Monday, December 14, 2009

I've been a busy bee...and it's been HEAVEN!

You have to admit...finding something you love to do and calling it your job is H E A V E N!

Now, technically writing for children isn't my "job" because I haven't connected with just the right agent and editor...but all in due time...all in due time. But I do write for moms, so in a '6 degrees of Kevin Bacon' sort of way, I am writing for kids...through their moms! ha!

People ask me how I don't get discouraged by working for over 4 years and not having anything between the covers of a kids book to stake my claim.

Well, last night I pulled out some of my very first manuscripts as I was in search for stories to rejuvenate. That was an eye-opener!! I hadn't realized how far I had come in these past 4 years. And I have those rejections to thank for that learning curve! That's exactly why I am not discouraged!

I have also had some AMAZING authors and illustrators as my counsel over these past few years. There is nothing comparable to the world of a writer when it comes to the generosity of strangers. When you read someone's book over and over, you don't feel like THEY are strangers but they don't know you from Adam...and yet, when I shyly asked for help or an opinion, they pulled out all the stops and lengthy conversations and some good friendships formed!

It is awesome to have talents like Peter H. Reynolds, Verla Kay, Margot Finke, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Laurie Halse Anderson and Jane Yolen in my back packet. Some I have spoken to once or twice and a few I can honestly call, "friend."

I am in HEAVEN! My hope is that one day, children will be inspired by my words and images on a page. And I believe Hope is in Heaven!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

These are a few of my FAVORITE THINGS...

So many things play into WHAT I write and what I DRAW... inspiration is everywhere! If I wrote in my notebook EVERY time a story line, character or new concept idea came to mind, I would NEVER get off my office chair! (Not that that would be a bad thing!)

I try to jot down everything that I like enough to spend a lot of time on...sometimes it is in a journal/notebook/sketchbook, sometimes it's in the driveway in sidewalk chalk. Sometimes it's on slips of paper or napkins that I stuff in my purse and then tape into my journal/notebook/sketchbook.

I had a writer professor who would say, "One could NEVER write every story that came to one lives that long!" This struck me as it made me realize how "in tune" we need to be with our creative side. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can become a story...but only the author can select JUST THE RIGHT ONE and make that story her own!

So, no more procrastinating! I have 500 words to cut out of my newest manuscript and a book dummy to create! Back to the drawing board...LITERALLY!

While I write - you can peek at what keeps my muse happy...

Painted baby fingers.


Grumpy toddlers.

Simple nature.

My Sunday morning (BreakAway 56) tweens.

Funny PRANK cakes I have made.

My student's projects.

Heavenly Amish-made desserts.

My countryside surroundings.

And, of course, sidewalk chalk!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brilliant Talent...and a GREAT man!

As I create this new is helpful to look into the studio of someone great!
And here he is!

Inside the studio of... PETER H. REYNOLDS


SCBWI Eastern PA Fall Philly Conference 2009

There is nothing more inspiring for a children's writer than walking into a room filled with writers, artists, editors, agents and lots and lots of children's books hot off the press.

This was my 3rd year at the conference and my 1st year as a volunteer. The conference is held on a Saturday in the fall at a country club within 30 minutes from my house.
This year because I scheduled the manuscript critiques and portfolio reviews, I was invited to spend Friday evening at a dinner that SCBWI Easter PA puts on for its faculty. So, Friday night I sat down with my volunteer partners and some very influential people in the children's writing world.

Scott Treimel/agent STNY
Alexandra Penfold/editor Paula Wiseman Books
Noa Wheeler/editor Henry Holt
Timothy Travaglini/editor GP Putnam Sons
Wendy Mays & Janice Onken/art reps WendyLynn & Co
David Wiesner/ Author/Illustrator
Debbie Dadey/ Author
Lee Harper/ Author/Illustrator
Catherine Gilbert Murdock/ Author

The weekend was amazing!

I had sent my newest project BENNY KEPT BOUNCING to a faculty member prior to the conference along with the other manuscripts I received from many amazing authors. We met @ 10am and and chatted about revisions. I will be sending my revised manuscript in the form of a book dummy within the next month.

Later in the day I had a wonderful meeting with Wendy Mays and Janice Onken. We sat overlooking a sunny day on the golf course and pages through my portfolio. They had a special love for one of my characters. The funny thing is, this particular character is the one I doodle ALL THE TIME.

Being trained as an art teacher has one major draw back; in my training I did not have the course time to focus on a specific style, therefore I have never been sure of what my "style" is. In speaking to Wendy and Janice I had one of those "forest for the trees" moments. We were talking about the Macy-Sue character that they were so enamoured by and I commented that I love that character, too but I almost felt like it was cheating because that "style" (hmmm, did I actually HAVE a distinct style?) comes so naturally to me. I described it as, "Those kinds of characters just seem to slow out of me and onto the paper."

Wendy looked at me and said with a grin, something along the lines of, Well, then you do, in fact have a style!

I caught up with the faculty member who critqued my manuscript and we quickly chatted about the book dummy. I revealed the style that Wendy and Janice preferred. So, it looks like I will be sending the new and improved BENNY in the book dummy. That new Benny flowed from my hand and onto a lined piece of paper yesterday during my daughter's gymnastic class.

So, nose to the grindstone. Lots of refining. Even more cutting and polishing. That much closer to touching a child's life through my gifts!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From my drawing table... September 23, 2009

My inspiration can come from almost anywhere...well, honestly, there is no "almost" about it. Inspiration for me comes from ANYWHERE!

Something I read that makes me laugh.

Something I see that makes me cry.

A story I hear that won't leave my brain.

A child sitting on a swing alone.

A mom kissing the head of her baby at the doctor's office.

Sidewalk chalk...yes, sidewalk chalk! I LOVE IT!

This little gal was born on my driveway 4 year old calls her "Emma-yee."

And this is her evolution...

The curly-headed girlie in the bottom left and the wrapped-up-squirrel were things I drew BEFORE the sidewalk chalk, then "Emma-yee" came. I had to beg my little guy NOT to hose her off the driveway before I oculd grab the camera. I knew I would ache to draw her later.

And I did. She's not done...none of these are.

Oh, and the "GIRLFRIENDS" design was something I did for a magazine that needed a frame for an article I was writing about the 'gift of girlfriends.' But I thought "Curly" and "Emma-yee" would be good friends so that's why my portfolio is opened to that page.

The squirrel is a character I am working on for a new book project.

Thanks for looking!
Whether you are a writer or an artist, where does your inspiration come from?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are...October 16th!

A bigger story in the hearts of children, there is not!

A naughty little boy, sent to bed without his supper, sails to the land of the wild things where he becomes their king.

336 words




Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pro bono Cancer Logos

This is the logo for my Childhood Cancer Website. This is the place to learn more and become proactive in changing and saving the lives of children wth cancer.

This is sweet Julian. This little man only lived 4 short years but changed the lives of SO many people across the planet. Want to know more about the fearless Juju? Read my blog posts HERE.
This was a design I used for greeting cards that I sold as fundraisers for Cancer kiddos and their families, when printed they said, "Let Go, Let God!"

This is sweet, sweet Coleman. Coleman and his twin brother Caden had me rolling and laughing until my sides ached with their hilarious antics on their YouTube channel! Unfortunately, Coleman passed away just after his 5th birthday. You can read more about the amazing C-man HERE.
This is a logo I designed for a sweet, sweet boy I got to spend a whole week with. Bailey is a survivor of Rhabdomyosarcoma and was just given a clean bill of health! He is my Super Bay, but that is also the name of the foundation his parents have set up. Read more about my summer week with Crazy Bailey HERE!

Please find out how you can support a cause with not a lot of medical funding behind it. Donate to causes like CUREsearch where you know ALL of the funding goes to childhood cancers. Most people are surprised to know that only 0.03 of every dollar donated to the American Cancer Society goes toward Childhood Cancers.

Head over to The Childhood Cancer Petition Site to sign the petition to increase funding and awareness for little baldies everywhere! They need you! 46 children EVERY SINGLE school day are diagnosed and only a small percentage of those children live 5 years.

PLEASE help!

Monday, September 14, 2009

NEW RELEASE: Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury

Wendy Lamb Books· Hardcover · Ages 7-10 · September 8, 2009 · $12.99 ·
ISBN# 978-0-385-73702-9 (0-385-73702-5
Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Just released on September 8th, this hardcover book is the first in a series that I imagine will fly off the shelves and to the register in many 'tween boys' hands!

This is a great story of a boy who is faced with a live-in babysitter that he does NOT like. As some/MOST boys will, he devises a plan to control the situation and get Stella to leave. When he realizes his plan went too far and in addition to trying to get her to leave, he puts her health in jeopardy, he has to make it up to her. But how?
Boys NEED books where the HERO is someone respectable. Someone they can look up to. So much of what our children see/hear/witness today does not fall into the "Do unto others" category and that is NOT in our best interest in raising the kids of tomorrow.
Head out and grab this book! My son will be reading it and I look forward to more from Graham Salisbury.

“Meaningful fiction may just possibly urge kids to think about a few things while it entertains them. It can enlighten. It can suggest options and possible consequences. It can offer hope in an often frightening and uncertain world."—Graham Salisbury


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jess M. Brallier + Peter H. Reynholds = Tess's Tree from HarperKids

There is something magical about a story that can touch the soul of a child and an adult simultaneously. It is proof positive of the extraordinary talents of both author and illustrator when the emotions within the pages jump straight to your heart.

If you have not yet read Tess's Tree, I encourage you to go grab yourself about 10 copies. This will be one of those gifts that you will give over and over again.

As explained by the author, Jess M. Brallier, Tess's Tree is a story of loss, celebration of life and the beginning of healing.

No matter the loss, this book will have your heart smiling. Healing takes time and Tess's Tree will hold your hand for the test of time.

Hear about this amazing book from Jess M. Brallier and Peter H. Reynolds:

Watch the resplendent talents of Peter H. Reynolds:

It is an honor to share the same passion for children with these amazing men!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A few Picture Book Illustrations

This was a DUCK STUDY I did for a picture book story about a duck who wants so badly to be another animal.

Yummmm Mouse Tail Soup! You know you want some! Recipes for this, Turtle Toenail Quesadillas and more included in this book.

She's the famed kickball manager with a flair for quirky recipes to psych out the other team...yes, Mouse Tail Soup is on her menu.

If you have kids, you have endured this scene! He's not happy!

And, this was my very first attempt at Adobe Illustrator! SOOOOOO MUCH FUN!

Stay tuned for more reviews and maybe some interviews with authors you will recognize from your book shelves.



So, where do I start?

I am a former art teacher turned stay-at-home mom whose love for children's books got the best of her. During my Master's of Education program at Binghamton University, students were given SCHOLASTIC book order like the ones elementary school kids get. I would carefully tuck mine, uncrumpled, into my backpack and head home for a date with an order form.

THE SALAMANDER ROOM by Anne Mazer was my first purchase from one of those order forms. That was just the beginning! I was hooked. My unborn children had a full library before they set foot on the planet! I still have those books. Now I have 3 children.

I write because I love children. My passion for kids goes far beyond what I can put into words. I have no doubt in my mind that writing for children is what I am supposed to do.

Peter H. Reynolds once asked me to write down why I write.

This was my heart's response:
"Inspiring children to be all that they can be is my purpose in this life! It is my passion. It’s why I volunteer to work with children. It’s why I write. I am certain it is why I breathe."

So, whether you are a parent, a teacher, a librarian or just a lover of children's books, you have a new home here. Stop in often. Everything from book reviews to author interviews to original coloring pages to sneak peaks at my works-in-progress will welcome you each time. Add yourself to the followers list so you will be sure to keep in touch.

Have a beautifully creative day!