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I'll be posting a fantastic giveaway in this space on Monday. It's open to everyone in the continental US. So stay tuned.
But -- want to put the odds EVEN MORE in your favor? Newsletter subscribers be eligible for their own PRIVATE giveaway. Instructions for entry will be included in the next newsletter, which comes out next Tuesday, February 16. This newsletter will also include appearances this spring through fall after the release of Flamecaster.
So...if you want to get in on your own private giveaway, sign up for my newsletter here
Hi folks, I'm writing about creativity for the month of February. I have a speaking engagement coming up; deets at the end of this post. This week I'm debunking a myth about the creativity being a right-brained activity for manic artists and how poor left-brained people are basically OCD and dull as dogs.
I'm a creative person and I know that most creative people I know are some of the organized folks in existence. I find that to truly be creative I have to systematic about my work and very well organized. Creativity does not happen in my life without my left-brain giving my right-brain some serious limits. As far as I can tell creativity needs my whole brain to work. I'm not a neuro-scientist, but I am freakishly observant. Imagination has to reined in. Day dreaming must lead to production, or it leads to nothing. Deep thoughts about the meaning of everything are basically useless if I don't make them actionable.
So here is the secret of creativity. Light up your whole brain. If you feel that lack creativity, your brain is out shape--kind of like you play video games all day and now have muffin tops on your muffin tops because your physical body is languishing. It took me a long time to admit that my left brain was seriously neglected, and that if I didn't give it some attention, I was never going to do a creative thing with my life. So my journey into creativity started with this: I disciplined myself to make my bed every day. It seems like a small thing but it transformed my creative process.
I learned that making my bed was a small success for everyday that I could count on. Over time I appreciated that my life was filled with one complete success every day. Even the process of making the bed became important -- the economy of motion, the tightness of the sheets, and the arrangement of the pillows. Routine in my everyday life, helped me establish routine in my creative endeavors. I have found greater balance and my work thanks me.
What! I know this bed-making thing is counter-intuitive. Secret: You must be counter-intuitive as much as you are intuitive to do excellent creative work. If you are right-brained person, seek left brain activities. Don't go crazy, just mix some in. If you are a left-brained person, you are annoying everyone with talk of your big imaginative endeavors and your lack of even doing one thing that will bring these endeavors to life.
So there you have it. Day-dreamers, make your bed. Bed makers, take a cup of tea and stare out the window and dream. I hope, my friends, that you find that innovation is flooding what ever you do. Drop by next week for more on creativity. Need a creative jolt, come to my talk:
This creativity series is conjunction with a talk that I will be offering at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 6:15. It's a weekly program they offer called Onederful Wednesday. I will lead a workshop called Divining Creativity. Here are a few of the things I will dig into -- What is holding you back? What will push you forward? What will make you leap? This should shake down the cobwebs and open all the windows. Come out if you are interested. It's free. P.S. There is a meal at 5:15 p.m. and it costs $5.00 person and $20 for families. Call this number to RSVP if you are interested: 979-694-7700.
Here is a doodle: Two trees.
A quote for your pocket
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. Pablo Picasso
Posting here is likely to continue to be sparse for a while, aside from occasional announcement-type notes such as this one. I'm preparing for Ph.D. qualifying exams and anything not related to that and/or to the impending release of Blood: Stories
has been cut from my waking hours since this summer.Blood: Stories
has an official release date of February 20. It is at the printer now as I write this, and can be ordered not only from the publisher, but also from Amazon
(U.S.), Barnes & Noble
, and Small Press Distribution
. (It hasn't hit Book Depository yet, but when/if it does, I'll post a link, as that's often the least expensive way to order internationally.) There will be an e-book version eventually, but not until this summer at the earliest. BLP also has a new subscription series for their books
, which has various options, all of which are less expensive than buying the books individually.
I'll be in New York City this coming weekend to read at the Sunday Salon series on February 21
at Jimmy's No. 43 (43 E. 7th St.) at 7pm alongside Alison Kinney, Thaddeus Rutkowski, and Terese Svoboda. If you're in the area, stop by!
Various other events are coming up, too. I'll mention them here, but you can also keep up with things via Twitter
, my newsletter
, and/or the book's Facebook page
Speaking of books, Eric Schaller's debut story collection, Meet Me in the Middle of the Air
, has now been released by Undertow Publications (and is available as both a bookbook and an e-book at the usual outlets). It's a marvelous concatenation of stories of horror, dark fantasy, and general weirdness. Some are disturbing, some are amusing, some are both. It's a really smart, entertaining book. I'm especially pleased it's coming out now, near to the release of my own collection, because Eric has been my erstwhile partner in a number of crimes, including The Revelator
(a new issue of which is impending. Even more than its been impending before). Eric hasn't always gotten the credit he deserves as fiction writer because he only publishes stories now and then, and often in somewhat esoteric places, so it's a real pleasure and even a (dare I say it?) revelation
to have a whole book of his work and to get to see the range and complexity of his writing.
Finally, in terms of new work, I have exciting news (well, exciting to me) -- my story "Mass" will appear in the next print issue (issue 66) of Conjunctions
. It's a tale of academia, mass shootings, and theoretical physics. Having it published by Conjunctions
is almost as exciting for me as having a book out, because Conjunctions
is my favorite literary journal, the place where the aesthetic feels most convivial to my own, and I've been submitting to it for almost 20 years. I've had stories on the website twice ("The Art of Comedy"
and "The Last Vanishing Man"
), and numerous stories that came close, but were not quite right for the theme of the issue or didn't quite fit with other material or just weren't quite to the editors' tastes. Getting into the pages of Conjunctions
means more to me than getting into The New Yorker
or any other magazine would (although I'd love the New Yorker
I think that's it for news. Thanks for reading, and thanks for bearing with me!
First Love. 14 Warm and Glowing Stories Selected by Gay Head. 1963. Scholastic Book Services. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]
First Love is a vintage collection of short stories compiled by Gay Head for Scholastic in 1963. All of the stories chosen had been previously published in magazines. Most of the stories first appeared in the 1950s, though a few come from the 1940s and early 1960s. (If Barbie were real, this is the kind of book I could see her reading.)
The theme of this collection, is, of course, first love or young love. Some of the stories are narrated from the girl's perspective; some are, however, narrated from the guy's perspective. There is a pair of stories "Sixteen" and "Eighteen" that go together. "Sixteen" by Maureen Daly tells the girl's side of the story--how she went skating one winter's day, was suddenly grasped around the waist by a cute boy, and how they skated and chatted together for what seems like hours. He walked her home. He said he'd call. But he never did. "Eighteen" by Charlie Brodie tells HIS side of the story. Most of the stories are not interconnected.
One of my favorite stories is "Prelude" by Lucille Vaughan Payne. Essentially, this is a clean version of Valley Girl that predates the movie by quite a few decades. Nancy Hollister, the heroine, falls for Stephen Karoladis to the dismay of her popular friends. He is an absolute genius when it comes to music, playing the piano, to be exact. Nancy feels about music the same way he does--it's like they are meant to be. But. He is poor--really, truly poor, work after school as a janitor poor. He will never dress like her friends. And he'll never be able to afford to take her out to the places that her friends go with their dates. But the connection they feel is true and deep and strong. What will happen when he asks her to the prom? Will she go with him knowing that her friends will laugh and mock and bully?! This short story doesn't conclude with "Melt With You
" but it ends well all the same! Since I'll never watch Valley Girl again, most likely, I'm glad to have found a clean alternative that puts a grin on my face.
Another favorite story is "Theme Song" by Dave Grubb. In this one, a young girl falls for a soldier with a broken heart or "broken heart." He's received a letter that "his girl" has taken up with someone new. Though there was a time he loved playing "their song" on the jukebox over and over and over and over again...he discovers that the "B side" of the record had never been played....much to Edith's delight. Hearts mend, and new love stories begin...
One of the more unusual stories in this collection, one that brings to mind the Sesame Street song "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other," is Epicac by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This "romantic" short story is about a machine--a computer--who falls in love. It's more complicated than that. The narrator and the computer both fall in love with the same girl. And it's a science-fiction twist to Cyrano de Bergerac if you will. (The computer writes the poems that make the girl fall for the narrator.)
Essentially readers who discover this vintage, out-of-print, title will discover a LOT of variety. Each story is unique. Some stories are a bit odder than others.
"Blue Valentine" by Mary Gibbons comes to mind! In this story, a guy with great intentions doesn't think through his gift choice. Angelo, the hero of the story, is essentially a good, thoughtful guy. He wants his Valentine's Day gift to his girlfriend to be extraordinarily WONDERFUL, the best of the best, the best that his money can buy. But this gift gets him in BIG TROUBLE with her family. His choice? Well, Gibbons left that a mystery for readers to solve until the last few pages of this short story--probably for some shock value. So I'll do the same.
Another 'odd' story, for me, was The Walnut Trees a story about a girl's BIG, BIG crush on a teacher. (Hint: Don't cut your teacher's yearbook photo out and put it in a heart locket. It is SURE to fall off, open, and HIM be the one to pick it up and hand it back to you!)
Each story has a description of sorts, or tagline. I'll include these for each story:
- Stardust by Virginia Laughlin: Her heart went into orbit when she looked at him...
- A Girl Called Charlie by William Kehoe: She thought that her whole future depended on one date...
- Blue Valentine by Mary Gibbons: Angelo found the wrong gift for the right girl...
- The Walnut Trees by Virginia Akin: A dream can be fashioned from cobwebs...
- Once Upon A Pullman by Florence Jane Soman: Instant charm was not his secret of success...
- Epicac by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: Can a machine fall in love? This one did...
- Sixteen by Maureen Daly: As she saw it...
- Eighteen by Charlie Brodie: His side of the story...
- Prelude by Lucille Vaughan Payne: Music gave her the answer...
- Tomboy by Gertrude Schweitzer: She thought parties were stupid until one special night...
- Bittersweet by Arlene Hale: It takes time to forget...
- Who is Sylvia? by Laura Nelson Baker: Her name was like a haunting melody...
- Theme Song by Dave Grubb: The young soldier might be the answer to Edith's dreams...
- Tough Guy by Peter Brackett: He wore a chip on his shoulder to hide the secret in his heart...
Though the taglines might seem over-the-top ridiculous, the stories in this book were actually quite good and in some ways timeless. Some are better than others, I won't lie. But there were a few I really LOVED. And overall, it was even better than I thought it would be.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Question: I chose to write a literary novel as opposed to genre. How about theme as opposed to story goal? Should I use both theme and story goal? You
We're so glad you're here -- in person and/or following along on this blog.
|SCBWI Team Blog, from Left to Right: Jolie Stekly, Martha Brockenbrough (standing), Lee Wind, Don Tate and Jaime Temairik|
Welcome to #NY16SCBWI, the 17th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference!
Megan Tingley is the executive VP and publisher of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She oversee the entire Young Reader's publishing program as well as acquires and edits a small list of titles for her own list.
Little, Brown has one division and they all work collaboratively to publish board books to young adult.
Mission statement : Publish great books well. They are committed to growth, innovation, and transparency.
The children's book division has gone from being the stepchild to the favorite child in their larger companies, and they are leaders in the diversity of their lists.
The huge successes in the children's book industry are very noticeable and people are then asking where is the next one. But this has also shown that children's books can behave like big adult titles. This gives children's publishing an opportunity to make more decisions.
This is an incredible time to be in publishing. The business has changed so much. The opportunity to get representation is better than before, there's far more exposure with social media, as well as a lot more media stories about the industry. Seeing a picture book win the Newbery and graphic novels winning awards shows an openness to different formats that are a great opportunity.
The notion that print books are going to go away, nobody is worrying about that.
Book creators often wonder, what is the measure of success?
Megan says the thing editors love most to do is discover new talent. Success can be becoming a New York Times
bestseller or winning a Newbery or Caldecott, but don't see those as the only markers. Megan discovered a young artist Naoko Stoop
walking in Brooklyn when Noako's paintings in a widow caught her eye. She then saw her work on Etsy and met with her about creating a book for kids. That book became Red Knit Cap Girl, both a personal and professional success.
Because of technology the industry has a chance to move more quickly and jump on trends.
Ryan Reynolds, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Niceiza are smiling right now. Deadpool, the R-rated superhero send-up is set to make more than $100 million this weekend after breaking the Thursday preview record for an R-rated film with $14 million. Projections call for a $102.5 million three day and $113.5 million four day take. This breaks […]
Mallory Loehr is Vice President, Publishing Director for the Random House, Golden Books and Doubleday children's imprints--representing everything from board books to young adult hard covers and trade books to licensed books.
With Random House Books for Young Readers since 1990, she's edited household name titles and authors including Dr. Seuss books, the Magic Treehouse series, Bruce Coville and Tamora Pierce!
Some highlights from what Mallory shared:
On the advantage Children's publishing has over adult publishing:
"Children's books backlist, which means they live on and on and on."
On Random House Books for Young Readers' mission, how they're
"thinking about that kid reader, wanting them to be totally engaged... and make them a reader for life."
and when asked what defines success for her, Mallory tells the room about an illustrator/author she discovered on Etsy, Emily Winfield Martin.
|Mallory Loehr on screen talking about E|
Mallory speaks of how Emily's career has grown, defining success as the growth of an author/illustrator's career. Emily's first book, a middle grade, did well but wasn't huge, her next book, a picture book, sold less than they'd hoped, and it's her current, third book, the picture book, The Wonderful Things You Will Be
, that hit the Best Seller lists and has been there for 20 weeks! So it's not just the single book's success, but the growth of this author/illustrator's career--and how success will continue to happen for her--that Mallory defines as success.
The optimistic panel also discusses changes in the retail environment, ebooks, publisher expectations of their authors and illustrators and much more.
It's an amazing window into children's publishing today!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope you have an amazing day and you know how much I love and appreciate everyone who drops by my blog and checks out the awesome books that I review for you on a daily basis. Valentine's Day is a day for expressing love and gratitude to the special people in your life. Thank you so very, very much for making this blog so successful. Please accept a huge hug from Storywrap's heart to yours!
by Emma Chichester Clark
Unwrapping some illustrations...
Unwrapping some praise for the book...
“Clark captures a dog’s exuberance and love of the simple things. . . . And no child will fail to understand the dog’s conundrum: she knows what she should do and yet feels compelled to do the wrong thing anyway. Fur, ears, and posture speak volumes. Dog lovers will especially ‘LOVE’ this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Clark exuberantly captures Plum’s zest for life, whether it’s playing with the kids next door or causing trouble that tests her family’s patience. But unconditional love is unconditional love, and even at the height of Plum’s post-mischief worry—‘Would they ever love me again?’ she wonders, stuck in time-out—the answer to that question is never in doubt.”—Publishers Weekly
“Little ones will easily identify with Plum, who wants to be good but also finds some things irresistible. Clark, who blogs about her real dog, Plum, presents a book, jauntily illustrated in watercolor and colored pencil, that brims with good humor, recognizable lessons, and, of course, lots of love. The oversize format—eye-catching spreads and pages of vignettes—makes this a great choice for story hours.”—Booklist
Unwrapping my take...
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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Yesterday I painted this study of a celluloid Mickey Mouse toy from the 1930s. This toy was manufactured in Japan and distributed in Europe. It is made from celluloid
, a lightweight, fragile, and flammable material that has also been used for ping pong balls, animation "cells," and for film stock itself.
When the cellulose is unpainted (as with the green bucket above), there's a lot of subsurface scattering
. But most of this Mickey is painted, which makes the light bounce off the surface.
|Celluloid Mickey, gouache, 5x5 inches|
As I was painting this, I was thinking about the variety of whites in this scene. I reserved the brightest white for the highlights. The lit sides of the nose and the shorts are just a little darker and warmer. The white surface that Mickey is standing on gradates back to a midrange cool gray in the top of the composition due to fall-off
Getting all those soft edges and gradations is the challenge in gouache (it would be easy in oil). But the advantage of gouache over transparent watercolor is that you can get very precise control of value and chroma.
We had ourselves some romance in Conshohocken a few weeks ago.
I write of that here, in this weekend's Philadelphia Inquirer.
Peppa Pig and the I Love You Game. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: "It's Valentine's Day!" says Mummy Pig.
Premise/plot: In celebration of Valentine's Day, Peppa Pig and her family name all of the many, many, many things they love. For example, Daddy Pig loves to make pancakes and George likes dinosaurs, or dine-saw, as the case may be. Peppa may just be the most vocal in the family. She names DOZENS of things that she loves. What will top her list? Can you guess?
My thoughts: I liked it well enough. I don't really think any Valentine's-Day themed book is going to top my best of list. But Peppa Pig is cute, fun, adorable. I love, love, love the TV show. And I'm almost always glad to see new picture books being released starring Peppa and her family. Anyone who enjoys the show will find this one fun, in my opinion. However, if you've never, ever seen the show, then this picture book will probably not quite work for you. Part of the fun is HEARING the characters talk and knowing their stories and backstories.
Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Jon Anderson, President and Publisher of the S&S Children's Division, has been at his job for seven years, but in the book business since high school—as a B Dalton bookseller!
At Simon & Schuster Jon presides over the nine different children's imprints, which publish for toddlers to teens: There is Little Simon, which is predominantly preschool/boardbooks, all the way up to Simon Pulse, which is the S&S teen imprint.
Jon says S&S has five publishers who oversee the nine children's imprints. Each imprint reflects the tastes of their individual editorial directors. The nine editorial directors also share a sales force and two marketing teams. The editorial directors are nine, living/normal human beings, not to be confused with any other famous group of nine, they are absolutely not Tolkienian ring-wraiths—could a person as delightful as someone like Justin Chanda
ever be allied with something as evil as Mordor? I don't think so.
|Justin Chanda works for Jon, this is how he greets Jon at the office every day.|
Lin asks about the health of the market:
Jon says his adult colleagues are very jealous of the never-ending revenue stream that is a children's book publisher's backlist.
Lin asks for Jon's interpretation of the S&S mission statement and it is:
Do good books.
"We always look for quality first. We have a huge commitment to cover diversity with our books, cover all age ranges with our books."
All of the presidents/publishers on the panel ask for authors and illustrators to have realistic expectations in all areas of publishing: advance amounts, marketing, potential sales...
Jon mentions a surprise success story, a book that everyone on the publishing team loved, but was bought for not too much money (a realistic amount) as it was considered a bit of a niche book that would only reach a certain sales level. But that book
—look at all the awards it's got on its cover(!)—has gone on to sell over 200,000 copies.
How do you break in and/or succeed in a children's book career? Jon says attending events like this can help, not only because there are opportunities to learn about the craft and the competition, but to be in proximity to the industry professionals and gatekeepers. And at events like this, you are much more likely to meet those people in person in organic ways (unlike the less organic way of accosting an editor in a bathroom at a tradeshow like BEA).
Maybe, if there is time for Q&A, Jon will finally clear up the age-old riddle: Is this a picture of Simon? OR SCHUSTER?
And something great is coming!
(If you know the musical that's from, you can chime in--or sing along--in comments!)
“The Big Picture” was a unique panel made up of publishing's biggest big-wigs, leaders of the children’s divisions of their publishing houses.
The takeaway: Children’s books at publishing houses are now the most important revenue stream, they are no longer seen as the “publishing stepchild.”
Andrea Pappenheimer, director of sales and associate publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books, spoke about how children’s divisions are the innovators, demonstrating the most growth—back lists and big hits.
When describing the mission statement at HarperCollins, Pappenheimer spoke about not only making great books, but being an author focused company. HarperCollins produces great books by attracting the most talented writers and illustrators.
"It's an exciting time for children’s books," Pappenheimer said. She spoke about how more space for children's books are being allotted at outlets like Target, Walmart and bookstores in general.
She also spoke about the resurgence of independent bookstores, and how at one time they were closing, new stores are now opening, Amazon being an example. "We'll have to see what happens with that," she said. "But it means there is a market."
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By: Arbordale Publishing,
When there are no people to gawk at the animals living in the zoo, what happens? A basketball game, of course!
In Sherryn Craig’s new picture book Midnight Madness at the Zoo a nightly basketball game breaks out just as everyone is leaving for the night. Beginning with one polar bear, then a game of one-on-one a new player joins until the field builds to a game of ten. Readers learn counting skills and basketball jargon throughout the story.
Sherryn is no stranger to the game of basketball, and spends her free time cheering on her husband’s high school basketball team. Midnight Madness at the Zoo combines the many things that her family holds dear.
We went behind the book with Sherryn and here is a sample, to read the entire interview visit the book’s homepage.
What was your incentive to write this particular book?
My oldest son inspired me to write Midnight Madness at the Zoo. It’s what we imagined the animals do when everyone else goes home for the day. While several people cautioned me about writing a book in rhyme, my kids tend to enjoy those books the best. e rhythm and rhyme helps them to remember the story and they “read” the book out loud as I do. It was important to me that my boys enjoy the story, and they’re the audience that I know the best and that I love the most.
What is most rewarding about writing children’s books?
As a working mom, the most challenging thing I find about writing is actually sitting down and doing it. By the time I get my little ones in bed and finish the chores for the day, it’s late, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed, because the next day is only a few hours away. But to do something, and to do it really well, you have to do it a lot. To improve in writing, just like in sports, you have to practice.
Taking a risk and being prepared to fail is another important lesson – in writing, in sports,in life. You’re not going to win every game. So too, everyone is not going to like the story you write. There’s going to be disappointment, and you just have to fight through that, keep putting yourself out there, and try, try again. That’s all we can do. It’s tempting to get wrapped up in all the no’s, but equally important, perhaps even greater than that rejection, is the realization that it only takes one yes.
The greatest reward is certainly getting to tell a story and finding people, like Arbordale, that believe in that story – who, too, are willing to take a risk on someone and something unknown.
Enter to win your own copy of Midnight Madness at the Zoo on Goodreads!
It's a cold, blustery day, but things will warm up fast if we all get up and dance with Bear and cheer for the lucky winner of BEAR CAN DANCE:
Please E-mail me: claragillowclark(dot)gmail(dot)com
with your mailing address!
(Preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER at end of post!)
School Librarian Summer 2013 *Starred ReviewWhen Bear and Goose open a suitcase of toys, little Fox arrives and wants to play. Initially Bear warmly welcomes the newcomer, but quickly starts grumbling when Bear becomes the one to be left out. Soon it's up to Goose to solve the situation.
A dilemma faced by most young children (and many adults!) is deftly resolved by Goose's good will. A wonderful scene on the last page finds Goose and Fox perched on Bear's lap while Goose reads aloud and Fox snoozes contentedly.
The bold simple text in this exceptional book
tells the story of complex emotions in only 100 words.
The vibrant blue, green and turquoise background provides a striking backdrop for the drama. Bear's size and beautifully textured polar coat cannot protect him from the roller-coaster of his own emotions. Little Fox, shy and sly by turns attempts to manipulate the situation while Goose's expressive eyes reflect his conflicting allegiances and anxiety.
This powerful story is a marvelous sequel to A Splendid Friend Indeed and will be remembered for many years. An ideal book to read aloud to children of 3+,
this would be an excellent trigger for classroom discussions and candle times. ~Rosemary Woodman
www.alannabooks.com. Anna McQuinn, of Alanna Books, has published A Splendid Friend, Indeed and What About Bear? in the UK. Goose & Bear have been translated into nine other languages.Enjoy this preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER!!! In this book, beloved author-illustrator Suzanne Bloom asks readers how they prepare for bed—from putting on jammies to asking for one more hug—then counts down to bedtime from ten terribly tired tigers to one really weary wombat. Each animal demonstrates a different bedtime ritual—skunks somersault into bunks and elephants curl up with their trunks—adding original and inventive rhymes and a clever counting-backward structure to the bedtime book genre. The lyrical, rhyming text combines with dreamy, colorful artwork to provide a perfect way for children to wind down from an active day in a book sure to become a new bedtime classic.
Here is a nearly finished spread from the upcoming, A Number Slumber. (Boyds Mills Press, fall 2016)
Looks like another winning story, Suzanne! Congratulations on your forthcoming book, A NUMBER SLUMBER. And thanks so much for sharing your time and expertise with us!
FACEBOOK: Suzanne Bloom Author
Google Suzanne Bloom YouTube videos
Next up is Author Trinka Noble. She'll be sharing an inside look at her process of turning legends into pictures books for children. Plus, she's offering an autographed book for one lucky reader who leaves a comment!
THANKS, everyone, for joining the dance with BEAR and Suzanne Bloom! See you soon. . .
From Left to right, SCBWI's Lin Oliver (at podium), Megan Tingley (Executive Vice President and Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers), Andrea Pappenheimer (Senior Vice President, Director of Sales/Associate Publisher HarperCollins Publishers), next at the table and shown on screen is Mallory Loehr (Vice President, Publishing Director, Random House/Golden/Doubleday Books for Young Readers), Jean Feiwel (Senior Vice President and Director, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan Children's Publishing Group), and Jon Anderson (President and Publisher, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.)
Jessixa Bagley burst onto the children’s literature stage last year with the debut of her beautiful picture book “Boats For Papa,” a gentle story of loss, healing, and ultimately persevering. Bagley is both author and illustrator. The book has received numerous starred reviews, and it has been widely praised by children, the children’s literature community, and beyond.
Her gentle watercolors are richly detailed, and her characters–a loving family of anthropomorphic beavers–will delight young readers.
I appreciate the generosity Bagley put in to participating in this interview:
Don: Tell us about your path to publishing. How did you get that first trade contract?
Jessixa: It’s been a long road for me to get where I am today, but every step has held a lot of value. I pretty much always wanted to make picture books. Ever since I was a small child, I was writing and drawing my own stories, books, and comics, creating characters and their worlds. Right after graduating college in 2004, I started writing picture books and submitting them to publishers left and right. I had been published for comics already at that point, so I figured I could finally get my real dream going and jump into children’s publishing. I think I made every wrong mistake possible with submitting my work for about 6-7 years. I just really didn’t know what I was doing and I thought I could go it on my own and I had a nice big stack of rejection letters to prove it. I was at a loss for what to do.
Then I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 2010. I was an
inactive member still for a while- thinking arrogantly that I didn’t need to be part of a club to get published (and just not knowing what SCBWI had to offer). And, shocker, I still wasn’t getting published and didn’t understand why. Then one year I made the leap and decided to go to their annual summer conference in Los Angeles having never attended any previous SCBWI events at all. And that’s when things started to make more sense. I got to see first hand what my portfolio needed to look like and I got to hear about how the business of books worked-the real ins and outs of submitting work and what editors and art directors really cared about.
After some tears, I went home and started over. It still took me some time, and lots more tears, but I finally started to find my voice as an illustrator and then as a writer. That’s when things began to click inside of me and that’s when things started to change. Once I found this “voice” inside of me that people would always talk about, the awards and opportunities started to show up. Then I did another Hail Mary in 2013 and went to the SCBWI NY Winter Conference and I was runner up for the portfolio showcase and that is where I attended a workshop by Alexandra Penfold (my soon to be future agent). Alex believed in my work, offered me representation shortly thereafter and then went to work submitting my book dummy for Boats for Papa (then called Drift). She put the book in front of Neal Porter- one of the most loveable men on Earth- and then rest is history.
Don: What primary medium do you use in your work?
Jessixa: I use very fine waterproof black pens and watercolor for my illustrations. I use pretty inexpensive watercolor paper to help create my pooling affect in my paintings (pooling is what I call when the watercolor builds up in areas to create unique textures). I also use an eyedropper to help me spread my paint- a technique I created for myself so I can paint large areas fairly evenly with small brushes to retain the right look I want for my pooling. I like to do everything by hand and prefer not to work digitally, except for small touch-ups.
Don: Tell us about your most recent book
Jessixa: My most recent book, “Before I Leave,” is about a little hedgehog named Zelda that finds out that she has to move away from her best friend (Aaron the anteater) and instead of being sad about leaving, they decided to cherish those last moments they have together. It’s a story pulled from my own experiences having to move when I was young and how hard it is to leave your friends. I wanted to use a style of writing that was very different than Boats for Papa so I wrote it in more of a letter format, like one friend writing a letter to the other. I was trying to approach it with a more open and poetic quality.
Don: Talk about the research process for the book
Jessixa: This was so much different than my research for “Boats for Papa”-which was much more technical because of the boats and the nautical elements. For “Before I Leave” I looked at tons and tons of photos of hedgehogs and anteaters to familiarize myself with them for the book. (By the way, researching pictures of hedgehogs is probably the CUTEST research anyone could ever have to do.) I read a lot of facts about both animals, where they live, their everyday habits. They are both very fascinating animals. Fun fact: Both hedgehogs and anteaters have very poor eyesight. I thought that was a weird coincidence that I learned after I picked the animals. It seems like a good basis of a friendship, being able to relate to one another!
Don: Any important things you learned about the subject while researching the book?
Jessixa: I got very interested in the idea of having a hedgehog for a pet when working on my book! Once again, they are the cutest animals and you sort of can’t help falling in love with them when you are staring at photographs of them all day. But I found out that like reptiles they have salmonella on their bodies, which because I was about to have a baby, didn’t seem like a good idea. That and they are nocturnal and poop when they run. I figured we should only have one animal in the house that is awake all night and poops while it’s running.
Don: If you could spend one day in a studio, working with any artist — past or present — who would that be, and why?
Jessixa: I have a really hard time with choosing a favorite anything (except for food- hamburgers are my favorite food). For dream artists will have to be a current top five list:
Pieter Bruegel the Elder– He was a master painter and the intricacies of his work are amazing. I’d love to see his traditional painting process. Heck, I’d take the Younger Bruegel too!
Beatrix Potter– She is magic and I think she would be a kindred spirit. I’d love to see how she worked in nature and how her environment shaped her relationship with her characters.
Richard Scarry– He would be SO fun to see work. I imagine he talks to his characters when he draws (like I do). I’d love to hear the backstories he created for his characters and why he thinks pigs would be such terrible drivers.
Mary Blair– She was an amazing painter and I’d love to see her design approach and how that graphic eye influenced her art decisions.
Frances Glessner Lee– She was an aristocrat in the 1940’s who made all of those dioramas of crime scenes that police used for forensic training. I love miniatures and it would be incredible to see how she worked (And just a little creepy).
Don: What would be your dream manuscript? Your dream author to work with?
Jessixa: I’d love the chance to get to illustrate “The Wind in the Willows.” Those characters speak to my soul as an artist and feel like a part of me lives in that world that Kenneth Grahame wrote. I don’t know how I could do it justice, but I’d love to try! One of my favorite authors right now is Matt de la Peña. I thought the writing in Last Stop on Market Street was simply exquisite. I was really moved by the poetic quality to his work. It did more than just tell a story, it really made you feel. I’d love to see what stories he could create for my little woodland animal world!
Don: Can you talk a bit about your process of illustrating a book?
Jessixa: Because I am a VERY unorganized person, I try to set myself up for success with my books by being very organized in my process. I start off by making a list of how many and what kind of illustrations I have to do and how long I have to do them all. Also because I have a full time job and am a mother to a burgeoning toddler, my time is very limited so knowing how long a painting will take me and knowing how much time I have to paint it is a huge help for time management. I pretty much have a standard process for my illustrations: thumbnails, dummy, final sketches, transfer sketches to watercolor paper, pen over the pencil art, then watercolor. I also end up doing a lot of paint tests and color tests before I start working on the final art so I know I have my palette right where I want it.
I work at actual size of the final book so I know exactly how fine the details will end up being (and also because I have a hard time using math to figure out percentages for scaling up and down). I usually work on one piece at a time but if I have several pieces that have similar backgrounds- like they are in the same room or it’s the same day- I’ll mix up a huge batch of the watercolor wash and paint the larger areas (like the sky) at the same time to maintain consistency. I also have a really great rhythm with my AMAZING book designer Jennifer Browne and my editor Neal Porter, so once I have a little chunk of final work to show, I scan it and email it into them so we can all make sure everything is looking good. It’s so great that they are willing to work this way because it saves me from illustrating an entire book, then having to turn around and make a ton of changes in the end. Altering as I go is much more efficient and less stressful for me- plus I get to talk to them more frequently which I love because they are just the best people!
Creating thumbnail sketches
Final painting for BEFORE I LEAVE
Don: Who are your cheerleaders, those who encourage you?
Jessixa: I am lucky that I feel like I have too many cheerleaders to count within my friends and family! My husband though is my biggest fan and supporter and he’s really helped me keep up the will power to keep going when things were (and are) really challenging. And my amazing picture book friends are just the best. My community of my crit groups, writer friends, and SCBWI partners in crime has really given me so much love and encouragement that I can’t imagine this journey being possible without them. I’ve made incredible friends by getting involved in the community of the picture book world. You think you can do this alone, but I’ve found that making books is an extremely collaborative process and the more people you have to support you, the better- and the work is better for it as well.
Don: What’s on the horizon, what can your fans expect to see from you?
Jessixa: I’ve got two great projects on the horizon! Next winter (2017) my third picture book, Laundry Day comes out and it’s such a fun and silly book and I’m really looking forward to its release! It’s about two twin badger brothers named Tic and Tac who are bored one late summer day and they decide to help their mother with the laundry and of course some wackiness ensues-as of course it always does with laundry. It’s very different in tone than my first two books which I hope readers will enjoy. And my next project-which is very dear to my heart-is a picture book collaboration with my husband, Aaron Bagley. We’ve always collaborated on art and this will be our first picture book together. We both wrote the story and are both painting the illustrations. The book is called Vincent Comes Home and is about a cat that lives on a cargo ship. It’s a very sweet story and that much sweeter to get to work on it with my best friend! It comes out winter 2018.
William Joyce, the creator of so many amazing books and now movies, is here! You may remember The Leaf Men, Dinosaur Bob, Santa Calls, Bentley & Egg, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore???
Joyce compares a traditional printed book to an icecream sandwich: The hard stuff's on the outside, the good stuff is in the middle.
When asked by technology companies to help them achieve true interactivity with their products, Joyce asks them what the hell they think happens when a kid opens a book.
Joyce appreciates the apprenticeship style of the publishing industry like he felt he received decades ago. Getting the time, maybe 5 or 6 years, to get to know the people working at a publisher, getting to learn how to craft a book with them by working on smaller books, forging creative projects together.
Joyce's advice: Befriend/understand/know the problems/trials/process of the people publishing your book.
"Most of the people in publishing are in it for the same reason you are, they love books."
Joyce talks about getting a phone call from a guy named John Lasseter. He knows we understand how solitary the typical children's book creator's creative daily life is. But with his film work, Joyce was excited by the collaborative nature of such projects and finds balancing both makes a much nicer work life.
After his time in Hollywood, Joyce decided he might try his hand at his own film production company, but closer to home, which is when Moonbot Studios
became a reality. The idea of making an animated movie in Louisiana, he says, would have gotten you escorted from the room [to a looniebin]. But Joyce and his partners wanted to prove it could be done in Shreveport, and so they did, and in 2012 it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. (Fun fact! They made FIVE THOUSAND MINIATURE BOOKS for this short!)
Bill describes their (Moonbot's) thought process behind making their Lessmore story app unique from both the paper book and animated short. He shares a mini tirade with us about simulated page gutters that's pretty entertaining.
Bill's advice for bookmakers looking to develop online versions of their work:
"Don't just regurgitate what you've done. Make it separate, make it special."
Check out his delightful Instagram feed
! Here's a cool piece, don't you want to know what happens to the snowman??!!
Winter recess is upon us. We have some fun programs lined up for kids this week. On Monday
we will be showing the movie Cinderella
! Nature Nick's Animal Adventures
will be here on Wednesday
with animals from all corners of the world! Thursday
marks the triumphant return of Lifesize Candyland
. We had so much fun with this program a few years ago (check out the photos below), so we are bringing it back. Are you into robotics? Then Maker Buddies
is the program for you on Friday
. Finally, on Saturday
we have two special guests visiting us. WNBC reporter Ida Siegal will be here to talk about her new children's book series - Emma is on the Air
and Chef Paula will conduct a hands-on workshop to make some yummy treats inspired by the books!
We hope to see you next week!!!
Posted by Amy
Children's authors and illustrators are well known around the world for their love of math, which is why we start each conference with some statistics about our attendees.
Here's how this New York international conference breaks down:
- 1,151 attendees - a record numer
- 337 are published authors and illustrators
- 813 pre-published
Yes, we know these numbers don't quite add up. "We're one number off and I'm damn proud of it," SCBWI founder Lin Oliver said.
Attendees travel from 48 states. The missing ones? Hawaii and North Dakota.
They also traveled from 19 countries including the United States.
And we come from many different professional backgrounds, including a ventriloquist, a psychic, and a dressage trainer. (But these are not the same person.)
हमें Valentine Day का बेहद इंतजार रहता है और इंतजार रहता है अपने प्रिय से उपहार मिलने का पर कितना खूबसूरत हो जब ये उपहार जिंदगी का ही बन जाए … यानि जब रक्त की जरुरत हो और रक्तदाता मिल जाए तो उससे खूबसूरत लम्हा और क्या होगा इसलिए तो यही कहा जा रहा […]
The post Valentine Day / Well In Time appeared first on Monica Gupta.
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सारी माँए पागल ही होती हैं कई बार लिखते हुए चश्मा बहुत प्रोब्लम देता है. खासकर जब कुछ इमोशनल लिखना हो.. बार बार चश्मा उतार कर नम हुई आखें पोंछ्ना फिर लिखना फिर चश्मा उतार कर आंसू पोछ्ना… उफ्फ … आज मेरी एक सहेली से कुछ बात ही ऐसी हुई कि मन भावुक हो गया […]
The post आज कल के बच्चे और माँ appeared first on Monica Gupta.