A few weeks ago, I visited Ms. McPherson’s class in Buxton, Maine. I gave them a presentation on descriptive writing, showed them how I research to get all the little details just right, and we played a game to illustrate why it’s so important in the stories we write and share.
The students gave *me* amazing Thank You letters and illustrations inspired by Cooper and Packrat.
I love the rainy day details, and the soft hoot of the loon from off page
Why, yes! I AM going to write more! Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest will be out next August. A draft of it is sitting on my editors desk right now.
Where do I write these books? Good question! And one I don’t think I answered while I visited. I write anywhere and everywhere I can! Sometimes in the backyard in the summer, hotel rooms (if I’m on the road), the living room if it’s quiet, in school with my students. But mostly, at my desk, in my house . . .
Isn’t this adorable? An origami loon.
I love books too! I have piles of them in the house and have been known to sneak up to 10 books in my suitcase when we go on vacation.
” . . . nature, wildlife, friendship and family”. Exactly! That’s Cooper and Packrat in a nutshell.
I LOVE loons! There are photos on my bathroom wall. Statues sit on my desk. Carl DiRocco’s lovely art hangs on my office wall. I giant loon photo hangs behind the campground registration desk. I have a loon bedspread AND a loon cookie jar.
I’m a little loon crazy.
(Don’t you love how the loons are looking at the questions?)
Other outdoor books? Have you read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen? It’s all about kids who save owls. Or how about Touch Blue, by Cindy Lord, which is about Maine Island life and lobstering.
I HAVE seen loon chicks, and they are the most adorable things! Sadly, our loons didn’t have babies last year, so I wasn’t able to take photos personally, but here’s one taken by a camper friend of mine . . .
The feelings came from deep down inside, which is why I don’t have a favorite character. It’s kind of like asking a Mom which of her kids she loves best. We love them all!
And yes, even Mr. Beakman, um, I mean, Mr. Bakeman.
Thank YOU for reading and studying Mystery on Pine Lake . . .
Over at The Rumpus, middle-grade author Cecil Castelluci will coordinate the new Letters For Kids program–a subscription service giving readers mail from authors who write for kids.
According to the launch page, participants will receive “two letters a month written by middle-grade authors like Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler, Adam Rex, Kerry Madden, Natalie Standiford, Susan Patron, Rebecca Stead, Cecil Castelluci, and more.” The service will cost $4.50 per month for U.S. readers, and $9 international readers. The project will expand upon The Rumpus’ Letters in the Mail program for adults. Check it out:
Some of the letters will be illustrated. Some will be written by hand. It’s hard to say! We’ll copy the letters, fold them, put them in an envelope, put a first class stamp on the envelope, and send the letters to you (or your child) … Six is pretty much the perfect age to start checking your mailbox for actual letters. And if you’ve waited until you were ten, well, you’re four years behind but still, it’s not too late. And if you’re sixteen, that’s OK, there’s still something of the kid left. And if you’re sixty, well… OK. You’re young at heart.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
We get a number of Chinese proverbs with each post, however some of those link back to porn sites.
So we must continue to moderate all comments. Sorry but viewers will still have to wait for us to check the comments. Almost all are great comments from people we love to see here, so just be patient if you don't see your comment right away.... it is coming as soon as we receive the notice.
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are nice, but because you are. ~Author Unknown
I decided to sit in my peaceful car and drink my flavored coffee in front of my favorite Hess Express. As I sat there, a very large man was in his car with his family carefully eating chicken wings and dropping them to them out the window to the asphalt below.
I kept thinking, "How rude! Where did he grow up? What kind of an example is he for his family? Who does he think cleans up after him? How beastly!"
I tried to muster up the courage to confront his actions. (Did I tell you he was a monster of a man?) I realized that if I said anything, he might pound me in the asphalt right next to the chicken bones. So, here I am writing about it for the choir. For sure, I bet you strive to live neat, pleasant lives and don't create paths of chicken bones along your journey. I am all for that.
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By: Leslie Ann Clark,
Blog: Leslie Ann Clark's Skye Blue Blog
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Blog: the enchanted easel
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here is my contribution to this week's i.f. theme of 'mail'. i painted it last year so that i could use the image for my 'contact page' of my website.
it's me...in my uggs;)
btw, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all my friends out there! thank you for traveling with me on the road to becoming a successful children's illustrator:)
can't wait for lots of new endeavors in 2011...
By: andrea joseph
Blog: andrea joseph's sketchblog
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When I made that humongous Moleskine post last week it took me back to France, to when I exhibited my Moleskines. Obviously I've been showing my sketch books online for the last few years. But before the exhibition in France few people had ever seen them 'in the flesh'. And, at first, I was quite reticent to show them. Specifically my 'spare' Moleskine. I had never ever shown anyone this book before. You might have seen a few of the finished drawings from it but that's it. The reason for that is because, apart from those odd finished pieces, my spare Moleskine is full of lists, quotes, lyrics, doodles and thoughts. And that's quite scary. I've always felt that peering into that book is a bit like finding John Nash's shed in the woods and opening the door.
But, to my surprise, many people at the exhibition really enjoyed seeing these pages. Yes, they commented on the obsessive content but it struck a chord somewhere with folk. So, I thought maybe I'd show you some here. The top spread is one of those pages. It's where I chuck everything onto a page for future reference. Then below are some of the drawings that came from those seeds.
Is this stuff of any interest to you? Cos there's loads more of it.
You know, there could well be a lot of posts this week because somebody is desperately trying to avoid doing their tax returns. So let me know if you want to see more.
by Suzanne Lieurance
In February, what child doesn’t enjoy receiving and sending colorful Valentine’s Day cards? And whether children make the cards themselves or simply sign their name to a card they buy, the act of sending and receiving Valentine’s Day cards is one that promotes literacy among young children.
Because it encourages reading, writing, and even talking about the Valentine’s cards with friends and/or family.
Most children love creating a Valentine Mailbox. They can make a mailbox for school and one for home, too. In fact, at home encourage everyone in the family to build a mailbox and exchange Valentines and other cards, notes, and letters all month long. The mail doesn’t need to stop when March rolls around either. Children will be used to the practice of sending and receiving mail by that time and they probably won’t want to give it up. In March, encourage them to create cards and notes for St. Patrick’s Day.
Of course, there are all sorts of reasons to send mail every single day. And by making it fun for kids to send and receive mail, they start to value the written word more and more. And they are doing so in a way that is “authentic” because they really want to be able to read what that card from their father says, or they want to know how to spell a word correctly in a message they are putting in their sister’s mailbox.
Teachers can also use the mail as a way for children to write about books they read or topics they study in the classroom. Letters or cards can be send from one child to another answering specific questions about a specific book. For example, if kids read Snow Day by Pamela Hamilton (one of the books showcased here this month at the NWFCC), the teacher might ask the class to writer a letter to a friend in class telling who their favorite character was in the book, what they liked best about the book, what they would do differently if they were the writing a book like this, etc. When the children finish writing the letters they can put them in the mailboxes. Later, everyone can read the letters and share them with the class as a class activity.
As a parent or teacher, jot little notes and put them in your children’s or students’ mailboxes throughout the day. If you’re a busy teacher, you don’t have to send a note to every child in your class every day. Just one note a day to one student will do.
It’s also fun if kids can create a mailbox that has a flag that can be raised or lowered when someone puts mail in the box. The raised flag lets the child know “You’ve got mail!”
In the classroom, children can make reading, writing, and distributing the mail a daily practice at a specific time. That way, kids won’t be running around to all the mailboxes at all times of day. They’ll really look forward to the “mail call” part of the day!
Our very own Owney has his very own STAMP!
Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch
Mona Kerby; Pictures by Lynne Barasch
Frances Foster Books, April 2008
$16.95 Hardcover Picture Book
According to the USPS website…
With this stamp, the Postal Service commemorates Owney, the canine mascot of the Railway Mail Service. The stamp goes on sale July 27. Beloved of clerks on mail-sorting trains at the end of the nineteenth century, Owney was hailed as a symbol of good luck. Today he is an icon of American postal lore whose story highlights the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service.
Developed during the 19th century, the Post Office Department’s Railway Mail Service was an efficient and decentralized way to process mail by sorting it aboard moving trains, an innovation that became increasingly important after the Civil War. In the 1880s, during the height of the Railway Mail Service, a dog, likely a terrier mix, appeared in the Post Office in Albany, New York. Clerks took a liking to him and named him Owney. Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains and soon became a good-luck charm to Railway Mail Service employees, who made him their unofficial mascot. Working in the Railway Mail Service was highly dangerous; according to the National Postal Museum, more than 80 mail clerks were killed in train wrecks and more than 2,000 were injured between 1890 and 1900. However, it was said that no train ever met with trouble while Owney was aboard.
The stamp art features a new illustration of Owney by artist Bill Bond of Arlington, VA. The illustration depicts Owney in profile, facing left, with many of his famous tags and medals gleaming in the background.
I opened my front door last night and a package fell into the living room. It was an Advance Reader's Edition of Gabrielle Zevin
's All These Things I've Done
. I think AREs or ARCs or galleys or whatever they are called are the best things to find in the mail - except for long chatty letters from far-flung family and friends. (Hint, hint, far-flung friends and family!)
Zevin got rave reviews for her earlier book Elsewhere
examined the afterlife of a girl who died at fifteen. It was such a sad, thoughtful, wry and hopeful book that I couldn't wait to get my hands on All These Things I've Done
I haven't gotten too far but I have learned an appalling aspect of the world in this book. Caffeine and
chocolate are both outlawed. This book must be a HORROR story. I swoon to think of a world where chocolate is a controlled substance.
The heroine, Anya Balanchine, is the daughter of a notorious - and dead - crime boss. And the new delicious boy at school is the son of the new District Attorney of the city. Oops! Set somewhere in the not-too-distant future, this book promises a good read. And since the author is Zevin,
I'm sure there will be some surprises.
I'm not even sure if you can actually see the difference between this and the last post. It may be subtle, but this is the point where I have to stop the cross hatching. It's the point where I need to start putting the detail in. And, it's the point where I'm starting to think that this is a rubbish drawing and that I shouldn't have done this step by step thingy because now I have to post the final drawing whether I like it or not.
So, I did think that the last post was the penultimate stage in the life of this drawing, but I still haven't quite finished. I know it probably looks like it was overdone about three posts ago, but this drawing keeps on going. It's the drawing that just keeps on giving. So if you haven't lost the will to live, and would like to see the finished thing, then come ye back.
I know its been over two weeks since I've posted anything! Lots to post about, but I'm trying to stay off the computer and enjoy the summer while I can.
Well, I've got more goodies in the mail! These cute chicken card holders are from fellow illustrator Kristin Sorra. I first met Kristin at the Highlights illustrators' party last year. She is super talented and I'm so happy to have met her and her hushand, who is also an artist. They are so nice and super cool. Thank you for letting me adopt them. I'll take good care of them :-)
Math Boy thought they looked like chicken bumper cars?!? So funny!
It's such a joy receiving surprise packages. Yesterday i felt like i forgot about my own birthday, i found two packages with goodies in my mailbox!
I am a big fan of the designs coming out of the sisterbrandt design studio, so i was chuffed discovering a package from Sabine Brandt! What a joy to open and adore all the pretty patterns! These are just a couple of the gorgeous cards she sent me.
These pretty notebooks remind me of the ones i had in school when i was a young girl, i love them! One has, instead of lines or blank pages, squared pages. I mean, like what you use to do math. It came in handy when i did my taxes. Yes, i use spreadsheets/calculators/am a girl of this millennium, but sometimes writing down the numbers on paper works best. J'adore!
There were also small post-it like papers with small illustrations on them. I feel spoiled.
Last week my sweet mom treated me to a surprise box of books. Craft books. Vintage craft books. I love the books, i love my mom even more. These are my favorite from the bunch. See how thoughtful she is? Embroidery books! So much inspiration. Yes, i will show some of the insides of the books here soon! I feel spoiled.
The other package that i received yesterday came from my 'old country'. The Netherlands. Sweet Dani from Moochi.nl send me one of her beautiful passport covers. I must say it is so well made, it fits my Dutch passport perfectly, it makes me want to hop on a plane and travel! Definitely check out her Etsy shop too! She makes them with all kinds of fabrics, this one is made with Indonesian Batik fabric, which brings me back to my roots. Just like the kopiko candies she also added. And just look at that adorable little elephant. Too cute. Oh, there also was a My Melody key strap. Jealous already? I feel spoiled!
And when you think you can't take no more generosity, there is Maria (the vintageholicfrog) who blessed me with winning the giveaway for a one month ad on Blog Giveaways blogspot! (there seems to be something wrong with the layout right now, but normally all buttons are obviously on the right of the page, instead of all the way on the bottom under the blogposts.) Feeling lucky? Check out the Giveaway blog, she lists the most wonderful giveaways to be found in the blogosphere!
As you can understand, i feel spoiled! Thanks for all the kindness. For real. I must have been a good girl.
I really didn't expect it anymore, but i think my last (sad) blogpost
about Suki did the trick: She's back! I'm so very happy she found her way home in the end. It took her much longer and she stayed in fewer places than planned, but she did travel the world, even made a stop in South Africa! I am very grateful to all who gave her a place to stay on her journey and took her lovingly along on their adventures. I LOVED reading all the stories in her little passport. And one of her hosts even made her a cute sleeping bag. I think i recognize Jonah
's sewingskills, but i'm not sure since there wasn't a note about it. Thank you all!
The same day that i found Suki in my PO box, i also found a sweet surprise from Rima over at Willy Nilly Waterlilly
! A supercute set of Japanese bookmarks
i won in a recent giveaway. I adore! I'm planning a trip to the bookstore to find the perfect book to use them on!
One who shares my love for the Dutch department store "Hema
" is Tizz from Tizzalicious
. When i moved from Amsterdam to NY i didn't expect i would miss that store so much. Tizz understands. She was the sweetest when, on a recent trip, she picked up a couple of cute and pretty designed goodies for me. I so appreciate it!
Another thing i feel i need to address is that i haven't been blogging too much recently. I don't know why this is. No special reason. I lost the routine of doing it. I think about it daily. I am busy but not too busy to write a quick post sharing the creativity. Maybe it's a normal thing, i've been blogging since 2005 and it only makes sense that you go through phases. I'm definitely planning on getting back into the groove of daily blogging. Maybe i should schedule some posts ahead when i have the time and inspiration to write, or give myself a special time in every day to post. I just wanted to share these thoughts, maybe you have some insight, and to let you know all is well with me, no special reasons that i blog less frequently. I promise to do better again!
Look what i found in the mail yesterday? Lovely little surprise. My mom sent me this adorable card, just because i love cards. (yes she wrote inside: a card for no special reason besides that you like cards) The matryoshka? A sweet iron on applique! I love! Thank you mom!
Yes, I do have a problem keeping up with email (as I've mentioned here), but I seem to have an even tougher time keeping up with snail mail. Our business, including submissions (in fact, especially including submissions), is handled more and more via email, and so I increasingly pay more attention to email and less to snail mail. In fact, I get irritated when agents send submissions, especially novels, as hard copies. They should know better by now!
At work, I have a bin labeled "mail" in my office where I dump all my mail, and last year I've realized that at times mail has stayed there unopened for over three months at a time, until I make time to sit down and open and sort through it all.
This is how I go through my mail: I sit down with the bin, open an envelope, scan the letter. If it's an unsolicited query or manuscript, I put it back in the envelope and scrawl "slush" on the envelope and put it in a pile. This pile is ultimately handled by our receptionist who send back form letters saying we don't accept unsolicited submissions or queries. If it's a solicited manuscript, I put in a different "log in" pile for my assistant. If it's a solicited query, I read it quickly, decide if I want to review it or not, and then write "Query yes" or "query no" on it and add it to the pile for my assistant. If I receive art samples, and I like the art, it goes into a pile for filing. If I don't like the art, it goes into the recycling bin (sorry, illustrators!).
Last Sunday, the day before I was to go back to work after the holiday break, I decided to go into the office to sort through my mail so the bin would be empty when I started the new work year. The pile was threatening to spill over. Yes, this is partially my fault--if I just opened and dealt with the mail I received each day, or even each week, it would be more manageable. But dealing with a pile of several months worth of mail, something became extremely clear: I get way more unsolicited submissions and queries than I should. In fact, I should receive zero--as a company, we only accept agented or requested/referred submissions. Instead, I receive on average one or two a day. I would say a good 75% of the mail I receive are unsolicited queries and submissions. And this irritates me to no end.
Our submissions policy is stated very clearly on our website:
Publishers in the Hachette Book Group (including Grand Central Publishing, Business Plus, FaithWords, Center Street, Mystery, Orbit, Little, Brown and Company, Back Bay Books, Bulfinch, Springboard Press, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) are not able to consider unsolicited manuscript submissions and unsolicited queries. Many major publishers have a similar policy. Unsolicited manuscripts, submissions and queries will not be answered and the publisher will have the right to destroy any unsolicited material or mail without returning to the sender.
I don't know if people ignore this rule out of ignorance, or in hopes that we'll take a look at their query or submission anyway. And, okay, yes--very very rarely, if you catch me in a good mood, I might scan the submission (especially if it's a book dummy with illustrations), but I don't actually remember an example where I've then actually ended up considering the submission--it still gets returned as slush. And I can say with 100% certainty that I've never ended up acquiring a submission that was initially sent to me as slush. So, STOP TRYING. You're wasting your time, my time, my assistant's time, our receptionist time, and you're also wasting money and paper, and making it harder for people who are following the rules to have my undivided attention. Stop it. Seriously.
Sigh. Remember when you loved getting mail? Remember a time when mail was something other than bills and credit card offers and catalogs an
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Sometimes things other than bills and junk come in the mail. This week I was pleasantly surprised twice!
First, by this package sent to me by Mrs. Brennan and her class at The Meadows School in Las Vegas. Mrs. Brennan emailed me and asked if She could use my High Hopes Ant illustration for her class production. Their presentation was about people who’ve overcome great obstacles to fulfill their dreams.
The production was really cute. The kids did a great job. I know because they also sent me a DVD along with the flier, card and pictures!
Thank you Mrs. Brennan and all your students who made and signed the card!
The second surprise in the mail was from my fellow Doodle Diner, David Sones. In December he hosted a giveaway over at the Doodle Diner. He gave away one of these prints to those who visited and left a comment…. then he including his Doodle Diner friends as well! David is a a very gifted artist with a generous heart.
Thank you Pickle Dog!