Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes!

Last Saturday, Gary and I went to Artizann's in Naples to 
bring more of Gar's bird carvings, then drove over the hills 
to our cabin.  It was a beautiful day---rare here in January.
Almost 40 degrees and sunny!  I feed the ducks corn, then 
sat in the sun.  Gar took in the rays too.

It was a day to enjoy....a day to look....a day to connect...
and a day to notice and appreciate.  I looked at nature
for awhile through the frame of the camera.   I selected and 
snapped designs and compositions that seemed in perfect
harmony and balance.   Maybe my sneakered foot even 
had a place there---a humble artist capturing the exquisite 
artistry of nature and natural materials that make my life 
solid and peaceful.

This saturday it is frigid, but beautiful in it's own way.  
But, not a day to sit in the sun.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Years Resolution Conference
January 9, 2010 / Syracuse New York

I am so glad I went to this conference!  It wasn't overwhelming 
as some large conferences can be.  The presentations were also 
timely.  Even though the weather was freezing and snowy, the 
five of us---Karen McDonald, Jennifer Burrows, 
Stephanie Stussman, Roxane Chadwick and I---got there safely 
(thank you Karen for driving).

Karen, me, Jennifer

Stephanie and Roxane with our illustrator's mailing

There were three presentations before the four breakout 
sessions.  First, Carla McClafferty, the author of many 
non-fiction books, including Something Out of Nothing: 
Marie Curie and Radium and In Defiance of Hitler: 
The Secret Mission of Varian Fry, shared her process 
and research methods.  Even though I don't write 
non-fiction, the process is similar to fiction pieces with
factual information.  I am constantly researching facts 
about animals and settings that I need in my fiction work.
I also search for photos for references.  Carla was very 
personable and thorough in her step by step approaches.

Carla signing during lunch.

Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin, a husband and wife illustration
team, presented next.  They have received numerous awards for 
their children book illustrations. They passed around original 
work to handle and see up close.  I love layered texture and 
color, so this was a treat.  In the printing process much is lost 
from the original painting.  This couple was open and honest 
about the "agony" of being driven to create.  They wondered 
why they were illustrators.  Meeting deadlines was bad for their 
health:  junk food diets, no sleep, no socializing, edgy moods. 
The comedy dynamics was fun to watch.

Illustrators, Bob and Debra can finally relax!

I was thrilled that Randi Rivers, editor from Charlesbridge,
was speaking at this conference and the primary reason
I attended.  I had been researching Charlesbridge and
had heard positive things about them.  Charlesbridge Publishing 
published Yum! Yuck! written by Linda Sue Park, whom I 
know through RACWI.  I had already sent one manuscript, 
A Brunch of Grumps, which I had addressed to the
"submissions editor." But, I prefer to address submissions to an 
editor I have met.  Conferences are a great way to meet editors
and match your work to a particular editor. When I know an 
editor's personality, editorial skills, genre work, preferences, 
and quirks, I can send more confidently. 

Ms. Rivers spoke about how to get the most out of one's 
submissions.  I was familiar with a lot of the suggestions, 
but learned a lot about submitting a synopsis for longer works, 
which I have not needed to do yet.

After the three presentations, I chose the breakout session 
"First Pages" to attend.  It was lead by Ms. Rivers who actually 
read the first pages rather than the authors.  I thought that she 
was amazing!  After each reading she analyzed and assessed
strengths, gave reasons why she might continue reading 
beyond the first page and offered suggestions.  I felt connected 
to her after that!  I valued what she said and admired her skill.  
I would love to work with her because of her intuitiveness and 
insightfulness.  Within a few days after the conference,  I was so
pumped that I did a final edit of Lizzie and Isadora 
(three chapter early reader), had a final critique, and made a few 
more intuitive changes.  And off it went!  Addressed to 
Randi Rivers, editor.   I felt this manuscript was right for her and
Charlesbridge.  It was a good match.  That felt good.  A submission 
to a real person!  And a submission to the right house.  Doesn't 
mean it'll get published.  But, I did my research.

The night of the day I sent my manuscript, a butterfly was flying 
around my studio.  A butterfly!  In my house! In the dead of winter!
In New York State!  I'm not one to believe in "signs," but it was 
unusual.  Being the bug lover that I am, I made a syrup mixture 
and put it on a leaf of a flowering plant.  Then I gently placed the 
butterfly on the leaf.  The next day it was nowhere to be found.
How long does a butterfly live anyway?  


Happy New Year!

Gary and I toasted in the new year with friends.
We all went to a movie and dinner, then gathered
at Sandra and Richard's home for drinks and desserts.

Top row L-R, John, Mari, Gary, Richard, Caroline
Bottom row L-R, Sandra, Me

Dave and Richard

Gary and I

We both welcomed the break from the long hours we had 
dedicated to painting (me) and carving (Gary) during the month 
of December.  I used the two week school break from substitute 
teaching to move ahead on illustrations.  We were both on a 
roll, getting a lot of work done.  Some days I stayed in my 
pajama's all day!  Because I tend to multi-task too much, I had 
made it a goal last year to focus on one project at a time for at 
least two weeks.  In December I painted 10 spreads (20 pages)
for Marco III and Gary carved six birds.  Whew!!!

Gary in his workshop 

Me in my corner

Gary's carvings

American Woodcock

Common Snipe


Illustrations for my new Marco book In the Jungle
release date Spring '11

...roaring with lion

...taking a mud baths with the hippos

...looking for buried treasure with ostrich