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26. Day 13: Jessixa Bagley

Jessixa Bagley_headshot_small2Jessixa Bagley burst onto the children’s literature stage last year with the debut of her beautiful picture book “Boats For Papa,” a gentle story of loss, healing, and ultimately persevering. Bagley is both author and illustrator. The book has received numerous starred reviews, and it has been widely praised by children, the children’s literature community, and beyond.
Her gentle watercolors are richly detailed, and her characters–a loving family of anthropomorphic beavers–will delight young readers.
I appreciate the generosity Bagley put in to participating in this interview:
Don: Tell us about your path to publishing. How did you get that first trade contract?
Jessixa: It’s been a long road for me to get where I am today, but every step has held a lot of value. I pretty much always wanted to make picture books. Ever since I was a small child, I was writing and drawing my own stories, books, and comics, creating characters and their worlds. Right after graduating college in 2004, I started writing picture books and submitting them to publishers left and right. I had been published for comics already at that point, so I figured I could finally get my real dream going and jump into children’s publishing. I think I made every wrong mistake possible with submitting my work for about 6-7 years. I just really didn’t know what I was doing and I thought I could go it on my own and I had a nice big stack of rejection letters to prove it. I was at a loss for what to do.
Then I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 2010. I was an Boats-for-Papa-jacket_sminactive member still for a while- thinking arrogantly that I didn’t need to be part of a club to get published (and just not knowing what SCBWI had to offer). And, shocker, I still wasn’t getting published and didn’t understand why. Then one year I made the leap and decided to go to their annual summer conference in Los Angeles having never attended any previous SCBWI events at all. And that’s when things started to make more sense. I got to see first hand what my portfolio needed to look like and I got to hear about how the business of books worked-the real ins and outs of submitting work and what editors and art directors really cared about.
After some  tears, I went home and started over. It still took me some time, and lots more tears, but I finally started to find my voice as an illustrator and then as a writer. That’s when things began to click inside of me and that’s when things started to change. Once I found this “voice” inside of me that people would always talk about, the awards and opportunities started to show up. Then I did another Hail Mary in 2013 and went to the SCBWI NY Winter Conference and I was runner up for the portfolio showcase and that is where I attended a workshop by Alexandra Penfold (my soon to be future agent). Alex believed in my work, offered me representation shortly thereafter and then went to work submitting my book dummy for Boats for Papa (then called Drift). She put the book in front of Neal Porter- one of the most loveable men on Earth- and then rest is history.
Don: What primary medium do you use in your work?
Jessixa: I use very fine waterproof black pens and watercolor for my illustrations. I use pretty inexpensive watercolor paper to help create my pooling affect in my paintings (pooling is what I call when the watercolor builds up in areas to create unique textures). I also use an eyedropper to help me spread my paint- a technique I created for myself so I can paint large areas fairly evenly with small brushes to retain the right look I want for my pooling. I like to do everything by hand and prefer not to work digitally, except for small touch-ups.
Don: Tell us about your most recent book

Jessixa: My most recent book, “Before I Leave,” is about a little hedgehog named Zelda that finds out that she has to move away from her best friend (Aaron the anteater) and instead of being sad about leaving, they decided to cherish those last moments they have together. It’s a story pulled from my own experiences having to move when I was young and how hard it is to leave your friends. I wanted to use a style of writing that was very different than Boats for Papa so I wrote it in more of a letter format, like one friend writing a letter to the other. I was trying to approach it with a more open and poetic quality.
Don: Talk about the research process for the book
Jessixa: This was so much different than my research for “Boats for Papa”-which was much more technical because of the boats and the nautical elements. For “Before I Leave” I looked at tons and tons of photos of hedgehogs and anteaters to familiarize myself with them for the book. (By the way, researching pictures of hedgehogs is probably the CUTEST research anyone could ever have to do.) I read a lot of facts about both animals, where they live, their everyday habits. They are both very fascinating animals. Fun fact: Both hedgehogs and anteaters have very poor eyesight. I thought that was a weird coincidence that I learned after I picked the animals. It seems like a good basis of a friendship, being able to relate to one another!
Don: Any important things you learned about the subject while researching the book?
Jessixa: I got very interested in the idea of having a hedgehog for a pet when working on my book! Once again, they are the cutest animals and you sort of can’t help falling in love with them when you are staring at photographs of them all day. But I found out that like reptiles they have salmonella on their bodies, which because I was about to have a baby, didn’t seem like a good idea. That and they are nocturnal and poop when they run. I figured we should only have one animal in the house that is awake all night and poops while it’s running.
Don: If you could spend one day in a studio, working with any artist — past or present — who would that be, and why?
Jessixa: I have a really hard time with choosing a favorite anything (except for food- hamburgers are my favorite food). For dream artists will have to be a current top five list:
Pieter Bruegel the Elder– He was a master painter and the intricacies of his work are amazing. I’d love to see his traditional painting process. Heck, I’d take the Younger Bruegel too!
Beatrix Potter– She is magic and I think she would be a kindred spirit. I’d love to see how she worked in nature and how her environment shaped her relationship with her characters.
Richard Scarry– He would be SO fun to see work. I imagine he talks to his characters when he draws (like I do). I’d love to hear the backstories he created for his characters and why he thinks pigs would be such terrible drivers.
Mary Blair– She was an amazing painter and I’d love to see her design approach and how that graphic eye influenced her art decisions.
Frances Glessner Lee– She was an aristocrat in the 1940’s who made all of those dioramas of crime scenes that police used for forensic training. I love miniatures and it would be incredible to see how she worked (And just a little creepy).
Don: What would be your dream manuscript? Your dream author to work with?24140_669[1].jpg
Jessixa: I’d love the chance to get to illustrate “The Wind in the Willows.” Those characters speak to my soul as an artist and feel like a part of me lives in that world that Kenneth Grahame wrote. I don’t know how I could do it justice, but I’d love to try! One of my favorite authors right now is Matt de la Peña. I thought the writing in Last Stop on Market Street was simply exquisite. I was really moved by the poetic quality to his work. It did more than just tell a story, it really made you feel. I’d love to see what stories he could create for my little woodland animal world!
Don: Can you talk a bit about your process of illustrating a book?
Jessixa: Because I am a VERY unorganized person, I try to set myself up for success with my books by being very organized in my process. I start off by making a list of how many and what kind of illustrations I have to do and how long I have to do them all. Also because I have a full time job and am a mother to a burgeoning toddler, my time is very limited so knowing how long a painting will take me and knowing how much time I have to paint it is a huge help for time management. I pretty much have a standard process for my illustrations:  thumbnails, dummy, final sketches, transfer sketches to watercolor paper, pen over the pencil art, then watercolor. I also end up doing a lot of paint tests and color tests before I start working on the final art so I know I have my palette right where I want it.
I work at actual size of the final book so I know exactly how fine the details will end up being (and also because I have a hard time using math to figure out percentages for scaling up and down). I usually work on one piece at a time but if I have several pieces that have similar backgrounds- like they are in the same room or it’s the same day- I’ll mix up a huge batch of the watercolor wash and paint the larger areas (like the sky) at the same time to maintain consistency. I also have a really great rhythm with my AMAZING book designer Jennifer Browne and my editor Neal Porter, so once I have a little chunk of final work to show, I scan it and email it into them so we can all make sure everything is looking good. It’s so great that they are willing to work this way because it saves me from illustrating an entire book, then having to turn around and make a ton of changes in the end. Altering as I go is much more efficient and less stressful for me- plus I get to talk to them more frequently which I love because they are just the best people!

Creating thumbnail sketches

Creating character sketches Before I go_anteater1

Final painting for BEFORE I LEAVE

Don: Who are your cheerleaders, those who encourage you?
Jessixa: I am lucky that I feel like I have too many cheerleaders to count within my friends and family! My husband though is my biggest fan and supporter and he’s really helped me keep up the will power to keep going when things were (and are) really challenging. And my amazing picture book friends are just the best. My community of my crit groups, writer friends, and SCBWI partners in crime has really given me so much love and encouragement that I can’t imagine this journey being possible without them. I’ve made incredible friends by getting involved in the community of the picture book world. You think you can do this alone, but I’ve found that making books is an extremely collaborative process and the more people you have to support you, the better- and the work is better for it as well.
Don: What’s on the horizon, what can your fans expect to see from you?
Jessixa: I’ve got two great projects on the horizon! Next winter (2017) my third picture book, Laundry Day comes out and it’s such a fun and silly book and I’m really looking forward to its release! It’s about two twin badger brothers named Tic and Tac who are bored one late summer day and they decide to help their mother with the laundry and of course some wackiness ensues-as of course it always does with laundry. It’s very different in tone than my first two books which I hope readers will enjoy. And my next project-which is very dear to my heart-is a picture book collaboration with my husband, Aaron Bagley. We’ve always collaborated on art and this will be our first picture book together. We both wrote the story and are both painting the illustrations. The book is called Vincent Comes Home and is about a cat that lives on a cargo ship. It’s a very sweet story and that much sweeter to get to work on it with my best friend! It comes out winter 2018.

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27. Peppa Pig and The I Love You Game

Peppa Pig and the I Love You Game. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "It's Valentine's Day!" says Mummy Pig.

Premise/plot: In celebration of Valentine's Day, Peppa Pig and her family name all of the many, many, many things they love. For example, Daddy Pig loves to make pancakes and George likes dinosaurs, or dine-saw, as the case may be. Peppa may just be the most vocal in the family. She names DOZENS of things that she loves. What will top her list? Can you guess?

My thoughts: I liked it well enough. I don't really think any Valentine's-Day themed book is going to top my best of list. But Peppa Pig is cute, fun, adorable. I love, love, love the TV show. And I'm almost always glad to see new picture books being released starring Peppa and her family. Anyone who enjoys the show will find this one fun, in my opinion. However, if you've never, ever seen the show, then this picture book will probably not quite work for you. Part of the fun is HEARING the characters talk and knowing their stories and backstories.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. Catching Up

Posting here is likely to continue to be sparse for a while, aside from occasional announcement-type notes such as this one. I'm preparing for Ph.D. qualifying exams and anything not related to that and/or to the impending release of Blood: Stories has been cut from my waking hours since this summer.

Blood: Stories has an official release date of February 20. It is at the printer now as I write this, and can be ordered not only from the publisher, but also from Amazon (U.S.), Barnes & Noble, and Small Press Distribution. (It hasn't hit Book Depository yet, but when/if it does, I'll post a link, as that's often the least expensive way to order internationally.) There will be an e-book version eventually, but not until this summer at the earliest. BLP also has a new subscription series for their books, which has various options, all of which are less expensive than buying the books individually.

I'll be in New York City this coming weekend to read at the Sunday Salon series on February 21 at Jimmy's No. 43 (43 E. 7th St.) at 7pm alongside Alison Kinney, Thaddeus Rutkowski, and Terese Svoboda. If you're in the area, stop by!

Various other events are coming up, too. I'll mention them here, but you can also keep up with things via Twitter, my newsletter, and/or the book's Facebook page.

Speaking of books, Eric Schaller's debut story collection, Meet Me in the Middle of the Air, has now been released by Undertow Publications (and is available as both a bookbook and an e-book at the usual outlets). It's a marvelous concatenation of stories of horror, dark fantasy, and general weirdness. Some are disturbing, some are amusing, some are both. It's a really smart, entertaining book. I'm especially pleased it's coming out now, near to the release of my own collection, because Eric has been my erstwhile partner in a number of crimes, including The Revelator (a new issue of which is impending. Even more than its been impending before). Eric hasn't always gotten the credit he deserves as fiction writer because he only publishes stories now and then, and often in somewhat esoteric places, so it's a real pleasure and even a (dare I say it?) revelation to have a whole book of his work and to get to see the range and complexity of his writing.

Finally, in terms of new work, I have exciting news (well, exciting to me) -- my story "Mass" will appear in the next print issue (issue 66) of Conjunctions. It's a tale of academia, mass shootings, and theoretical physics. Having it published by Conjunctions is almost as exciting for me as having a book out, because Conjunctions is my favorite literary journal, the place where the aesthetic feels most convivial to my own, and I've been submitting to it for almost 20 years. I've had stories on the website twice ("The Art of Comedy" and "The Last Vanishing Man"), and numerous stories that came close, but were not quite right for the theme of the issue or didn't quite fit with other material or just weren't quite to the editors' tastes. Getting into the pages of Conjunctions means more to me than getting into The New Yorker or any other magazine would (although I'd love the New Yorker paycheck!).

I think that's it for news. Thanks for reading, and thanks for bearing with me!

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29. Sometimes we only write in writing workshop

My sixth graders have been busy drafting their feature articles this week, and I had a series of mini lessons planned to begin each writing workshop day. My students, however, had other ideas.

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30. Creativity: The Whole Brain and Making My Bed

Hi folks, I'm writing about creativity for the month of February. I have a speaking engagement coming up; deets at the end of this post. This week I'm debunking a myth about the creativity being a right-brained activity for manic artists and how poor left-brained people are basically OCD and dull as dogs.

I'm a creative person and I know that most creative people I know are some of the organized folks in existence.  I find that to truly be creative I have to systematic about my work and very well organized. Creativity does not happen in my life without my left-brain giving my right-brain some serious limits. As far as I can tell creativity needs my whole brain to work. I'm not a neuro-scientist, but I am freakishly observant. Imagination has to reined in. Day dreaming must lead to production, or it leads to nothing. Deep thoughts about the meaning of everything are basically useless if I don't make them actionable.

So here is the secret of creativity. Light up your whole brain. If you feel that lack creativity, your brain is out shape--kind of like you play video games all day and now have muffin tops on your muffin tops because your physical body is languishing. It took me a long time to admit that my left brain was seriously neglected, and that if I didn't give it some attention, I was never going to do a creative thing with my life.  So my journey into creativity started with this: I disciplined myself to make my bed every day. It seems like a small thing but it transformed my creative process.

I learned that making my bed was a small success for everyday that I could count on. Over time I appreciated that my life was filled with one complete success every day. Even the process of making the bed became important -- the economy of motion, the tightness of the sheets, and the arrangement of the pillows.  Routine in my everyday life, helped me establish routine in my creative endeavors. I have found greater balance and my work thanks me.

What!  I know this bed-making thing is counter-intuitive. Secret: You must be counter-intuitive as much as you are intuitive to do excellent creative work.  If you are right-brained person, seek left brain activities.  Don't go crazy, just mix some in.  If you are a left-brained person, you are annoying everyone with talk of your big imaginative endeavors and your lack of even doing one thing that will bring these endeavors to life.

So there you have it. Day-dreamers, make your bed.  Bed makers, take a cup of tea and stare out the window and dream.  I hope, my friends, that you find that innovation is flooding what ever you do.  Drop by next week for more on creativity. Need a creative jolt, come to my talk:

This creativity series is conjunction with a talk that I will be offering at Covenant Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 6:15. It's a weekly program they offer called Onederful Wednesday. I will lead a workshop called Divining Creativity. Here are a few of the things I will dig into -- What is holding you back? What will push you forward? What will make you leap? This should shake down the cobwebs and open all the windows. Come out if you are interested. It's free. P.S. There is a meal at 5:15 p.m. and it costs $5.00 person and $20 for families. Call this number to RSVP if you are interested: 979-694-7700.

Here is a doodle: Two trees. 

A quote for your pocket

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. Pablo Picasso

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31. Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Wrongful Imprisonment

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

Characters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 


Courtesy: miss_millions @ CreativeCommons


  • Being deliberately framed
  • Being mistaken for the criminal because of similar physical features, race, etc.
  • Someone committing perjury and setting one up to save someone else
  • Being found guilty because of the prejudices of a jury or judge

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: physiological needs, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I will never be free again.
  • God must be punishing me for something I’ve done.
  • I’m partly to blame for what happened; if I hadn’t been in that place, at that time, doing what I was doing…
  • The system I trusted betrayed me; I’ll never be able to trust anyone or anything again.
  • Hating the people/group/organization that did this to me will make me feel better.
  • There’s no point in following the rules if I’m going to be punished anyway.
  • I’ll never be able to go back to my life again.
  • I’ll never be able to achieve my dreams.
  • Maybe what they say/think about me is true.
  • If I let someone else be in control of me, they’re going to take advantage of me.

Positive Attributes That May Result: ambitious, cautious, independent, industrious, just, persistent, private, proactive, resourceful, thrifty, tolerant

Negative Traits That May Result: abrasive, addictive, antisocial, apathetic, callous, confrontational, controlling, cynical, defensive, hostile, humorless, inflexible, inhibited, irrational, jealous, martyr, morbid, paranoid,pessimistic, rebellious, reckless, resentful, self-destructive, temperamental, timid, uncooperative, ungrateful, vindictive, violent, volatile, withdrawn,

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of never getting out of jail
  • Fear of losing one’s family or loved ones
  • Fear that people will think badly of one
  • Fear of trusting others
  • Fear of others being in control
  • Fear of being disappointed again

Possible Habits That May Emerge: 

  • Being suspicious of and distrusting those in authority
  • Flouting the rules, since following them never did one any good anyway
  • Hating and acting out against the people/group/organization responsible for one’s imprisonment
  • Turning away from one’s faith
  • Clinging to one’s faith
  • Becoming suspicious of the institutions or people that one formerly trusted
  • Becoming accustomed to life in prison out of the knowledge that one will never be able to live
  • Withdrawing from loved ones (returning their letters, not showing up on visiting days) as a way of leaving them before they have a chance to do the leaving
  • Clinging to loved ones
  • Doubting oneself; becoming insecure
  • Becoming determined to prove one’s innocence as a way of striking back at one’s accusers
  • Becoming pessimistic or cynical in one’s thoughts and words
  • Lowering one’s expectations in regards to what one will be able to do or what one can do
  • Refusing to let others control oneself
  • Becoming controlling of others
  • Becoming antisocial; being disillusioned with and fighting everyone and everything
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors (drugs, alcohol use, picking fights with others, etc.)

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

The post Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Wrongful Imprisonment appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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32. #NY16SCBWI is about to begin!

The air

is humming

And something great is coming!

(If you know the musical that's from, you can chime in--or sing along--in comments!)

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33. Happy Valentine's Day from Storywraps

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  I hope you have an amazing day and you know how much I love and appreciate everyone who drops by my blog and checks out the awesome books that I review for you on a daily basis.   Valentine's Day is a day for expressing love  and gratitude to the special people in your life.  Thank you so very, very much for making this blog so successful. Please accept a huge hug from Storywrap's heart to yours! 


by Emma Chichester Clark

Ages 3-5

Unwrapping some illustrations...

Unwrapping some praise for the book...

“Clark captures a dog’s exuberance and love of the simple things. . . . And no child will fail to understand the dog’s conundrum: she knows what she should do and yet feels compelled to do the wrong thing anyway. Fur, ears, and posture speak volumes. Dog lovers will especially ‘LOVE’ this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Clark exuberantly captures Plum’s zest for life, whether it’s playing with the kids next door or causing trouble that tests her family’s patience. But unconditional love is unconditional love, and even at the height of Plum’s post-mischief worry—‘Would they ever love me again?’ she wonders, stuck in time-out—the answer to that question is never in doubt.”—Publishers Weekly

“Little ones will easily identify with Plum, who wants to be good but also finds some things irresistible. Clark, who blogs about her real dog, Plum, presents a book, jauntily illustrated in watercolor and colored pencil, that brims with good humor, recognizable lessons, and, of course, lots of love. The oversize format—eye-catching spreads and pages of vignettes—makes this a great choice for story hours.”—Booklist 

Unwrapping my take...

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34. Some Conshohocken love, in this weekend's Philadelphia Inquirer

We had ourselves some romance in Conshohocken a few weeks ago.

I write of that here, in this weekend's Philadelphia Inquirer.

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35. Chad Post Q & A

       At Book Riot Rachel Cordasco was Talking Translation With Chad Post of Open Letter Books, covering a variety of the-state-of-publishing-translations stuff.
       (And always nice to see a The Weather Fifteen Years Ago shout-out !)

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36. Wanna Be a Chima Insider?

I'll be posting a fantastic giveaway in this space on Monday.  It's open to everyone in the continental US.  So stay tuned.

But -- want to put the odds EVEN MORE in your favor? Newsletter subscribers be eligible for their own PRIVATE giveaway. Instructions for entry will be included in the next newsletter, which comes out next Tuesday, February 16. This newsletter will also include appearances this spring through fall after the release of Flamecaster.

So...if you want to get in on your own private giveaway, sign up for my newsletter here  before Tuesday!

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37. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 84 & 85 -- sort of!

0 Comments on Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 84 & 85 -- sort of! as of 2/13/2016 1:02:00 AM
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38. Book Launch: Midnight Madness at the Zoo


When there are no people to gawk at the animals living in the zoo, what happens? A basketball game, of course!

In Sherryn Craig’s new picture book Midnight Madness at the Zoo a nightly basketball game breaks out just as everyone is leaving for the night. Beginning with one polar bear, then a game of one-on-one a new player joins until the field builds to a game of ten. Readers learn counting skills and basketball jargon throughout the story.

Sherryn is no stranger to the game of basketball, and spends her free time cheering on her husband’s high school basketball team. Midnight Madness at the Zoo combines the many things that her family holds dear.

sherryncraigWe went behind the book with Sherryn and here is a sample, to read the entire interview visit the book’s homepage.


What was your incentive to write this particular book?

My oldest son inspired me to write Midnight Madness at the Zoo. It’s what we imagined the animals do when everyone else goes home for the day. While several people cautioned me about writing a book in rhyme, my kids tend to enjoy those books the best. e rhythm and rhyme helps them to remember the story and they “read” the book out loud as I do. It was important to me that my boys enjoy the story, and they’re the audience that I know the best and that I love the most.

What is most rewarding about writing children’s books?

As a working mom, the most challenging thing I find about writing is actually sitting down and doing it. By the time I get my little ones in bed and finish the chores for the day, it’s late, I’m tired, and I want to go to bed, because the next day is only a few hours away. But to do something, and to do it really well, you have to do it a lot. To improve in writing, just like in sports, you have to practice.

Taking a risk and being prepared to fail is another important lesson – in writing, in sports,midnightmad_pic5in life. You’re not going to win every game. So too, everyone is not going to like the story you write. There’s going to be disappointment, and you just have to fight through that, keep putting yourself out there, and try, try again. That’s all we can do. It’s tempting to get wrapped up in all the no’s, but equally important, perhaps even greater than that rejection, is the realization that it only takes one yes.

The greatest reward is certainly getting to tell a story and finding people, like Arbordale, that believe in that story – who, too, are willing to take a risk on someone and something unknown.

Enter to win your own copy of Midnight Madness at the Zoo on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Midnight Madness at the Zoo by Sherryn Craig

Midnight Madness at the Zoo

by Sherryn Craig

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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39. Lucky Winner of BEAR CAN DANCE + Inside peek of A NUMBER SLUMBER

Dear Friends,

It's a cold, blustery day, but things will warm up fast if we all get up and dance with Bear and cheer for the lucky winner of BEAR CAN DANCE:

              DAVE BEAUDRY

Please E-mail me: claragillowclark(dot)gmail(dot)com
with your mailing address!

(Preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER at end of post!)

School Librarian Summer 2013 *Starred Review
When Bear and Goose open a suitcase of toys, little Fox arrives and wants to play. Initially Bear warmly welcomes the newcomer, but quickly starts grumbling when Bear becomes the one to be left out. Soon it's up to Goose to solve the situation.
A dilemma faced by most young children (and many adults!) is deftly resolved by Goose's good will. A wonderful scene on the last page finds Goose and Fox perched on Bear's lap while Goose reads aloud and Fox snoozes contentedly.
The bold simple text in this exceptional book
tells the story of complex emotions in only 100 words.
The vibrant blue, green and turquoise background provides a striking backdrop for the drama. Bear's size and beautifully textured polar coat cannot protect him from the roller-coaster of his own emotions. Little Fox, shy and sly by turns attempts to manipulate the situation while Goose's expressive eyes reflect his conflicting allegiances and anxiety.
This powerful story is a marvelous sequel to A Splendid Friend Indeed and will be remembered for many years. An ideal book to read aloud to children of 3+,
this would be an excellent trigger for classroom discussions and candle times. ~Rosemary Woodman
www.alannabooks.com. Anna McQuinn, of Alanna Books, has published A Splendid Friend, Indeed and What About Bear? in the UK. Goose & Bear have been translated into nine other languages.

Enjoy this preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER!!!
In this book, beloved author-illustrator Suzanne Bloom asks readers how they prepare for bed—from putting on jammies to asking for one more hug—then counts down to bedtime from ten terribly tired tigers to one really weary wombat. Each animal demonstrates a different bedtime ritual—skunks somersault into bunks and elephants curl up with their trunks—adding original and inventive rhymes and a clever counting-backward structure to the bedtime book genre. The lyrical, rhyming text combines with dreamy, colorful artwork to provide a perfect way for children to wind down from an active day in a book sure to become a new bedtime classic. 
Here is a nearly finished spread from the upcoming, A Number Slumber. (Boyds Mills Press, fall 2016)
  Looks like another winning story, Suzanne! Congratulations on your forthcoming book, A NUMBER SLUMBER. And thanks so much for sharing your time and expertise with us!

FACEBOOK: Suzanne Bloom Author
Google Suzanne Bloom YouTube videos
Next up is Author Trinka Noble. She'll be sharing an inside look at her process of turning legends into pictures books for children. Plus, she's offering an autographed book for one lucky reader who leaves a comment! 
THANKS, everyone, for joining the dance with BEAR and Suzanne Bloom! See you soon. . .

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40. Illustration Challenge #36

I told you about my homework assignment, which I did at the National Museum of Scotland. How about try it yourself? Go find a public place where you can sit quietly to one side (preferably with a cup of tea) and draw what you see. It can be terrible, nobody has to see what you create but you. Try to capture the motion and energy of the people around you. Personally, I hope to do this a lot more often, so perhaps I'll be joining you!

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41. आज कल के बच्चे और माँ

सारी माँए पागल ही होती हैं कई बार लिखते हुए चश्मा बहुत प्रोब्लम देता है. खासकर जब कुछ इमोशनल लिखना हो.. बार बार चश्मा उतार कर नम हुई आखें पोंछ्ना फिर लिखना फिर चश्मा उतार कर आंसू पोछ्ना… उफ्फ … आज मेरी एक सहेली से कुछ बात ही ऐसी हुई कि मन भावुक हो गया […]

The post आज कल के बच्चे और माँ appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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42. Deadpool headed for a massive $100 million+ record settting opening

Ryan Reynolds, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Niceiza are smiling right now. Deadpool, the R-rated superhero send-up is set to make more than $100 million this weekend after breaking the Thursday preview record for an R-rated film with $14 million. Projections call for a $102.5 million three day and $113.5 million four day take. This breaks […]

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43. William Joyce: Books are Like the Ice Cream Sandwich: How New Technology Doesn't Change Much of Anything but it's all Kinda Cool

William Joyce, the creator of so many amazing books and now movies, is here! You may remember The Leaf Men, Dinosaur Bob, Santa Calls, Bentley & Egg, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore???

Joyce compares a traditional printed book to an icecream sandwich: The hard stuff's on the outside, the good stuff is in the middle.

When asked by technology companies to help them achieve true interactivity with their products, Joyce asks them what the hell they think happens when a kid opens a book.

Joyce appreciates the apprenticeship style of the publishing industry like he felt he received decades ago. Getting the time, maybe 5 or 6 years, to get to know the people working at a publisher, getting to learn how to craft a book with them by working on smaller books, forging creative projects together.

Joyce's advice: Befriend/understand/know the problems/trials/process of the people publishing your book.

"Most of the people in publishing are in it for the same reason you are, they love books."

Joyce talks about getting a phone call from a guy named John Lasseter. He knows we understand how solitary the typical children's book creator's creative daily life is. But with his film work, Joyce was excited by the collaborative nature of such projects and finds balancing both makes a much nicer work life.

After his time in Hollywood, Joyce decided he might try his hand at his own film production company, but closer to home, which is when Moonbot Studios became a reality. The idea of making an animated movie in Louisiana, he says, would have gotten you escorted from the room [to a looniebin]. But Joyce and his partners wanted to prove it could be done in Shreveport, and so they did, and in 2012 it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. (Fun fact! They made FIVE THOUSAND MINIATURE BOOKS for this short!)

Bill describes their (Moonbot's) thought process behind making their Lessmore story app unique from both the paper book and animated short. He shares a mini tirade with us about simulated page gutters that's pretty entertaining.

Bill's advice for bookmakers looking to develop online versions of their work:

"Don't just regurgitate what you've done. Make it separate, make it special."

Check out his delightful Instagram feed! Here's a cool piece, don't you want to know what happens to the snowman??!!

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44. FROM THE BACKLIST - Aaron and Alexander: the Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown

Aaron and Alexander: the Most Famous Duel in American History Written and illustrated by Don Brown Roaring Brook Press. 2015 ISBN: 9781596439986 Grades 5 - 12 I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. Aaron and Alexander could have been friends. They were alike in many ways. But the ways in which they were different made them the worst of enemies. Brown’s

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45. Hey nerds! How about some conference statistics?

Children's authors and illustrators are well known around the world for their love of math, which is why we start each conference with some statistics about our attendees.

Here's how this New York international conference breaks down:

  • 1,151 attendees - a record numer
  • 337 are published authors and illustrators
  • 813 pre-published

Yes, we know these numbers don't quite add up. "We're one number off and I'm damn proud of it," SCBWI founder Lin Oliver said.

Attendees travel from 48 states. The missing ones? Hawaii and North Dakota.

They also traveled from 19 countries including the United States.

And we come from many different professional backgrounds, including a ventriloquist, a psychic, and a dressage trainer. (But these are not the same person.)

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46. Rarest of Rare

एक साल पूरा होने पर शुभकामनाएं अरविंद केजरीवाल जी Delhi’s Youngest Chief Minister कभी AAP के अपने लोगो की नाराजगी … तो कभी ज़नता का प्यार…..कभी खांसी तो कभी मफलर का बना मजाक …. कभी गिरता तो कभी उठता … ऑड ईवन प्रतिक्रियाओं से भरपूर बीता एक साल … !!! शुभकामनाएं अरविंद जी Rarest of […]

The post Rarest of Rare appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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47. Welcome, from SCBWI Team Blog

We're so glad you're here -- in person and/or following along on this blog.

SCBWI Team Blog, from Left to Right: Jolie Stekly, Martha Brockenbrough (standing), Lee Wind, Don Tate and Jaime Temairik

Welcome to #NY16SCBWI, the 17th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference!

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48. ‘Yearbook’ by Bernardo Britto

A man is hired to compile the definitive history of human existence before the planet blows up.

The post ‘Yearbook’ by Bernardo Britto appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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49. Celluloid Mickey

Yesterday I painted this study of a celluloid Mickey Mouse toy from the 1930s. This toy was manufactured in Japan and distributed in Europe. It is made from celluloid, a lightweight, fragile, and flammable material that has also been used for ping pong balls, animation "cells," and for film stock itself. 

When the cellulose is unpainted (as with the green bucket above), there's a lot of subsurface scattering. But most of this Mickey is painted, which makes the light bounce off the surface.

Celluloid Mickey, gouache, 5x5 inches
As I was painting this, I was thinking about the variety of whites in this scene. I reserved the brightest white for the highlights. The lit sides of the nose and the shorts are just a little darker and warmer. The white surface that Mickey is standing on gradates back to a midrange cool gray in the top of the composition due to fall-off.

Getting all those soft edges and gradations is the challenge in gouache (it would be easy in oil). But the advantage of gouache over transparent watercolor is that you can get very precise control of value and chroma.
Video tutorial: Gouache in the Wild
Previously on GJ: Subsurface scattering and Fall-off

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50. Michael Wood on The Story of The Stone

       In The Guardian Michael Wood wonders Why is China's greatest novel virtually unknown in the west ? -- meaning, of course, Cao Xueqin's The Story of The Stone (also known as Dream of the Red Chamber), which I hope many of my readers are, in fact, familiar with.
       Wood apparently shared a house with translator David Hawkes while at Oxford, so there's some nice background about him and the translation, too.

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