Growing Patterns Book Trailer

It’s ready to view! See the book trailer for Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. I’d love to hear what you think.

It’s also available on my website and on my Amazon author page. (Look in the far right column at the bottom.)

Some New Year’s Goals

Well, I’ve decided to stop being a chicken and post some writing goals for 2010.

1. Launch Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, putting to use all the things I’ve learned since Wolfsnail debuted nearly two years ago. This time we’ll have a book trailer, a blog tour, sunflower seeds, and a presentation at a national conference.

2. Meet twice a month with my critique partner to make progress on items 3 and 4 below.

3. Write and photograph nonfiction picture book number 3. Subject is chosen and living (happily, I think) in a container on my living room bookshelf. It’s lots of fun to watch and to photograph.

4. Write first picture book that I won’t be illustrating with photographs. This story is near and dear to me. I think I am ready to commit it to the page.

5. Write regularly on my memoir. I started writing this for an online course through Gotham Writers’ Workshop. It was an excellent introduction to memoir and I am very happy I took the class. Now, I’m going to write, write, write.

Of course, I’ll also be mothering, teaching (2nd graders and 5th graders in separate photography and writing projects), gardening, exercising, cooking, fellowshipping, blogging, and (hope springs eternal) de-cluttering.

What are your writing goals? Does it help to make them public? I’d love to know.

Update: How’s this for coincidence? Within the hour of posting, I received an email rejection of a piece I had submitted to the online magazine Brevity. I had been encouraged to submit by Kyle Minor, who taught my memoir writing class in the fall. I gave the memoir snippet (about 450 words) to my Dad for Christmas; I asked Richard to typeset it and paired it with a black and white photograph of Richard’s. I am glad Kyle encouraged me to submit the piece. I learned about an interesting online magazine and I gained the confidence to keep writing. Eventually, this snippet will take its place in a larger work.

Not White, a Quilt

Not White

Not White

I posted bits and pieces of this quilt while it was in progress, here and here. Now, I am happy to be able to post the finished quilt. My parents and I gave it to my sister, Jessica, for Christmas. Mom and Dad had it machine quilted at Bernina Sewing, Etc. “Not White” is the first in a series I have planned. Each will use the same color scheme but have a different pattern. I posted the second picture so you could get an idea of the size of the quilt — basically it fits nicely on the top of a queen-sized (no hang-over) and is meant to be a throw quilt on her living room couch.

with the quilt

Oops, I missed a day



Sorry I missed posting yesterday. No copy of Growing Patterns came, but I did get a very nice note from my young reader friend, Jackson S. He and I had lunch in October when I went to the Mississippi Library Association conference. In the note, he thanked me for showing him my draft copy (which I had printed on my home printer and stapled together). It is fun to have readers anticipating this book’s release. Last time around, it was just me and a close circle of friends.

The flower in the above picture is a spiderwort. A photograph of a spiderwort does appear in the book to illustrate Fibonacci number 3, but it was shot from the top and with only one flower visible.

It snowed here last night so we woke up to a white landscape.

back yard in the snow

back yard in the snow

saw palmetto

saw palmetto

nice leaf shape holding snow

nice leaf shape holding snow

pine needles

pine needles

In Black and White

Tuscon in Black and White

Tuscon in Black and White

This may be the last of the Tuscon photographs. Richard converted it to black and white. We have been updating and upgrading around here. You may notice some new things on the blog. To the left I have added more links to the blogs of fellow Southern Breezers. If I have left someone out, please comment to let me know. I am still building my list. Richard converted the Tuscon sunrise photograph to a wallpaper file. It is very nice!

I now work with a webcam attached to my monitor. It’s a little disconcerting to have this eyeball like thing staring back at me. I am practicing using Skype (which I hope to use to do virtual school visits soon) by calling Richard’s parents in England. Unfortunately, right now the news from there involves major surgery and lots of anxiety about its outcome. But it is nice to be able to see Silvana and Tony while we talk. They enjoy seeing their grandsons.

We got some nice quiet rain today and we have been having a nice day in our basement lair. Two of the boys are helping blog/website maintenance. Richard and D are playing ping-pong. It is a good start to a much-needed week off.

Ten Mile River

tenmileriver27733946For me, a good novel is peopled by characters so real you feel you know them. This was how it was with Ray and Jose, the teenagers at the center of Paul Griffin’s Ten Mile River. The boys, who met and bonded during a stint in juvenile detention, have cobbled together a life on the margins in New York City. They steal food, grills, and cars, but they also share scarce food with a passel of mutts, wrestle and make jokes about body smells, noises and haircuts. Ray meets Trini during a trip to the braid shop for his weekly haircut. Though smitten, he introduces Trini to Jose and watches helplessly as they get together. Trini’s aunt Yolie, the big-hearted proprietor of the braid shop, offers the boys the closest thing to hope and normalcy they’ve seen for a while. Despite Trini’s urging and Yolie’s offer of honest work, the boys can’t quite extricate themselves from their thieving associates.

The narrative power of this slim volume is strong. I didn’t want to put it down; I devoured it in two sittings.

theorangehouses_Luckily, I had Griffin’s the orange houses to pick up next. In it, I met the unforgettable Mik Sykes, Jimmi Sixes, and Fatima. I swallowed this one in a single sitting/lying down. Mik can’t hear well and likes to let the world fade into the background. Jimmi is a mentally ill vet and street poet. Fatima is a refuge from a failed African nation with a talent for folding paper. Griffin brings them together in a powerful story of friendship.

If I were teaching high school English or facilitating a book group with young adults, I would suggest these books. Griffin is a skilled writer who has spent enough time with adolescents in tough circumstances to pick up the lingo, to see through their tough outer shells, and to examine their deepest desires.

I am glad I met Griffin at the recent Mississippi Library Association conference. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of his work.

Monarch Trail

Creating a Logo

eye logoMy business cards feature a photograph of a wolfsnail. Now that I have another book coming out, I decided I needed to create a new set of marketing materials. Some, like postcards and posters, will be book specific and feature cover art for Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. Others, like business cards and bookmarks, will not be book specific. I decided I needed a logo,  a graphical representation of my work.

Richard and I started brainstorming; we wanted something that would say photography, writing, nature, creativity, wonder, and macro-photography. The ideas began to flow: camera, pixels, the letter p on its side, a camera with a magnifying lens in front of the lens, the letter c forming a camera, … I looked through some magazines, paged through some clip-art searches, and browsed some art blogs.

I saw a line drawing of an eye that I liked. Richard took that idea and came up with something I really like. He took a photograph of our camera and pulled up a sunflower photograph he had taken earlier this year. He used his Wacom Intuos 3 to draw, shade, and shape. He still has some fine tuning he wants to do. We aren’t sure whether to put a straight line on the bottom or whether to try to incorporate text. I’ll share the final logo when it’s ready. I plan to use the logo on business cards, my website, bookmarks, flyers, etc.

Do you have a logo? How did you choose it? How do you use it?

Gulf Fritillary on Neighbor’s Lantanas

Gulf Fritilary

Gulf Fritilary

As the second in a week of posts with photographs of my Sunday morning walk, I offer a Gulf Fritillary feasting on Lantana flowers. Three of these were fluttering around the same group of bushes. What a fantastic color they are! I love the orange tip on the antennae. It looks like the head of a pin.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Elizabeth Dulemba Interview

bio_pic_sm_newToday I interview Elizabeth Dulemba. She is on a blog book tour to launch her new book:  Soap, Soap, Soap ~ Jabon, Jabon, Jabon. Elizabeth and I know each other because we are both members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in the Southern Breeze region (Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi).

When we finish visiting here, you’ll want to visit her website to view the book’s trailer and check out the fun coloring pages and interior images.

Soap-250-bilingYour first book as an author/illustrator also happens to be a bilingual book in English and Spanish. How did that affect your writing process? Was anything different about the illustration process?
SOAP, SOAP, SOAP is based on a classic Appalachian Jack Tale, but I wanted to make it modern and relevant to today’s audience, and make the embedded Spanish easy to understand throughout the context of the story. It’s a bit like a puzzle, like any writing, just with different rules. For instance, you don’t want the Spanish term and its English translation to be too far apart. Like in the opening line: “…his mamá…handed him some money. ‘Here’s some dinero…'” That sort of thing. If the words are too far apart, the connection is lost. But I love puzzles, so it’s a fun way to write.

As far as illustrating SOAP. The story came first on this one, so it was almost like any other project, although I had the freedom to tweak and rearrange the text as needed without offending anybody!

I know you learned some Spanish for your book Paco and the Giant Chile Pepper. Were you able to translate your own book?
I took two years of very intense Spanish lessons at the Latin American Association in Atlanta (and highly recommend them). I’m not fluent, but I did learn enough to be able to do the initial bilingual text myself. Of course, it had to be vetted by a professional translation company to make sure it was accurate. There are many things we say in English or ways we say them that simply don’t translate – and visa versa. I was close, but we had to make a few changes.



one of e's coloring page

I know from reading your blog that you embrace technology. What kinds of high tech skills are you working on now?
Funny you should ask. I’m having lunch with an iPhone App creator tomorrow. I want to experiment with turning one of my book dummies into an iPhone story app – hopefully in time for Halloween since it has a witchy theme. Cross your fingers!

I am interested in the moment of creation. Do you remember? Did it come from your writing place or your drawing place? Are those distinct places?

My publisher for Paco and the Giant Chile Plant was so pleased with my work (I was the illustrator only) on that book, they asked me for more. I adore folklore, and Paco was a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” so the seeds were already planted to do another Jack Tale. I did research and read tons (which I’d done at other times in my life since my exit show in college was about the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where I heard Jack Tales from the master himself, Ray Hicks). And I didn’t have to go far for that research. The original SOAP story was in my own library in a volume of Jack Tales collected by Richard Chase and dedicated to me by my grandparents in 1975. Truly, I have an interesting history with these tales, they keep turning up in my life. Of course, the original is politically incorrect and completely unsuitable for modern times – that’s where the work came in – and while it is recognizable to those familiar with the story, it really ended up being something completely unique. Interesting factoid: the protagonist, Hugo, is named for my little cousin “Hugh” – a.k.a. the “Hughlito” in the dedication.

What do you have coming up next?
I’m currently illustrating “The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia” written by my friend Susan R. Spain for Sterling Publishing (Holiday 2010). I’m also writing a new novel, have a picture book proposal with my agent, and am speaking at four book festivals this Fall. I stay pretty darned busy.

What do you do to feed your creativity?
I either go for a walk or take a shower. Sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck on an idea or illustration, only to stop, shower/walk and have it all come clear! As far as refilling the deeper coffers – that requires a sandy beach and ocean waves…

What do you do when you are not creating children’s books?
Um. What? When I’m not creating picture books? Ha! Truly, this is my passion. I’ve wanted to create children’s books my entire life. This career demands a lot of tangents, like public speaking, volunteering as Illustrator Coordinator with Southern Breeze region of SCBWI and being on the Board for the Georgia Center for the Book, marketing, etc. but it all ties in with my children’s books in some way. I’m living my dream.
But for completely unrelated activities, does going out to a nice dinner with my hubbie (where I talk about books), or digging in my garden count?

Thanks so much for hosting me Sarah!

For several years, Elizabeth has been the Illustrator Coordinator for Southern Breeze. The gallery exhibit of original art by Southern Breeze illustrators was her brainchild. After its inaugural showing at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Ga. in May 2008, it was picked up by the Southern Arts Federation as a touring exhibit called Storybook Look. It made its touring debut at the Saenger Theater in Hattiesburg during the 2009 Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.