I joke that when I go to another country where English is NOT the first language that I end up playing Pictionary to get my meaning across. I  find I'm tempted to try the same thing here in the good 'ol USofA. For example: we bought a new (to us) car last weekend and it's registered in my name. Gah! Suddenly it's as if I start talking in tongues. 'Mitchell' I say and then 'MITCHELL'. 'And how are you spelling that?' they ask. On to the address. '4' I say. 'Huh?' 'FOUR!' (blank look) 'F-O-U-R'. (Shake of head.) I hold up 4 fingers and the bulb goes on. At least here in Maine they try to humour me. In South Carolina (where I used to live), they just walked away.

My job is all about communication ... so it's a good thing I am better at drawing and writing than speaking. (Although those of you who know me will no doubt chuckle. No smart comments please!)

The Tomie de Paolo competition this year is all about communication. The piece of text Tomie set is a passage from 'Chicken Licken' about the passing of information and rumour. In the piece all the birds are speaking at once, an interesting puzzle to portray. Well, I did me best and pressed send. Here's a sneak peek of 'Goosey Loosey'. Judging is early Jan 2012 and the winner gets all expenses to the SCBWI conference in New York. That would be nice!

Last week I visited my excellent local bookstore in Waterville, Maine, 'The Children's Bookseller' and caught up with Stephen Costanza who is promoting his latest release 'A Christmas Spider's Miracle'. Beautifully illustrations from this excellent artist. It's always fun to get out and meet fellow creators and have a good chinwag!

Back here in the studio I've been lighting the wood-fire regularly. The weather is chilly in the mornings and it's comforting to hear the snap and crackle of burning logs. Right now I'm finishing up an educational book for Reading A-Z and then it's back on to my own dummies. This isn't a great time to send out to publishers. I'll wait till after the holidays are all wrapped up (excuse pun) and then hit 'em with it.

Have been getting to grips with my ipad2. I haven't a smart phone so it's kind of a new animal to me. It's a little frustrating. Where IS everything? How do you get things, change things, add things? And delete things!! I ended up googling stuff online to find out, and although it would seem to be intuitive, you could be poking around forever trying how to work out how to delete an app. When I did find out, though, I very much appreciated the way all the icons shivered as if in anticipation - 'Who will it be? Will she send ME to the trashcan?'  I finally sat down and fiddled with it for an hour or so last night and fathomed it out. Very happy to get my head around itunes and now have a full library of classics (FREE) to read ... soon I will also figure out how to get my portfolio on there. Sigh.

Well if you will excuse me have to communicate to 'im indoors that it is time to GET OUT OF BED. More from the world of The Wacky Brit soon.


On the bedside table:
Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
On Writing - Stephen King

New York, the weather and all that ...

Like you know, last week end New York for the SCBWI winter conference. The weather played havoc with us and flights were canceled out of Portland, ME. It was interesting to think of illustrators and childrens' authors stranded around the country (if not the world ... many international attendees at the conference too). Sitting in airports, working on stories, sketching. Or maybe just stuffing their faces on airport food. But still. A community on the move.

As it turned out Amtrak prevailed and we got to NY only several hours later than planned. Trudged through the snow from Penn Station to Grand Central as theYellow Taxis decided we weren't good enough for them.

So here's what happened:
(There was no champagne but I like the image.) But much beer and cocktails.

And there was partying:

 I learned a lot:
I met old friends and new ones and had lunch with my mentor Priscilla Burris.

I had a GREAT time in the pub with some awesome and legendary illustrators ... (no name dropping today)

I didn't win the grand prize in the showcase :-(

We went out and DINED 

And then it was all over and time to fly home. 

To more snow.

I have been reflecting on the year since the last conference in NY. My first back then with the SCBWI. I knew no-one, and I knew little about the business. This year I knew a heck of a lot of people and am far more educated in the ways of publishing. It DID feel like coming home.
Had time to nip over to the Gift trade Show at Javits Centre (thanks to a complimentary ticket), and checked out the licensing exhibitors. It's something to think about, but not sure if it is something I want to devote time to right now ...

It felt very empty in the studio on my return. I was talking about this with a fellow illustrator this week. How hard it is to leave the 'womb' esp. in a cold winter. The effort gets harder. You say 'I should go out - I need to be amongst people - I need to be stimulated', and then when you go out, or away to a conference, you are longing to get back to your hole, your drawing board, your computer, your pen and paper. There must be a little of the agraphobic in all those who work alone for most of the time. So there we were in New York, a conference full of nutballz.

This week ... back to work ... slowly, but surely. The chapter book looks like it is a goer (contract next week) so I am a happy bunny ... 2 books to work on!

Decided to give up the agent search for a while. I am happy with what's going down, and this week I will make a concerted effort to submit the math book series I worked on last year. I haven't really sent them out yet, and now is the time to give them some attention.

I am off for some R&R in front of the tele. 'im indoors went skiing today (!!!!!) so he is soaking in the hot bath. You won't catch me throwing myself down the slopes.

Signing off for this week ...

aka The Wacky Brit

On the Bedside Table:

Benny and Penny - Geoffrey Hayes
SockSquatch - Frank W Dormer
I'm Bad!Kate and Jim McMullan

Sneezles and Wheezles ...

Yikes! It's been pretty flippin' cold here in the Northern reaches of New England. -17F or thereabouts a couple of nights ago. And to accompany the arctic blast I succumbed to flu-ish sneezing and coughing and spent a good deal of time feeling miserable in bed this weekend. And to cap it all 'im indoors had gone off on a jaunt (tsk tsk) to New Hampshire so I had to fend for myself, crawling from my sweaty sheets to venture out and feed the horses snow falling, overcoat wrapped round my dressing gown, tartan wellies and furry hunting hat. Am I getting any sympathy? No? Worth a try.

Feeling more human again today and back to the drawing board.

Here's another piece I have been working on for my portfolio to take to NY SCWBI Winter Conference, which is THIS WEEKEND!! YIPEE!

The portfolio is ready, the art showcase piece framed, postcards printed. Can it really be a year since my first SCBWI conference? It seems like much longer. What a lot I have learned. I am traveling down with fellow illustrator Russ Cox and rooming with Toby Speed. I think there will be MUCH partying!!

I have begun work on 'Hidden New Jersey' the book I am illustrating for Charlesbridge, with Anne Lewis from It's a fun joruney around the state, with 'Search and Seek' items on each page. It's going to prove to be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to lay out, but I am looking forward to it.

Also fresh in the works are illustrations for a chapter book with a San Diego publishing house ... these will be black and white. So hopefully I will be able to give you more news on that soon.

The New Year is shaping up nicely. It was so quiet before and after Christmas I was getting a tad nervous ... but hey ho!

That's it from the Wacky Brit this week. Got some work to finish before I jet off, and packing to do.

More news after the conference!




The Wacky Brit.

On the Bedside Table ... nothing new this week.