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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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1. Scott McCloud's THE SCULPTOR

You may have heard of Scott McCloud because of his landmark books, UNDERSTANDING COMICS, REINVENTING COMICS and MAKING COMICS - all great resources for illustrators in any field and some of which I use in the classes I teach. Considering his philosophical expertise, I am extremely excited that his first graphic novel, THE SCULPTOR, is about to come out. You can have a peek (not safe for work or kids) at it at NPR - Exclusive First Read: Scott McCloud's 'The Sculptor.'

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2. Flying and the creative path - Part 3

After months of training on the bunny hills, I finally graduated. I equate this to getting published. First it was magazines, then picture books and finally a novel was in the works. Staying with the flying analogy, it was time for me to fly off the top of Lookout Mountain. I wasn't nervous at all. (Yeah, right.)

     I usually flew as the light was fading and the sky calmed. Just like in publishing, in flying there are levels of degrees. We called these later flights sled runs, and wow, were they a rush. And what fun to overhear the onlookers whisper, "It's a girl!" as I leaped off the ledge. I loved it. I felt all-powerful! Unstoppable!
     After college... I would chug up to Chattanooga in my '78 Land Cruiser, my dream vehicle, to camp in the LZ - with my own tent. Part of being on the journey is slowly collecting the skills and tools you need. Nothing happens all of a sudden. I slowly created the lifestyle I wanted.

     For many years, my life was about flying, which is why I eventually moved to Chattanooga full-time. (My job at Buster Brown Apparel, drawing Charlie Brown and Snoopy, funded the adventure.)

And I flew!

     Eventually I even bought my own glider - a beautiful one with a cobalt blue edge.

     Many people thought I was crazy. Some admired how I chased my dream. Some focused only on the end result of these years of steady learning and growing to become the hang-glider pilot I was.
     It's so similar to writing and illustrating.
     People see me published now, with so many picture books and a novel under my belt. But to only see the end result is to make incorrect assumptions. Chasing dreams isn't easy - they take work. But there are steps you can take to achieve even the wildest dreams. The first step is deciding what that dream is and moving your life in that direction. Small decisions feed into the path from then on. And eventually, you will be ready for the mountain.
     I still dream about flying sometimes, and would never put it past me to take it up again someday. But for now, I am a children's book writer and illustrator. And as I say on my bio page - sometimes this business can feel just as crazy as jumping off a cliff with a kite tied to your back. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't jump!

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3. National Readathon Day!

January 24th is National Readathon Day! Make #timetoread and CLICK HERE to learn more about it!

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4. Friday Linky List - January 23, 2015

From Flavorwire (via PW): Beautiful Illustrations That Reimagine the Brothers Grim Fairy Tales

At The New York Times: At the Super Bowl of Linguistics, May the Best Word Win - 2014's WOTY is #blacklivesmatter

From BuzzFeed (via PW): 24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

At Picture Book Builders: Heart: A picture book's got to have it!

From Instructables: Blooming Zoetrope Sculptures - mesmerizing!

Time: The 100 Best Children's Books of All Time

From mental_floss via PW: The Dark Origins of 11 Classic Nursery Rhymes

From the New York Times Well section: Writing Your Way to Happiness

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5. NEW! Margaret Wise Brown Award!

You may know that I teach at Hollins University in the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating as well as the Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs every summer.
     Well, we are thrilled to announce that Hollins has received a gift of $60,000 from James Rockefeller, Margaret Wise Brown’s (a Hollins alum) fiancé (at the time of her death), to establish the Margaret Wise Brown Award for the best published picture book text, with the first award to be given at the Francelia Butler Conference in 2016, for a picture book published in 2015.
     This annual award will carry a $1,000 cash prize plus travel to Hollins (in Roanoke, Virginia) to accept the award and give a reading, and a bronze medal with a portrait of Ms. Brown on one side, and the recipient’s name and year awarded on the reverse.
     There is no comparable award for picture book writers. The Caldecott is for illustration, the Newbery rarely (although occasionally) goes to picture books, and the Charlotte Zolotow, and other awards for picture book text, do not include monetary winnings. So we are very proud of this new award!
     Publishers - if you would like your picture books to be considered, please contact Amanda Cockrel, founding director of the children's literature graduate program at Hollins University for further details.

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6. The World of Dr. Seuss - behind the scenes

I was first turned onto this fantastic video about Theodore Geisel and his process behind the creation of the works which became Dr. Seuss by Travis Jonker over at 100 Scope Notes. It's worth sharing to make sure it goes viral. You'll see early works and hear stories seldom told about Seuss. Worth your time. Click the image to watch the video.

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7. Coloring Page Tuesday - Sledding Penguins!

     Ping, Pong, Pepe and Pip are taking the sled out for the day. Although Pip can't get his beak out of a book.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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8. Book-o-Beards

Just when you didn't think there was such a thing as a better mousetrap... Capstone Young Readers has come out with a line of WEARABLE BOOKS - BRILLIANT!! Check out the trailer, it's adorable...(the image will take you to the Capstone page with the trailer).

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9. Flying and the creative path - Part 2

After that first taste at hang-gliding, I couldn't wait until I turned eighteen - old enough to fly. Time to chase my dream.
     My first real experience came through the University of Georgia. I was a senior (majoring in Graphic Design, focusing on illustration) and found out about a trip to a hang-gliding school at the last minute. I rented the last tent available through the rec center - it didn't have a fly cover, but I made do. I was on an adventure!

     I set it up in the LZ (landing zone) in the shadow of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

     The first step to learning how to fly was to stay on the ground. We learned how to run with the glider. At the time I didn't understand this, but that nose up position is all wrong. It basically puts the wings in stall mode - it's how you land, not how you fly. It's your instincts saying 'but I want to go UP!' A sure sign of a beginner, but I was learning nonetheless.

     Just like writing or illustrating, I was laying the groundwork, learning the rules on which to build my structure, so that I could soar.
     After that first weekend, I saved every dime I could to go back and move further along in my training. Being a broke college student, the weekends were too few and far between, but I didn't give up.
     Equate that to learning how to write or illustrate - going to conferences, reading 'how to' books, taking classes and learning the in's and out's of the industry. Maybe you don't have the resources, so it seems to be a slow-moving process, but you're still on the journey.
     The next time I went up to Chattaboogie, we climbed a small hill (the bunny hill) with our gliders on our shoulders. We took turns running off the hill, trying to hold the glider in the correct position to fly. I've got it right in this photo, which is why I'm off the ground!

     It wasn't easy to do. Everything in my subconscious said, "I want to FLY!" Which made me push out on the bars, placing the glider in stall mode. And when it stalled, the glider would come crashing down, dragging me with it down the hill and... through the cow patties. Did I mention the bunny hill was in an active cow pasture? Yup. A victorious day of flight training ended with a harness covered in cow manure.
     This is a lovely analogy for writing and illustrating. There are the rejections, the failures, the jealousies, the general feelings of trying to do the impossible. Becoming a writer/illustrator is a mental game with yourself. It's can be so tempting to quit, but as they say, that's a sure way to fail.
     So I didn't care about the cow patties - literally being dragged through the muck - I was flying!

     Just as with publishing credits, eventually I graduated to the larger bunny hill.

After buying some new shoes which actually fit me and let me run better (appropriate tools), I mastered that hill too.

     And that led to the mountain...
     Keep reading to find out what happened next!

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10. The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra by Chris Raschka

Candlewick Press just sent me a copy of THE COSMOBIOGRAPHY OF SUN RA by Chris Raschka and I think they might have another Caldecott on their hands. Not only is the cover visually stunning and intriguing (reminds me a bit of his Mysterious Thelonious, which I also love), the writing is superb. I adore the opening line,

"Sun Ra always said that he came from Saturn.
Now, you know and I know that this is silly. No one comes from Saturn.

And yet.
If he did come from Saturn, it would explain so much."
     It tells place, character, pulls the reader in. The illustrator is a genius with words as well.
     The book describes key moments in Sun Ra's life and what music meant to him and what his music meant to the world. It's all surrounded by Chris' lush artwork, so full of movement. (Click the images to see them larger in a new window.)

Of course, it would be cruel to tease with all this artistic expression of music without including the music, so here is Sun Ra's Sun Song (the image will take you to YouTube):

THE COSMOBIOGRAPHY OF SUN RA. Copyright © 2014 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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11. Friday Linky List - January 16, 2015

At PW: 2015 Sendak Fellow Announced - How cool would this be?

From Variety (via PW): 2014 Top 10 Books: Film Adaptations Fuel Young Adult Novel Sales

From the New York Times (via PW): Why Do We Hate Cliché?

Terri Windling talks about perfection at her blog Myth & Moor: When Every Day Is Judgement Day. There are lovely photos of her studio and a great video too.

From Red Lemon Club: Why No One Likes Your Art: 26 Reasons - good advice!

On the same note at 99U: This Is Why You Don't Have a Mentor

At BuzzFeed: If Superheroes Were From The Elizabethan Age - great images!

At PW - Illustrators Say: 'Nous Sommes Charlie'

At Mental_floss via PW: 15 Gorgeous Little Free Libraries

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12. Clearing the Creative Cells

Author Kim Siegelson and I went hiking the other day. She's a member of a hiking club in Atlanta and knows all sorts of fun, unknown gems. She goes regularly as she says it clears her head and calms her nerves. It used to do that for me too when I lived in Chattanooga, but I haven't been hiking in ages. (Not since my woodsy excursion at Highlights Foundation at Boyds Mills.) In fact, I was thrilled to pull out my old hiking boots - the ones I wore on our honeymoon, hiking through Kenya. As you'll see, those didn't work out so well.
     Kim and I used to have a critique group together - the Cheese Whizzes. We met for a few years before graduations, colleges, moves and general mayhem made it like herding cats to get together. Some of us meet up for stuff now and then, but I miss my cheese whizzes.
     It's winter here in Georgia, which means drizzly, gray and dreary cold. But I love winter hiking. Your body warms up quickly, you seldom run into other hikers, there are no bugs or snakes, and the views go on forever. In no time, I was back into the swing of it. We saw deer (who ran across our path), a great blue heron, cormorants, ducks, and beautiful scenery!

It's wasn't sunny when we got to Laurel Creek, so Kim shared a photo from a previous hike:

     While we hiked, Kim and I talked about writing, of course, about retreats and goals and challenges. We've both reached most of our publishing goals (except for the BIG awards), so it's a matter of 'what now?' Kim likes to challenge herself with different writing styles like flash fiction and such. I like writing and illustrating without tremendous pressure - everything is gravy from here on out! But we both agreed we want folks to enjoy our work, for our peeps to respect what we create, to do a good job with our craft.
     We stopped at a bluff overlooking the Chattahoochee River to soak in the view - Atlanta is in the background.

     Writing isn't just about the act itself, it's also about the life that surrounds it. I've found that most writers are very interested people - all sorts of topics fire up their brains. So they are interesting people to be around. They also tend to have flexible schedules for the most part (when not on deadline, at which point you won't see them for months). I love getting together with my writer and illustrator friends - they keep me sane and feed my soul!
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window of this panoramic shot:

     Speaking of soles (not souls)... yeah. The old hiking boots didn't hold up so well. The soles started coming apart a few miles in and just disintegrated from there.

     I guess they won't be going to Edinburgh with me after all. *le sigh*
     After our hike, we had lunch at Arepa Mia near Agnes Scott - delish. Then we popped into the bakery and a dress shop next door. Kim bought cupcakes, I bought a new dress. Truly, we did it all in a few short hours! What a fun get-together!

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13. Peachtree Publishers Preview Party

I was invited to the loveliest get-together Sunday. Margaret Quinlin, publisher at Peachtree Publishers invited librarians, teachers, creators, influencers, and me to her lovely home in Atlanta, where Peachtree editors, publicists and art directors showcased and talked about their new book releases for Spring 2015.

It was fascinating hearing the background behind the creation process and lovely to see everybody's passion for their work. I took some truly candid photos of the event (shared with Margaret's blessing). Here's Stephanie Fretwell-Hill talking about STANLEY THE FARMER and SPECTACULAR SPOTS by Susan Stockdale:

Tom Gonzalez gave a fascinating talk about his process for TOAD WEATHER:

Vicky Holified talked about the latest book by Adrian Fogelin, SOME KIND OF MAGIC.

Also, Loraine Joyner (art director) talked about P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG by Julie Patchkis, and Kathy Landwehr talked about RODEO RED, written by Maripat Perkins and illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winning Molly Idle (who has visited my blog a few times). All said, it was a fantastic glimpse into these great new books and the journey behind them.
Some of the original pieces form the books were showcased in Margaret's dining room:

It was so nice to be invited to this party as I have several friends at Peachtree. I couldn't help grabbing selfies with several of them. Like...
Kathey Lanwehr (editor), Me, and Christine, the former New York librarian and newest publicist has been doing a great job reaching out to help spread the word about this fresh crop of fantastic books.

Here I am with Loraine and Stephanie:

And me and Mia Manekofsky, Decatur children's librarian and awesome person.

Tom and me.

Thanks to Margaret, Christine and everybody at Peachtree. It was a great party and introduction to Peachtree's lovely new books as well as a fascinating glimpse into the tight team you have there. It's no wonder Peachtree has gained such a strong reputation for great books in the kid lit world.

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14. Coloring Page Tuesdays - Storytelling Snowman

     Storytelling Snowman shares his tales with the wee fuzzies of the forest, to keep them warm in winter.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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15. Teaser audio clip for Philip Pullman's THE COLLECTORS

Fans of Philip Pullman's ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy can return to Lyra’s Oxford this January, as Audible.com offers members an exclusive new short story written by Philip Pullman and performed by award-winning British actor Bill Nighy, best known for his performance as Billy Mack in Love Actually and his portrayal of Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

The Collectors is an original short story by one of the most well-loved and admired British novelists of recent times. Set in the Senior Common Room of Oxford on a dark winter’s night, The Collectors follows the conversation of a pair of new characters, Horley and Grinstead, as they discuss two new works of art that Horley has added to his collection. Little do they know that these pieces are connected in mysterious and improbable ways, and that both of them are about to be caught in the crossfire of a story that has travelled through time and between worlds.

The Collectors marks the first time that Pullman has returned to the universe he created for the beloved His Dark Materials trilogy since the publication of Once Upon A Time in the North in 2008. Written exclusively for Audible as a standalone story, it introduces new listeners to the His Dark Materials books, while revealing a little something extra to fans of Lyra and her world.

CLICK HERE to go listen to the teaser clip.

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16. An Indie Bookseller in Amazon Territory

From the site: Tom Nissley is a former books editor at Amazon and an eight-time "Jeopardy!" champion. He used his game show winnings to focus on writing full-time and published a book in 2013. When his neighborhood bookstore, Santoro's Books, was up for sale in 2014, he bought it and re-opened as Phinney Books in the Phinney Ridge/Greenwood neighborhoods of Seattle.
     This is a quiet, yet groovy little story about a love of books. Click the image to watch the video on Vimeo:

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17. Flying and the creative path - Part 1

In an earlier post, I mentioned my desire to fly. And in a weird way, my desire to fly makes a great analogy for the writer/illustrator I've become. Let's look at it that way...
     From a young age, I was fascinated by birds and flight.

I tried to come up with plans to build wings and to create the velocity I'd need to get off the ground. I wanted something that seemed impossible, but I figured if I could break it down to the basics, I might be able to solve how to do it.

I remember researching the bone structure of birds, the shape of their wings, and trying to understand the concepts of flight. Think grammar, outlining, sentence structure, etc. on the writing side. On the illustration side, think shape, light, air, density. It was a puzzle I wanted to figure out and recreate.

     So it was no surprise that when I learned about hang-gliding, I knew I wanted to try it!
     In high school, I heard about a flight simulator in Chattanooga, Tennessee and talked my dad into doing it with me. It was a great opportunity to dip in my toe and try it on for size. It was mostly a zip-line with a hang-glider attached. Pretty safe.

     But for a few seconds during my turn, I pulled the nose down, out of its stall and placing it into true flight mode. I'd found the sweet spot. It only lasted a moment, but much to my father's dismay, in those few seconds I experienced true flight and I was hooked. Writer and illustrators know that feeling: the perfect sentence, description, color, line.

     But I was young when I did this - only in high school. Dad said I'd have to wait until I was an adult, 18, before I could consider taking up hang-gliding seriously. Sometimes it's not the right time to chase our dream yet. He thought I'd forget by then. I didn't...

      Check back to hear what happened next...

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18. Friday Linky List - January 9, 2015

At Numéro Cinq - an older, but worth reading again article: "Who Am I? What the Lowly Riddle Reveals by Julie Larios

From Brooklyn Arden (via Cynsations): A Ramble: The Elements of Writerly Talent and Improvement

From 100 Scope Notes: The Wildest Children's Books of 2014

From Shelf Awareness: Remembering the Salman Rushdie Fatwa - never doubt the courage of booksellers!

From The Atlantic: The Death of the Artist - and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur

From BuzzFeed: This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege

From Shelf Awareness: 18 Libraries Every Book Lover Should Visit in Their Lifetime

From The Mixed Up Files: Procrastination, Celebration, and Hibernation: Seasons of A Writer's Life by Michelle Houts.

From SLJ, Fuse #8 (Betsy Bird): What's Trending? Hot Themes in kid lit and what we want to see
And while you're there, don't miss Betsy's video compilation "2015: A Beautiful Multicultural Year."

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19. Kelly Light's LOUISE LOVES ART - Giveaway!

I fell in love with Kelly Light's new book the minute I saw it, because I was exactly like Louise! And I adore the line, "I love art. It's my imagination on the outside!" I'm thrilled to have Kelly here today to talk about LOUISE LOVES ART!

Q. Kelly, congratulations on your debut picture book and it’s overwhelming success! How’s it been for you?
Thanks Elizabeth! It was so great to spend some time with you at the Decatur Book Festival this August!
      The release of Louise Loves Art has been beyond anything that I ever imagined. Harper Collins and my editor, Alessandra Balzer at the imprint, Balzer and Bray have supported the book amazingly. I was always so focused on getting published that I never applied my imagination to what happens after publication. It has been new and awe inspiring and overwhelming.
      The best part of a very busy Fall 2014, was getting to be with kids. I traveled all over the United States and talked about art and heard from so many children “I love art!” That fills me with hope and inspiration.

Q. So, is LOUISE LOVES ART an autobiography?
Yes and no. Louise is like me, in that she is a little girl obsessed with drawing. I was as well. Louise is the older sibling. I was the younger sibling. I was the one who messed up my older brother’s stuff. Louise also has an unrestrained confidence. I knew who I was, I was an artist. Having that identity certainly helped my confidence, but I was a little more shy.

Q. I was Louise myself - I was seldom seen without a drawing pad tucked under my arm as a kid. And I did portraits of all my friends. How did art show up in your early years?
I remember always drawing as far back as I can remember. I tell the kids, when I talk to them, I drew on every scrap of paper in the house. Every piece of mail, every napkin in the napkin holder. My Mom and Dad had a diner when I was a kid. I drew on every green and white guest check.
      One of the reasons I thought up Louise was remembering back to being a kid in the 1970’s. There was so much art in school. In every school subject we did book reports, dioramas and bulletin boards. When my own daughter was in fourth grade, she was lucky to have art class twice a month. Her teacher waited until May to do a project with his class because the rest of the school year’s lessons were determined by the testing in Long Island.
      I thought about my artsy kid and what if I grew up with out art surrounding me? Who would I be? That’s when I started drawing Louise.

Q. Gads, I can't imagine! You did a lot of licensed artwork in an early career - did that help you grow into the artist you are now?
      Licensing, for major cartoon properties is a lot like advertising. You have to think fast. You have to distill your ideas into their simplest form. Usually one image. You have to convey a story, a feeling, personality….very simply. You also draw a lot. I used to have to fill a wall with concepts every day. Then, maybe one would get used. You learn that ideas aren’t all precious. You get them all out, then look around... learn what is viable and useful. Keep moving.
      Sounds a lot like publishing, right?

Q. LOUISE LOVES ART is a perfect marriage of words and pictures working together - how did you approach that?
I think in pictures. I drew for months with only two sentences written . “I love art. It’s my imagination on the outside.” I had a running narrative and dialogue in my head. A whole hour and a half animated movie. When the storyboard was done, the sketches were finished… I picked the fewest words possible to add to the pictures. What were they saying? What needed to be said? That was it.
      I don’t follow any writing rules. I really do believe “Give me any chance, I’ll take it. Read me any rule, I’ll break it.” The only rule I believe in is being real and speaking and acting from my heart. That includes however I get the work done. For me, it’s an unconventional process. It’s also difficult and involves a lot of swearing, loud music, wine and bubble baths. Maybe some chocolate.

Q. I know you had an incredible book tour when LOUISE LOVES ART came out. Now that you’re home, is life different? And what’s next for you?
I call the Louise Tour, My BIG Adventure. Like any adventure, there were highs and lows. Successes and Peril. Fun and a little challenge.
      Life is very different. I am very different. This whole experience, the last two and a half years has changed me. I was afraid to travel alone, speak in front of people and now - I am afraid of hotels. There were a lot of hotels.
      I have time trouble now. There is never enough time. Time is the most valuable commodity. I would, if I had the time, write a science fiction novel based on that idea. Time. More time and how can we get it? Who can get it for me? I am a time junky. I need more time.
      I am comforted by how I spend my time. I spend it creating. I always created but, now, creating books for children, with my own characters and telling my own stories, I get to wind up face to face with these kids. I get to talk to them about being creative and sharing their imaginations with the world. It’s rewarding. That is the payment for the work.
      Right now, I am finishing Louise 2. I am working on illustrating a book for Beachlane Books, “Just Add Glitter” by Angela DiTerlizzi.
      So much to do, so little time.

Q. Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations again!
I’m glad I got to spend some with you, Elizabeth! Happy and Safe travels on your big Adventure!

Check out this incredibly sweet book trailer for LOUISE LOVES ART (the image will take you to YouTube):

      Kelly has kindly offered to send a free, signed copy of LOUISE LOVES ART to one of my lucky, lucky followers! Must live in the US to win - enter below!

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20. Friday Linky List - January 2, 2015

At 100 Scope Notes: The State of Photography Illustration in 2014

From the New York Times: The Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2014

From Nerdy Book Club: 2014 Nerdy Awards for Fiction Picture Books (announced by Teri Lesesne)

From PW: Children's Publishers Choose Their Favorite Reads of 2014

From 100 Scope Notes: All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions. It's an interesting thought. And A BIRD ON WATER STREET comes in at 168 (well within his "under 200" idea).

At Brain Pickings (via PW): Madeleine L'Engle on Creativity, Hope, Getting Unstuck, and How Studying Science Enriches Art

And if you liked that, you may also want to read: Dare to Disturb the Universe: Madelieine L'Engle on Creativity, Censorship, Writing, and the Duty of Children's Book

From BuzzFeed Books (via PW): This Little Girl's Scrapbook Proves Exactly Why Strong Female Characters Are So Important

From 100 Scope Notes: 2014 Book releases by previous Caldecott winners - interesting!

From The New York Times Magazine: The Lives They Lived: Remembering some of those we lost this year (including Walter Dean Myers)

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21. The House I Grew Up In

In preparation for our move to Scotland, I recently accomplished a huge goal. I culled down a lifetime of memories - letters, photos, albums, etc. into two waterproof containers ready for storage. I also took digital photos of most of the images so I'd have them in a format I could use and play with.
     It made me rather nostalgic looking back at all those photos. There are so many stories and I thought I might share a few...

     This is the house I grew up in as a child. It was a new neighborhood with few large trees in it. The back yards laced together like one uninterrupted picnic blanket.
     Even then, I dreamed of flying.

     My father told me that if I ran fast enough and flapped my arms hard enough, I would. So many evenings folks could look out their window to find that strange neighbor girl running across their back yards, flapping her arms like a drunk duck. I'd return home and swear that I'd gotten off the ground. It began a theme that ran through my life for many years. But that is for a later post...

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22. Creating Powerful Covers

My Little Pickle Press publisher, Rana DiOrio recently wrote a VERY interesting article called CREATING POWERFUL COVERS and she used A BIRD ON WATER STREET as her primary example. Leslie Iorillo was the talented designer on the project.
     The coolest part was seeing the stages the cover went through. And even though I'd seen all of these, I hadn't seen them pulled together like this before. It's also been a while, so I forgot that at one point, A BIRD ON WATER STREET might have turned out looking very different!
     Here were the original concepts:

Which were narrowed down to three directions:

Leslie then did color studies of the chosen direction:

Until - VOILA! The final cover, which I love and adore, was born!

      Truly, Rana's insights on the process were enlightened. I highly recommend you go read CREATING POWERFUL COVERS.

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23. Coloring Page Tuesday - Sledding Bear!

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and have a fabulous new year! This sledding bear plans to!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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24. Where Bear

There's a really interesting breakdown of WHERE BEAR? The new picture book by Sophy Henn at The Picture Book Life: Elements of an A+ Picture Book: Where Bear?. It talks about the language, symbolism, leaps of faith in a magical situation, etc. Nice examination of what makes a successful children's book.

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25. Je suis Charlie

French children's book illustrator Benjamin Chaud (who I have featured on my blog) shared this lovely tribute through Chronicle. From his publicist, Lara Starr:

French artist, Chronicle Books’ illustrator Benjamin Chaud was hit particularly hard by the tragic events at Charlie Hebdo, and like many, was inspired to create his own illustration in answer to the unanswerable.

I have just read that Charlie Hebdo plans to publish next week. Art cannot be stopped! Vive le Liberte!

Lara Starr

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