Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weekend Link: Mo Willems

We had a great day today. We traveled to DC and watched "Elephant and Piggie: We Are In a Play," by Mo Willems. I had no idea that the appearance of Elephant and Piggie at the Kennedy Center was the premiere venue for Mo Willem's new play. No doubt it won't be the last...

Our kids loved the play and that's saying something for my very wiggly son. It was fun, well-paced and interactive. The kids were putty in the actors' hands.

It's a great illustration of Mo Willem's genius to take his books and move them to another format. I couldn't find any clips of the play, but do enjoy Mo Willems presentation at the National Book Festival also in DC.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekend Link: What Really Motivates Us

You know those infamous portals to another world in almost every fantasy book? Well, that’s what a good story is for me. I don’t read a book, I live it and when I close it I have to re-enter my world. I suspect that’s true for most writers.

I was into acting in high school and college. I competed in regional and state competitions each year. One year the competitive reader’s theater I was in was based on Shel Silverstein’s book, Lafcadio the Lion Who Shot Back.

Because it’s a children’s story, a lot of audience members missed the deeply personal theme Silverstein wove into its humor and just enjoyed it for its whimsy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekend Link: Creativity

As shocking as this may be, I'm not a huge John Cleese fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed his lecture on creativity. Thanks to Brain Pickings for tuning me into this:

To put that creativity into practice, check out Shannon Abercrombie's Start the Year off Write 2014.

Here's the info:
"For 21 days, beginning on January 5th, a talented array of authors and illustrators will be sharing insights into their writing practices and providing a writing prompt/exercise to complete. Each day you complete the given exercise, you earn an entry to win one of the grand prizes. What are the grand prizes you ask? So far, there are 4 AGENT critiques, 2 EDITOR critiques, and proofreading services from a COPY EDITOR up for grabs." 
Of course, don't forget Judie Hedlund's 12x12 coming up in January too. All those great ideas you picked up from PiBoIdMo or Start the Year off Write can be used to draft a picture book a month. Yep, 12 pictures books by the end of the year. Brilliant!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tips from an illustrator and How do I find time to do everything I want to do?

I started a tradition years ago, of putting Christmas books in a basket and letting my kids pick from them every night in December. Last night I read Santa Clause the World's Number One Toy Expert to my five-year-old. It is one of the cutest books I have ever read. I love the pictures. I always keep staring at them after I've finished reading the book. It's written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, an award winning illustrator and author. Her website, has some good tips for illustrators. Definitely worth looking at.

On the subject of holidays, I can't really enjoy them unless I feel like I've been making progress on my books. I spent the last six months packing, driving across country, unpacking, organizing, hanging pictures and curtains and in every other way trying to perfect my surroundings. After moving 7 times in 8 years, I was obsessed. OK, now I want to get back to work.

I know I get the same 24 hours a day as everyone else, but it's never enough. I've never been good at using my time effectively, except when I was going to school full time, commuting, raising 3 boys, and taking care of a house and a dog. I did my homework first and managed to fit in housework, laundry, grocery shopping, carpooling and spending time with my family. They had to help with the housework and cooking, and that was a good thing for everyone.

Without the deadline of an assignment, I tend to do things the other way around. First I do the housework, laundry, shopping, errands, business, cooking and dishes, then when I'm done with all that...well, I never am. I'm too tired at the end of the day to do anything creative. But I've learned over and over that I need to be creative first, then do all that other stuff. Because housework depletes my energy, but creative work creates more energy! At the end of a day of writing or drawing, I can fit the housework in. Of course, taking care of my kids takes precedence over everything else. That goes without saying, right?

There are certain things I just spend too much time on, like cooking and dishes and shopping and grooming. These are all things that need to be done, but with a little planning I'm figuring out how to streamline them so I can spend more of my precious time creating. If anybody has ideas how to spend more time doing what we want to do and less on those necessary chores, I would love to hear them.