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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ken Burns delivers the 2015 Commencement Address

Ken Burns recently shared a commencement speech important to all of us, not just this graduating class. I urge you to listen to every bit of it. Click the image to go listen on YouTube.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Illustration Challenge #2

Take two ideas that don't go together and put them together. For instance, flying pigs. Cows in space. Giraffes on wheels. Get the idea? Have fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Peter Adam Salomon - Guest Post

Guest Post by Peter Adam Salomon
After The First Draft: Attitude Is Everything


      Congratulations, you've finished the first draft of your novel! This calls for a celebration. Lots of people have thought "I should write a book" and never started, or started and never finished.
      You've finished!
      Tell your friends, tell your family. Now get back to work. Because the hard part begins now.
      This is important: just as there were times while writing the first draft when you wanted to give up, there will be those same moments as you edit. But, just as you celebrated finishing that first draft, you’ll finish the second as well. And the fourteenth, and more, before you’re ready to query.
      After signing with an agent? More edits. After the novel sells? Yes, that's right: still more.
      There are a number of books on editing so that information can be found elsewhere.
      I'd like to talk about 'Attitude.' Yes, attitude.
      Editing is hard. The book's done, isn’t it?
      No. Not even close.
      The celebration is over and you have two things to do. They are NOT query and sell the novel. That's the goal and despite all the obstacles still to overcome it's within reach now that you've finished the first draft. But not yet.

      1) Let it sit. Untouched. Unread. Some will tell you to let it sit for a certain number of weeks or months. Let it sit. Ignore it. This is great advice. Unfortunately, the manuscript will keep calling to you: "Read Me!" So, my advice isn't so much a time frame as it is more 'attitude.' Let it sit just a little longer than is comfortable. Long enough so the passion starts coming back, until you’re dying to get back into the story and, then:
      2) Revise. Revise again. Revise so many times you can't answer people when they ask 'which draft are you on?' It's not always a matter of each ‘draft' being a complete revision; sometimes you’ll read though only to fix one particular thing (how many times your main character shrugs or the forty-seven times the wind catches her hair just right).
      Finally, let’s talk the most important ‘attitude’ of all: LOVE the revision process. Embrace it. Always remember: anyone who takes the time to give you constructive criticism has only one goal in mind: helping YOU make YOUR manuscript better. They’re trying to help. Helping is good. Revising is good. No matter how long it takes or how many times you want to give up.
      Thank them. Thank them again.
      One day, you'll remember that first draft and realize how much work it needed, how much work you did, how much better the ‘final’ version is.
      It will all be worth it the first time an agent calls you. When you post that your book sold. Or Tweet the cover art.
      That’s the goal. Loving revision will help you get there. You will have to revise and edit no matter what attitude you go into the process with, so learn to love it. It will make it easier, it will make your agent and editor love working with you (always a good thing). And it will teach you so much about writing that when you sit down to write your next book you won't make the same errors (of course, there will always be new errors to make).
      And that calls for another celebration!

About Peter:
      Peter Adam Salomon is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, published by Flux in 2012, was named one of the ten ‘Books All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book in 2014. His second novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, was published in 2014 by Flux and has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the Young Adult category.
     Here's peek at Peter's favorite writing spot:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It's Official!

The house is officially for sale and it's already been shown twice with a third tomorrow. I have to say, it's standing pretty tall. It's been a nice chapter in our lives for about ten years, but it's time to turn a page!


     First we're off to Roanoke, Virginia where I teach Picture Book Design in the MFA in Writing And Illustrating Children's Picture Books and the Certificate in Children's Books programs at Hollins University. And then, at the end of term, we're off to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I will become a student myself studying for an MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh College of Art! We'll have feet on the ground in Scotland on August 15th.
     In the mean time, if you need to get in touch with me, my email and website will remain active and I'll do my best to get back to you in the midst of all the chaos!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - Baseball Lover

     Play ball! Or just read about it. There are some great baseball books for boys of all ages out there. Just ask your local bookseller or librarian for recommendations.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of nine literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Little Free Library immortalized!

Daren Wang, founder of the Decatur Book Festival, cc'd me on some wonderful news recently. MY Little Free Library is on the COVER of the new tome, THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY BOOK: TAKE A BOOK • RETURN A BOOK by Margret Aldrich (Coffee House Press).
     How honored am I? SO VERY!!! (It's the LFL on on the lower right covered with my reading fairies. CLICK HERE to see some close ups.) YAY!

      You can check it out on Amazon here, but please support your local economy and purchase it from your local independent bookstore!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando

What an interesting book trailer for MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS by Tara Altebrando. (Click the image to watch on YouTube.)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Illustration Challenge #1

Need an idea for something to draw? How about this... gather reference photos of three animals - one must be aquatic, and combine them into one fantastical or monstrous creature. GO! (Feel free to share your images - I'll post them here if you do. Or share on Facebook.Or just draw for yourself!)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

HOME by Carson Ellis

     When I was a kid, I had a book about 16 bears - where they lived in the winter and where they lived in the summer. I remember their cave homes being so elaborate. The pink bear was surrounded by princess sheers and crowns. The sports bear was surrounded by equipment. The cozy bear was surrounded by things I knew I'd love - blankets, a tea pot, etc. They were like peeking into genie bottles, into magical little worlds.
     A few years ago, my mother was cleaning out her basement and told me to come fetch the books. I dug through them looking for this book of bears. I went by it about a dozen times.
     Finally, I found it! And it was no wonder I had missed it. All those elaborate little cave homes? ... There was nothing there. There was no pink lace, no balls, no blankets. Instead, one cave was pink. One cave was blue. And one cave was orange.
     My childhood imagination had filled in all the luscious details I remembered into adulthood.
     It's why I am so excited about Carson Ellis' HOME. It so reminds me of that bear book. What will children see when they dig through it for the first time? How elaborate will the homes be? A shoe becomes a cozy castle. A nest becomes a soft papasan chair. I envy the children who will devour this book with open imaginations.
     Heck, I don't think it's too late for me either. I'd love to live in that hollow tree home...
Check out this great video of Carson's process. Click the image to view on Youtube:
HOME. Copyright 2015 © by Carson Ellis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Children's Book Drive

This coming SATURDAY! From the LA Times - Little Free Library Announces Kids' Book Drive. Got some gently used children's books? Look for one of these:

Click here to read more about the Little Free Library I painted!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - 8th Anniversary Pie!

Coloring Page Tuesday is 8-years-old! Can you believe it? I used to doodle funny little ditties all the time. One day it occurred to me to share them with YOU, and so began my coloring pages.
     Since then I have posted a free coloring page to my blog every Tuesday. I've never missed - not once! My images have always been for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy with their children. But they've also been enjoyed by creative souls for quilts, wall hangings, cake decorations, cards, etc. I love that! All I've ever asked in return is that folks check out (ha!) my books to see if they might be a good fit for the young readers in their lives. CLICK HERE to see the entire collection. And CLICK HERE if you'd like to receive my images via my weekly "e's news."
     Over the years I've received so many kind emails from you - fans and followers of my coloring pages. They've become one of my favorite parts of this crazy career of mine. So, will you help me celebrate? Please leave a comment below - let me know what Coloring Page Tuesday has meant to you!
     And as always, CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of nine literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

The trailer is out for the BBC One rendition of the tome JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL. I can't wait to watch! Click the image to watch the trailer on Youtube:
CLICK HERE to read more about it on Playlist.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Linky List - May 8, 2015

From PictureBook Makers: Oliver Jeffers (interview)

At BrainPickings: Beastly Verse: From Lewis Carroll to William Blake, Beloved POems About Animals in Vibrant and Unusual Illustrations

From the Mixed-Up Files: Lessons from Becoming a Bookseller

From Sarah McIntyre: Writers and Illustrators: What we REALLY do all day

What a neat way for a bookstore to celebrate their birthday! Bookends & Beginnings is taking photos of their customers with the title of the book that changed their lives. One will win a gift certificate for the store. See the photos here.

My friend Nancy S. Miller has a new picture book out called GOODBYE GLOOMIES (written by Heather Tietz) - love the cover!

From School Library Journal: Hack Your Notebook: Circuitry mixes with paper in a creative project for 21st century learners - COOL!

From The Mixed Up Files: Happily Ever After Again?

From PW: Obituary: Caldecott-winner Marcia Brown

The Children's Choice Book Award Winners have been announced. Adults seem to be pretty good at predicting winners in the older categories - but not the younger ones! Interesting.

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