Five on Sunday

1. Today was the most beautiful day. It must have been close to 80 degrees. We went to a lovely church service with fabulous music: bell ringers, choirs, a brass quartet and organ. The sermon was thoughtful and thought provoking. Chris made a lovely dinner and we ate on the screen porch. Between al fresco dining and the first Red Sox game…Spring is officially here.

2. Does anyone know how to get your puppy to actually go to the door or tell you when they need to out? We thought we had the potty training down but there seems to be some regression.

3. More deadlines coming up quickly. To do this week:

  • VCFA forum assignment
  • VCFA revisions
  • Complete VCFA paper
  • New sketches for Roar! dummy and work on Jacob Jones revisions for agent packet.

4. Reading: The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick fabulous prose. Lyrical and riveting.

5. Weekly training totals 3/29-4/4:
Running- 7.25 miles
Swimming-1000 yards
Biking- 47.35 miles

Weeks until the Tri for the Casco Bay Y- 7
If you’d like to donate to my "Mighty Mama’s" triathlon team please donate online!

What does a super mom look like?

On May 1st, I posted this to do list. 

  • Final 36" x 36" drawing for college drawing class due Wednesday on "The mythology of epiphanies."
  • Submit application packets for Falmouth and Brunswick art teacher positions.
  • Work on VCFA personal and critical essays for submission next Friday.
  • Final paper and project due for Color Theory, May 11.
  • Revise picture book for agent.
  • Re-read, novel taking notes.

Today it looks like this:

  • Final 36" x 36" drawing for college drawing class due Wednesday on "The mythology of epiphanies."
  • Submit application packets for Falmouth and Brunswick art teacher positions.
  • Work on VCFA personal and critical essays for submission next Friday.
  • Final paper and project due for Color Theory, May 11.
  • Revise picture book for agent.
  • Re-read novel, taking notes for revision.
  • Study for Praxis Art Educator Test

I’m feeling very accomplished and very creative. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve reclaimed without the responsibility of the conference. Looking back, I’m starting to wonder. How did I do all that? How did I direct a conference, freelance, do my creative work, take two college classes, do laundry and keep the kitchen clean (and that’s about all for house cleaning), and otherwise take care of my family duties (often with my husband away). I must say, I’m feeling a little like a super Mom!

Alright, maybe not. Maybe more like this:

Or this:

You choose.

No emails

For the last 12 months I have had a plethora of emails. Every time I sat down to the computer there would be at least 30 emails and this would be true about three times a day. Yesterday 10. Today 6. I am not complaining. I am rejoicing. The conference is done and it far exceeded my expectations. Our keynote speakers, Cindy Lord and Floyd Cooper were absolutely amazing.

Cindy gave us a practical and touching keynote about the work that is necessary to create honest writing. It is this kind of writing, she explained, that will allow your readers to connect to the story in an authentic way. Cindy is a personal friend but we have not been in close proximity for a while. Never the less, her speech seemed like a conversation that discussed all the challenges I currently face in my writing. It was as if the other 400 people in the room melted away and we were sitting together having tea and cake. Truly, this is the mark of an excellent speaker.

Floyd was charming, funny and informative. HIs positive and laid back style was accessible to everyone in the room (artist or writer). He told us about his experiences in the industry over the last 20 years, and the challenges facing illustrators willing to take on characters from diverse cultures. He shared his subtractive method with ease and aplomb. (Which anyone can do. Ha.) 

Our faculty was generally knowledgeable, prepared, and accessible. I actually got to attend three workshops over the weekend and all of them were excellent. 

Of course it is the conference within the conference that takes my breath away: seeing old friends, making new connections, learning from peers.

Thanks to everyone who made this conference a reality. I delegated quite a bit this year as I was directing from afar. Everyone kept the juggling balls in the air and put on a super show.

Now I’m free to do my creative work, and that’s what it is really all about. To do:

  • Final 36" x 36" drawing for college drawing class due Wednesday on "The mythology of epiphanies."
  • Submit application packets for Falmouth and Brunswick art teacher positions.
  • Work on VCFA personal and critical essays for submission next Friday.
  • Final paper and project due for Color Theory, May 11.
  • Revise picture book for agent.
  • Re-read novel taking notes.

At least I don’t have as many emails. 

Monday Thoughts

Sometimes when I think I have nothing to say, I actually have so much to say that I don’t know where to start. 

My sons have had very little writing in their new school. Everything seems very test driven and rote. They seem to scratch the surface of topics without diving in long enough to really swim in the information or let it soak in their hair. You need this soaking so that the new knowledge can leak out of you drip by drip by drip into assignments certainly, but into your everyday life. The new knowledge needs to be secured to other pieces of information that you already have at your retrieval to stick for good (or at least a good long time).

Writing about what you know requires us to look the information square on and realize what we do NOT know. Where the questions and holes in our information lie. Then, an assignment needs to provide time to fill in those holes. My eldest is dealing with a good writing assignment that has come with little support writing support and even less time spent on research skills. Had I given this assignment, it would take a good month to complete in a classroom and it would include numerous exemplars, group writing time, peer and adult conferences. Maybe I should go back to teaching.

Conference registration goes live online on January 24th. Will we be ready. I sure hope so. The site was in testing phase last week and all the Regional Advisors weighed in with their comments. There is much to work on. I’m a little nervous but know everything will work out fine.

The family is headed to Maine this weekend. I won’t be able to see everyone but hope to see a few people. The kids want to see friends. We are gathering all our bundling clothes and snow pants and the kids are so excited to make snow angels. Me too!
My parents are off to sunshine and warmth in their annual pilgrimage to Puerto Rico. "Glub-glub Mom!" That’s "Have fun, Mom!" in scuba. (That’s Mom on the left.)

Cows. I’ve been thinking in cow for the last couple of months and now I’m busy drawing them. I wake up thinking of cows. Now it is time to leave the computer and go draw. 


 My list of things to do:
Complete 2 more freelance articles by Friday.
send last year’s illo academy blurb to casey
call storybook cove or find a volunteer to be in charge of conference book store
confirm crit faculty contracts and send questionnaire link
send greg fishbone the conference info for the website
work with joyce on PB
read through 1st reader notes, make changes and send to editor who wants manuscript
Do laundry, pack for Florida. We leave Friday night.

Boxes, boxes, boxes

This is the roving reporter live from the Boll garage in the Breton Bay neighborhood of Leonardtown, Maryland. You’ll see that all around me are boxes. Some full, some empty. The boxes are stacked as high as an adult in here and it is difficult to make it to the door. There is a small path that we can take. Okay, here is the door into the house. I’m pushing it open but it seems that the entry way is full of… yes, boxes. Okay. These are all empty and we can see that the living room is looking quite comfortable. There are plenty of toys for the children, (infact, what child really needs this many toys and art supplies?). The children have been bribed with trips to the pool to unpack boxes. It seems that they are filling the book cases with wonderful books. Look how many are signed by the artist or author. (Now this family knows what’s important.)

The kitchen and all the bedrooms are also still crowded with unpacked boxes. Here in the kitchen, the computer is unpacked, and set up. Good thing too, because the SCBWI New England Conference is getting closer with every passing day and Anna Boll better up her game. In addition to unpacking boxes and co-directing the conference, Anna just scored a freelance job writing newsletter content for the Helmets to Hardhats website. The money will be important to the family economy but will she be able to manage all this before the children head back to school? That August 19th date is only a month away, causing some to ask, “Where has the summer gone?” But in Leonardtown, we can feel summer everyday. Today’s forecast? 92 degrees and 96% humidity. Great weather for unpacking, BOXES.

My office. ACK!

NYC trip looming

Here is a unique idea in the world of gallery shows. “Fill in the Blanks” marries art and performance art by providing canvases, frames and lumps of clay for artists to develop over the course of the show dates. Mary Brooking of the Maine Illustrators’ collective will be one of the featured artists.

I am busy prepping for my trip to New York. The SCBWI conference does not start until Friday, the 8th but I am going early to show my portfolio to Art Directors and do research at the New York Public Library and meet up with friends and family. A week away from home! ACK! I’ve thrown myself into a whirlwind of laundry, packing, and list making. Lists for portfolio revisions, lists for what to take, lists of addresses and phone numbers, subway maps, amtrak timetables… I like traveling, love the train, and can’t wait to visit the city but I am a little nervous too.

A list:
1. Remember to breathe
2. Work on Chapter 2, Ballet
3. Revise cat montage
4. Finalize portfolio, make sure you have 2, dummy books attached
5. Pack clothing
6. Pack sketch book, traveling drawing kit.
7. Confirm appointments
8. Mapquest directions for Providence train station
9. Highlight relevant subway routes.
10. Check on subway passcard for the week
11. Society of Illustration hours?
12. Breathe.

Down Day

So let me just clarify that I am not down,  or blue, or sad. No, it is a “Down Day” because I have no deadlines or places to rush to. Today my parents are coming to visit. That means that I should be cleaning house.  But since they are my parents, they will understand when they arrive and have to wade through the dog hair puppies. Therefore I am coming to post on my blog, check in with the numerous wonderful friends I have on LJ, catch up on Brotherhood 2.0, and order new illustration promotional postcards for the Fall Folio Feast and my fall mailing. I am in the waiting room on so many things but I’ll try to list them here:
Illustrated Activity to Highlights High Five
Written story to Highlights High Five
Non-fiction query and board book to agent
Numerous picture book manuscripts to various publishers.
Illustration samples to Boyd’s Mills and an Educational publisher with local author.
Conference work:
8 spaces left for the Fall Folio Feast– sign up now!
Reviewing over 65 (WOW 65!) workshop proposals for NESCBWI meeting next Friday. (Hmmm… maybe that’s what I should be doing instead of cleaning my house. Isn’t that conveeeenient.)
Here is the postcard. You get it first!

Proposals, submissions, and snowflakes, oh my!

1. NESCBWI workshop proposals are due on Oct. 1. Get ’em in! Think big, propose two workshops. Click for guidelines, rubric, and leveling continuum.

2. Robert’s Snow auction will be starting in November to benefit cancer research in memory of Grace Linn’s husband who recently died. The snowflakes for 2007 are not available for viewing yet, but I got a sneak peak at

 beautiful artwork at the conference planning meeting yesterday. (I can tell you it has frogs, but if you know Laura, you probably already know that.)  If you are a lesser know illustrator, I’d like to post your snowflake link, web link, and short bio here. (ie: not Lynn Munsinger, Kadir Nelson, or Bruce Degen) Leave me a comment and your contact info.

3. To-do: stop blogging, redraw dummy pages, manuscript status and resend, first two chapters of non-fiction.

4. October is the month we’ll hear about SCBWI work in progress grant applications. I’m waiting on a non-fiction proposal, anyone else?

Six week review

Any of my “self-time”  comes to an end tomorrow when summer day camp ends. I had lofty goals of all I’d accomplish during the summer while my boys were at camp. Here’s what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been blogging:

1. I have a new non-fiction picture book manuscript (in verse) and a finished piece of art for the same project complete. Well, it’s never really complete is it? I still need to complete the dummy. I’m sending it off to an expert reviewer before I start submitting. Hoping that helps. My crit group has been wonderful at catching beats that are off. This one just called out for rhyming.

2. Research for the “dance” book has been on the back burner while the picture book took my attention. However, the kid interviews I’ve received for this project make me so excited. I’m hoping that the SCBWI non-fiction grant comes through but I’ve applied to too many of grant, and award competitions without getting chosen to get my hopes up.

3. On the conference stage, the call for proposals is online at NESCBWI. Click on “Conferences”. Please note the new Workshop Rubric PDF and the Workshop Continuum that I designed. I’m working on exciting things for illustrators…(rubs hands in a wickedly secretive manner)

4. I should be busily addressing and posting our Fall Folio Feast postcards but that will be on hold until tomorrow. Promise they’ll be out by Friday.

5. I have also been applying to day jobs. I’ve had a couple of interviews, and in one way it is nice to be “back in the game.” It feels great to remind myself of how confident, organized and competent I am in dealing with other adults instead of just carting my children around all day. On the other hand, I have all these wonderful projects that seem to be taking off, and I have “that ” feeling. You know “that” feeling. The feeling that says, someone is going to call you any day now. That last manuscript will sell. This is your year. And yet, I have had “that” feeling before. I think it was New Year of 2006 and 2005. Maybe “that” feeling is really called hope. If you don’t have hope, you don’t have much. And hope, plus tenacity and talent? Boy, I’ve got it all…
except that contract.

6. Have read Reaching for Sun (wonderful!) Deathly Hallows, (very Narnia-esque I think) and I’m reading Goy Crazy (I can so identify with this book).

7. I’m headed off right now to interview a couple with an interesting story for a possible picture book. (don’t want to jinx anything)

8. Submitted a couple of magazine queries and stories, one response “maybe if you spin it as an essay,” and two others no response yet.

9. I think I left out a couple of other manuscript submissions and a ton of sketching but that is just the regular day to day. So the past six weeks have been really full. I hope you forgive my inactivity on LJ. I’m going on vacation for a couple weeks but see you again at the end of August.