Friday, February 29, 2008

Ellie McDoodle: New Kid on the web

This is so cool. One of my dear writer friends is new to blogging and her first post is a review of my second book, Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School. And it's a well-written review. She happens to like New Kid in School -- which is nice -- but I especially like how she wrote the review. You can tell she's a writer.
I love it when I read something that's so well-written it makes me wish I'd written it.

And, I have to say, it's very nice hearing an opinion on the second book.

I worked in a vacuum for so long, tweaking the book and trying to make it better than the first, and all this time I've been craving feedback. Something other than my editor's comments.
Not that I discount my editor's words - far from it - but she's working on the book, not just reading it for pleasure.
I wanted to hear from a reader. Someone who isn't looking for typos, art snags, or a better way to convey a scene. Now I have, and I am happy.
And, incidentally, this lady is in the book, on page 7, with the rest of my wonderfully amazingly talented and skilled critique group.*

The final copyedits went to press just a couple days ago.
I'm done. The book is done. For better or for worse, it's done.
So now I'm working on the next book. :)
And I just finished my taxes, my kid's FAFSA, the flu, Family Night, some heavy-duty March is Reading Month author visit planning, and I put in some quality time as a parent. That last bit is not to be underestimated. I'm not yet allowed to announce the life changes affecting a few of my kids, but lets just say it's all happy and it doesn't get any bigger.
So now I finally have a window of opportunity to upload the SCBWI Conference sketches from two weeks ago.
That'll be a huge job, but not as big as some of this other stuff has been.
Ahh, life is good.

*except one whom I love dearly, who moved to another state. I felt there were too many people on page 7 and it started to look self-indulgent and I hate that in books and comics, so I pulled her out and put her name on page 10 instead. I'll probably always beat myself up about that. Would one extra person on the page really have been too much? O, the incessant self-analysis. It's proof I am alive. I breathe, therefore I analyze. Anyway, maybe I'll draw her into the next book...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Five Random Things About Me

Fiona Bayrock tagged me to play this game.
Here are 5 random things about me:

1. I'm a pretty good harmonica player.

2. Most of my best friends have died young.

3. I collect cool containers, almost obsessively.

4. I have A.D.D. and it's sometimes a pain to deal with. Oh, look! A chicken!

5. I roll little pieces of Kleenex between my fingers to make tiny balls. I'm compulsive about this -- have been since I was 4. I always figured I was the only person in the world who did it... until my grandson was born. He does it too.

I tag these 5 people: Barb Johansen Newman, Elizabeth Dulemba, Kim Norman, Karen Lee, and Sherry Rogers.

Paco's Book Blog Tour

It's Paco time!

New this week: Paco and the Giant Chili Plant, written by Keith Polette, published by Raven Tree Press, and illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba.
To celebrate, Elizabeth's blogging author/illustrator buddies are sending her on a book blog tour. For my stop in the tour, I've asked her 6 questions. Read her answers, below, and then check out the other station stops in her tour.
And buy her book!
1. Which title do you take more pride in, author or illustrator?


I was an illustrator first, so it's the title I'm m
ost comfortable with, however, I probably take it for granted. The author tag is new and still somewhat untested. Although I've sold many articles, a short story, a poem, have won honorable mention in several writing contests and am writing my second novel, I have yet to see my name on the cover of a published book as author. So that's what I covet the most right now.

2. I admire that you took a lot of time to develop your work, a few
years ago, to get it ready to submit to publishers. That takes patience and persistence. Care to share how you did it?
Oh, I was sending work out while
I tried to develop my style, don't get me wrong! I just hadn't found my voice yet and there wasn't much interest until I did. To find it, I experimented with everything: acrylics, oils, gouache, markers, colored pencils, you name it. The supplies are scattered around my office . . . somewhere. It wasn't until I went back to the computer and the software program, Painter, that I sprouted wings. (I'd dabbled with Painter for years, but frankly, computers weren't up to the task until just a few years ago. It's a behemoth of a program.)

3. Describe your best speaking gig so far.

Hands down, the Decatur Book Festival. Now heading into its third year,
it started up right after I moved to the are
a. The owner of my favorite independent bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, is in charge of the children's stage and has been so supportive of my career. That first year, I read GLITTER GIRL AND THE CRAZY CHEESE to a crowd of hundreds under the children's tent - what a thrill!
4. What competes for your time, and how do you manage to give your
writing and illustration work th
e time it needs?

I just work my tail off, no way around it. I have tw
o muses fighting for 100% of my time and it's tough to keep them appeased.

5. What are your goals for your work?

I always want to produce the absolutely best work I can, which can be challenging when I'm not given enough time or have too much on my plate. But I got into children's books to create inspi
red work, work that attempts to be in the same league with that of my heroes (children's book illustrators). My goal is for my work to entrance and transport the viewer to magical places.

6. Now that Paco's out, what are you working on next?
Lots! I'm writing my second novel (the
first is with my agent). I'm illustrating the second two books in a parental aid picture book series - I also illustrated the first two which come out this June. I'm finishing up a few coloring book covers and writing more picture book stories. And of course, I've got lots of engagements lined up to celebrate Paco! I can't wait! (My calendar of events: ).

In keeping with my fellow bloggers' recipe offerings, here's mine:
Five Year Old Quesadillas (pronounced Kay-sah-DEE-yahs)
(so named because they're easy enough for a 5-year-old to make -- not because they're old ;)
1. Lay a flour tortilla on a glass dish.
2. Sprinkle it with about 4 tablespoons of grated cheese, more or less to taste. Grated cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack or a taco blend all work well.
3. Top with another flour tortilla.
4. Zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds or until the cheese is melted.
5. Remove from oven, let cool, and slice it into pie-wedges using a pizza cutter.
This is my 5-year-old grandson's favorite recipe, at the moment.

To read the rest of Elizabeth's interviews and find a few more recipes, check out these blogs:

Kim Norman's Stone Stoop! Kim is the author of "Jack of all Tails" and shares a great recipe for Tasty Tortilla Snowflakes!!
Barbara Johansen Newman's Cat n' Jammers Studio. Barb wrote and illustrated "Tex & Sugar."
Janee Trasler's Art & Soul. Jan
ee's latest book is "Ghost Eats It All!"
Ruth McNally Barshaw, creator of "Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel!" (Elizabeth says: If you like "Diary of a Whimpy Kid," you'll love Ellie! -- thanks, Elizabeth)
Kerry Madden, author of "Jessie's Mountain," the thrid installment in her Maggie Valley trilogy (read about it here.)
Sarah Dillard, illustrator of "Tightrope Poppy" and author/illustrator of the forthcoming "Perfectly Aru

And -- check out Elizabeth's site for more of her luminous art-- like this piece: