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I remember my topsy-turvy life after my husband broke the news he didn’t love me anymore. I couldn’t remember exactly when things started going wrong and I was plagued with questions and an overwhelming sense of confusion and frustration. I started retracing my steps in hope of finding myself again. I felt like a fragile figurine from the gift shop and I kept thinking “why didn’t you just leave me where you found me since you didn’t want me anyway?” I took myself back to a time and place of safety…I went back to the friends I had ten years prior in hopes of doing it all again and getting it right. Until I read The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish I didn’t realize just how funny that type of re-creation could be! I was immediately drawn to The Opposite of Everything and felt kindred with main character Brooklyn Journalist, Daniel Plotnik and his humorous approach to a difficult situation.
Of course, I don’t claim a divorce is as traumatic or life-altering as a health crisis, and yet an emotional crisis certainly feels just as real. I love the laughter in the face of tragedy approach Kalish’s character takes to aid in his resurrection after disease, divorce, and a tumultuous relationship with his father. The thought of new beginnings, choosing a different path, and a better ending appeals to many of us, and Kalish does a fabulous job of making this journey entertaining and downright hysterical!
Believe it or not, Plotnick’s own father pushes him off the George Washington Bridge and instead of sulking, Plotnick devises a plan to turn life around by doing the opposite of everything he had done before. This first novel by David Kalish is humorous, real, and a story you’ll want to share with friends. The Opposite of Everything was named a finalist in the Somerset Fiction Awards and will quickly climb the best seller lists. Get your copy today and enjoy every twist, turn, and laugh! Congratulations to Kalish on a fabulous book – definitely 5 stars from this reader whose only regret is not meeting character Daniel Plotnik in the real world – he is a character I’d love to have coffee with!
Book Details: Amazon Link Length: 191 pages Publisher: WiDo Publishing (February 17, 2014) ASIN: B00IIUUSKG
David Kalish will be touring with WOW! beginning April 21st to help promote The Opposite of Everything, find upcoming dates on our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.
Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host David Kalish or one of our other touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 7, Andre 5, Breccan nearly 6 months), three dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
We're very excited to be a part of the Liv, Forever Blog Tour today. Liv, Forever is the debut novel from writer and director Amy Talkington and is published by Soho Teen. Amy is guest posting today on the topic of 10 Things You Didn't Know About Amy Talkington. Let's go!
10 Things You Didn't Know About Amy Talkington
1) I once wore two different-sized potlids as a top.
2) I used to be obsessed with Marcel Duchamp and Jane’s Addiction.
3) I can hold a headstand for 5 minutes. Sometimes.
4) As a kid I went deer hunting with my dad (but never shot anything).
5) I speak a little sign language (my aunt is deaf and has cerebral palsy).
6) I once gave a live interview to CNN atop a yacht in Cannes.
7) I'm a Cherokee (American Indian).
8) During my brief career as a waitress I spilled a plate of spaghetti on a band called Flotsam and Jetsam.
9) Tom Verlaine scored my brother's movie in my old Bowery loft.
10) I have haggled with Gene Simmons... and won.
Thanks, Amy! Also, check out the trailer for Liv, Forever below.
Liv, Forever is in stores now. Local SoCal readers, Amy has 2 events this week. One TONIGHT March 12 at Skylight Books and one tomorrow night March 13 at B&N The Grove. Thanks to Amy and Soho Teen for including us on this blog tour.
For whatever reason, 2014 is a dark year in children’s middle grade fiction. I speak from experience. Fantasy in particular has been steeped in a kind of thoughtful darkness, from The Glass Sentence and The Thickety to The Riverman and Twelve Minutes to Midnight with varying levels of success. And though none would contest the fact that they are creepy, only Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener has had the chutzpah to actually write, “A Scary Story” on its title pages as a kind of thoughtful dare. A relatively new middle grade author, still young in the field, reading this book it’s hard to reconcile it with Auxier’s previous novel Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. It is almost as if Mr. Auxier took his whimsy, pulled out a long sharp stick, and stabbed it repeatedly in the heart and left it to die in the snow so as to give us a sublimely horrific little novel. Long story short this novel is Little Shop of Horrors meets The Secret Garden. I hope I’m not giving too much away by saying that. Even if I am, I regret nothing. Here we have a book that ostensibly gives us an old-fashioned tale worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, but that steeps it in a serious and thought provoking discussion of the roles of both lies and stories when you’re facing difficulties in your life. Madcap brilliant.
Molly and Kip are driving a fish cart, pulled by a horse named Galileo, to their deaths. That’s what everyone’s been telling them anyway. Living without parents, Molly sees herself as her brother’s guardian and is intent upon finding a safe place for the both of them. When she’s hired to work as a servant at the mysterious Windsor estate she thinks the job might be too good to be true. Indeed, the place (located deep in something called “the sour woods”) is a decrepit old mansion falling apart at the seams. The locals avoid it and advise the kids to do so too. Things are even stranger inside. The people who live in the hollow home appear to be both pale and drawn. And it isn’t long before both Molly and Kip discover the mysterious night gardener, who enters the house unbidden every evening, tending to a tree that seems to have a life of its own. A tree that can grant you your heart’s desire if you would like. And all it wants in return? Nothing you’d ever miss. Just a piece of your soul.
For a time, the book this most reminded me of was M.P. Kozlowsky’s little known Juniper Berry, a title that could rival this one in terms of creepiness. Both books involve trees and wishes and souls tied into unlawful bargains with dark sources. There the similarities end, though. Auxier has crafted with undeniable care a book that dares to ask whether or not the things we wish for are the things best for us in the end. His storytelling works in large part too because he gives us a unique situation. Here we have two characters that are desperately trying to stay in an awful, dangerous situation by any means necessary. You sympathize with Molly’s dilemma at the start, but even though you’re fairly certain there’s something awful lurking beneath the surface of the manor, you find yourself rooting for her, really hoping that she gets the job of working there. It’s a strange sensation, this dual hope to both save the heroine and plunge her into deeper danger.
What really made The Night Gardener stand out for me, however, was that the point of the book (insofar as I could tell) was to establish storytelling vs. lies. At one point Molly thinks seriously about what the difference between the two might be. “Both lies and stories involved saying things that weren’t true, but somehow the lies inside the stories felt true.” She eventually comes to the conclusion that lies hurt people and stories help them, a statement that is met with agreement on the part of an old storyteller named Hester who follows the words up with, “But helps them to do what?” These thoughts are continued later when Molly considers further and says, “A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens ‘em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide.” Nuff said.
As I mentioned before, Auxier’s previous novel Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was his original chapter book debut. As a devotee of Peter Pan and books of that ilk, it felt like more of an homage at times that a book that stood on its own two feet. In the case of The Night Gardener no such confusion remains. Auxier’s writing has grown some chest hair and put on some muscles. Consider, for example, a moment when Molly has woken up out of a bad dream to find a dead leaf in her hair. “Molly held it up against the window, letting the moonlight shine through its brittle skin. Tiny twisted veins branched out from the center stem – a tree inside a tree.” I love the simplicity of that. Particularly when you take into account the fact that the tree that created the leaf may not have been your usual benign sapling.
In the back of the book in his Author’s Note Auxier acknowledges his many influences when writing this. Everything from Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes to The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon Gent. by Washington Irving to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s simple only on the surface The Secret Garden. All these made sense to me (though I’m not familiar with the Irving yet) but I wondered if there were other ties out there as well. For example, the character of Hester, an old storyteller and junk woman, reminded me of nothing so much as the junk woman character in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth. A character that in that film also straddles the line between lies and stories and how lying to yourself only does you harm. Coincidence or influence? Only Mr. Auxier knows for sure.
If I am to have any kind of a problem with the book then perhaps it is with the Irish brogue. Not, I should say, that any American child is even going to notice it. Rather, it’ll be adults like myself that can’t help but see it and find it, ever so briefly, takes us out of the story. I don’t find it a huge impediment, but rather a pebble sized stumbling block, barely standing in the way of my full enjoyment of the piece.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling offers some very good advice on dealing with uncertain magical beings. “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” Would that our heroes in this book had been handed such advice early in life, but then I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story to go on, now would we? In the end, the book raises as many questions as it answers. Do we, as humans, have an innate fear of becoming beholden to the plants we tend? Was the villain of the piece’s greatest crime to wish away death? Maybe the Peter Pan influence still lingers in Mr. Auxier’s pen, but comes out in unexpected ways. This is the kind of book that would happen if Captain Hook, a man most afraid of the ticking of a clock, took up horticulture instead of piracy. But the questions about why we lie to ourselves and why we find comfort in stories are without a doubt the sections that push this book from mere Hammer horror to horror that makes you stop and think, even as you run like mad to escape the psychopaths on your heels. Smart and terrifying by turns, hand this book to the kid who supped of Coraline and came back to you demanding more. Sweet creepy stuff.
My bilingual book From North to South/ Del norte al sur, illustrated by Joe Cepeda, is back in print & now available in paperback edition. The book is available at http://www.leeandlow.com/
Thanks to all readers who had emailed me asking for the book. It is great to know that it has touched many lives.
Here are some emails.
"Like you, I am an elementary school teacher. Most of the students in my class are Latino and, of course, immigration and deportations are huge issues. I've been trying to purchase your book From North to South but have been unable to do so. It seems like it's not selling anywhere! Do you know how I can get 6 copies of that book?"
"From North to South is truly a deeply moving book and so important in our community. One of my grad students used it with families and their response was very heartfelt as one of the grandmothers was living the situation with her son who was deported. The grandmother is caring for her grandchild left behind."
"Thank you so much for writing From North to South. It's so important for children to understand why they are separated from their parents. The numbers are only increasing, unfortunately.
My fiance was recently removed to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I bought your book and took it to him last time I was there. He wrote inside the book, and I mailed it to his children for their Christmas present. Recently, I was at an immigration conference (I work in the advocacy field) and spoke to an attorney who is working with several mothers who have been removed. I recommended the book and she bought a few and mailed them to Guatemala for the parents to write in for their children. Anyhow I thought you'd enjoy knowing that the book is making an impact in the lives of children."
Review by Ariadna Sánchez
From North to South is written by René Colato Laínez and tenderly illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Colato Laínez’s story portrays the struggle of hundreds of immigrant families who suffer because of their legal status in the United States. From North to South shows the challenges and effects of family separation while dreams and hopes are abruptly stopped by the border fence.
José and his parents live in San Diego, California. One day, José’s mom is arrested and deported to Tijuana, Mexico during a raid in the factory where she works. After weeks of being away from his mother, José and his father finally had the opportunity to go to Tijuana, Mexico to visit her mother at a shelter called Centro Madre Assunta.*
As soon as José sees his mother, he desperately runs into her mother’s arms. This event brings relief to the whole family and their broken hearts. José and his parents spend a very special weekend at Centro Madre Assunta. As a one big family, José and his mother spend some time with other children and women that are waiting to reunite with their loved ones on the other side of the border. They play games, plant seeds, eat, and rejoice for being part of this big family at Centro Madre Assunta. José’s dad is a legal permanent resident, so this means that José’s mom will soon be getting her legal status.
When it was time to say farewell to his mother, the sun also began to hide behind the mountain. As his mother read a story, José fell asleep on his mother lap. This very painful separation marks José’s family forever. Like a giant magnet, “the north” pulls José and his father back to San Diego while “the south” holds his mother back in Tijuana.Time and hope are her best allies to calm her broken heart.
Remember reading gives you wings!!!
*Centro Madre Assunta is a shelter located in Tijuana, Mexico. Centro Madre Assunta provides a refuge for women and children who have been deported or are trying to cross the border to meet again with their relatives in the United States. For more information about the shelter visit the following links:
Above: Using dark cool colours and shapes that look similar to clutching fingers I hope to have conveyed a sense of danger for the bun, (who wants to keep dry naturally). Below: Children tumble out of school at the end of a day. Bun meets natural predator, school children.
More from The Very Cross Bun. I'm about half way through the final art for this book. I don't think there's a single illustration without a few things I wouldn't change if I could go back and revise. But for those few imperfections, I think there are just as many happy accidents. I have tried to maintain a sense of play in their making, which I hope comes out in the art. Approaching each piece at the outset as an experiment rather than a finished piece seems to have tricked my perfectionism into finishing illustrations that in the end I hope are spontaneous and enjoyable to look at.
I love these beautiful notebooks by card publisher 'Think of Me'. Featuring colourful flowers and hearts they were spotted online at Card Crush. Great shapes and lovely use of colour....
Read the rest of this post
Classic wisdom for unpublished authors seeking traditional publication has been that if you’re writing a novel (fiction), you need a complete manuscript. If you’re writing non-fiction, you need a book proposal plus two or three sample chapters. If you’re writing a memoir, who knows — everybody has a different opinion.
Here’s what is true and will always be true: unpublished fiction authors MUST have a complete novel before trying to get an agent or publisher. No question, no exceptions.
But things are changing in publishing, especially when it comes to non-fiction. In some ways, the standards are higher. It’s more of a risk for a publisher to say “yes” to an unproven author. And in light of this reality, I’m going to make a bold and probably controversial suggestion.
No matter what you’re writing, even if you’re already published, even if it’s non-fiction or memoir:
Consider writing the whole book before you search for a publisher.
Why would I say such a thing? A few reasons:
1. It lowers the risk for the publisher.
Click here to read the whole post at Books & Such.
Graduate Collection is a retail concept, which
works with the exciting design talent that emerges fresh from UK
colleges. Graduate Collection was founded by British businessman Mario
Forsyth and helps support new designers and turn their
collections into reality, from manufacture through to marketing and retail, and placing them in their stylish online store. At Graduate Collection, all of the
Did any of you go along to Crufts last week? As I’m writing this in advance I’m looking forward to going there on Sunday. Partly for work and partly because I just love seeing all the dogs. Although I admit there was one year when I'd looked at so many dogs during the afternoon, I commented on how one particular dog was sitting so still and obediently... It turned out to be a life-sized stuffed cuddly toy!
I have always loved dogs. When I was little and all the pleading and pestering to mum and dad to let me have a dog came to nothing, I would play outside with a piece of rope which I pretended was a dog lead attached to my make-believe dog. Since then, happily I've been lucky enough to have had some wonderful dogs as pets. As anyone with a dog knows, our four-footed friends aren't just companions, they are protectors and comforters. They're always pleased to see you, and as confidants, you can tell your dog all your secrets and troubles and you know they won’t breathe a word to another soul.
Dogs are certainly man’s best friend – and many a writer’s best friend too. As a freelancer I've been writing for Dogs Monthly magazine since the 1990s. The first article was on my dog, Pippa who had a walk-on part in a play at my local theatre which resulted in her being interviewed on the radio!
Me and Pippa
Since then there have been articles on assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs - sniffing out anything and everything from ammunition and illegal drugs to detecting illnesses and impending epileptic fits. There have been articles on Army dogs, police dogs, cadaver dogs and stunt dogs; pedigree and cross breeds; dogs with super skills and dogs just desperate for love - to mention just a few.
For many of us, walking the dog is just the ticket when we need to get away from it all and let our minds wander. That free time can be inspirational. And as we know dogs have been inspiring writers – and artists for centuries.
Here’s a few canine-themed poems which I hope you’ll enjoy reading as much as I have... and some nice doggy photos to share with you!
Tom's Little Dog
Grandson Jake and Chippy.
by Walter de la Mare
Tom told his dog called Tim to beg, And up at once he sat, His two clear amber eyes fixed fast, His haunches on his mat.
Tom poised a lump of sugar on His nose; then, "Trust!" says he; Stiff as a guardsman sat his Tim; Never a hair stirred he.
"Paid for!" says Tom; and in a trice Up jerked that moist black nose; A snap of teeth, a crunch, a munch, And down the sugar goes!
To a Lady with an Unruly and Ill-mannered Dog Who Bit several Persons of Importance
by Sir Walter Raleigh
Your dog is not a dog of grace; He does not wag the tail or beg; He bit Miss Dickson in the face; He bit a Bailie in the leg.
What tragic choices such a dog
One of the perks of writing about dogs!
Presents to visitor or friend! Outside there is the Glasgow fog; Within, a hydrophobic end.
Yet some relief even terror brings, For when our life is cold and gray We waste our strength on little things, And fret our puny souls away.
A snarl! A scruffle round the room! A sense that Death is drawing near! And human creatures reassume The elemental robe of fear.
So when my colleague makes his moan Of careless cooks, and warts, and debt, -- Enlarge his views, restore his tone, And introduce him to your Pet!
The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling
Daughter Debbie, boyfriend Steve and Lola
There is sorrow enough in the natural way From men and women to fill our day; And when we are certain of sorrow in store, Why do we always arrange for more? Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy Love unflinching that cannot lie -- Perfect passion and worship fed By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head. Nevertheless it is hardly fair To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits, And the vet's unspoken prescription runs To lethal chambers or loaded guns, Then you will find -- it's your own affair -- But . . . you've given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will, With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!) When the spirit hat answered your every mood Is gone -- wherever it goes -- for good, You will discover how much you care, And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We've sorrow enough in the natural way, When it comes to burying Christian clay. Our loves are not given, but only lent, At compound interest of cent per cent. Though it is not always the case, I believe, That the longer we've kept'em, the more do we grieve;
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong, A short-time loan is as bad as a long -- So why in -- Heaven (before we are there) Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
And some dogs are worth their weight in gold.
Thank you Rob Tysall of Tysall's Photography for the photos.
And if you'd like to look at me website, it's: www.annevansbooks.co.uk
Top London store Liberty have released their new season fabrics with a gorgeous range of spring summer 2014 designs. Petals and blooms are a big trend so there are plenty of floral fabrics available by the metre for sewing projects of all kinds. Here are some of my choices but lots more are available online here.
A Snicker of Magic (for ages 8-12) by Natalie Lloyd
Felicity has always been different. She can see words, but not just the kind written on paper or typed on a computer screen. Felicity can see the words of people around her. Their thoughts and whispers, feelings and dreams are alive to her. Some are glittery; some have feet like caterpillars, and one is even full of lightning bolts. She collects them in her little blue book that she always carries with her.
Felicity’s mother, Holly Pickles, has a wandering heart, and has never settled down long enough to call anywhere “home.” Midnight Gulch may be different, though. Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away.
Now, for the first time, Felicity has a best friend, and she will do anything to convince her mom that they need to stay. But first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.
Will Felicity be able to call the magical Midnight Gulch home? Read Chapter 1
and see if you get hooked! What kind of magic you would have if you lived in Midnight Gulch? Share in the Comments section!
The third book in the Sary Society series, SURRENDER THE SKY, has a shiny new cover!
Release Date: May, 2014
Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken.
When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidentally shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel Sary, intent on exposing them to the world, starts interfering with Gabby’s work. And there’s no denying her attraction to Jassen, who is torn between his duties and his heart. With threats at every turn and her immortality on the line, Gabby has to find a way to save the Sary or surrender the sky forever. Surrender the Sky is a stand alone title that follows COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE, with cameos from several of the characters in the first books! It will be available in May wherever ebooks are sold!
Join in the celebration for a $10 Amazon gift card! Use the rafflecopter below for entries :)
My husband and kids are all taking turns being on school vacation with some overlaps, but basically from March 1 - March 31 one, two or three of them are home at a time. This is lovely on every level except getting work done. So anyone who happens to be waiting on me for anything, that's why :) And I promise I haven't forgotten you!
The snow is melting. (Yes! Really! Although it's got a long way to go...)
Yesterday was idyllic! 59 degrees and sunny! I know we have yet to pass the midpoint of March, but it was the kind of day that fills you with the hope and belief that spring is actually thinking about coming. After this winter, it is just so welcome. I took #5 out horseback riding, and the other two horses jumped out of the pasture and came to join us, galloping and leaping and cavorting like colts, skidding on leftover ice and charging through substantial slushy snow, jumping out of their skins with happiness at being able to stretch their legs and run. Even though it took us 45 minutes to catch them and get everyone safely back in the barn, it was lovely to see them so happy. Everyone was feeling a little spring fever :)
So. Writing, riding, blogging, teaching, school visiting, spring vacationing, critiquing, barn cleaning, house cleaning (maybe in April :)), driving practice (yes, we're doing THAT again!), guest posting, running outdoors again with the dogs, and March Madness Contesting = happy and busy :)
And now it's time for Would You Read It, but first, for today's Something Chocolate, I believe I've discovered an idea whose time has come (really, why have I never seen these before???)
Witness the beauty! The perfection! It's chocolate cream pie AND brownie!
Yes. You may have another :)
Now then. Today's pitch comes to us from Ann who says, "I have only been writing seriously for a year. An interesting fact about me is that I have an identical twin sister named Donna and my husband has an identical twin brother named Don. I am an elementary school teacher. I have always loved children's books and meeting authors (I even met Lois Lowry in the early 1990's where she signed a quilt my students and I made in honor of Number the Stars). I'm an avid reader, especially YA. I like to scrapbook, bake, cook. and take photos."
Here is her pitch:
Working Title: Sk8ter Boy Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8) The Pitch: Peter wants to be an ice skater but can’t because he’s homeless, and he doesn’t have the money for a pair of skates.But when there’s a poetry contest at school with a cash prize, he is able to make his smooth words glide and spin so that he wins the skates and his classmates’ respect.
So what do you think? Would You Read It? YES, MAYBE or NO?
If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest. If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Ann improve her pitch. Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome. (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful. I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks! For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read Itor on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above. There are openings in June so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Ann is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! I am looking forward to having family home in whatever combinations they arrive in and to more days like yesterday as spring begins to overtake winter and to the March Madness Writing Contest (even though I haven't the slightest idea what I'm going to write for my sample or when I'm going to write it!)
At Chemers Gallery, it's all about the art, but we bet you didn't realize that we consider the framing to be a part of that! Custom framing is an art form in itself, and we strive to create just the right tone to fit not only your artwork but your life as well.
We love it when new mouldings are introduced - our imagination runs wild with the sheer scale of possibilities that open up. Over the years we've seen trends come and go and return once again. We've also seen some crazy ideas that just might work. (Remember when we brought badass to the OC??)
Shell We're always searching for the latest and greatest trends to share with you, and we were shell-shocked with how gorgeous this one is! That's right, a veneer of mother-of-pearl shell creates soft translucence in three finishes and sizes. Available in shimmery white, champagne gold and, well, think of a glistening sea urchin for the third color! You'll just have to see what we're talking about in person. Perfectly elegant for bridal portraits and vanity mirrors and absolutely adorable for baby snaps, these frames are sure to make a splash.
Speaking of shell, faux tortoise shell is back and better than ever! Frames like these haven't been available for about a decade, and we're thrilled to see their return. Elegant and stately, they make us think of manor homes, men's smoking rooms and natural history museums. Thoroughly suited for antique prints including botanical and Audubon style, the depth of color lends a richness to the presentation and elevates your art to the next level.
Rustic What's old is new again - the "reclaimed" wood look has been reclaimed in today's shapes and colors! Rustic with a modern twist, these beautifully textured mouldings look like they've led former lives as wine barrels, barn siding, and factory flooring. Clean lines fit in with the current feel for simple shape and form. We can see these frames on folk art and seascapes, giving a real period look to the finished product.
We've seen color remaining strong despite a 10 year hiatus, and there are some vibrantly playful frames keeping pace! New on the scene are acrylic mouldings that can be easily personalized in more than 80 colors to exactly fit your style. Choose a glossy or frosted finish in single, double and now, even triple color - patterned frames are also available! Vivid hues provide a real pop of personality. The possibilities are endless to turn your treasures into a work of art that's as unique as you are.
Welded Steel We continue on with our color trends to an unlikely material for picture framing - painted welded steel! Cool and modern with an industrial edge, these new frames are surprisingly versatile, fit for anything from movie posters and abstracts to the more traditional "slice of life" and even plein air. Scrubbed & sanded antiquing keeps the look from being too finished. Available in as many color combinations as you can imagine, we dare you to try this look out!
As a lucky-strike extra, the first 20 people who come in, even just to look, and mention this blog will get a free SoapRock!
The Leipzig Book Fair starts tomorrow, and runs through the 16th; they'll also announce the winners of the Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse, the big German spring book prize (the German Book Prize is the big(ger) fall prize).
They let readers vote for their favorite in the fiction category (Am Ende schmeissen wir mit Gold by Fabian Hischmann easily won) -- and I'm kind of disappointed that they used the word 'voting' for this process; there is a perfectly good German word for that .....
Meanwhile, today Pankaj Mishra -- who has been on some kind of prize-roll (he just won the big-money Windham Campbell Prize) -- gets the Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung ('Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding') -- but in Die Welt Necla Kelek denounces the choice, arguing Mishra is 'anti-European' (and not much one for understanding ...).
It'll be interesting to see what he says in his acceptance speech.
(Also always good to see: that even a small weekly like the Falter offers a jam-packed book review section in the Leipzig-week issue.)
By Karen Cioffi
I was recently asked to look over a children’s fiction picture book manuscript. This was not a paying job, just a favor.
The ‘new to writing’ authors, who are both health care professionals, had already been calling major publishers to find out submission requirements. They were told their manuscript would not be looked at without an agent.
So, they went to the library to
“They were halfway through dinner when Tycho announced, “I don’t want to go to bed tonight!”
Tycho does not want to go to sleep because there are dragons under his bed. Dad lets his son in on a secret. Dragons love milk. He explains that milk soothes a dragon’s fiery throats. If a dragon’ throat is soothed it becomes a happy dragon. Tycho is happy about the dragon but wants to know about the alligator. Dad had an alligator under his bed and it liked old shoes. Because alligator do not floss, their gums always hurt. Chewing on an old shoe helps sooth an alligator’s gums.
Because Dragons Love Milk will entertain any young boy who has ever had a dragon, an alligator, or a T-rex under his bed. It is refreshing to read a story about a young boy and his dad. At least two of a boy’s favorite animals are under Tycho’s bed (dragon and T-rex). The way dad breaks down his son’s fears is imaginative and adorable. The three terrifying animals become less threatening when they are fond of milk, stories, and old, stinky shoes.
The illustrations need detail to define one object from another. I see blocks of color, some of which fade or blend into the next. A color picture book needs to have lots of color, and details help. Give the child something to look at. If he cannot yet read, the only way to hold his visual attention is through details. A few toys, pictures on the walls, a window, any of this would have improved the boy’s room. Monsters get restless when there is nothing to play with in a room. The other problem is the lack of a credit page/copyright page. Every book must have certain pages and this is one of them.
Spreads are lighter in finished paperback book.
Kids will love the story. They will enjoy the odd things each “monster” needs and the reason they need them. Suspending belief is easy thanks to the author’s pen. She writes sentences that flow into one another, making them easy to read, and easy for a young child to understand. This is a nice debut story. I wish it were longer just so I can read more of the author’s imagination. Because Love Milk would be the perfect story to read right before a kindergarten classroom nap. A good choice for boys and dads.
Learn more about Because Dragons Love Milk HERE!
Buy your own copy of Because Dragons Love Milk at Amazon—your local bookstore.
Cate Hart is all about guilty pleasures. She loves salted caramel mochas, Justin Timberlake, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Steampunk. As a native Nashvillian, Cate’s biggest guilty pleasure is watching Nashville.
When she’s reading, Cate looks for character-driven stories, a distinguished voice, and intriguing plots. She loves characters that surprise her, like the pirate with a heart of gold, and plots that keep her guessing until the very last page.
When she’s not reading queries, Cate works with clients to build their platform, works on PR projects to help promote clients’ books, and reads manuscripts with an editorial eye.
CATE’S SUBMISSION PREFERENCES:
Cate seeks unique stories with well-crafted plots and unforgettable characters with a strong voice. Her favorite genre is historical, whether it’s Middle Grade or YA, Adult Romance or something even spicier. The time periods she loves most are Elizabethan England, the American and French Revolutions, the Victorian Era and the Gilded Age. She loves Scottish and French History. If it’s steampunk, clockpunk, or candlepunk she wants it.
Her first love will always be YA. She will consider any genre, but is looking especially for Fantasy and Magical Realism.
For Middle Grade, she is looking for Fantasy, Adventure and Mystery with a humorous or heart-warming voice and a unique concept.
For Adult, she is only accepting Historical Romance. Cate will also consider select LGBTQ and Erotica.
For Non-Fiction, Cate will consider select histories and biographies. She is looking for secret histories and little known facts and events. She enjoys reading about the everyday heroes of the American and French Revolutions, something more beyond the tactics of war.
To Submit your work:
Cate prefers you attach your 1-2 page synopsis and the first five pages of your manuscript as a separate Word .doc. to query [at] corvisieroagency [dot] com, Put “Query Cate” and your title in the subject line. You can place the text in the body of the e-mail or include as an attachment.
The Corvisiero Literary Agency accepts electronic queries only.
Please only submit one project at a time. If your query is rejected, you may then submit a query for another project.
Do not e-mail queries to any of our Agents directly unless the work has been solicited.
A rejection from one agent is a rejection from all. Please do not query another agent unless expressly invited.
Via I learn that the Library and Information Association of South Africa has selected the Top 20 South African Books, 1994-2014 (from 253 titles nominated by librarians).
An interesting variety, certainly -- but only two titles are under review at the complete review: Disgrace by J.M.Coetzee and 13 ure by Deon Meyer.
About three months ago, I had a life change. I left my job at Grosset & Dunlap at Penguin to become an Editor at Egmont USA. It was a very exciting move for me, if a bit scary. Grosset had been my first publishing job and my first “real job” out of college. I had a ton of memories there and it felt like my second home.
When I arrived at Egmont in December, I was thrilled to begin working on a new list and with a new team, but I realized something was missing. Now, this may sound crazy, but hear me out.
My desk at Grosset had been very lived over the course of my five years there, I had acquired numerous action figures, plush toys, photos, and trinkets from my authors. When I got home from my first day at Egmont, I knew I needed to bring in the little things that would make my desk feel like “home” again. What are those things?
Well, my Benjamin Linus bobblehead, of course.
And my paper machete, inspired by an amazing typo written by one of authors (attempting to spell papier mâché) and what I use on particularly intense edits!
At last, my workspace was complete!
My journey to complete my new workspace made me wonder where all of the other Pub(lishing) Crawl members do their work. Here’s a sneak peek at where they write/agent/and sell their books!
Erin Bowman’s amazing workspace
Susan Dennard’s desk
Julie Eshbaugh’s writing space
Amie Kaufman – I usually work in my study, but I love to move around as well — this is the view of my writing spot at one of my favourite bars in Melbourne, where I can sit right on the river and watch the world go by!
Biljana Likic’s workspace
Jodi Meadows – You might think there’s a lot of yarn on this desk. You’d be right. You’re probably also overlooking some. There’s more than you think. No, another one besides those.
E.C. Myers – Basically, I write 95% of the time on my netbook, even when I’m at home, and I mostly use my larger laptop and keyboard for other work — graphics, video editing, e-mail — and blogging. I work best outside of my apartment.
Adam Silvera’s desk at work
Adam Silvera’s workspace for writing
Joanna Volpe’s desk
Joanna Volpe’s bookshelf
Kat Zhang – Here’s where I’m writing right now (local B&N). Only add in half a dozen toddlers running around.
The Pub(lishing) Crawl team is a great example of how everyone has a different place where they work. What makes your workspace unique and special to you?
Jordan Hamessley London is an Editor at Egmont USA, where she edits middle grade and YA. Her current titles include Isla J. Bick’s new series, The Dark Passages (#1 White Space), Bree DeSpain’s new series Into the Dark (#1 The Shadow Prince), and more. Prior to Egmont, Jordan worked at Grosset and Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers where she edited Adam-Troy Castro’s middle grade horror series Gustav Gloom, Ben H. Winters and Adam F. Watkin’s series of horror poetry Literally Disturbed, Michelle Schusterman’s I Heart Band series, Adam F. Watkins’s alphabet picture book R is for Robot and more.When not editing, Jordan can be found on twitter talking about books, scary movies, and musical theater.
Author-illustrator Wendell Minor, self-described bird- and cloud-watcher, “takes his young readers very seriously,” wrote Jean Craighead George, Newbery Award-winning writer for children, in a personal reminiscence of Minor before her death in 2012. “Just as he wants them to see the buffalo or crane in its accurate environment, he wants them also to feel that this animal is so loveable that it must be saved.”
This reminiscence appears in Wendell Minor’s America: 25 Years of Children’s Book Art, the catalog that accompanies the art exhibit of the same name, appearing at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts until May 26, 2014.
(Click to enlarge)
As Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, the Chief Curator and Director of the museum, notes in the introduction to the catalog, Minor sold his 1955 Chevy in order to pay for his studies at the Ringling College of Art in Florida after first deciding that he wanted to pursue his life-long love of art (by the time he reached fourth grade, he knew he’d be an artist one day) and eventually moved to New York in 1968 “with little more than his portfolio in hand.” Since then, he’s illustrated over 50 children’s books (see here) and was last year awarded the The New England Independent Booksellers Association’s President’s Award for lifetime achievement in arts and letters.
Minor brings readers what historian Leonard Marcus describes in the catalog as his own unique Americana. This, he writes, is “a Minor passion born of the artist’s rural Illinois upbringing. For him the Midwest is not a blank patchwork of ‘fly-over states’ but rather a fertile proving ground that has inspired generations of human struggle and transcendence.” Illustration for Minor, Marcus adds, is no less than an act of “total immersion,” as he digs deep into his research and fine tunes every possible detail.
And after 25 years, it’s evident Minor doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. Pictured here is an illustration from Robert Burleigh’s upcoming picture book biography, Edward Hopper Paints His World, to be released in August by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt. (Burleigh and Minor have collaborated frequently; there is more on that below.) “It’s truly the journey that counts,” Minor tells Stephanie in an interview printed in the catalog, “not the destination. I’m still searching, still turning up rocks to find the next challenge.” Exploring and researching the life of Hopper was just one of these many “rocks” for Minor, and something tells me he’s got a lot more to bring us readers.
I’m glad he’s visiting 7-Imp this morning to share what he’s created and learned over his long and illustrious career. We’re having blueberry pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup and black coffee, and his wife, author Florence Minor, joins us. (Here’s where I wish so hard that these interviews weren’t cyber-interviews, because not only would I love to meet them, but I’m missing out on REAL Vermont maple syrup.)
Let’s get to it …
* * * * * * *
A sneak peek at Wendell’s illustrations for Tony Johnston’sSequoia from Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, to be released later this year
Jules: What is your usual medium?
Wendell: Windsor & Newton designers gouache on Strathmore 500 Bristol. On occasion, I have painted in acrylic on various wood surfaces, masonite panels, or stretched canvas, all of which produce a totally different effect than watercolor. When I do plain air painting, I use Windsor & Newton cake watercolors on Arches cold press paper.
Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?
Wendell: I find that the very young reader is drawn to very simple and strong compositions, as well as a colorful palette. Whenever possible, I like to incorporate a little surprise or clue of some kind –- something that’s not necessarily obvious but that children seem to enjoy finding. Older readers can be offered much more complex and detailed narrative images in chapter and young adult books.
“If you were a moon bear, / You’d stay out late at night …”
“If you were a sun bear, / You’d have a looooooooong tongue …”
“If you were a spectacled bear, / You’d have furry eyeglasses …”
Art and cover from Florence’s If You Were a Panda Bear, illustrated by Wendell (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013) (Click each image above to enlarge)
Spread from and cover of the Minors’ If You Were a Penguin (Katherine Tegen Books, 2009) (Click spread to enlarge)
Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?
Wendell: My wife, Florence, and I feel very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful New England towns in Connecticut — and on the East coast for that matter! Washington, Connecticut, was founded in 1779. It has a great Revolutionary War history, and I truly love the fact that our first President visited the local pub in our town on many occasions, run by Colonel Cogswell of Cogswell Tavern. Washington has thousands of acres of nature preserves, beautiful historic homes, and our town Green looks as if it was painted by Norman Rockwell.
Wendell, age two, with Lady
Drawings from first grade. About the robin, top-left, Minor writes in Wendell Minor’s America: “One of my earliest crayon drawings at the age of five was of a very fat robin that filled almost the entire sheet of Manila paper. To this day, I consider my ‘five-hundred pound robin’ one of my finest drawings.” (Click to enlarge)
Wendell’s English castle drawing, age 14
Florence in New York; Wendell in Illinois
Florence and Wendell today
Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?
Wendell: My very first published piece of art was completed at Hallmark Cards [see snowman below] immediately after graduating from Ringling College of Art. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be a published artist at the age of 22!
Wendell in Santa Fe, 1976
Before coming to New York, I did a brief stint in the advertising world and discovered it wasn’t for me. Upon moving to New York, I was fortunate enough to land a job apprenticing with one of the great book cover designers of his time, Paul Bacon, and before long I had enough work in my portfolio and enough confidence to start my own freelance career -– and I have now been freelancing for more than four decades. (No, I’m not really that old!)
Sketches and art from Robert Burleigh’sAbraham Lincoln Comes Home (originally released by Henry Holt in 2008; paperback reprint edition from Square Fish was released January 2014) In Wendell Minor’s America, Burleigh writes: “Wendell Minor is, in the best sense, an American Romantic. Or perhaps I should say, a romantic of America.” (Click each image above to enlarge)
Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.
Wendell: My usual school visit is a bit like a grown-up version of show-and-tell. I love to show my childhood drawings in my PowerPoint presentation, so my young audience can see that I started out exactly where they are, and that generally prompts a lot of questions. I like to ask my young audience if anyone knows what dyslexia is, and after discussing what it means, I like to tell young readers that I am dyslexic and had to attend special reading classes all through my grade school years. The response from students and teachers alike has always been one of great surprise. I think it’s very important for young students to know that everyone has difficulties and challenges to overcome, and that they too can overcome their own challenges.
Fan mail from children
I love to talk about the process of how I create a book and how important it is to have an understanding of history and the natural world. My books have always incorporated an element of teaching history and understanding of nature — and bringing to light biographies of very important people in American history whose stories stress the challenges that everyone must overcome to be good at what they do. I always talk about my love of animals and why they so often show up in my books. One of my very first drawings was of a well-fed-looking robin (which I now refer to as my 500-pound robin). I encourage young students who have difficulty with writing to think about drawing pictures of their pet(s) or a friend’s pet and then writing a story around the pictures. I tell them, “write about and draw what you know, what you love.”
More thank-you letters from children — In Wendell Minor’s America, Wendell says in an interview with Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, “It is rewarding when I receive fan letters from parents, teachers, and young readers saying that they became interested in a subject because they learned about it in one of my books. The beauty is that everyone brings a different story to a picture.” (Click the third one to enlarge)
7-Imp: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.
Wendell: I taught for 11 years at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and continue to lecture at art schools and colleges across the country.
The most important thing that teaching has taught me is that it’s one thing to know your craft, but a very different thing to be able to enlighten and instruct others as to how to learn their own craft. Through teaching, I believe I have learned as much about my own shortcomings as an artist as the students may have learned from my strengths as an artist. I approach each class with the premise that the act of creating art is not only a craft, but a point-of-view, a philosophy and a belief that what you have to say as an individual is worth putting on paper.
Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?
Wendell: This is my 26th year of illustrating picture books, and I have completed over 40 at this time; in fact, everyone is invited to my exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, which opened in November and continues till May 26, 2014, celebrating 25 years of picture book art.
“This is a story that took so long to happen that only the stars were present at the beginning and at the end. …”
“Giantess George saw earthquakes crack open the land. She saw mountains begin to rise and volcanoes erupt. She watched furry animals, large and small, run over the footprints of the long-vanished dinosaurs.”
“Then something new happened again. The raft stopped. Her feet touched land. …”
Some sketches and final spreads from the book (Click each to enlarge)
Wendell’s models for the book
Cover art and final jacket (Click each to enlarge)
My most recent collaboration with Bob is something I am very excited about, Edward Hopper Paints His World (to be released on August 19, 2014, by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt) a picture book biography of Hopper’s life. Hopper has been one of my favorite American painters ever since I can remember. His bold, iconic paintings of the American seashore and cities are some of the most treasured images of the twentieth century. Hopper started his career as an illustrator, and from that craft he developed his own personal vision as a fine artist. He once said that, if an artist is true to his core beliefs, his art changes very little from childhood to maturity. Hopper himself is a classic example of this. He grew up in Nyack, New York, along the Hudson River. He loved the river and he loved boats, and his early childhood drawings reflected that. He loved architecture in the city, and he loved the country and the sea. And those basic subjects became the visual lexicon that represents the Hopper we know today — Hopper, the mature artist.
“Because he was fascinated by the look and feel of old houses, Edward began to make paintings of them. Once he remarked: ‘All I want to do is paint sunlight on the side of a house.’”
“As he drove through the nearby countryside, Edward stayed on the lookout for scenes that moved him …”
At Hopper’s Highland Lighthouse (Click to enlarge)
My art has been described as classical, narrative, and realistic, probably because I’ve studied painters for so many years. In creating children’s books, it has been my mission to not only entertain and teach my young audience, but also to have them feel that my books are mini-mobile art galleries.
Cover concept for a book in development (Click to enlarge)
Jacket layout for a book coming from Charlesbridge in Spring 2015 (Click to enlarge)
Work-in-progress cover art (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster) (Click to enlarge)
Coffee’s on, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Wendell again for visiting 7-Imp.
1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?
Wendell: Unlike many illustrators, I conceive a project in collaboration with a number of author friends. We discuss mutual interests and ideas, and from those discussions often comes an idea for a new book. I work closely with all of my authors and editors from early concept to final art — in other words, throughout the entire process of creating a book. I’ve always felt that this creates a better understanding and, more often than not, a much better book, because of the direct communication. It is my understanding that many illustrators do not have this privilege; however, the evolution of my career from collaborating with numerous authors over the years on covers made this way of working a natural segue into children’s books for me. It’s inconceivable to me that I could create a book without having personal contact with the author. [We strive for] a meeting of the minds regarding our collective and respective intentions.
Florence modeling as Julie (Click to enlarge)
When Florence and I collaborate on books, we use the same process with the distinct advantage of constantly bouncing words and pictures back and forth. I love this way of working and couldn’t think of doing it any other way.
Wendell Minor’s America, Silvey writes: “Few illustrators today pay as much attention to research as Wendell Minor. In every book he works on, he makes sure that he gets the minutest details right.” (Click to enlarge)
When I am writing my own books, however, it’s probably not surprising that, as a recovering dyslexic, a picture storyboard always comes first. Virtually all my ideas for books are born out of interest in and passion for the subject. A good example of this is my collaboration with Bob Burleigh on Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic, which incorporates my love of aviation, a great historical event, and an extraordinary woman in American history.
Wendell’s Lockheed Vega model
Model in the Vega cockpit
Above: Research before illustrating for Robert Burleigh’s Night Flight (Paula Wiseman Books, 2011)
(Click each image to enlarge and see in more detail)
Above: Some early sketches, spreads, and cover designs from Night Flight (Click each image to enlarge and see in more detail)
Final cover (Click to enlarge)
Wendell in a 1927 Waco Biplane
Our new book, Edward Hopper Paints His World, is another example of our shared love for the artist and our attempt to make him more accessible and understood by the very young reader. It is our hope to provide an insight into a child’s learning something about the creative process and the courage it takes to maintain your own voice and your own vision.
I have always made a point of designing my books from cover to cover, even including the copyright page. Sometimes my designs survive intact; other times my designs are in collaboration with an in-house designer in order to achieve an overall mutually-agreed-upon look of the book. I now deliver my completed dummies via email as PDF files. This makes for faster and more accurate communication.
2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.
The “Minor Manor” and studio in the woods (and through the seasons) (Click each image to enlarge)
: The first thing most visitors to our studio usually say is “What a great place to work! It feels like a tree house!” Because the north and west views from the studio look directly into the woods, we have wonderful light, and the pleasure of watching an incredible variety of wildlife and bird life from just about every window: deer, fox, raccoons, turkeys, an occasional coyote, hawks, and cardinals — to name but a few. A two-minute walk along a grassy path from our home, the first floor of the studio has a long row of flat files and an extensive library of reference books, as well as my 50+ picture books. It is also where I do my computer design work.
Library and art storage space (Click each image to enlarge)
Wendell’s studio (Click each image to enlarge)
Cindercat and Sofie in the studio
Upstairs, turn right and you’re in my studio; turn left, and you’re in Florence’s work space. And whether you turn left or right, you’ll find Sofie and Cindercat, who “travel” to work with us every day in their individual carriers, which Florence and I jokingly refer to as our kitty attaché cases. With large windows on three sides of the studio building, plus four skylights, we both enjoy the wonderful light that pours onto the white walls and wide-plank wood floors. Built-in bookcases fill part of one wall—one can never have enough bookcases!—and my early 1900s’ antique drawing table (much like the one that Norman Rockwell used) is angled to have a perfect view into the woods. Left of my drawing board and across from the bookshelves is a small wicker couch and bench where even more books are usually piled and a southwestern Indian rug underneath it, which my cat Cinder loves to sleep on (when she’s not sleeping on the couch on top of one of my jackets). On another wall facing my drawing table, sketches for the book in progress are taped in sequence, as are paintings once they are completed. Numerous artifacts from southwestern pottery to folk art to model airplanes are scattered around the studio, and even sit atop the 200-year-old antique barn beams from a salvaged Litchfield County dairy barn.
Florence’s studio/home office (Click each image to enlarge)
Florence’s side of the studio (separated from mine by an open doorway and a cut-out window) has the same great light, more book shelves, a work island, file cabinets, her computer, flowers, and lots of evidence of the books we’ve done together, including stuffed penguins and bears—some of which have been collected by Florence and others given as gifts—and a bulletin board that was meant to hold important work documents, but quickly morphed into a personal photo gallery.
The overall feeling of the studio is a combination of early New England and Southwest culture with a Shaker-esque approach to everything that is visually pleasing. When you put in as many hours as I do in the studio, it’s got to be a place that I look forward to being in. And that it is!
The “Minor Manor” (Click each image to enlarge)
3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?
: My favorite children’s book author and illustrator of my childhood still holds a very special place in my mind: Beatrix Potter. She too had a love of science and nature and landscape painting, not to mention animals. She kept and loved many animals and studied their every move, thus creating some of the most endearing and lovable creatures in children’s literature. The stories of Peter Rabbit are still my favorites.
“What can you do with an ENORMOUS pumpkin? Carve it into a … boat! And race in the regatta. Row, row, row your pumpkin!”
“Perhaps your MIGHTY pumpkin could grow up to be president! Hail to the chief!”
4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)
Wendell: Even though I have had occasions to meet many of the illustrators I very much admire, a few of the ones I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, but would like to are: Chris Van Allsburg, James Gurney, and Nancy Ekholm Burkert.
In general, I love all kinds of music: classical, jazz, American popular songbook, early country, bluegrass, and last but not least, classic rock and roll.
(Click to enlarge)
6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Wendell: I was born left-handed, but my father changed me to a right-hander, thinking that it would be easier for me to live in what he perceived was a right-handed world. Would I have been a better artist as a left-hander? I have pondered that question, but who knows?
Old Faithful and Yellowstone Falls (Click each to enlarge)
Wyoming mountain stream watercolor (Click to enlarge)
Lamar Valley in Wyoming (Click to enlarge)
Hiking the High Sierra Loop in Yosemite (Click to enlarge)
Mesa near Los Alamos, New Mexico (Click to enlarge)
Nantucket (Click to enlarge)
7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.
Wendell: Q: Which artists’ biographies have you read, and what have you learned from them?
A: After reading countless biographies of artists and illustrators, I have discovered that there are three basic truths that always seem to shine through: Very successful artists and illustrators have always had to deal with their insecurities, their struggles to have their own voice, and the feeling that there was no end to improving their art. I have gained a great deal of strength from knowing that all artists from the past, the present (and, likely, the future) seem to share these same challenges.