Out with the old - in with the new

Christmas Morning: eating a clementine, wood fire lit, 'im indoors snoring with Sprout asleep in his arms. (Spoilt rotten that dog!). Horses have had their morning hay. Sun is shining on a snowy Maine and it is QUIET. This is how I like Christmas. No drama. No chaos. No mad cooking frenzy. Just peaceful and a little reflective.

This week I purged the studio. I sorted piles that had been spawning for months. I turned out cupboards and drawers. I filled boxes with useless stuff to throw out. Filed away interesting nuggets of scribbles and writings and notes from conferences. Banished dust bunnies. Took down old drawings that were no longer inspiring me and reveled in the bare walls which I know I will fill up with new stuff as it comes into my life. My fingers lingered over photos taken with new friends and old friends. Of business cards and postcards and book markers from those who have inspired me this year and I have been lucky enough to meet. Also from those I have met who are on their way and full of courage. (I wonder if they would be surprised to see their promo materials pinned on my wall?) Of little notes from other illustrators and writers. Brochures from museums I have visited and art shows seen. Even a couple of invitations from exhibitions of my own! All these touchstones reminding me I am not alone on this journey. In all I felt very like Jane Eyre 'cleaning down' Moor Cottage for the Christmas with her new-found cousins.

I tackled 4 boxes of artwork saved from the past six years. I sighed over the hours spent doing work that was not inspiring, and yet it helped to build our house. I discovered a couple of nuggets that might be worth revisiting. The 4 boxes became half a box of artwork that I felt worth keeping. The rest is for burning, a Christmas bonfire. It feels good.

So much for the old.

It's nearly New Year. I'm not much of a one for Christmas, but I like New Year and the promise it holds, the undiscovered and new opportunities. Already I am looking at the dates in my diary and relishing the prospects.

One of the new things is that the book I was working on for Freespirit Publishing is on pre-order!


Written by 14 year old Autistic Kid, Daniel Stefanski, it is aimed at any child or teenager (or adult for that matter), who may come in contact with someone suffering from autism. It is sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, but always relevant. Please take a look! This would be a great book to give as a gift to your school or your library. Just want to say WELL DONE Daniel for writing this and Free Spirit for publishing. It was particularly relevant to me personally, because my childhood best friend's sister suffered with autism. Her behaviour was bewildering to me, even though I grew up knowing her, and this would have been a great book to have read back then.

Here's a couple of images from the book:

Also available to purchase now is Marta Moran-Bishop's sweet poetry book 'Wee Three' for which I did the illustrations, mostly in black and white inside, plus the cover:

Congrats Martha ... glad you got it all done for Christmas!

So two new things to celebrate right there!

This week I have been in submission mode. Submitted to several agents, this time as multiple submissions. Nice though it is to give exclusive time ... time passes so quickly and as usually time = $$. How long can you afford to sit and wait around while an agent gets back to you. Not too much. Well, not in my life anyway.

I have finally got around to sending out targeted samples to art directors. I had slated this to start in November. This means researching the publishing house's titles and style, seeing which is a good match for my work. Most of the year I have been sending a mass mailing of postcards, but I decided, with the advice of my mentor, (Priscilla Burris) to be more selective. Instead of a postcard I am making up a small 'booklet' of 5 images mailed in an envelope and held together by a wire and bead. It's quite nifty and I hope may catch the attention, but is time consuming. Art Directors must get so bored with the usual mailings, so I am trying something different. We shall see.

That's the news of the blog. My blog is almost a year old now, (64 posts this year) and I have enjoyed chewing the fat here. Maybe on the anniversary I will have an original artwork give away, so check back in the next couple of weeks.

Y'all have a lovely day, with everything you could hope for. And if it's not quite as you hoped, remember those with no hope and let's be thankful for what we have. (Which in our case is 2 juicy ribeyes, yum!!)

Season's eatings to you
with  love

aka The Wacky Brit

On the bedside table ... nope still nothing new ....

This week mostly I have been Butt In Chair

To borrow a phrase from Jane Yolen, mostly I have been 'Butt In Chair' this week. Can it really be October ALREADY? The wind and rain are blowing through Maine this morning and it is pretty wild. Not the cold Nor-Easters though. They are still to come.

Here's a fall photo or two to get us in the mood ....

I have no drawings to show you this week ... I have been scribbling away on the pencils for the BOOK for Freespirit Publishing, have those finished next week. The deadline looks like it will be crunched a bit, but, well I love a challenge.

Struggling to get the 4 picture book math concept dummys out of the computer, stuck together and sent to the AGENT of choice. (The new plan d'jour). But after feedback I decided to make a change to one of them that involved a fair bit of redrawing. I am really fed up of these dummies now and want them OFF MY DESK!!

Then I got sick last week. YUK. Some kind of fevery thing and falling asleep, and no, before you ask it wasn't too much of the hard stuff.

All in all September has flown past ... and now it is only 14 days until Nevada SCBWI conference and mentor meet-up. It's going to be a lot of fun, but it has come around fast ... once again a revamp of the portfolio. Not over thinking it this time. Just the stuff I like. And if it is all different styles, then it is. And it will be. I really hope I will have the 4 PB dummies finished too to take with me .... more Butt In Chair.

A new GLOG is in conception. (Group Blog to the uninitiated.) At the moment it looks like being me, Russ Cox, Sheralyn Barnes, Carrie Clickard and Fred Koehler. A good mix. We are deciding on a name right now ... hopefully it will be up and running soon and we will be posting sketches and artwork. Be fun to have a group of fellow illustrators and writers together in one place. Watch out for it!

That's it folks. Got to get back in my chair. Wait! I never left it. The wind is howling round the attic, and the oak tree outside my window is really whipping.

OH! nearly forgot ... I will be guesting on R Jeffreys 'The Write Step' blogradio show this evening at 9pm EST talking about working on a book of poetry called 'Wee Three' so hope you can tune in, or you can download later and listen. Let me know what you think. I doubt I will be able to listen to it after, as I hate the sound of my own voice. Hey! Come on! Be nice :-)

Cheerio ...

aka The Wacky Brit

PS. Nothing new on the bedside table, but lots on order at the library.