Monday, March 30, 2009

March is Reading Month 2009

This month I signed (and added a sketch or two to) more than 1000 books. Final count is about 1345. In one month. Wow!

By tomorrow, my last school event in March,
I will have visited 23 schools: St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Pointe Park; Cedar Street Elementary, Steele St. Elementary, and North Aurelius Elementary in Mason; Flanders, Beechview, William Grace, Lanigan, Highmeadow, Forest, Kenbrook, Wood Creek, Gill, Hillside, Wooddale, Longacre and Eagle in Farmington; Bath Elementary in Bath; Madison Elementary in Dearborn Heights; Wexford, Forest View and Willow in Lansing; and, tomorrow, Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell.
Plus 1 conference (MRA in Grand Rapids), 1 library (Farmington Public Library), and 1 bookstore (Barnes & Noble in East Lansing).
I made connections with many wonderful librarians and teachers and a few booksellers.

I am especially grateful to Sue Kalisky of Highmeadow and Lisa Salowich of Wooddale for sharing their room at the Amway Grand Plaza with me. We met in Farmington and they offered to hang out at the MRA. We enjoyed a delightful dinner at a Tapas Restaurant (my first -- can't wait to return!) and an enlightening visit to the new Grand Rapids Art Museum. It would have been difficult to present at the MRA without staying overnight. How kind of them to invite me in.

Nancy Morris of William Grace also extended a kind invitation to tour a little in Portland, Oregon, when I am there for a writer retreat in July-August. I can't wait.

Many thanks to the schools who hosted me. What a fabulous month this has been. Thank you to the students and staff who were so kind to me in my visits, and to the tireless organizers of all the events. I know it's tough bringing in an author for a visit; there's a lot to manage.

I am still smiling about all the fantastic student work in the various schools, the art on the walls, the writing exercises, the creativity shown by both teachers and students. I'm astounded at the brilliance I saw in so many schools.

Special thanks to Denise Gundle-White at Wood Creek for organizing all of my Farmington events as part of their Book Parade.

(Want to host me at your school or library? Details here on my website: )

On a more personal front, this month I also juggled 2 bridal showers for my beautiful and fun future daughter-in-law, 1 dress fitting for our junior bridesmaid, thankfully no funerals in March (3 in Jan-Feb), helped paint the dining room, hallway and living room, helped my husband through the loss of his job and hopefully gaining of a new one (crossing fingers) and also through the loss of our car, rental of a new one, and -- maybe today -- purchase of a replacement, read my writing buddy Amy Huntley's fantastic new book, The Everafter (I laughed, I cried; I was greatly impressed with the emotion, the voice and the structure), and I wrote and drew a few "Extras" for the Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School paperback edition which comes out this summer. (And, if you saw any of my presentations this month, you know I also had to do revisions for those "Extras")

Soon to come, more revisions! Yippee! This time for the third Ellie book, Ellie McDoodle: Best Friends Fur-Ever, the first draft of which I finished in record time, right before March began.

My editor's sending me the revisions letter (and if you saw any of my presentations you know that's a thick dark line listing more than 100 items to change) sometime in the next few days.
And if you saw my presentation you know there will be another revisions letter, too, hopefully smaller, arriving in the coming weeks, after I make all the requested changes and redraw every single page for this set of revisions.
And if I am lucky, then the book will be done and it will go to prepress sometime this summer for publication next summer.
It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to create a book.
And to live life which, no matter how tightly I plan it, is always bringing something unforeseen.


So why do I do this?
Because I am in love with my job. And with my life.

(from my 2006 NYC sketchbook just after meeting my editor and many of the brilliant people associated with creating the Ellie McDoodle books)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New! The wireless interface for reading!

Check out the above comic by Penny Arcade here:

It's all about a new wireless platform for readers.
Can't wait to see more of these in stores and libraries! ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lots of great news - Beverly Cleary Award nomination!

Ellie McDoodle is nominated for the Beverly Cleary Children's Choice Award for 2010! I am thrilled. There are only 6 nominees. One is my friend Katie Speck. It's an honor just to be nominated (but I hope I win).

(this true cartoon of my son shows w
hy I don't tell kids they can grow up to be anything they want, if they just try hard enough)

Ellie McDoodle
is mentioned very favorably in an article in Publishers Weekly about a new trend in children's illustrated books. A few books are mentioned as derivative (I can imagine that's a painful label) and I was glad to see Ellie grouped with The Princess Diaries as books that break new ground.

The third book
is being created right now! I sent the first draft to my editor on Feb 27 (met the deadline! Woo hoo!) and the revisions letter should arrive at my house sometime in the next few days. I'll have just a few weeks to redraw everything, then will send it back to her, and I'll have a week or two off while my editor considers all the changes. She'll write another revisions letter, I'll do my best to improve everything, and the final art/text deadline is June 1. It'll be a busy spring.

I'm doing a LOT of school visits
these days. In March alone, I visited so far:
- 17 schools (Grosse Pointe, Mason, Farmington)
- 1 library (Farmington)
- 1 MRA conference (Michigan Reading Assoc)
- 1 unofficial library visit (Harper Woods) and that's only the first two weeks of March!
I still have a few author visits every week
for the next few weeks (Bath, Dearborn Heights, East Lansing, Lansing, Lowell, to start).
Life's busy. I'm happy. I LOVE presenting to audiences about the Ellie McDoodle books.
If you'd like to book me for a visit (hurry before my low, low rates go up in the autumn), go to my website, go to the For Teachers page, and all the information is there.
I still have a couple days open this month if you'd like something now.
wise, I am booking now for summer and the next school year.
It's never too early to book a day/week with me, and you might find you're saving a bit by locking in my current rates now.

I sketched lots of teachers, librarians and authors at the Michigan Reading Association Conference at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this weekend. Watch for pages uploaded here soon. Presenting was great fun! I had lots of handouts made specially for my sessions. They
went fast -- I'll upload copies to my website soon, for use in your schools.

As we come up on another spring - finally! -- I encourage everyone to find a child and give him/her a journal. It could be a folded piece of paper. It could be a bound one from a bookstore. It could have lines or blank pages, fancy or plain, expensive or cheap. Your choice. Just encourage a kid to journal. It makes kids into better writers. And encourage them to draw, too -- because studies in Art Literacy show that when kids create art it makes them better writers as well! Weird sort of confluence of talent, don't you think?
I'm pushing my 11 year old daughter to journal more.
My teacher was the first person to give me a journal and encourage me in such a way that it stuck. I was 15, and have kept a sketch journal ever since. I have sketch journals from trips, births, funerals, weddings, field trips, daily life... hundreds at my house. (My daughter and her f
iance are building bookcases at my house this week -- yippee!!!!! -- to accommodate all the books and sketchjournals here) Keeping a sketchjournal helped me through many tough times in my life and it grounded me during the happy times.
Encourage a kid near you -- that kid might grow up to thank you in front of large crowds at conferences... as I did this weekend.
Aside to the wonderful Elizabeth McCarthy, art teacher at Harper Woods Secondary School when I was 15 in 1974: I will always revere you. Thank you for singling out this miserable teen and giving me a lifeline in the form of a sketchjournal, a tool that still helps, 35 years later.

If anyone can help me sniff out Mrs. McCarthy's location, let me know!

By the way, I am a multiple-award-winning writer and illustrator. I am America's Most-Harried Home Cook, Dr. Mom, Kudos Working Mother of the Year, Suave's Family Manager of the Year, and several other honorary titles.
You can just call me your pal, though. ;)
And now, back to work for me!