Friday, October 30, 2009

Spooky Bridge

While stuck in traffic driving home from Rabbit Hill last week, I glanced up through the torrential rain and saw this bridge. Can you see the spider-and-web design? Oooo... spooky! Perfect timing for Halloween.

(The filter effect was inspired by my son, who has just discovered Photoshop and is trying to scare the bejeesus out of me with creepy effects. As if driving on the Merritt Race... uh, Parkway isn't scary enough...)

Here's a closeup of the ironwork, and more photos of this historic bridge:

Elizabeth is hosting a collection of Halloween posts today over at her place. Check it out for more spooky fun...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oldies But Goodies

I'm on another semi-futile kick to clean out my files and came across a whole stack of old tearsheets, so I thought I'd post some oldie-but-goodie work.

This was from, whoa, 12 or so years ago, I think. Again, such fun to work on the detailed borders.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun: On Being an Illustrator

With the release of the Where the Wild Things Are movie, this video has been all over the internet. It reminded me of last year's Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature because one of my favorite illustrators, Barbara McClintock, told a wonderful story about being a young artist living in North Dakota and just beginning her career. She picked up the phone and called Maurice Sendak all the way in New York City. She wanted to ask his advice about becoming a children's book illustrator. Apparently he was very nice and gave her some good tips. Wow!

By the way, the 2009 Rabbit Hill Festival takes place all this weekend if you're in the area.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Map. Old Cat.

Here's a map I did recently for AAA Traveler magazine. It's fun to research these kids of pieces, but I have to be careful not to waste all day reading about fascinating places.

On a sad note, Athena, our ancient outdoor cat, passed away peacefully last night. We'd had her for over 21 years, since before my husband and I were married. She was a sweet old lady. She lived in our barn and spent her days catching mice and assorted other critters, though the past few years she mostly enjoyed lolling around the house on a sunny patch of ground.

I think she had some sort of an agreement with the wildlife around here, because despite the raccoons and coyotes (and speeding cars!) she never got into trouble. We fed her a few times a day, and one night, a raccoon mother and her babies scuffled outside the front door gobbling up her dinner. Athena just watched patiently from a few yards away, letting them take their fill. She knew there would be more for her.

The inside cats loved having staring contests with her through the screen.
RIP, Athena.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One-on-One Plus Conference

This past Saturday I woke up earlier than I thought was physically possible, drank too much coffee, and drove to New Jersey for the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference, sponsored by the Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature. This was my first time going. I was excited, nervous, and curious at the same time.

Each attendee at the conference was paired with someone in the children's book field-- an editor, art director, agent, author or illustrator-- for a 45 minute one-on-one mentoring session. Later, groups of five mentors and mentees met to discuss questions anyone might have. There was lunch and a panel of speakers. Throughout the day mentees were encouraged to seek out people who might be interested in their work and introduce themselves. It was intense. (Especially for an introvert!) But it wasn't as intimidating as I'd thought it might be. Everyone was friendly and approachable.

The morning of the conference we found out who our mentors were. I almost fell off my chair when I learned that I'd been paired with Alvina Ling, Senior Editor at Little, Brown. I knew who she was from the Blue Rose Girls blog and from some of the fabulous books she's worked on. I was thrilled!

Alvina offered helpful insight and suggestions about some of the stories I've been working on. You know that "a-ha!" feeling when somebody says just the right words and suddenly a door to a new solution opens? That's how I felt. We also talked about my portfolio. The conversation was very, very encouraging!

The panel speakers were full of good tips, such as-- figure out how old you are inside when creating a story and find the best way to leverage that. Go for the "psychological verisimilitude," the truth, at the core of your story and strengthen it. And no matter how much technology changes the way we read books in the future, it will always be story that matters.

Judy Freeman did a wonderful book talk (with music) including a hilarious segment on-- groan-- celebrity children's books. (I thought she was kidding about this. Sadly, not.)

All in all it was an inspiring day. Isn't that usually how it is when people who love children's books get together?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Map!

This is a map I worked on last year for a book that's finally coming out in December! The book is called Hands of the Rain Forest: The Emberá People of Panama, by Rachel Crandell. It was great fun to research colors and patterns for the border on this one.

I'm a big fan of books with maps. As a reader I find it helpful to have a picture in my head of the story's location, whether it's for a non-fiction book like this one, or a novel with an invented setting. (Just my two pence!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Random Quotes

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
– Ursula K. Le Guin

Monday, October 5, 2009