That's How a Pumpkin Grows

What a great pumpkiny video!! It's by songwriter Brian Vogan and illustrator Alberto Cerriteño. Happiness!
(Thanks to The Purple Cow Bookstore Blog for the link.)


One Man's Trash

One Man's Trash - They are just piles of trash until a light is shown on them - SPOOKY!!
Thanks to Sally Vitsky for the link!

Guys Read Gets a Makeover!

Guys Read was created by a special group of highly prolific and successful children's book creators, including Jon Sciezcka - the head honcho. It was born out of the knowledge that guys often don't read as much as girls. But why not when there are such great boy books out there? That's where Guys Read comes in.

Another great boy book? SOAP, SOAP, SOAP of course!

     Click the cover to learn about my newest picture book, Soap, soap, soap and Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón.

ABC Best Books for Children Catalogue

Woohooo! The Association of Booksellers for Children has just released their latest ABC Best Books for Children Catalogue and SOAP, SOAP, SOAP (the all-English version) is right there on page 6!! (Luvs me some Skippyjon too.) Another Raven Tree Press title also made it in: BEAUTIFUL MOON by Dawn Jeffers! Woohoo!
(Click the catalogue to open the .pdf and see the whole thing!)

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Pumpkin Mouse

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     Here come the Halloween coloring pages! Bats and witchy huts and the like - I love this time of year!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Click the iPhone to learn about my new app - Lula's Brew!

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

I love how Tobi-Dawne used this image!


Roar!!!! Today I get to introduce a great new picture book to all you monster-lovers out there. You know who you are - you love scales and slime and all things that spook and scare.... I NEED MY MONSTER, written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam, is the book for you!
Ethan loved the monster that lived under his bed. But when Gabe goes fishing, Ethan needs to find a replacement. Turns out that's not so easy to do...
     I asked Amanda about the creation of this fun book:

Q. How did this story come to you?

A. By wishing my three year old daughter would be too afraid to get out of bed. In my defense, my fourth child was still an infant. All I wanted was a solid night of sleep! It’s not my finest parenting moment. I’m a much better parent when I’ve had enough rest.

Q. Did you do a lot of revising?

A. Yes. Picture books are deceptive. They seem very simple and easy to write. I estimate (because I lost track!) that the book was revised about 11 times.

Q. What was your path to publication?

A. Long, but typical. I wrote the story mid 2005 and started submitting it to publishing houses (including Flashlight Press). Flashlight made on offer to publish the book in 2007. It wasn’t released until April of 2009.

Q. How are you celebrating the release of I NEED MY MONSTER?

A. Halloween is the perfect time to celebrate! I’ve been doing quite a few author visits and bookstore events. There is a monster page you can download at to make your very own monster. Not to mention that I love to make toe cakes. They’re gruesome and tasty at the same time.

Q. It's a perfect Halloween book, but it's also a great night-time book for kids who want to 'embrace their monster' rather than fear it. Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes on how the book can be/is being used?

A. I did hear that after a reading one little girl said “There are monsters under my bed!?!” Mostly, it’s been well received. I’ve also heard one classroom is using the monster page to figure the number of variations that can be made with the monster bits. I just love to hear that kids are reading and enjoying the book!

Q. Thanks Amanda! Hope the book has a grizzly future!

A. Thanks! - Amanda

Where The Wild Things Are Tattoos!

From Cakehead Loves Evil - Where the Wild Things Are Tattoos!
     No higher honor?
     Believe it or not, some of my art adorns bodies too. WAY back when I played Ultimate Frisbee (I wasn't very good), I created a logo for our team - Naked Pretzel. I was around to see the t-shirts, but long after I'd moved on I learned several people had turned the logo into tattoos - I think I saw one once but it's been a long time.
     And every now and then I get permission requests to turn other pieces into tattoos. I ask them to please send pics so I can share them on my blog. No pics yet, so I don't think anybody actually went forward with it.
     But yeah, that would be cool.

Nominate Your Tech Savvy Super!

     Tech Savvy Superintendents are being honored through eSchool News. Between now and October 30th you can nominate your Superintendent if he/she qualifies. Some of the qualifications include:
Models the effective use of technology in the day-to-day execution of the superintendency.
Thinks creatively and strategically about the long-term challenges and opportunities of technology in the school district and in education at large.
     Why do I care? Because I offer Virtual School Visits just for forward thinking educators like these! Virtual Visits offer unique opportunities for many reasons - they can make authors available to rural areas, they are much cheaper than an in-person visit, and the technological aspect makes them interesting for older students too.
     Read about my first (well-documented) Virtual Visit Here and find more authors doing Virtual Visits at

An iPhone App is Born - Lula's Brew!

Drum roll please...
I'd like to announce my first iPhone App -
written, illustrated and read to you by
Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Yours Truly)
     Lula's Aunties want her to be a witch like them. But Lula hates to fly on brooms. She'd rather study cookbooks than spellbooks ... Lula dreams of being a famous chef!
     When her Aunties insist she attempt one last potion, Lula secretly adds her cooking flair and in true witchy fashion ends up creating a brew that bewitches the entire town ... maybe her Aunties too!
     This rhyming tale transcends the typical Halloween story to appeal to cooks and "foodies" throughout the year.
     I had to try it - these new apps are too exciting! Are they books? Sort of, but they're really something new and different. For instance, they're GREAT for on the road when you can't have your books with you. And I love that we have another way to share our stories!
     LULA'S BREW available NOW for $1.99 through:


search: Lula

To help celebrate, here are the Stray Cats singing Be-Bop-A-Lula LIVE!

Here's a quick demo:

Book Price War - Who Really Pays?

Per The Wall Street Journal there's a war raging between Amazon and Walmart right now.
     Walmart recently had the bright idea of selling the top-selling blockbuster books for just $10 each. Amazon decided to compete and went to $9, then Walmart went to $8.99. Sounds good for buyers, right?
     No. Not good for buyers.
     See, neither of the big chains is making a profit on these books at those prices. In fact, they're selling them at a loss. They're hoping that while you're buying your $9 book, you'll buy other things too.
     Problem is, there is not an indie bookstore in this country who can compete with those prices. There is not a publisher who can support selling their books so low. There is not a writer alive who can make a living without decent advances and royalties (which are MUCH lower than you think for most of us) - compensation can't be made when books are sold at a loss. Those are the hard reasons. Now for the more subtle.
     What happens when buyers change their thinking? Why buy a $25 novel from a new author when you can buy a $9 novel from somebody well-known? Unknown writers lose the already small window they have to break into this industry. Obviously that means me too. But worse, it means eventually readers won't have choices. They will have the top ten best-selling authors to choose from and little else.
     Some people don't read. Some don't care. But some do. And I'm betting you're one of them. I'm betting you, a reader, want and need variety.
     So, I'm appealing to you. If you want fair business in America, start with your own pocket book. Buy books for what they are really worth. And y'know who has them marked appropriately? Your local independent bookseller, that's who. And y'know what else? There will be somebody working there who can point you to a book by an author you may never have heard of, but who's writing you may love.
     I'm not just talking about fair trade, which is important, I'm talking fair value for Americans. Here's a great video by Annie Leonard about how consumerism has changed in America since the 1950's - The Story of Stuff. It takes a while to watch, but it's a real wake-up call. And while it doesn't directly relate to books, it gives you a better understanding of the issue as a whole.

     If we want to continue to have creative and valuable choices in all things, we need to support the creators by paying fair prices for what we buy. We've lived in a land of discounts for so long, it's a definite shift in thinking, but it's time. Do you really want to travel the country and see the same identical things for sale everywhere you go? I know I don't, but that's what's happened. And now it's happening to books too. Do you really want to read the same ten books everybody else has read, because those are the only choices you have?
     I avoid politics on my blog, always have, until something comes up that directly affects me and my ability to do what I do. This is one of those things.
     America - let's keep it real, shall we?

Update: Target has joined the fray now too. And Walmart is down to $8.98. Geesh.

Update 2: Letters are pouring into Shelf Awareness on the topic. The latest argument? Independent booksellers are suggesting they might buy their stock from the big box stores because they could get the books cheaper (and in lower quantities) than from the publishers. You tell me that won't kill the book industry as we know it.

Update 3 (10-22-09) - Per Publishers Weekly:
In a letter sent to the antitrust division of the Department of Justice Thursday, the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association requested that the government begin an investigation into what the organization believes is the illegal predatory pricing policies being carried out by Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target in selling 10 hardcover titles for as low as $8.98. The ABA requested a meeting with officials as soon as possible, arguing that left unchecked, the predatory pricing policies “will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to remain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public.”
Click here to read more.

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Witchy Potion

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     Halloween is coming - with ghosties and pumpkins and bats and...Witchies!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Click the iPhone to learn about my new app - Lula's Brew!

Georgia Literary Festival

Saturday I trucked on up to Rome, Georgia for this year's Georgia Literary Festival put on by the Georgia Center for the Book (of which I am now a board member).
     If you've been down south you know how wacky the weather has been lately and Saturday was no exception. It was windy, overcast and cold! It definitely did a number on attendance, but it was still wonderful to go.
     Local volunteers had made a smorgasbord of goodies for the authors to enjoy in the hospitality area and the escorts (thanks Tony!) and stage managers (thanks Virginia!) were wonderful all day long. I spoke in the children's theatre room at the new library (what a GREAT facility!) and while the crowd was small, everybody seemed to really want to be there. (Heck, I'll take quality over quantity any day.) So we had a good time. I read Paco and Soap and drew a rubber duckie and a cow (yes, this is my job - stop giggling).
     Afterwards I went to sign and was thrilled to see the scads of my books Barnes & Noble had ordered - even a book I thought had gone out of print: Haley and the Big Blast! It made me wonder if the book buyer was the same I'd met during the Cedar Valley Arts Festival two years ago. I had to go say 'hi'... Sure enough it was Kris.
     Like I've said so many times, whether it's an indie or a chain, a dedicated bookseller can make such a difference in their community and Kris is obviously one of those people. She is connected and involved and is therefore an absolute pleasure to work with.
     I also got to meet some fellow authors: the infamous Terry Kay (what a nice man - I hope to get the opportunity to talk to him more another day); Lynn Coulter (a long-time SCBWI comrade); Lauretta Hannon (author of The Cracker Queeen and a total hoot!); Akbar Imhotep (storyteller); Natalie Jones (storyteller); Virginia Willis (author of Bon apetit Y'all); and Anthony Grooms (author).
     Thanks to Ray Atkins, this year's committee chair, for putting together such a charming event, to Bill Starr of the Georgia Center for the Book for his continued and much-appreciated support, and to Rome for the warm welcome. I hope to return soon!

Teen Read Week

Teen Read Week starts today and there are all sorts of things going on around the intranets to drum up interest in this sometimes hard to reach group... And they really shouldn't be that hard to reach when there are SO MANY great books out there. Heck, it's MY favorite genre (and I'm well past teen). Anyhow, learn more at the American Library Association - Young Adult Library Service Association (yalsa).
Go visit Readergirlz for some fun activities there. And School Library Journal for a panel on new YA releases!

We Love You So & Where the Wild Things Are

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE opens in movie theatres TODAY!! Woohoo! (Click the title to visit the official website.)
     We Love You So is an entire blog dedicated to the "hundres of different artists, writers, photographers, musicians, actors, and creators of all degrees" of the upcoming movie "Where the Wild Things Are." Just scroll through - it's wonderful all the way through. (And listen to the great version of the Dr. Seuss classic "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" here.)

P.S. - I will be at the Georgia Literary Festival this Saturday. If you are near Rome, Georgia I hope you'll stop by to see me read and talk about SOAP, SOAP, SOAP! (Children's Stage, 1:00pm.) You can also read an article about the festival in the Rome News-Tribune.


Of all the alphabet stories out there, S is for Story written by Esther Hershenhorn, has to be the most inventive. It's a picture book for writers, young and old. And while still a picture book, it offers some downright good advice. Add to that, it's visually stunning and it's a must read.
     Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the illustrator of S is for Story, Zachary Pullen...

Q. I'm completely intrigued by your style. Do you use photo reference?

A. I do use photos to achieve my paintings. I try to not rely on them too much though. Just as a reference to draw from and then I put them away to start the paintings with fresh eyes.

Q. How do you end up with your wonderful angles, proportions and faces?

A. I like to think of pictures as writers think of characters. Three Dimensional and full of life. I want to see every scene from every angle before I decide on one. Sometimes this gets me in trouble though when it comes to shooting and trying to achieve the angle.

Q. What is your medium?

A. I work in acrylic to start, just to achieve my color scheme. I then overwork every painting with oil. None of the acrylic shows through. This is why I question even using acrylic to start although it is comfortable for me.

Q. How did you break into illustrating picture books?

A. I did a few covers for the NYTimes Book Review. One that caught a lot of eyes was a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt. The characterization of him, made an editor at Simon and Schuster take notice of my work. He then researched my work a little further and offered me a picture book within a few weeks of that cover printing.

Q. Do you do illustration work in other genres/areas?

A. I have always done a fair share of editorial work. I love the political realm of illustration. It seems as though my book work has taken me away from that for quite a while. I usually do a few magazine or newspaper jobs a year now though. I also have quite a few paintings just waiting for attention in all corners of the studio.

Q. S IS FOR STORY is a story about writing - do you do that too?

A. I have written and illustrated a title called 'Friday my Radio Flyer Flew'. I have about six manuscripts in a flat file waiting to be finished and accepted into the publishing world. As for 'S is for Story', I learned a lot. Every time I went to read it, I gleaned some more information to help me with projects. I see all sorts of similarities in processes. I think the best advice and tip if you want to be a writer is to read all the time. Likewise, I tell anyone wanting to do art to constantly look at art. It always amazes me the number of people that have written or want to write a picture book, but never have taken the time to read any for themselves.

Q. What's a perfect illustration day like for you?

A. I love my job. I get paid to draw and paint for a living. It's pretty sweet. Everyday painting is a great day. I usually work very late hours while involved in a book though. I usually close up the studio around 3 a.m. and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Q. Do you have any plans to promote S IS FOR STORY and what's in the pipeline?

A. I have done a few signings here and there. I am receiving visit requests from around the country and I am scheduled to speak at several fund-raisers. I always love talking directly to the audience. I love that my audience is full of hope, dreams, and energy. I'll always enjoy painting for that crowd.

Thanks Zak!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2009 for Teens

Hispanic Heritage Month ends tomorrow, but I just discovered a resource you may find helpful. It's from Gale and it's Hispanic Heritage Resources for TEENS. You can (from the website):
Read biographies of significant Hispanic individuals
Take a Hispanic culture quiz
Follow a timeline of events that helped shape the Hispanic culture
Explore Hispanic holidays, musical genres and other topics with information culled from Gale resources
Visit other pertinent sites and find suggestions for further readings
Thanks to School Library Journal for the heads up!

Coloring Page Tuesday! - Witchy Hut

Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Here come the Halloween coloring pages! Bats and witchy huts and the like - I love this time of year!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Click the iPhone to learn about my new app - Lula's Brew!

Southern Festival of Books

The Southern Festival of Books

     This past weekend Hubbie and I travelled to Nashville, Tennessee for the Southern Festival of Books. I feel a real affinity for this region since I lived in Chattanooga for ten years (long enough that I root for Tennessee and the Titans). And of course, I have lots of children's book friends there too.
     Have I mentioned how much I love doing book festivals? Truly - they're like big parties - especially for the authors. I got to hang with so many buds, old and new: Loretta Ellsworth and her sis Monica (LUV those two!); Hester Bass; Linda Ragsdale; John Hulme and Michael Wexler (The Seems); Sara Zarr; Genetta Adair, Tracy Barrett, Patricia Wiles, Alyson Lyne and Shellie Braeuner of the SCBWI MidSouth Region; Donny Seagraves; and more! Like I said - Par-tay! Although it was impossible to see everybody since many of our speaking times overlapped, and I actually missed a few friends who were also there, like Jessica Handler. GREAT line-up!

     So, we arrived Friday afternoon under a cloud that looked much like the Kansas sky from the Wizard of Oz. Spooky! But it dried up just enough for us to go check out the main drag in downtown Nashville. Music, music, everywhere!

     And we saw a celebrity - here's Stan with 'da Man.'
     And since we didn't feel like driving any more - we ended up at Morton's for dinner. Woosie, woosie. Ran into Loretta and her sis in the bar first and we ended up talking about hypnotizing roosters. No really - supposedly it really can be done. It was a very "fowl" conversation - ha! (Stan is above showing off the Nashville pin we got in my author goodie bag. What a goof!)

     Saturday I was on an author/illustrator panel with Alex Beard. It ended up being a very different kind of talk about working in this industry, creating a platform, and marketing. I really enjoyed it and am told the podcast will be available soon on the Humanities Tennessee Website. I'll link as soon as it's live.
     Afterwards I got to sign some books then return to the same room to hear Elise Primavera!! Her work inspired me when I was first diving into this crazy business and it was so nice to meet her and say 'thanks'!
     I also saw Sara, Donny and Hester do their things. Then several of us (mostly MidSouth SCBWIers) met for drinks and a wind up of the day. What a great group! Stan, Shelly and I headed over to the Author Party where we did more mingling and I got to meet Lacey Cook - my kind hostess for the festival. (Thank you Lacey!)
     Sunday we awoke early (still on Eastern Standard Time) so had plenty of time to set up on the Children's Stage...

     Get a load of what Linda did with it this year!!! She is so incredibly creative and I love that she shares too! Have you checked out my SOAP activity page? Linda created several of the fun things there! And be sure to check out her latest creation - The Peace Dragon website!
     Anyhow - I had a great time sharing SOAP and PACO and handing out rubber duckies. Signed some more books... and then sadly, we were done. We loaded up the car and left on a beautiful sunny day. In other words, the sky was smiling too. What a great weekend!

The Big Draw

Today is the 10th annual Big Draw Day, but events are going on all month long. The Big Draw started in the UK, and is now a world wide event. From the website:
The Campaign has created a new regard for the value of drawing to help people see, think, invent and take action. Its long-term ambition is to change the way drawing is perceived by educationalists and the public. This has won support from leading practitioners in the creative industries and in art, architecture and design colleges, signaling an overdue realisation that drawing is fundamental to the training of students in these disciplines. The Campaign takes a wider view. It sees drawing as a basic human skill useful in all walks of life. The Campaign's work will finish when the words 'I can't draw' are dropped from our vocabulary.

Authors and Illustrators Panel at the Athens Borders

Sunday I had the pleasure of addressing teachers and media specialists during the Borders Author/Illustrator panel. Have I mentioned I love doing panels? The pressure is divided up among all the speakers and in our small world of children's book creators, many of the fellow speakers end up being friends so it can be a fun get-together.
     And this time, I also got to meet two authors who were new to me - Gene Fehler and Margo Candelario. If you want boy/baseball (and some poetry) books - you need to check out Gene. And if you're going through a difficult loss, Margo's book Looking to the Clouds for Daddy might be of comfort.
     Above and from the left are Gene Fehler, Donny Bailey Seagraves, Margo Candelario, Me, Robyn Hood Black, and Donna Bowman.
     Thanks to Vicki Joyner of the Athens Border's for the kind invitation. And yeah, I'll take up pretty much any excuse to visit my alma-mater (University of Georgia) and hang at Harry Bissett's with the Hubs.

The Southern Festival of Books

     Today I'm off to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. I'll be on a panel Saturday (12:00) and on the Children's Stage Sunday (12:00). Hope to see you there!!

2009 Southern Breeze Portfolio Workshop

...was this past Saturday and it was a HIT! We had two speakers, Donna German of Sylvan Dell Publishing as our Publisher/Art Director and Mark Braught as our Pro-Illustrator.
     Mark assigned a homework project to those who signed up early and they dove in and took it very seriously. Mark was so generous with his time, I received rave comments on how much people learned from him.
     Donna gave an impressive power point presentation on how Sylvan Dell works, what she looks for, and her relationship with illustrators. Sylvan Dell is one of the more forward thinking publishing houses when it comes to technology. They are almost entirely paperless, accept submissions electronically, and their new eBooks are becoming enormously popular in schools. (Here I am showing off one of their eBooks.)
     We held the event at the Decatur library and it was absolutely perfect. Joe Davich of the Georgia Center for the Book stuck around to be tech guru during the presentation - thank you Joe!!! Donna Bowman worked her magic and made the otherwise bare room come alive. (she's the one who makes Southern Breeze look GOOD!)
     So, between our two speakers and all the background support we had quite the line-up! Each speaker gave informative talks and then homework assignments were shown.

     Donna G. did a quick overview of the artwork and portfolios on hand. (We do this quickly on purpose to give an idea of how little time illustrators have to make an impression.)
     Many of the illustrators balked at adding their work to the tables when they saw some of the more professional portfolios but we all said "That's why you're here!" (Including Donna G. who was extremely supportive.)

     We didn't have anything like this when I was starting out. I had to go make my mistakes in person during interviews - gads. So it is a pleasure to make this opportunity available to others through Southern Breeze!

     The illustrators left with a better idea of how to prepare and present their portfolios, how to advertise themselves, and how to fine tune their own work for their desired market. In other words, they left smarter than they came in. The feedback has been outstanding and heartfelt and I couldn't be more pleased.