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9076. The Empty Trunk

I did this cover for a ebook a little while ago.  The book is 'The Empty Trunk' by Lily Hathaway.  It was a fun illustration to work on, and here is a short description of the book:

When Horace and Gregory set out for their annual trip to the circus they have no idea of the trouble that will come from winning a door prize! When a mysterious trunk arrives at their cottage, adventure soon follows as the two friends try to outfox the evil Count who has tricked them into becoming his allies during an uprising in his kingdom.

You can find the book on Smashwords or Amazon.

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9077. Judging the book by its cover

My wonderful art director over at Simon & Schuster, Laurent Linn, sent me the jacket mechs from our upcoming release, Please, Louise (written by Toni Morrison). Over the course of my short career, I have learned that deciding on cover art and design is never solely up to the artist. Jacket art is usually agreed upon by the editorial team and sales/marketing team. Artists are also asked to address cover art while final art is in completion (this is a personal grievance of mine). Mostly, my art directors have asked to see cover sketches and ideas towards the end of the book. I prefer this because once I’m focused on interior finishes, it is hard for me to switch gears and think about anything else.

Most artists are a bit dramatic…a tad diva-esque, and maybe slightly egotistical when it comes to their ideas. I am a crazy mixture of “of course I’m right, I’m a gangsta” and “…wait, I know nothing! You decide.” when it comes to my work. One of the most frustrating things that ever happens to me is when I get to the “of course I’m right” stage on an idea that took hours to conceptualize and I hear that marketing and sales chimes in and says, “it isn’t (awesome, great, wonderful, perfect, marketable, etc.) enough. As an artist, I can certainly admit that I am a bit of a snob when it comes to non-artists telling me what to do with my work—my mother was kicked out of my studio many a day for offering her loving constructive criticism after a long day of paint, sweat, and tears—and at times I have felt 100% vindicated when I have given people what they want only to have them come back to say they would use my original idea (“of course I’m right”).

Well, today, I was totally shocked and amazed by the marketing team over at Simon and Schuster. Laurent sent me two mechs, one using cover art we cooked up together with Paula Wiseman, and another mech using a piece of interior art that marketing suggested. I can’t show you the two covers now, but let me just say, the S&S team knocked it out of the park! I am now a convert that yes, you can judge a book by its cover and the one that will be displayed on shelves will make you want to take the book home with you. I promise.

So, kudos to salespeople and marketeers! And cheers to teamwork! Please, Louise is the most collaborative book I have been a part of. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

For more hilarious book publishing memes, head on over to Designer In Publishing.
It’s funny because it’s true.
And for my life in Bitstrips, head on over to my facebook page and say hi.

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9078. First Day Jitters


The first day of school is always a little scary, especially if it's a new school.

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9079. Empty space

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9080. Free Fall Friday – Louise Fury Results

gatheringmussels

THE SEA-KING’S CHILDREN Written and Illustrated by Vesper Stamper

Aelfe lugged the stone up the narrow cliff-path, curling her toes through her thin wool shoes to grip the wet ground more surely. A loose pebble turned her ankle, but she swung her body toward the cliff wall—left—instead of the sheer drop—right. The whipping wind amplified, and the wisp of a girl pressed herself against the cliff wall to keep from flying away.

When she was finally on the coarse grass of the plateau, she dropped the stone and flipped it end over end to the pile. Aelfe twisted it into the scrub grass until it nestled in the dirt, and searched a nearby rock pile for the next smaller one. Carefully, she tested the balance of each, finding the flattest parts, and stacked them into cairns fit for the judgment-seats of sprite and fairy kings.

This one will do for the brown sprite, she thought, And he will send me a silver piece in a limpet’s shell for thanks.

Around the edge of the entire promontory, Aelfe built cairns, hauling big boulders, almost as heavy as herself, against her belly. To keep her balance, she arched her back so far that her heart faced the sky, her chin tucked into her collar. Aelfe’s black hair whipped in the wind, wet and salty from sea spray. Her eyes reddened and teared. Her mother’s sunset-colored tweed shawl wound around her arms but gave her little warmth.

Aelfe stood now in the middle of her stone circle and pulled the shawl tighter. She looked approvingly at the cairns, now properly suited to the sprite king’s use.

“Here you are,” she called to the group of fulmars flying overhead. “Come take your places for court. I’ll be back tomorrow for the coronation.” She beckoned the birds down to the circle of miniature houses made of small flat stones, their fine roofs made of bundles of dried grass, anchored by pebbles tied down tightly with yarn.

Here is Louise’s Critique:

I like that I am immediately pulled into some action, which makes me curious to read more about why Aelfe is lugging this stone in the first place.

I would like to know more about what she looks like and her age, beyond that she is a “wisp of a girl.” Also, I am curious as to how big this stone is, since it seems to be giving her trouble. Is it the stone’s size or the age of the girl that is making it so heavy?

I like that the mention of sprites is within the first page, since I know right away that there is a fantasy element to the story. Once again, knowing her age would help clarify whether these are literal sprites, or if Aelfe is so young that she believes she sees them.

There is a lot of great description of the stones, the birds, the grass—but I need a bit more to let me know where she is exactly. Is she in a fantasy world? Ancient times? Even just a few more subtle hints could go a long way in making it more clear who or where Aelfe is.

(Some of these issues might be clarified by the illustrations, but since I don’t have them I am going off of the words alone).

=================

PLAYING WITH FIRE YA Contemporary By Margo Sorsenson

There he was, the hottest dad of any of her friends, leaning against the side of his silver Mercedes, talking with another parent in the parking lot next to the soccer field.  Spencer’s heart gave a little flip as she bent down and retied her soccer cleats and stood up, ready for practice.  She adjusted her ponytail.  Had she put enough gloss on her lips?

Coach Foster blew the whistle.  “Ladies, two-on-two drills, please.”  Coach Foster was pretty hot, too, but, well, he was married.  Mr. Cartwright, her friend Gianna’s father, however, was most definitely not married, and, more important, his blue eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled at Spencer, after he’d made a funny comment.  Spencer shivered, thinking of how she’d first met his eyes straight-on in the rear view mirror of his car, when he was driving the girls home after a late night game two weeks ago.  They’d locked gazes for an instant that seemed to last a year, leaving Spencer breathless in the back seat.

“What are you staring at?” a familiar voice asked.  Spencer turned around to see her best friend Madison, tapping a soccer ball back and forth between her feet.  “Come on.  I know he’s hot, but he’s way too old for you,” she said.

Spencer felt her face flush.  “Whatever,” she retorted and stole the ball from between Madison’s feet.

As she jogged along the sideline, dribbling the ball between her feet, looking across the grassy athletic fields, she could see the varsity baseball team practicing, with Colby Hanson, the catcher, standing up and hollering something at the second baseman.  Colby was cute and pretty smart, but he sure was all about Madison.  He was always hanging around after baseball practice, watching the girls’ varsity soccer team finish up their practices.  Lots of the girls thought Colby was awesome, but Spencer noticed Madison didn’t seem to care that he was always there.

Keeping pace with her, Madison looked over at the baseball team.  “Those guys are too young for you, huh?” she teased.  “Colby’s pretty cute, and maybe he’s smart enough for you.”

HERE IS LOUISE’S CRITIQUE: 

I like the uniqueness of starting the story with talking about the hot dad, who a lot of teens wouldn’t be crushing on. However, I want to know why he is hot, rather than being told he is hot with blue eyes. What makes him different than the hot blue-eyed teens at school? His sexy five o’clock shadow? The muscles sticking out from his polo? That George Clooney grin? I need swoon-worthy details!

I felt a little overwhelmed with how many character names I was introduced to within the first page. Coach Foster, Mr. Cartwright, Gianna, Spencer, Madison, Colby—for me it’s a lot to keep straight when we don’t have interaction with all of these characters yet.

I like the dialogue between Madison and Spencer, and it feels authentically “teen” In fact, I would have liked this little back and forth to continue on, even if just for a couple more sentences. This would add a bit more flavor and give a peek into their friendship, plus help break up the big paragraphs of description.

I would read on with this, because it feels like it’s going to be a fun, flirty read from the first page.

==================

GRANDMA LUCIA’S SOUL YA fiction By Gerardine Luongo

IS YOUR MIND DIFFERENT FROM YOUR BRAIN?

That’s the first thing you see when you walk into Sister Agnes’s philosophy class every Monday morning. Well, not the same question, but the sign that reads “Today’s Show Stopper– fill-in-the-blank.”  She calls them show stoppers because, as she says, her intent is to get us to stop our day-to-day show (whatever that means) and THINK!!!  Personally, I think that’s a lot to ask of anyone at 8:45 on a Monday morning.

After homeroom, philosophy is my first class of the week; it lasts 60 minutes and then we have it again for 45 minutes every Thursday afternoon. Oh yeah, it’s a lot, it’s crazy but it’s why my parents wanted to me to go to this school   My name is Jake, well actually its Giovanni but everyone calls me Jake or sometimes John. I’m a freshman at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School on 74th Street in Brooklyn NY.  Philosophy is what we call a reck, or for this class, a wreck! A reck is a required class, and philosophy is a reck freshman through junior years. Seniors get to choose from a series of electives because by then they have either been accepted into a college or will basically be rolling cannolis in their family’s bakery somewhere because at some point along the way they dropped it all for sex, drugs, or both.

Getting into St. Tom’s is hard, really hard. I went to St. Tom’s grammar school across the street and they place big emphases on making sure you get accepted into the St. Tom’s HS; if you don’t get accepted, no big deal, your family should just probably move to a new parish. They do a lot to prep you to make sure you get the grades, take the extra-curricular classes, and pass the Regents exams that will get you accepted into St. Thomas HS. In whatever way they calculate acceptance, going to the grammar school is only worth about 5 points on a scale of like a million.  I was pretty sure I was going to end up here but my parents were DAMN sure I

HERE IS LOUISE’S CRITIQUE:

I’m drawn in immediately by the rhetorical question-sign and the character’s voice. I love the little bit of humor about nobody thinking at 8:45am. (So many of us can relate!)

The second paragraph read like an intense speed-dating round to me, with Jake trying to tell us every detail about him in few minutes. It’s too much information too quickly. Some of it can be weaved in later, while other bits are details that we don’t really need at all. For instance, I don’t need to know how many minutes he has each class and on what day. It slows down the pacing.

The third paragraph again goes into a lot of detail about St. Thomas. I would love some dialogue, some action—something else besides this background information.

I can tell Jake has a great voice, but it gets lost a bit. His sense of humor and teen-voice will pop so much more once the pacing is picked up and extra details removed. I’d like to see what Jake’s up to!

==============

DIGGING UP THE JACKSONS Upper MG Time Travel By Sharon Sorokin James

Pru ran the tips of her fingers over each worn, simple headstone until she came to the one headstone that was different. Her fingers traced the garlands of flowers ran down the edges of the stone’s face, vines and stalks emerging from skeleton heads, the simple carved letters etched into the stone – Hannah Bowen Jackson born May 22, 1675 Died July 9, 1695.

Lowering herself onto the grassy grave, Pru sat yoga-style, arms composed, palms up. Bits of grass and a dusting of earth stuck to the bottoms of her bare feet.  She closed her eyes, letting the early summer sun cover her like a soft, warm shroud, breathing in and out, slowly and steadily, the perfect morning ritual.  Laila told her that when you meditate, you need a mantra.  Something like “ommmmm,” said Laila, soothingly.  But ommmmm did nothing for Pru.  After much anxious casting about to find the most relaxing and focused mantra, she had finally decided upon the word, “ever.”  Sometimes she punctuated it with an “and,” as in “ever and ever,” until it rolled through her mind like a cloud or a river, or a heartbeat.

Surrounded by the unbroken chain of her ancestors, the words “ever and ever and ever” felt as natural to her as breathing. Someday, not for a long, long time, but in seventy or eighty or ninety years, she would be buried here too.  It was inevitable, like one of those timelines showing the ascent of man, except that in her family’s case, it would be the descent of the Jacksons.

The whole chain was dead now, except for her grandfather, her father, and herself.  The Undead, she called the three of them.  Her mother didn’t count, not being a Jackson by blood.

HERE IS LOUISE’S CRITIQUE:

I like that this scene opens in a graveyard. I’m drawn in wondering what is going to happen and why Pru is meditating.

The fact that she has her own meditational phrase “ever and ever” is great. It makes me wonder how far back the Jackson line goes. What would Pru do to ensure the Jacksons live on? It’s good that it makes me think of these things, because it means you’ve grabbed my interest.

I’m not sure what Pru looks like, her heritage, or how old she is. If a few more hints could be laid early on, I would have a better idea of who Pru is and where this is going. I’m also getting mixed clues as to when this story takes place–she’s doing yoga, the graves have dates from the 1600s—is she mourning an old ancestor or a recently deceased one?

Also, I would like to see a little more personality from Pru, even if only a sentence of something she’s thinking to herself or a line said out loud to the dead. I haven’t heard from her or what she’s feeling. I want to fall in love with her right away.

You’ve made me want to know more about Pru, her father, and her brother—The Undead. It’s also interesting that she doesn’t include her mother as one of the family, since she’s not a Jackson by blood, which makes me wonder what her relationship with her mother is like.

I want to thank Louise for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share her expertise with us. I know it will help the four who are shown, but it should help everyone else who reads the first pages and the resulting comments. Thanks, Louise!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, inspiration, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, L Perkins Agency, Louise Fury

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9081. CEO of Barnes & Noble, Mitchell Klipper, sold 67% of his stocks, including the Nook unit! Now What for B&N?

JD
 What will happen to Barnes and Noble now? 

B&N has invested heavily in its Nook e-readers as we all started buying all our e-books and books online. I, as a reader and an author who has my books for sale at B&N, just can't imagine a world without B&N!

I found it and you can read it at:

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9082. Harts Pass No. 166

Nothing say funny like scientific taxonomy humor! And there IS a plan afoot to reintroduce 80 Canadian fishers to the Cascades -- Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Parks -- just in case your concerned about the factual origins of said "humor" :)

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9083. I walked over...

...and under and around to where Mom and Dad waited.

'What now?'

























Another from MOONDAY–September 3rd.

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9084. I looked through my heavy lashes...

...though the window, through lean trees to see my blue moon staring back at me.






























MOONDAY, 9/3

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9085. Figure Friday -

 Another WIP - for a Halloween show - I've always been intrigued by the poem "Counting Crows", and thought it'd be fun to explore this theme - 

 I've also loved Charles de Lint's imagery of 'crow girls' - so thought I'd combine the two.

Lots to do!


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9086. Autumn Is In The Air...

   Of course, it is still Summer.
   I know this because the calendar says so and because I am still wearing flip-flops and sandals.
   It is, however, raining again which it hasn't done much of in weeks and weeks. It is getting dark now while I am making dinner AND there are, occasionally, yellow leaves lazily falling. It has been Autumn on my drawing board for most of the Summer. I have begun painting Winter this week....so Spring will surely come soon.

  Here are some sneak peeks at the current book I am working on:








Thank you

best, Wendy

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9087. NEW Don't Touch the Baby and Wash Your Hands Before Handling the Baby Signs

Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a while. Between my kids, art, writing and running my business, it has been hectic, and blogging ended up on the back burner. =)

I have some cool new signs I have added to my site DontTouchBaby.com.

Gift certificates, books and magnets are also now available for purchase!

I've added a few of the new signs below, but there are more! Please feel free to browse!







If you haven't already done so, please "like" my studio on Facebook for updates and special offers! Click here!

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9088. Redwall Original Art

I try to post new art on Fridays but I had a moment to get this one posted. Enjoy and please share!

"This large scale portrait of Hypericum Hadduck Hare was created for pages 18-19 of A Redwall Winters Tale by Brian Jacques and published by Philomel Books in 2001. Hypericum was the leader of the rag tag group of minstrels and clowns named The Thistle Down Troupe. I jumped at the opportunity to research the costumes for this Shakespearian, slightly down on his heels, but still larger than life character. I think I could have created another whole book just focused on the troupe!
This is the original pastel and charcoal painting and it is quite large. I was creating all the artwork at 133% of the reproduction size. The live art area measures 13 1/2" high and 12 1/2" wide."

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9089. Mall sketch



Mall sketch



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9090. Inspirational Wall Art


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9091. Digital pencil

A while back I said I was going to do a whole children's book portfolio in a new digital pencil style. Wellllll, it takes me a while to get around to things sometimes, but I do, eventually.

Here is a new test piece, where I've partially copied an old piece that was done with black colored pencil. (I do have an old test piece I started in color a long time ago, which you can see here. Yes, I've had this idea in the works for a while!)


This first piece is the original in colored pencil.

 




And this is digital.



I'm working in layers. Here's how it looks with one of the layers 'turned off'.


I'm playing will ALL of the controls for brush and texture size, opacity, flow, 'jitter', some stuff I don't even understand - whatever there is in the control panels. I'm using Photoshop, a Wacom tablet and stylus, and am using the stylus just like I would a colored pencil, building up the values slowly. 

I think I feel confident enough now to start a whole NEW piece, and try this idea out and see how I do. 




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9092. If you squint...

...my repeat pattern lines up perfectly. 



For this first try, I give myself points for followthrough. It was a lot of fun !
Although I love fabric, that's not really what I'm aiming at with this new experiment. I'm thinking more of the endpapers for a book....or maybe wrapping paper? In any case, I'm wrapping a little friend's birthday present with this first effort and moving on to the next idea. Hmm... how about bunnies?

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9093. Artist of the Day: Todd James, Creator of Miley Cyrus’ Twerkin’ Bears

Todd James

(Editor’s Note: Even though everyone is talking about Todd James this week, we wish to point out that this post was prepared long before the debut of his twerkin’ bears for Miley Cyrus.)

Todd “REAS” James cut his creative teeth as a youth by writing graffiti in New York City before eventually expanding his output into art galleries, printed matter and television.

Todd James

Todd’s drawings are produced with confident, swift lines and are boldly colorful.

Todd James

Here are some recent fantasy themed drawings that Todd posted on the blog section of his website where he also features his gallery work.

Todd James

Todd James

Todd’s work in television includes designing the puppets for Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers.

Todd James

Earlier this century, Todd and Stephen “ESPO” Powers created Zoo Force, a Web Premiere Toon for Cartoon Network with Funny Garbage handling production.

Todd James

See more of Todd’s commercial work and older doodles on his REAS International website.

Todd James

Todd James

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9094. Rescue



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9095. Soak


Panda Hot Tub
by Isaac

more fun pen work, more cool lettering... Read the rest of this post

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9096. The Biggest Mistake Illustrators and Animators Make!

So what is the big mistake? You think I'm that easy? You have to watch the video! :)

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9097. Balloons and upcoming AC Month

balloons

Over at my new Designing Fairy Cinema  EXPERIMENT LAB blog, there’s a little message for you about dreams.

It’s been a crazy last few months and I am still recovering! Our little household is adjusting to Sarah not ruling the roost, but Emma has stepped in rather nicely and is enjoying the extra attention. I’m gearing up for the Fall session of Fairy Online School and the new Intuitive Map class, and…

Next month (only a week away)

acmonth

I’m really looking forward to the great guest posters that will be stopping by The Designing Fairy. Each has a mini-lesson or something they would like to share with you about one of my favorite subjects, animal communication. So, do stop by on Tuesday to meet our first guest, Janet Roper, animal communicator and creator of a radio show all about animal communication! Yay!!!


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9098. Early character design of Pickle!

Early character design of Pickle - The Little Bird Who Doesn't Tweet!
Pickle will be released in September.  Sign up to win a FREE copy of the app!!


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9099. Judith Kerr

Judith Kerr is the beloved German-born English illustrator of the 'Mog The Cat' books, 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' and 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'...



...read a wonderful article on this remarkable artist in The Telegraph and listen to an interview with her on the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs (the interview itself stored here)...

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9100. Forest Denizens

 

A fabric design I'm working on for a gift. Truth be told, I'm 110% certain I need a skirt with this pattern on it, like, now.

And for those state-side, happy (early) Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your last bit of summer-ing!

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