I'm on Editorial Anonymous!

     Editorial Anonymous is exactly that - a mysterious children's book editor who has chosen to remain anonymous so that she can give honest (sometimes harsh) feedback to writer's questions.
     Well, she's been looking for a logo for her blog, and I couldn't resist throwing my hat in the ring. While she didn't think it fit the mood she was going for, she did love it and posted it to her blog - groovy! Maybe if I drew him eating manuscripts . . .

Call for RSS help!

     If you look to my sidebar you'll see that I've added a link to my blog on LiveJournal - I'm finally going there too (although I'll keep this as my main blog for now). I've heard too many wonderful things about the community and friend capabilities of LiveJournal. However, I don't want to have to come up with new content for every community blog I use (Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc.) I want to post once and have the other programs pick up an RSS feed.
     I've managed to make this happen in Facebook (here's the walk through to set this up and here's my profile on facebook - notice the feed.)
     I also managed to create a syndicated feed for LiveJournal which dumps into my Friends Page.
     But here's the question . . . how do I get that feed to dump into my Main Page on LiveJournal? And is it even possible in MySpace?? Any cyber-geniuses out there who could help me with this? (I'll do a cut and paste on this for LiveJournal today.)

THE PRINCE'S DIARY is in Lookybook!!!

     OMG!!! I'm so excited! You can now browse through one of my books at Lookybook.com just like you would in the bookstore!
     Drum roll please . . . Introducing THE PRINCE'S DIARY, named No.1 2006 Valentine's Day Pick by Book Sense in conjunction with the Association of American Publishers, written by Renee Ting, illustrated by Yours Truly, Shen's Books:

(Click the eyes to see it even larger on the Lookybook site.)
     Now I need to figure out where to embed it in my website . . . hmmm. Maybe on THE PRINCE'S DIARY's activity page! Yeah, that'll work!
     By the way, for all you publishers out there wondering if Lookybook is a good idea, I was talking to my bookseller at Little Shop of Stories the other day and she said she is starting to lean on Lookybook as a tool to find books when a customer comes in and says something like, "I don't remember the name, but it has a yellow and red cover . . ."

Coloring Page Tuesday - Snow Angels

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!
     In celebration of my recent snow angel - you can make one too!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Technical Difficulties

Dulemba.com is experiencing technical difficulties. Please forgive the down time and missing links while I get everything back up and running. Also, if you tried to email me over the last few days and my address bounced, it should be working now - please try again.

Kindling Words '08 - Recap

     I’m on the plane (the first of three) returning home. I’m exhausted but anxious to get back to work and apply the inspiration I gained from my weekend in Vermont.
     I’ve found that different conferences have been right at certain times in my career, and this was the perfect time to experience Kindling Words. All in attendance were editors or published authors and illustrators. Many were highly accomplished or even award winners, while others were just starting their journey. But the mutual respect shown to all was noticeable.
     Our kick off book signing at Phoenix Books was a hoot. You could tell an author from a customer by who wore coats (the staff was kind enough to take ours). Children’s book buyer, Natacha Liuzzi, made sure to have several copies of everybody’s books displayed and in stock. And what a crowd! Shoppers bought books and then wandered to find their author or illustrator to sign them. (There was a formal signing area set up, but we couldn’t stop mingling!)

     I’m not sure who’s sitting where (click the image to see it larger), but here’s some of the talented people in this photo or in attendence (I’m down to the right sitting on the floor): Laure Halse Anderson, Sarah Aronson, MJ Auch, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Robin Benjamin, Kathleen Blasi, Jeannie Brett, Robin Brickman, Elise Broach, Marnie Brooks, Tami Lewis Brown, Janet Buell, Janie Bynum, Laurie Calkhoven, Cinda Williams Chima, Jane Cowen-Fletcher, Katie Davis, Mary Delaney, Sarah Dillard, Elizabeth O. Dulemba (me), Michelle Edwards, Marion Eldridge, Elizabeth Falk, Catherine Frank, Donna Freitas, Barbara Garrison, Cecile Goyette, Jamie Harper, Amy Huntington, Alison James, Marthe Jocelyn, Sarah Ketchersid, Cheryl Klein, Michelle Knudsen, Judy Irvin Kuns, Leo Landry, Yolanda LeRoy, Martha Peaslee Levine, Arianne Lewin, Sarah Darer Littman, Gregory Maguire, Kimberly Marcus, Elsa Marston, Wendy Mass, Diane Mayr, Kate Messner, Andrea Murphy, Carol Murray, Denise Ortakales, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Linda Sue Park, Robin Pulver, Susanna Reich, Anita Riggio, Pamela Ross, Leda Schubert, Barbara Seuling,Mark Shulman, Janni Lee Simner, Rebecca Stead, Tanya Lee Stone, Melissa Sweet, Chris Tebbetts, Kyra Teis, Patricia Thomas, Amy Timberlake, Andrea Tompa, Harold Underdown, Nancy Werlin, Stacy Whitman, Vera B. Williams, Ellen Wittlinger, Jane Yolen, and Sara Zarr.
     The conference was held at the Inn at Essex in Essex, Vermont (near Burlington). It’s a sweet, older hotel which doubles as the New England Culinary Institute, so the food was amazing. My bed was big and tall and draped with a down comforter and pillows – so comfortable! And underground tunnels connected the three buildings which formed the estate so you didn’t have to brave the cold and snow if you didn’t feel up to it.
     And wow was it cold and snowy (although the locals said it was nothing). It was beautiful! I flew in over frozen bodies of water, which had me gaping out the plane’s windows like a little kid. I found it ironic how Southern I suddenly felt considering I usually don’t, but there weren’t many of us in attendance (me, Marnie Brooks from NC, and Janie Bynum from TX). But so much of what I saw was so completely outside my normal experience it was hard not to feel foreign. Even the light was different in Vermont. The sun hangs much lower in the sky that far north and casts long sideways shadows early in the day. It’s a beautiful and lucky place to be.
     We dove into our sessions pretty quickly and they were extremely educational. Instead of beginner subjects such as, “Do I need an agent,” and “How do I format my manuscript,” we talked about writing/illustrating method, technique and inspiration. Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the multiple award-winning “Speak”) gave three days of advice on character, scene building, plot, and revision techniques. Linda Sue Park (author of Newbery winning “A Single Shard”) delivered the keynote on Friday. Most interesting between their two presentations was how differently they each work. While I received great tips from both (and noticed some similarities to both in how I work), it helped to know there is no right or wrong method. It’s a matter of discovering what works best for you.
     Vera B. Williams headed the illustrator thread, and as one attendee said, “Vera, you realize we all have a crush on you.” Vera turns 81 Monday and has lived her entire life as an inspired adventure. I believe she is actually a fairy-human and gave her a hug later to check for wings. The most important lesson I learned from her is to play. She doesn’t worry about style or achieving a certain look (although she does shoot for continuity within a project). She’s more about enjoying the process, feeling the paint, relishing in the colors. I believe her books are a success because she is completely in touch with her inner 3-year-old. I don’t know about you, but my earliest memory is about age four. Vera’s memory goes much farther back and the sheer joy of toddlerhood is celebrated in her creations.
     Most enjoyable for the weekend, however, was getting to know my peers. Writers and illustrators are in general a highly intelligent group – everything fascinates us. So conversations came easily and were often wonderfully entertaining. I asked Barbara Seuling about her latest project, and was suddenly learning about the famous torch singer, Jane Froman. I asked Pamela Ross the same question and learned about the Chinook people and Pueblo Indians. I asked my roomie, Sarah Dillard, and was treated to a sneak preview of her forthcoming picture book from Sterling, “Perfectly Arugula.” (It’s wonderful!)
     We also held meetings during “white space” (down time for informal gatherings). Since we all speak the lingo of children’s book publishing, we were able to easily fall into related discussions and share our similar challenges and insecurities concerning our work and careers. I think we all benefitted from hearing about each other’s successes, goals, and obstacles - I know I did.
     One of the wonderful traditions of Kindling Words is the Candlelight reading. Because of the full crowd, a lottery was held to pick 20 readers (allowed 5 minutes each) for the evening. I was lucky enough to be chosen (although my nerves almost failed me when I ended up last to read). I read the first chapter from my new novel in progress, “Copper.” People shared poems (Amy Timberlake cracked me up with her poem on Global Warming!), short stories, and first chapters in all genres. The range was vast and we alternated between tears and laughter.
     Afterwards we headed outside to enjoy a bonfire in the middle of the snow where we had a fantastic time standing together and singing songs. (Stop sniggering – it was fun!) On the way back, I couldn’t resist the urge to make a snow-angel. How often do I get an opportunity like that?
     Overall, it was an amazing weekend. Sarah and I made great roomies. I got to hang with her and Amy Huntington much of the weekend, but we also spread out and tried to meet as many new people as we could. I really hit it off with several and feel I made some new friends. So now I’m anxious to get home, email them, and find out what exciting things they all have going on next.
     Thanks to Marnie Brooks, Tanya Lee Stone, Susanna Reich, and Janie Bynum, for arranging everything; as well as to those who invented the event in the first place, Alison James, Mary Lee Donovan and more, as well as early organizers such as Harold Underdown. I don’t know that I’ll be able to go to Kindling Words every year, but I certainly hope to return soon.

Kindling Words 2008

     I may be a bit silent over the weekend because I'll be in Vermont. Yes, everyone should head to the frigid north in January. This southerner is in for a shock! The forecast predicts a 15° high in Vermont for my trip tomorrow! Brrrrrrr.
     So what is worth braving the arctic tundra? Kindling Words of course!
     Kindling Words is the créme de la créme of writer's/illustrator's conferences held every year at the Inn at Essex. Many NY editors use it as a winter break to relax and rejuvinate for the upcoming year. But I'm going for some intensive writing advice. I'll spend three days learning technique from award winning authors Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the classic, "Speak") and Linda Sue Park (author of the 2002 Newbery Medal for "A Single Shard"). The illustrator's strand is hosted by Grand Dame Vera B. Williams. Can you imagine? It doesn't get any better!
     I'll also be rooming with fellow writer/illustrator, Sarah Dillard. (Cheet-O's and Teen Beat mags rule!)
     Add to that, 40 attendees will kick off the weekend with a book signing at Phoenix Books on Thursday at 4pm. And wow, what company I'll be sharing - take a look! Intimidated? Me? Um, yah, a little bit. Drop by if you're in the area - it promises to be something special.
     I'll try to share a bit while I'm there, but no promises until I get home. Send warm wishes my way!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Penguin

Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!
Beware what you wish for - did I say I wouldn't mind some white stuff? Well we got it! It is COLD in the south right now, and we actually have snow on the ground! If I dare to venture outside, I feel like this guy.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!

Look what Rachael's proud mama sent in. She said her daughter was especially pleased to only use Christmas colors on the penguin. They sent it in all way from Christchurch in New Zealand!

Eric Rohmann!

     Yet another amazing event at Little Shop of Stories, this time with hugely talented, Caldecott winning Eric Rohmann! And what a nice guy!!! We actually talked about favorite art styles and how he likes to work. He said the story dictates the style he uses, and I so agree. Stories tend to tell you what they need.

Bunny Slippers - Oh Joy!!

     I always tease about working in my bunny slippers. (As most freelancers will admit, you go to check emails before you grab a shower and before you know it, the entire day is gone.) So, I figured it was about time I owned some actual, real bunny slippers.
     Look what the FedEx guy just dropped off! Aren't they beautiful!!??
     Bernie didn't know what to make of them though...

     Oh, I have so opened a can of worms!!! Turns out I'm not the only one in love with funny slippers. Here's my friend Janee Trasler with her sock monkey slippers!!

     Do you have funny slippers to share?

Jon Scieszka at Little Shop of Stories!

     Wow, wow, wow. How do they do it? My little indie, Little Shop of Stories, has been bringing in some amazing talent lately!
     Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jon Scieszka, talented author and now the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature! (I blogged about it here.) True to his reputation, he was a super-nice and easy guy.
     And what does he want to do with this new platform he's been given? Encourage kids to read for fun and try to lessen the focus on testing in schools. Several teachers were in attendence and they cheered when they heard this. Go Jon!
     The fun continues Friday with Caldecott winner, Eric Rohmann! (I'll try to get more pics to share.)

     And . . . oh blog followers . . . I have a secret to share. Tell people you heard it here first! Mo Willems, multiple award winning author of the "Pigeon" books and many, many more, will be at Little Shop of Stories the week of April 3rd - date and time to be announced soon. Yup!! Big, big, honkin' big deal! I can't WAIT!!!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Skating Bear

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!
     Do you have snow or ice where you are? Winter mostly brings rain here in the south. I sure wouldn't mind a bit of the white stuff!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

ALA Awards Announcements!!

I just finished watching the announcements for this year's book awards hosted by the American Library Association. Check their website for a more thorough list including honor books in each category. But here are the biggies:

Schneider Family Book Award:
"Reaching for Sun" by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - YEAH!! Go Tracie!!!

Coretta Scott King Award:
King Author Book winner: “Elijah of Buxton” written by Christopher Paul Curtis
King Illustrator Book winner: “Let it Shine” written and illustrated by by Ashley Bryan
New Talent Author Award: "Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It," written by Sundee T. Frazier

Margaret A. Edwards Award:
Orson Scott Card

The Odyssey Award (best Audio Book):
"Jazz" by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers

Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award:
Walter Dean Myers

Batchelder Award:
"Brave Story" by Miyuki Miyabe

Robert F. Sibert Medal:
"The Wall" by Peter Sis

Pura Belpré Award:
Illustration Winner: "Los Gatos Black on Halloween" by Yuyi Morales (written by Maris Montes) - One of my faves - yeah!
Author Winner: "The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano," written by Margarita Engle
Special WOOT, WOOT to Author Honor Book: "Martina the Beautiful Cockroach" by Carmen Agra Deedy!! ¡Vaya Martina!

Andrew Carnegie Medal (Most oustanding children's video):
"Jump In: Freestyle Edition"

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award:
"There is a Bird on Your Head!" by Mo Willems

Michael L. Printz Award:
"The White Darkness" by Geraldine McCaughrean

Drum roll please . . . .
Caldecott Award:
4 Honors:
"Henry’s Freedom Box," Kadir Nelson
"First the Egg," Laura Vacarro Seeger
"The Wall," Peter Sis
"Knuffle Bunny Too," Mo Willems
"The Invention of Hugo Cabret," Brian Selznick - WOW!! Talking about rockin' the boat!!

Elijah of Buxton," by Christopher Paul Curtis
"The Wednesday Wars," by Gary D. Schmidt
"Feathers," by Jacqueline Woodson
"Good Masters, Sweet Lady," by Laura Amy Schlitz

My Office - 2008

     People sometimes ask what my work space looks like, so I've taken some pictures to give you a peek inside the mad, creative brain. Drum roll please . . . Welcome to my lovable mess . . .

Click the image to see it larger in a new window.
     There are several things to notice in this picture (beyond the mess). First, Bernie posed for me like a super-model. He's in all my books, so be sure to look for him! The bookshelf to the left is stuffed with YA and writing advice books, dictionaries, trade magazines, a turtle shell, a cow vertebrae and an impala vertebra (bones are cool), etc. I work with dual monitors (one is an Apple) and a 9X12 Wacom tablet. (The computer tower is out of view under my desk.) The small chair holds my Little Shop of Stories bag (my local indie bookstore) which is almost always full with my "read next" selections. My portfolio is on my drawing table to the right - I'm pulling it together for the Kindling Words conference I'm attending in Vermont later this month.

You can click on this one too for a close-up.
     Behind my desk is what I have dubbed my "ego wall" and I think everybody should have one. It's grown slowly over the last few years. On it are things that remind me how much I've accomplished in this tough business. We get enough rejections and bad news, so I make a point of surrounding myself with the good stuff. You can probably see the big sign I used at a book signing for Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese, and the poster from the 1st Decatur Book Festival. (And the hand puppet I posted for this week's Illustration Friday.) I've also pinned up some proofs from my forthcoming book, Paco and the Giant Chile Plant, and the owl I sent to Keene State College for their 100 year anniversary parliament collection. Probably too small to pick out are the certificates and letters from Writer's Digest for my Honorable Mention in this year's writing contest (for my story "Queen Bea") as well as from the Southern-Breeze writing contest. Thank you notes, friend's postcards, schwag from conferences or schools where I spoke and images I like, fill in the gaps.
     Whenever I feel beat up by this business, I just look up.
     Moving around the room, when you first enter, on the left is my picture book collection, which has also become overflow for my YA books - stacked and two deep. I really need more shelves. (Yes, that's a Howard Finster on top.) The box to the right contains postcards for Paco and the Giant Chile Plant which I need to start sending out soon to announce its release - wippee!
     To the right of that is the closet. It has double doors which I use as my paste up surface when I lay out an entire book. Those open wide to reveal storage. I keep the bureau filled with dummies, drawing paper, my schwag (bookmarks, postcards, catalogues), rejected manuscripts, etc. The tv stays hidden since I rarely have it on. The boxes above contain art from the last - ahem - forty years of my life. (I threw out the really bad stuff so some future researcher will think I was always brilliant - ha!) To the left of the bureau are rheams of paper, file folders, envelopes - you know, normal officey stuff. It's a complete mess right now. I really should clean it up . . . later. Ugh.
     Here's the lovely view from one of my windows. I can see the light play across several back yards which is actually quite pretty. Sorry I missed my neighbor's tree in the fall. It's turns completely yellow - beautiful. If you look really close you can see my neighbor's dogs - I spy on them and keep them safe. They're sweeties.
     In front of the window is our music server. I've told you hubbie is a geek - well, here's the proof. I listen to WUTC out of Chattanooga on this puppy, and all our music is based here and wired through the house. Is good. My collection of children's magazines is below that (SCBWI, Southern-Breeze, publisher catalogues, PW Children's editions, etc.)
     Anyhow, the rest of the house is quite sparse and serene in comparison to my office (on purpose). My office feels like an extension of myself and this is where my creative juices flow. I miss it if I'm away too long (translation: a few hours). Thanks for letting me share.

Illustration Friday: Stitch

     Well this is different, but I love the topic. I never thought I'd get to share these guys!
     Before I got so busy, I loved creating little felt creatures. I made a whole line of hand puppets, some with horns and teeth, always buttons for eyes. I loved using embroidery thread and creating fun patterns and lines using different types of stitches.
     This is the only one I still have since I gave the rest away. He is pinned to my "ego wall" which I'll talk about later this weekend. I also made Christmas stockings for our animals, but those are put away so will have to wait for another day to share.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Snowman

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!
     We've made it through the holidays and we're now in that quiet, creative time of year I love so much. It's time to hunker down by a warm fire with a mug of hot chocolate and make stuff! (After you go freeze your nose off building a snowman of course.)
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

Learn about my good parenting picture books, Ready for Bed and Ready for the Day - click the covers!

Check out this great card by Carmen!

Illustration Friday: 100%

     Interesting topic this week and I'm going to share some art from my first picture book (with my name on the cover), The Prince's Diary. It's a Cinderella story from the Prince's point of view, but it can tie into the philosophy of 100% pretty well.
     Sometimes, like for Cinderella, life throws us curves or makes us go through trials we'd rather not, but that's how life works. There's no such thing as being 100% safe and secure in anything we do and that lack of control can be very scary. It's how we deal with that lack of control that reflects who we are as people. That's the one thing we do have power over.
     How about you? Do you let the trials in life swallow you up, or do you decide to remain positive and look for the good in difficult situations? It's 100% up to you.
     Starting out this new year I wonder, are there some difficult hurdles in your path this year? How do you plan to get over them? Can you see beyond them to a place you want to be and set your sights to get there?
     My personal philosophy? I set my sights for the very top of what is possible in life. That way, even if I only get half way there, it's still pretty darned good.

National Ambassador for Young People's Lit named!

     Drum roll please . . . This is big news!
     Jon Scieszka, author of such classics as "The Stinky Cheese Man" and creator of Guys Read, has been named the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Wow!!
     Read more about it at the Washington Post.
     (The image is from Jon's website which you can visit here.)

Updates at Dulemba.com

     It's 2008 and I've made some updates to dulemba.com including lots of new art on my portfolio page.
     I've added several new articles over the last year that budding writers and illustrators may find helpful at my etc. page. Work in progress covers are up on my homepage with more information about each listed on my books page.
     Please let me know if you hit any hiccups or just let me know what you think!