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26. Illustration Challenge #47

In honor of the raptors I recently had the opportunity to draw - I challenge you to draw birds! They can be round little balls of squishy feathers and cute little beaks, OR they can be raptors, with enormous beaks and claws!

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27. So, here's a story for you...

First off, please give a cheer - my TEDx Talk "Is Your Stuff Stopping You" has over 10,000 views on YouTube - woohoo!

Now, on to the story...
     So I returned to the studio after most of Spring Break passed only to discover that every locker in our room was open. (Except for the ones with actual locks on them.) That was weird. Then I noticed that my bag of peanuts and raisins was open. No way I left it like that. I looked at the other desks - food had been left out there too. In fact, on one desk there was a half-eaten ice-cream cone. Strange (on so many levels).
     I concluded that somebody had been pilfering through our things looking for something to steal and sell, and eating our food while at it. There had been some random thefts in the building, so I figured this ought to be on Security's radar. So, I reported it to the building's receptionist. She called security and soon after, they stopped by to talk to me and whoever else was there (not many folks had returned yet).
     Turned out, other departments had similar stories. Interior Design thought they had a rodent because of the food mess left behind, and the cameras caught somebody sleeping on the 5th floor that same night. We definitely had an intruder, but luckily, nothing of value was taken. Although, Security took a few items they felt probably had good fingerprints on them for documentation, just in case. They were on it. (I mean this positively - truly, they were on top of it.)
     As follow-up, we received emails to please be aware of who follows us into the building when we use our pass cards. Problem with that is, we are art students. Sometimes art students can look pretty rough, so who's to say who looks suspicious or not?
     I also got an email requesting that I file a police report. But, um, nothing was taken (except by security) other than food, and I just wasn't willing to go to bat on that one.
     No matter. A week later, who should show up but two officers of the Scottish Police Department. Our receptionist pointed them to me. Spring Break was way over at this point and the classroom was full. Can you say embarrassed?
     Why are police going to Elizabeth's desk?
     However, the officers were very nice and said that they really needed a point person on the police report (?!?) to use for future reference, and since the intruder took my nuts...
     Ever so nicely I explained that I really didn't want to have my name in any police reports, and certainly not one where I complain that somebody stole my nuts.
     Imagine! If I ever needed to file a serious report and my name came up in their system with that! Well, they'd think I was... I was... (forgive me) NUTS!
     At any rate, the kind officer understood and said he'd try to find a work around. Meanwhile, Katy Wiedemann got a picture of the whole thing...

...and we were all in tears laughing after the fact. What a way to start the day!
     P.S. - Nobody had any guns.

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28. Friday Linky List - 29 April 2016

Interesting TED Talk: Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction What do you think?

From Janice Hardy's Fiction University: Are You Being Taken Advantage of as a Writer?

From Bookshelf: Fifty Shades of Grey fort - you gotta see to believe!

Book Birthday! THE STORY CIRCLE ~ El circle de cuentos by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and Wendy Martin - Click the cover to learn more

At Jane Friedman: How to Save Money and Do Online Book Publicity Yourself

From Cynsations: Lara Herrington Watson on Analyze This: A Grammatical Breakdown of Favorite First Chapters

From Rachel Maddox: The Secret To Being A Successful Creator: It Hurts.

From The Mixed-Up Files: The 2016 Green Earth Book Award Winners have been announced. I love this award because A BIRD ON WATER STREET won a Green Earth Book Award Honor in 2015!

From Sarah McIntyre: 'Can you illustrate my book?' Some tips for writers approaching illustrators

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29. Deborah Hopkins' A BANDIT'S TALE

Writing A Bandit’s Tale
by Deborah Hopkinson

      My new historical fiction middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of Pickpocket, is set in 19th century New York City. Although the book deals with some serious themes, including poverty, child labor, and animal rights, I didn’t want the story to be depressing. So I decided to write the story as a rather light-hearted picaresque novel.
      I’d never tried anything like it before, and I had so much fun doing it. As I researched the genre, I learned that the word “picaresque” comes from the Spanish “picaro,” which means “rogue” in English. The first picaresque novels were published around 1600 in Spain. One common characteristic of picaresque novels is that the protagonist is not well-born or aristocratic. Instead, like Rocco in A Bandit’s Tale, the hero is a poor individual forced at a young age to live by his or her wits in a hostile society. The story is often told in first person and has an episodic plot structure, as we follow our rogue from misadventure to misadventure.
      One of the masters of the comic picaresque novel was Henry Fielding, who wrote The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749) and Joseph Andrews, or the History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams (1742). When I was writing Bandit, I often turned to the online versions of these books (available through the Gutenberg Project) for inspiration, and the chapter headings definitely reflect Fielding’s style. My favorite one is chapter nineteen, which takes place during the famous Blizzard of 1888: “Containing a storm so terrible that the reader cannot laugh even once through the entire chapter.” And it is a terrible storm, indeed.
      In addition to having fun with history in the storytelling, I definitely wanted to provide factual background information. When I read historical fiction, I’m always curious to know what’s real and what’s invented. And though I’m sure not all young readers will take the time to peruse the Author’s Note (which is entitled “Containing a variety of facts and resources of possible interest to the reader, as well as information illuminating historical personages”), they might, perhaps, be interested in the 19th century pickpocket slang.
      Since I visit schools all over the country, I’m always attentive to how books can complement curriculum or enhance STEM connections. Social reformer Jacob Riis appears as a character in A Bandit’s Tale. His arresting photographs brought attention to the deplorable living conditions for children and families in the tenements of the Lower East Side. Yet those photographs were only possible because of the invention of flash photography, which allowed the self-taught photojournalist to bring these problems to light. In A Bandit’s Tale, we have included several Riis photographs, which I hope will help illuminate the time period and setting for young readers.
      When I speak in schools, students often ask if I plan to write a fantasy novel someday. The truth is, when I write about history I am always learning, and I can’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding. I hope that young readers will take a chance on historical fiction and nonfiction, and can’t wait to share A Bandit’s Tale with them.

      Award-winning master of historical fiction for children Deborah Hopkinson takes readers back to nineteenth-century New York City in her new middle-grade novel: A BANDIT’S TALE: THE MUDDLED MISADVENTURES OF A PICKPOCKET (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | on sale April 5, 2016 | Ages 8–12 | $16.99).

“A strong chose for those who enjoy adventures about scrappy and resourceful kids.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“A dynamic historical novel ideal for both classroom studies and pleasure reading.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing. For other stops on the Bandit Blog Tour please check deborahhopkinson.com. Be sure to use this hashtag: #BanditBlogTour.

P.S. - Here is Deborah's Office Assistant, Rue, and Rue hard at work.

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30. Drawing Raptors at the College of Art

Apparently it is an annual tradition for raptors to visit the University of Edinburgh College of Art, for us lucky students to draw.

We gathered in the 4th floor undergrad illustration studio, which has an amazing view of the castle beyond these windows.
Archie McCrone of Alba Falconry (Alba is gaelic for Scotland) brought six of his birds. There was Percy the Peregrine Falcon.
Blue the Red Tailed Hawk.
Bonnie the Barn Owl who sat in front of me calmly the whole time, and who I got to pet.
Kenny the Kestrel who pretty much never stopped moving.
Skippy the Boobook who was full of personality. He STARED at us, and nibbled on us (cute, not painful).
But the star of the show was Edward - an Eagle Owl. He was HUGE and had the greatest expressions! He also had a fan on him most of the time, but still got a little hot.
We got to pet his enormous feet.
Archie held each bird and explained them to us.
And we drew like crazy. Here are some of my sketches.

This was such a treat - and a nice segue back into the classroom after spring break. Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having here?

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31. Coloring Page Tuesday - Spring Chickies

     Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming and everybody feels like dancing! Okay, well, it actually snowed on my way home yesterday - seriously. So, perhaps I'm dreaming. What's it like where you are?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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32. High Tea in Edinburgh

Tea Time is a common ritual in the UK, although High Tea is a bit (a lot) more special. Susan happened to be in town at the same time as my friend Amandine's mother. So Amandine decided we all needed a treat. We got dressed up for this one.

     The best place for High Tea in Edinburgh is the illustrious Balmoral Hotel. It sits in a prominent spot at the end of Princes Street. The maitre-d's wear kilts, hold the ancient doors open for you, and guide you into the lovely Palm Court dining room.
     I'll admit it's been a while since I've done High Tea (*ahem*), so I wasn't sure what to expect. For instance, we were welcomed by mysterious harp music which wafted down from a hidden balcony. (Susan spotted it later.)
Our group was me, Susan, Sowan, Amandine and her mom Valérie.
Amandine is a publicist and represents some specialty tea companies, so she walked us through what to order. She suggested the Scottish White Tea, which I'd never had. She has taught me that a good tea does not need any sugar, milk or lemon in it, and she was right. It was delicious!
     A parade of treats followed. First was an amouse bouche of mushroom soup with a cream-shaped heart.
Then came the tiers of joy.
There were mouses and tapiocas, cucumber and salmon. The egg cups were actual egg shells with custard and crushed pistachios on top.
Amandine let them know I was gluten free, so a special selection was made for me, including GLUTEN FREE SCONES. OMG!!!!!
I have been drooling over scones since my arrival to Europe and these were amazing. Can you say 'birthday craving'?
     With all that tea, bathroom trips were inevitable, and a delight. Susan got the great photo as to why. ROSES!
     Then, believe it or not, we got to witness another wedding party!!! That's two in one weekend - I'm certain it's a good-luck omen. As I said, there is nothing cuter than a little boy done up in his Scottish best. Both he and dad were so proud.
     Our cute waiter was from France and a complete delight. We all chatted and laughed...

We all concluded that we received special treatment as treats kept coming out, like wee ice-cream cones and take-away gift boxes with more sweets and tins of loose tea. Certainly, we were the last ones to leave with hugs all around.
I love having special people in my life, like Susan and Amandine, who recognize the value of treating oneself sometimes, to soaking up life, and enjoying it with gusto!

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33. Fantastic Beasts

I can't believe we have to wait until November to see this next chapter in the world of Harry Potter. It looks FANTASTIC! (Click the image to watch the trailer on YouTube.)

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34. Edinburgh like a local - prepare to drool

I decided that day 2 of Susan's visit would be a peek into normal life here in Edinburgh. So first, Stan, Susan, and I walked along the Water of Leith. It's a beautiful path which makes it hard to believe you're still in the city. But you are...

And of course, we found more acts of kindness along the way.

We went as far as Dean Village, which is one of the most picturesque spots in Edinburgh.
Then we headed to the Stockbridge Farmer's Market where I bought cheese and boar salami. Susan bought a scarf. And we both ate samples of chocolate marshmallows by the Marshmallow Lady. OMG.
Then we went to one of our favorite pubs for lunch, the Stockbridge Tap.
Several pubs in Edinburgh feature a Sunday Roast, but they are HUGE. Susan and I split a roasted venison, potatoes in duck fat, and pureed carrots dish. Dang. (Sorry we forgot to get a pic!) The pub is situated as a great spot to watch folks (and their dogs) walking by outside, and I think I'm getting Susan hooked on tea.
     From there, we split paths. Stan was meeting our friend Connie for lunch, and Susan and I had plans for HIGH TEA at the Balmoral. It deserves it's own post , coming soon, so I'll skip ahead on this day of gorging and go straight to dinner. Yes, we'd been eating ALL DAY, but isn't that what vacations are all about?
     And okay, this isn't quite a normal day in Edinburgh. We usually only go to Fishers for special occasions, which this was. Here's why:
One of the things I love about living in Europe is that you can order a right and proper Fruit de Mer (fruits of the sea, a.k.a. a seafood platter) made up of heavenly crustaceans that aren't even available in the US. Susan decided to splurge on the biggie.
The smaller one of scallops and langoustines was mine.
Stan and Connie rejoined us for dinner. Connie had the cold seafood platter.
Stan ordered oysters to share...
then he had the fish chowder.
Needless to say, we were all very, very happy, and very, very full. Sleep came quickly and hard that night!
So Susan had one touristy day and one locals day. She was our enabler who gave us the excuse to splurge, while also letting us see our new and lovely home through her eyes. It's hard to believe we're already getting used to this place and perhaps even taking it for granted. Susan reminded us how magical Edinburgh is, and I am enchanted all over again. Thank you Susan!
      Photos are © Susan Eaddy and © Elizabeth Dulemba.

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35. Illustration Challenge #46

Is it warming up where you are? Let's play with light today. Choose something that is backlit with natural light - a vase, a friend, a building. What does the light do to the edges, and what details disappear in the front?

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36. Friday Linky List - 22 April 2016

At Cynsations: Guest Post: J. Albert Mann on Writer Resilience

At Kathryn Evans: How To Make an Author Website

At Cynsations: Guest Post & Giveaway: Emma Dryden on Putting the Internal Editor in a Time-Out

From The Scottish Book Trust: 16 of the Best Narrative Voices

From The Scotsman: 15 words that have a different meaning in Scotland

From 100 Scope Notes (at SLJ): Beverly Cleary at 100: All the Tributes

At PW: Children's Book Week 2016 Preview

From PW: Judy Blume - Bookseller

From Roadtrips for Readers (via Shelf Awareness): Bookstore Pets: Furry Employees

From the Bookseller: Children's book market up 7% in first quarter

From Publishing Perspectives: German Children's Book Publishers on the Language of Illustration (be sure to click on the PDF offered at the bottom as well)

And the results are in for the first annual Margaret Wise Brown Award, hosted by my very own Hollins University! Congratulations Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple!

One last comment on Bologna from School Library Journal: The Three Faces of the Bologna Book Fair by Marc Aronson

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37. My Carbon Footprint in Edinburgh

     We don't own a car here in Edinburgh - we don't need one. In fact, one of the things I love about this city is that I can walk everywhere. Recently, I filled in a survey with the University of Edinburgh (they're constantly checking in to see how we're doing - very cool) about my mode of travel to and from school. I'll occasionally take the bus if the weather is really terrible, but that's rare. Mostly, I walk 1.6 miles to school. It's a lovely walk through St. Andrews Square, down Rose Street, around the Prince's Street Garden, in the shadow of the castle, and to school. As a result, here's my carbon footprint according to the survey - 0!

I'm so proud! I wonder what my carbon footprint was in the states where I had to drive everywhere? It's an advantage to living in a walkable city and makes me feel especially proud on this Earth Day.
     And don't forget - I have tons of Earth Day coloring pages available - CLICK HERE or the image to the right to go have a look and share with your friends.

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38. Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio on THE SECRET SUBWAY!

I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled beyond belief to have the creators of THE SECRET SUBWAY on dulemba.com today! I was first turned on to the topic of a pneumatic subway in New York City when Elon Musk (inventor of Twitter) brought up the idea for California. Articles started popping up about the history of such subways in other cities around the world, including New York City, right in the middle of the corrupt Boss Tweed era. Gads, I was hooked!
      Along came Shana Corey, Red Nose Studio - one of my favorite illustrators, editor Anne Schwartz of Schwartz and Wade Books (RH), and WOW. This book is Stunning, Fabulous, Interesting... I can't give you enough adjectives!
     Lucky us, Shana and Chris (a.k.a. Red Nose) have stopped by to let us eaves drop on a creative conversation about the making of this fantastic picture book. Take it away guys!

Shana:Thank you so much for having us Elizabeth! The Secret Subway, just came out and Red Nose Studio and I are excited to share a peek at the process behind it with you. You can also see the trailer here (click the image to watch in a new window on Youtube):
      I first came across a mention of Alfred Ely Beach-the editor of Scientific American and the changemaker behind NYC's first subway-a block long pneumatic tube he built in 1870 without official permission--when I used to visit the New York Transit Museum with my kids. I initially didn't focus on Beach but wrote a version that was an overview of the entire NYC subway history and that focused much more on building our current system-but I was so intrigued by Beach I wrote a second version that focused entirely on his story, and that's the story I sent to Anne Schwartz at Schwartz and Wade. I have always loved the books Anne edits and was incredibly excited and honored when she took on The Secret Subway.
      Anne shared it with Red Nose Studio, and I was blown away by the art he created-he took it to a whole new level. So for this post, I thought I'd ask Chris Sickles (aka Red Nose Studio) some of the questions I've been curious about.

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Shana: Chris, for the art you create 3 dimensional scenes and then photograph them. Do the scenes always follow the sketches you create or do you rearrange them when needed as you go? And do you ever create pieces you don't end up using in the final?

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Chris: Most everything in my illustrations are built by hand, so I always aim to only build what gets seen. Some images get revised or changed in order to accommodate an edit in the text or the layout, but generally the finals are built to match the sketches which are like an architects blueprints.

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Shana: Did you have rough versions of the Beach puppet you created before you settled on the final?
Chris: I sketched roughly 20 versions of Beach trying to get a character drawing that I felt caught the essence of who he was. Once that was established I then moved forward with sketching out the book. While sketching the book Beach became a little more refined as I drew him from different angles and with different expressions. Only after the book dummy was approved did I start sculpting Beach.

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Shana: How many different expressions did you create for Beach and how did you determine how many to do?
Chris: After the dummy roughs of the book where revised, refined and approved I could look through the pages and see that Beach roughly had five expressions throughout the book. He was excited/happy, relaxed, determined, flabbergasted, and defeated. From those moods, I was able to sculpt five separate heads which could be swapped out depending on the image I was shooting at any given time.

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Shana: What do you do with the pieces when the book is finished?
Chris: Most of the environmental elements (skies, grounds, buildings) get filed so that they can be reused on future projects. The various props get stored as well for future use. The characters/puppets get placed upon shelves and kept together for exhibits and Beach himself travels with me to book events and school talks about the book.

(Click the image to view a larger version in a new window.)
Shana: Thank you Chris! And thank you again for having us Elizabeth. You can find reviews and other extras (including printables) for the Secret Subway on our websites, www.shanacorey.com and http://www.rednosestudio.com/blog.htm. And for your NYC readers, Red Nose Studio has a new poster that's in the subways right now as part of the MTA's Arts & Design Project-so next time you're on the subway you might just be riding with Beach and his subway!


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39. A wedding at the castle...and the rest of the day

Susan and I were lucky to stumble across an actual wedding taking place in St. Margaret's Chapel (built in the 1100s) while we were visiting the castle!
     The day was beautiful and we found a great spot where we could watch the event unfold. Family members arrived in their Scottish finery. There is nothing cuter than young boys in full Scottish dress.

Then the bride arrived...She was escorted up the walk by another young man in a kilt - obviously her son. They marched up the walk behind the bagpipe player who, I swear, was playing the theme from THE OUTLANDER.
However, the son forgot the bouquet and everything screeched to a halt as he rushed to the car and fished it out - here at the end of the video.
     Everything seemed to run fine after that. The party squinched into the wee chapel and we headed on our merry way, remarking on what a magical day it had already been. But I had more in store for Susan!
     I showed her the private school which is rumored to have inspired Hogwarts. It was a beautiful day and the daffodils did me proud.
And I showed her Victoria Street, where we got photo bombed. I have no idea who this guy was, but he was funny.
Susan wanted to see my studio at the Uni, so we wandered through the Grassmarket and up by the Evolution House, where I pointed out the big cat I created, which watches over people below.
And she learned about Closes (magical little alleys that run all over the city).
We ate Brazilian crepes near old campus, then met up with Stan at The Whiskey Room, which has become our favorite place to share a flight of whiskey with visiting guests, because the view is to die for while they sip, whether you look up...or down.
     Dinner was at The Dogs (a tucked away restaurant not far from the flat), then we stumbled home where we fell over once more. Day 2, I decided, would be all about a normal day in Edinburgh. HA! Coming next...

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40. Back to Edinburgh - like a tourist...

My dear friend and Illustrator Coordinator cohort for many years Susan Eaddy (I was the Southern region, she was Midsouth - although she's now Regional Advisor) tacked a few days on to her Bologna trip to come stay with me and Stan in Edinburgh. No rest for the weary, we had more playing to do! And since it's spring break at the Uni, I really could play! But first, we had to get to Edinburgh.
     Our original plans had a layover in Amsterdam, with which we'd hoped to pop into the city for some brief sight-seeing. Sadly, the airline had overbooked our flight and had to reroute us through Paris. With the change, it was a day of pure travel with no time to leave the airports, but we did get some vouchers for the inconvenience. (I know, I know, get out the tiny violins.) This was lunch in Bologna.

And truly, we were so tired, we barely noticed where we were. (This is Paris.)
But finally we made it home. HOME!
I don't know that Susan saw these, but I love the sculptures at our wee airport.
Along with our home flowers, the thistle.
Susan and I fell over when we got to my flat, but somehow awoke the next morning raring to go.
     I planned a packed itinerary for Susan's short stay... Day 1 was all about being a tourist in Edinburgh. It began on the Royal Mile with a right and proper Scottish breakfast, which consists of sausages, mushrooms, beans, scrambled eggs, a roasted tomato, black pudding, haggis, bacon, potato scone and toast. I need to replace this with the photo of Susan - because this is her breakfast and she ate all of it!
Then we went to the castle!
     The castle sits smack dab in the middle of town on top of a long-dormant volcano. You can never get lost in Edinburgh because the castle is always visible.
It's also why you never trust Google maps in this town, as it doesn't take into account altitude. It's a hike to get up there!
Believe it or not, but I hadn't been to the castle yet. I was waiting for exactly this sort of moment, to share it with a friend. You walk up the Royal Mile and the castle sits at the top at the far end of an enormous esplanade, where they hold the Royal Military Tattoo each August.
The views are AMAZING.

I made a short video of it... ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––INSERT VIDEO HERE–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– We bought our tickets online before we left the flat, so were able to walk right in through the Castle Gatehouse. That's Robert the Bruce on the left and William Wallace on the right.
Inside, the buildings date from the 1800s, all the way back to the 1100s. And many of the items have left the castle, been returned to the castle, or were sent to the castle later. For instance, the Scottish crown jewels, which were smuggled to safety during Cromwell's time (he melted down everything he could get his hands on to pay his troops); the Stone of Scone or the Stone of Destiny, which will be loaned to England when Charles is crowned King; and the cannons are from Napolean's ships and have happily never been fired on any of the view below them.
Although, there is one cannon they fire off at 1:00pm each day to help folks keep time. Why not at noon? Because that requires 11 more rounds of shot, and the Scottish are... *ahem*...thrifty. Seriously.
     Several buildings stand as war memorials where books contain the names of those lost. Out of respect, photos aren't allowed inside. Outside, the building is gorgeous and a fitting tribute.
There's even a cemetery for the soldier's dogs.
We saw Mary Queen of Scots' chambers - quite lovely. And we saw family trees which try to explain the lineage of Kings and Queens. Good luck figuring that one out. Although GAME OF THRONES is supposedly modeled after the struggles between the Thorn and the Rose. (Click the image to watch on Youtube.)
      One of the most intimidating rooms in the castle was the dining hall, where they keep an extensive collection of weapons. It looked like the perfect set for the Red Wedding.

Again, most of these weapons were sent to the castle later. Although I have to admit, many of them looked well-used. ACK.
There was so much to see and do, we truly could have stayed at the castle all day, which we nearly did, because we didn't want to miss the WEDDING - a real one!!! (Coming soon...)

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41. Closing thoughts and Out n' About in Bologna

This post is about my random observations of the lovely city of Bologna. I have so many wonderful things to share with you lately, I just have to cram them all together! For instance, I did find the children's bookstore just off of Piazza Maggiore and is is truly sweet.

Lots of people ride bikes here, and they are experts at dodging the tourists who aren't watching where they're going (me included).
Susan and I had a quick lunch - she had baby octopus, which was DELISH. I had shrimp/squid salad with aubergines - also yummy.
During lunch we were serenaded by a seriously good band. I'm pretty sure they were just busking for kicks, because they seemed quite professional.
Buying prosciutto here is a charming experience.
As is shopping.
And just wandering about.
This is artwork by Gesta Future - randomly placed.
I've never seen peppers as big as the ones in the supermarket here - they were the size of melons!
Don't ask me why all these people were dressed in Medieval garb - I have no idea.
This was my main path every day.
This was nice to see.
As was this.

There are gelato stands everywhere and with all the walking you do here, there is no guilt in indulging - which I did.
      In closing, Bologna is a lovely town to just wander about in. I'm so glad I visited!

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42. Loving Vincent

There's an incredible animated movie in process in Poland. It's called Loving Vincent and it's the story of Van Gogh's life through his letters and paintings, all created through animated versions of his paintings! I can't wait to see this. Click the image to learn more at the official website and watch the trailer.

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43. The post Book Fair Fall-apart

I'll admit, I didn't go to the book fair on the 4th day - I was so tired I was pretty sure I wouldn't have made a good impression on anybody I met at that point. And truly, I felt like I'd done as much as I could. I connected, reconnected, observed, was inspired, and learned a whole new side of this industry.
     Of course, I wasn't nearly as tired as the SCBWI booth folks. They were kind enough to invite me along to the fall-apart party at Osteria De' Poeti.

Like so many businesses here, if you didn't know about it, you'd never find this place. In fact, that was one surprise about Italy. When businesses close here, they really close. As in, a giant metal garage door comes down hiding any sign (or signs) of the business behind it. There is no wandering at night to see what stores might be available to you the next day - the signage gets hidden behind those big, metal doors. That includes grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. This is a town where you need to know where you're going.
     Happily, my dinner-mates did. We ended up with a big group at a great restaurant hidden at the bottom of some stairs on a quiet back street.
What a treasure this place was! The asparagus were some of the best I'd ever had.
It was followed by "special" pasta (a.k.a. gluten free) with Bolognese (of course!), and a meringue cake that I could actually eat. Woohoo!!! Of course, I shared it because, good lord, it was a lot of cake!
But with the long days, all the walking and full tummies, Julie Hedlund and I were rather tired.
It was a right and proper fall-apart dinner. And well-deserved at that. Sogni d'oro - sweet dreams!

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44. The Bologna Book Fair

I purchased a bus pass and bought my tickets for the fair early so that I wouldn't have to wait in the lines. I was READY! Okay, I was physically ready. Mentally, there was no preparing for something like the Bologna Children's Book Fair. I was completely overwhelmed.
     There were no less than six halls (buildings) which were each the size of a football field and each filled with booths representing publishing houses from all over the world. It made it seem like the ENTIRE WORLD IS ALL ABOUT CHILDREN'S BOOKS! LOVED that! LOVED the connections I made and saying 'hi' to trade industry buddies. But I was also unbelievably humbled by the amazing talent represented there. (These were some illustrated trees being auctioned off for a good cause.)

     As I walked around, I realized again and again, "e, you have got to up your game!" (Here's me sneaking up on a Stormtrooper.)
     In some ways, I wish I'd seen the Fair when I was starting my career - to see what I'm truly up against. But on the other hand, if I'd known, I'm not sure I would have had the guts to keep trying. So, hmmmm.
     I learned so many things, though, which I'll try to share with you while I'm still raw with processing it all. (My brain hurts!) First, I saw what I believe to be a disparity between the showcased illustrations and the actual for sale, published books. What they say the trends are and what actually sells seem to be two different things to me. The market is the true decider. Buyers do have power, and wow, do their tastes vary.
     There is as much demand for the more showy, colorful commercial books as there is for the trade books - maybe more. Although that market doesn't venerate the creators like the trade industry does - it's more about licensed characters, and they are POPULAR.
     Different countries/cultures do have different looks, although there's a lot more overlap than you might think. Fairs like this, I think, are homogenizing the market a bit, which is a shame. That said, there are some really stunning new and inventive looks coming out of Indonesia, India, and Germany. Heck, everywhere really. Every culture has it's run-of-the-mill stuff and it's stars. But there are some truly exciting things happening all over the world. It was a treat to get a taste of that.
     The booths themselves varied considerably. Some were big and fancy and some were small and humble, and sometimes it had nothing to do with the size or reputation of the publishing company. (Heck, Lawrence King, publisher of Johanna Basford's coloring book SECRET GARDEN was one of the smallest displays there - and we all know they have gobs of money!) Here were some of my faves:
     Here was one I didn't expect to see there - very modestly and quietly tucked into a corner.
     I loved getting to finally meet my publisher from Little Pickle Press, Rana DiOrio for the first time. She's just as dynamic in person as I imagined. And they had a great space in the Children's Books USA booth, which also housed some other great publishers such as Peachtree Publishers, Holiday House, Charlesbridge, etc. They were in nice company and made a strong showing. Rana was busy the whole time talking foreign and licensing rights. Go Rana! She's been working so hard to get the word out about A BIRD ON WATER STREET. See it in there? (The fact that I didn't get a photo of the two of us is a testament to how overwhelmed I was. Can you say 'deer in headlights'?)
     There were indeed a ton of illustrators there - a dedicated post on that is coming soon. In the mean time, I quickly found that the way to talk to somebody was to introduce myself as a blogger with over 3,600 subscribers to my newsletter rather than as an author/illustrator. Eyebrows went up at my subscriber numbers and I had their attention. That was nice, especially as I'm trying to get to know the UK market and am looking to feature more UK books on my blog. I was given a ton of catalogues and emails to PR folks. I'll follow up with them when I get home. And of course I gave them my info, on an illustrated postcard. "Oh yeah, I'm an author/illustrator too." :)
     I especially loved meeting people who I'd been emailing with for years. Some were people I haven't worked with yet, but would like to (and who happily recognized my name). And some were publishers I have worked with in the past and would like to do more with in the future - like Judy at Free Spirit Press. (This is their booth.)
     Mostly, it was simply odd reconnecting with industry friends in ITALY. We had chats, hugs, drinks, dinner - you name it. Highlights were drinks with Kelly Barrales-Saylor and Jordan Kost of Albert Whitman, running into Alvina Ling of Little Brown, drinks with Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink Literary, meeting my publisher Rana DiOrio, and seeing all my SCBWI buds. It seems I only ever see these folks in exotic places anymore and I'm okay with that! I saw old friends, made some new ones, and soaked up as much as I could about books, the market, illustrative directions, and inspiration. I do feel like I took advantage of the book fair as best I could have. That said, I only went for three of the four days. It was enough, truly.
     Meanwhile, I am trying to process all the great conversations and experiences I had. Any one of them would have been enough to keep my brain busy for days. I have enough to keep my brain busy for months!

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45. Coloring Page Tuesday - Pig in a Gondola

     No, they don't have gondolas in Bologna - they're more about tortellini and mortadella (both invented there). But I'm still going on about Italy this week and they do have gondolas in Venice! (Which piggie would you rather be?)
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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46. The Illustrators' Wall at the Bologna Children's Book Festival

For years I'd heard about "The Wall." This is where illustrators can tack up examples of their work for passers-by to check them out and take samples. I heard this was the biggest year for the fair ever, but I'll admit, I wasn't expecting this. The Illustrators' Wall was not just one wall, it was several, and it went on...

and on...
and on...
Folks got there early to claim space with posters that had little tear off tabs (I thought these worked best).
People seemed mostly respectful about not covering up anybody else's work. And some folks got quite creative with their displays.
This was a common presentation - the poster with the card or postcard holder.
This was my fave, an actual pop-up display. I bet they got some work.
So, do people actually get work from this? At first I worried that the people taking the cards were mostly other illustrators, and yes, there was some of that. But I also saw a publisher-looking-sort-of-guy going down the wall and truly scouring everything, taking tabs and cards with clear intention. I say intention because the tabs oftentimes didn't have artwork on them (I thought that was a loss), just contact info. In other words, there was no reason to take one unless you were going to look up the artist later and perhaps try to get in touch.
     And I did hear of illustrators making deals at the fair. One creator was there to finalize a contract with her publisher over a deal that had been worked out before-hand. My friend Julie was busy selling foreign rights to her book, which had been traditionally published, but the house had sadly closed. Another illustrator had been coming for years - an editor recognized her and set up time to talk to her after the fair. So yes, deals were being made. I had several lovely conversations with editors - yes, even in the notoriously long lines for the bathroom, which is where I hear a lot of deals end up getting made! That will be hilarious if anything comes of those. Overall though, I'm not sure the fair is something you need to do if you have an agent - if you already have an 'in' with the publishing houses. I got the impression that the fair was a main resource for Italian or European illustrators, who don't have representation elsewhere.
     That said, the sheer volume of competition was completely overwhelming, unnerving, intimidating and educational. There was a ton of TALENT there but it was so varied - even in the Illustration Showcase. Styles were all over the place. Boris, Catherine and I tried to make the best of it.
But it gave us all food for thought. Boris and I walked back together, talking about it. We stopped at a small playground. This photo sums up Boris' reaction perfectly.
My big take-away? You absolutely cannot predict the market, or position yourself to sell. Tastes are too varied. All you can do is create what feeds your soul and hope it's of interest to somebody else.

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47. Francesca Sanna's THE JOURNEY - Interview

Today I am thrilled to have Francesca Sanna visit to talk about her debut picture book, THE JOURNEY. And what a debut it is! It's a refugee family's journey from war and loss, and it could be taking place anywhere in the world and at nearly any time. Even though it is especially timely now. It's a book that will grab you and never let you forget...

e: What is your medium?
Francesca: I work with mix media, I usually start with sketching and doing my textures with pencils and inks, and then I move to a digital support and I develop the final artwork.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Francesca: In my opinion it is "that something" that leaves a space for the person that look at the picture to fill with his own experience or emotions. When a picture leaves a small part of the story open, this makes you want to watch it over and over, trying to complete it.

Click the image to view larger in a new window.

e: Is there a unique or funny history behind the creation of this story?
Francesca: This is a very important question for this book, because it is in fact a collection of stories and experiences. I interviewed a lot of people before I started creating this story, and they came from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. One time in particular, I was interviewing a young guy from Tibet, but we could not find a way to communicate (he did not speak English but only German, and my German was, and still is, pretty bad!) and after a few attempts we found that the situation was stuck: we really could not understand each other. So we ended up drawing, me to ask him the questions, and him to answer them. It has been an intense and at the same time also funny experience, and since that time I discovered that sketching is a very good way to overcome language barriers!

e: What was your path to publication?
Francesca: I developed my book project at the Master of Arts I finished almost a year ago in Lucerne, Switzerland. Once I had finished with my studies I sent a description of the project to Flying Eye Books. About a month later we started working together on what now is the final version of "The Journey".

Click the image to view larger in a new window.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Francesca: My favorite part is when you are completely absorbed in your project and it flows one step after the other. I think the most challenging parts are the beginning, when it is only you and the white paper, and the end, when you can't sleep at night thinking "did I forget anything? Is this project really done?"

e: How do your creations invade your reality?
Francesca: Physically: on every small piece of paper around my apartment or my studio, every shopping list or memo note is full of small sketches. In a less material way: it is very hard for me, if I have a project or an idea I want to develop, to not use every single free moment I have to think about it. For this reason sometimes it gets hard to switch off the brain, even when it would be useful to take a break from work!

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Francesca: It is always a difficult exercise to empathise with a situation that seems very far away from ours. I would like this book to fill the gap between us and "the others", and really make a reader think "this could have been me" or "what would I do in a similar situation?"

Click the image to view larger in a new window.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Francesca: I am at the moment experimenting with new ideas and topics, and I am in that phase where I am not completely sure about what direction the next work will take.
     One of my dream projects (I definitely have more than one!) would be to work on the theme of gender equality. I am Italian and in my home country there has been a lot of discussions lately whether this topic should be the center of a children's book and children's literature or not. I personally think it is very important to talk with children about this issue and I would really like to start a visual research about it.

Francesca is an Italian illustrator and graphic designer based in Switzerland. After she finished her studies in Cagliari, the main city of her beloved Mediterranean island (Sardinia) she said goodbye to her family and her cat (Berta) and moved to Germany before and Switzerland after, in order to follow her dream and be able to work as illustrator. She graduated with honors in 2015 the Lucerne School of Art and Design, with a Master of Design with focus on Illustration. Learn more at www.francescasanna.com.

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48. Friday Linky List - 15 April 2016

From PW: Bologna 2016: A Busy First Day as the Fair Opens

From MyNewsDesk: The laureate of the 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is Meg Rosoff

From BoingBoing: What sound does this animal make? Google just got better at answering that.

From The Washington Post: Peggy Fortnum, artist who brought Paddington Bear to life, dies at 96

From BrainPickings (via PW): How to Handle Criticism: Advice from Some of the Greatest Writers of the Past Century

From Shelf Awareness: Malaprop's to Authors: Please Don't Boycott Us

Some Interesting Bologna Wrap-ups:
From PW: Bologna 2016: What Brings You Here? Five Non-Rights Perspectives on the Fair

From PW: Bologna 2016: Wrapping Up a Quietly Busy Fair

From PW: London Book Fair 2016: LBF Opens with Wind at Publishers' Backs

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49. SCBWI in Bologna

Part of the reason this was the year to do Bologna was because of SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They only do the Bologna Book Fair every two years. This year they went all out with a double booth and professionally printed panels - it looked GREAT. And it became home base for me, which was such a nice thing to have in that overwhelming Book Fair atmosphere.
     This year, I was the official SCBWI tweeter (twitterer?). You can see the posts at https://twitter.com/SCBWIBologna or #bol16SCBWI. I even did an impromptu portfolio critique for an attendee whose registration went awry. (Art Director Martha Rago was the official portfolio critiquer for the event.)

     But the real work was done by Chris Cheng (author and Australian Regional Advisor) and Susan Eaddy (author/illustrator and Midsouth Regional Advisor) - they're the ones who put it all together. That's the two of them with me and Bob.)
And wow, did they do a good job! The booth had constant activities going on. First were the Dueling Drawers. This is a half hour of two illustrators who have two minutes each to illustrate several scenes from an unpublished manuscript that they've never read. Here were Kelly Light and Mike Curato.
     I had two back-to-back Duels. The first one was with Bob Barner.
My second duel was with Evi Shelvi from Indonesia.

The next day the duelers were the long-time experts at it, Paul O. Zelinsky and Doug Cushman. Paul and Doug were instrumental in establishing the Dueling Drawers so they had a whole show going on, with mood music and everything!
Another nice activity were the Personal Showcases. Authors and illustrators set up their wares for an hour or so to talk to passers-by. Here are Susan and Julie with their set-up.
And me with mine.
There was also a cocktail party at the booth towards the end of the fair that was very well attended. Here I am with Chris again.
But best of all was SCBWI was the home base for so many people at the fair - so many of them long time friends of mine, and many who are new ones. Founder Stephen Mooser was even there with his wife, how nice! Here I am with Martha, Paul, and Doug.
SCBWI isn't quite as big in the UK as it is in the US, but I hope this increased presence at the Bologna Book Fair will help improve that. Because truly, it's so nice to reconnect with such amazing professionals all over the globe, and to feel at home among friends no matter where you are.

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50. Illustration Challenge #45

Draw something in a frame. As in, create a sweetly designed frame and put something in it. It can be simple or complicated, we're going for composition on this one. The frame will be the key focus. It can be lacy, viny, giltish, Rococo, delicate—it's up to you!

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