Thursday, May 29, 2014

Style Choices

One of the stories that I am working on now has only one word: jump.  Without going into it too much, the main character, the little girl above, jumps through a bunch of scenarios.

My agent and I showed it to a few houses which liked it - but passed. 

Since there's not much writing - that can't be the issue.  The story - in my opinion - is solid.  So that leaves the art.  People aren't falling in love with the art.  Therefore, I must change the art.

You may ask, Hey Julie, why don't you just do more collage art, like your other books?

Well, my agent has been showing my collage art to art directors to try to book me illustration gigs and we have discovered that many art directors do not like collage.  That's a bit of a problem.  So I've been trying to branch out.

Another problem is that I LOVE so many different styles of art - I don't know what to focus on. 
How stylized do I want it? 
Do I focus on watercolor or digital? 
How much line do I want?

I've been looking for inspiration and finding a TON!  So I decided I simply needed to spend some time making a crap-load of art and see what sticks.  That's what you see above.

But now I have another problem, I kind of like it all, but I'm not IN LOVE with any of it. 

Some of that can simply be I haven't worked enough in any of the styles above to really perfect them, and once I get a whole week or two working in a style and figuring out the colors I like and some of the technical kinks - I could make some cool discoveries and fall in love.  But which style?!

For now, I have sent my samples to my agent and await his feedback.  In the meantime, I'll work on something else.

How are you all doing?

Thanks so much for stopping in to my scrambed brain/blog!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yay! A Great Review!

Hi guys -

I'm very, very excited to be able to share a really great review for THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC.  It's written by Betsy Bird

Who's Betsy Bird? you may ask.  Well, she's the blogger behind Fuse 8 (a part of the School Library Journal network), New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist, and author of her own picture book Giant Dance Party.

Basically, when Betsy shines her light on you, it's a good, good thing.

And I'm a lucky duck because she shone her light on THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC.  Here's a sample of the review:

This is the kind of book that tends to not get quite enough respect. It’s hardly the first picnic book in the world (love that Picnic by Emily Arnold McCully) but it may well be the most amusing. Between the psychotic birds and the suicidal squirrels there’s lots here to love. A great readaloud for groups and a hilarious romp overall, I am pleased as punch to designate this one of the funniest picture books of the year. Silly in all the right ways. Don’t miss it.

Click here for the whole thing.

As you may or may not know, getting a book published is difficult.  But, getting people to know about and buy your published book is really REALLY difficult if your publisher doesn't shout about it.  (And they don't shout about every book, believe me.)  So in addition to being super psyched that I got a great review from a person I admire and respect, I am also oodles of grateful for the attention.  

BIG THANKS to Betsy as well as CONGRATULATIONS, as she just had a son.

And thanks to all of you for stopping in.
Happy Wednesday!


Monday, May 19, 2014

My Michigan Trip

Hello all!  My three-week-busytime is now officially over since returning from a trip to Michigan.
I had a grand time visiting friends and kids-of-friends...

... and having a lovely author visit at the Grand Haven Christian School, where I read The Simples Love a Picnic to the little ones ....

... and made collage ninjas with the big ones!

Saturday my friends and I enjoyed the Great Lakes Kite Festival.  It's hard to get a good shot of how cool and colorful the sky was, but this is pretty close.

I had a great trip!  BIG THANKS goes to my buddy Staci for arranging the whole thing and flying my funky butt out there.  But I admit, I'm happy to be home with my fellas and get back into my normal work groove.  I have more author visits in the coming weeks, but not all packed together, and no trips.

I have TONS of writerly work to do and the lawn in a nightmare.  Back to my daily grind - and I love it!

Hope you all have a great week!  Thanks so much for stopping in!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day and Project READ

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all you mums out there.  Sometimes on Mother's Day I like to get a pedicure or a massage or something pampering.

This year I'm a bit under the weather, so I just hope for rest and energy and for the mucus in my nose to vacate.

But for YOU, for YOU I wish for pampering and hugs and roses and chocolate.

Now, I must apologize for being a bad blogger.  I said I was going to post Project READ pics and then I sure didn't.  I was busy at first, then ill, so six days later, here's the low-down.

Project READ was SO MUCH FUN!

Jamie Harper, Chris Censullo, Curious George, me, and David Hyde Costello
 There were eight of us author-types.  Most of us had a picture book there, Mary Sullivan had her marvelous middle grade novel Dear Blue Sky, which was nice because some to the children in attendance were a little older.

There was cake, cookies, fruit, live music, and Curious George dancing around.  The kids who came really seemed to appreciate the free books and meeting the authors.  It was really great.

The only thing I will say is that I wish more kids had known about it.  All the books there were purchased by Project READ and given to the kids (FREE) to help them build their at-home libraries.  SUCH A GREAT PROGRAM!  And I was so happy to be part of it.  Dr. Lisa Dobberteen is the spearhead of this program so hats off to her and to the Cambridge Health Alliance for being crazy awesome.

I have another big week in front of me before things calm down a bit and I can get into my regular work groove.  So Happy Mother's Day, have a great week, and hopefully I'll be back soon!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Project READ Today!

Good morning!

I've a bit of a busy day today.  I have to drop my mother off at the airport, drive into Boston to have lunch with my Houghton Mifflin editor, then I'll hop across the Charles River to the Cambridge Health Alliance where a bunch of us picture-book-types will be signing books at Project READ.

What's Project READ? you ask.

Well, every year the good folks at the Cambridge Health Alliance take a day to promote reading to their young patients.  This year is their 15th anniversary and they're having a party!  Woo-hoo!
In addition to music and cupcakes, there will be FREE BOOKS!

Here's a list of the authors in attendance and their books:
Chris Cansullo, The Boy with the Big Blue Hair
David Hyde Costello, Little Pig Joins the Band
Carolyn Curtis, I Took the Moon for a Walk
Jamie Harper, Miles to Go
Stuart J. Murphy, Happy Healthy Ajay
Mary Sullivan, Dear Blue Sky
and of course I'll be there with The Simples Love a Picnic 

So if you have kiddos who love to read and want to meet some authors, come on down!

Today, May 5th
1493 Cambridge St.  Cambridge, MA
2nd floor atrium

I'm sure I'll have some pics tomorrow.  Have a great day everyone, and wish me a smooth drive back on the Pike!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Simple Fun at Whiting Lane

I just completed a wonderful two-day author visit at the lovely and fabulous Whiting Lane School!
I was very excited to read my new book TEH SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC for the very first time and I had a brand spankin' new presentation called ALL ABOUT ILLUSTRATION in which I talk about a lot of different aspects that go into illustrating a book.

I think it's a pretty common misconception that writing and illustrating a picture book is easy.  Most kids think it takes me an afternoon to write one.  They might think it takes a little longer to make all the pictures, but they have no idea how much thought and preparation goes into each page.

I talked to them about choosing a style to illustrate in and showed them nine different styles I've used over the years.  I talked to them about layout, character consistency, variety, clarity, and composition.  Then I had some volunteer illustrators come up and help my compose an illustration of the Simples at their picnic.

When the presentation was over, we went back to the library and made a BIG MESS!

The project: Picnic Ants!  And those naughty critters were stealing all kinds of food from the picnic.
Below we have ants stealing an orange, a carrot, a slice of watermelon, and a donut!

Everyone at Whiting Lane was so welcoming and enthusiastic!  THANK YOU!  Big shout out to Lee Gluck, the media specialist who hosted and organized the whole thing.  You're the best, Lee!