Sikh Parade in Edinburgh

Sunday we headed to Origano Pizza again - couldn't resist another visit - and stumbled across the most colorful parade heading down Leith Walk. I ran to catch up and take pictures. A reporter shared the event in her native tongue, so unfortunately, I couldn't understand her, but I did ask a man in a blue turban what was going on. Turns out it was a celebration of Guru Nanak's birthday, the founder of the Sikh religion. (Read more about that here.)
Look at these fantastic outfits and colors - in the middle of Scotland!
This is one of the things I love about living in Edinburgh - it is so incredibly international. I am surrounded daily by people from all over the world, their traditions, food, languages, and cultures. Heck, it's quite common for me to hear at least three or four different languages on my walk to school each day. It makes for a vibrant and exciting environment. I love it.
I mean, how could I not stand in awe when this beautifully adorned family allowed me to take their picture?
As an artist, just coming out of a grey winter, this celebration was positively lovely.

Illustration Challenge #47

In honor of the raptors I recently had the opportunity to draw - I challenge you to draw birds! They can be round little balls of squishy feathers and cute little beaks, OR they can be raptors, with enormous beaks and claws!

So, here's a story for you...

First off, please give a cheer - my TEDx Talk "Is Your Stuff Stopping You" has over 10,000 views on YouTube - woohoo!

Now, on to the story...
     So I returned to the studio after most of Spring Break passed only to discover that every locker in our room was open. (Except for the ones with actual locks on them.) That was weird. Then I noticed that my bag of peanuts and raisins was open. No way I left it like that. I looked at the other desks - food had been left out there too. In fact, on one desk there was a half-eaten ice-cream cone. Strange (on so many levels).
     I concluded that somebody had been pilfering through our things looking for something to steal and sell, and eating our food while at it. There had been some random thefts in the building, so I figured this ought to be on Security's radar. So, I reported it to the building's receptionist. She called security and soon after, they stopped by to talk to me and whoever else was there (not many folks had returned yet).
     Turned out, other departments had similar stories. Interior Design thought they had a rodent because of the food mess left behind, and the cameras caught somebody sleeping on the 5th floor that same night. We definitely had an intruder, but luckily, nothing of value was taken. Although, Security took a few items they felt probably had good fingerprints on them for documentation, just in case. They were on it. (I mean this positively - truly, they were on top of it.)
     As follow-up, we received emails to please be aware of who follows us into the building when we use our pass cards. Problem with that is, we are art students. Sometimes art students can look pretty rough, so who's to say who looks suspicious or not?
     I also got an email requesting that I file a police report. But, um, nothing was taken (except by security) other than food, and I just wasn't willing to go to bat on that one.
     No matter. A week later, who should show up but two officers of the Scottish Police Department. Our receptionist pointed them to me. Spring Break was way over at this point and the classroom was full. Can you say embarrassed?
     Why are police going to Elizabeth's desk?
     However, the officers were very nice and said that they really needed a point person on the police report (?!?) to use for future reference, and since the intruder took my nuts...
     Ever so nicely I explained that I really didn't want to have my name in any police reports, and certainly not one where I complain that somebody stole my nuts.
     Imagine! If I ever needed to file a serious report and my name came up in their system with that! Well, they'd think I was... I was... (forgive me) NUTS!
     At any rate, the kind officer understood and said he'd try to find a work around. Meanwhile, Katy Wiedemann got a picture of the whole thing...
...and we were all in tears laughing after the fact. What a way to start the day!
     P.S. - Nobody had any guns.

Friday Linky List - 29 April 2016

Interesting TED Talk: Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction What do you think?

From Janice Hardy's Fiction University: Are You Being Taken Advantage of as a Writer?

From Bookshelf: Fifty Shades of Grey fort - you gotta see to believe!

Book Birthday! THE STORY CIRCLE ~ El circle de cuentos by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and Wendy Martin - Click the cover to learn more

At Jane Friedman: How to Save Money and Do Online Book Publicity Yourself

From Cynsations: Lara Herrington Watson on Analyze This: A Grammatical Breakdown of Favorite First Chapters

From Rachel Maddox: The Secret To Being A Successful Creator: It Hurts.

From The Mixed-Up Files: The 2016 Green Earth Book Award Winners have been announced. I love this award because A BIRD ON WATER STREET won a Green Earth Book Award Honor in 2015!

From Sarah McIntyre: 'Can you illustrate my book?' Some tips for writers approaching illustrators

Deborah Hopkinson's A BANDIT'S TALE

Writing A Bandit’s Tale
by Deborah Hopkinson

      My new historical fiction middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of Pickpocket, is set in 19th century New York City. Although the book deals with some serious themes, including poverty, child labor, and animal rights, I didn’t want the story to be depressing. So I decided to write the story as a rather light-hearted picaresque novel.
      I’d never tried anything like it before, and I had so much fun doing it. As I researched the genre, I learned that the word “picaresque” comes from the Spanish “picaro,” which means “rogue” in English. The first picaresque novels were published around 1600 in Spain. One common characteristic of picaresque novels is that the protagonist is not well-born or aristocratic. Instead, like Rocco in A Bandit’s Tale, the hero is a poor individual forced at a young age to live by his or her wits in a hostile society. The story is often told in first person and has an episodic plot structure, as we follow our rogue from misadventure to misadventure.
      One of the masters of the comic picaresque novel was Henry Fielding, who wrote The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749) and Joseph Andrews, or the History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams (1742). When I was writing Bandit, I often turned to the online versions of these books (available through the Gutenberg Project) for inspiration, and the chapter headings definitely reflect Fielding’s style. My favorite one is chapter nineteen, which takes place during the famous Blizzard of 1888: “Containing a storm so terrible that the reader cannot laugh even once through the entire chapter.” And it is a terrible storm, indeed.
      In addition to having fun with history in the storytelling, I definitely wanted to provide factual background information. When I read historical fiction, I’m always curious to know what’s real and what’s invented. And though I’m sure not all young readers will take the time to peruse the Author’s Note (which is entitled “Containing a variety of facts and resources of possible interest to the reader, as well as information illuminating historical personages”), they might, perhaps, be interested in the 19th century pickpocket slang.
      Since I visit schools all over the country, I’m always attentive to how books can complement curriculum or enhance STEM connections. Social reformer Jacob Riis appears as a character in A Bandit’s Tale. His arresting photographs brought attention to the deplorable living conditions for children and families in the tenements of the Lower East Side. Yet those photographs were only possible because of the invention of flash photography, which allowed the self-taught photojournalist to bring these problems to light. In A Bandit’s Tale, we have included several Riis photographs, which I hope will help illuminate the time period and setting for young readers.
      When I speak in schools, students often ask if I plan to write a fantasy novel someday. The truth is, when I write about history I am always learning, and I can’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding. I hope that young readers will take a chance on historical fiction and nonfiction, and can’t wait to share A Bandit’s Tale with them.

      Award-winning master of historical fiction for children Deborah Hopkinson takes readers back to nineteenth-century New York City in her new middle-grade novel: A BANDIT’S TALE: THE MUDDLED MISADVENTURES OF A PICKPOCKET (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | on sale April 5, 2016 | Ages 8–12 | $16.99).

“A strong chose for those who enjoy adventures about scrappy and resourceful kids.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“A dynamic historical novel ideal for both classroom studies and pleasure reading.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing. For other stops on the Bandit Blog Tour please check Be sure to use this hashtag: #BanditBlogTour.

P.S. - Here is Deborah's Office Assistant, Rue, and Rue hard at work.

Drawing Raptors at the College of Art

Apparently it is an annual tradition for raptors to visit the University of Edinburgh College of Art, for us lucky students to draw.
We gathered in the 4th floor undergrad illustration studio, which has an amazing view of the castle beyond these windows.
Archie McCrone of Alba Falconry (Alba is gaelic for Scotland) brought six of his birds. There was Percy the Peregrine Falcon.
Blue the Red Tailed Hawk.
Bonnie the Barn Owl who sat in front of me calmly the whole time, and who I got to pet.
Kenny the Kestrel who pretty much never stopped moving.
Skippy the Boobook who was full of personality. He STARED at us, and nibbled on us (cute, not painful).
But the star of the show was Edward - an Eagle Owl. He was HUGE and had the greatest expressions! He also had a fan on him most of the time, but still got a little hot.
We got to pet his enormous feet.
Archie held each bird and explained them to us.
And we drew like crazy. Here are some of my sketches.

This was such a treat - and a nice segue back into the classroom after spring break. Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having here?

Coloring Page Tuesday - Spring Chickies

     Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming and everybody feels like dancing! Okay, well, it actually snowed on my way home yesterday - seriously. So, perhaps I'm dreaming. What's it like where you are?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

High Tea in Edinburgh

Tea Time is a common ritual in the UK, although High Tea is a bit (a lot) more special. Susan happened to be in town at the same time as my friend Amandine's mother. So Amandine decided we all needed a treat. We got dressed up for this one.
     The best place for High Tea in Edinburgh is the illustrious Balmoral Hotel. It sits in a prominent spot at the end of Princes Street. The maitre-d's wear kilts, hold the ancient doors open for you, and guide you into the lovely Palm Court dining room.
     I'll admit it's been a while since I've done High Tea (*ahem*), so I wasn't sure what to expect. For instance, we were welcomed by mysterious harp music which wafted down from a hidden balcony. (Susan spotted it later.)
Our group was me, Susan, Sowan, Amandine and her mom Valérie.
Amandine is a publicist and represents some specialty tea companies, so she walked us through what to order. She suggested the Scottish White Tea, which I'd never had. She has taught me that a good tea does not need any sugar, milk or lemon in it, and she was right. It was delicious!
     A parade of treats followed. First was an amouse bouche of mushroom soup with a cream-shaped heart.
Then came the tiers of joy.
There were mouses and tapiocas, cucumber and salmon. The egg cups were actual egg shells with custard and crushed pistachios on top.
Amandine let them know I was gluten free, so a special selection was made for me, including GLUTEN FREE SCONES. OMG!!!!!
I have been drooling over scones since my arrival to Europe and these were amazing. Can you say 'birthday craving'?
     With all that tea, bathroom trips were inevitable, and a delight. Susan got the great photo as to why. ROSES!
     Then, believe it or not, we got to witness another wedding party!!! That's two in one weekend - I'm certain it's a good-luck omen. As I said, there is nothing cuter than a little boy done up in his Scottish best. Both he and dad were so proud.
     Our cute waiter was from France and a complete delight. We all chatted and laughed...

We all concluded that we received special treatment as treats kept coming out, like wee ice-cream cones and take-away gift boxes with more sweets and tins of loose tea. Certainly, we were the last ones to leave with hugs all around.
I love having special people in my life, like Susan and Amandine, who recognize the value of treating oneself sometimes, to soaking up life, and enjoying it with gusto!

Fantastic Beasts

I can't believe we have to wait until November to see this next chapter in the world of Harry Potter. It looks FANTASTIC! (Click the image to watch the trailer on YouTube.)

Edinburgh like a local - prepare to drool

I decided that day 2 of Susan's visit would be a peek into normal life here in Edinburgh. So first, Stan, Susan, and I walked along the Water of Leith. It's a beautiful path which makes it hard to believe you're still in the city. But you are...

And of course, we found more acts of kindness along the way.

We went as far as Dean Village, which is one of the most picturesque spots in Edinburgh.
Then we headed to the Stockbridge Farmer's Market where I bought cheese and boar salami. Susan bought a scarf. And we both ate samples of chocolate marshmallows by the Marshmallow Lady. OMG.
Then we went to one of our favorite pubs for lunch, the Stockbridge Tap.
Several pubs in Edinburgh feature a Sunday Roast, but they are HUGE. Susan and I split a roasted venison, potatoes in duck fat, and pureed carrots dish. Dang. (Sorry we forgot to get a pic!) The pub is situated as a great spot to watch folks (and their dogs) walking by outside, and I think I'm getting Susan hooked on tea.
     From there, we split paths. Stan was meeting our friend Connie for lunch, and Susan and I had plans for HIGH TEA at the Balmoral. It deserves it's own post , coming soon, so I'll skip ahead on this day of gorging and go straight to dinner. Yes, we'd been eating ALL DAY, but isn't that what vacations are all about?
     And okay, this isn't quite a normal day in Edinburgh. We usually only go to Fishers for special occasions, which this was. Here's why:
One of the things I love about living in Europe is that you can order a right and proper Fruit de Mer (fruits of the sea, a.k.a. a seafood platter) made up of heavenly crustaceans that aren't even available in the US. Susan decided to splurge on the biggie.
The smaller one of scallops and langoustines was mine.
Stan and Connie rejoined us for dinner. Connie had the cold seafood platter.
Stan ordered oysters to share...
then he had the fish chowder.
Needless to say, we were all very, very happy, and very, very full. Sleep came quickly and hard that night!
So Susan had one touristy day and one locals day. She was our enabler who gave us the excuse to splurge, while also letting us see our new and lovely home through her eyes. It's hard to believe we're already getting used to this place and perhaps even taking it for granted. Susan reminded us how magical Edinburgh is, and I am enchanted all over again. Thank you Susan!
      Photos are © Susan Eaddy and © Elizabeth Dulemba.