’s the benefit of writing fiction. You can make things end the way you wish they would have in real life. (SPOILER ALERT: The parents in my book are much more patient than I was.)

Q. I love the humor in SOPHIE'S SQUASH. It's both for adults and clever children - for Sophie is indeed a bright little girl. The best picture books speak to all the ages that will be reading them (children and their parents). How did you nail that?
Well, my daughter, Sonia, has had a very dry sense of humor from an early age. So when I made the dialogue up, I wanted it to be something I could imagine Sonia saying. A few editors said they thought Sophie sounded too grown-up, but I think that’s part of her charm, and the humor.
      And, now that I’ve read this story out loud to lots of groups of people, I’ve noticed that adults and kids laugh in different places. I’d like to say I planned that, but I really didn’t.

Q. We always hear that children should solve their own problems in stories - it empowers them. Sophie definitely did that. But I wonder if that was hard to noodle out?
It was! My earliest drafts had the story ending with Sophie’s dad going to the grocery store to get her an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash. So Sophie didn’t solve anything. Then, the dad came home with Ace the goldfish after Bernice lingered and died. That didn’t work either. It was too sad.
      It took me a bit – and some good advice from my critique group friends – to have Sophie ask the farmer for advice and then plant Bernice in the garden.

Q. You received the Golden Kite Award for SOPHIE'S SQUASH!!! Congratulations!!! And how did that feel?
It was amazing. I had obviously heard of the award, but it was never on my radar that I might actually win it. So when my phone rang and the caller ID said “Lin Oliver,” I thought it might be an automated message about needing to renew my SCBWI dues.
      Instead, it was Lin herself, telling me I’d won. It was a very happy moment. I think I tweeted something like I was happy, just like Pharrell Williams, except he was a better dancer and wore cooler hats. Some spontaneous kitchen dancing may also have occurred. But there were no witnesses, so nothing can be proved.

Q. You have now become the Squash Queen! (I love this photo of the Dallas Arboretum somebody shared on Sophie's FB page as a perfect place to visit.) Are you having fun with it?
Oh, yes. I think the biggest change is that while I still eat squash soup and risotto, I now feel slightly guilty doing so. And I’ve received adorable photos and stories from readers. A few of my favorite moments are:
      • A girl who dressed up as Sophie and took her own Bernice to school. The kids were supposed to dress up as Dr. Seuss characters, but she wanted to be Sophie and Bernice.

     • A little boy who had a mini pumpkin he was treating like a baby. His mom read him the story so he’d know that it wouldn’t last forever.

     • A pre-school class that added a squash to its classroom, took great care of it and then planted it when it started getting soft. They sent me picture of it sprouting in a pot. The class also tied taking care of the squash to its kindness curriculum, which made me very happy indeed.

Q. I hear you're working on a sequel?
SOPHIE’S SEEDS, which should come out in 2016, follows Sophie to kindergarten. She brings Bonnie and Baxter with her, of course, but her classmates don’t immediately appreciate their value.
      And let’s just say Sophie doesn’t immediately appreciate her classmates either. But things eventually work out. (And again, I drew on one instance from my daughter’s pre-school days for the heart of the story.)

Q. I also heard you mention a new story inspired by somebody's Facebook post. How do you go from idea to finished story?
Oh, goodness. It really varies. I guess the common thread is that I hear or see some small nugget of something that I like – either because it’s nicely phrased, or odd, or silly or charming. Then, I work with it to see what it could become. Sometimes, the story falls into place fairly easily. Other times, it seems I struggle for every word.
     I have three critique groups I’m in where I get really good feedback, and that helps bring my stories together, too.

Q. Did you do anything special, or squash-related to celebrate the release of SOPHIE'S SQUASH?
I had a great book launch party with squash for the kids to decorate and temporary tattoos with designs from the book. But the coolest thing came from writer Lisa Morlock who’s in one of my critique groups. She sent me a beautifully painted, hollow gourd that now has a place of honor in my writing room.
      Lisa also sent me a card with some famous quotations she’d modified to make them appropriate for the occasion, like:
      “Well-behaved squash rarely make history.”
     “The earth laughs in squash.”
     “Hope is a thing with squash.”

Q. I can't wait to read more of your work Pat! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Thank you so much for having me!

Pat has kindly agreed to send one free, signed and dedicated copy of SOPHIE'S SQUASH to one of my lucky commenters! Must live in the continental US to win. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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17. My Best Friends Are Trees...

I'm a guest poster on the Little Pickle Press blog today, where I talk about how when I was a kid, My Best Friends Were Trees. I hope you'll GO READ!

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18. Coloring Page Tuesday - Tire Swing!

A special edition of Coloring Page Tuesdays and e's news went out today with BIG NEWS about my new historical fiction mid-grade A BIRD ON WATER STREET. CLICK HERE to go see.
     Read anywhere, read everywhere! Were you like me? Did you read even while walking down the sidewalk?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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19. Coloring Page Tuesday - Spring Chicken!

     It's Spring chicken! We just celebrated the Vernal Equinox. Hubbie and I have been searching out sunbeams to have lunch in - ahhhhhh! How about you? Are you glad spring is here? Does it look like spring where you live?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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20. Environmental destruction - it's still happening...

My forthcoming novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET has a strong environmental message... Young Jack lives in a southern Appalachian mining town completely denuded by a century of poor copper mining practices. There are no birds, no bugs, no trees - the only living things in his world are the people in the community that he loves. And although I wish I could say it was completely made up, my story is based on a real time and place in 1986 in Copperhill, Tennessee near the Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia state lines. And while Copperhill went through an amazing reclamation, it's a story that could happen in many American towns and still does.
      Earlier today, a friend sent me an article at the News Observer: US House votes to allow dumping of coal mining waste into streams - posted March 25, 2015 - that's not 1986, that's yesterday. My friend said the article reminded her of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. And indeed it reminds me too.
     It's part of why I wrote the story. Because if the adults of today can still make such debilitating decisions towards our environment, maybe our children are our only hope. Maybe they will save us. Maybe they will read A BIRD ON WATER STREET and see how it relates to environmental issues in their own back yards - whether it be mining, fracking, waste disposal, clear-cutting, you name it. Because the story in A BIRD ON WATER STREET is symbolic of hundreds of stories just like it - of other areas that are still waiting for their revitalization - for their adults to wise up and do the right thing.
     Some of the reviews for A BIRD ON WATER STREET explain it best:

"Dulemba expertly weaves the strands of Coppertown's environmental, economic, and personal relationships and gives a life-affirming portrait of a Southern Appalachian town needing and ready for new life. Jack's story is set in the late 1980s, but could replicate the experience of countless miners' children in this country and the world, in the past century and the present."

"Important lessons for young people abound as it evokes the environmental and financial devastation a big industry and personal greed can have on the innocent lives of workers, their careers, and where they've chosen to live."

"Ultimately hopeful, this story will give readers a first look at the kind of environmental and social issues surrounding large industry that they'll encounter later in books like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle.""
     Yes, mother nature is resilient. Yes, she can make a comeback. But we must never forget that our actions can make our earth uninhabitable for humankind. Mother Nature doesn't need us - we need her! It's a lesson we must learn for our own survival.
     CLICK HERE to learn more about A BIRD ON WATER STREET.

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21. PETER PANDA MELTS DOWN! illustrated by John Nez - GIVEAWAY!

I've been a member of the Picture Books Artists Association for many years now, and one of our most active and talented members is John Nez. He has a new book out, PETER PANDA MELTS DOWN! written by Artie Bennett. So I thought it would be a good time to invite him on to talk about making kids book art!

Q. John, you've been illustrating picture books for how long now?
I've been drawing and painting picturebooks for most of my life. Once upon a time, I ran away to New York City to become a book illustrator. I was inspired by my Uncle Edwin Scmidt, who was an illustrator from Philadelphia. He was very successful doing commercial work along with some Little Golden Books. I used to see his name in Little Golden Books at the supermarket and it made me feel like he was famous. A while back I was very proud that my name appeared in the Little Golden Book 50th anniversary catalog along with my Uncle Ed.

Q. How have you watched the business change over the years?
Everything has changed. I used to hand deliver my sketches to my art directors by walking through Central Park. Then I got an answering machine - then a fax machine - then FedEx came along so I could move back to Seattle. Next came computers and photoshop - and PDFs and e-books and the internet. Whew! Was it always this confusing? Starting out in New York City was the most exciting time of my life. But of course everything in book illustration has changed over and over since then. I think the trick is to try to stay new and keep a feeling in the work.

Q. I love your line and watercolor method - is that always how you've worked? How has your style changed over the years?
The style for Peter Panda is just one of many styles I work in. I always try for something different in each new book. My previous book, MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIE, is very elaborate in comparison. Often I get tired of doing one style and want to make something entirely the opposite next time. After I did the painterly realism of CROMWELL DIXON'S SKY-CYCLE, I next did a very bold and abstract digital style for THE DANCING CLOCK.
      The art direction for PETER PANDA MELTS DOWN! was very much 'less is more'. The art was done with simple brush-pen on watercolor paper and digital color. I also have colored line styles and more traditional watercolor styles. Working digitally allows a range of styles from traditional painting to hard edged design. I totally love photoshop and the other tools in the Creative Suite - they make my life so much better. With digital tools I can be my own art director and change anything about an image. I could go on for ages about how I make pictures. My method is a process that I'm always tweaking. Some day I'll have to write a book and reveal my secret techniques. (Some of them are way cool!) By the way, I still use real paper for drawing and painting.

Q. What was your process behind Peter Panda and nailing this sweet character even during a meltdown?
This book all came about from a chance meeting at ALA-mid-winter13, when I got to chat with Blue Apple Books. The publisher, Harriet Ziefert, (who has written 100's of amazing picture books), was looking for a panda character. So I went home and designed the tryout character in about 3 hours. Everyone loved it! It was exactly what they were looking for. And one of those first sketches later turned into the cover, since it perfectly captures the mixed up emotions that I was trying to convey. I had not even seen the manuscript at that point. It was hugely helpful to meet with the publishers so I knew exactly what they wanted.

Q. What was your path to publication when you first entered this business?
Originally I moved to NYC with a half scholarship from the Parsons School of Design. I even got to take a class from Maurice Sendak. But after one semester I dropped out because I already had a degree in English and I wanted to start freelancing. I had $300 in the bank and a huge portfolio that I'd worked on for years. So I schlepped my 30 pound portfolio all around Manhattan. My lucky break came one morning in the middle of a blizzard in February, where I found refuge in the office of Holt. The editor, Miriam Chaikin, paged through my portfolio and quietly said, "Well, we have a little book that you could do... but it only pays $800". My career was rescued! Suddenly my bank account doubled! I cancelled Plan B, which was to return to Seattle and find another career. I loved every minute of being a freelancer in Manhattan. It was so much fun as more and more jobs rolled in. It was all so exciting... meeting publishers. I was young and starting out in New York! And I've been at it ever since.

Q. How do you advertise yourself nowadays?
I use online directories, social media and and postcards. The internet has changed everything, of course. I keep meaning to look for a literary agent, since I write lots of stories. I've been so busy working that I've scarcely had time this year. My degree was in English. I'm self trained as an artist. I also learned how to make interactive e-book apps for the iPad. I get to do everything in that case. I'm the publisher, actor, writer, producer, designer, choreographer and sound effects. That has been interesting and even a little bit profitable. But it's a different direction from print publishing and the marketing isn't much fun. Also there are no advances so the monetization is a slow steady drip rather than a big gush like with a book advance.

Q. This is how many books for you now?
Just like with birthdays... I kind of stopped counting.

Q. Will you do anything special to celebrate its release?
Actually I've never had a book launch for any of my books, and by now I don't think I'd even know how. Since I work entirely alone and only know three other people in Seattle who do books, it seems too daunting to organize a party in public. Probably about three people would show up. But I've had fun emailing the author, Artie Bennett, who forwards all the rave reviews to me. One new thing about the internet is that now I seem to meet all my authors with email. I know dozens of book artists online... but very few in person. Generally I find it's best to just get on to the next project. Making pictures is where I find the most fun.

Q. Thanks for stopping by dulemba.com!!!

John has kindly agreed to give away a free, signed and dedicated copy of PETER PANDA MELTS DOWN! to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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22. Friday Linky List - March 28, 2014

At Route 19 Writers: "Why Don't Women Illustrators Win Caldecott Awards?" by Carol Baicker-McKee. Hmmmmm.

Neil Gaiman on Why Scary Stories Appeal to Us, the Art of Fear in Children's Books, and the Most Terrifying Ghosts Haunting Society at Brain Pickings

Nahoko Uehashi and illustrator Roger Mello are the winners of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Voting for the Children's Choice Book Awards opened Tuesday at http://ccbookawards.com/, but there's been a lot of debate around this year's choices because it includes Long Story Short, Rush Limbaugh's book. Read an interesting debate over the matter at Betsy Bird's Fuse #8 at SLJ: Press Release Fun: The CBC and the 2014 Children's Choice Book Awards.

At the Business Insider via SwissMiss - This List Proves You're Never Too Old To Do Something Amazing

The UpStanding Desk from Kickstarter - for those trying to get off their duff.

From PW: Bologna 2014: Realism Reigns (and mid-grade apparently)

At BuzzFeed via PW: 15 Breathtaking Illustrations of Fairy Tales From The 1920s

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I adored this book and am excited to have Leslye Walton here for a guest post today...

     Most are surprised to learn that my favorite book as a child was a small paperback bought at a neighbor’s garage sale entitled The Best Baby Name Book in the World. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent hours pouring over the pages of this book, starring my favorite names, highlighting those I found unusual or memorable. It drove my sister crazy that I spent most of our playtime choosing our Barbies’ names and recording them in thick yellow notepads. But it was important to me that I found the right name for each of them. You can learn so much from a name. This was never more apparent to me than when I started writing The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender where Marigold Pie was the self-righteous neighbor with a passion for sweets and Satin Lush the smooth-talking bootlegger. And Ava, the girl with wings? Her name means “bird.”
      For me, writing always starts with the characters. I can’t begin to formulate a story before I know the people who will be living it. Plus, more often than not, it’s the characters that tell me the plot and not the other way around. It takes a while for me to get to know them. They’re like small children always wanting my attention, intruding my thoughts at the most inconvenient times. This is the stage of the writing process where I can be found muttering to myself while walking my dog, when I’m at the gym or grocery shopping. This is when I lose my keys in my own pocket, when I manage to trap myself in my own bathroom and escape only by unscrewing the hinges.
     Check out Leslye's cool writing space with her view of Seattle. She says she's on the 3rd floor and that if she looks down she has a not-so-glamorous view of a parking lot and dumpsters. I say don't look down!

     It’s common—perhaps even acceptable—for children to get carried away with their imaginations. People find it delightful when my three-year-old niece launches into a tale about her make-believe friends. But adults, even creative ones, aren’t allowed this luxury. It’s not quite as adorable when I can’t pull myself away from these strange creations of mine. When ordinary tasks are overlooked; a heaping laundry pile neglected in the corner, social commitments and dentist appointments long forgotten.
      Perhaps this is why whenever someone asks my advice on being a writer, I always recommend that they do something else. Anything else. If they can find something to do other than write and still feel fulfilled in life, go do that other thing. It’s dreadfully difficult to muster up the self-motivation, determination, and, let’s face it, complete and utter delusion that such a job requires while still remembering to pay the rent on time. I wrote Ava Lavender not with dreams of success, not even with the idea that anyone else would ever read it, let alone enjoy it. I wrote it simply because I couldn’t not write it. These characters of mine weren’t going to let their story be untold, and they didn’t seem to care whether I had time for much else.
      I have to admit, I’m happy to be their vessel. It suits me quite well. And though these strange characters of mine will surely continue to distract me from the ordinary tasks of the day, I no longer feel embarrassed when I have to explain how I managed to lose my keys yet again, or why I can’t seem to remember the date regardless of how many times I ask. But, I am learning. If you peek just underneath the sink in my bathroom, you’ll see I’ve hidden a screwdriver. Just in case.

Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of Leslye's THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER to one of my lucky commenters! Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24. Cute Bookseller Displays on COLOR

Shelf Awareness recently posted two bookseller displays. The first was at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas. The second was a follow-up display at The King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah. Any other bookstores want to pony up? I'll add your photo to this post!

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25. 2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day and Springmingle Wrap-Up!

*Whew!* The whirlwind is over, I had my annual coma/nap/collapse upon returning home. All said, our 2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day and Springmingle Conference were great successes! Since ID is my baby (I'm Illustrator Coordinator), I'll start with that one...
     Our speakers this year were spectacular and complimented each other beautifully: Ruth Sanderson (award-winning illustrator); Loraine Joyner (Art Director for Peachtree Publishing); Cheryl Willis Hudson (Just Us Books); and Lucy Ruth Cummins (Art Director for S&S/Paula Wiseman Books).

     Ruth talked about storyboarding, which was basically a walk-through of how to create a book - fantastic! Loraine mentored twelve of our attendees on a three-month long project building up to ID and she went way above and beyond what any of us expected. Here's the gang with their finished products (click to see it bigger in a new window):
Cheryl talked about diversity in children's books, which was timely and something we all need to be more aware of. Lucy Ruth was hilarious as she walked us through the design process and gave tips for how illustrators can be on ADs radar more. I also gave my 15-minute soap-box about working with self-publishers - what to expect and ask for. We had a panel with our speakers, and once again did our Quickfire portfolio reviews, in which the panel spends two minutes on each portfolio giving knee-jerk feedback - SO informative and educational for everybody!
     I've been going through the comments people wrote on their name tags (which they then turned in for the giveaway - a free copy of Ruth Sanderson's kickstarter anthology of her work - a real treasure), and the response has been just gushing about how much everybody enjoyed the day and really learned a ton, which is the whole point!
     Springmingle followed Illustrators' Day right on its heels with a cocktail party to transition from one to the other. We moved our portfolios down the hall and had a well-deserved unwind. Sort of... It was time for the next party!
     Cheryl Klein (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine) gave a writer's intensive while I was doing Illustrators' Day and I heard it was like attending a college class for six hours! She's really so good. Jo Kittinger gave a lovely speech about what SCBWI has meant to her, especially now that she's retiring from the Regional Advisor position after eleven years! Claudia gave her a great big hug onstage:

     Saturday morning Ruth gave a truly moving speech about her history and how it influenced her illustrating. It all tied together and made so much sense, but there wasn't a dry eye in the room. She's my boss at Hollins University in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - and even though I know her, she blew me away.
     Cheryl Willis Hudson's passion for getting books that reflect all races and cultures into the hands of readers was palpable. She was so inspirational and exactly what we all needed to hear, especially with the recent surveys about the dearth of diversity in today's books. (It's one reason I am so proud of my many diverse books.)
      The split session before lunch included Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (MY literary agency), Lucy Ruth, and Jo again. I went to see Lucy Ruth again (yes, it got a bit confusing with two Cheryl's and two Ruths!). I have to say - that girl is hilarious and so in love with what she does. She's really good - and I say this with a degree in Graphic Design under my belt and twelve years of Art Director experience myself). I mean, she's really, really good at what she does. And she has an adorable dog - Penny.
     Lunch was exciting as six of us got to talk about our latest releases for a few minutes. What fun to share my own good news with dear friends Robyn Hood Black (three poetry anthologies), Krista Russell (THE OTHER SIDE OF FREE), Susan Rosson Spain (THE DEEP CUT is now in paperback), Trisha Slay (NOT SO LONG AGO NOT SO FAR AWAY), Me, and Vicky Alvear Shecter (ANUBIS SPEAKS). People said I did a great job talking up A BIRD ON WATER STREET, and in fact, the bookstore (FoxTale Book Shoppe) SOLD OUT of it - at least two dozen or more copies!!!!! That's never happened to me before - wow!

     After lunch we had our choice of Cheryl K., Cheryl H., or Ruth. Since I missed out on Cheryl's writing workshop, I really wanted to get a little bit of time with her. She was incredibly informative as always. She's so good at breaking down what this writing thing is all about.
     Joan talked about wearing several hats as an agent, writer, and mom. Then there was the signing party where I got to sign all those lovely sold copies of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. Another first: I was signing the entire time!!!

Then we had a lovely dinner (I had a blast getting to know Lucy Ruth better - she is awesome!) and the First Looks/First 8 Lines panel, which is always interesting.
     Sunday, Lucy Ruth once again shared her hilarious brilliance, Cheryl shared more insight on what publishers want to see and we had another, especially good panel with all our acquiring speakers.
     After the giveaways and sad good-byes (and fuzzy hugs) the PAL members (traditionally published) had a lunch meeting to talk about how SCBWI might better help us promote our books and speaking engagements. I think that went very well!
     I drove Ruth to the airport and then, as I mentioned, fell into a deep sleep on the couch. Conferences are so invigorating, draining, fun, exhausting. I ate like a horse and actually lost three pounds - crazy.
     Thanks to our Co-Regional Advisors Claudia Pearson and Kathleen Bradshaw for doing such a great job, as well as our Assistant Regional Advisor Heather Montgomery (who actually does more than she lets on). And thanks to Lisa Stauffer for planning Springmingle - she's the duck - calm and cool on top and paddling like all get-out underneath. Now I get to dream about when I can next get together with all my writing buds - can't wait!

LINKS that were mentioned this weekend:
Corey Godbey
MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - Hollins University
The Cockeyed Caravan
Wes Anderson palettes
Brad Hill - Key Techniques (I couldn't find the one on changing points of view)

Photos by Prescott Hill, used with permission.

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