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By: Chrissy Fanslau,
As many of you know, I have a Giant Malamute named Max
— who stopped viewing shoes, until I said he did. lol
So you shouldn't be shocked at my new Remove Your Shoes WELCOME signs
. They're funny, They're furry. They're quick and to the point!
So I wrote a book, read about that here,
over a ten year period, with a lot of starts and stops, a lot of do overs and motivation from both people being very encouraging and well a few not so much, but being the last born child that I am, the nay sayers often can motivate me more just to prove them wrong.
And I "got err done"...
But now what?
Well, the conventional way would be to start looking for an agent, since 99% of the big top publishers in New York only take manuscript through their relationships with agents. I have been learning the ropes of publishing for enough years to know that finding an agent could take a writer several years....yup, several years and within that time, long periods of nothingness while agents are "thinking". It is not uncommon for an agent to ask to hold on to something for several months and then say "no thanks," in the end.
Way back, about four years ago, when I thought I was writing a Young Adult trilogy, I took the first part of Moonflower
to LA for the SCBWI conference...
I know it is a hardship, a week on the edge of Beverly Hills, but I did meet with a New York agent who really liked it, but thought that although the main character, Luna is only eighteen at the end book, the story was too complicated to be a YA and encouraged me to write it as a complete story instead of a trilogy.
Seeing her point, I came home to this...
and went back to the keyboard and wrote another, oh, 60,000 words and tried the whole agent thing again, but this time in the "adult" or general market, polishing the first 25 pages, synopsis and cover letters to hook an agent in the querying process. Did I mention I have friends who have been "querying" for several years on manuscripts that I think are rather good myself!
So, after pursuing the very helpful blogs, books and online sights that teach you the process, I tried to do step number one....and that is where I got stuck.
The most common advice is to make a list of about 30-50 agents, prioritize them and send out about 5 queries, sending more out when the rejections started coming in, keeping about 5 out there at all times.
Well, I sent out 9 queries, and sent them to probably the 8 top agents in New York, and 1 to the top agency in London....and I got form emails of "not thanks" from about 6 and have not heard from the rest.
Then I decided to get off that train, for several reasons, most of them too personal to really be advice for anyone else, but here they are...
You see many agents in their previous lives were attorneys and several more, well, in their bios they actually debated about a career in law or a career in publishing. Which makes a lot of sense, both paths needing the skills for negotiating and navigating all that "heady stuff".
Why did that matter to me?
Because I am married to an attorney and the thought of "getting in bed" with another one, many of those advice sites talk about the very close relationship writers and their agents have being second only to marriage, well, that was not very appealing to me. One attorney, no matter how cute he is, is enough for me...
Secondly, in my perusing of agents bios and what they did and did not want to look at, I was amazed at how often the New York agents would declare "no Westerns"...
Now, I live about as Far West as you can get and while I would not describe my stories as in the same vein as Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey, they are definitely set in the West and I actually like westerns and if I am not technically writing in that classic genre, it is definitely part of my writing DNA.
So by this time, New York publishers weren't looking so good.
Next on the list, well how about a regional publisher? One situated in the West and no agent needed, writers working directly with the editors. After perusing about ten of those, University Presses and etc. , I found almost all only published nonfiction and the few that published fiction, were so narrow, it would be hard to work with them.
So, now what? Self Publish?
Self Publishing, or what has now morphed into the term, "Independent Publishing", is certainly the talk and as I mentioned above there are now a whole lot of helpful sites, organization and books that will tell you how to do about everything you don't know how to do and helpful freelance editors, writing coaches and book designers willing to do everything for you...for a hefty fees of course.
Should I just jump on that train?
Did I mention I was a last born child, an artist and a little bit rebellious?
Did I mention my husband was an attorney and could do all that negotiating stuff. He is also a pretty good editor. My papers in college went from B's to A's after he got his hands on them.
As I mentioned, my true profession is as an illustrator and well cover design is really a close cousin as is web design and well all other design.
So, after getting him on board, we decided to start our own regional publishing company, cause our kids were almost raised and well, it was getting a little bit boring...
That was last summer and life has been nothing but boring... read here
, but we are holding onto this new crazy idea and Moonflower
will be our first offering, our "guinea pig" child, you know the first one, you are still learning on and make all the mistakes with.
Then...well, I have more stories in me and there are a whole lot more stories here relevant to the Four Corners and the Inter-mountain West, both fiction and nonfiction that I know others are writing and I know a few other people who have skills like a retiring elementary teacher who has about thirty years experience in Children's literature and teaching kids to read and even one friend who actual has a degree in linguistics, all close cousins to the jobs we might need help with.
So, I wrote a book and now we are starting a publishing company...
cause we are nuts!
Discover the work of Natali Koromoto Martinez, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!
Milk, Bread, Dinner, Percy Pigs!
I spotted this billboard at the weekend. Percy is now
an everyday essential!
Percy Pigs illustrated by Jane Massey.
Percy Pigs © Marks and Spencer Plc.
These are what dreams are made of............. oh yes.
Dreams and so much hard work.
Well played -
And still on the subject of Valentine's Day here are a few lovely cards spotted for sale on the John Lewis website.
The Annecy International Animated Film Festival has confirmed that animation legend Richard Williams will attend the festival this year.
"The LEGO Movie," "The Bigger Picture," and "Interstellar" won BAFTA Awards tonight.
Everyone expected "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" to perform respectably this weekend, but no one thought it would have a $50-million-plus blockbuster opening.
Dance Gavin Dance next record: Instant gratification #DGD7https://www.facebook.com/DanceGavinDance
Another Mischief drawing.
Now back to Work and back to Wombat
By: Petrina Case,
Blog: Paper Pop-Ups
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As many of you know, I have a Giant Malamute named Max
— who stopped chewing shoes, until I said he did. lol
So you shouldn't be shocked at my new Remove Your Shoes WELCOME signs
. They're funny, They're furry. They're quick and to the point!
|Left: Female Bust by Picasso, 1937. Right: Popeye by E.C. Segar, 1929-1937|
While Picasso was experimenting with abstraction in the world of galleries and museums, another abstract art movement was playing out right under people's noses in the realm of comic characters.
|Left: Picasso Bull, 1945. Right: Disney Studios Hell's Bells, 1929|
In both modes of image-making, artists discovered that a certain power derives from simplification, from stripping away layers of reality and searching for basic psychological symbols. They recognized this power in the older work of the cave painters, the Egyptians, the African mask-makers, and the Japanese printmakers, to name a few.
|George Herriman, Krazy Kat, 1918|
The forces driving innovation in the two movements was different. In animation, the whole medium was new; there was no grand tradition of painting to overthrow. No one had seen drawings move before. They were alive! Simplification was a practical and economic necessity because they had to be hand-painted by the thousands on acetate cels. It was a collaborative and often anonymous enterprise, yet no less innovative than the work of the easel-painters.
Cartoon characters in the newspapers had to be reduced to something that could be printed on a mass scale. As the decades passed, comic characters were reproduced more and more quickly at relatively small sizes on cheap paper.
But the most important difference was that images in the world of comic characters had to be expressive. People had to love them. They had to convey character and story and personality. Without that, they were dead on arrival. There was no artificial life support system to keep them going. If no one loved them, they died.
The language of abstraction in the world of comic characters took a while to develop. The Yellow Kid and Little Nemo were among the earliest newspaper characters, and they were still based more or less on the arrangement of a real face. By the time Betty Boop arrives (lower left) in 1930, we're very far from reality.
Mickey's earlier incarnations had dots for pupils floating in a big white shape that could be either the whites of the eyes or a big forehead.
When Fred Moore redesigned Mickey in 1938 for Sorcerer's Apprentice, his pupils became white ovals with smaller pupils inside them. But Mickey always had those two purely abstract circles for ears, which became a problem as Disney Studios strove for more and more realism.
|Characters from Pixar's Inside Out. All Disney images ©Disney, Inc.|
The give and take between realism and abstraction continues to this day with character designers in the 3D digital animation world deciding how to boil down the characters to their simple essence. The goal is always to make them more expressive, to make their emotions come across better in a story.
The person who first got me thinking about comics as the "other abstract art movement" was toy collector and inventor Mel Birnkrant, who is fascinated by the design of comic characters, especially between 1920 and 1940. In this heretical view of art history, the art of comic characters is not only a legitimate art form, but perhaps the most protean, innovative and enduring form, which transcends all the "isms," and is the central story of 20th century art history.
Mel says, "Isn't it ironic that modern art had to fight so hard to introduce abstraction to the world? When all the while, abstract art had already been peacefully introduced and willingly accepted by an eager public, many years before, in the form of comic characters."
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Valentine's Special 10% off for $35 or above purchase!!
Coupon code - heartu
By: Stan Zielinski,
Blog: Children's Picturebook Price Guide
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, A Book Collectors Perspective
, Caldecott First Editions
, Caldecott Honor Books
, Book Collecting
, Book Collectors
, Caldecott Medal
, First Edition Caldecott Books
, First Edition Caldecott Medal
, Identifying First Edition Books
, Valuable Books
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Every year at it's mid-Winter Conference the American Library Association presents the Caldecott Award "to the artist of the most distinguished American picturebook for children." In addition to the Medal award, several Honor awards are presented to the runner-ups in the category. The awards were announced this past Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.
The day of the announcement the first edition Caldecott Medal and Honor books become instantly collectible, and copies are quickly bought up by both collectors and booksellers, the latter buying them for resale.
2015 Caldecott Medal Winner
The 2015 Caldecott Medal winner is The Adventures Of Beekle illustrated and written by Dan Santat (Little Brown).
From the American Library Association's website:
" In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
“Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Junko Yokota.
Now that Santat has won a Caldecott Medal, look for his earlier first edition children’s picturebooks to have higher collector interest. I was fortunate to acquire a couple of first edition copies of The Adventures of Beekle at a neighborhood independent bookstore.
2015 Caldecott Honor Books
Six books were awarded the Caldecott Honor by the ALA’s Selection Committee. The first edition for each of these will have increased book collector interest, as will the other books for each of the award winning illustrators.
Nana In The City, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo published by Clarion Books.
“Castillo’s evocative watercolor illustrations tell the story of a young boy’s visit to his grandmother, and the reassuring way she helps him to lose his fear and experience the busy, loud city in a new way.”
From Clarion’s promotional page:
“In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.“
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art (Alfred A. Knopf), illustrated by Mary GrandPré and written by Barb Rosenstock.
“Abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors; he created work that was bold and groundbreaking using colors from his “noisy paint box.” His process is reflected beautifully by GrandPré, whose paint flows across the page in ethereal ribbons of color.“
Many people know Mary GrandPré’s artwork from the covers of the Harry Potter books published by Scholastic – before the movies she imagined Harry for the US reading public. It’s nice to see her honored by the ALA.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick Press), illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett.
“Klassen’s use of texture, shape and earth tones in this deceptively simple book invite readers into the experience of two boys, who, accompanied by their dog, set out to dig a hole. Readers will find an unexpected treasure and be challenged to ponder the meaning of “spectacular.”“
Jon Klassen won the Caldecott Medal award in 2013 for This Is Not My Hat, and he has won a Caldecott Honor award for his illustrations in Extra Yarn.
Viva Frida (Roaring Brook Press), illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales.
“Using a unique variety of media – puppetry, printmaking, painting and photography – combined with an intoxicating use of color and unfailing sense of composition, Morales celebrates the artistic process.“
This is a beautiful mixed media book, see Macmillan’s promotional page
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) illustrated by Melissa Sweet and written by Jen Bryant.
“Sweet’s inspired mixed media illustrations illuminate the personality and work of a man passionately interested in many things. Her collages combine disparate elements to create a cohesive whole, echoing the ways in which Roget ordered the world into lists that evolved into his groundbreaking thesaurus.“
This book also won this year’s Robert F. Silbert Medal for the “most distinguished informational book for children”, from the ALA Silbert Award announcement:
“The Right Word is about Peter Mark Roget, whose boyhood passion for list-making and finding the right word for every situation led him to create his “treasure house” of a book, the thesaurus. Bryant’s engaging, accessible narrative and Sweet’s delightfully detailed mixed media illustrations meld together to create “a marvel, a wonder, a surprise,” of a book. “
“With both lovely storytelling and intricate illustrations, this picture book biography of a life that had such a far reaching impact takes the format to another level,” said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Deborah Taylor.“
Melissa Sweet’s illustrations were awarded a 2008 Caldecott Honor for A River Of Words.
This One Summer (First Second), illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Mariko Tamaki.
“Intricately detailed illustrations in shades of indigo are masterfully layered with the text in this graphic novel. The pacing and strong imagery evoke myriad emotions and ground this poignant and painfully realistic coming-of-age story.“
Beautiful illustrations notwithstanding this is an odd choice by the Caldecott Selection Committee, as This One Summer is more a graphic novel than a children’s picturebook. See Macmillan’s promotional page .
The Newbery and Caldecott Medals and Honor Book seals are property of the American Library Association and cannot be used in any form or reproduced without permission of the ALA Office of Rights and Permissions.
Members of the 2015 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Junko Yokota, Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, Skokie, Ill.; Lucia Acosta, Princeton (N.J.) Public Library; Tali Balas Kaplan, Success Academy Charter School, Bronx, N.Y.; Bradley Debrick, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kan.; Alison Ernst, University Liggett School, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.; Adrienne Furness, Henrietta Public Library, Rochester, N.Y.; Jonathan Hunt, San Diego (Calif.) County Office of Education; Rebecca Jackman, New Providence Middle School, Clarksville, Tenn.; Roger Kelly, Santa Monica (Calif.) Public Library; Barbara Klipper, Stamford, Conn.; Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library, Falls Church, Va.; Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library Harry Bennett Branch, Stamford, Conn.; Sharon McKellar, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Shilo Pearson, Chicago Public Library; and Angela Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Nova Scotia, Canada.
On Friday afternoon, I emailed my mural design to Wakefield Libraries - hurrah! It's looking really fun, as the children's drawings were even better this time around. This is a section from the middle:
The drawings weren't all finished and some were a bit wishy-washy, but I found it rather soothing, spending a whole day touching them up, colouring-in with my big tin of Derwent pencils. Then John helped me out by scanning everything (just low-res for now).
I abandoned my original plan of designing it in 3 sections: I needed to see the whole thing as one, with all 4 walls strung together into a long, thin template. I used the plans I drew a couple of weeks ago.
With over 100 drawings, it was hard to know where to begin. I had calm, library-like details as well as crazy, tiger-infested ones. This gave me the idea for the layout: the tigers could be bursting in from one end, so the other end would still be normal, for contrast. This is the far left, the calm end (with just the odd hint of tiger-trouble):
I established a horizon line early on, to stop things floating, and started to import the drawings, creating little groups and gradually building it up. It didn't look enough like a jungle though, so I introduced big fern-like shapes and tree-covered hills in the distance. Here are the first 2 stages:
I did my best to include everyone's work, though it got fuller and fuller! I did have to admit defeat before I fitted in every drawing, but I squeezed the vast majority in there. This is the tiger end, with my tiger from Open Wide, starting things off: As with the first mural, in Wakefield Central Library, I was asked if I could pop some of my own characters in amongst the children's. There are quite a few dotted through this one. Here is the section which joins onto the one above, as the tigers work their way into the library. My little trio of bats-in-hats are from When You're Not Looking! of course. I love some of the detailed and surreal shelving systems the children devised:
I hope you are impressed at how I managed to shoe-horn the Romans in. This was a requirement, because Castleford is an important archaeological site. In the end, it was a fun addition to have them bursting from the history shelves:
It was such a massive job that I had to spend all week glued to the computer, working it all out, but it was good fun and John had to virtually drag me from my chair at about 7 o'clock each evening.
I haven't yet included Henry Moore (Castleford was his place of birth), for want of a copyright-free image, but my idea was to add a hill in the background, with one of his massive sculptures on it. If necessary, I have a couple of sketchbook paintings I have done at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Here's the whole thing. It should enlarge to a size you can see properly:
Cross-fingers that they like it, after all that work! I'll let you know.
By: Koosje Koene,
Blog: Koosje Koene
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In my online art classes, there are often discussions and questions about how to keep a daily art habit. Well, first of all: if you made a commitment to yourself that you want to make art every day: that's fantastic! But don't beat yourself up about it or feel guilty when you miss a day every now and then, because life can just get crazy busy, I know!
But if the problem is finding subjects or themes to fill your art journal pages with: here's a few tips to solve that.
1. Give yourself a break.
A doodle is a drawing too. If you run out of time on a busy day, just doodle a little and have fun doing that.
2. Treat yo'self!
Go and get yourself a treat. Sit down to enjoy it. Wether it's eating an ice cream, drinking a caramel latte, going for a pedicure... enjoy the moment even more by drawing it.
3. Do it everywhere
Find every opportunity to draw. Even if you didn't bring a journal or sketchbook - you can draw. On beer coasters, napkins, or, like I did here: on a paper placemat.
(I always feel this childish excitement bubbling up inside me when I enter a restaurant and see they have paper placemats. Or even better: paper tablecloths!)
4. Look at yourself.
have a good look at yourself and draw what you wear. If you do this regularly, it's a fun way to document your
5.Find a quote.
Find an affirmation sentence, a song text or an expression you like. Paint it, fill an art journal page with it.
It's challenging to keep that creative habit, I know. But at the same time, it's also kind of an addiction, don't you agree?
Keep on going, enjoy the process every day and make awesome art
If you are a publisher, studio, or company in need of Valentines artwork then you might like to know that designer Faye Gollaglee has a selection of designs available for licensing or commissions.
Yesterday Stan and I joined in on a Mardi Gras celebration that ended up at one of our fave weekend hangouts: The Imperial. (The broccoli salad is to die for!) Stan took some fantastic photos, which you can see at his Stan's Tumblr page, along with this one:
Folks were all kinds of dressed up for the parade! I especially liked the man who wore a mardi gras colors "cat in the hat" hat with a kilt and argyle socks - it was a collision of our past and our future coming together in one outfit!! Also, a friend's band, Spackle, played and we had fun listening to them. All in all, it was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday!
This coming Saturday is of course Valentine's Day and the stores are now full of cards, gifts, and wrap. I have had a browse around the card designs at Not on the High Street to pick out a few highlights, so if you have yet to buy or design your Valentines then here is some inspiration. We start with a fab modern geometric designs above and below from Mulk.
And below : arrows and lovebirds
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Katheryn and Little Melba (top shelf) at Barnes & Noble in Emeryville, CA (Dec. 2014)
As a child, Katheryn Russell-Brown remembers enjoying books like The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and cherishing the coloring book, Color Me Brown. Her mother made sure she saw affirming images of herself. When Katheryn became a mom, she wanted the same for her twins. “I was determined that they were going to have realistic and interesting images of themselves reflected in our home library, ” she wrote in this Brown Bookshelf post. As she collected books featuring brown children, she began dreaming about writing them herself.
Katheryn’s debut picture book about pioneering trombonist and arranger Melba Liston, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone (illustrated by Frank Morrison, published by Lee & Low) was inspired by listening to Nancy Wilson rave about her work on a radio program. For Katheryn, professor of law and director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida, raising awareness of Melba’s work became a mission. She used her expert research skills and gift of writing to create a winning story that has been featured on many best lists and has received multiple honors and starred reviews.
Here Katheryn shares her inspiration, children’s writing journey and creative process:
The Journey & Backstory
Patience and perseverance. I had to rely on both of these throughout the years-long process of finding an agent and publisher for my first children’s book. Patience is the key to getting through the process. What was particularly unnerving was the wait after sending out query letters. Most times the response was by snail mail—a form letter that basically said thanks but no thanks. Sometimes the rejection came in e-mail form. A few responses came quickly, but sometimes I didn’t hear back for months. Then there are those agents and publishers who never, ever responded to my query letter. With each rejection I dusted off my bruised feelings and kept going—believing that someone would “get” my story and see its potential. It also helped that I had a mentor, a published children’s book writer, who kept encouraging me to send out my manuscript. After a few months of mostly silence, I started hearing back from agents who expressed a little interest. Ultimately I went with Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary. She was very knowledgeable about the business of children’s book publishing and she expressed sincere interest in working with me as I develop and grow as a writer of children’s books. She has been fantastic to work with.
Here are a few things that fill me with inspiration to write for children (and make me feel good):
- Any song on Earth Wind & Fire’s “Spirit” album (1976)
- Dinah Washington’s voice
- An amazing art exhibit, such as Kara Walker’s “Sugar Sphinx”
- An incredibly blue sky with translucent clouds
- Seeing a young child hold and read a book
- Listening to “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis
- Reading a beautiful and touching book, such as Bebe Moore Campbell’s Sweet Summer
- Picture book art. Frank Morrison somehow managed to bring Little Melba to life in ways that I could not have imagined. Simply divine.
I’ve only published one children’s book. So, I can’t say that I have my process down to a science. I have, however, written non-fiction books for adults (on race and the criminal justice system). Also, I’ve written a few other children’s stories that have not been published.
I keep different journals. One is for story ideas. Another is for expressions, words, phrases, etc., that I’ve come across—maybe from a newspaper article or from a story I’ve heard on the radio—something I might use in a future story. Once I select a topic, I start gathering information. I always keep a journal for the book I’m working on. In this journal I write and clip any information or research on my topic area. Also, any books or other resources that I can use, or people who I may want to contact to ask some questions about the topic or person I am writing about.
When I finally begin to write the story, I will have a general outline of how the book should go, from beginning to middle, to end. However, I don’t limit myself to a set number of words. I just write! I save the editing for later. This is my “big pot” approach. I put all my words into the pot (onto the page) and then, after the pot is full, I start to take things out that don’t (or can’t fit) the story I’m telling.
After I have a solid draft—a completed story—I take it to my local Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) group for feedback. Then I edit some more. And, I edit, edit, edit, edit, edit…..
Little Melba has been welcomed with open arms. I’m thrilled that it has
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra MacDonald holding Little Melba (September 2014).
found a home on several Best-of-2014 book lists, including Kirkus Reviews, the School Library Journal, the Huffington Post, and the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. The book also received a 2014 Eureka Honor Book Award (California Reading Association). And, Little Melba has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work, Children.” This nomination is particularly meaningful to me because my dad, Charlie L. Russell, won an NAACP Image Award in 1973 for writing the screenplay for his movie, “Five on the Black Hand Side.”
Find out more about Katheryn Russell-Brown on her website.