Missing U

This is a very cool Ringling College Computer Animation Thesis. Especially considering I used to try to hold conversations between Me, Myself, and I. You ever tried that? It's hard to do!

Missing U (Ringling College Computer Animation Thesis, 2013) from bwagstaff on Vimeo.

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

Coloring Page Tuesday - Scared Watermelon Truck

     I'm pulling from the archives this week. I created this image of a watermelon truck being scared by a snake back in 2003, but I always liked it. I hope you do too!
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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!

Dirt Is Good - The making of "Futures"

JOOheng Tan - sand sculptor champion - was asked to create sculptures of childrens' futures for an OMO washing detergent campaign. The result is very cool and completely inspired.
Thanks to The Kid Should See This via This Is Colossal for the heads up!

I'm baaaack.....

I drove through seven hours of intense rain yesterday from Virginia to Georgia, which let up just long enough for me to stop for a bag of peaches at a roadside stand in South Carolina.
     So now I'm home, and readjusting. Stan has to get used to sharing his space again and I have to get my mind back into this space as well. I'm guessing it will take a few days before home feels normal again.
     Stan made an awesome welcome-home dinner of b-b-q chicken, okra and tomatoes. Then this morning we went walking. (I lost five pounds while at Hollins so I'm going to keep that up - 4 miles today!) Afterwards, I pared down my clothes closet. After living for six weeks on such a limited wardrobe and with so little stuff around me, I'm feeling a bit claustrophobic and realizing I just don't need so much. So, there will be a big run to the Good Will before we head to a lovely lunch at one of our favorite haunts... that's the thing I missed most while I was gone - our Sunday outings. Ahhhh.

The Mother of All Hot Wheels Tracks

This is what happens when Dad stays home with the kids... I wonder if they got lunch? (Just kidding.)
     Actually, this is a very cool way to ask for donations for the Gabe Foundation to help raise awareness and fund research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A 2,000 foot long, 14 room way to ask for help. (It jumps over a hot tub too.)
Thanks to the Kid Should See This for the heads up.

New Friends

I have made SO MANY precious new friends here at Hollins - people I know I will stay in touch with for a very long time. I've never been surrounded by so many brilliant and talented people and we've made deep connections here.
     For instance, I've overcome my fear of horses (from so many injuries in my horse-filled youth) by saying good morning to them each day when I walk, and brushing them when I have free moments. Here's how well one of my new friends knows me: Tracy Roberts gave me a thank you gift for talking to the Hollins Summer crew:

      It's a branch pencil and a horse brush. A horse brush. I'm still tearing up writing this. How incredibly sweet is that?
     This brush will be a treasure and reminder of how I've grown here at Hollins this summer, and how I need to continue the things I've learned here in my everyday life. I hope to volunteer at a barn near my home in Atlanta and continue this "horse therapy" I've begun. And I will use my new brush. Oh yes, I will!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Muskrat with a Monacle

     Every morning I walk 3 miles around the campus here at Hollins University. And every morning I see what I thought was a beaver, until a friend straightened me out. A muskrat? Well, I'd never seen a muskrat before...that I knew of. And the other day I got a good look at him because he had so much grass in his mouth, sticking out both sides, he couldn't see me standing there watching him! So, now I'm especially taken with these little fuzzies. Slightly smaller than a groundhog (which I always want to hug), these guys seem quite scholarly to me.
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     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

What Is Spec Work?

Please view this. Spec work requests are rampant in my industry, and rarely fair.

Hollins Girls

Each summer high school girls come to camp at Hollins University to have fun, learn lots, and check out the digs to see if they might want to come to college here.
     They're called Hollins Girls, and Tracy Roberts organized an inspiring line-up of things for them to do this summer. While I'm typing, they're taking an art class from Ashley Wolff down the hall. Yesterday, I got to talk to them about Appalachian Folk Tales and Jack Tales and how they've been such a strong thread in my life. This was an old fashioned front porch sort of talk - I even had a fan! (Lemonade would have topped it off - note for next year.)
     It was hot as blazes on that front porch, but everybody was in good spirits and we had a great time. The girls were such an attentive and interested audience, it was an absolute joy to share with them.
     Here we are just starting out, getting to know each other...

     And demonstrating the evolution of storytelling...

     And the whole gang. Nice girls with promising futures! (And notice the ukelele!)

The 10 Most Beautiful School Libraries In The World

Like the Central Library, University of Technology, in Delft, Netherlands pictured above. Click here (or the image) to go see them all at Buzzfeed.com.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Fairy Reading to a Snail

     Here at Hollins I'm working alongside two of the best known illustrators in the fairy and fantasy art world: Ruth Sanderson and Lauren Mills. The magic they capture in their work is rubbing off on me. So this week you get a wee little fairy, small enough to fit under a mushroom and make friends with the snails.
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.


Until the copy edits are done, that is. But the major changes are done - completed - finito. We're down to typos, commas, and misspelled words. I have lost all objectivity and can no longer judge whether or not my story is ANY good. Although I did just read the first page to a fellow published writer here at Hollins and we both got chill-bumps. I think that's a good sign. Yes?
     Still, it's mildly terrifying to know my words are getting that much closer to being public, where anybody can read them. I find myself torn between the pride of "Look What I Made!!!" and "No, don't read it, you might not like it!" I suppose it will be out of my hands very soon... I hope you like it. :)
     To celebrate sending my manuscript off—back to my editor, Ruth Sanderson and I went to Brusters and had banana splits for lunch. Best banana split EVAH!!!!!

Book Necklace for your favorite book lover!

I can think of a lot of people who would love this necklace for Christmas! It's from Cool Hunting. CLICK HERE to get details.

Most Amazing Critique Group EVAH!

One of the advantages to teaching at Hollins University is the talented brains I'm surrounded by. Each Sunday a group of the writing and illustration professors gather in Rose Hill (the old house I'm staying in) and talk about our works-in-progress and give advice.
     Although incredibly humbling to be surrounded by such well-published/respected writers, we all get past that and just have an amazing time. Our guest speakers join us when they can, so we had the great pleasure of hearing works and receiving advice from David Almond (Skellig, Hans Christian Anderson Award Winner) for two weeks. We ALL talk about how much we'll hate to leave this oasis of creative feedback when term ends. It will be a sad day.
     Meanwhile, here's the gang: David Almond, Lauren Mills, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Yours Truly, Hillary Homzie, Ruth Sanderson, and Brian Attebery. Not pictured are Ashley Wolff and Rene Englott. (Click the image to see it larger in a new window.)

Here we are being silly:

And here is the gang at work:

JD Donnely sat in to listen on this one (she's in the background), and my hubbie, Stan, is the awesome photographer.

And it gets even better! This week Caldecott winner, Eric Rohmann will be joining us! Woosie!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Bubbles!

     Sometimes characters come to me before their stories do. This is Bubbles the mermaid. She has separation anxiety issues. I'm not quite sure what her story is yet, but I hope she'll tell me before too long!
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     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

IKEA Lemonade Stand

IKEA now has this fantastic lemonade stand available for only $15! Assembly required, of course. Oh, how I would have grooved on this as a kid - rather than trying to build the exact same thing from leftover dry-wall board (no, it didn't work).
Thanks to SwissMiss for the heads up.

Saying good morning at Hollins

During our morning walks, we have to go up this steep hill.

The reward is that at the top, we then go through the stable and say hello to all our friends...

The last one is Bella Legosi. Happily, I will get to go hang out with Bella next Friday and brush him and pet him and generally spend some quality time with him. Turns out he's been stabled of late and could use some love. The barn crew was more than happy to let me volunteer. I can't wait!!!

Walking at Hollins

Gads, there's so much I want to share with you! I'm going to have to break it up over several days, that's all there is to it.
     So, every morning I walk the road that runs around campus with Candice Ransom and Ruth Sanderson. Once around is 1.6 miles. Twice is 3.2. Three times is almost five miles. We usually go twice, sometimes three times.
     For somebody who was on a cane for two years before my foot surgery - this is a MIRACLE!
     And what better place for a miracle than here? Time flies when we walk because this is a little of our view (a few of these will open a larger version if you click on them - feel free to save as computer wallpaper if you like):

     It's just so stunningly beautiful here, I can't begin to relate. And there's wildlife everywhere. Each morning we see bunnies, groundhogs, beavers, herons, birds, horses, dogs and cats, and sometimes deer. I'll have to show you those photos on another day (although they're harder to take). Meanwhile, our walks go well and I can't think of a better way to wake up each morning. Happy birthday America - you beautiful country!

Little Pickle Press - Publisher of the YEAR!!!!!

I am thrilled to announce that Little Pickle Press, my publisher for my debut mid-grade novel A Bird on Water Street, was chosen as ForeWord Reviews' Independent Publisher of the Year at this year's ALA (American Library Association) annual conference!!!!! To quote the press release:
ForeWord’s Publisher, Victoria Sutherland, notes, “Little Pickle Press is the epitome of who we try to distinguish with this award. In a short time and against all odds, Rana has built an award-winning, environmentally-conscious children’s media company creating enhanced ebooks, apps, music, and educational resources that spur meaningful conversations between parents, teachers, and children. She sets a terrific example for new publishers entering the market place.”
     This is a BIG DEAL!!!!
     Congratulations to all the hard-working folks at Little Pickle Press! I am proud to be a pickle!!!