Meet Illustrator Ed Emberly

I’d seen Emberly’s work but never seen an interview with him so I was excited to see this YouTube video.  Writers, take the time to watch it.  You’ll get some very inspiration insights from someone who is a master in his field.  This is someone who’s weathered numerous changes in the field.  How?

  • He loves what he does.
  • He illustrates for people who are like he is — not every child, but the children who love what he loves.
  • He isn’t trying to satisfy everyone at once.
  • He isn’t afraid to try new things.
  • He willingly evaluates how his career is going and what changes need to be made.

Seriously, take the time to watch this and see if you don’t come out recharged and ready to write.

A big thank you Phyllis Harris who brought this video to my attention.


Goals as We Move into February

I’d love to say that I made my word count last week, but you probably noticed that not much got marked Done!  After I felt cruddy for a day, my son came down with a respiratory infection.  I can always work with him home, but since I didn’t feel good either, motivation was lacking.  Still, I managed to pull down 5600 out of 6000 words.  Not great, but not horrid either.

I’m not sure what I’ll manage this week because I’m taking today off — its my birthday!

Still, I’ll see what I can manage the rest of the week.  Here are my goals:

Weekly Goals (these are my must-dos for the week):

  • 5 posts for One Writer’s Journey.  Done!
  • 1 review on the Bookshelf.  Done!
  • 1 post for PrayPower.  Done!
  • Write my posts for the Church blog.  Done!

Goals with Deadlines (That’s right.  I’ve got deadlines again.  Pitching pays off, folks!):

  • Pitch to WOW!  Deadline:  2/15
  • Outline my next article for WOW.  Deadline for article:  2/27
  • Come up with interview questions and solicit interviews for my next CW article.  Deadline:  3/15.

Non-Deadline Goals:

  • Pitch some ideas to a nonfiction editor.
  • Finish the cookbook proposal and get it out.
  • Get an essay on writing back out.
  • Rewrite the picture book I had critiqued.
  • Do some more work on a PiBoIdMo idea.
  • Work on my agent research.
  • Rough submissions for Blue Mountain cards.
  • Keep working on my web site.
  • Work up some ideas for leveled readers.
  • Work on the middle grade. Go over the Plot Whisperer notes that I originally made.
  • Pull out the YA that I’m going to workshop at a retreat this spring.


Book Table

If you’re like me, your favorite books tend to be clustered on one shelf (or bookcase, depending on number).  What if they could be inset in your coffee table?

That’s the idea behind Lisa Finster’s customized book tables.  See here.

Cool as it is, I guess her customer’s know far neater people than I know.  No spills.  No hors d’oeuvres bobbles.

Still, it fascinates me in a morbid what-does-red-wine-do-to-archival-paper way.


Time: Part of Your Setting

Setting isn't just where but when. Spring? Summer? Winter?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading online, mostly short stories.  And I’m seeing the same thing again and again.

No setting.

Maybe the author let’s me know that the characters are in Tennessee.  Or Kentucky.  Maybe the fact is even revealed that they are on a college campus, but one setting element is left out time and time again.

What is it?  The time.

I have no idea when these stories are set.

I suspect that the authors are doing this in an attempt to make them feel timeless, but it isn’t working.  The biggest reason that it isn’t working is that I’m consciously looking for a year because the stories feel dated.

Part of it is the characters’ names.  Gut instinct tells me that these are people I could have gone to school with because everyone has names like Dan, Chas, or Jane.  There’s not a Caitlyn or Jessica among them.  Incidentally?  I know college age people names Caitlyn and Jessica.

But I suspect its more than just the names.  In my mind, the boys have one slim legged jeans and polos.  The girls?  Enormous glasses, not the sleek, rectangular frames of today.

And there is nothing wrong with setting a story when you were a teen.  Just make sure that its clear that that is what you are doing.  You don’t want the editor or the reader to think that you’re doing a bad job setting a story in the here (Missouri) and now (2012).


Creativity, Work-for-Hire and Book cut sculpture by Su Blackwell

Su Blackwell is an amazing paper artist who creates a variety of 3-D sculptures, often out of second hand books.  Check out the portfolio on her site.   That’s what this post was going to focus on until I watched this video made by Crabtree and Evelyne.  The company approached Blackwell to do a job for them and also made this video.  It describes how she goes to first additions for inspiration only (she does not craft with first editions), the basic inspiration for a piece, how long it takes her to make a sculpture, and the actual process.

It is fairly easy to see the backbone that the book itself forms in Blackwell’s work, how she draws on something pre-existing and uses it as a platform for a new creation.

Does this make you think about your own work any differently?


ALA Awards Announced

Yesterday morning, the American Library Association announced the winners of their coveted medals.  Unlike some years, I’m happy to say that I’ve already read some of them (I’ll color these red and will also link to reviews of written).

Without further ado:

The Newbery Medal:
Dead End in Norvelt  by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux).  Still waiting for my copy to come in!

Newbery Honor Books:
Inside Out & Back Again  by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt and Company, LLC)

Caldecott Medal:
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade Books)

Caldecott Honor Books:
Blackout by John Rocco (Hyperion Books)
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press)  Link to review
Me … Jane  by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown and Company)

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum)

Printz Honor Books:
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman (Little, Brown and Company)
The Returning by Christine Hinwood (Dial Books)
Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey (Alfred A. Knopf)
The Scorpio Races  by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award:
Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzer + Bray).

King Honor Recipients:
Eloise Greenfield for The Great Migration: Journey to the North,” illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Amistad)
Patricia C. McKissack for Never Forgotten, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Schwartz & Wade Books)

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
Shane W. Evans, illustrator and author for Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom (Neal Porter Book).

King Honor Book:
Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzer + Bray).

Schneider Family Book Award for middle schoolers:
Close to famous by Joan Bauer (Viking)
Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press).

Schneider Family Book Award for teen readers:
The Running Dream  by Wendelin Van Draanen (Alfred A. Knopf)

Margaret A. Edwards Award:
To Susan Cooper whose books include Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award:
Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman, translated by Laura Watkinson (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Batchelder Honor Book:
The Lily Pond by Annika Thor, and translated by Linda Schenck (Delacorte Press).

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award:
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams Books for Young Readers).

Belpré Illustrator Honor Books:
The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred illustrated by Rafael López, written by Samantha R. Vamos (Charlesbridge)
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match /Marisol McDonald no combina  illustrated by Sara Palacios, written by Monica Brown (Children’s Book Press)

Pura Belpré (Author) Award:
Under the Mesquite  by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee and Low Books Inc.)

Belpré Author Honor Books:
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck  by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt)
Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller by Xavier Garza (Cinco Puntos Press).

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award:
Balloons over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children).

Sibert Honor Books:  
Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor by Larry Dane Brimner (Calkins Creek)
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say (Scholastic Press)
The Elephant Scientist  by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson, photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children).
Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem, written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer (National Geographic Society).

Stonewall Book Award -Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award:
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright (Simon & Schuster BFYR).

Stonewall Honor Books:
a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey (Lethe Press, Inc.)
Money Boy  by Paul Yee (Groundwood Books)
Pink  by Lili Wilkinson (HarperTeen)
with or without you by Brian Farrey (Simon Pulse).

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award:
Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider (Clarion Books).

Geisel Honor Books:
I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children)
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)
See Me Run by Paul Meisel (Holiday House).

William C. Morris Award:
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).

William C. Morris Honors:
Girl of Fire and Thorns  by Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books)  Link to review
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard (Delacorte Press)
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee and Low Books)
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel Books)

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery  by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press).

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Honors:
Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science  by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos (Clarion Books)
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition  by Karen Blumenthal (Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press)
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy (National Geographic Children’s Books)
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin (Charlesbridge).

Looks like I’ve still got a lot of reading to do!  Which is your favorite so far?  I’d have to go with Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns.


Goals on This Cold, Gray Day

With all of the work that I did on pitches and cleaning up my office, I’m surprised I made my word count.  But I did!   6044 out of 6000 words.  Let’s assume that I can manage it this week too.

Weekly Goals (these are my must-dos for the week):

  • 5 posts for One Writer’s Journey.  Done!
  • 1 review on the Bookshelf.  Done!
  • 1 post for PrayPower.  Done!
  • Write my posts for the Church blog.  Done!

Goals with Deadlines:  Nary a one, folks.  But I’m working on getting more (see the goals below).

Non-Deadline Goals (obviously, these are the ones I’m having troubles getting to and I’m going to start trying to get one done a week):

  • Pitch some ideas to one of my newsletter editors.  Done!
  • Pitch some ideas to a nonfiction editor.  In progress.
  • Finish the cookbook proposal and get it out.  In progress.
  • Get an essay on writing back out.
  • Research nonfiction picture book markets.  Done!
  • Rewrite the picture book I had critiqued.
  • Do some more work on a PiBoIdMo idea.  In progress.
  • Work on my agent research.
  • Rough submissions for Blue Mountain cards.
  • Keep working on my web site.
  • Work up some ideas for leveled readers.
  • Work on the middle grade. Go over the Plot Whisperer notes that I originally made.
  • Pull out the YA that I’m going to workshop at a retreat this spring.


Book Trailers that Pull the Reader in

I hope that everyone can stand another post on book trailers.  Most book trailers focus entirely on the book itself.  Or on the author.  But here are three that manage to do something a little different.

The first is for a picture book called A Dog Is a Dog.  For the most part, this focuses on the book, but it does so in a way that pulls the reader in.  How?  By asking a question that you soooo want to answer.  Take a look to see how they did it . . .

In the second trailer, the focus shifts just a bit more.  The picture book is called Blackout and while the video shows illustrations from the book, the video shows so much more.  It includes cameos with actual New Yorkers telling what they were doing when the power went out.

The third trailer takes yet another step back.  The picture book is Prairie Storms by my friend Darcy Pattison.  Darcy did her research and found that the most frequently forwarded videos are humorous.  Her book is about how animals survive harsh prairie weather.  Not so funny.  So she made a humorous video pitting a bison on ice against a vintage skating video.  Take a look.

Consider these three approaches and your WIP.  Which would be most effective for you?


Capturing Voice

Ask me about research.  Ask me about plot.  Ask me about character. But please, please, please don’t ask me about voice.  I freeze up every time.

This makes yesterday’s post on The Muffin that much more surprising because I wrote about voice.  No, I don’t feel like I have all of the answers but I do feel like I’m gaining a bit of insight here and there.

We’ll see if I can put this insight to work toward the end of the week when I get back into my middle grade novel.