Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update: Humboldt County Children's Author Festival and More

I kicked off last week with a visit to Sun Valley School here in Marin. I was very impressed with the student questions. They had so many! I really enjoyed spending a morning with them in their beautiful school.

Then, I headed north to take part in the Humboldt County Children's Author Festival. The festival began at the Morris Graves Museum of Art where participating illustrators' original work was (and still is) on display. Over the next two days, I visited three schools, all of which were fantastically prepared. There were banners! Buglette costumes! Vegan potluck lunches! But most of all, the students were engaged and inquisitive and EXCITED. I was in heaven. I also met a lovely array of authors and illustrators. The volunteers who put this event together deserve loads of praise; it is so valuable to all involved. I have included photos below, although I am sorely remiss about taking as many shots as I should (especially at school visits where I tend to be somewhat distracted until the projector, laptop, and remote are all behaving). Thankfully, there are LOTS of photos on the official Facebook page.

And the festivities continue—in a week and a half, I will be in Las Vegas for the Vegas Valley Book Festival.

In other news, I am looking forward to the release of three new books in 2014. I am also looking forward to starting a quarterly newsletter. More details about the books and the newsletter to come soon!

The art show at the Morris Graves Museum of Art
My art
An entire bulletin board of Buglette dreams!
A character inspired by my presentation, drawn on the spot!
More pigs, drawn during my visit. (I am fond of them all, but I especially like the guy with the belly button.)
The Carson Mansion, after our banquet dinner

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zoe's Room!

It's release day for Zoe's Room (No Sisters Allowed)! This story began nearly four years and three bedrooms ago. Our eldest daughter had a very elaborate bedtime ritual that involved building, jumping, singing, and creating mayhem of various sorts AFTER we put her to bed. All of this activity helped her to wind down from the day, and also, I think she reveled in having her very own space—a place where she was completely in charge. Needless to say, there were more than a few hiccups when we moved her baby sister into the room. It became very clear that the eldest was not going to give up her nighttime activities without a fight. She saw no upside to the situation. At that point, her little sister was a curiosity at best, and more often, a nuisance.

Four years later, they are still sharing a room, albeit a different one (we've done some moving around). In a funny case of life imitating art, their new room has a slanted, beamed ceiling and is in a house overlooking the water, not completely unlike the room I created for the book. Here's the room in its rarest state (clean).

These days, they chatter away at bedtime, have created new elaborate rituals, and I don't think either one is happy to go to sleep when the other one isn't there. I've watched the relationship between the two develop from one of indifference into true friendship and love (with plenty of sibling bickering to keep things interesting, of course). The moments when my eldest began to see her little sister as a real person were powerful and amazing to witness and were my inspiration for this story. Following are links for the trailer as well as some fun Zoe and Addie activity pages from Scholastic:
Zoe's Room trailer
Zoe's Room activity pages

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Upcoming appearances

Hello all! I'm popping in for a quick update about appearances. With SNIPPET now released into the wild and ZOE'S ROOM coming soon, I will be out and about for the following events:
1. Sausalito Public Library, (Sausalito, CA) May 3rd at 7:30 pm. Amy Novesky and I will speak about picture books and our careers as authors (adult event).
2. Books, Inc. (Marina store, San Francisco, CA) on May 18th at 11:00 am: Story time reading for kids
3. The Reading Bug (San Carlos, CA) on May 25th at 11:00 am: Reading and activity for kids
4. Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA) on June 29th at 4:00 pm: Children's event! Amy Novesky, Deborah Underwood and I will be presenting our latest picture books.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The beauty of my job...

...is that I can spend hours doing this and legitimately call it work. The house is overflowing with colorful snails in anticipation of events for SNIPPET. I'll be posting my Bay Area schedule soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Snail is Born

Today is the official publication date for SNIPPET THE EARLY RISER, my new picture book. The reviews so far have been very positive, including a fun review from Michael Ian Black in this week's New York Times. The NYT review is a first for me, and as a previous NYC dweller who religiously pored over the NYT Book Review every Sunday, it is an especially lovely gift.

In the past, I've blogged about the inspiration for my books (or more accurately, the "special" kind of crazy that is my thought process), and once again, I am back to ramble. The idea for this book was born 3 years ago when my early risers were having quite an impact on my life. (And my coffee consumption.) It's rough on both sides of that fence, though. Yes, there was adult sleep deprivation, but think of the poor kids -- what a monumental job it is to rouse a large, immovable lump from bed.

I started to think about characters. I wanted to use animals—lazy animals. Sloths? Pigs? My sketchbook has many pages of options, but as soon as I began sketching snails, I knew I had my characters. Just think of the difficult job a poor young snail has in trying to coax sleeping parents from their impenetrable shells!

After the character decision was made came the fun of thinking about snails and their daily lives. They do present some unique challenges, given their lack of hands, arms, and legs. What does a young snail do for fun? That was the question. One day as I was hiking, I found my answer. (I actually went home, grabbed my camera, and went back to take this photo...so excited was I about the idea...and so certain that someday, I would want it as evidence.)

It was abundantly clear to me that the snail who left this trail had either eaten too many fermented leaves or was simply having fun, expressing himself—doing snail donuts, shall we say? Making drawings? Clearly, he was not in a hurry to get anywhere. Perhaps he was daydreaming as he wandered about. As soon as I began to think of snails as creative creatures, the story took shape.

Many thanks to the people who shepherded this story on its road to publication: Mary Kole, Joanne Taylor, Michele Burke, and Sarah Hokanson.

Please visit my website to view the trailer and learn more about the book.