Happy Halloween!!

Are you a teacher, librarian or parent and you don't want to give out candy this year? How about handing out some of my Halloween-themed coloring pages instead? Click the image on the right to find the entire collection.
(Not free for business usage.)

Enjoy the Silly Symphony - The Skeleton Dance (Disney 1929)!


Happy Halloween! Rather than give you another Halloween book, today I'm going to prepare you for the month ahead. November is NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month to you lay folks), and it kicks off tomorrow.
     Several of my novels were born during NaNoWriMo. It's a perfect time to be consumed with all things writing-related. Which is why I'm thrilled to have Lisa Rojany Buccieri as a guest today to talk about her latest book, WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES (2nd Edition)...

Q. Lisa, it's not anybody who can write the definitive guide to creating children's books. How did you get the job?
A. Thanks for the compliment! I actually got a call from one of Wiley’s frequent writer-contributors who had seen my website and found a bunch of references to me via a subsequent Google search and other research about editors. You have to remember that I have worked in publishing as an Editorial Executive planning lists, as a writer being edited, and as an editor for writers, so my experience is pretty inclusive. And I had the time of my life writing this book—and writing the second edition, which has about 60% new material. I am learning all the time. And it feels great to be able to share all that I have learned with people eager enough to commit to writing for children by buying a pretty comprehensive guide.

Q. What do you think some key differences are between writing for children and writing for adults?
A. While I think the basics of a well-executed character arc, a plausible plot, tight story development, and dramatic tension apply to all fiction, children’s books afford less leeway for error. In terms of word count alone, there is less room in children’s books to meander, philosophize, convey inner thoughts, or provide description. Imagine: In less than 1,000 words, a picture book must deliver an active, relatable character with a driving desire who must conflict in a dramatic way with an element in his or her environment and reach a conclusion that would satisfy the target audience of children 3–8 years old. That’s a lot!
      Plus, children are less likely to give a book “a chance” for another 30 pages to see if the book gets better. Either you grab them right away or you are toast! With fiction for grownups, there is a bit more planning and complication by virtue of having more pages in which the characters get to do their thing.

Q. Who is the book for and how can they best use it to help their writing process?
A. WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES SECOND EDITION is for anyone who wants to write a children’s book, whether you are a new writer, a published writer who’s stuck, or a veteran writer who wants to shake things up. Seventy percent of the book is devoted to the writing process. So we start from the beginning identifying different children’s book formats, going through how to develop a compelling character, addressing how to plan and carry out dramatic action and story, and move all the way through the process to how to write a compelling query letter and submit your book in the traditional manner to publishers or self-publish. We even cover marketing choices. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at contemporary writing and publishing.

Q. Which parts of the book will speak especially to NaNoWriMo participants and what are some key ideas for them to keep in mind as they burn the midnight oil typing away?
A. First, turn off the editor. You’ll have 11 months to refine and polish, this month is all about quantity. While the NaNoWriMo rules don’t allow you to start writing before November 1, they do allow planning. So if you know yourself well enough as a writer to know that you will be unable to let a draft alone and continue without going back to fix, then creating character bibles, context bibles, and an action outline (all three of which we discuss in the book), may be the best way to free yourself from the critic. Having those available for reference can make more meticulous writers feel more in control. And if you don’t have time to use these planning tools, they can contribute toward your word count if you use their contents somewhere in the novel.
      Don’t obsessively check your word count. Just keep writing every day until your fingers simply cannot move anymore.
      Make sure you have a quiet space and time. You may be burning up the midnight oil, but it’s only for a month. Anyone can get through a month.
      If you get stuck, have one of your favorite characters start talking to another character as if they were just meeting for coffee—to break up. Any heated emotional exchange will get the passion going again.
      And reading a favorite author can help when inspiration or ideas fail to emerge.
      Finally, there is nowhere that fiction cannot go, and there is nothing a writer cannot do. NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to simply go for it because you are not taking a risk by writing, you are taking a risk by not writing, by not committing all those words to paper. Give yourself permission to write the worst novel ever, because that novel can be revised later, whereas an unwritten novel cannot.

Q. What are some common mistakes you see writers make when starting out and how will WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES help them avoid those?
A. Many writers new to children’s books do not know that there are different formats of children’s books for different target ages, of different lengths and vocabulary levels, that some children’s books don’t even have pictures. You can’t just submit a “children’s storybook.” You have to be specific about format and audience. For this reason we spend a lot of time in the book discussing the different children’s book formats.
      We also have a chapter that dissects the illustrating process a bit. Many writers have no idea that if they write a picture book they are not supposed to include illustrations or hire an illustrator before submission. Of course, self publishing is another story altogether, but there is no path faster to an editor’s recycling bucket than bad illustrations.
      There are also many simple grammatical, formatting, and dialogue mistakes beginning writers make, and we laid out as many as the publisher allowed us to. If your readers want a PDF of COMMON GRAMMAR AND FORMATTING ISSUES please have them email me at EditorialServicesofLA@gmail and request it for free.

Q. Can you share your path to publication with my readers?
A. I actually had to write a lot of books for free for the publishers I was working with to build my resume and learn the craft before I was ready to go out into the world with new ideas and risky manuscripts. Most writers will not have this path available to them, so I was fortunate to get a lot of experience on the job.
      I always encourage writers of children’s books, fiction or nonfiction, and illustrators to join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org). This organization, for a minimal annual fee, provides at the very least a list of all the editors at all the publishing houses, what they publish, and what they are looking for. That’s thousands of research hours saved right there. They also have annual conferences and local chapters so you can get together with your peers, no matter your level of expertise.
      The worst mistake a new writer can make is not being educated about the simple stuff. Get a book on writing or publishing and join a writing group or take a daylong class. You don’t want to put anything but your best foot forward when it comes to your writing and there are lots of simple mistakes that can get in the way of your success without your even realizing it. Don’t be a dilettante. Get the 411 about the business as well as about the writing itself and the submission or publishing process.

Q. Any final words of wisdom for budding writers?
A. Get expert feedback. You don’t necessarily have to pay for it, but you do need someone other than your grandma, your kids, your partner, and your kid’s teacher to look over the manuscript and give you feedback. Even I, a professional editor, have another professional editor go over my work (often several times) before I dare to get it out into the world. When you write and print out a manuscript, there is something that feels final about it and that can give you a false sense of confidence that the manuscript does not yet merit. So get some reliable feedback and do the work necessary to make your work the best it can be.

Thanks so much for stopping by dulemba.com!!!

Lisa has kindly offered to send a signed copy of WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES SECOND EDITION to one of my lucky commenters. (Must live in the US to win.) Sign up below.
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November is for writers and book lovers!

November 1st kicks off several events in children's literature that you should know about.
     First, November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Since two of my novels began as NaNoWriMo novels, it is something I firmly believe in as an exercise towards success.
     It's also Picture Book Month. As one of the co-hosts of Picture Book Month—a month filled with themed reading days and interviews with your favorite creators—I'm excited about the upcoming schedule (more on that soon).
     To help you on your own writer's journey, I'll be featuring books about writing (for both my young and . . . more mature readers) all month. So, find your writing spot, roll up your sleeves, and lets dive in!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Witch Hat

     Top off your Halloween costume with the right hat. Did you ever notice all the witch hats in LULA'S BREW have something fun sticking out the top? Lula's hat has a daisy!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages including more Halloween images! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (I NEED MORE!!!!) (They don't have to be cards - share your kids' art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!

Light Goes On

More fun Halloween stuff - this stop motion LIGHT animation is by Darren Pearson - wowsa!!!!

Andy's Coffee Break Halloween Celebration!

I do sometimes allow commercial businesses limited use my coloring pages for a small fee (my info needs to stay with the images). Andy's Coffee Break in Pasco, Washington recently took me up on it! He shared my witchy pumpkin with his patrons then created this fun video from their artwork - SO CUTE!!!!
Isn't that awesome sweet? Makes me happy.

Island of the Dolls

Halloween is almost here, and to celebrate, I give you a creepy story about the creepiest place on earth brought to you by author Kelly Milner Halls, Kelly's Curiosities:
In Mexico, a system of canals will lead you to the Island of the Dolls, an abandoned sliver of land littered with decaying dolls and haunted by the story of a drowned girl and a hermit who became obsessed with her.


Today, I begin a new feature at dulemba.com... I'm inviting mid-grade and young adult authors to guest post about their new books, their path's to publication, writing advice, etc. and give a free copy to one of my lucky commenters. So, be sure to leave a comment to enter and let me, and Susan Gates, a.k.a. S.P. Gates (my first guest poster and author of THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL) know what you think!
Resolutions - telling the truth to children
     When I showed “The Monster in the Mudball” to an adult, when it was still a work in progress, they suggested “resolutions” so that it would be crystal clear to young readers that characters in the book had, by the end of the story, learned lessons about right and wrong. They said that Frankie, a rebellious teenage girl, should agree that spray painting graffiti is wrong (an opinion held by other characters in the book) and resolve never, ever to do it again. They suggested that Jin’s grandparents, who are worried sick about losing their apartment, should learn, by the end of the story, that there are more important things in life than fretting about where you live.
      I was grateful for the input. At my age (I’m pushing 63) I’m always grateful for input from younger, sharper brains than mine! But I didn’t do what was suggested. It smacked to me too much of preaching. I think children have very sensitive antennae for heavy-handed moralising. But it led me to think again of something I’ve wondered about throughout my 25 years of writing. Are we, as children’s writers, under an obligation always to present a world with resolutions, where lessons are always learned, where bullies get their deserts, where good always triumphs over evil, even though we know that isn’t true? Even though we know that life is often messy and problems don’t always have easy solutions? I know (from my own correspondence) that some adults think we should.
      I should make it plain that I’m not talking about little children here. My books for little children always turn out all right in the end. My stories always reassure them that the monsters they imagine under the bed don’t exist. I’m not in the business of scaring or upsetting babies.
      But then, at what age can we? At what age does a children’s writer start truth telling, moving away in their stories from a more simple and innocent world where everything is black and white, where problems are always neatly resolved by the end of the story? I remember being surprised that some parents furiously complained to a School Board (and the press!) when a teacher of 10 year olds accidentally let slip that Santa Claus didn’t exist. I was surprised that 10 year olds still believed it. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. If parents want to keep that fantasy alive as long as possible then that’s their right, isn’t it? Should other adults, especially writers, have the temerity to puncture that childhood bubble with unwelcome or upsetting truths about the world? I mean, who do we think we are!
      Except, here’s an argument: wouldn’t we, as writers, be betraying children if we didn’t, in our stories, deal with life’s darker side? I don’t ask this as a cynic because I’m an incurable optimist who believes that most people are kind and want to do the right thing – my books are full of triumph over adversity because I’ve seen it happen myself. But I also believe (because I’ve seen and experienced that too) that sad things happen, sometimes very sad things, that even children have to learn to deal with disappointments, the loss of their dreams, bullying, injustice. And the really important thing I believe is that books are the best and safest place to start to learn how to do that. Because children can “practise”, along with their favourite characters, crying with grief, being terrified or hopeless, or out of control with rage. They can, with their favourite characters, as the story progresses, try out these different emotions, live with them, work through them. When they close the book those (perhaps upsetting) emotions may linger a while. But they don’t last. And, hey, the young reader came through! They’re safe, they survived the rollercoaster ride. Because, in the end, they were never really in danger, it was just make believe.
      “Monster in the Mudball” is for young Middle Graders. Near the end, readers share with Jin his sense of helplessness and bitter frustration at being out of the action. Here’s where Mizz Z and Frankie climb up the iron bridge to rescue Smiler (Jin’s baby brother) and Jin realises, because of his dyspraxia, he can’t follow.
“Since Mizz Z exploded into Jin’s life like a multi-coloured rocket he’d done amazing things. Things he’d never dreamed he was capable of. Like rescuing Smiler from the sewer pipe. Then dragon-dancing with Grandpa. But he just couldn’t make that climb. He had to stay where he was on the factory roof, gazing upwards , feeling sick with anxiety…….”
      Jin agonizes about it some more. But, in the end, he gets over it. He tells himself it’s cool. That it’s no big deal because there are other things in life he’s good at. And I hope the young reader, who’s along for the ride, might like his thinking. And then maybe, just maybe, that’s a small truth told.

About Susan
Susan Gates' is an award winning children's author. She's been a professional children's writer for more than 25 years. She's written for all ages from picture books for tinies ("Run, Run, It's Scary Poo!") to thrillers for young adults ("Viridian: Venus Angel"). She's also diversified a lot in children's literature, writing play scripts, poetry, graded readers for schools, comedy thrillers, thrillers, historical novels, ghost stories, short stories (to name but a few genres she's had a go at!). She once even wrote a series of funny books as W.C. Flushing about a time-travelling public toilet called Superloo. She has three children (now grown up) and lives in County Durham in Northern England with her husband Phil.
Visit Susan at: http://www.pinterest.com/monsterinthemud/susan-gates-childrens-books/

Tu Books, and imprint of Lee & Low Books, has kindly offered to give away TWO free copies of THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL to TWO of my lucky commenters. (Must live in the US to win.) The winners will be chosen a week from now.
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ZOMBELINA illustrated by Molly Idle - Guest Post and GIVEAWAY!

This week, I'm handing over the reigns to illustrator, Molly Idle (remember when I interviewed her for FLAMINGO?) to talk about why she agreed to take on her latest picture book, ZOMBELINA...
      Halloween is a time we face our fears. Ghosts, Ghouls, Vampires, Zombies...
      What scares you?
      When I first read Kristyn Crowe’s manuscript, ZOMBELINA, I immediately felt a connection to this little green ballerina who suffers from stage fright, for, you see...
      I have a recurring nightmare.
      I’m walking into my old school auditorium and I find that an audience is assembling, and people are bustling about back stage getting ready to go on, but they were waiting for the lead in the production... for me. The problem? I didn’t know I was in a play. I don’t know my lines, I don’t know where I should stand... the curtains open and..... I wake up.
      In a cold sweat.
      And I look around, and I’m fine. I’m safe and sound in my own bed, in my own home, surrounded by the people I love... who love me.
      It’s a silly thing to be scared of really, that feeling of anxiety and helplessness on stage... I mean, what’s the worst case scenario if it were to really happen? People would “BOO”... laugh at me... maybe throw a few rotten veggies... and I’d go off home to my family, who would give me a hug, make me a cuppa hot chocolate, and soothe my shaken nerves and... life would go on.
      There are, after all, much bigger and scarier things in the world than public humiliation, or zombies... but even those much bigger and scarier things can be made bearable if you have a sense of humor, and the support of people who love you.
      My brother-in-law Chris, was in his 20s when he decided to dive off of a balcony into a pool.... and missed. His nightmare began when he awoke and found that the nerves of his spinal cord had been severed. He was a quadriplegic.
      I can’t imagine much that’s bigger and scarier.
      Chris told me, years later, that while he had lost the feeling in his body, what he did feel for a long time after the accident, was anger. Anger at the world, anger with himself, and he often felt that it would have been better if he hadn’t woken up at all.
      But then, he decided that, as he was still here- waking up day after day- he’d better get on with it, and make the most of what he had.
      And, with the help of his friends, family, a great deal of bravery, and a great sense of humor... he did.
      One of my favorite memories of Chris...
      His roommate, Patrick, was blind, and made his way about town with a cane and the help of his seeing eye dog, Alvie. Chris, confined to his wheelchair, made his way about town with the help of his canine companion, Ilsa.
      When they wanted to go to their favorite pub together, Patrick would put on his sunglasses, then put sunglasses on Chris and tuck his cane in the crook of Chris’s arm. Then, Patrick- with a dog on either side- would push the wheelchair. The effect was that it looked as though the blind were leading the blind... or that the blind were pushing the blind. Anyway, as they walked, Chris would describe to Patrick the looks and reactions they were getting from passersby, and they would laugh so hard they’d cry!
      Chris tried skydiving, ate insanely spicy food, watched grisly-zombie-horror movies, all of which made him feel exhilarated, feel tough, feel suspense, feel... something. Feeling something was so much better than feeling nothing.
      But none of these bits of bravado matched his last act of real bravery.
      For a few years, Chris had been ill more often than not. Each illness lasted a little longer, and took away a little more of the little independence he had left. He bore the endless tests and treatments without complaint. His friends and family all knew what was happening, what was coming... but we couldn’t bring ourselves to face it.

      The anxiety, the helplessness, of watching someone you love suffer... knowing that there is nothing you can do to help... that is the biggest and scariest thing there is.
      In the end, the only one brave enough to take center stage and talk about it, was Chris.
      He said, he’d had enough, and he was ready to go. And while we were afraid to lose him, Chris wasn’t scared. And his bravery made us brave.
      And so, safe and sound, surrounded by the people he loved, and who loved him, we shared funny stories and laughed until we cried.
      I know he couldn’t feel our hands on his... but he could feel what was in our hearts.
      ZOMBELINA is dedicated “post-humorously” to Chris.

      Molly Idle grew up in a theatrical family, and her recurring nightmare is of stepping onstage and forgetting her lines in front of a packed house. EEEEK! Waking up, she is always relieved to find that she is safe and sound in a house packed full of the people she loves. Molly is the author/illustrator of numerous books for children, including TEA REX and FLORA and the FLAMINGO. www.idleillustration.com

Molly is very graciously going to send a signed, dedicated copy of ZOMBELINA to one of my lucky commenters, so be sure to sign up below! (Must live in the US/Canada to win.) The winner will be chosen in one week.
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Avid Bookshop on tv!

Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia is featured in a new ad for American Bank and Trust. Its a great showcase of a sweet little store. And I'll be there Saturday at 10:30 sharing LULA'S BREW! If you're in the neighborhood, I hope you'll stop by!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Bubbling Cauldron

     Boil, boil, toil, and trouble... What magical potion will you whip up for Halloween this year? This bubbling cauldron is from LULA'S BREW—do you know which page?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages including more Halloween images! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (I NEED MORE!!!!) (They don't have to be cards - share your kids' art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!

The Happy Show

I love the idea of this gallery show called The Happy Show by graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. Its currently at the Chicago Cultural Center but will be touring through several cities in the US. Click the image above to go see more of the show at Colossal.

Soo Sunny Park's Unwoven Light

Unwoven Light was documented by Walley Films at Rice Gallery...
I love art that takes ordinary objects, in this case chain link fence and coated plexiglass, to create something new and beautiful. And HOW beautiful!

Thanks to Colossal for the heads up.

Pantone Pairs

Food Art Pairings has come up with a fun edition of limited prints - Pantone pairings of everyday foods. CLICK HERE to see more like: ketchup and mustard; salt and pepper; ham and cheese; lemon and lime; milk and cookies. You name it!

Thanks to dschwen.com for the heads up.

GHOST IN THE HOUSE by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Adam Record

Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday so I'm thrilled be able to share this new holiday book with you—GHOST IN THE HOUSE written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record. It's simple, bold graphics and counting story will bewitch your favorite goblins! Ammi-Joan dropped by for a visit recently . . .

Q. GHOST IN THE HOUSE reads like such a simple story, but picture books can be deceiving that way. How long did it take you to write?
A. Actually, this story has an interesting history: A few years ago, an editor came very close to acquiring a manuscript of mine—a different spooky story. In the end, though, that piece didn’t go all the way for her. So she asked, “Do you have any other spooky rhyming picture books you could send me?” I did not; but I quickly set about creating some! I launched a brainstorming session fleshing out 5 different ideas. Three of these I pursued into manuscript drafts. One of these became GHOST IN THE HOUSE. Despite this winding journey, though, the story itself came to me pretty effortlessly. I spent a good deal of time working on the rhythm and rhyme, and packing in all the elements I wanted this so-very-short story to contain. But overall this story really feels like a gift (maybe the universe’s reward for my original ill-fated spooky manuscript, which was toiled over for years only to be torpedoed by an adorable blue ghost! J).

Q. In the bio it says the inspiration came from a game you used to play with your sister when you were kids. Can you elaborate?
A. Ha, blast from the past! My sister and I were big paper doll fanatics when we were young. We had dozens and dozens of hand-drawn paper girls and boys, along with all their respective bits of clothing, household items, and yes, tiny hand-written books. Our favorite game was “World”, whereby we spread hardcover books across the bed, and each book became a house inhabited by each doll family and all of their items. Over this World, my sister and I were god-like rulers, doling out possessions and generally policing behavior. Our official titles were “The Witch” and “The Ghost.” Hmmm… so, a bit of a convoluted story there, but the Witch and the Ghost monikers stuck from there!

Q. I love the big, bold artwork by Adam Record - his first picture book! How did you react when you saw the illustrations for the first time?
A. I absolutely ADORE Adam Record’s artwork! The ghost is my unabashed favorite, and I am in awe of the complexity of expressions and emotion he has conveyed in such seemingly simple illustrations. How did I react when I first saw them? I’m pretty sure I swooned. And I’m still swooning a little now.

Q. You write both picture books and novels. First, how do you find the time!? And second, do you find it difficult to switch gears between projects?
A. How do I find the time? Wherever I can, I guess. I tend to write pretty quickly in high volume when I am on deadline or when I’m “into” a project. And then I will go long stretches with very little writing, which could be seen as recharging the creative batteries, or simply procrastination. That relates to novels; picture books tend to simmer on the back burner for me, and I work on them here and there as the inspiration strikes. I don’t really have a problem with switching gears; that’s so much a part of my professional life—from the first time I began writing, when my children were small and I had to steal ten-minute blocks wherever I could—that I can’t really imagine doing it any other way. I feel like having a lot going on makes me more productive. When I have any time at all, I have to grab it and run!

Q. You also wrote a mid-grade ghost book, RULES FOR GHOSTING. So what is it about ghosts?
A. Good question! RULES FOR GHOSTING had its early beginnings all the way back in 2004—and was, in fact, the very first novel I began when I started writing seriously with an eye toward publication. Needless to say, it went through many incarnations before being published… and then ended up coming out ON THE SAME DAY as its picture book counterpart, GHOST IN THE HOUSE. Gotta love the wonders of publishing J

Q. I remember way back in 2009 when THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES was about to come out. Publishing has been going gang-busters for you since then and I'm so happy for you! Can you share your path to publication with my readers?
A. It has been a pretty exciting journey! FAIRIES was acquired from a slush submission; I read about Tanglewood Press online and liked what I heard. Peggy Tierney has been wonderful to work with and I am so grateful to her for being my starting point on this great journey. After FAIRIES, I published a sequel with Tanglewood, THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS, which came out (glitter and all!) in 2012. In between, I was thrilled to publish my debut novel, NOWHERE GIRL, with Walker/Bloomsbury (this time through my lovely agent, Erin Murphy, which is a far more comfortable way to navigating the publishing minefield!). After that I sold several books, all to different publishers, between July 2010 and January 2012. As the publishing fates would have it, all four of those books have come out within the past three months! So 2013 has been a pretty big publishing year for me.

Q. Any sounds words of wisdom you can share?
A. I don’t know about wisdom, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in my publication journey so far is how varied is the path of each book that goes out into the world. There are so many variables—the publishing timeline, the publisher’s approach, the book itself and how it’s prepared and put out and received. There are so many things that can tempt a writer to stress and anxiety. But the more I do this the more I realize how many of these elements really are outside my control. And if that’s so, then what good does it do me to stress over them? All I can do is write the best book I can. Where it goes, how it is received, whether it sells or receives good reviews or gets publicity or attention or awards—that’s out of my hands. I would love for those things to happen, and I’m delighted when they do. But if not, I’ll keep on writing, keep on tending to my little garden of words. And leave the rest of the hands of fate—and my readers.

Thanks so much for stopping by and CONGRATULATIONS again!

Thanks so much, and thank YOU for having me!

Candlewick is kindly giving away one free copy of GHOST IN THE HOUSE to one of my lucky commenters. Enter below. (Must live in the US/Canada to win.)
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London 1926

This footage speaks for itself - how amazing to see it in color! And what it refers to as crazy traffic is, well, not. And the clothes! For some reason black and white doesn't bring it home like this does:

Incredible colour footage of 1920s London shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Friese-Greene, who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William - a noted cinematographer - was experimenting with. It's like a beautifully dusty old postcard you'd find in a junk store, but moving.

The lovely people at the BFI have lots of other footage from his film, The Open Road on their YouTube channel up here http://bit.ly/1920sEngland. More background on this here http://bit.ly/1077PVK.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Pumpkin Love

A special edition of Coloring Page Tuesdays and e's news went out today. ARE YOU SUBSCRIBED?
     Well, hey there punkin'! Has anybody ever called you pumpkin or punkin? Seems like the perfect time of year for some gourdly affection.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages including more Halloween images! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (I NEED MORE!!!!) (They don't have to be cards - share your kids' art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!

Southern Festival of Books Wrap-up

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking to an audience at the Southern Festival of Books in downtown Nashville.
     I've been to this festival twice before (although it had been a few years) and I always love it. Not only are you surrounded by all the cool things that are Nashville (music everywhere), but I have a lot of writer friends in that area - home to the Midsouth Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
     Hubbie and I drive up so that we can stop and see my old house in Chattaboogie, Tennessee and eat lunch at the River Street Deli. It's a mini-homecoming on the way through. Then we get to hang out and catch up with my Tennessee friends, many who were working the SCBWI tent. (Also had dinner with Susan Eaddy and her hubbie on Friday at Tin Angel—so fun.) I love Tennessee!
     Saturday at 11:00 (great time!) I shared my picture book, LULA'S BREW (Xist Publishing), with an enthusiastic group. We read, drew pictures, and talked a bit about some of my other books. (My publisher, Little Pickle Press, sent me some great bookmarks to share for my upcoming debut mid-grade historical fiction, A BIRD ON WATER STREET—Stan handed them out like candy!) Although for this trip, it was mostly about witchies...

      I noticed a wonderful thing among the people who came to hear me read LULA'S BREW (and have me sign a book)—most of them were already familiar with me. In fact, some of them emailed me before I even got there.

     Connie had some questions about writing and illustrating picture books herself.

And one of my attendees was a budding artist. (I let her wear my witchie hat in the photo her dad took.)

I even had some distant relatives drop by - what a nice surprise!
     One little attendee was even named Lula! She was all of 3-years-old, but I made sure she helped create a drawing on stage. SO SWEET!
     Folks already knew about my coloring pages, they knew my website, they knew about the journey for LULA'S BREW (began as an app and was downloaded over 10,000 times). What a thrill that was! It would seem I'm developing some loyal followers, and I can't tell you how happy that makes me!
     I also love Nashville. Music is everywhere. I mean, this is something you just don't see in Atlanta...

     After my stage gig, we went to B.B. King's Blues Club. We heard some FANTASTIC live music and it was the perfect place to unwind. (Trust me, you get a little wound up being a witch on stage for an hour.)

     Then we headed back to the festival to enjoy friends doing their engagements. Morgan Keyes and Kristin O'Donnell Tubb talked about writing quests. Then Jessica Young shared her new picture book, MY BLUE IS HAPPY. There were some great folks I wanted to see on Sunday too (such as Barney Saltzberg, Terra Elan McVoy, Rick Riordan, etc.), but we had to head back to the ATL.
     All I can do is hope the kind folks at Humanities Tennessee invite me back. Because they sure know how to throw a good party!


This kid is GREAT - so is his point...

I donated a box-full of shampoos, conditioners, lotions, etc. to a local women's shelter. It cleaned out my bathroom and helped some folks who needed what I wasn't using. Next step - coat closet. Maybe some of my old coats can keep somebody else warm this winter. How about you? Let's do this!
Thanks to SwissMiss for the heads up.

OL' CLIP-CLOP by Patricia C. McKissack and Eric Velasquez - GIVEAWAY!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. And while I usually prefer the cozier side — the carved pumpkins, the fun costumes, and the treats - I don't mind a mild scare every now and then. OL' CLIP-CLOP, written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Holiday House 2013), is exactly that. Today I have the honor of talking to Eric about OL' CLIP- CLOP.
     John Leep is not a nice guy. So is he imagining the sound of somebody following him one late October night? Or is it...

Q. You are known for such gorgeous books as OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR and THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. With that last title, you had to illustrate dark, night-time scenes like in OL' CLIP-CLOP. Do you find those challenging?
A. Yes it is rather challenging. I have to consider the location as well as the time period of the scene that I am depicting, while taking into account how to best illustrate a scene dramatically.
      I loved working on OL’ CLIP CLOP: A Ghost Story because Jon Leep is slowly riding deeper into the woods, deeper into the darkness which is a reflection of his own inner darkness.

Q. The way you use light gives such a perfectly creepy feeling to OL' CLIP-CLOP. How do you approach your lighting?
A. Aside from the actual form of the images, lighting is one of the most important aspects of my work. The lighting determines the mood of image. One can say that I consider lighting as carefully as I consider the characters of the story.

Q. You're best known for you books featuring African American characters. Do you feel the tide is changing in multicultural representation in children's books?
A. I would hope so. I certainly am looking forward to illustrating and reading stories that are traditionally written, but have a multicultural cast.
      Example text: Suddenly the most beautiful girl walked in the room.
      Example Image: An African American, or Asian, or a Latina girl walking into the room.
      It is about time, don't you think? [[YES!]]

Q. What is your medium and how long does it usually take you to illustrate a picture book?
A. Mix media and oil on watercolor paper. Usually three months, however some projects have taken longer, especially the more ambitious ones.

Q. Can you share your path to publication for my readers who are just starting out?
A. The path to publication? First you have to be able to accept and apply constructive criticism. I started illustrating shortly after graduating from the School of Visual Arts 29 years ago. It was very different then, however as I tell my illustration students at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) "You must be willing to work hard and embrace the notion of being life long learner".

Thank you for stopping by dulemba.com - it's been an honor!

Holiday House is kindly giving away a free copy of OL' CLIP-CLOP to one of my lucky commenters. Sign up below. (Must live in the US/Canada to win.)
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