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Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

thanksgiving_escape

I updated my website with info about my next book, The Great Thanksgiving Escape, which escapes in September from dank, dark warehouses.

It’s a Thanksgiving story. I hope the title didn’t give that away.

The first review ran for it in Kirkus, and they said very nice things and I could breathe again – so I guess I can start my publicity push…which mainly focuses on me walking around town with a copy of the book under my arm and when people look at me I say – “I noticed you seem interested in my NEW book!” and I read it to them. Out loud. After all, picture books are meant to be read aloud. This does lead to some delays and frequent calls to the police, especially when I do this while I’m in line at the grocery check-out at around 5:30.

OK. That’s not true. That’s not ALL my promotional ideas. I also super glue several copies of the book to the outside of my car and I update my website and blog.

OK. Sadly enough, my main publicity idea is updating my blog and website.

And the radio ads I’m taking out for it.

 

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beanbean2

How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans was selected as a Wanda Gág ‘Read Aloud’ Honor Book for 2014! This award is given out by the Curriculum Materials Center of the Livingston Lord Library, Minnesota State Universuty, Moorehead, Minnesota.

Martha is a terrific read aloud book for story-times. I’ve seen the results! And that last page turn is always terrific. Congrats to Mr. LaRochelle again on penning such an inspired tale or goofiness!

 

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How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans written by David LaRochelle has been named one of the finalists for the State of Wyoming’s Buckaroo Award.

That’s cool! I drove through Wyoming last September. Perhaps rolling my window down and yelling EVERYONE SHOULD READ HOW MARTHA SAVED HER PARENTS FROM GREEN BEANS worked.

And ‘Martha’ has also been named a Best Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education!

Very awesome accolades for a terrific book by Mr. LaRochelle!

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So I’ve been negligent in talking about what I’m working on right now. I think this is because it’s real work to me. Something I already focus on all day long (and often evenings) and when I get to my blog duties I like to get away from all that. I’d much rather talk about important stuff like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day – which is May 15th.

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Cropped sample from The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Out Sept. 2014 from Candlewick Press.

But what AM I DOING?

Right at this moment I’m typing and – drinking tea. Really good Chinese Breakfast from Numi Tea. (no I wasn’t sponsored to say that – it’s just  that they make the best bagged black teas right now)

I am also finishing a picture book I wrote and illustrated for Penguin that will be out next year.  I’m also about a third of the way done with a picture book I’m illustrating for Hyperion.

 


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I’m starting to plan some marketing for the picture book I wrote and Illustrated coming out this Sept. called The Great Thanksgiving Escape, which is being released by Candlewick Press. (I just received the first two sample copies on Saturday!) This is a book inspired by Oregon in many ways. You’ll see when you read it and get to the end (So order it now! what are you waiting for!?) This is the first picture book I wrote and illustrated. I got to wear both hats. And a wig. And clown shoes.

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After that I have a bunch of exciting projects I will blab on about later, including three more picture books I am thrilled to be illustrating.

Now I need to walk the dogs, yet another of the quotidian that keep me from ‘real’ work.

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Amazon is getting pretty angry and is now refusing to sell books from various publishers it can’t get a deal from on its terms.

Seems like not so long ago that Amazon was the company you liked to like. They were the store where you could find anything and everything. Their great strength wasn’t just price – it was getting the books that you couldn’t find locally. But I guess that’s in the past.

 

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I had a great time visiting Jacksonville Elementary School. They have a literary festival each year (4th annual I believe) and the students share their writing with groups of mentors and have it posted in the gym for everyone to read. One student read his story in front of the audience of about 140 people. He did great!

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They collect the student writing in a bound book (a big book!) so these students are already published authors. Very cool. I received a copy of it and have been reading the short prose, essays and poems. The kindergartens wrote and drew about ideas inspired by How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans and from The Book That Eats People.

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Jacksonville is a wonderful small town whose main street is just about identical to how it looked starting in 1850. No big box stores or fast food places. I had a great dinner and delicious bakery in the morning – fresh strawberry coffeecake! The baker in me was happy too!

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Some more cards from school visits. I have to explain that I am positing the art from cards, but I also get many letters and cards with no art. I don’t scan those, but I do read and appreciate them.

 

From: Anneliese

Love the expression on the sun and the robot with single red balloon!

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From: Connor D.

An Earthling! inspired card that also references The Big Bad Robot and Martha and those pesky green beans!

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From: Skylar S.

Aliens galore! And the fear of missing that bus.

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From: Jordan S.

Super colorful references to many of my books. And the inside was heavily illustrated too!

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metraveling

 

I’m looking forward to speaking at the 2014 Jackson Elementary Writer’s Festival on May 7th. One of the goals of the event is to give young writers an audience. Student writing is shared and displayed in the school and local writers and writing enthusiasts are invited to mentor small groups.

Every time I visit a school I meet several kids who are already dedicated writers and illustrators. They are looking for readers (aren’t we all!) and searching for more information about the process. If you read this blog regularly you know my feelings on ‘process’. Everyone has one. And mine isn’t yours and yours isn’t right for me.

But writing is best practiced by – writing. (same goes for illustration) Writing is more important than reading if you want to write professionally. You can be a great reader – by reading. And no doubt it helps your writing. But to be a good writer you can’t just read. You need to make all those mistakes you will make while you write. And then fix them.

At least you have to try and fix them.

 

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ideas

One of the most common questions an author, cartoonist or illustrator receives is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

This is somewhat straightforward to answer when you are contracted to illustrate a manuscript. I literally was handed a story to illustrate. Granted all the visuals must be created, so you are definitely generating visual ideas that must come from somewhere, but you have the architecture plans in hand – the manuscript.

John Cleese has lots of great quotes about creativity and ideas.

“We get our ideas from what I’m going to call for a moment our unconscious — the part of our mind that goes on working, for example, when we’re asleep. So what I’m saying is that if you get into the right mood, then your mode of thinking will become much more creative. But if you’re racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.” ~ John Cleese

I recite an answer to the question of where I get my ideas when I give talks, which sounds much like every other author’s answers I’ve ever heard. And I think I began to believe it. It makes it sound likes it’s a discipline. Like you can take Idea Generation 101 at a university where you practice and develop and study and craft creating ideas. NO. You craft and refine and revise a manuscript or a sketch – which is based on an idea that comes from…????

When looking back on things it’s easy to think we see dots connecting to create an outcome. I think we mostly create those dots to fulfill a preconceived notion of ourselves. For those very same ‘dots’ could produce an infinite number of different outcomes. That they resulted in any particular event is simply a product of odds. So the looking back and pretending to know where an idea generated from is a comforting fiction we tell ourselves so that the world continues to unfold in an orderly action-reaction state.

A few weeks back I was sitting in the waiting room of a local athletic club. I was tired, a little bored, thinking about what I was going to make for dinner while I waited for my daughter to get done with swim team practice. And I was writing/doodling in my sketchbook, which I do all the time. And a story simply developed from a few sentences and a quick sketch.

I have NO idea where it came from. And of course no idea if it’s any good. But if I continue to revise it and if it is submitted to editors one day, I will follow up on this post.

But the fact is – I see no logical reason for that story to have appeared in my head at that moment. I hadn’t been working on it. It doesn’t have to do with swimming… it was totally random.

So much for knowing where ideas come from.

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I’ve been cleaning out my studio. And filling the recycle bin. Filling and refilling the recycle bin. Wow.

Animation timing sheets and countless reams of old drawings have been collecting dust for too long. I saved a few things and scanned a few others. I spent hours going through character designs from old animation projects, odds and ends from sketchbooks (I was keeping way too many old sketchbooks for some reason), life drawings and random pieces that were no doubt the start of something great, 18 years ago…. I pulled out a book dummy or two. But I must have thrown out at least 80 pounds of paper. It will take two or three weeks to get it all in the recycle bin.3

You can’t keep it all. You just can’t. As I finish all my work digitally now the only physically tangible aspects of a project in progress I have are sketches and roughs. These past 10 years I have held onto way too much.

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I’ll post a few scans of stuff along the way.

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