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1. Terence Davies' Of Time and the City

Of Time and the City is a 2008 documentary collage film directed by Terence Davies. The film has Davies recalling his life growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s and 1960s, using newsreel and documentary footage supplemented by his own commentary voiceover and contemporaneous and classical music soundtracks. The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it received rave reviews... (wikipedia)

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2. 7 Things You Don't Know About Me

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this month's blog series at readergirlz! I had a lot of fun gathering candid and heartfelt responses from authors. Lorie Ann asked me to post my own list, so here goes nothing:

7 Things You Don't Know About Me

1) I've been writing stories and songs since birth, practically.

2) I am capable of charming squirrels out of trees.

3) There is no television show I have loved more completely from start to finish than Leverage.

4) I love word play.

5) Synchronicity and causality are recurring themes in my life.

6) Chances are, I'm shorter than you.

7) I project. In more ways than one.

So there you have it! I hope March has been lovely for all of you. Don't forget to mark your calendars for Operation Teen Book Drop 2014, which will be happening in just a few weeks on April 17th. Stay tuned to the readergirlz blog, Facebook, and Twitter to learn how you can participate and #rockthedrop!

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3. Reflections on 8 Years of Blogging

JRBPlogo-smallToday marks the 8 year anniversary of the day that I started my blog. Here's what I said in my very first post:

"Hi! I'm Jen Robinson. Here are three things that you should know about me.

  1. I love stories, especially in book form, and most especially mysteries, thrillers, and children's books. To that end, I would like to offer support to the people who produce stories (writers and publishes), and offer ideas to the people who love stories.
  2. I strongly believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn to love books and reading for pleasure. I'll be on the lookout for suggestions for parents to help raise children who read, inspirational success stories, and literacy news and resources.
  3. I think that many adults could benefit from reading children's books, too. I think that if more adults read children's books they would a) find them enjoyable, b) help to support the children's book industry (thus bolstering item 1 above), and c) offer tremendous validation to children (thus supporting item 2 above).

I'm saddened by the declining rate of reading for pleasure in the our adult population in the U.S. I'm even more saddened when I hear of children growing up illiterate, or literate, but too busy to take time to read. I've started this blog as a tiny step to do something about that. Thanks for reading! More to follow..."

And more has followed. This is post #2697 at Jen Robinson's Book Page. Typepad says that I have >800,000 page views and >10,000 comments (including my own responses to other people's comments). I now have my own snazzy logo, designed by the talented Sarah Stevenson.

Cybils2013SmallI'm involved with the Cybils, Kidlitosphere Central, KidLitCon, and the Children's Book Review Wiki. I've participated in dozens of Carnivals of Children's Literature. Pretty good, for someone who's not much of a joiner. I've participated in these things because in the Kidlitosphere, I've found my people, and I love interacting with them. The community of children's and young adult book bloggers has become something of an extended family for me, and this makes me very happy. 

I'm still reviewing children's and young adult books, and sharing literacy news and tips. In many ways, my blog hasn't changed much over the years. I think the two biggest changes are:

  1. LiteracyMilestoneANow that I have a child, my literacy tips and musings, as well as some of my reviews, include a more personal component. I've been sharing my daughter's literacy milestone, for example, and the books that she loves (even when I don't love them myself). This may make the blog a bit less "professional" (if it ever was), but I think it adds something, too. 
  2. When I run across blog posts or news articles about literacy, I no longer post about them directly on my blog. These days I share those things out on Twitter (and, to a lesser extent, Facebook) right away. Then I round up the links once a week in a single blog post, without any commentary. I'm not sure whether this is a good change. I don't discuss these stories as much as I would like these days. On the other hand, I'm able to share more of them, and with a broader audience. So there are pros and cons. But really, it doesn't matter whether it's good or not, because this is what I can manage right now. And if there's one thing I've learned in 8 years of blogging, it's that you have to do what you can, and not let the things that you can't do stress you out. 

As I said in my first post, I am a person who loves books, and who believes strongly that kids should have the chance to love them, too. But I'm also a person who chose to go into engineering and start a software firm (from which I make my living). Even though I chose a different career path, this blog allows me to do something constructive with my love for books and literacy. For that, I am very grateful. And I expect that I'll be here blogging for a long time. Whether you've been with me for the whole 8 years, or are just popping in today for the first time, or anywhere in between, thanks so much for reading. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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4. Happy Thanksgiving!

When I got into bed last night, perched my glasses on my nose and opened my book I exclaimed, “I forgot to blog today!” This has never happened to me before, forgetting to blog. It has always been a conscious decision when I don’t. But between being distracted by the arrival of the thing I had to pre-order and it feeling like a Friday because today is Thanksgiving, well, my brain just got all confused.

Bookman and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving today with phone calls to family who are all far away and with our own “traditional” feast. Ever since Bookman and I went vegan back in 1993 we’ve had enchiladas with a side of brown rice and refried beans. It wasn’t even until a few years ago that I had tasted Tofurkey, and yuck, was it terrible, too salty and bland for my taste.

While we don’t have a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, we do have pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie. That humble orange squash baked into a graham cracker crust, sweetened with agave, and spiced with cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, definitely something to be thankful for. Even better is the pumpkin was grown in my own garden.

That I have a house with a garden where I can grow my own pumpkin is a blessing for which I am grateful. The older I get the more I realize that it is the small and simple things in life for which I am most thankful. It’s a roof over my head, food on the table, a garden, a husband who loves me, family, friends, a good book, a cat on my lap. This is what happiness is made of and it is right and good to dedicate a day to being thankful and celebrating these things.

My thanks and best wishes to all of you, whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving today or not.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

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I’ve enjoyed all the talk and articles lately about the adoption of the Current Educational Common Core with its emphasis on critical thinking and non-fiction facts by using trade books in our school classrooms.  I thought that was what good teachers were doing all along? and parents too.  It’s common sense.  We are trying to educate kids to the world around them….history and human interaction so they can understand people better as they grow.  Information about other lands so their eyes will be open to not only the differences but the ‘sameness’ of kids and adults, and animals all over our small earth. Good story telling has always been the draw with fiction and non fiction.  Learning comes in between the lines, if you will.

The advantage of this being ‘official’ now is that publishers are searching their backlists and bringing back good non-fiction as well as fiction, and grabbing up informational but fun new stories. And of course my agency artists are thrilled to have such a need for story telling pictures for these books…for all ages. Picture books are often a child’s first introduction to people and life outside their own family and neighborhood. They have always been vital to early learning, mental growth, thinking skills and maturity.  Ever more so today in preparation for school and during the so important early school years.

What IS new is that Publishers and marketing departments are writing up guidelines that will help teachers use these books they might not have recognized as appropriate for the standards set by this Common Core. Several publishers have new sites where teachers and parents can keep knowledgeable about books on” technology, writing, math, and early literacy” (PW).  Some books have had ‘back of book’ questions added to encourage the conversations that lead to exploration and learning.  Several houses have launched new lines of books based on the Core Concepts.

Some examples of current books from our agency that are perfect for this Core are: Nicole Tadgell illustrated “FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass” (Susanne Slade from Charlesbridge Fall 14).  KarBen Lerner will bring “Goldie Takes a Stand” about Goulda Meir, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity Riley also Fall 14.  Patrice Barton illustrated “I Pledge Allegiance” by Pat Mora and Elizabeth Martinez for Knopf/Random.(14), and Larry Day’s illustrations for “Voices From Oregon Trail” from Dial and Kay Winters, tell the story! (summer 14) But even the newly launched “Isabelle and Isabella’s Little Book of Rules” from Little Simon and illustrated by our Priscilla Burris is a lovely, observant, non fiction from the mouths of the very children we’re trying to start the conversation with!  Pick these up and see! Use your common sense and enjoy the Common Core!             

SF_causes TADGELLpledge in courthouse BARTONfrom “Pledge”

from “Friends for Freedom”

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6. Teaching and learning….

This past weekend I had the privilege of being on the faculty for the Mid Atlantic SCBWI Fall conference and Intensive. What a wonderful time of teaching, sharing and as always, learning.  A most creative time for all.  And boy did they treat us well!  Wonderful time.

My Friday afternoon title was DOWN AND DIRTY: The basics and beyond.  Hopefully we hit on lots of the topics artists, new and older in this industry, wonder about.  I shared words from the buyers mouths… many fortunately are very good about sharing.  Over all I’d say buyers (AD, editors, designers who assign) want PROFESSIONALS (ask questions, honest, team players, meet deadlines), consistent style, great characters, samples sent on big POST cards so they can KEEP them on walls and attach to ms as they think about ways to go with the art etc.  (some hints for all!)

Then I did a fast “first look” for all those participating artists who dared!  It’s a great tool to see and understand how a buyer might VIEW your art given the “10 second rule.” Truly, those of us who see SO much art for the industry can determine if we can use your style in generally 10 seconds.  We’ll want to see more or move on.  I tried to share some of the intuitive thoughts that go through our head when we view art…instantaneously.  I was kind, but honest.  OH course you can tell given this ‘rule’ that you need to show ONLY your very very best art, and a sample that shows a lot of what you are capable of for THIS industry’s needs.

Sat. was the more general conference and other than some portfolio reviews, I was on a AGENTS PANEL with three other reps, all more Lit Agents. (Brooks Sherman from FinePrint, John Cusick, Greenhouse Lit, and Susan Hawk from Bent Agency ) We have different hooks but look for very much the same sort of unique talent and ‘voice’… this and talking during the weekend was my learning point.  Love that.  Frances Gilbert from Doubleday/Random was a speaker and on the Editors Panel too.  Loved seeing her as we hope to be working on a two book project very soon together. (with one of our CAT artists obviously…more on that) . We might look a little fuzzy…that happens at these conferences! lol

Frances Gilbert and me

I got to chat a bit with Annie Stone from Harlequin Teen, Emillia Zamani from Scholastic, and Melissa Miller from Katherine Tegan (HC) Books as well.  I also enjoyed the author speakers, Keynote Cynthia Lord and Mary Quattlebaum… and other talents attending.

me and authorshere I am with Joan Waites, Mary and Cynthia  quite the two day adventure! Thank you Mid Atlantic…lovely time and region!!!

By husband had driven me to Sterling for this and then nicely ‘low profiled’ it so I could work and visit. He rode the bike trail both days along the Potomac River from DC to Alexandria and south to Mt. Vernon…in wind and cool temps!  On our way home we visited both George Washington’s birth place at Pope’s Creek (his mothers maiden name) and then Robert E. Lee’s family estate just down river… the Big House and Gris Mill and more.  Both are on the Potomac and so very peaceful and special to just walk around. Do visit if you are in area (Northern Neck of VA south of DC)  Enjoy some peace…..

Pope's Creek Washington's birthplacethis is one garden and view of Washington’s home…he lived there only till 3 or so, but lovely place. these barns and horses and oxen (back) were part of the extended grounds there too.

barns at Lee's

the big house LEES     Lee's gris mill

this first is the BIG HOUSE at the Lee estate…3 generations of outstanding VA family…and the Gris Mill down closer to the beach area.   ALL in all quite the weekend of adventures…both educational and teaching moments…both I love and cherish.


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7. Why Children’s Books Matter….

While in NYC recently I made a point to visit between the Lions = the New York Public Library on Fifth Ave. to see the new wonderful show THE ABC of IT: Why Children’s Books Matter, curated by Leonard S. Marcus.  DO GO! It’ll run till March 23, 2014.

library ABC

abc of it

Traveling around and through the various clever labyrinths of experiences in books is truly a journey back to your childhood.  I felt in awe to be honest.  I think we do form true bonds to our favorite stories and illustrations as children ourselves, and several of those bonds were there for me … in the original!



I loved the visual look into how children’s books impacted our culture through the ages as well.  Many stories have become and “inspired films, plays and fashions.”  The reminder of this is itself inspiring.  We see this more and more today I think.  Story telling has always been so very important in society, and maybe never more today when they come at us in so many forms.  Children learn who they and we are through these stories. A journey back and forward, like Alice Big and Small, is a kick of a trip.  ENJOY!

goodnight moon  Carle color

monster hole



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8. Mondriowl Close-up

Close up of my "Mondriowl" painting. Acrylic on canvas.

5 Comments on Mondriowl Close-up, last added: 9/12/2013
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9. Why I've been (relatively) quiet this year


I just posted an update on my personal blog. I hope to get back to blogging about books and publishing again soon!

2 Comments on Why I've been (relatively) quiet this year, last added: 6/12/2013
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10. CAT artists wish you a very happy and memorable day!

Memoral Day blast jpg

4 Comments on CAT artists wish you a very happy and memorable day!, last added: 6/3/2013
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11. Career Day question!

career day 1

Last Friday I had the opportunity to do a CAREER DAY talk…well 6, 15 min talks… to 6 groups of about 25 first and second graders at one of my grandson’s schools here in Williamsburg VA(Matoaka Elementary). (that’s my Coady with dark hair in left corner.) It was a hoot to do, and I was so impressed with how interested they were!  Could they, at this tender age, be interested in the difference between a ‘job’ and a ‘career?’  and my industry particularly? They seemed to get it!  wow….

One question has haunted me since.  A cute little 2nd grader asked me just at the end “why do we have to have books?”    GULP

Now in the minute I had left to answer that on going industry question, I couldn’t even ask what she meant by that. Was she asking why Books rather than iPad’s etc? or why we have to make, distribute and sell Books of any kind…and why do they ‘have’ to read them?  I had to answer fast as the exit bell rang…. and jumped in with - ”both books and electronics are equally as viable and wonderful and fun! But do you prefer to cuddle up in bed with your iPad? or a book?”  the class yelled out “BOOKS!”

I don’t know if I assumed her question correctly, thus the ‘haunting’.  What a question!  I suspect we might have a future editor or maybe techie there!  Now you think on that question too…. love to hear what you might have answered in a quick half a minute. ;)

And now as to OUR “Career Days” at BEA… I’m missing it this year due to conflicts but I’ll be watching, reading and listening to any and all coming out about that weekend.  If YOU are there, please write my email (Chris@catugeau.com) and share!  I’ll write about it….

3 Comments on Career Day question!, last added: 5/20/2013
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12. Spring BRAIN FOG?

Stay doubt - Burris
It’s spring! Time of renewal and creativity everywhere. Then WHY am I in a ‘brain fog?
Well there are lots of reasons probably…from lack of sleep (!?), to allergies, to ‘it’s still cold in VA!’ to …who knows! I just read a fun newsletter piece about just this from Simone Kaplan… check her out at simone@picturebookpeople.com . Loved her honesty in admitting she has ‘brain fog’ too, so here I am joining her honesty.

And it’s good to admit it when it hits. Use it! Take a break and step back from your projects…writing, illustrating, personal, whatever! If you are having trouble being clear, focused, concise and creatively fresh, don’t try so hard! Step away from the project if possible…maybe for a few weeks or more, and take a new look later. We only want to send out OUR BEST always. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. You can also ruin a good reputation by passing on unfinished or inferior work. Sometimes a deadline requires a ‘finish’…then you have to gut it out. But a step back of a few hours…take a walk, work out in gym or garden… might make all the difference in clearing the brain fog and letting the creativity break through! When are we and our work ‘finished?’ Well probably when the book is published! or the conference talk given! or time has run OUT! But we hope to feel that it’s THE BEST we can do with the situation… the plot is tight, the characters are real and credible and YOURS ALONE, and you’ve added something evocative and provocative to the world. Big order…not really. It’s just breaking through ‘the fog’ and seeing the day and its unique promise! enjoy the possibilities!…..

Image from Priscilla Burris who keeps clear always!

1 Comments on Spring BRAIN FOG?, last added: 5/7/2013
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13. Rock the Rock Webdesign

Need a website that's both functional and fun? In addition to my work as a freelance blogger, I am also a freelance webdesigner.

Visit Rock the Rock for examples of my work and a list of my clients.

If you would like me to create, design, redesign, update, and/or maintain your website, email me or leave a comment below!



To see the larger versions of these designs and other sites, please visit Rock the Rock.

If you need a domain and/or website hosting, I strongly recommend Your-Site.com I've been using their web and domain services since 2000. Hosting costs only $5 a month ($60 a year) with the plan I use, and a domain is only $20 a year. If you sign up for Your-Site, please tell them that Little Willow of http://www.slayground.net referred you. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much!

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14. a BIG HONOR!!!

we’ve shared with you before one of our artists Priscilla Burris’s wonderful truly heart felt young characters and their special worlds.  Well one of them Heidi Heckelbeck is a most popular little girl as it turns out!

Heidi won 1st place for fiction series at the New York Book Show!!!
They announced it last night at the event. Exciting!  WAY TUGEAU (ooops To Go!) Little Simon and Priscilla!  wow and wow!


3 Comments on a BIG HONOR!!!, last added: 4/19/2013
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15. Conflict: Inner, Personal, and Universal

by Deren Hansen

In a discussion about narrative conflict, someone suggested that there are only three kinds of conflict: inner, personal, and universal, where personal is conflict between persons and universal is conflict with forces larger than your social circle.

As I played with the idea, I hit upon the exercise of characterizing the kinds of stories you get when the protagonist and antagonist come into conflict in terms of the nine combinations of the inner, personal, and universal dimensions.

In the following table, read from the protagonist's row to the antagonist's column. For example, if the protagonist's concerns are primarily internal and the antagonists are personal, you have a coming-of-age story or a story about establishing one's place and identity.


InnerPsychologicalComing-of-age; Establishing one's place and identityThe socio-path or super man
PersonalIntervention and healingRomance, mystery, thriller, speculative fiction, etc. (i.e., Most kinds of narrative conflict)Rebels and underdogs
UniversalFatalist and extremistsOrder vs. chaos (anti-rebellion)Epic and political struggles

What I found most interesting about this exercise is that the primary locus of conflict in most stories falls in the center square (personal vs. personal). Many other stories fall on the diagonal (inner vs. inner or universal vs. universal). Asymmetric stories (e.g., personal vs. universal), are rarer.

I suspect this is because as social animals inter-personal conflict is the easiest to understand. Even if your story depends on another kind of conflict, your narrative will generally be most effective if you can put a face on the enemy for your readers. Your band of freedom fighters may be up against an empire, but your readers will identify with the dark lord who makes finding them his personal quest than with the legions of faceless soldiers he deploys. Similarly, readers will find a psychological struggle more accessible if there are other actors who symbolize the inner conflict.

It's also interesting to consider where different genres cluster in the matrix. For example, romance and mystery generally land in the upper left quadrant while speculative fiction and thrillers land in the lower right (with all, of course, overlapping in the middle).

Stories, clearly, aren't limited to one kind of conflict, so this analysis is only useful when we're considering the primary mode of conflict. Still, the moral of this story is that conflict is best when it's personal.

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.

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16. Blog30 Questionnaire

I just found Blog30. I liked their questionnaire and thought I'd share my own answers:

Where do you look for inspiration?

Life. Truth. Music. Stories. Nature. People.

What's your favorite book?

I have favorite books in different categories. My favorite books include, but are not limited to:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (fantasy classic)
The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende (fantasy)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (modern classic)
Body Bags by Christopher Golden (contemporary thriller)
The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden (contemporary horror)
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (mystery)

What's your favorite movie?

As with books (and anything else you can categories), I have favorite movies in different categories. For example:

Favorite musical picture: Singin' in the Rain
Favorite film noir: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Favorite Hitchcock film: North by Northwest
Favorite screwball comedy: Bringing Up Baby
Favorite Barbara Stanwyck comedy: Ball of Fire
Favorite John Hughes film: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Favorite Cary Grant/Irene Dunne performance: My Favorite Wife
Favorite Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau movie: The Odd Couple
Favorite book-to-miniseries adaptation: Anne of Green Gables, 1986 version starring Megan Follows
Favorite Disney animated musical: The Little Mermaid

Again, give me a genre, theme, time period, director, writer, or actor, and I'll tell you my favorite film for that topic or person.

What's your favorite line from a play?

I just realized I don't have any lines from plays listed on my page of favorite quotes. I'm going to have to think on this and get back to you.

What play or production changed your life?

Since I've been on the acting/performing/writing/creating path since birth, I don't know that any play has changed my life, but many have touched me - either the script or the storyline really spoke to me, or the experience I had performing them. This includes but is not limited to Spring Awakening, The Polar Express, and the first school play I ever did. I'm also a writer - screenwriter, playwright, (hopeful) novelist, and poet, so I've performed original works, and had works published, and all of those experiences mean a great deal to me.

Is there anything you still dream of doing?

Everything I haven't done yet, but will: Have a great career, working regularly in television (including work as a series regular), film, and theatre (both musicals and straight plays) as an actress, writer, and director, creating and sharing roles and shows and songs that make me happy and inspire others.

I feel most like myself when I... am performing, singing or acting - or discussing something I'm really passionate about, or retelling the story of something I've experienced.

What is your best escape?

Performing. Writing. Reading. Watching films and TV.

What's the one thing nobody knows about you?

If I told you, then someone would know.

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17. I’m sending a little lovin’ your way!

Valentines Day (3)blast

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18. Letter from Jerusalem

View East from Tower of David Museum

It’s impossible to choose a favorite thing in Jerusalem is so far, but right now I believe it may be the Bulgarian feta with hyssop and sun-dried tomatoes.

The skies at dusk are also spectacular — eerily Biblical, which I guess makes sense. The night before last, Max and I stood looking out at the Wailing Wall as the sun set. Above us roiling tufts of gray clouds swept over a pale but insistently glowing blue canvas. We had just come from the chaos of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where priests of various sects tried to pray more loudly than priests of other sects, pilgrims and holy persons kissed Christ’s grave and pressed foreheads, scarves, and full water bottles against it, and groups of tourists, including a lot of American Methodists from Alabama, milled around.

I’m here for the book fair, where Mark Sarvas, Boaz Cohen, and Naomi Alderman and I spoke yesterday about books, the Internet, and writing and creating art from a place of passion and authenticity.

Mark and I don’t see each other nearly often enough these days, and it’s been wonderful to roam the city and catch up. Boaz is smart and charming; it’s easy to see why his radio show and his blog are beloved here. And I adored Naomi, whose first novel, Disobedience, I praised on this site years ago and whose game-writing I’ve always wanted to know more about. She and I nerdily compared iPad apps and promised to meet up in New York to talk about being ex-

Max and I spent Monday in the Old City, which is so mind-blowing I’ve barely had time to start processing it, and had drinks dinner that night at Mona (yum) with the writer Menachem Kaiser, Israel Museum Director James Snyder, and some other fine people. Yesterday was all about book fair stuff, concluding with drinks at the National Library, and then Max, Mark, and I slipped off to dinner at Eucalyptus.

This morning Max and I head to Bethlehem for a few hours, and then we’ll meet up with Mark at Yad Vashem. Tomorrow we head to the Israel Museum for the new Herod exhibition, and then to the Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane. Early Friday morning — a little after midnight — we head home. So far, thanks to jetlag, I’m averaging three-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night. But with so little time and so much to see, I doubt I’ll get a nap in.

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19. Evil….

There will be no visuals with today’s post.  There can be none that wouldn’t further break our collective hearts.  I brought my three children up in Ridgefield CT for 30 years…just a short drive from Newtown.  I know people there effected by this horror I’m sure, and I hope they know my pain and hope is with them.

We are lovers of children’s stories and books, and much of that involvement comes from a love for innocent, learning, growing children and their promised hope for the future.  It’s inconceivable that any evil comes to sweet children anywhere, but of course it does too often.  This was just an extreme event of random evil that just can’t be truly taken in.  My family just celebrated the birth of a new granddaughter, our 7th grand child in fact.  We were, and are still, feeling very very blessed at this blessed time of year.  Suddenly we also feel betrayed and helpless.  What can we really do to protect anyone…even ourselves.  Life doesn’t always make sense.  It’s not always joy and blessings or even quiet unmemorable moments!  How to grasp that and move on into life, but we do, and must.  This holiday season is a time of sincerely warm spirit and deep emotion…. and we need to still allow that story into our hearts, as this other horrific story has forced its way in.  We need to hold onto the story of  love, sharing, caregiving of family and the future’s hope for all. Particularly for those devastated families in Newtown. We need to hold onto our loved ones and feel the blessings of their being.  Just their being here with us.




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20. MERRY in the air!

No matter what the year seems to bring to us all, this time of year will bring LIGHT and HOPE and JOY to grab.  Thank your ‘higher power’ and rejoice!

Christmas 2012 (3)

1 Comments on MERRY in the air!, last added: 12/24/2012
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21. as we begin our new 2013 story…. sweet dreams!

cozy reader image (4)BURRIS

from CAT artist Priscilla Burris with one of her so special visual moments……  we all wish you all many of these enjoyable, loveable, shared, cozy moments in your future!


0 Comments on as we begin our new 2013 story…. sweet dreams! as of 12/31/2012 6:07:00 PM
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22. Some company for slow writers

For Tin House’s site, I write about finding solace for the slow pace of my own novel in the writing of Donna Tartt and my friend Alexander Chee.

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I am most honored to be part of the Friday Feb. 1st Artist Intensive for the SCBWI Winter Conference (Grand Hyatt 42nd) this coming weekend!  Our panel discussion is “WHEN DO I QUITE MY DAY JOB?” and I’m looking forward to the subject and opportunity to share the basics (and not so basic) to the business of being an Illustrator.  Brenda Bowen (editor, now Lit Agent, and writer) and Jan Constantine (general counsel for The Authors Guild) and I (20 year artist agent) will be moderated by David Diaz.

The SCBWI conferences are always so very inspirational and done so professionally and with such care for the market and those who participate in it, that it’s always a joy to be part of and/or attend.  I’ll also be one of the judges for the Art Show which is a wonderful part of these events.  Sat. and Sun are full of other talks and sessions for writers and illustrators (or both) and an almost overwhelming opportunity to get an ‘insiders’ look at the children’s book industry. And you meet and chat with so many interesting people!

If you are planning to be there, please make yourself known to me.  And if not this year, do try to attend in LA,CA (Aug.) or NYC (Feb) at some point…invaluable!  See you there!

(“CAT”artist Melissa Iwai’s got the right idea about books!)

One more start IWAI

3 Comments on SCBWI WINTER CONFERENCE!, last added: 1/29/2013
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24. 100 anniversary of Grand Central Station…


Bill and I  shared our 44th wedding anniversary with Grand Central Stations 100th on Friday Feb 1 while at the SCBWI Winter Conference and Art Intensive ! and what a party! here see the big band and light show in windows…people from all over smiling!  NY at it’s best.  And upstairs we had a fabulous conference too! more on that to follow……


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25. Treasures from the mouths of talent!…..

Happily going over some notes I made while listening to the speakers at the conference… and want to share.  Didn’t make every speaker of course, but I’ll try to hit the ideas and quotes that spoke to me and I hope will speak to you! Highlights….

I’ll start with the most WONDERFUL opening talk from artist SHAUN TAN. at 8:35 Friday morning of the Artist Intensive.  What a way to wake up….truly the ‘WAY TUGEAU!”  It was about “Developing a Personal Style.”  His overall point was that your personal style needs to be free and encouraged to just ‘emerge.’  He talked about how drawing and painting at a very young gave him his ‘source of power,’  and how it was wonderful to work and not worry about how it was ‘received.’  He reminded all that ART is a distortion of reality…it’s NOT literal but more theatrical and manipulated.  How you do this grows into your style. It’s often good to let the viewer SEE this manipulation…be aware of the painting. The Deep Style that is or will become you is not so much how you draw or paint, but how you THINK.  That approach will change as the story and image changes, and your personal style can be ‘found’ at the intersection of where all the work meets.  (love that!)

You don’t choose a personality for yourself or a style really.  They evolve and happen from the interests of the day-to-day realities.  One way to teach yourself to know and appreciate others styles however is the age-old practice of copying master artists to LEARN from the effort…HOW and WHY it was done a certain way.  He likes to divide work into two parts…the ‘public’, known part, and the ‘private’ exploring, developing part.  Good to “think of yourself as a train station that ideas pass through.” (!)  Allow the dream to ‘bubble up’. The deep style just comes… it’s a conversation with yourself. “Swing with the current.”  Style often turns out to be ”what you do in an emergency” which he quoted from someone else…and isn’t that a truth!

Well that’s a touch of one talk I just HAD to share…wonderful.  Check out Shaun Tan’s work up…interesting talent and personality.

More tomorrow from others there at the WINTER SCBWI CONFERENCE 2013!

3 Comments on Treasures from the mouths of talent!….., last added: 2/6/2013
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