Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another excerpt from "M"

First day, first detention. There was this kid with a smothering smile. I swear he had his own happy theme music that followed him everywhere. Well, the Happy Fairy, mistook me for the newest delicate flower he could pollinate. Luke Bennett skipped a bit too close to this Venus Fly Trap. I knocked him on his ass for invading my personal space.
“What the hell was that for?” he said with a thin line of blood dripping toward his lip
“Don’t ever twirl that close to me again, dork!”
“No worries,” he shoved a tissue up his nose and continued, “I’m Luke. Welcome to the halls of Penn Valley,” he said spreading his arms open wide like he was a host on The Travel Channel.
“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes and turned quickly to escape his pathetic obligatory cheerfulness.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Illustration Friday: Perspective

Your perspective of yourself may be a bit too much for others to handle...

(This is a character development sketch for a project I am currently working on)


Monday, February 22, 2010

A fork in the road...

These last couple months I have felt like I was drowning. I felt unsettled and restless. I have about 5 picture book manuscripts going at one time and I was trying to get some illustrations banged out for them and for the SCBWI Pocono retreat where I will have a table in the Illustrator's Gallery. (that was a big run-on sentance, but this is MY blog so it's OK!) I felt like I was grasping at straws. I didn't like the feeling of not "knowing" which book to develop, which illustrations to complete, what dummy to send. I know I have the passion for children that it takes to be a good author but that didn't seem to be connecting with what I was writing.

Something happened this weekend that I can barely explain. Someone came to my rescue and she isn't even real. A character popped into my head and I haven't been able to shake her. However, this character is unlike any other I have developed.

I sat down at my computer and just started typing. It was like I was taking dictation. The words, came out of my fingertips as I watched her thoughts appear on my screen almost as quickly as someone would speak them.

"There was no one around. No one would know. If I cut, maybe it would release the pain he has caused me. Maybe it would heal my broken heart."

"His eyes were pale, pained hopeless and his Manson t shirt was torn down the center and stitched back together with dozens of safety pins. Was this the state of his soul? Held together by something sharp and painful? His eyebrow twitched, he spit at my feet and turned and walked away. This was the boy I loved."

"My ten biggest fears are not unlike most teens. They're pretty normal, I guess. But most girls my age don't walk down a dark, narrow path toward each one and stare it in the face and say ---. Sigh. But, neither do I. And that will be my downfall. My certain death."

"Do it," she said as she shoved the pipe in my face. Everything I was prepared to say in this situation, everything that was right dispersed like the fingers of smoke burning my eyes. I took it. I sucked in its poison. It felt ugly inside my lungs. I could feel it clawing to get out. But right now this was the only thing in my life I had control of so I held it."

This was certainly not a picture book character. She reminded me of many of the students that filed into my art room...Room 62 of Vestal High School (12 years ago).

Then I got to thinking of the groups that I have taught or led over those 12 years that I have been a stay-at-home mom. Never have I gone too long without somehow being involved with kids... and it is always the tween and teen age group! Those children I taught for years at Vestal were my first children, they taught me a lot about the world I never entered as a teen.

So, after talking to a few author friends about HOW this character came out of nowhere, I was encouraged to follow my muse. Over the next 24 hours, the story of this girl evovled so much that every thought that entered my head was part of the puzzle I will fit together to make her as real to readers as she is to me. Even in the shower I was sticking my head and arm out to reach the notepad so I wouldn't forget a piece of what she was whispering.

Kind of funny how things evolve. For years agents and editors at conferences have had similar comments, "You have a strong, unique voice, BUT, your story is too big for a picture book. Cut it down." So, why did it never occur to me to flesh out those stories? I believe it is because none of them were THE STORY. I don't regret the last 4 years of submitting picture books...they were a stepping stone that taught me about the industry and brought me some amazing friends. I'm not giving up on those little characters and their stories but for now I am giving them a nap and tending to the needy one in my head.

I posted the excerpts above on my Mommy Blog and someone left this comment:

Anonymous said...
"My daughter is 13 and not "lost" and it scares me to think about her reading any of those books!"

My feelings about this comment were so passionate as I wrote her a response.

these books would be FOR those kids who are lost to give them hope, show them it's never too late to make a change, or to tranform into something lovely.

If your daughter is not "lost" then I would hope she wouldn't have the NEED to read any of these books.

That's the beauty of books - you pick what you like and stay away from what you don't.

I would never be crass enough to hope EVERY child read my books.

I write for those who NEED it. And pray they are someday in the category of those who DON'T.

Blessings to you and your family."


Monday, February 15, 2010


Meet Sarah...coming to a BOOKSTORE near you!
(not like tomorrow, or even next month...but she's on her way)
The book is called SARAH IN THE BUBBLE.
Sarah is a little girl who feels very different from everone else so she keeps to herself...inside a bubble. Her bubble protects her. It keeps her IN and the world OUT.
There is no mention in the book of WHAT Sarah is dealing with...maybe it is simply shyness, maybe it is a learning disability or some other affliction that keeps her seperated from her peers.
In the end...Sarah grows and beauty abounds.
A beautiful story of confidence and perseverence.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The birth of Betsy...

Well, Pennsylvania got 4 feet of snow in the last week. It's been a "warm and cozy" kind of week...with three kids with cabin fever, of course, so I didn't say anything about being "still" until last night, that is.

Everyone was whooped from being outside - my husband snow blowed (is that a word?), snow blew? Anyway, he BLEW the snow for 6 hours... 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 2 in the evening. The 4 yr old was in bed and the bigger two were camped out on a bunch of comforters in front of the TV in anticipation of American Idol.

And the fire was burning!

So, there I sat, sketchbook in hand, legs draped over a sleepy husband and I drew...and drew...and drew...

And that's how "Betsy" was born! :)

I painted her this morning (just the first variation of her) while the kids buried each other in the flaky white stuff!

Now, Betsy needs a's coming...I can SEE it in my mind - just have to get the words to the paper...what time is it? Nap time should be soon, right?! I LOVE MY JOB! Can you call something this fun a job? Maybe if I SOLD somethone on the rabadabbazillion characters lurking in my studio it would be! LOL!

But that's cool...they keep me company. They are quite fun. I'm serious.

Gotta LOVE a snowday! Or LOTS of them!


Monday, February 8, 2010

New Books, New Characters, New Inspiration

I have been working hard on a couple NEW stories and a couple characters that go with stories I banged out a while ago. The illustration below is a rough draft of 'Sarah.' The book is called SARAH IN THE BUBBLE. Sarah is so shy that she imagines herself inside a bubble...she doesn't let anything get close enough to possibly pop her bubble.

Here is the final Sarah!

I just love her! She is exactly what I wanted to show as far as her meek personality goes. In this story Sarah overcomes her shyness in an unexpected twist that gives the plot a special Oomph!
This character was inspired by my 2nd child, my only daughter. She was so incredibly shy as a preschooler but has since grown into an amazingly sure-of-herself 'tween who is more self-confident than I was in my 20's. This beautiful story is my Emily's story...although she probably doesn't see it as dramatic as I have. But that's what makes Sarah's story so special!

I'm not sure who this boy is...he appears to be quite helpful, though...

That's the best part about what I do. The characters just come. My pencil follows and then pretty soon I am saying, "Wow! Very nice to meet you!"

We will see where these stories take me...
I am preparing a couple book dummies for the Illustrator's Showcase at the SCBWI Pocono retreat in April! I am SO excited to be going!

Have an amazing Tuesday!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

TVEC School Visit 2010 at

At the end of my presentation I read one of my latest manuscripts called FREE ROCKS FOR SALE. It's a simple story with a message of turning a 'grumpy' into a 'happy' and giving it away.

The children drew two cold, ugly, bumpy rocks and thought cold, ugly, bumpy, grumpy thoughts. We then thought of happy thoughts and turned our rocks into beautiful masterpieces that made us happy. The kids gathered from the story that 'happy' shouldn't be kept to ourselves, we should give it away.

I told them they could keep one of their beautiful rocks to remind them of our time together and FREE ROCKS FOR SALE but they needed to GIVE ONE away to make someone's day.

As the last class of the day waved goodbye, I received these BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECES!

Thank you Brianna, Alayna, Elle and Dayton!

And THIS is why I do what I do!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's National Authors & Illustrators Week!

If you are reading this blog - you love children and children's books. This week is an awesome time to celebrate those books that mean the world to you.

Maybe they make you giddy.
Maybe they make you think.
They might remind you of a special time in your childhood.
They may remind you of the person who gave books as gifts.

This week is a time to give back...thank an author and/or an illustrator for inspiring every child that picks up their book.

How many times have you heard a keynote speaker talk about his/her favorite childhood book? We may never know the magnitude our written word has on the world. But we can trust that there are children smiling because of something we wrote. That is AWESOME!

Head over to FACEBOOK and "friend" all your favorite authors! Send them a note and thank them for what they do!

I wanted to upload pics of illustrations I am working on and blurbs of some stories I am weaving but Blogger won't let me upload anything today. :(