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Don't you hate to see a conglomerate of pumpkins, turkeys, and Christmas trees all lumped together under "seasonal" in your local Wal-Mart? As I look at greeting card seasonal marketing, I'm reminded of the rule of thumb for illustrators; 6 months ahead. So in June, the Christmas tree cards should be designed, and, if I were REALLY on top of things, my store would be replete with Thanksgiving cards and I would be busily designing, um, Easter cards. Really? Still, I want to do with my cards what I like to do in life. I want to linger over each and every holiday. And to me, Halloween isn't over until the "HALLOWEEN STORES" which fill our local emptied store buildings seasonally are gone, I can't see a single candy corn or pumpkin at the local craft store, and the "Halloween" cards are out of the greeting card tiers. Guess what! That never happens! As the Christmas aisle expands with it's glitter, electronic villages and displays, the Halloween aisle will have it's huge markdown, and Thanksgiving, well it's passed over almost entire save a few little pilgrim figurines and an occasional turkey cardboard cut out. So I did a little experimenting. During a Google search, selecting only black and white (to assure me of images of the past, I found one site with suggestions on how to make a Thanksgiving yard sign: http://groupart.info/16871-how-to-make-thanksgiving-turkey-meal-yard-decorations.html And a delightful vintage image of what was probably a 1920's invitation
When people had a little festive gathering on Thanksgiving Eve, perhaps attended their local church; then rose at the crack of dawn to get the bird into what must have been unpredictable ovens. (My mother swore by putting a "diaper" on Tom to keep him moist.) White tablecloths adorned the dining room table, children dressed up in their finest and there was this air of excitement waiting for grandparents, aunts and uncles to arrive? If I could turn back the hands of time, this is one tradition I'd take back; keep Christmas, but let's keep Thanksgiving too.
Happy Halloween everyone! And especially to my fellow artists at Greeting Card Universe who work so diligently to create for the Holiday Season. Many of us are rendering witches and pumpkins while Easter eggs are still on the ground. I can't think of a more beloved holiday for children and the very site of the first ghosts and pumpkins pulls me back to my own "trick or treating" days. Dating myself here, but in our little Old Orchard neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, the day began at the hour and a half lunch hour. We scurried home and hoovered down bologna sandwiches and a big glass of milk (yes, whole milk). Costumes were donned and the walk back to school was a quite a scene as classmates were transformed into witches, ballet dancers, cowboys (and no one thought a thing of a holster and cap gun going into the school for the festivities), and tramps (usually a combination of dad's old sport coat and oversized shoes.) After a collective march by class around the neighborhood, the mothers began to arrive with treats. Popcorn balls, cookies with thick layers of orange icing slathered on them, and a full assortment of candy corn and caramel apples, mostly homemade. A quick dinner preceded the trick or treat festivities. My mom taught piano in our house so it was my dad's job to aid in getting me out the door, a job I'm sure he didn't cherish as I changed my mind about what to wear at least two or three times. Finally, it was dark enough to gather with friends and venture out. There was very little if any "ghoulish-ness" and I don't recall much fake blood, but lots of running and shouting as we made our way across the lawns. Every neighborhood has a "haunted" house and ours was no exception as we avoided a Spanish style home rumored to be occupied by the mob and replete with bullet proof windows. Scary stuff. Much of our time was spent visiting with neighbors who generously invited us in to "ooh and aah" over our costumes and insist we have a powdered doughnut. Cider and doughnuts rounded out the evening (followed of course by a great deal of vigorous tooth brushing.) To those memories I leave you to explore the wonderful Halloween cards offered at Greeting Card Universe. http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/Holidays-Halloween Please consider these wonderful designs for your Halloween fun. Warm Traditions Greeting Card Store
Let me say I've always been a fan of Autumn. Rides in the country at this time of year evoke in me a love of all things fall and vintage. I recall a letter from author E.B. White, written to his mother as he travelled in early spring to Ohio. This is the feeling I wanted to convey to the viewers of this particular illustration 'He said: "Spring has arrived in Ohio. This is a flat state where red pigs graze in bright green fields and where farms are neat and prosperous — not like New York farms. We roll along through dozens of villages and cities whose names we never heard. [...] Toward evening the country scenes become idyllic — the sort of thing you have seen in the moving pictures and never quite believed in. Sheep come drifting up long green lawns where poplars throw interminable shadows, come drifting up and stand like statues beneath white plum blossoms, while far down the land and off in the fields a little Ford tractor moves like a snail across the furrows. Lilacs are in full bloom and the lavender ironwood blossoms are coloring all the roads." '
I'm proud to announce a brand new photo card for Halloween.
I really love the photo cards. A bit more challenging to create (thank the graphic gods for Photoshop, which decided to be temperamental today). Such a terrific way to showcase your little one's special moment as a ninja turtle or princess. Enjoy!
It's officially October. Our area here is NW Ohio is replete with "OKTOBERFESTS" and Halloween is in the air. I'm delighted to present another Halloween photocard:
Hopefully more will follow. This design is a result of a favorite Halloween treat of mine, (second only to candy apples and doughnuts). Here in NW Ohio we have a number of festivals. They include anything from corn mazes to "Haunted Houses". My adult children will be heading to CEDAR POINT, for their "Hallowed weekends full of adult frights, while our TOLEDO ZOO will feature a Pumpkin Path filled with more "gentle" boo's. Let me know what you'd like to see? And as always, I'm happy to design custom cards for those autumn festivals and Halloween parties.
Think it's a bit odd to begin a post with cards for cancer patients? Well October is National Breast Cancer awareness month. And Greeting Card Universe is featuring cards for Cancer patients, right down to the very youngest.
"Be Not Afraid" Lovely design by artist Sandra Rose Designs.
"Ready to Rumble" Hilarious and light hearted for pediatric patients. By artist Corrie Kuipers
"Hey Girl" Another terrific and lighthearted pediatric design for the young or "young at heart". By Artist Corrie Kuipers
On a personal note, this month marks five years since my sister, a breast cancer survivor called to say the cancer had returned and she had six weeks to two years to live. In denial, fearful, and yes, a bit angry, my daughter and I moved into her house (thankfully only two blocks away). I wish these cards had been around then (perhaps they were and I just was oblivious). Our minds flying into fix it mode, we both fought even the slightest hint that she wouldn't win her fight, a fight she lost eight months later. I think today, how cancer has impacted my life~ I have never had cancer, thank God. But my earliest memory is the passing of my grandmother of breast cancer. I was only 5 at the time, and it was whispered about. No one scarcely mentioned it much less thought of sending a card. Then my aunt, cousins, my mother and my sister, all diagnosed and all survivors because of advancements in the diagnostics and treatment. But I have a friend who have lost a son to neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer. She is today a huge advocate for CHOP in Philadelphia and is a regular guest speaker to parents and staff. I have not designed a card for Cancer patients, but assuredly that will change today. So if you know someone awaiting the start of treatment, someone who feels less of a person because of surgery, someone who is entering Hospice care, or is awaiting the results of a blood test, please look over our lovely cards. The messages are diverse and sensitive, beautifully illustrated, and spoken from the heart.
Clearly, I'm not an Einstein. After spending nearly a day figuring out why my LIKE BOX wouldn't show up at my Warm Traditions FB page https://www.facebook.com/#!/warmtraditionsgreetingcards , a light bulb went off. I had "liked" my own page. When we like a page the "LIKE" box magically disappears, even if we "LIKE" our own page. I guess that prevents one from overly promoting oneself. At any rate, problem solved, others can "LIKE" my page, and I don't need to create an APP or do any other fancy configuring. (Deep sigh).On a happier note, the first of the Halloween cards was approved today. Photo cards are in and I'm having a ball designing cards that my clients can upload pictures and edit their own text. Hope everyone loves the "gently spooky" image. Look for more Halloween designs to follow.
It's fall finally. And I was thrilled with the arrival of newly ordered Stonehenge paper from fellow colored pencil portrait artist, Ann Kullberg. It's a subtle reminder that I need to tacklea new portrait. While I've done commissioned portraits, it really excites me to take my own photos see the excitement on a client's face that the rendition truly captures their loved one, whether it be child, pet, or home. Meanwhile I'm thrilled to announce the arrival of High Holy Day cards for our Jewish friends. I'm hoping to add one more image at Warm Traditions Greeting card store and then it will be Halloween all the way! Currently working on a piece that's making me hungry along those lines. Not quite ready to share; but I'll give a hint: a popular candy sold this time of year. And since I have the taste buds of a healthy (and thin) eight year old, it's among my favorites as well. The newly crisp air is calling and I'm tempted to visit some of the local apple orchards today (as my son is in Ann Arbor.) So off to charge my camera and search online for local fare. Happy fall everyone!
After much trepidation, I can at last declare "Malabar Kitty" finished. Not quite as "anemic" as I feared she'd be, I'm anxious to move on to a commissioned kitty piece. A lovely Maine coon cat on a wrought iron bench. Enjoy!
Many thanks to fellow greeting card designer, Judy Adamson for featuring the cards of those of us who still "paint by hand". I'm delighted that my favorite house will be among those featured in the category of New house, first home, homes with a nostalgic bent. The house I chose was a favorite of mine; a stucco 1920's home with many of the accoutrements of that period. Done in watercolor it is now available at GREETING CARD UNIVERSE from my greeting card store. http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/candacejhardy
I was hoping to have a sweet kitty I photographed years ago in Mansfield OHio at the Malabar Farm ready for an online colored pencil art show. As I look at the anemic colors with two weeks to finish, I'm thinking it's not going to happen. As you can see, it's very undramatic but has these wonderful "purple" hues. I have discovered a terrific new Prismacolor I'm now enamoured with: dark cherry; much better than black and really warms those shadows. Ah I do love this kitty.
It was a while in coming; my passion for colored pencil. Quite a while, actually. I discovered recently that I first bought a Bernard Poulin colored pencil book in the 90's. Entranced by his deep colors, colors I had never seen in the weak anemic colored pencils from grade school. I proceeded to examine Prismacolor pencils and was smitten. Thankfully there are artists such as Ann Kullberg, who generously share their talents through online (and now print colored pencil magazines) as well as workshops. Little Emma,(see above) was shown in a 2005 FMP (From My Perspective, and online magazine colored pencil show). Emma is a sweet little cairn terrier belonging to my niece. She was rendered on tinted paper with Prismacolor pencils, one of my earliest attempts. I am now delighted to be associated with Greeting Card Universe and am accepting clients for colored pencil portraiture. An exciting venture to be sure.
Fighting a nasty four days of vertigo has left me pondering what is actually wrong. It can't be flu, no temp, aches pains, etc. It's annoying when you can't draw and assignments are due. And how is it possible that a room can feel like it's about to swim as you're staying in one place. Worst case scenario, my MS has yet again reared it's large and ugly head, just when weather is nice enough to really enjoy- quick before it snows. So, pens and paints wait as I speculate. Get the doctor's number out and put it back. Speculate some more. Thank goodness for audio books. Perhaps I'll briefly not fight this and give in to it. Some pillows and delicious words of James Patterson. What say you?
Chilly but pleasant Memorial Day and Happy Birthday Lily Pearl, our 5 yr. old Dalmation. She has a huge stuffed toy fish waiting for her. (She almost saw it as we brought it in the house and I swear she followed my daughter to see where she was hiding it.) Of course she'll squeak it to death and we'll have to keep her from annihilating it. Then a game of hide and seek of course. And a special treat in her dinner bowl. Happy Birthday Sweet little girl. You'll never know how glad we are you share your life with us.
An evening walk. Chilly but doable; We needed jackets, my daughter and I. It was a bit darker than I like to out; no longer seeing our shadows and dependent on streetlights and a few opened living room windows to shine light out on ourselves. I regretted not having brought a flashlight and was just about to complain when my daughter grabbed my arm. I instinctively stopped and looked around, "furtively", you might say, were this the beginning of a mystery novel. Karen pointed up into the tree. I saw nothing unusl, save what appeared a batlike presence fluttering madly in place, then flying off. On second look, an odd shaped mass of feathers, twittering softly, babyish even. It was a few seconds before I realized I was looking at an owl. Small, but indigenous to NW Ohio is the sweet little saw whet owl. I longed for a camera. We stood in awe for about 15 minutes, then went on our way. Nest time, a flashlight and a camera, I promise.
It was an innocent enough search. I remembered a dear friend with whom I'd recently reconnected by way of the internet. I wanted to send her a birthday card, her birthday falling on Mother's Day this year. What I encountered saddened me beyond belief. Her 17 year old son had succumbed to neuroblastoma, a form of children's cancer, this past April. How could I not send condolences, even though time and space had separated us. I found a lovely card, indicative of her spiritual persuasion and emailed it to her. We exchanged a number of emails promising to keep in better touch and I felt I'd regained a friend from my past. I remember two things about my friend Sue, from our earlier days. She was wonderful around kids, always able to approach them at there level (something I struggled with). And she loved tea and plants. I was always assured that the teapot would be boiling when I went to her apartment. And one birthday of mine, she took me plant shopping; the gift including her gift of time patiently showing me the ins and outs of keeping a plant from becoming "root-bound" as well as a book for the "purple thumb". I will contemplate those memories this mother's day. I will think of those mom's whose memories are painful or non-existent. I will hold my nearly grown children a little closer and pray for those mom's whose children are out of reach. And I will remember teachers and other adults who didn't physically bear children that non-the less were capable of mothering over the years. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!
I'm trying to enjoy the wonderful fall weather before either rain or snow comes. Today is so gorgeous and cool enough for a good walk. So many birds in the yard (my mom always saw that as a sign of impending doom_ hope that's a wive's tale; don't want anything to mar this great day and the fact that Im at least temporarily remitting. Great inspiration for artwork. I've had some terrific assignments that lend themselve to my love of history (or at the very least, nostalgia). Working on a conestoga wagon, draft horses in traces, ah, where do all those lines go, LOL! But for the next 40 minutes, I'm going to indulge and get a nice long walk.
After the hype of Halloween and before the hype of Election Day, sits a quiet barely acknowledged day of All Soul's. Traditionally a day of prayers for the dead, it leaves me reflective on individuals who are dearly departed and recently departed. People I thought would be around forever, or, at least until I got around to calling, going to lunch, writing. But they weren't. Three dear friends have passed since August. I have no doubt they're around, chuckling at my stupidity, encouraging me in moments of doubt, and, I hope, forgiving my moments of nastiness, indifference or just plain neglect. Did I dismiss them when I heard they had Alzheimers, figuring they wouldn't know who I was anyway? Did I avoid them when the terrible C word came up, wondering what I'd say? Was I offended when, in a senior moment, they forgot my name or lost my number? Whatever the reason, I'm sure I could have done better. So before the Christmas season is upon us, that's my goal. To do better.
I'm not the most patient person and never more so than waiting to hear from an editor. And it's not unsual to have a six month wait for an answer. Even then, one should expect to do some rewrites. I know the rule of thumb is to have seven (yes, seven!) things out there at all times. I'm sure the suspense of wondering who is reading what and what do they think of it would render me completely helpless. After all, how many hours can one reasonably spend in front of a screen that isn't platinum? It's a heady thing to have your manuscript requested. You begin to fly around wondering what to wear, what time he'll pick you up, (oops no, that's high school prom). You begin to fly around wondering how you'll cast your leading character when Hollywood comes calling. Then you weakly crawl to the publisher's site and hesitantly peel back the covers of what he already deemed publishable. Oh, no, I'm not nearly edgy enough for the YA market. Oh, God!, that character has my character's voice! Rendering my character now speechless. I received advice a long time ago; tell your story. Have engaging realistic characters, Then worry about marketing. Having done that, move to the next project. OK. done. Excuse me while I check my email.
Not sure whether to be glad we're iced in or not. While I wouldn't have minded all snow (which would have translated into 66-12 inches, Mother Nature decided to once again treat us to a variety of events ranging from snow, to sleet (about 5:00 this morning) to freezing rain. The temps hovering right at freezing cause the moisture to arrive as rain then freeze at the ground. Now it's thawing somewhat, leaving a slushy mess which is supposed to be followed by snow. YUCK! I think of all those individuals trying to get home for Christmas and other winter holidays and celebrations and my heart goes out to them. On the plus side, being "weathered in" always gives rise to the creative muses and so I'll probably work on my much delayed "REUBEN" a wip in progress that even I weary of at times. (My illustrative style changed after I was well into it, preferring now watercolor over layered colored pencil, but will continue in the latter venue on this project.) I'll try to ignore, at least for the time being, the drier buzzer going off, or the sound of the salt truck. And transport myself to pre-war Germany for some artwork.
We're bombarded once a gain with snow. A whopping 8-12 inches due by dinner time. So I'm going to be stuck indoors once again (my nasty MS keeping me from safely shoveling or walking.) thank goodness for the exercise tapes I can watch from my computer screen. A favorite, a walking tape lets me walk and actually break a sweat. Problem is, my screensaver often takes over in the middle of it so I need to push mouse to keep it going. Aurgh! Happy skiing to those in the midst of this most recent winter storm. Stay safe and warm.