Oakhurst Elementary School!

I had so much fun reading "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" and talking about my art techniques to the 2nd and 3rd graders at Oakhurst Elementary School today! The school is absolutely charming, built in the early 1900's and updated for modern day. The halls were filled with color and good vibes. The teachers worked with the students beforehand on how to ask questions, and they asked some really good ones (some of the teachers did too). I was so flattered the media specialist, Suzanne Jerol, purchased my books for all the classrooms, and many of the teachers asked me to personalize their copies. I even read my book dummies, "Queen Bea" and "Lula's Brew," to the kids (the first public audience to hear them) and I was so pleased with their responses. I'd say that was one of my best school visits yet! Go Oakhurst Elementary!

School Visits with Dumb Bunny!

The Decatur Book Festival is this weekend (more on this coming soon!) and to help promote the children's portion, I visited two elementary schools this morning (Clairmont Elementary and Winnona Park Elementary) with Little Shop of Stories owner, Diane Capriola . . . dressed as Dumb Bunny (Dav Pilkey's funny character)!! The kids went wild nutso when she entered the room - it was so cute! She hammed it up completely and wagged her tail at them - the kids grabbed for her like wild Beatles' fans!! At Winnona, I read "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" in the round (yup, I had to turn in circles while reading) to about 250 kids - they were so cute. I tell ya, when I got to the "Ahhhh" page in "Glitter Girl," it was deafening! So much fun! Tomorrow I visit Oakhurst Elementary - can't wait!

Karin Slaughter's "Triptych"

Hubbie and I are going to Karin's book signing tonight at Ansley Mall for her latest book, "Triptych." This one is outside the Grant County series, but knowing those, I'll start reading early so that I can read it straight through and hopefully finish before it gets dark out. *chills!*


     The thing about Karin's books is you have to leave a window when no commitments are looming on your schedule. I learned this the hard way when reading her first book, "Blindsighted." I couldn't put it down - not even when I reached the spine-tingling scariest part, realized it was dark outside (I'd started reading that morning), and my husband was out of town.
     So with "Triptych," I waited for the right window.
     Finally, with several pressing deadlines behind me, I treated myself. I began reading about 4:00pm yesterday . . . and kept reading until 1:00am when hubbie made me grudgingly turn off the bedside light. The characters wove through my dreams waking me at 7:30am. I picked the book back up up and read to the very end.
     "Triptych" is, in my opinion, Karin's best work yet. I hate the word "seamless" so I will call it "flawless." Karin says she thought about this book for almost four years before she started writing it, and the time she spent working out every detail is obvious. Not a beat was missed, no idea was left unfinished, no detail was left unutilized.
     The book is divided, as the title suggests, into three parts or points of view. The fascinating thing about her approach is with the different points of view, we learn how the characters see themselves and more importantly, how others see them (often very different from their self-perceptions). It makes you question your own abilities of perception and the assumptions we all make when given limited information.
     The story is, of course, violent but what I love about Karin's writing is that her stories are really more about the characters, the baggage they carry and how that affects their reactions to the battles they face.
     What I found most fascinating in "Triptych" was all the grey. Nobody was all bad or all good. Right and wrong blurred. While many of the characters judged themselves harshly (and some not harshly enough), the ultimate conclusions were really left up to the reader to make.
     The characters in "Triptych" were not cut-outs. They were complicated and multi-dimensional. I was reminded that you never really know what people bring to the table when they enter your life. Appearances are just that. Being allowed to peek into the consciences of these characters made this a complex read, and thoroughly enjoyable. I cared about them, I was fascinated by them, I wanted to know more about them. And while Karin never leaves you hanging, she does leave you wondering how the characters will move forward in their lives with the new baggage they are burdened with. It left me thoughtful, pensive, and anxiously awaiting Karin's next book.

illustration Friday: Run

This is a spread from "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" - Lilly ends up chasing the cheese from her sandwich all over town when it jumps off her plate and runs out the cat door! To see it large, click HERE.

"Queen Bea" receives honorable mention!

     I just heard that my picture book manuscript, "Queen Bea," won honorable mention in the SCBWI-Southern Breeze writing contest in the category "Illustrated Books for Children: including fictional picture books, easy readers, and poems." I'm thrilled, even more so because the judges didn't see my artwork, this was based solely on my writing. I've been drawing for so long, I can pretty much judge my art with an objective eye, but not my writing. This validation feels so good - I needed it!
     You've seen a piece of the interior art (IF - "Play" listed below), and having put the teaser out there, here is a sneak peak of my work-in-progress cover:

Candie Moonshower in town!

I had the pleasure of escorting the author of "The Legend of Zoey," and her friend Karen Carroll, to A Little Shop of Stories recently. She was in town for the Romance Writers of America convention, but her newest book is a young adult novel – she had to meet Diane, the owner of my local independent children's bookstore! We had fun getting lost on the way back to her hotel, which ended up creating a wonderful tour of downtown Atlanta. (I'm still figuring out the roads around here.) Here's me and Candie with her new book:

Turns out Candie and Alan Gratz (author of "Samurai Shortstop") are old writing buddies from Tennessee, so he dropped by with his wife and daughter and we all went out for a late lunch. I love hanging out with my writer friends. What a great time!

MORE: I finished reading "The Legend of Zoey" and highly recommend it! In fact, I couldn't put it down. Zoey travels back in time to the days of earthquakes in West Tennessee. There she meets Prudence, and the story is told from their points of view back and forth. It's educational, interesting, well-done, and Highly entertaining!

Illustration Friday: Match

Emma doesn't care if her socks don't match - they're her favorites!
Just a little character study I did a while back.

Illustration Friday: Play

We all have our own ideas of what play is. Some of us have a much quieter idea of fun.
This is from my story "Queen Bea." To see a larger version, click HERE.

Illustration Friday: Capture

This is an approved pencil sketch for my upcoming "Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco Y La Planta De Chile Gigante" written by Keith Polette for Raven Tree Press. It won't be released until June 2008 - so you won't see the color version until then. Although you can see the cover in color at the above link. I'm going to have a lot of fun with this one.