Writing Advice You Should Stop and Read/Watch NOW...

Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthur A. Levine Books (think - Harry Potter) and author of SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR'S TALKS ON WRITING, REVISING, & PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS, has gathered two key resources in her blog post "My Two Favorite Writing Things This Month," which you must go experience.
     The first is Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park and The Book of Mormon, talking to a freshman class on writing. The second is DAVID MAMET'S MEO TO THE WRITERS OF "THE UNIT."
     GO READ/SEE. I'll wait...
     Done yet?
     AMAZING, right!?

El día de los niños ~ El día de los libros 2012

Tomorrow, April 30th, is El dia de los ninos ~ el dia de los libros. (Children's Day / Book Day) So celebrate! Celebremos!
     I have reading-themed coloring pages and lots of activities for my bilingual books including bilingual word find puzzles or sopas de palabras (click on a cover below). So, use 'em and have fun!
     El dia de los ninos ~ el dia de los libros is hosted by the ALA - the American Library Association.

Need more good reading suggestions? School Library Journal recently put together a list: On the Radar: Top Picks from the Editors at Junior Library Guild: Reading Level: Primary Spanish (Grades K-3).

Time Lapse Life - Age birth to 12

This is an amazing video. If you write for children (or illustrate them) and you ever wondered about the nuances between the ages, this really spells it out. Frans Hofmeester recorded his daughter every week for 12 years to make this video. He also recorded his son. Very, very cool.

Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up!

The winner of PUZZLED BY PINK IS....

Carmen! I've been in touch and her signed copy of PUZZLED BY PINK, written and illustrated by Sarah Frances Hardy, will be in the mail soon!
     Stick around for more giveaways (and a biggie) coming soon!

Letters About Literature Keynote Address

So I had ten minutes in which to be pithy as keynote for the Letters About Literature - awards ceremony (two links in there), and I thought I did all right. I got some nice compliments after the ceremony at any rate. Since I have no idea if I'd ever be able to use it again, I thought I'd share. Here was my speech...

     Joe (Davich of the Georgia Center for the Book) asked me to talk a little bit about the future of reading and where technology fits into it all. Certainly, our world of books is rapidly changing. As an author/illustrator I now have several options of how to share my stories with you. They can be in hardcover, paperback, magazines, e-readers, or even as apps. Such as my story, LULA’S BREW. This one doesn’t even exist as a physical book - it is solely electronic. And yet, it’s been downloaded over 10,000 times.
      Even with this changing technology, one thing will remain constant - reading is all about stories. My title may change. They may stop calling me an author/illustrator and call me a “content provider” instead. But whatever they decide to call me, I will still always create stories - picture books, articles, and even three novels so far - two of which are currently being shopped around in New York. Cross your fingers for me, please!
      But it’s important to note that success in this business is built on the back of failure. For every book I’ve sold to a publisher, I’ve got dozens of stories which have yet to be published - an entire bureau full. My stories have been rejected over and over again. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? I’ve had to develop a thick skin. But its the nature of the business. I can’t take it personally. There are only so many tiny slots to be filled and a lot of people are trying to fill them. Its why publishing a book is such a big deal. And it doesn’t stop me from creating. If anything, it drives me and makes me create more.
      The creative mind is like any other muscle, it works best for you when you get it in shape. And once its in shape, its impossible to hold it back. People often ask me where I get my ideas. But ideas are not like four-leaf-clovers. They are not rare. Stories surround us, they are everywhere. It’s up to us to choose which stories are worthy of our time and of being shared. My problem has never been where do I get my ideas. My problem has been ‘How do I make them stop!’
      When Joe asked me to speak to all of you today, he said something I thought was interesting. He said its rare that people get to watch the evolution of an author or illustrator’s career. Certainly, he’s watched the evolution of mine. When I moved to Atlanta, I had one book under my belt. I now have fifteen. So for as difficult as this business can be, it can be done. I’m living proof.
      But I still remember that first day when I decided to embark on this adventure. I sat at my computer and started doing research. The first things I learned were really depressing. I learned that it takes years to get published. That even though most people think they have a book in them, most of them never get published. And that most people think picture books are easy to write and can be shot out in a day. Um.
      Here’s a true story...
           Dr. Seuss was at a cocktail party where he met a brain surgeon.
           "Oh, you're that man who writes those children's books," the Doctor said. "Some Saturday, when I have a little extra time, I am going to write one of those."
           Dr. Seuss replied, "Ahh yes. And someday when I have a little free time, I'll do brain surgery."
      One of my favorite quotes is by Mem Fox. She said, “Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War and Peace’ in Haiku.” Truly, try presenting a story, with strong characters, a good plot, a story arc and a satisfying conclusion in 300 words or less, and you’ll soon realize that writing picture books is probably THE best training for writing that there is. Every word counts. Every idea must be clear and concise. And they must appeal not only to the children to whom they will be read, but to the parent who will be buying them. As Mo Willems said in “Library of the Early Mind” - “One of the great ironies of my life is that I am a writer for illiterates.” Think about it.
      I share all of this with you because I am addressing a room full of writers.
      I’ve had the honor of being part of the judging process for Letters About Literature for a few years now. And while the letters are culled before the judging committee receives them, it still becomes quickly obvious which ones will be considered as finalists. Some of the letters are so vastly advanced, they immediately rise to the top. It then becomes an issue of which will be first, and second, and so on. And we argue over them. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t. But what we do agree on, is the promise for our future in the winning letters we receive. Because the letters are amazing.
      The winning letters are from students, you guys, who are obviously passionate about reading, or who are passionate about one particular title. You know the one. The sort of book you can imagine will still be in your backpack in college, dog-eared from being read over and over again. I envy the relationship some of you will have with that one special book. A book so profound, it spoke to you on a personal level and changed your perspective on the world and how you want to live your lives.
      And then, for this contest, Letters About Literature, you wrote about that book - beautifully. Because most of the time, a true reader is also a writer. The letters we reviewed were not only well-written, they were eloquent and thoughtful, revealing moving personal stories that often-times brought tears to our eyes.
      For to be a writer, a really good writer, not only must we begin as readers, we must also share our weaknesses and insecurities. As Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” And while that sounds terrifying, vulnerability and fear are merely the shadows of bravery and courage. They are the tools of a writer. Without them, we would have nothing to stand against, or to write about.
      Because it takes extreme courage to write about our deepest pain or our hidden aspirations. It takes courage to admit a book spoke to us, that we connected with it in some of the darkest or most secret corners of our mind. Which is why a good librarian or bookseller can be a hero. Make no doubt about it, placing the right book in the right hands can change a life. Some of your letters reflected that.
      The letters you are about to hear admit to challenges, hard times, obstacles, and finally, they show extreme bravery. Not only to get past whatever difficulties you were facing in your lives, but to also stand up here and read your letters aloud, face to face - admitting your vulnerability in public.
      Which is why I am inspired by YOU, the students who submitted these amazing letters. Julian Barnes said, “It is easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren’t writers and very little harm comes to them.” But that’s not who will be speaking here today.
      Today we are going to hear from our future leaders, scholars, politicians, and heroes. Our brightest stars. You are all readers, but perhaps more importantly, you are all writers. You have things to say. Some of you may keep journals, I hope you do. I filled dozens of books with my thoughts when I was your age. They are my treasures now and invaluable resources as I write for young people.
      Whether you keep journals or not, it’s obvious you’ve already begun to share your stories. Your letters promise bright futures and I look forward to discovering what you will do as you become adults.
      But most of all, I wish you a lifetime of happy reading.

Letters About Literature

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of giving the keynote for the Letters About Literature - awards ceremony (two links in there). This is a state-wide contest hosted by the Georgia Center for the Book that eventually goes nationwide hosted by the National Center for the Book. Students write letters to the authors of their favorite book, and let me tell you, some of the letters would blow your socks off. I've had the honor of being on the judging panel for a few years now and I'm always impressed at how eloquent some of our young readers/writers are. Some gave me chills, and some even made me cry.
     Here are the winning students:

Click the image to see it larger.
     They are as follows (and not in the order in the photograph):
     Level 1:
Tekyiah Sanford (1st); Grace Dwyer (2nd); Catie Sheley (3rd)
     Level 2:
Matthew Delfino (1st); Will Capriola (2nd); Catlina Arnett (3rd)
     Level 3:
Amber-Nicole Watty (1st); Kaylynn Cook (2nd); Chelsey Guy (3rd)
     I didn't get everybody in and it's not a great shot, so if any of the proud parents are reading this and got a better photo - please share. Email me at elizabethdulemba at mac dot com.
     For the awards ceremony, the winners arrived with their families and read their letters. Afterwards, we all headed to Little Shop of Stories to spend the gift cards they received as part of their awards. I was so in my element, recommending titles I've loved to young readers who hadn't experienced them yet. SO much fun. I felt like a proud mama bear! (If you read my blog, you know I get that way a lot around smart students.) Our future will be a bright one with these students out in the world!
     And I must admit, I was rather proud of my keynote speech which received lots of compliments. I rarely write actual speeches, I usually tend to wing it. But this was a special event and I had some things I wanted to say which I needed to get just right. So, with that in mind, I'll share my speech tomorrow.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Cutie Bear

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     I felt like going cute this week. Can you say "Awwwww?" I hope you enjoy my little bear with her bunny!
     And don't forget, I'll be doing the drawing for Sarah Frances Hardy's new PUZZLED BY PINK tomorrow - so leave a comment at THIS BLOG POST to sign up to win!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

Learn about proper parenting language and the power of choice in, Ready for Bed! , Ready for the Day!, and Ready to Play! - click the covers!

Ordering Signed Books

Did you know you can order my books from my local bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, and I will swing by and sign them for you before they get shipped? Yup. ($10 shipping fee.)
     Recently, I did this for the Nordin family and now their boys are enjoying their personalized copies of SOAP, SOAP, SOAP ~ JABON, JABON, JABON and PACO AND THE GIANT CHILE PLANT ~ PACO Y LA PLANTA DE CHILE GIGANTE... which makes me incredibly happy too!

Fairy Door

I used to have a little sculpture of a fairy door just outside my office, but it broke and I missed it. So... I added my own fairy door and a few windows!

Book People Unite

Brought to you by RIF - Reading is Fundamental. Here's what they're about:
"We’re bringing together people who share our love of reading to help us get books in the hands of kids who need them most. The movement recognizes the incredible effect books can have on a child’s imagination, sparking ambition, overcoming obstacles and inspiring curious minds."
We must support them!

PUZZLED BY PINK by Sarah Frances Hardy - GIVEAWAY!!

With all the pink that little girls are supposed to love, there must be a few who don't, right? That's the story behind Sarah Frances Hardy's new PUZZLED BY PINK! It's being billed as 'Wednesday Addams of the Addams Family meets Fancy Nancy' - gotta love it. I've watched SF go through all the struggles of a debut writer for the past few years, so I'm thrilled to give her the shout out on her FIRST book!

Q. PUZZLED BY PINK is such an adorable story - how did you come up with it?
A. After I drew this little girl, I wanted to figure out her story. I spent a lot of time developing her character by brainstorming and asking myself very specific questions about her personality. She ended up being a little bit like Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family, and I wrote a story about her having a creepy tea party in her grandmother's attic. I thought it was finished and ready to submit, so I signed up for a critique at an SCBWI Conference. Anastasia Suen who teaches children's writing did my critique. She looked at me and said, "This is cute, but you have no conflict . . . Tell me, what is the worst thing that can happen to this little girl?"
     I replied, "Something pink!" And I immediately had the beginnings of a story.

Q. You are a fine artist first - how was illustrating your first book different?
A. It was SO incredibly hard. My painting style was somewhat post-impressionistic (think Van Gogh, Gauguin), and I used color in a way that respected the "flatness" of the painting surface. In other words, I brought everything forward and didn't use tricks of color or drafting to create a sense of depth or perspective.
     When I shifted to illustration, I found that not only was I suddenly confined by the words of the narrative, but I needed to learn how to show depth and play with perspective in order to create a believable and interesting story-world. To learn how to do this, I studied hundreds of children's books and tried to absorb styles of other illustrators. I also spent a lot of time on *your* advice pages learning invaluable information about using the value and tone of color to create depth. {{{{me: blush}}}
     I also had to go back and work on figure drawing. Since for years I'd been painting landscapes, my figure drawing was rusty. I'm lucky to have three daughters who will pose for me (as long as I'm quick!).

Q. This is your first published book as author too - what was your journey to publication?
A. I think my story is pretty typical in that I had several failed attempts and rejection letters. PUZZLED BY PINK is actually the third picture book that I wrote and illustrated. The first two were learning experiences, and I'm grateful that they will never see the light of day. But what I learned from sitting down and writing, illustrating and revising over and over again was invaluable.
     I had been going to SCBWI Conferences for several years when I developed the "Wednesday Addams meets Fancy Nancy" concept (as a result of the critique session mentioned above). After I spent several months writing and drafting sketches for the story, I began querying agents. I signed with my amazing agent, and we spent a few more months on revision. Right before we were about to submit my manuscript to publishers, I met someone who worked for Penguin at a book conference here in Oxford, and she offered to show it to one of the editors at Penguin. Soon after that I had an offer from the incredible Regina Hayes of Viking Children's Books.
     One of my favorite quotes about seeking publication comes from Sheldon Fogelman who is Maurice Sendak's agent. He says, "Remember, the harder you work, the luckier you get." We all know that luck and timing play a part when you're trying to land a publishing contract, but it's up to you to do all of the hard work on the front end so that you'll be ready when the universe smiles on you.

Q. Which character are you more like, Izzy or Rose?
A. Ha! Good question. I think I'm a little of both now (maybe even a little more Rose these days--I love clothes and glitter!). But as a child, I was Izzy all the way. No doubt.

Q. I've seen some of the awesome decorations at your kick-off party - spiderwebs and pink cupcakes! I imagine lots of little girls will want PUZZLED BY PINK-themed parties. Can you share some ideas?
A. I'm so glad you asked! I've actually created a website scripting an entire children's birthday party inspired by PUZZLED BY PINK. It includes a wand-making craft project, a black cat treasure hunt, coloring pages, cupcake recipes, and printable invitations.
     You can find it here www.puzzledbypink.blogspot.com.

Click the image to see it larger.

     Thank you so much for having me!

Congratulations on your first book, SF! I hope it's the first of many more.
So, leave a comment on my blog to win a free, signed copy of PUZZLED BY PINK. I will do a random drawing next Wednesday! You must live in the continental US and include your email addy (yourname at such-and-such dot com written out is just fine).

Great Mid-grade reads

I've been on a roll discovering great mid-grades to read lately, and must share.

     The first is A HERO FOR WONDLA. This is the second book in the Wondla series by Tony Diterlizzi. Gotta say, it's just getting better. I think I liked the second book even better than the first. There are aliens, overpowering governments, magic, robots... I can't think of a reason not to like this book!

     The second is by the author of ORIGAMI YODA, Tom Angleberger.
I thought Yoda was spot on as a mid-grade read - loved it. But HORTON HALFPOTT was even better! I wish I could crawl in his brain and see the world through Tom's eyes. He's obviously still eleven years old. And his books are perfect for the mid-grade readership!

     So if you have some younger readers in your world, here are two books I highly recommend!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Teddy Tea Party

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     I'd love a spot of tea - thank you!
     Our weather has been stunningly beautiful here in Georgia. Makes me want to have a picnic - with teddy bears. Or at least get out and do something nice for Earth Day - this Sunday. How about you?
     Remember I have lots of Earth Day images you can share - CLICK HERE!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

Learn about proper parenting language and the power of choice in, Ready for Bed! , Ready for the Day!, and Ready to Play! - click the covers!

Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School

You know I love doing school visits, right? Well, this past week was the first time I've ever visited an old fashioned multiple story school building, and it was right in the heart of Atlanta. How sweet is this?

It's the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School - very cool!
     Fabulous children's book author Laurel Snyder got me the kind invitation and I'm so grateful. SUCH a sweet school! They started the day with an assembly of all the students. Some made presentations about a recent field trip, then they all sang a song together. Seeing Laurel with her boys in her lap while they sang seriously brought tears to my eyes. Can you imagine starting every day like that?
     The kids were wonderful, of course, as I shared some of my books, talked about shading and light, and the evolution of storytelling. (Click an image to see it larger.)

     I even signed some books. Gotta love it when a child hugs your book like a teddy bear - does a heart good.
     Thanks to Jill Hanson, the librarian, for taking such good care of me! I hope to visit again soon.


Last night I met up with two of my critique group members, Robyn Hood Black and Kim Siegelson. We had dinner then headed to the library to hear Austin Kleon talk about his new book STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST. He read the first two chapters and I thought he was brilliant. Here's a trailer:

     Austin is the famed creator of "Black Out Poetry" which is very cool in itself. This guy is worth checking out.
     Here is Robyn, Austin, and me with our signed books. (Kim is taking the picture.)

Caine's Arcade

Who says an inventive kid can't achieve big-time success? Check out Caine's awesome creation...

(The end of the video is the best.)
Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Color!

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     For all the coloring pages I give you, I've never given you one of somebody actually coloring! Here you go!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

Learn about proper parenting language and the power of choice in, Ready for Bed! , Ready for the Day!, and Ready to Play! - click the covers!

Our future? Now?

What do you think, would you like a pair of these? If they work as smoothly as this video demonstrates, I think it could be pretty cool.

Coloring Page Tuesday Fans...

Aren't always kids! Two college students, Lauren and Marion, stumbled across my site a while back. And as Lauren says, "Now every Tuesday we take a break from our studies and color one of your pages! Haha it is pretty fun. Thanks for making our Tuesdays great!"
     She sure made my day sending me this note and a photo of their awesome creations:

Happy Coloring!

Book Trailers

This falls into the 'what the heck' but brilliant category...

Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the heads up.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Easter Basket

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     Jellybeans, eggs, chocolate bunnies... I hope you find your favorites in your Easter Basket this year!
     CLICK HERE for more Easter images to color!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

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

Draw a Bird Day!

Did you know that April 8th is "Draw a Bird Day"? Here's the story:
The Draw a Bird Day was created to honor the memory of Dorie Cooper. During World War II, she cheered up soldiers by encouraging them to draw birds. Soon the walls of the sick ward were covered with bird pictures. When ten-year old Dorie died in 1946, her coffin was covered with drawings from soldiers, nurses and doctors. To remember her life and inspiration, Draw A Bird Day asks people to simply draw a bird and share it with someone on April 8. Because April 8 falls on Easter this year, we are encouraging parents and teachers to do the Draw a Bird activities the week before or after.
     Wildlife artist and illustrator of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years, Kitty Harvill is offering a series of printable coloring sheets for you to participate. CLICK HERE to download up to three images. You can add a landscape for a soaring bird, add a bird flying over a tsunami wave, or complete a bird using a photo reference. To share, post pictures online, then email the location to the author, Darcy Pattison, at darcy@darcypattison.com. They will PIN all submissions to http://pinterest.com/darcypattison/draw-a-bird-day-april-8-2012/.
     I think this is a lovely thing to do.