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I am a mother, an educator and an author/illustrator. Please go to my website www.annajboll.com where you can see my portfolio and check out my online store. The blog contains semi regular updates on the life of a woman turned mother. Writing and drawing in the shards of time allowed by family life, I submit regularly to children's publishers as an author illustrator. I'm getting used to rejections.
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1. NY12SCBWI Roundup. Yee-Haw!

If for some reason you missed the tumblg,tagging and tweeting from the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, pull on your riding boots for the conference round up.

In this corral over here we’ve got we’ve got the VIP cocktail party Friday night. Agents, editors, and art directors schmoozed and enjoyed “Artisian Cheese Displays,” after their hard day at work. I spoke to some of those but also rubbed elbow with the assistants who told me that things had been pretty quiet. That must mean that they’ve recovered after the December lull, and it is prime time to start subbing again. 

Over here, we’ve lassoed some industry professionals. This group: Jean Feiwel, Barbara Marcus, Nancy Paulsen, and Rubin Pfeffer, is chock full of historical knowledge about the publishing industry having built Scholastic to what it is today. Now they are at MacMillan, Penguin, and East West Literary. They discussed their impressions on the present and future children’s book industry and brought us some new vocabulary. “E-tailers” are purveyors of e-books, “Discoverability” is the chance the consumer had to find your book in the millions that are out there. This used to happen through indie bookstores when the awesome retailer hand sold your book. This panel mentioned that with the demise of Borders, indies have actually had their best season in years and that the support of all of us is really helping. (Shop local.) “Transmedia” is the addition or transportability of your content into other media formats. 

Throughout the weekend, speakers agreed that publishers are moving towards more commercial, hard-cover best sellers, and that these best sellers allow them to publish the midlist. High concept is definitely on their mind. This idea was repeated by the agent panel on Sunday with the caveat that you have to have a “hook.” This doesn’t mean that you need a paranormal YA to get published. Agents Regina Brooks, of Seredipity, and Ken Wright, of Writer’s House, explained that publishers are always thinking: “Where is this book going to go? How are we going to get it there? How is the author going to get it there?” Certainly this is marketing and Regina Brooks has even added a Social Media strategist to help her authors develop their online presence. Ginger Knowlton spoke about the many web related links that she checks in on each day so that she can be in the loop about publishing developments. Note: you do not have to read all of these and if you do- you will never write/draw again. Here they are:

PW Marketplace
PW Lunch

Media Bistro

Read Roger

The Passive Voice

The Shatzkin Files


When we weren’t in the Ballroom, we were moseying into the breakout sessions. My favorite was the revision workshop with Cheryl Klein. If you went to that session, she posted the links that she mentioned at her own roundup. Yee-Haw!

At the Saturday night hoedown aka the Gala Dinner, the tables were arranged by region and I was thrilled to meet some of the Northern New Englanders who showed up. We ambled away from our tables to join the larger group from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Conne

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2. Day Off

Thanks so much for visiting. I'm taking the day off for my birthday. Book Review Wednesday will return next week.

Please feel free to check out the review archives especially the post for Melissa Sweet's, Balloons Over Broadway which just won the Nonfiction award at the ALA Mid-Winter conference.

On Monday I'll post a round-up of the SCBWI New York conference.

Have a great weekend!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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3. Member Monday: Ten Reasons to Register for NESCBWI Annual Spring Conference

As I write this, the registration for New England’s annual SCBWI conference has been open for twelve hours. This means that I registered twelve hours ago. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I set my alarm for midnight, awoke from a deep sleep, and flipped open my laptop to register for this conference. You might ask, “Why?” I'm glad you asked...

Ten reasons to register for the NESCBWI Annual Spring Conference:

  1. The New England Conference gives you access to tons of industry professionals in the form of Quick Queries, Critiques, and Workshops. There are plenty of editors and agents but the authors and illustrators are amazing too! Just take a look at the faculty. This is an award winning group and they will be in Springfield, MA for one weekend to teach you. 
  2. The workshops focus on craft. Now New York is fun because that’s where the editors and agents are. It’s fun because it’s big and Headquarters can get big names for their keynote speakers. But New England is amazing because there is discussion of craft for all levels of writers and illustrators. 
  3. Look at OUR Keynoters!!! Sara Zarr, Harry Bliss (after you read the blogpost, follow Harry's link just to get a giggle) and Kate Messner. Wow!
  4. New England tries to provide something for everyone. Specialized conversations are organized into SIG’s, Special Interest Group meetings, and less formal meetings that happen all over the hotel at all hours of the day and night. So if you want to talk about hot, zombie boyfriends, there’s probably a group for that. The workshops cover an amazing range of topics too. Kathryn Hulick, Joyce Johnson and the workshop selection committee have a lovely balance of non-fiction, picturebook, YA, MG, poetry, and illustration workshops!
  5. Intensive Academies. In 2008 I launched the first illustrator academy at NESCBWI. For 2012, the roster of academies this year is mind-blowing. There is a beginner AND advanced illustration academies. An academy for non-fiction. A novel writing academy. A picture book writing academy. Need I say more?
  6. The new location is in Springfield, Massachusettes and while it means extra driving for me, it also means that I’ll get to go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and see the Doctor Seuss National Memorial
  7. Community. If you haven’t read Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s recent blog A Letter of Thanks to SCBWI -- do it. Then go register for the conference
  8. If you don't register for the conference today, this week, soon, you may not get to go at all. This conference gets sold out fast and the special events get filled up even faster. When it gets sold out, don't say I didn't warn you.
  9. If you register for Friday and Saturday you are able to apply for a critique. You won't be able to pay for the critique when you register. You must send in your pages, your check and the critique application.
  10. You'll get to meet the amazing team of volunteers who put together a writing and illustrating university for a weekend. They are amazing people who have taken their time to bring you the very best. If you've registered, please leave a comment below. I'll see you there. 

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4. Book Review Wednesday: Mooshka, A Quilt Story


Say it aloud. 


In that one word Julie Paschkis has captured a hug, and a kiss, and the comfort of a sibling’s love. Mooshka is the name of the unusual quilt who belongs to Karla, a young girl and the main character in the vibrant and cozy book, Mooshka, A Quilt Story. 

Mooshka is infused with the stories Karla’s grandmother told while she sewed the quilt from scraps of cloth called “schnitz.” Mooshka tells these loving family stories to Karla. 

Pachkis surrounds her gentle story with boarders of “schnitz.” Decorative, geometric and organic patterns in saturated, true, primary hues, hug the text of the story just as Mooshka hugs Karla. Each hue: yellow, blue, red... tells Karla the story of its origin on a spread in the book revealing a bit of Karla’s family’s history. 

Images © Julie Paschkis, Peachtree Publishers

The text of this picture book holds its cozy feel until about two-thirds of the way in when Paschkis introduces Hannah, Karla’s baby sister. The author does not elaborate on how long the new baby has been around, instead she gets right to the point.

“One day a little white crib was moved into Karla’s room. Hannah was in the crib.”

The new crib and the crying baby sister silence Mooshka. It is up to Karla to solve this problem on her own. Paschkis shows Karla’s resentment and growth in simple language and spare text. The illustrations mirror this as they loose their decoration and become flat fields of deep blue. 

Images © Julie Paschkis, Peachtree Publishers

Mooshka, A Quilt Story, is part quiet tale for young children, part family history, part color concept book, and part sibling story- but it is all beautifully crafted. Coming to a bed-time near you on March 1st from Peachtree Publishers. 

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5. SCBWI Member Monday- Conference To-Do’s & the contest winner.

Last Wednesday, I posted an interview with Toni Buzzeo and reviewed her new picture book, One Cool Friend. If you commented at the blog or on Facebook, I put your name in a hat for a chance to win One Cool Friend. And the winner is...

Agy Wilson!!! Agy, message me on Facebook with your snail mail address and I’ll send you a new book. Thanks to all who participated. Please keep reading and sharing links to the blog.

If you are going to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC, and you have a smart phone or iPad, do yourself a favor and download the Guidebook App. Once you get Guidebook, search “SCBWI” and tap on the SCBWI “Winter Conference.” 

The Guidebook app gives you schedules of each conference day and maps of the hotel, as well as the conference evaluation form, and faculty bios with great pictures. (Just the thing for networking.) 

If you are a social networking addict you’ll love Guidebook. It has an instant twitter link to #ny12scbwi so you can follow the conversation as well as a link to the SCBWI Facebook page. I’m especially fond of the “to-do” list feature. It is a great way to keep track of meetings on the fly, and sessions you must attend. In fact, if you browse the faculty and tap on their bio it gives you an instant “to-do” link so you can remember to go to their session or send them a manuscript/illustration sample. 

Speaking of things to do, make sure that you have your postcards (illustrators) and business cards ready to go. Pack business casual and bring layers. You never know if a workshop room is going to be hot or chilly. 

Once you get to NYC there are plenty of fun things to do. Take a look at the official SCBWI blog for three new fun social events added to the conference schedule.

Please say hello and introduce yourself at the conference. See you soon!

Disclamer: SCBWI information on their website www.scbwi.org  is accurate and true. Any opinions here are my own and not necessarily the opinions of SCBWI.

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6. Book Review Wednesday: One Cool Friend- One Cool Contest

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One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, Illustrations by David Small

Last August, I was privileged to attend the LA SCBWI conference. Privileged because I was in the company of my idols: Judy Blume, Donna Jo Napoli, Bruce Colville, Laurie Halse-Anderson, Denise Fleming, Richard Jesse Watson, and David Small to name a few. 

David Small is, of course, the acclaimed author/illustrator of the graphic memoir Stitches, and he is also one part of the brilliant team (with his wife Sarah Stewart) who brought children The Money Tree, The Gardner and The Library. In his breakout workshop, David was in the front of the room telling us about this amazing manuscript that fell into his lap written by a Maine author (my ears perked up) Toni Buzzeo (I gave a little scream). All heads swiveled my way. “Sorry,” I said. “She’s a friend of mine.” 

She is. And I was thrilled that I got a sneak peak at her wonderful new picture book, One Cool Friend.

One Cool Friend is about a very proper boy named Elliot whose eccentric, academic father takes him to the aquarium one day. Elliot falls in love with the penguins and tells his father he’d like to take one home. The odd father agrees, assuming the penguin Elliot wants is plush and stuffed. But it isn&rsqu

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7. SCBWI Member Monday-Crystal Kite Award Season

It is member Monday here at Creative Chaos and we are in the thick of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice nomination season. 

From the SCBWI website: 

To be eligible for the 2012 Crystal Kite Awards, be sure to update your member profile with the publication information about your book published in 2011 by a P.A.L. publisher by January 31, 2012. Simply log in at SCBWI, click on "Manage Profile" and the "Publications" tab. Enter your book published in 2011, and click the box that reads "Yes, I would like to submit this publication for Crystal Kite Awards nomination." Once voting has begun on February 1, 2012, no books will be able to be added to the competition.

Did you hear that?! January 31st is THE LAST day to get your book nominated for this award, so get over to SCBWI.org as fast as your little clicking fingers can click and nominate your 2011, PAL published book. 

What? Did you say, “Why bother?” First-- Stickered books, sell. Second-- I can tell you that while it feels a bit like running for homecoming queen/king, being recognized by your peers is a very satisfying feeling. These are people who care about what you do, who will listen when your spouse/partner/friends have had enough of your hand wringing over plot or composition, people with whom you can start a conversation at one SCBWI conference and finish it at the next. We have such a wonderful and unique community in the children’s book world-- take advantage of it. Third-- think of how long this journey has been. Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed of accepting an award. (I have. Usually I compose the acceptance speech in the shower. Trust me the speeches are short, witty, and intellectual.) Finally-- you get gloves with the award so you don’t get finger prints on crystal!

Here are the important dates:

  • Tuesday, January 31st - Last day to make sure your book is posted in your profile.
  • Wednesday, February 1st - Round 1 Voting Begins.
  • Wednesday, February 29th - Round 1 Voting Ends.
  • Friday, March 2nd - Round 2 Voting Begins.
  • Friday, March 16th - Round 2 Voting Ends.
  • Monday, April 30 -  2012 Winners announced.

If you need more info, click through to the FAQ page and good luck!

Disclamer: SCBWI information on their website www.scbwi.org  is accurate and true. Any opinions here are my own and not necessarily the opinions of SCBWI.

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8. Book Review Wednesday: Cold Cereal by Adam Rex- Magically Delicious

Happy New Year to those in the kidlitosphere! Thanks to NetGalley and generous publishers I am back in reviewing action with relevant and upcoming titles. Today, grab a spoon and dig into the new Adam Rex middle grade novel, Cold Cereal. 

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Adam Rex, made the middle grade reader fall in love with poetry with the brilliant Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. TheTrue Meaning of Smkeday was my go-to book for boys in my 5th and 6th grade classes who “didn’t like to read.” Now Rex has written Cold Cereal. This book may have started with Rex looking at his Lucky Charms™ and asking himself, “What if they really WERE magically delicious?”

Enter the fictional Goodco Cereal company in the fictional New Jersey town of Goodborough. (Yes anything can happen in New Jersey.) Scott Doe, has recently moved to Goodborough so his scientist Mom can have a job at the cereal factory. He’s a smart kid who is angry at his  famous movie action hero father Sir Reginald Dwight (aka John Doe) for leaving the family. On his first day of school he meets the twins Emily and Erno. The three of them are in the class for gifted kids, “Project: Potential,” but it is obvious from the start that Emily is more gifted than Erno or Scott. Emily and Erno’s foster father pits them against each other to solve riddle and scavenger hunt style games. What starts as a simple game turns into a magical mystery. 

While the book is heavy on action-- there are motorcycles, cars, vans, guns, wands, magical voids, evil doctors, and a secret society, don’t tell the kids but this book is well-written too. (Tastes great and good for you?) Rex writes fabulous character description that goes beyond the physical and gets to the emotional heart. Here, Scott meets Emily for the first time.  Every seat on the school bus is taken...“Except for a seat right up front, on which sat one very small and delicately pale eggshell of a girl.” Rex often uses humor to develop and expose the flaw’s in his characters. The gifted and talented class that Scott, Emily, and Erno are in... “was taught by Ms. Wyvern, a musty, clown-faced woman who spoke with an unplaceable accent that was thick with gurgling r’s and sneezy vowels.” 

Is this book “magical realism?” I suppose so. There’s a lot of magic, and it happens in the real setting of a small New Jersey town. To help the reader, Rex introduces the magic slowly and makes the reader wonder if it is real. Does that human really have a rabbit’s head? Does that cat really have a unicorn-like horn? Or is it a hallucination brought on by Scotts migraines. This device, along with the portal-based magic that centers around the cereal factory gives the reader a reason to believe that this magic could logically happen in the book even if they don’t see it in their own town. By then the reader is fully hooked in the world and things get really absurd. Rex trusts his reader. From vocabulary and figurative language, to action and magic, he allows the reader to look between the lines. 

The book is highly illustrated and Rex is a master artist. While the advanced copy I saw only included sketches, it was obvious that Cold Cereal is another wonderful example of the blending of written and graphic elements ala Brian Selznick, and Lynne Rae Perkins.  Personally, I’m thrilled to see publishers embracing the visual for older kids instead of casting aside visual literacy at the expense of text.

Everything was not green clovers, and yellow horse-shoes for me with Cold Cereal. Rex has a lot going on in the structure of the story. Maybe too much. He manages

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9. Important SCBWI info for Illustrators

This month I finished the first draft of a YA manuscript, so I basically made the month of December a no-blog month. However, SCBWI news has been piling up. Today, information for illustrators. First, congrats to all those who took on the Tomie dePaola Award challenge. I've seen some beautiful pieces. Today, a call for art for the bulletin and next, info about the Bologna Book Fair from Bridget- the SCBWI International Illustrator Coordinator. Whether or not you travel to Italy, your work could. Read on!
I'm busily reading and reviewing quite like a squirrel gathering nuts for winter. Exciting book reviews will start again on Wednesdays after the New Year.


Ever since Tomie dePaola insisted the I be added to the SCBW, the society of children's book writers and illustrators have been trying hard to serve their illustrator members. Now Sarah Baker, head of all-things-illustration-and-design at SCBWI headquarters in Los Angeles, has an exciting new initiative. A new column called Art Spot will feature one artist who submits a black and white spot illustration to the National Bulletin. In addition to a feature article about their work, and their experience, the artist will receive $100. Since the bulletin is viewed by industry professionals around the world including editors and art directors, the winner will enjoy wide publicity of their portfolio. 
Sarah is looking for art work that is well-designed, and well-executed. Remember that spot art should engage the viewer and lead them to read an article. There are many regular features in the Bulletin. Become familiar with the table of contents and see if you can link your artwork to regular features. Make sure your artwork is child-friendly. Since the artwork will be black and white, consider how your use of value adds to the piece. Good Luck!


PAL illustrator members of SCBWI across the world, 
even if you can't make it to Bologna yourself, don't miss this chance for your work to be visible at the international Bologna Book Fair, We will be showing a select number of illustrator's promotional pieces 
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10. Book Review Wednesday: Soup!

Picture book month continues here at Book Review Wednesday, but first a word from our sponsors...

Now back to our regularly scheduled program. When the temperatures cool it is a good idea to pull out the ingredients for a little soup– the ultimate comfort food. In my husband's family, the joke is that a chef can't make truly good soup until they've reached 40. (We're there.) To pull together the right ingredients and spices, and end up with love in a pot, it takes creativity, know-how, and risk taking. 

Ruthie, in The Princess of Borscht, has all of these qualities. The Princess of Borscht, written by Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member Leda Schubert, and illustrated by another VCFA faculty member, Bonnie Christensen comes out Tuesday, November 22rd. (Happy Book Birthday Leda and Bonnie!) 

From the publisher:
Ruthie's grandma is in the hospital, not surprisingly complaining about the food. All she wants is a nice bowl of borscht. Ruthie comes to the rescue, even though she hasn't the faintest idea of how to make it. With the help of a few well-meaning neighbors (including the Tsarina of Borscht and the Empress of Borscht and some ingenuity of her own), a soul-reviving brew is concocted…

The book has earned a star from Kirkus
"Of course, it’s not just about borscht or even about cooking, though there’s a great recipe included. Schubert has concocted a sweet mixture of traditions that bind and give comfort, along with love in many forms; intergenerational family, friends and neighbors all act with selflessness, kindness and compassion. Christensen’s heavily outlined, strongly colored illustrations emphasize equally strong personalities. The paintings are filled with details that add interest to the proceedings, from the array of get-well cards in the hospital room to the homey, old-fashioned décor of Grandma’s apartment."

The book also got some attention from the New York Times (that's nothing to sneeze at):
"Schubert (“Ballet of the Elephants”) turns the story of a sick relative, not a particularly cheery topic, into a sweet and salty tale, warmed by Christensen’s lively sketches, about bickering Jewish neighbors and intergenerational caregiving."

If you'd like to know more about Bonnie and her art work I can point you to not one, but two! lovely postings on Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast. 

Soups on, grab a book!

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11. Book Review Wednesday: Holiday Books

November has been dubbed Picture Book month. You can find out more, read about the importance of the picture book at this blog. Or you can take a look at the Picture Book Proclamation here.

I'll be using my Book Review Wednesday space this month to celebrate the picture book! If you missed last week, Sleds and Balloons, take a look.

This week, let's dive into the Holiday season with one Christmas and one Chanukah book. In order to be well-sold, a picture book should face out on a bookstore shelf. Space is short these days though, and holiday themed books have an even harder time competing because they have a very short shelf life in the bookstore.
Toni Buzzeo, a Maine youth services librarian, school presentation expert, and author, has had a long line of successful picture books. These include: Sea Chest, the Dawdle Duckling series, and a number of books that are set in libraries. I got a sneak peek at her January 2012 release One Cool Friend, when I went to a workshop presented by the amazing David Small (her illustrator for the story), but more about that later. Today, I want to tell you about her current release, Lighthouse Christmas.

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From Toni’s website:
Frances is determined to make Christmas jolly for her younger brother, even if it means joining family on the mainland and leaving Papa behind on their isolated lighthouse island. After all, would Santa even know how to find them in this faraway spot? But when Christmas Eve is ushered in on a wild storm and Papa risks his life to rescue a drowning man, the children realize that the most important thing about the holiday is being together.
As in all great Christmas stories, a happy ending is in store, and Santa finds them after all. Cozy and nostalgic, this story was inspired by the Flying Santa program, a New England tradition since 1929. It’s the perfect book for a family to read together in front of the fire on Christmas morning.
School Library Journal gives it a starred review:
“There’s a charmingly nostalgic feel both to the story and to the illustrations, which convey a sense of time and place and are very appealing. An author’s note gives a brief history of the Flying Santa Service, which was created in 1929 and continues to this day delivering treats to Coast Guard families. A lovely tradition and a lovely book.”
–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Educators should take note that in addition to the back-matter regarding the Flying Santa Service, Toni also has a curriculum guide and a reader’s theater script for seven parts on her website. Take a look!
Erica Silverman gave us Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, as well as Liberty’s Voice: the story of Emma Lazarus. Her recent release, Hanukkah Hop, illustrated by Steven D’Amico, is bopping, rhyming book that invites readers to a Hanukkah party.  

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The illustration are bold, bright and graphic and remind me of jazz posters from the 1950’s. This style fits the story to a tee. The book takes the reader from party preparation, to when the guests arrive, to games, and to a quick review of the Hanukkah miracle. Ther

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12. Illustrator Day! Give Away #2

Well friends. It's that time again. Prizes!!!

A huge thank you to the following people who are helping to spread the word on twitter, facebook, and blogs about NESCBWI's Illustrator Day! Check them out. (If you helped and you're not listed here, please give me the link in the comments below. I'll enter you right away.)
@melindabeavers (who won last week)
Patty Mynczywor

The hat please...Ooops. My helper is napping.

The winner is...
Russ Cox! @smilingotis
I have your info because you already registered to come to Illustrator Day!
Please tell me in the comments if you want me to send your prize or give it to you in Manchester.

You too can be entered to win a sketchbook/drawing pencil/eraser set. We will have one more drawing next Monday, 11/14.
Then all the winners will be put back in the hat for the grand prize drawing in Manchester at Illustrator Day! on November 19th for a copy of Keynote Speaker, Salley Mavor's Golden Kite winning book Pocket Full of Posies!

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Well friends. It&#39;s that time again. Prizes!!!<br /><br />A huge thank you to the following people who are helping to spread the word on twitter, facebook, and blogs about <a href="http://tinyurl.com/illustratorday-registration">NESCBWI&#39;s Illustrator Day!</a>&nbsp;Check them out. (If you helped and you&#39;re not listed here, please give me the link in the comments below. I&#39;ll enter you right away.)<br />@melindabeavers (who won last week)<br />@23catsinaroom<br />@jeanettelarson<br />@Michaelrapa<br />@WendyMartinArt<br />@juanamartinez<br />@matthewboehm<br />@kellylight<br />@johnlechner<br />@ImDanielleEGray<br />@erniedelia<br />@aliciapadron<br />@smilingotis<br />@anindita<br />@thewritejoyce<br />@TheWackyBrit<br />@DiandraMae<br />@mehenniger<br />@smozer<br />@faughnanc<br />@classicsixbooks<br />Patty Mynczywor<br /><br />The hat please...Ooops. My helper is napping.<br /><a href="http://pics.livejournal.com/ajboll/pic/0003ea8e/"><img alt="" src="http://pics.livejournal.com/ajboll/pic/0003ea8e/s640x480" style="border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-top-style: solid; border-right-style: solid; border-bottom-style: solid; border-left-style: solid; width: 200px; height: 150px; " /></a><br /><br />The winner is...<br />Russ Cox! @smilingotis<br />I have your info because you already registered to come to Illustrator Day!<br />Please tell me in the comments if you want me to send your prize or give it

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13. Book Review Wednesday: Sleds and Balloons

Happy Book Birthday to Red Sled, by Lita Judge and Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Sweet. Both of these wonderful, kind, talented and generous women have been featured here at Creative Chaos before and I’m pleased to welcome them back.
If you loved our early snowstorm, Red Sled, will take you into the cool blues of winter with loose and lovely watercolors.
Starred From Kirkus: “Judge’s latest may be virtually wordless, but it packs a powerful visual punch that will stick with readers long after the final page is turned…Though rendered simply, Judge’s pencil-and-watercolor animals are gloriously full of life and infectious joy. Readers will be hard-pressed to finish this without letting their own joy show through. Pure genius.”

I attended Lita’s book cover workshop at the NESCBWI Spring Conference. In addition to giving all of the participants generous feedback on their work, she also shared the journey to the cover of Red Sled. It was not easy folks. There is a mystery in this almost wordless picture book and it was difficult to show what the book was about without revealing the ending.
Enjoy the trailer of the book here or there:

For those of you who are counting down the days to Thanksgiving, pick up Melissa Sweet’s, Balloons Over Broadway. This is a picture book biography of Tony Sarg, who was responsible for many of the helium balloons we enjoy in the Macy’s Day parade.
Starred From Kirkus: “This clever marriage of information and illustration soars high.”
Starred From School Library Journal: “Sweet tells this slice of American history well, conveying both Sarg's enthusiasm and joy in his work as well as the drama and excitement of the parade. Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. This one should float off the shelves.”
And here is a fun illustrated interview with Melissa about the book!

Have a great picture book week.

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14. Illustrator Day! Give Away #1

I know that you were all waiting with bated breath to see who would win prize #1 in our Illustrator Day! Give away. 

Thanks to the folks who helped us spread the work about Illustrator Day!:

Then my faithful assistants drew a name:

And the winner is...

(Who also won the NESCBWI poster contest at the last conference. Melinda Beavers, I think you have to move to New England now!)
As soon as Melinda sends me an address, I'll send her a sketchbook, pencils and an eraser.

Next drawing: next Monday, 11/7/11

IF you missed the original call for help, here's the gist. New England SCBWI is sponsoring an amazing afternoon of speakers and workshops for working and aspiring illustrators. The event venue has been generously donated by New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH. Illustrator Day! is November 19th from 1-6 pm. Help us spread the word.

  • Link to this blog post with twitter (use #illustratorday so I can keep track),
  • or share on facebook (tag me in the comments),
  • or blog about the event (send me your link).
To register for Illustrator Day!

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15. Prizes?! Illustrator Day?! Awesome!

Did someone say prizes? Well, yes I did. You could win a sketchbook, 

OR drawing materials,

OR Illustrator Day Keynote Speaker, Salley Mavor's Golden Kite Winning Book

Shop Indie Bookstores

How? You might ask...how could I win one of these great prizes?
You can help me publicize NESCBWI's Illustrator Day event.
1. Share this blog post on facebook and tag me so I know you did it.
2. Tweet or retweet this blog post and other info about the event with the hashtag #illustratorday.
I'll put all of your names and tweet handles in a box and pick out names until the prizes are gone- from now until:

When: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Time: 12:30-6:00
Where: Emma Blood French Auditorium (The French Building) on the New Hampshire Institute of Art campus in Manchester, NH. 
The schedule for Illustrator Day 2011 will be as follows:

12:30-1:00 Registration
1:00 Welcome
1:15-2:15 Keynote: Salley Mavor, Golden Kite Winner 2011
15 min break
2:30-3:30 Carol Goldenberg, Award Winning Book Designer 
30 min set up break
4:00-4:45 Repeat of Carlyn Beccia and Jennifer Morris' Digital Painting Duels from NESCBWI Spring 2011 Conference
15 min break
5:00-6:00 continued Digital Painting Duels

Registration Fees for SCBWI Members and Students: $50 all day
Public Registration Fee: $75 all day.

For more information and to register click here! Now! No, really, now.

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16. Confessions of a Conference Junkie

Okay, yes. I just attended the SCBWI Los Angeles National Conference. And yes, I’m going to the Winter Conference in New York. And well, fine I’m at the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Conference this weekend but I am not, I repeat NOT a conference junkie.
A conference junkie would squeal when seeing writing friends from long ago and far away. I saw a bunch of friends from my time at VCFA and friends I met as far back as 2004 at the Highlights Chautauqua Writer’s Workshop. I did not squeal once. But I did hug a lot.
A conference junkie would take notes furiously filling up pages and pages in her notebook or lap top. I didn’t even bring a notebook. But I did reuse all the pages in my folder writing down crucial information such as: “Figure out what your character is most afraid of and make them face it,” (Caroline Abbey), “We are allowed three lines for a positioning statement. That’s it,” (Chelsey Eberly), and “The moments that define us are when we choose to loose something to gain another,” (Abby Ranger).
A conference junkie would sidle up beside famous people and have perfect strangers take their picture.

No. No. New England Crystal Kite winner Brian Lies and I go way back. I knew him WAY before he became an “overnight success.” (After 25 years of hard work.)
So you see, I am not a conference junkie.
(How many days until New York?)

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17. Five on Friday

1. Don't forget that the NYC SCBWI conference registration starts on Monday, 10 am PDT. Hopefully you got your postcard in the mail. If not, click here for more information.

2. My husband came home on surprise visit. He's away with the Navy and hasn't been home for a month. The whole family is very happy and I can't believe how relaxing it is to just write, plan my next lesson, do SCBWI stuff, and exercise without having to shuttle children, take care of the dog, make dinner, do laundry, clean the car, and vacuum the stairs. (The last two I just don't do when he's not here.) We'll see him again next weekend at the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference in Dulles, VA.

3. My WIP is moving forward fabulously. A huge thank you and shout out to the entire [info]jonowrimo community for their cheering and support as I tackle daily word count. Another huge thank you to my fellow Cheese Sandwiches who check in with me during the week to make sure we are all on track. It takes a village to write a book.

4. Speaking of a village. Another shout out goes to Lynn Conway, a librarian at Georgetown University who helped me this week by answering silly questions about Riggs Library such as: Do the stairs in the library cling or clang when you ascend? What stained glass is in the round windows? Are the book cases painted gold or do they just shine in the pictures because of the flash? Once again I'm reminded of the awesome and selfless nature of the librarian.

5. Casey Girard, NESCBWI Illustrator Coordinator has been working hard to put together an Illustrator Day Event for the region. Here's what we know. It will be on November 19th from 1 pm - 6 pm at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH. (Yes. In a month.) It will include an award-winning book designer, Carol Goldenberg, and a reprise of the "Dueling Digital Painters" Workshop with Carlyn Beccia, and Jennifer Morris from the spring NESCBWI conference. Keynote speaker to be announced! Watch this space and www.nescbwi.org for more information.

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18. SCBWI NY Conference Info!

Most of us are enjoying the amazing temperatures this fall. This weekend I walked in the woods, read in the sunshine, chose pumpkins, and picked apples. (Come on, Anna. How many pies do you really think you're going to make?) It is hard to believe that registration for the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City begins next Monday, October 17th!

You won't find the final schedule on the website yet. It will be posted in the next few days, but here are the basics. The conference starts on January 27th with optional writing and illustration intensives. The 28th and 29th are full of fabulous keynote speeches, presentations from various publishing houses, and some sort of display event for illustrators. The conference will take place at the Grand Hyatt New York and special rates are available. I suggest you get your reservations early.

If you are an illustrator, I urge you to get to work on a piece of art for the Tomie dePaola Award. This year's contest requires an illustration of text from the traditional Chicken Licken, "The Sky is Falling," story. Download the guidelines and text here. The deadline is December 15th. The winner will be announced on January 2nd and will receive a $1,000 gift certificate for art supplies, plus full tuition, transportation and accommodations to the New York Winter Conference held in Manhattan. The winning piece of art will also be featured at the annual winter conference in New York.

Leave a comment if you are planning to be there!

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19. My tweets

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20. My tweets

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21. My tweets

22. Five on Friday

1. I just finished marking up and responding to six-one page letters from my pre-college English class. Two more will arrive over the weekend via snail mail. I marked up each one in Word then wrote a one page letter back to each of them. My head is pounding from the exercise. I can't even imagine what it is like to get 40 pages from an MFA candidate. God bless my VCFA professors. I can't believe how lucky I was to have each one of you.
2. This is the end of week one. Sixty three weeks to go. I'm so tired already. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, send me a private message.)
3. Rowed twice this week. No running, no biking, no swimming. Must figure this out. I need it to clear my head. Two new swimsuits arrived in the mail today though. Here's a picture of the suit for our "Angry Kitties" all girl (and allies) Triathlon group.

4. I had a pretty good week of writing. Not perfect but about three out of five days. One day was especially productive and lovely where all the ideas flowed easily. I'll try and make up for it this weekend.
5. Exciting things going on this weekend if you are an illustrator. First, Hazel Mitchel is meeting foks at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair in Unity Maine for a meet-up/sketch crawl. You can message her on Twitter @TheWackyBrit. The Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo is going on this weekend info here. And the Maine Illustrators' Collective meeting is Sunday the 25th. More info here.

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23. My tweets

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24. SCBWI WIP Grant- Tips from 2011 Winner Skila Brown

I'm thrilled to have with me today writer and VCFA MFA Candidate Skila Brown. Skila was the 2011 winner of the SCBWI WIP Grant. Google Skila and you'll see that she has plenty of freelance credits for articles on parenting and adoption. I know her as a writer of snappy picture books, a talented poet and an amazingly loving, intelligent and hardworking person.

What can you do with an SCBWI WIP Grant?

  • Purchase of necessary materials
  • Travel for research
  • Conferences, courses and/or workshops in advanced writing techniques
  • Child care
  • Rental of work space
  • Supplemental basic support
  • Other items deemed necessary to complete the project.
If you are like me, you've researched grants and found them just as the deadline approaches. For the SCBWI 2012 WIP Grants- completed application and accompanying materials must be postmarked no earlier than February 15th and must be RECEIVED BY March 15th. The Grants are available to both full and associate members of the SCBWI. They are not available for projects on which there are already contracts.

With what project will the WIP grant help you?
My middle grade novel, Caminar. It is the story of a boy who, after surviving the massacre of his village, journeys up the side of a mountain, and must decide what being a man during a time of war really means. Caminar is a coming-of-age novel told in verse and set in Guatemala during the year 1981.

For what types of expenses will the grant money be used?
I will travel to Guatemala this winter to revise the story while I'm there, enhance the setting, and hopefully find survivors who are willing to read and vet my manuscript.

What do you think keeps people from applying for grants/awards?
A grant application sounds so intimidating, doesn't it? I mean, there are people who write them professionally for a living! There's also that kind of hopeless feeling of "there are so many people applying...I will never get picked...why bother..." I also think some people wait until the last minute, look at what is required in the application packet, and then realize they don't have the time or energy to spend on it.

You are a mom and a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In what ways did this make the application process more challenging? Did your studies or family help the process at all?
Honestly, being very busy and juggling many things forces me to think and plan ahead. I am not a procrastinator. In this regard, it really made the application process easier for me. I read the application instructions months in advance and allowed myself plenty of time to get it right.

This was not my first time applying for an SCBWI grant. I applied once before for a different grant, with a different manuscript. That story wasn't as solid or unique, but also - I waited until right before the deadline, rushed through the application, and didn't put as much thought into it as I could have. All mistakes I knew not to repeat.

When you dropped the materials into the mailbox, did you feel confident? Why or why not?
I felt confident that I had done the best job I could do on the application packet, but certainly had no expectation that I would win! A teeny hopeful part of me was longing for a runner-up position. When I got the call from SCBWI this summer and was told I was the winner, I absolutely could not believe it.

Are there any tips or hints that you would give to other SCBWI members who are interested in completing the application materials?
Start early. Allow yourself plenty of time to review the materials. Cr

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25. Five on Friday

1.This morning I braved our first frost and went on a bike ride. I came back with numb toes and fingers, but it was just beautiful. Perhaps it's time to move my bike riding inside. I'm amazed by the people who commute by bike all winter long.
2. My kids have a four day weekend. Today is a teacher furlough day, and while I'm happy to have my children home, I'm unhappy that our teachers are loosing pay.
3. With kiddos around there will be cleaning. Beware all you piles of dog fur in the corners! Stand back pile of laundry! We will defeat you.
4. I had a few wonderful writing days this week with high word counts, and dramatic scenes. I can really feel the forward movement of the manuscript (profluence, thank you Sarah Aronson). Very exciting to be climbing out of the muddy middle.
5. Monday, October 10th is my 18th Wedding Anniversary.

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