Well, I completed the sketches for The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia (Sterling, 2010) yesterday - woohoo!! Of course, I'm sure there will be some changes, but while I wait for feedback hubbie is hooking up my brand new computer!!! Woohoo again!!

I was running on a dinosaur believe it or not, so this is going to make a huge difference for me. Although I won't have as good access to my email and such for a few days. So, if you need to get in touch with me - please give me a bit longer than usual to get back to you. And I'm hoping no mail falls through the cracks as I switch between the old computer, the new one, the iPhone and the laptop. So much of my life is online anymore though - how bizarre!

Anyhow - it's all feeling like a mini-victory and my shoulders are more relaxed. We have to celebrate these mini-hurdles in this business as they can sometimes be hard to spot in and amongst all the drawn out deadlines and waiting. So, give us a mini *clink* or a cyber-cupcake. Woohoo!

Nathaniel Lachenmeyer's THE ORIGAMI MASTER

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite new stories by my friend, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer. In the short time I've known Nathaniel, I've been so impressed by his writing - I think he's somebody we're going to hear BIG things from for a long, long time. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is his most recent picture book...

Q. THE ORIGAMI MASTER reads like a classic Japanese tale, and yet I'm pretty sure it's wholly original, yes? Can you tell us a bit about the book and how it came to be?

A. The story is original. I love folk tales, and enjoyed the challenge of writing something that would have the feel of a folk tale, but not be derivative. Beginning a couple of years ago my son and I started doing origami together. We have always had fun, whether we succeeded in creating something recognizable or not! Inspired by that, I decided to write a picture book that would encourage children to try origami. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is the result. The book has an origami bird design at the back for children to try. It's been a lot of fun doing origami with groups of kids at readings.

Q. As an illustrator, I have to point out that your illustrator, Aki Sogabe, used cut paper to create the illustrations for this book - especially fitting considering the subject matter. What was your reaction when you first saw the art?

A. I was absolutely thrilled with Aki's art from the moment I saw it. It was an inspiration on the part of my editor to ask her to do the book. Not every picture book is a perfect marriage of story and art. I really think THE ORIGAMI MASTER is. I am so happy with how the book has turned out.

Q. THE ORIGAMI MASTER has received some wonderful praise - can you share some of the kudos?

A. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is a Junior Library Guild Selection and an ALA Book LInks Lasting Connection. It is also a Children's Indie Next Pick.

Q. You are an incredibly gifted and prolific writer - can you tell us what else you have in the pipeline?

A. Can you repeat the first part of that question again? :) I have five forthcoming picture books: A HAUNTED PICTURE BOOK, a Halloween story about a haunted picture book that may or may not be A Haunted Picture Book; EUREKA!, a comic story about a young inventor and his nemesis; SCARLATTI'S CAT, the mostly true story of classical composer Domenico Scarlatti's composing cat; DRIFTWOOD DAYS, a lyrical nature study; WHAT THE WIND AND THE RAIN TOLD TOM, a biography of the 19th century African-American musical prodigy Blind Tom.

Q. With so much going on, I'm sure my readers would love a peek into your method. Can you share how you typically work?

A. The way I work varies from book to book. But I often start by picking a subject that interests me. Then, I read as much as I can about it, always with an eye toward creating an interesting and original story that will appeal to kids and their parents. From there, I hammer out different ways of approaching the narrative until I find the one that works best. In terms of the actual writing, I write many, many successive drafts, usually over a short period of time. Then, I take a break and look at what I have. Sometimes, I make more changes. Sometimes, I scrap what I've written and start over. I always write my picture books as picture books, with structure, page breaks, and illustrations in mind.

Q. And finally, do you have any advice to share, maybe words of wisdom (or books) that had a special impact on your development as a writer?

A. What I have found most helpful and rewarding is reading other picture books. Reading other picture books has taught me a lot about the potential of the medium. It also reminds me that the books I am writing are part of a broader tradition. I usually take 30-40 picture books out of the library at a time. If I find a book I like, I request other books from that author or author-illustrator. I read old books, new books, and everything in between. The best ones I share with my kids. (I have a list of some of the ones I have especially enjoyed on my web site: http://www.nathaniellachenmeyer.com/RecommendedReading.html.)

Congratulations on all your success and I look forward to your next release!

Thanks! It's always exciting to see how a book will turn out!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Boy Fairy Reading

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     Many of you have said you love my Reading Fairy image, but wish there was a boy counterpart. Well, here he is! Because boys love to read too!
     (You may recognize him from the recent SCBWI Bulletin.)
     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!

     And we have a WINNER!! The 1,000th person has signed up for Coloring Page Tuesdays and e's news!!!!
     We had a flurry right there at the end, but the winner is (drum roll please...) Tammy De Leeuw!!!
     (And the crowds went wild with raucous whooping and hollering. Joy spread throughout the world - even the universe. Smiles were spotted as far away as Pluto - which is a real stretch since they're still sore about that whole planet thing...)
     Tammy has won a copy of SOAP, SOAP, SOAP ~ JABON, JABON, JABON! (my first picture book as both illustrator and author) when it comes out this Fall. She is from Utah and "Grammy" to Kylie, Haley, Parker, Hunter, and one more who's still in the oven. Tammy says she can't wait to share SOAP and my coloring pages with them - yeah!
     Thanks to everybody for signing up, and please keep sending the links to your friends. Because I gotta show more love to all of you, there will be more book giveaways and freebies to come!!
     Congratulations Tammy and Thank you everybody for sharing the love!!!!

Yes, You Need a Website

It's no longer should I have a website? It's what should be on your website. Why? Because more and more readers are connecting with authors via their websites. Authors are building relationships with their readers. Don't believe it? Check out "If You Build It, They Won't Come: A Guide to Author Websites" at Publishing Trends. In this article they are quoting real numbers of readers who go looking for their favorite authors online. And the number is growing!

A Wedding and Wild Things

A little joy for a Sunday... Y'know, I'm thinkin' these two are gonna do alright...

Thanks to David Burton of Random Musings for the heads up!

ALSO! Go check out THIS FEATURETTE of Maurice Sendak discussing Spike Jonze's new movie based on his famous picture book, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE!!!

A peek at Alice...

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=pt-br&from=sp&vid=44ad7500-98da-43a6-b7ec-2796f73849c9" target="_new" title="Trailer">Video: Trailer</a>
Click Here for a cleaner version.
Thanks to Kaleb Nation for the heads up!

Seven Things to Do While You Wait

THE most frustrating thing I learned when I dove into this business of children’s books is how little control you have. (This coming from a control freak.)
     No matter what you do, you cannot make somebody respond quickly, love or buy your work. Period. The cogs of this machine will not bend to your will no matter how many emails you send or phone calls you make.
     Your best shot is to write the best thing in existence, or illustrate a masterpiece. But even then, it’s all relative to the taste of the reader/viewer and there are no guarantees. For most authors and illustrators, its a long, slogging journey to success (whatever that means).
     So how do you get through all the infernal WAITING!?

Here are my
7 Things To Do While You Wait:

1) Get yourself a vent buddy. When you’re about to hit ‘send’ on that email you shouldn’t or call that person directly - contact your vent buddy instead. Let them talk you down. This leads to...

2) Step away from the email. Or the phone. As my hubbie says, “When in doubt - wait.” Yes, that means pay attention to the little voice in the back of your head, the one you so often ignore.

3) Take a walk. Seriously. Even my piddly two miles a day gets my body and head in such a better place, I return calmer with a more realistic view of the world and this business for the rest of the day.

4) Take a shower. You’d be amazed how much clearer (and cleaner) a good shower can make things. It’s also a good place for ideas. I heard of one writer who kept a grease pencil in her shower so she could jot down ideas on the tiles!

5) Work. Yup. The only way to that best manuscript or masterpiece is to actually create it - and that takes the butt in chair method. Just knuckle down and do it.

6) Work on something else. One hit wonders rarely make it in this business. People are looking for long term career writers/illustrators. Surely you have more than one idea in you?

7) Finally, be kind to yourself. This business full of rejections can be awfully hard on an ego. Let yourself experience the downs for a reasonable amount of time (a few hours, a day) and then move on. There are more doors to knock on and better things to create.

This business is not easy and so much is out of your control to change. I hope this list helps you out of some rough spots. Of course, if all else fails, you can always make a list like this... ;-)

Kristi Valient's CORA COOKS PANCIT!

Today I get to do something I love to do - help celebrate the success of someone who I've been rooting for for some time now. Kristi Valiant has been working hard and long to bust into trade picture books and she's finally done it with a beautiful new picture book, CORA COOKS PANCIT (illustrated by Kristi, written by Dorina K. Laazo Gilmore)! And along with being warm and lush, it's published by MY first publisher of The Prince's Diary, Shen's Books!
     Along with it's multi-cultural setting, and the reminder of a classic initiation rite of passage, there are so many more reasons to love this book...

Q. Congratulations on the release of CORA COOKS PANCIT! It's GORGEOUS!! I know you've illustrated scads of leveled reader books (educational) but is this your first trade picture book?

A. Thank you! Yes, CORA COOKS PANCIT is the first trade picture book I've illustrated. I've done around 30 leveled reader books that are mostly sold to schools, and I've recently illustrated some chapter books too.

Q. I love your loose style and all the sketch lines that show - it gives your art a vitality which I just adore. But I also thought I saw hints of digital... What is your illustration method?

A. Good eye on catching the digital medium! My artwork in CORA COOKS PANCIT is entirely digital. I sketch right in Photoshop, because I find it so convenient to resize, redraw, and move parts of the sketch around that way. Then when I paint the final in Photoshop, I move the sketch layers to the top and multiply them down onto the layers below - that's how you still see the sketch lines. I love sketch lines and sometimes I even add extras in at the end! I play around with digital brushes to get the look of different kinds of paint, but I do all the painting on my computer with an electronic pen and tablet.

Q. The color palette you chose is so warm and inviting - what influenced the feel you were going for?

A. The text was the main influence. It's very family-oriented and heartwarming. When you combine that with the warm, rich Filipino culture and the process that Cora goes through to cook a warm noodle dish with chicken and vegetables, the color palette was just calling out to me to be warm and inviting!

Q. I especially love the light pouring through the kitchen windows - did that present particular challenges?

A. The light pouring in with the shadows across the floor was one of my favorite things to paint! I wanted some warm sunshine lighting, but the whole book takes place indoors. The warm light pouring in the windows was the solution. I modeled the patio doors/windows after my own house, so I had an instant reference to make it easier to paint.

Q. There is a sweet little dog popping up throughout the book - what's his story? And his toys as well - is there a story there too?

A. This book has a fair amount of text to be read, so I wanted to include a humorous, visual story in the illustrations for kids to discover while listening. The dog's visual story kind of echoes Cora's own story. Cora is usually ignored in the kitchen because she's too little, but by the end of the book she gets what she wants - to make delicious pancit. The dog wants to play but is ignored throughout the book. He keeps bringing different toys to try to get Cora's attention. In the end, she plays tug-of-war with the dog using the very first toy he had brought her. Someday soon I want to get my own pet doggie!
     Some of the stuffed animals he brings Cora are stuffed animals I own myself. I like monkeys and penguins, and my husband likes hippos, so those had to be in there. Also, I usually include a little mouse in my books, because I was called mouse when I was little.

Q. Cora is just adorable and her Filipino family is charming. Did you work straight from your head or did you use photo reference?

A. I researched a bunch on Filipino heritage since Cora's grandpa came to the U.S. from the Philippines. I took indoor photos of a little girl and her mom as general references, and I'm always looking for true-to-life, childlike poses (most kids don't stand straight up so Cora certainly doesn't). I try not to rely too much on photos, because when I do, the characters look too stiff. I'm still figuring out the right mix for me between realistic and stylized. I kept this book more realistic because the story was more realistic. For my own goofy picture book manuscripts that I'm writing, my sketches are far more stylized and from my head.

Q. This book made me hungry with all the wonderful food Cora and her mother made. Have you cooked Pancit and did you like it?

A. Oh yes and yes! For the author and illustrator photos on the back flap, I had suggested that we should be holding bowls of pancit. The recipe is in the book, and I was really hoping that I would like it (it would be hard to promote the book if I didn't like it!). I didn't need to worry at all - my husband and I made the recipe and we absolutely loved it!
     I have a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Evansville, Indiana this coming Saturday, July 25, and I'll be bringing a big pot of pancit to give out samples. Once people taste how yummy it is, I know they'll want the recipe!

Q. What's next for you illustration-wise?

A. Today I'm creating an illustration for a touring production of Peter Rabbit, and I have a few more freelance illustration projects to attend to. I'm also working hard on one of my own picture book manuscripts about dancing penguins and sketching it into a dummy to submit to agents. I hope to begin submitting that this summer.

Thanks Kristi!

Teacup - for REAL!

It freaks me out when my art does this. One of my first ever book dummies was named "Teacup." You may have seen some of the pen and ink drawings from it hanging around my website.
     Well, there are some good reasons you'll never see the book in print. I was just starting out and fell into all those classic beginner storytelling traps. You know them: telling not showing; a wise old crow saves the day (literally in this story); etc. But I still love the art I did for this story and the color palette rocked. So imagine my skipping heart when I came across this image the other day from Cute Overload.
     All I can say is Oh My God.

     All you illustrators out there - you ever do this? You draw a place or thing and then come across it a few years later? Or do you ever draw a character only to see somebody who looks exactly like your drawing?
     It's happened to me my whole life and it still freaks me out.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Aliens!

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     So, if yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of Men Landing on the Moon, do you suppose today we should celebrate the search for extra-terrestrial life? I mean, what if the astronauts met somebody up there and we just never heard about it?
     This week I'm inviting you to not just send in my alien colored by you - but if you'd like to draw an alien from scratch - your very own version - I'd sure love to see it!
     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!

And just for fun... The Byrd's "Hey, Mr. Spaceman."

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

     Check out Max's Alien sent in by his proud Mom, Angela.
     Max is 6-years-old and supposedly carried his alien around for days (hence, the wrinkles). His Mom said he used his green glitter crayons to color it, which he saves for special projects. How cool is that?
     Thanks so much for sharing, Max!

Leigh Brescia: On Marketing

In the spirit of Shelli Johannes Wells' "Monday's Marvelous Marketers" I have a marketing link for you today.
     Unfortunately, it's true that getting published is only the first half of the incredible challenge of becoming a writer/illustrator. The second half is getting your book noticed. Yes, publishing houses have publicity departments and publicists, but more and more if you want your book to do well, you have to don a marketing hat as well.
     I'll write more about this soon, but today I share a great article on marketing from debut author, Leigh Brescia over at AuthorsNow!.

William Low: Portrait of a Digital Artist

I don't think this video is new - but it's new to me. I also work with Photoshop and Painter. (Although I can't imagine sitting up like that to use a Cintique - I have a Wacom tablet I lean against the edge of my desk as I sit back in my chair and watch my screens.) But Mr. Low is truly a master with classical training - I learned tons watching all three of these videos (give yourself a window - you'll want to watch all the way through). Hope you enjoy.

Basic Publishing Questions

A top literary agent answers some common questions about publishing in "Basic, basic, basic Questions". Pretty spot on.
Thanks to Anastasia Suen for the link.

The blue and the green

This is so cool! How many colors do you see? Four? Nope. There are only three. Seriously! It's amazing how our brain plays tricks with our eyes. Go read more about it at Discover.
Thanks to Janni Lee Simner for the heads up!

Laurel Snyder's ANY WHICH WALL

I have the great pleasure of sharing a fantastic book with you today - ANY WHICH WALL by Laurel Snyder. This is probably one of my favorite mid-grade reads (right up there with The Penderwicks). It is perfect for a lazy summer day or vacation and perfectly targeted to it's mid-grade audience. It will send their imagination to fantastic places.
     I recently spoke with Laurel about the creation of this great read...

Q. Congratulations on the release of your latest mid-grade novel ANY WHICH WALL! Tell us a bit about how this story came to be.

A. Oh, wow. It's a crazy (not very romantic or muse-y) tale. Basically, my husband lost his job, and we found ourselves suddenly without any healthcare. I'd left work the year before, to have my older son, and was pregnant with #2, so we also had no income. One day, as I was searching my couch for change, I had a thought and called my agent.
     I said, "I need money! I need enough money to buy 8 months of healthcare!" I was petrified I'd have to deliver the baby at the ER or something.
     She wasn't sure we could pull it off, because the first book hadn't come out yet, but she was willing to try and write the proposal with me. So she said, "Is there a book you want to write next?"
     Any Which Wall was what followed. We scrambled to write a chapter or two, and she managed to sell it. I will always always owe my agent and editor a great debt for that.

Q. You have a considerable publishing history and education as well - can you share? What was your journey to publication in the children's book world?

A. It's a weird one, because I had attended this amazing MFA program in poetry, and had friends getting book deals, but I had no clue what I was doing with kidlit. I had some sense of what I was supposed to do generally, but a lot to learn about the community and protocol in the world of children's publishing.
     Basically, I wrote a slew (a slew!) of books, and sent them out. They were rejected, and I put them away for a long time. Then I took them out, revised them, and tried again. In the intervening years, the market had changed quite a lot, and the "unpublishable" books had somehow become publishable (Thank you, Kate Dicamillo and Jeanne Birdsall!). Both my first picture book and my first novel were pulled from slush! Though I admit I did some heavy revising (on spec) with the novel.

Q. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great review of ANY WHICH WALL making comparisons with classics by authors E. Nesbit in the late 1800s and Edward Eager in the mid 1900s. I know Mr. Eager's books were a strong influence for you - tell us about this and how they relate to your writing today.

A. Well, I have to confess that most of the books I love are very old. I'm not up on the new books, though I'm trying to catch up now. But for me there's a great appeal to books that blend magic and real-life-kids, humor and emotion. I don't like when things polarize. I don't like how a lot of books now get pushed to an extreme. They seem (sometimes) like they have to choose between funny or sad, magical or "realistic". I think older books tend to be all of these things... I think one amazing thing about childhood is that kids experience everything all at once. So I tend to look back to older books for my craft lessons. Some of my favorite new authors are doing amzing things though. Ellen Potter and Victoria Forrester and Rebecca Stead...
     Did I answer your question? Hmm... Specifically, I'm interested in the episodic quality of Eager and Nesbit, and that the kids in their books aren't battling for their lives, or the fate of the universe...

Q. I must admit, I think ANY WHICH WALL is one of the most perfect mid-grade summer reads for this age group ever, it's perfectly targeted. And I especially loved the smart-aleck narrator (just enough - not over the top like some other mid-grades). What's been the response to the book so far?

A. People seem quietly excited, I think. I get great emails from people. But I don't know. I think I get too caught up in paying attention to reviews and Amazon ranking I'm trying to push away from that. Really, what we all want is a long career, right? It doesn't have to be a meteoric rise. I want to write books kids will like, books that will stay on the library shelves a long long time. That's the goal. I'm trying not to think short-term right now. It's hard. And as for reviews, I've been thinking a lot lately about how an author's job is not to please everyone. Who wants to please everyone? Has any really amazing book ever pleased everyone? Art doesn't do that.

Q. And finally - I look forward to reading whatever you come up with next. Any hints?

A. Ugh. I'm in the middle of a particularly painful revision. I'm murdering ALL my darlings and it's awful. Sometimes revising feels like surgery. I'm excited about the book, though. It's called Penny Dreadful, and it's about a bored little girl (Penny) who moves to a tiny town in Tennessee, from "The City." Oh, and I have a picture book coming out next fall, called "Baxter the Kosher Pig." I'm in love with Baxter. The art is incredible, though the artist is still hush hush...

Q. Sounds fantastic - I can't wait! Thanks so much and here's to more happy writing (and happier revisions)!

A. You too! Thanks so much, e!

My Terrific Transformation

I recently signed up to receive updates from a funky little clothier called ModCloth. I love their retro-vintage fashions and really enjoy browsing the quirky things they offer. I also like the way they market - they’ve created a fun community with contests to name their clothing, post themed pictures wearing their clothes, and this latest one - to write about a Terrific Transformation.
     Well, I’ve been through a few in my life and one is actually on topic - my transformation to becoming a children’s book author and illustrator.
     I often mention how I always wanted to create picture books - if only the journey had been as easy as the dream.
     In college I studied Graphic Design. Upon graduation, freelancing wasn’t a realistic option for a single girl out there on her own (and who wanted to keep a roof over her head). So for twelve years I was a corporate in-house illustrator and graphic designer. But I stayed somewhat on course - most of the companies I worked for were child-oriented. I drew Snoopy for Buster Brown apparel, created characters for candy wrappers for Brach’s candy - I even created animations for the Stone Mountain laser light show. But all the while I dreamed of one day creating children’s books.
     During my last corporate position I actually started taking my dream seriously and started creating very rough (very bad) picture book dummies on the side. And then I met my wonderful husband who saw what the dream meant to me and told me to go for it. Long story short - I quit my day job (I’d been working since I was fourteen, this was no small decision), and continued to freelance while I researched the heck out of my newly claimed industry. I also had to figure out what my illustration medium/style was (I was great at creating other people’s looks but had no idea what my own was).
     I worked, I experimented, I sent out mailers. I tried to figure out everything I could to break into what turned out to be a very difficult field to break into. (Who knew?)
     THREE YEARS into my efforts (and after dozens of rejection letters and late night gut-checks - what the heck was I doing!?) I received a call to illustrate my first trade picture book from Shen’s Books. It was a Cinderella story written by Renee Ting - The Prince’s Diary. Wow!
     Since then things have gone pretty well. Not easy, mind you (not easy at all!) - but well. I’ve illustrated several more books. And after SEVEN YEARS of rejections, my first picture book as both author AND illustrator comes out this Fall from Raven Tree Press! Woohoo!
     It’s an adaptation of the classic Appalachian Jack Tale SOAP, SOAP, SOAP! and comes in both English and bilingual versions.
     The dream is finally reality. I am finally what I was was always meant to be - a children’s book author and illustrator.
     This has definitely been “career/life number two” for me - but the one I wanted all along. And it has required every ounce of my dedication, resolution and stubbornness (yes, there can be a good side to that trait).
     So, yes ModCloth and the world - I was transformed - from the life I had to the life I dreamed. And I continue to work very hard to make it as sweet as possible. Thanks to ModCloth for getting me to talk about it!

     ModCloth went through their own transformation. It’s a sweet story too and you can read about it here. (The flower graphics are from their website.)

Coloring Page Tuesday - Dog with Book

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     Dogs love to read to y'know! Well, maybe they prefer if you read to them.
     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!

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

Book Sales Demystified

Fantastic guest blog post on Nathan Bransford's blog the other day about a side of the biz we seldom hear about: Book Sales Demystified. We create the stories and it's hard enough to get a publisher to love them. It's sobering to think they then have to face the challenge of sales teams and bookstores. Anyhow - this is a highly informative post and a good read.
Thanks to Anastasia Suen for the heads up!

Sour Video from Happy Accident

Very cool video on Greg Pincus' new blog - all shot with web-cams. Rather than embed it here, I'm going to send you to Greg's new "Happy Accident" to see it, because he just started this blog about 'using social media to help create happy accidents' and I think you'll enjoy it too. So go have a looksie at "Sour" and then dig around for a bit.

Lovely article on Garth Williams

Lovely article on the man I attribute with turning me into a children's book illustrator - Garth Williams.
     You probably know his work. He illustrated Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little and The Little House on the Pairie series. But I remember him for The Golden Book of Elves and Fairies.
     I grew up reading my mother's copy and it is now threadbare from all the time it spent in my hands. And maybe I shouldn't say I read it - I devoured the illustrations. I would sit for hours trying to figure out how to climb into the magical worlds he created.
     All my illustrative efforts since then have been to recreate that wonder for me or somebody else. All of them.
     So, if ever I had a hero - Mr. Williams would be top of the list.
     Thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg of the Newberry Library in Chicago for the heads up!

Illustration Friday: Hollow

Do you remember when you were a kid and you'd go to play at somebody's house for the first time - and you got that awful hollow feeling when you realized they did things differently there? Or that you were doing things all wrong?
     Learning how to compromise and get along is one of the early challenges of childhood. Advice for success in this arena is summed up perfectly in Ready to Play!

     Part of the ParentSmart KidHappy™ series written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, Free Spirit Publishing.

Leaf and Tree: A Book About Writing...

Groovy new approach to a book on writing by a top editor in the biz... (and it will be some kickin' advice too!)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It's almost here! July 15th. Can you stand it!? Click here to watch a new trailer on myspace! Chills, I say - CHILLS! I Can't Wait!

Joelle Anthony on Breaking In

I promised more posts on method, and there have been some wonderful recent posts by other authors on their journeys into this tough industry. Remember the heartfelt post I told you about from Shelli Johannes Wells?

Well, here's a new one for you - Joelle Anthony visited Darcy Pattison's blog "Fict!on Notes: Believe in Your Story" recently to relate her journey to publication in "The Short Sixteen Years to Becoming a Published Author".

What strikes me most deeply about both of these stories is the incredible dedication it takes most people to break into this industry. It's a hard road, but it can be done!

Thanks to Wanda Johnson of the SCBWI Mid-South Board for the heads up!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Victorian Poetry

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     Ahhhh. So you're thick in summer activities, yes? I hope you have a lot of free time to enjoy good books wherever you are!
     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!
     This image will be available as a RUBBER STAMP at The Greeting Farm as of December 1, 2009.

     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

Please follow my copyright policy when you use my images! And share your creation on the Coloring Page Tuesday facebook page!

Look what Irene made!

I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears

Wonderful story on NPR's "All Things Considered" on Friday, An Enchanting Tour Through a World of Idioms, featuring a new book/collection by Jag Bhalla.

When you visit the link (click the image), you'll see more Idiom Cartoons by Julia Suits' too. The one below is the Italian equivalent of 'having a chip on your shoulder' - it becomes 'you've got a fly on your nose'. Isn't that great!? I gotta get this book!

(Thanks to Robyn Hood Black for turning me onto the story!)

Bits about the biz to enjoy...

Happy Birthday America!! If you get some down time today in between the barbeque and fireworks, here are some great bits you may want to check out...

I just read a charming article by Nan Marino on her Thought on the First Two Months of her first book's release.

There's also a Quick History of Golden Books you may find fascinating. It's celebrating a new gallery show currently on tour featuring art from these classics. The closest it will get to me is South Carolina, but I may have to make the trip. Update: You can see some of the images HERE.

This one is a radio broadcast from "To The Best of Our Knowledge" hosted by Wisconsin Public Radio. The program is called "The Fairy Tale Hour" and is a great listen.

And this one won't take long... unless you start following the links. It's a fantastic poem by Gregory K. Pincus called I'm Pretty Well Connected (a Web 2.0 poem).


Free Flash Website Builder

Remember when I turned you all onto building a website using a blog? Well, this may be the next wave: Wix.com. I have no idea how well it works - but it looks promising. I will say, even the demo video ran very slowly on my ancient computer, which may be a bad sign - but if most of your users will be on newer machines, this might be an option. And I love the gallery set-up. That could be especially useful for illustrators.
     So, if you try it, will you report back and share your link? I'd love to see one of these applied to our world of children's books!

Update! We got a taker. Anaiis Salles built a new website using Wix. As she says, " went right there, dug down deep and between Friday and Sunday had the basic web site up and running. Still tweaking, of course -- always!" Click here to see what she came up with!

Hubbie on Wheels

     Every now and then I mention that my husband is a long-distance motorcyclist, but I don't really share details. Today, I remedy that.
     When I met Stan, the only room in his house that was completely furnished was his garage. He had three motorcycles back then - all BMW's. As long as I've known him, he's had at least one motorcycle and gone riding pretty much one day per weekend. And I don't mean little bimbles - the man doesn't see the point in getting the bike out unless he starts with a 300 mile jaunt. He even did an east coast to west coast ride in 42 hours which earned him the title of Iron Butt - no joke. (He corrected me - he's actually earned the title three times now.)
     So every weekend he travels to the distant corners of our state, or other states, looking for those sweepers and well-engineered curves. And he often organizes rides for other long-distance riders to join him.
     The other weekend, he did the Dragon - or the Tail of the Dragon (as it is often called) at Deal's Gap. It's an 11-mile stretch of road in the Tennessee/North Carolina Mountains with no less than 318 turns in that small space. People fly from all over the world to ride the tail of the dragon. So, three photography studios have claimed corners to grab shots of you as you ride it.
     We don't have many pics of Stan actually ON his bike, so were thrilled when these came out so well.

     Yup, that's my hubbie - ain't he hot?

Update: December 2010. Stan has been accepted into the 2011 Iron Butt Rally - a prestigious affair that occurs biannually with only 100 riders allowed to participate. They ride 11,000 miles in 11 days - hence the name of hubbie's new blog: 11 in 11.

Springer Mountain

More research for the picture book I'm illustrating, "The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia." Did you know that Springer Mountain is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail? Well, it's in Georgia and makes for a lovely bimble.
     This past weekend, we headed up to North Georgia and stopped at R&A Orchards for lunch and peaches!

     And then we headed for the mountain. About 20 minutes in on a National Forest road and we were there! Well, sort of. We parked the car and then hiked a mile uphill. THEN we were there!
     And boy was it worth the trip - it was gorgeous.
     There are two plaques when you get to the official start of the AT - you can see one of them in front of Stan (the hubsmeister) embedded in the rock and the other in this second shot. There's also a mailbox of sorts built into the back of the rock to hold notebooks for geocachers and notes/postcards people want to leave for whoever is there next. Pretty cool.
     We also checked out the camping set-ups nearby, and dang. It's like five-star camping up there! And if it wasn't for the bears (which have been problematic of late according to a posted sign) I'd be all over it.

     It's going to be tricky to illustrate this one. If any of you are hikers, you know that the view surrounding you most of the time is pretty limited in scope (rocks, trees, the uphill climb). Every now and then you come to an open vista like the pic above, however, it can be hard to relate that information to surrounding context. So, it will be challenging to draw. But now that I've been there, I have a much better idea of how to tackle it!