Whispering Pines 2010

Arrival at sunset.

Once again, the marvelously beautiful acreage of the Alton Jones campus welcomed us to the Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat! It is always such a treat to head into the woods and live amongst authors, illustrators, and book lovers of all kinds for a few days.

We were swept into the experience right away with good food, drinks, and a First Pages panel. Folks had anonymously submitted first pages of their works in progress and were able to get first impressions from the panel.

All ears on the first pages.

The panel: Agent Rebecca Sherman, Assistant Editor Connie Hsu, Associate Editor Alexandra Penfold, Author Cynthia Lord. Continue reading “Whispering Pines 2010”

2009 RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors

Also known as one of THE BEST book festivals you can go to, and lucky, us, it’s right here in RI!


Every year, the Lincoln School in Providence opens up and we get treated to the best writers and illustrators currently working. That is no exaggeration! To wit:

Here’s Brian Selznick explaining some of the windy journey that led him to create The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What’s fun about this festival is that the speakers have to be ready to talk to a mixed audience of kids and adults. I find that a lot more engaging, and it seems like they feel that way too! Brian is at the top of his game- a wonderful author/illustrator, and a contemporary of ours from RISD (he graduated in ’88, Eric and I in ’89). Go Brian!


Here’s the amazing Lois Lowry, signing our festival poster. Our kids have read a bunch of her books, so it was a treat to see her in person.

lois lowrey_sign

Jerry Pinkney. What can you say about him? I’d say he’s in the Liz Top Ten of Living Illustrators. Oh, yeah- and add to that he’s a totally genuine guy who really cares about people. You can see this in person for sure, but I think it comes out in his art, too.

That’s his childhood home in the slide.

Look- there’s betty Brown getting her book signed!


Here’s Mary Ann Hoberman:


With a few fans!

Chris Van Allsburg: My old teacher from RISD!

A very popular presenter at the festival each year!

Christopher Paul Curtis gave a great talk, also geared for the mixed kid/adult audience, that had the place in stitches. Here he is coercing a boy to declare his love of reading, after which he gave him a cash “bookmark.” Ha! Hearing him describe his ascent from Detroit auto worker to Newbery and Coretta Scott King Award winner was purely inspirational.


Paul O. Zelinsky was there too…add another name to the Top Illustrator List! He’s prolific, and also seems to be able to bend his style to match a story, sometimes in very surprising ways. What an array of work…very inspiring. And very dapper to boot!


AS IF that weren’t enough, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was there, too!


I simply had to add to my signed book collection. Wouldn’t you? My only regrets are that we couldn’t see everyone there and hear all the talks. It’s pretty much impossible to do…but for however long you are there, it’s a top-notch treat and a wonderful experience. If you’re anywhere near RI next year, be sure you come to the Festival!


Brimfield…Brimming With Style!

Yes! I finally managed to get up to Brimfield for the fall show. If you’re not from these parts, it’s a simply gigantic antique show that sets up 3 times a year. Sprawling. Hundreds and hundreds of dealers. If you’re into vintage, retro, etc. you WILL find something interesting here. I did not come home empty-handed!

I saw this cute guy on patrol in his owner’s booth at the beginning of the day. Sure enough, he was still there when we headed to our car at the end of the day!


First thing I found was this wooden/paper litho target game. LOVE it. Vintage games from this era are a big favorite of mine.

birdz Continue reading “Brimfield…Brimming With Style!”

2009 Surtex, Stationery Show, ICFF, and Giant Rotating Lobsters

Where else but New York City! I just got back from a whirlwind 4-day stay in the Large Apple with some of my most excellent illustrating gal pals. Two of the aforementioned pals had their own booths at Surtex for the first time, and the rest of us went to cheer them on, help out, and walk the shows. Barb’s booth was bursting with licensing goodness:



And Monica’s was all a-flutter with fun freshness:



Barb and Monica did an AMAZING job of putting these booths together, they truly looked excellent! Surtex (or any show like this) can be grueling in terms of setup/breakdown, and manning the booth for the whole time. Way to go, girls, for managing this. We also got to see a bunch of other blog buddies and other illustrators, like Jannie Ho and Holli Conger. Very fun to see everyone converging in one place!

Laura and I also got to check out the ICFF/International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
Despite the name, there is no cotton candy or pig racing at this fair. You will, instead find things like this:


Lots of furniture, lighting concepts, and home fixtures of all kinds. I always like to check this show out since some of my Fred work falls into this genre of design. Speaking of design, here’s Laura in the fabulous Japanese pavillion:


Here’s one of Mary Beth’s two Louie-nominated greeting cards at the Stationery Show:


And OH! Look! Here’s Mary Beth with the actual Louie Award that she won! WooHoo! The Louies are given to the the best greeting cards of the previous year. MB’s cards were designed for the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.


Our hotel had excellent views of about a hundred water tanks!


And look at this ridiculously green rooftop garden amongst the grey. I never once saw anyone up there enjoying it!


As usual, you can never predict what you’ll see in New York.
Maybe you’ll see:
A ginormous button and needle. We couldn’t figure out the weird configuration of button holes on that button. Then we decided it was “art”.

I love this homage to the city’s immigrant garment workers!

Weeniemobiles…times three!

Giant rotating lobsta! And a chick in a bathing suit looking on. Weird.


Serious M&Ming going on at the 3-level M&M store…

Or, if you prefer your chocolate to be Hershey’s, just go across the street.

My hero George M. Cohan will gladly show you the way to any of the freaky sights in Times Square. Just be glad I didn’t take a picture of The Naked Cowboy.

One of my must-go-to-places in NYC…the giant Toys R Us, complete with Ferris wheel inside!

Life-size functional Tyrannosaurus? This is always amusing no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

Likewise insanely large things made out of Legos.

Speaking of which, look at these cool Harry Potter Lego guys in the FAO Schwarz:


To cap off the Surtex/NY experience, we went to Angelo’s in Little Italy for an amazing dinner. It was sort of like Federal Hill, but, um…more so!


We’ll be back next year to do it all again!

2009 NESCBWI Conference

That’s right! I just came back from this year’s New England SCBWI conference. This year’s theme was “Many Voices,” and that turned out to be very fitting! On Friday night, there were many voices at the Muse Jazz Club Meet & Greet:


Very fun to catch up with a lot of friends, and of course, to have that experience of saying,”Hmmm.I know I know you…where have we met before?” It happens a lot at this conference!

Here’s Barb Johansen Newman, Carlyn Beccia, Moi, and Maryann Cocca-Leffler. And a basket of snacks.

There a was a big wall to draw on. Here’s John Bell adding something to the wall near one of Barb’s famous kitties.

This year was different for me. I was a member of the “faculty,” and I had two presentations of my own to present on Saturday. So I did get to hear the keynoters, but mostly missed the other sessions! The morning keynote speaker was the fabulous Cynthia Lord:


What a way to start the day. She was very inspiring, talking about the power there is in personal stories. She gave excellent pointers on finding the emotions in your own experiences and integrating them into your work, even if your book is pure fantasy. The emotions involved in recalling real people and experiences can add the needed depth to your characters and stories. Everyone came away from this talk feeling inspired. Everyone.


I was able to catch most of Kirsten Cappy’s session on creating marketing plans for your books that tap into each story’s unique theme. The idea of creating an individualized marketing plan for each of your books is great, and she showed some very cool examples of others who had done this.


Here’s me becoming one with my first-ever Power Point presentation. My first session was called “Books and Beyond: The Many Markets for Children’s Illustration.” I was nervous. But then, I got to talk about all the stuff I love and have been doing for a long time: magazines, toys, fabric, stationery, licensing, and everything else that requires an illustrator with a knack for children’s art. It’s a big, big, world out there, and there was not really enough time to get into it all…but I did my best!

Barb, Janet Montecalvo, and me at lunch.

Let’s see, I think I can rememeber everyone at the table! Alice (A.C.E.) Bauer, Nicole Tadgell, Charlene Willing McManis (who had the best Native American jewelry ever), Alisa Libby (who has a book that actually bleeds!), Greg Fishbone (webmaster!), Barb, the unseen Janet Montecalvo (as seen above), and me.


The lunchtime keynote speaker was Floyd Cooper. Wow. Just wow. His work is luminous and stunning, and even though he did a piece right in front of us with a kneaded eraser, I can’t fathom how he does it. Check out his website. I appreciated that he has worked in many other genres, too.


My second session was called Fun Reads: Board Books and Other Novelty Formats. As you can see, my board book session was in the Board Room (very Donald Trump!). You can picture the chairs actually filled with people, right? Mildly intimidating! But again, I got to talk about that which I love, and I brought a lot of examples of books (both my own and others) to play around with. I pretty much ignored my Power Point presentation. Oops. I sort of forgot it was there. Oh, well, no matter!


Here’s the Diversity Panel: Louise May from Lee and Low, Bobbie Combs from Two Lives Publishing, Jennifer Laughran from Andrea Brown Literary, and Floyd Cooper. Moderated by Padma Venkatraman.What an excellent, topical discussion. It was good to hear “many voices” speaking up about the challenges and necessity of getting diverse books into kids’ hands.


Here’s the adorable Kathy Weller, with her prize-winning poster! I just adore this piece she did…a favorite of mine, and obviously a crowd favorite, too! Kathy also did a great rundown of the sessions she went to on her blog, WellerWishes. She also happen to go to one of my sessions, so you can read about it from the other side…thanks, Kathy!


I wrapped up Saturday at the booksigning…here’s me and Barb and our adoring throngs of fans…LOL!
I had a blast seeing everyone there, and I hope everyone had a great time on Sunday, too!
Next year’s conference will be at The Courtyard Marriott in Fitchburg, from May 14-16. Mark those calendars!

Authors Heart Kids, Too

The first ever Kids Heart Authors Day went really well here in Rhode Island! Barrington Books is a fabulously well-stocked store, and they went all out to make for a festive book signing event. It was truly heartwarming to see so many people (both the kind that make books, and the kind that read books) enthusiastically supporting this event.

Here are the five of us that were at Barrington Books:

Linda Crotta Brennan, Me, Anika Denise, Chris Denise, and Mary Jane Begin.


See what a nice job they did of making the setting as playful as possible? Excellent job!

Linda and I had fun chatting, meeting lots of little people and their parents, and eating M+M’s.


Chris and Anika have a great rapport with their little book fans.


Thank you to everyone who came out, and to Barrington Books for supporting such a great event!

Happy Crafty Day!

Wow- I am a lucky girl today!
Apparently one of the Etsy treasuries I was in made it to the much-sought-after Front Page:

This great collection was put together by TinyViolet, who also happens to make the most adorable dolls.
Thanks Amy!

And this morning, I am honored to be featured in PenguinandFish’s blog!

Visit Alyssa’s Etsy shop for fabulous plushies with personality!

Really guys…thank you so much for the crafty love. Right back at you!

Front Page Etsy Joy!

If you love your Etsy, and I know I do, then maybe you like to make treasuries. This is a way for you, a regular person, to pick and choose items you like and make a lovely arrangement, often with a theme of some kind. Etsy calls it “curating”, as if you are hanging your own exhibit in a museum.
The idea is that it isn’t for self-promotion (so you don’t put your own items in it), but to celebrate the awesomeness of others. Hundreds of these lists are made all the time, and if you’re really lucky, they choose your list to be on the glorious Front Page.
Well, lucky me…I have recently had TWO lists chosen for the Front Page!

The first one was oatmeal themed:

Seriously delicious stuff…At least 8 items sold from that treasury!

And I have one up right now, with a Scottish/ tartan theme:

OH, how I love plaid, Scotland, and Scottish stuff. I definitely made this treasury for my own plaid-obsessed purposes, so I am rightly surprised that it made it to the front page, and that (yay!) other people love tartan too!

On the theme of Etsy, I have been back at the sewing table lately, where my massive vault of vintage fabrics and trims have been calling me. I put together these little birds:

These are available in my Etsy shop, Recycle Rabbit.

Seriously, I have no clue whether anyone but me likes anything in my Etsy shop (OK, some do), but I just get on jags where I simply MUST sew or make something, and ideas take me over until I make them. It seems to be a necessity that I shake up my own artistic landscape every so often.

SO, having sewed, now I can get back to my illustration and design jobs, and feel good about it.

Which I had better do.