Monday, January 19, 2009

Charity begins ad hoc

(I'd say charity begins ad hom, and I'd argue it's accurate, but since ad hominem is commonly used for negative, it's better to avoid it here)

My friend Peter Davis wrote this brilliant poem about Neanderthal charity.

My friend Shutta Crum started a wave of charitable contributions by writers for writers, when she offered, in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, to critique three manuscripts for free, and challenged other writers to make a similar contribution to the greater good of our readers.
Quite a few did!
Michigan's SCBWI email group was awash in offers of all kinds -- rhyming picturebook help from Debbie Diesen, magazine/internet help from Patti Richards, non-fiction help from Buffy Silverman, picturebook help from Boni Ashburn, school visit or independent publishing advice from Kevin Kammeraad, novel chapters and query letters crits from Kristin Nitz ... it's heartwarming.
Congratulations to those lucky writers who won the crits, and thank you to the generous writers who offered them.
I hope Shutta's idea spreads beyond Michigan.

Our daughter gave us some Italian cauliflower yesterday. It's the weirdest plant I've seen in ages. This link takes you to the Park Seeds catalog image. It tastes like soft broccoli. I hope Park Seeds will be charitable about letting me post the pic here.
I'd draw it but I'm supposed to be writing a book right now, and that's a pretty complex floret...

Back to work. <3

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Stuff I otter do...

<- my otter. Maybe he needs his own book to star in...

In the old days we illustrators kept clip files or morgues of photos and illustrations of random things to refer to later, and to draw from.
It's hard imagining what a $100 bill looks like when you're on a tight deadline at the newspaper and none of the account executives have anything bigger than a $20 on them; dig through the clip file and it's there.
I had dozens of pictures of money -- and five file drawers stuffed full of other images on a hundred topics.
Nowadays I just search online for help with what I'm imagining in my head. Combine a bobcat, a snow leopard and a person for a caricature? No problem: Google Images has changed the way I live.
I've dismantled part of the morgue; it's hard to get rid of all of it, but it's been years since I used any of it.
I otter just get rid of all the files, to make room for more books...

That's my biggest vice. I can go without food or new clothes. I can't go without books. And it's not just me -- my husband and kids are all voracious readers.
Our books are all over the house, disorganized and sometimes hard to find. We have a few hundred in each of the kids' rooms, a few thousand in the basement, a zillion in the living room, and who knows how many in my studio.
My daughter's middle school had a used book sale in November, and she got a prize for donating the second largest number, 500, and we bought and brought home almost as many from the sale...
I otter get some shelves. Floor to ceiling.

The book depository here (Sarah Sullivan's at Through the Tollbooth) is what I crave for my collection.
My pal Debbie Diesen has a wall like that at her house, too.
I otter write something compelling so I can make enough $$ to hire someone to build that kind of shelf wall for me (because I'm no carpenter).
So that's it. My 2009 Resolution is not to eat less or exercise more (those are mandates, not mere goals): It's to write lots of compelling stuff. Compelling = a good hook.
Back to work... :)

A fairy good start to 2009 ;)

Happy New Year!
This pin's from at least 15 years ago. I drew it for my grandpa, along with 11 others, representing the months of the year. When he died, the family returned to me all the drawings and cartoons and pins I'd sent him over the years. Someday I'll compile it all into a book.
If you'd like to make buttons for your grandpa, check out this cool site. It's where I bought my button maker 25 years ago.

Look what I got from Rebecca Thornburgh: A fairy name!
According to the fairy site:

My fairy is called Fire Saturnfilter
She is a trouble maker.

She lives where fireflies mate and breed.
She is only seen on midsummer's eve.
Her dresses glow with fiery colours.
She has delicate pale pink wings like a cicada.

Ah, yes, a troublemaker -- that and the fireflies part are true to life. ;)
Here's what my fairy really looks like, if you ask me...
(I drew this a few years ago as part of an illustrator group exercise)

I like Thornburgh's art.
For one thing, not many people have the guts to sketch in church. I always do, and now I see she draws in church too.
But I also like her warm, whimsical painting style. Check it out here. (She's even illustrated a few witch family books -- the thing I most wanted to do in the future, when I was a little kid)