Chapter Book Illustrations are GO!!

Yes sir, this week I signed a new contract with Kane and Miller in CA. Very happy ... can't tell y'all what the book is about yet as it is under big wraps ... and there is a possibility it will be a series. So double Yippee!!

I will be a busy illustrator in the next few months with this and 'Hidden New Jersey' for Charlesbridge.

I love to be busy... the busier I am the more I want to do! It's when it is quiet and slow that I start procrastinating, and cleaning underneath the control switches on the gas stove. There is nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices a flowing.

Also working on some sketches for a book about a rather cheeky Grandmother for Judy Bradley in Savannah, GA ... here is my first thoughts on her ...this will be a fun project!

Last week I met up with my crit group 'Revisionists'. We haven't met for a couple of months with Christmas etc, so it was good to catch up and see what everyone was working on and compare notes.

Here in Maine we are about to have a heatwave. 40F this week they say .. WOWSER! T-shirt weather.

Me and 'im indoors celebrated our 10th year of wedded bliss, so we had a joint celebration last night with Valentine's Day, and ate FAR TOO MUCH at the Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse in Bangor. Which has talking Moose heads. And good steak. From cows, not moose.

Well that's the news from The Wacky Brit, I must away back to work ... the intray is looking somewhat fearsome.

Happy Heart Day to you all!

aka The Wacky Brit

Nothing new, alas, this week on the bedside table.

Book Out, Book In

Nice feeling this week - finals finished for the book I have been working on for Free Spirit Publishing. And signed a contract with Charlesbridge Publishing of Boston. Neither of which I can talk about yet .. soon I hope! If this continues as a pattern it would be very nice (please Santa!)

Snow has come in earnest to our neck of the woods and it is falling soft and thick this morning. Wood fire is crackling, kettle boiling and 'im indoors has a snow day, so is snoozing in the recliner in my studio with the cock-a-poo, Sprout, snoring in his lap. Hopefully he will rouse himself and make brekky soon.

Been working mostly this week on two different projects ... 'Crazy Days' for Margy Robertson Reid in Canada (about a little boy whose world goes topsy-turvy.) And also the 3rd revision of my current wannabe PB about a girl and her horse. It seems to have been taking me forever. The truth is, this book is very personal to me, and I have found it's bringing back a lot of memories, some of them very emotional. It's my first story that is not humour based. Here's another of the roughs. Setting myself the goal to have this dummy ready in the next couple of days.

Doing something different helps to get the creative juices flowing. I haven't had time (or energy) for sketching much this week, but on the way home from getting art supplies on Saturday (hot press pad of paper, Derwent sketching pencils - reminder to self: do not trust that the right pencils are in the right slots - sigh - and waterproof ink), we called in at a museum we have been meaning to visit for a long time, the LC Bates Museum, near Waterville. It was fab! But it was COLD!! No heating and an old building. But packed with great stuff. It is a natural history museum, with very old collections. Birds and animals that would never be collected now. Row upon row of ancient display cases, dim lighting, old, spooky rooms. I could have spent all day there. As it was we managed an hour and then flew back to  the car teeth chattering. I will def. go back in summer though, with camera and sketch pad. 

And now I must get back to doing some work .... 

My thought for winter, when we are cut off, or so it feels with snow and such, is : stay connected. So leave me a comment and let's keep in touch!

Thinking of hot chilli for lunch ....


aka The Wacky Brit
On the bedside table:
JIMI - Gary Golio and Javaka Steptoe

On Inspiration

Sometimes, like buses in England, everything seems to happen at once. Perhaps it is just because I haven't blogged for 2 weeks (due to gadding off to Hollywood) and there is a lot to tell. But I will do my best. First, here is one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever seen:

Mr Ashley Bryan, the closing keynote speaker at the Los Angeles Summer Conference (SCBWI). His poetry renditions were just AMAZING. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I came home with his tones ringing in my ears, inspiring me to do more! Thank  you Ashley. And I am definitely going to take you up on the offer of a visit to your studio in Maine! I was lucky enough to sit next to him and chat during one of the sessions and eat dinner with him at the Heart and Soul Ball. But I do so wish that I had a photograph of him wearing my nodding heart headpiece, but we can't have everything in life!

The conference was just fantastic.Packed programme, a beautiful hotel, fun and interesting people, great weather. I do love this world of 'children's content creators!' For once in my life I am in the right place at the right time. Other speakers I was inspired by at the conference: Loren Long ... what a funny and lovely person (have you read Otis??). I got to sit next to him in one of the sessions too. I know there is a lot of name dropping, but it is so inspiring to be able to communicate directly with those who have done the hard work and are out there inspiring children! EB Lewis .. no words, because he is a smooth as silk and talent incorporated. Stood next to him at dinner also! (He declined to try on the silly heart headpiece ... you can't have everything.) Dancing with Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted writer), crazy lady! M.T. Anderson (what a singer!), Rachel Vail, Jon Scieska (Stinky Cheese Man) - funny, funny man, Stephanie Owens Lurie (Disney Hyperion Editor - great information on thinking like a publisher), Marion Dane Bauer had me in tears with her poignancy, Rubin Pfeffer (Agent) - great words. And so many others.

But the best part - consolidating friendships and making new ones. They say this is what it is all about, and they are right (these 'they' people.) Because when you are back in your studio or office or workshop, all alone, plodding away at the good work and the not so good, it is comforting that all over the country (and world) are those you are connected to by the thread of INSPIRATION.

We (me and my buddy Sheri and I am happy to say our friendship has survived a week in the same room) arrived a day early and we went to the J P Getty Museum. It was wonderful and fed our souls. What a beautiful building and gardens. Like a medieval castle rearing up from the hillside. All white granite and smooth surfaces. A labyrinth of rooms filled with exquisite work. Saw the Gerome exhibition ... what a talent and so prolific.

And here I am, back home in Maine. 'Im indoors held the fort while I was away and kept the menagerie (including himself, fed and watered.)

Right then, lastly, 3 exciting pieces of news from the world of the Wacky Brit!

1. The LAD (Lovely Art Director) and I have almost finished negotiating on the illustrations on the book on Autism. YIPPEE! Lot's of celebrating ... my first 'real' contract. I will begin the illustrations (it's a 42 pager) first week September, finals for Thanksgiving, so it is a tight schedule. They are all b&w and I will be doing the text by hand too. So stay tuned for more details as and when.

2. Just before I left the conference I received an email from a publisher in the North East! (YOU SHOULD HAVE HEARD ME HOLLER IN THE LOBBY!) Not too many details yet but they are starting up a new company and interested in my style ... oooohhh. So I am excited about this too, as they have done great books in the past. I will know more next week.

3. BUT MOST EXCITING! I have been accepted to be part of the Nevada SCBWI Mentoring Programme that begins in October 2010 until April 2011. You can read about it here. I will be working with PRISCILLA BURRIS, National co-ordinator of illustrators for the SCBWI and a prolifically published illustrator herself. So that means I get to go to Virginia City, NV in October for a meet up and the Nevada Conference. So you KNOW I am jazzed! I think this is just what I need at this stage in my career. Thank you, Priscilla, for choosing to work with me as one of your mentees!

Whew. OK, I am all out of news, and you are all out of reading. I am looking forward to my Brit friends coming to stay next week. We have many fun things planned and it will be good to have some BRIT TALK.

OH ... I have notes from the conference available ... if anyone would like a copy of the whole PDF, please leave me a comment or send an email. Here are a few snippets ....

Hopefully next week I will have some incriminating photos to post.

Right, that's it for now. A very excited Wacky Brit signing off and thanking you for reading along.


PS No new books on the shelf ... exhausted.
PPS No prizes for me in the Portfolio Showcase, but completely overawed by the talent, and congrats to the winners!