While all of the speakers were enjoyable, I have to say that I absolutely loved listening to Patricia MacLachlan.
Besides the great warmth and humor that was evident as she spoke, I once again had the thrill of a small peek into the creative mind at work. It was very satisfying to hear just how closely her own life is mirrored in the events and characters of her books. As I work on my own MG novel, and I realize (and maybe worry?) just how much I am borrowing from my own life's experience, it is nice to hear that great writers have done the exact same.
A special and hilarious treat: some excerpts from "Once I Ate A Pie," the book she cowrote with her daughter.
Anyone who has had a dog will love it and maybe HOWL with laughter.
AH, now I know why I don't like to do laundry! I have LAZY SOAP! It's not me, it's my soap!
On one of my recent junk hunts, I came across three old magazines, two of which were old WOMEN'S HOME COMPANION copies dated from 1938 and 1939. There are some great things I will share from these, not the least of which is a SERIALIZED GRAPHIC NOVEL! SO, it just goes to show you-- there is NOTHING NEW under the sun.
Still, the funniest stuff in these old mags is the advertising. SO, here I begin what I hope will be entertaining and grist for anyone's humor mill and a new feature:
I am very lucky to have some wonderful on-line friends who live and breathe children's books as much as I do. We share our thoughts about this nutty business we are in. We talk about our books and our manuscripts. We even eat cyber chocolate and drink cyber champagne to celebrate our victories (or soothe our battered egos).
And we blog together.
One of those blogs is OUTSIDE OF A DOG. That group has been together since 2000. Our members are authors and author/illustrators.
I am very thankful to on-line friends for camaraderie in what can otherwise be a very isolated existence. This digital world of sharing info is very exciting, don't you think? I am thrilled that I am even able to participate, being more than a little old school.
Well, yeah, I do. Sort of. I mean, when you ride on a school bus with 40 fifth graders to a field trip at the Science Museum, and half the Massachusetts student population is there, and you have to keep an eye on your group, some of whom are whining a bit, and everyone is running from one exhibit to another and you are older than most of the moms, and today you REALLY feel it, and ...and...and...well, you get the picture.
Actually I am half joking. It was was not bad at all. It was even fun and very noisy in a fun way. I called my husband from the bus and tried to let him hear the din of the students' bus ride giddiness. Somehow, I do not think it translated.
Since my youngest son will be in middle school next year, this is most likely the last field trip I will get to go on, so I did feel a little misty eyed at the thought of the end of an era. But that misty eyed feeling left me when I recalled going with my now college age son on a field trip when he was in first grade. We went to the Boston Common. Every other elementary school within a 150 mile radius was there, too, for free ice cream. That still ranks as the worst field trip of all time, bar none.
All in all I sat by myself on the bus (being the older mom) and I thought about books I would like to write. As I said in an earlier post, I do like noise that cuts out everything else. I wondered if I could get a white noise machine with one of the categories being "FIELD TRIP." Because, if truth be told, I loved the din of it and it made me wish I had a note pad to write on.
So this leads me to a question: can a person create his own white noise machine with the sounds that shut the external stuff out? If you have the answer to this let me know.
I love Typepad. They make it very easy to play around with the design and colors of this blog. That is like unlimited paper and crayons. I also decided that I needed a new header because this blog seems to concentrate on my book work, and is less concerned with junkin'.
As I wait for Tex and Sugar to get printed and bound, and as I help my publisher create events packet material for teachers and their students, my mind is beginning to think about my next book.
Like T and S, this character has been with me a long time. I know her VERY well. She desperately needs be given her day in the sun, and she is not too shy about nudging me, either. For a short spell I was sort of drifting, wondering where to dock. And then she snagged me. OK, I said. Lower the gangplank. I'm stayin' put.
Penny (that's her name) talks to me in the shower. I always hear her voice while I am washing my hair. No, I am not crazy, it's just that the shower is my favorite thinking place. Lines of text come to me in the shower. Approaches to stories. Funny rhyme. Letters to old boyfriends....
Just kidding..sort of.
I think it is a combination of the hot, soothing water and the white noise. It enables me to get to that creative "zone." I have thought about buying one of those sleep machines that can play the sounds of rain, or waterfalls, or wind, to see if I can get to that zone without depleting the contents of my hot water tank. We'll see. Weigh in if you know the brand name of a good one, and if you've ever done that.
But back to Penny, as I call her. She is one hot ticket. I've sketched her out and begun to create the beginning of the dummy. I have learned that I do not have to finish the text completely to delve into the art. Sometimes the art is the gateway to the text.
But, right now, distractions abound. She keeps trying to start conversations and I keep putting her off. Tomorrow, I promise her.
Showers are getting to be very filled with conflict.
I 've been thinking about why I love Ugly Betty so much. Yes, the show is well produced and the performances are fun. But I think it mostly has to do with the visual feast created by the genius or two behind the set and costume design. And it is in the small details: Betty's clothes and home environment (gotta love that kitchen!) and also her neighbor's and rival's place. Take a close look at the details in Gina Compara's apartment. Whoa! THAT is exquisite set design to a tee--things you see for only fleeting minutes on a small screen--and yet they so wonderfully add to the character portrayal or the not-so-lovely Gina.
My favorite film makers pay enormous attention to set design and clothing. They go for the small things that are true to time and place and person in the stories.
Good book illustration pays the same kind of attention to detail. Especially in a book for kids, when you have a limited number of words to show who the main characters are and what they are about. You have to fill in the space with small details in the art that paint (both literally and figuratively) the whole picture. What does this guy like to wear? How does the girl decorate her room? Are there family pictures on the walls? Is the place neat or warmly disorganized?
These are the kinds of things I love to add to illustrations. It helps me know my characters more. It helps me to show the reader who the characters really are. We all form instant impressions about people without realizing it-and we do it because of the small details.
Yeah, I know. You would expect someone who collects so much junk to think this way. Can't help it.
Damnation to minimalism. Bring on the lawn ornaments!!
OK. I have to put a disclaimer here: I know squat about TV. At least about current network TV, anyway.
Oh, I LOVE the Sopranos and the Big Love. That's appointment TV. Best TV I ever had the pleasure to watch. But the good thing is that they have relatively short seasons; I can go back to life again after my obsessions close shop.
It's not that I am a snob about TV. Honestly, I don't think there is a kid alive that watched more TV than I did in the fifties and sixties. My whole sense of life and love were developed thanks to a constant supply of films from MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (7:30, Monday through Friday, plus all day Saturday and Sunday). It's just that life just got more interesting by the time I hit 16, and I sort of lost the urge. It surfaces now and then, when I remember things I actually enjoy like Antiques Roadshow and the American Experience. But I get busy with work and kids and stuff--and I forget to watch.
Until now. I have a new obsession. And the funny thing is this: it's a sitcom, and I do not like sitcoms. They're like potato chips: you might enjoy eating a bag full of them, but afterwards you realize--it's just empty calories. That's what sitcoms are.
But not this one. I think this is great TV! It's UGLY BETTY! I LOVE THAT SHOW!!! I especially love Betty. She looks like a character I would draw in my artwork. She is funny and her timing is perfect. The clothes are rich and full of texture and color and kitsch. It's like watching a show I would draw--if I could draw a whole show. I love her house and her family. Almost Fellini--esque.
If you have not seen it, you should. Thursdays at 8.