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31 May 2015

Hello from the Bologna Children's Book Fair

Total credit goes to Cynthia Leitich Smith for finding this gem - Hello from the 2015 Bologna Children's Book Fair. Talk about our world of children's books being a small and wonderful one! Click the image to watch on DailyMotion:

30 May 2015

Horses at Hollins

One of my favorite things about Hollins University is the horses and the stable that keeps them. These are some seriously spoiled grand beasties.

     They live in a pristine environment and receive amazing care from the intuitive barn staff.

     Truly, I've never seen a barn kept so immaculately clean.

     Every year I look forward to grooming the horses. Happily, the barn staff welcomes me and I've become a part of the matrix there. Grooming makes the horses feel good, it helps socialize them, makes them pretty, and keeps them from getting bored. But mostly, it makes me feel GREAT! I could care less about riding the grand beasties - I just love grooming them!
     Stan got some pics of me working with Sycamore this morning. Sycamore is just about the sweetest horse on the planet!

     Sycamore has a spot on his neck that makes him lean like a happy dog.

     And after every grooming, I give them a treat. Although really, the treat is all mine. It's so nice to connect with the animals on such an intimate and intuitive level. What a gift. It makes my DAY!
     Photos ©Stan Dulemba, used with permission.

Illustration Challenge #3

I'm having fun with these - how about you? This week, draw something that is purely pretty - a bunch of flowers or swirly designs. It doesn't even have to have any identifiable thing in it - just pure pretty.

28 May 2015

Sarah Frances Hardy - Guest Post on DRESS ME!

I'm thrilled to have my friend Sarah Frances Hardy stop by with her new picture book, DRESS ME! Take it away SF!

     When I was coming up with ideas for a companion book to my 2014 release Paint Me! (Sky Pony Press), I looked back through some old unfinished manuscripts for inspiration. I had a couple of dress up books that weren’t quite working, so my agent suggested that I do another “me” book with a dress up theme. Brilliant!
     And right up my alley.
     As the mother of three girls, I’ve read lots and lots of dress up books to my daughters. And most of them are very princess-y, fluffy, and sparkly. Now there’s nothing wrong with little girls getting dressed up. It’s fun. I get it. And I love a party dress just as much as the next girl ... it just seemed like many of the dress up books on the shelves showed girls trying really hard to *look* pretty. They didn’t show little girls trying to express themselves in other ways--ways that showed girls *doing* things. And they didn’t show girls happy just being themselves.
     To make it worse, when I talked to my friends who are parents of boys, they gushed about filling their boys’ toy chests with super hero outfits, doctor scrubs, and hard hats. Most of my friends with daughters haunted the sales racks after Halloween for leftover princess ball gowns, tiaras, and boas.
     So I wanted to create a book that encouraged little girls to expand their dress up repertoire and to have fun experimenting with who they can be instead of how they look.
     In DRESS ME!, my main character goes through many transformations, from wearing a monster mask to trying out different careers (and yes, sporting a mustache!) before getting all glammed up.
     The glam look, she decides, just isn’t for her.
     She finishes out the day running off in her jeans and her sneakers as “just me!”.
     A happy ending to a very fun dress up day!

Thank you so very much for having me on your blog.
     Sarah Frances

About Sarah Frances:
     Sarah Frances Hardy is a children’s author, illustrator, and professional painter. A former lawyer, Hardy studied art at the Parsons School of Design and has had her paintings featured in galleries and commercial establishments. She is the author and illustrator of two books: Puzzled by Pink (Houghton Mifflin) and Paint Me! (Sky Pony Press). Hardy lives with her husband and three daughters in Oxford, Mississippi.
      Please visit her website at www.sfhardy.com.

27 May 2015

Gallery Show Opening Night

Friday I attended opening night for the 8th annual Children's Book Illustrators' Show hosted by Prescott Hill and SCBWI Southern Breeze. Prescott is now Illustrator Coordinator and he did a bang up job putting the show together with the help of the Georgia Center for the Book. The show was hosted at the Decatur Library in the main lobby, where folks can wander through and enjoy the framed artwork and their corresponding picture books for FOUR weeks!!
     Opening night is always a treat because most of the illustrators come to help set up, mill about, and head to a celebratory melt-down dinner afterwards. It's always been one of my favorite Southern Breeze events.
     That's me on the left, and Stan is taking the photo. Otherwise, from the left is Danielle Glover (new friend), Mark Braught, Sara Lynn Cramb, Leighanne Schneider, her hubby Kent, Laura Freeman, and Prescott. Joe Davich showed up a little later too. And here are some more pictures from opening night:




     What a great evening! Read about past shows and the inception of the gallery show here.

26 May 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - Hang Time

     School is out in my town and many kids across the country are now out for the summer, which means more time to hang out and READ!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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 nine 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.

25 May 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

Today we honor our fallen heroes. Here's a coloring page to help you do it:

There's also one for soldiers in other countries - our friends and allies. Color the flag to fit your nation. Let's remember those who fought for our freedom today.

24 May 2015

Ken Burns delivers the 2015 Commencement Address

Ken Burns recently shared a commencement speech important to all of us, not just this graduating class. I urge you to listen to every bit of it. Click the image to go listen on YouTube.

23 May 2015

Illustration Challenge #2

Take two ideas that don't go together and put them together. For instance, flying pigs. Cows in space. Giraffes on wheels. Get the idea? Have fun!

21 May 2015

Peter Adam Salomon - Guest Post

Guest Post by Peter Adam Salomon
After The First Draft: Attitude Is Everything


      Congratulations, you've finished the first draft of your novel! This calls for a celebration. Lots of people have thought "I should write a book" and never started, or started and never finished.
      You've finished!
      Tell your friends, tell your family. Now get back to work. Because the hard part begins now.
      This is important: just as there were times while writing the first draft when you wanted to give up, there will be those same moments as you edit. But, just as you celebrated finishing that first draft, you’ll finish the second as well. And the fourteenth, and more, before you’re ready to query.
      After signing with an agent? More edits. After the novel sells? Yes, that's right: still more.
      There are a number of books on editing so that information can be found elsewhere.
      I'd like to talk about 'Attitude.' Yes, attitude.
      Editing is hard. The book's done, isn’t it?
      No. Not even close.
      The celebration is over and you have two things to do. They are NOT query and sell the novel. That's the goal and despite all the obstacles still to overcome it's within reach now that you've finished the first draft. But not yet.

      1) Let it sit. Untouched. Unread. Some will tell you to let it sit for a certain number of weeks or months. Let it sit. Ignore it. This is great advice. Unfortunately, the manuscript will keep calling to you: "Read Me!" So, my advice isn't so much a time frame as it is more 'attitude.' Let it sit just a little longer than is comfortable. Long enough so the passion starts coming back, until you’re dying to get back into the story and, then:
      2) Revise. Revise again. Revise so many times you can't answer people when they ask 'which draft are you on?' It's not always a matter of each ‘draft' being a complete revision; sometimes you’ll read though only to fix one particular thing (how many times your main character shrugs or the forty-seven times the wind catches her hair just right).
      Finally, let’s talk the most important ‘attitude’ of all: LOVE the revision process. Embrace it. Always remember: anyone who takes the time to give you constructive criticism has only one goal in mind: helping YOU make YOUR manuscript better. They’re trying to help. Helping is good. Revising is good. No matter how long it takes or how many times you want to give up.
      Thank them. Thank them again.
      One day, you'll remember that first draft and realize how much work it needed, how much work you did, how much better the ‘final’ version is.
      It will all be worth it the first time an agent calls you. When you post that your book sold. Or Tweet the cover art.
      That’s the goal. Loving revision will help you get there. You will have to revise and edit no matter what attitude you go into the process with, so learn to love it. It will make it easier, it will make your agent and editor love working with you (always a good thing). And it will teach you so much about writing that when you sit down to write your next book you won't make the same errors (of course, there will always be new errors to make).
      And that calls for another celebration!

About Peter:
      Peter Adam Salomon is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Horror Writers Association, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the International Thriller Writers, and The Authors Guild and is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, published by Flux in 2012, was named one of the ten ‘Books All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book in 2014. His second novel, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, was published in 2014 by Flux and has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the Young Adult category.
     Here's peek at Peter's favorite writing spot:

20 May 2015

It's Official!

The house is officially for sale and it's already been shown twice with a third tomorrow. I have to say, it's standing pretty tall. It's been a nice chapter in our lives for about ten years, but it's time to turn a page!


     First we're off to Roanoke, Virginia where I teach Picture Book Design in the MFA in Writing And Illustrating Children's Picture Books and the Certificate in Children's Books programs at Hollins University. And then, at the end of term, we're off to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I will become a student myself studying for an MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh College of Art! We'll have feet on the ground in Scotland on August 15th.
     In the mean time, if you need to get in touch with me, my email and website will remain active and I'll do my best to get back to you in the midst of all the chaos!

19 May 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - Baseball Lover

     Play ball! Or just read about it. There are some great baseball books for boys of all ages out there. Just ask your local bookseller or librarian for recommendations.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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 nine 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.

18 May 2015

My Little Free Library immortalized!

Daren Wang, founder of the Decatur Book Festival, cc'd me on some wonderful news recently. MY Little Free Library is on the COVER of the new tome, THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY BOOK: TAKE A BOOK • RETURN A BOOK by Margret Aldrich (Coffee House Press).
     How honored am I? SO VERY!!! (It's the LFL on on the lower right covered with my reading fairies. CLICK HERE to see some close ups.) YAY!

      You can check it out on Amazon here, but please support your local economy and purchase it from your local independent bookstore!

17 May 2015

My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando

What an interesting book trailer for MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS by Tara Altebrando. (Click the image to watch on YouTube.)

16 May 2015

Illustration Challenge #1

Need an idea for something to draw? How about this... gather reference photos of three animals - one must be aquatic, and combine them into one fantastical or monstrous creature. GO! (Feel free to share your images - I'll post them here if you do. Or share on Facebook.Or just draw for yourself!)

14 May 2015

HOME by Carson Ellis

     When I was a kid, I had a book about 16 bears - where they lived in the winter and where they lived in the summer. I remember their cave homes being so elaborate. The pink bear was surrounded by princess sheers and crowns. The sports bear was surrounded by equipment. The cozy bear was surrounded by things I knew I'd love - blankets, a tea pot, etc. They were like peeking into genie bottles, into magical little worlds.
     A few years ago, my mother was cleaning out her basement and told me to come fetch the books. I dug through them looking for this book of bears. I went by it about a dozen times.
     Finally, I found it! And it was no wonder I had missed it. All those elaborate little cave homes? ... There was nothing there. There was no pink lace, no balls, no blankets. Instead, one cave was pink. One cave was blue. And one cave was orange.
     My childhood imagination had filled in all the luscious details I remembered into adulthood.
     It's why I am so excited about Carson Ellis' HOME. It so reminds me of that bear book. What will children see when they dig through it for the first time? How elaborate will the homes be? A shoe becomes a cozy castle. A nest becomes a soft papasan chair. I envy the children who will devour this book with open imaginations.
     Heck, I don't think it's too late for me either. I'd love to live in that hollow tree home...
Check out this great video of Carson's process. Click the image to view on Youtube:
HOME. Copyright 2015 © by Carson Ellis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

13 May 2015

Children's Book Drive

This coming SATURDAY! From the LA Times - Little Free Library Announces Kids' Book Drive. Got some gently used children's books? Look for one of these:

Click here to read more about the Little Free Library I painted!

12 May 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - 8th Anniversary Pie!

Coloring Page Tuesday is 8-years-old! Can you believe it? I used to doodle funny little ditties all the time. One day it occurred to me to share them with YOU, and so began my coloring pages.
     Since then I have posted a free coloring page to my blog every Tuesday. I've never missed - not once! My images have always been for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy with their children. But they've also been enjoyed by creative souls for quilts, wall hangings, cake decorations, cards, etc. I love that! All I've ever asked in return is that folks check out (ha!) my books to see if they might be a good fit for the young readers in their lives. CLICK HERE to see the entire collection. And CLICK HERE if you'd like to receive my images via my weekly "e's news."
     Over the years I've received so many kind emails from you - fans and followers of my coloring pages. They've become one of my favorite parts of this crazy career of mine. So, will you help me celebrate? Please leave a comment below - let me know what Coloring Page Tuesday has meant to you!
     And as always, CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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 nine 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.

10 May 2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

The trailer is out for the BBC One rendition of the tome JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL. I can't wait to watch! Click the image to watch the trailer on Youtube:
CLICK HERE to read more about it on Playlist.

08 May 2015

Friday Linky List - May 8, 2015

From PictureBook Makers: Oliver Jeffers (interview)

At BrainPickings: Beastly Verse: From Lewis Carroll to William Blake, Beloved POems About Animals in Vibrant and Unusual Illustrations

From the Mixed-Up Files: Lessons from Becoming a Bookseller

From Sarah McIntyre: Writers and Illustrators: What we REALLY do all day

What a neat way for a bookstore to celebrate their birthday! Bookends & Beginnings is taking photos of their customers with the title of the book that changed their lives. One will win a gift certificate for the store. See the photos here.

My friend Nancy S. Miller has a new picture book out called GOODBYE GLOOMIES (written by Heather Tietz) - love the cover!

From School Library Journal: Hack Your Notebook: Circuitry mixes with paper in a creative project for 21st century learners - COOL!

From The Mixed Up Files: Happily Ever After Again?

From PW: Obituary: Caldecott-winner Marcia Brown

The Children's Choice Book Award Winners have been announced. Adults seem to be pretty good at predicting winners in the older categories - but not the younger ones! Interesting.

07 May 2015

THE WATER & THE WILD by K.E. Ormsbee - Guest Post


From My Window: All the Places The Water & the Wild Was Written
K.E. Ormsbee

      In The Water and the Wild, twelve-year-old Lottie Fiske lives in a boardinghouse owned by her stuffy guardian, Mrs. Yates. Outside Lottie’s bedroom window grows a green apple tree—a familiar sight that, unbeknownst to Lottie, can grant her access to a new and wondrous world.
      When I first imagined Lottie’s story, I had no idea I was about to embark on a seven-year writing journey. During those seven years, I moved around a bunch, constantly altering the landscape in which The Water and the Wild was written and revised. Today, I’m excited to share a few of the stops Lottie and I made on our way to publication.
      An ice cream shop
      I dreamt up what would become The Water and the Wild the summer after my freshman year of college, when I was working at an ice cream shop. Though I spent most of my ten-hour workday making waffle cones and serving customers, there were some dull moments. It was during those pockets of time, when I was mopping the floors or grabbing a new pan of ice cream from the walk-in freezer, that I got some of the most vivid ideas for Lottie’s story. I would scribble down key words on napkins and hope that I remembered what they referred to later, when my shift was over. Then, late that night or early the next morning, I transcribed those scribbles in a Word document. By the end of the summer, I’d created an outline.
      A London townhouse
      I didn’t pick up that outline again until the next year, during Jan Term—my college’s six-week holiday break. During that time, I feverishly typed out a very rough draft of The Water and the Wild. Just after I finished the draft, I hopped on a flight to London, where I would be studying for the spring semester. There, I lived in a townhouse that had once been a hotel and was now five floors of student bedrooms and classrooms. I lived on the very top floor, in what my friends and I called The Tower. Here’s the view from my bedroom window:
(I spent many afternoons out on that fire escape.)
      While in London, I shared my rough draft with several good friends who gave me valuable and much-needed critique. I revised, and I revised again. Then, just as I bid London adieu, I began submitting the manuscript to agents.
      A room on King’s Parade
      That summer, I lived in Cambridge, where I took three summer courses at King’s and Pembroke colleges. It was a magical summer. I spent many muggy nights watching Shakespearean plays in the college gardens. I learned how to punt the Cam River on my, um, third try. I made a lifelong friend who had matching ginger hair and an anglophilic heart. And on my birthday, I got an email from an agent offering representation for my book. I accepted the offer in my bedroom, while looking out my window at the sinister grasshopper clock on King’s Parade.
     And then I got to work on some more revisions while sitting on the bank of the River Cam.
     A Spanish flat
      It wasn’t until a couple years later, when I was teaching English in Seville, Spain, that The Water and the Wild finally went on submission. I was a bundle of nerves, but I found encouragement from my fabulous roommates and in the strangely endearing graffiti on the narrow city streets.
     And then came the day I signed a two-book deal with the marvelous Chronicle Books. Lottie Fiske had finally found a home.
      A hammock swing
      Three years later, back in the States and sitting in this very hammock swing, I held the hardcover copy of a book that had evolved in two different continents, three different countries, and six different cities.
     The publication of my debut novel involved many twists, turns, pit stops, and unexpected developments. Sometimes I got so wrapped up in the process that I forgot to step back and appreciate the moment. Over time, I learned how important it was to be quiet in the midst of the bustle, be mindful of the present moment, and just enjoy the view. Every single step of my journey was an important one, jam-packed with memories and friendships and lessons learned. So, at the risk of sounding like a total sap, here’s my advice for aspiring writers and anyone on a creative journey: take in the view around you. If you don’t, you might miss the magic right outside your windowpane.

     K.E. Ormsbee currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She lived in lots of equally fascinating cities before then, from Austin to Birmingham to London to Seville. She grew up with a secret garden in her backyard and a spaceship in her basement. This is her first book.

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