Illustration Friday Challenge: Wisdom (a Book Made Me Do It)

Sometimes a book inspires me to action
bookworm fishing illustration coleen patrick

Wisdom as prompted by Illustration Friday‘s weekly art challenge.

This challenge got me thinking about those books that I read

that inspired me to fill my fridge with enough produce to make a five-pound bowl of parsley salad. Or buy running shoes. Or a tent. Or art supplies. Or the sequel to the book. Or follow the author or illustrator on every social media platform (it’s not stalking if they put the icons on their website).

All in an effort to stay in the zone

of inspiration

and

discovery

(which a lot of times is pretty cool and rewarding)

but occasionally means

gaining the wisdom to know that I will never be a champion of parsley salad.

 

What are you reading? What book inspired you to take action?

Right now I’m reading Running Like a Girl, but Alexandra Heminsley. I have no plans to sign up for a marathon, but I may have researched running gear. Just a tad.

xo

Brave as a Dancing Chicken

braver stronger smarter_opt

 

Sometimes I’m a chicken.

In college, I actually narrowed down my choice of majors to those that didn’t require public speaking 101.

Bawk.

 

quaker steak chicken mascot

 

 

That chicken with the big grin is my 14 year old nephew. In public, he’s mostly a quiet kid.

But it’s interesting what happens when you put a quiet kid in a chicken suit.

 

 

Braver than he thinks? Maybe.

I could’ve used a chicken suit a couple of weeks ago when I spoke on a panel about the creative life during an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) event.

At least just to start out. 🙂

 

 writer's panel SCBWI_opt

Because I was having an out of body experience nervous. I can’t really remember anything I said, but hey, I did it.

(I’m pretty sure I spoke from the heart , it was practically in my throat anyway).

I was also nervous about the authors fair and book signing. But that turned out to be fun.

 

meeting authors

 

I met national book award winner, Kathryn Erskine. She’s super sweet. She signed a book for me and then even came over to my table and bought one of my books!!

 

book  fair_opt (I just realized I picked a table next to the fire alarm. Panic much?)

 

The book fair wasn’t so scary. Writers (and readers) may be a quiet bunch, but everyone was friendly.

 local-authors-fair_opt

Sharon Rainey, Richard L. Towers, Nancy Hannan

 

I chatted with authors. I signed some books. I’m pretty sure I didn’t squawk or bawk once.

I’m braver than I thought.

Even without a chicken costume.

 

How are you feeling brave (or strong, or smart) this week? Would you have more courage dressed in a chicken suit? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!

Happy Monday!

 

 

Unforgettable Books: Dreams Wrapped in Words

 


I am not even going to begin to pretend I understand MEMORY. That awesome, fickle power that likes to ditch me as I step into another room (or as Billy Collins says in his poem Forgetfulness, retires “to a little fishing village where there are no phones”).

I don’t know why some things stick, like the thirty plus year old memories of being a kid trying to fry an egg on the summer sidewalk or dig a hole to China, as opposed to what happened in oh I don’t know, the entire year of 2009 (there had to be something significant, but right now I can’t think of anything).

Some memories stay locked up tight, while others eventually slip out of one of those dusty, creaky memory doors.

 

 shirley plantation store house open door _opt

Nowadays when something does stay with me, I’m thinking there’s magic involved (or dessert–dessert can be quite memorable).

And I especially LOVE when I read a book with that kind of magic, that special something that manages to capture prime real estate in my brain.

Ever read an unforgettable story?

 

We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.”

― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

 

 

 

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Artistic Voice, There will Never be Another You

 

 

Recently I met a writer who said she gave up on the book she was working on because another writer published one with a similar premise.  I don’t know what her story was about in particular, but she was adamant that there would be no reason for her to bother finishing hers.

It got me thinking.  How many books have been published about vampire love stories or teens fighting dystopian governments? A lot.  And I could continue on with the list of similar premises.  Because when readers like a book, they usually want more.

But even working with the same topic or premise, no two writers will end up with the same book.

Because artists have their own style.  Your experiences, your opinions, where you live, who you grew up with, what you do with your day–everything that makes you uniquely well, YOU, weave together and mesh to make up your tone.

It’s your voice and it is influenced by the tapestry of your life.

And we all come to the page, the canvas  or whatever medium with which we create, with our special voices.

For example, check out the difference in perspective on these Alice in Wonderland covers:

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity is open for interpretation.  (more on creativity here in this post.)

 

We writers, as we work our way deeper into our craft, learn to drop more and more personal clues. Like burglars who secretly wish to be caught, we leave our fingerprints on broken locks, our voiceprints in bugged rooms, our footprints in the wet concrete.
~Ross MacDonald

 

Your art is ready for your fingerprints.

 

A part of me wonders if maybe there were other reasons this writer abandoned her story.  Maybe she was afraid of not measuring up. I don’t know.

But I think it’s important as artists to embrace our uniqueness.

Stop comparing and start celebrating.

Because there will never be another YOU.

 

You’ve got to recognize, there will never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth.

There will never be another person the same.

There’ll never be another you.

~Mickey Rooney

 

 

What are your thoughts on the artistic voice?  Do you have any advice for a writer/artist who gets stuck comparing their work to others?

 I love it when you comment, so please share your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

 

 

Reader Paparazzi: Interview with a Skateboarding Tween

 

It’s research, not stalking.

I’m excited to bring you another Reader Paparazzi interview.  Thanks so much for all your comments and suggestions on my first installment.  If you missed it, check it out here.  

Basically since I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teens and tweens–writing and reading, I decided it might be nice to get a little perspective from the real world.

So I’m stalking interviewing young adult readers.

And this week I have what the publishing industry refers to as the reluctant (boy) reader.

But you can call him Ben.

Ben is a twelve-year-old middle schooler.  He is on the Lacrosse team, plays the trombone in his school’s All City Band and he has the distinction of being the only kid I know who prefers dark chocolate over milk chocolate.  Plus, as you will soon see, he loves skateboarding.

Welcome BEN!!

What is the last book you read?

Probably one of the Magic Tree House Series. I don’t read a lot for fun, but I do have all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books!

What are the top three songs playing on your iPod?

Skrillex: The First of the Year

Skrillex: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

Kanye West: Dark Fantasy

What is your favorite class in school?

Social Studies

What is your favorite thing to do after school?

Skateboarding

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life—what would it be?

That’s hard!  I guess Chicken & Rice Soup.

If you could Skype with a famous person who would you pick?

Paul Rodriguez

(P-Rod,his nickname, is a professional skateboarder.  I’m glad Ben filled me in on this fact, because the only Paul Rodriguez I know is a comedian–and turns out,  happens to also be P-Rod’s father).

See how much you can learn in an interview?

So Ben, what was the last movie you saw?

Hunger Games! And I loved it.

Me too!  What are you most looking forward to right now?

Sunday Skate Sessions at the skate park.

 Ben ollie skateboarding _opt

Ben lifting off the ground with an “ollie”.

 

While we’re on the subject of skateboarding, what did you think when you heard that a 12-year-old (Tom Schaar) landed skateboarding’s first ever 1080 spin?

Amazed! I thought it would be a pro!

So other than cool skateboarding tricks, what would you like to learn how to do?

Drive a Rally Car.

I have to say I’m feeling for your mom here a little Ben . . .

Okay one last question.  If you could get on a plane right now and go anywhere—all expenses paid—where would you go?

Tokyo Japan!

Arigato Ben. 🙂

 

Check back for more Reader Paparazzi interviews–or if you don’t want to miss a post, simply subscribe by email (above on the sidebar)!

Have any questions you’d love for me to ask young readers?  Drop me a comment, I’d love to know!  Or answer me this question: 

If you could get on a plane right now and go anywhere—all expenses paid—where would you go?

 

 

YA Interview: A Teen Talks Books & Liam Payne

 

Since I spend a lot of time inside the mind of fictional teenagers, I thought it might be nice to get a little perspective from the real world.

I decided it could be fun to interview readers.  Specifically teen (and tween) readers.  

 

teen interview series

 It’s research, not stalking.

 

So a big hello to Lydia.

Lydia is 16, plays piano, dives competitively and is on her school’s gymnastic team.  Would you believe she made me do a round off dismount off the balance beam before answering any of my questions?

I didn’t think so.

 

 

 Lydia also has an infectious laugh to go with that smile.

 

What book are you reading for school right now?

A book of my choice: Reviving Ophelia

What was the last book you read for fun?

The last Hunger Games book–Mockingjay.

So I have to ask . . . Peeta or Gail?  Peeta.

Okay so besides Peeta, what makes you keep reading a book?

When I get really into a book and forget about other things that are going on around me.

Reader Zen!

What was your favorite book when you were younger?

Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes.

What is your favorite thing to do after school?  Least favorite?

My favorite is watch TV or go running, least is homework.

What did you eat for breakfast today?

Krave cereal

Chocolate cereal.  Yup, it’s a fave in our house too.

Top three songs playing on your iPod?

More than this-One direction

Crash Into Me-Dave Matthews Band

Country Girl-Luke Bryan

What was the last movie you saw?

The Vow

If you could Skype with a famous person, who would you pick?

Liam Payne from One Direction

Excuse me while I Google . . .

 

 

skype with liam payne_opt

Someone looks good in Skype mode!

 

What’s your favorite class in school?

AP US History

Are you wearing nail polish right now?

Yes, silver.

What advice would you give your parents?

None, I think they did a pretty good job with me. 

*A collective “aw” for Lydia’s parents*  🙂

And last question: What do you hope you will be doing 7 years from now?

I hope to be finished with college and finishing the professional school of my choice (Grad school, Law school, Med school, whichever I decide).

Thanks so much Lydia!

 

So dear readers, I couldn’t decide which photo to use to represent these interviews–which one do you like?

1.  Reader Paparazzi (above) 

2. The Real YA of the EC

The Real Young Adults of the East Coast

3.  The Real YAs

 

 

I’d love your opinion! And if there any questions you would like to see answered in future interviews for YA/MG readers, let me know!

The Hulking Generation Gap

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were playing a trivia board game with our fifteen year old son.  Our son is a bit competitive and usually beats us when it comes to geography and presidential history, but he wasn’t so happy when he pulled this card:

 

Name a character from Hogan’s Heroes.

 

“Come on,” he said sounding annoyed.  “I don’t watch this reality TV stuff . . .ugh, okay fine, Hulk Hogan.”

 

An American TV show featuring spandex clad wrestler, Hulk Hogan, in charge of  a crew of Allied prisoners in a POW camp?

 

My husband and I laughed, but it was an honest mistake considering Hogan’s Heroes started airing before we were all born. But the next time we played that game, this card came up:

 

Name a comic character Johnny Carson played on The Tonight Show.

 

My son’s response?

“Who’s Johnny Carson?”

It was a little astonishing that he didn’t have any reference for the thirty year host of The Tonight Show.  Johnny Carson was such a fixture in my house from the time I was a kid until right before I got married.

 

Generation Gap:  A chasm, amorphously situated in time and space, that separates those who have grown up absurd from those who will, with luck, grow up absurd. 

~Bernard Rosenberg, Dictionary for the Disenchanted, 1972

 

You know what else is absurd?  My kids don’t know what a library card catalog is . . .

 

 The card catalog and paper–the two things I needed to do a school report when I was a kid.  No Google.

 

And (*sigh*) they don’t even know how to use a cassette tape, the pain of it unraveling, or the power of a pencil in that respect.

 

Both my kids do however know the 17th century stockade:

 

Captive in Colonial Williamsburg

 This is one way to bridge the generation gap.

 

However, I am grateful that my kids know not only what a library is, but the feel and smell of actual books.  That even though they listen to their music via iPods, I am happy that they know the power of music.

So they may not know the once famous fixtures of bygone decades,  but I am glad that they find some significance in their family–at least enough to sit down with them and play a game.

 

 There is nothing wrong with today’s teenager that twenty years won’t cure.  ~Author Unknown

 

What gaps do you see in the generation before or after you?

 

Once More for Luck

Happy Friday!

Guess who got lucky?

Lena Corazon! She is the winner of a signed copy of Barry Lyga’s Goth Girl Rising.

But don’t you feel left out, because I won two more books this week, which means more great book giveaways coming soon.  So stay tuned.

I hope you have a great weekend.  I’m off to see that little indie vampire movie, and maybe even the new George Clooney one too.

In the meantime, check out George right here, making some woman a very lucky lady.

 

Warm Fuzzies Blogfest

This week has been a week of warm fuzzies (plus a giveaway–see details at the end of this post).  Special thanks to my fellow writers in Rachael Harrie’s platform building campaign and in Kristen Lamb’s WANA class. From your supportive comments and tweets to blog awards I feel like I have my very own virtual, but cozy Linus blanket.

Thank you!

On that note, wonderful and brilliant YA author Juliana L. Brandt is hosting the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest and this week she posed this question:

” How do you broach the subject of being a writer to other people who aren’t authors?”

It’s not always easy, like Juliana writes in her post.  Here’s a post I wrote a couple of months ago on the subject:

SO HOW’S THAT NOVEL COMING?

The writing process is slow. Couple it with the publishing process and the fact that writing is mostly a solitary living-in-a-shell like activity, and you are looking at a lifestyle that is turtle club worthy.

At least it comes with a great motto:

Slow and steady wins the race.

This is a good thing to keep in mind, especially when you emerge from your shell for food, showers, more work (you mean there’s other stuff to do?) and seeing your family and friends only to hear questions like:

You still working on that novel?

Do you have an end yet? Because I have a really good idea…

When am I going to see it in Barnes and Noble?

What’s for dinner? (Oh wait, you may or may not get that one, depends on whether or not your kids are old enough to call for pizza.)

When I hear these questions, my mind scrambles for some sort of summary update, sifting through all the work looking for something that is akin to handing them a hardcover copy of my book.

Um, yeah.

You write. You read. You edit. You write some more. You put the story away for a while and start work on another. Then you pick it back up and read. Then you edit, write some more. Then get some people to read and comment and then edit some more. Then write a query letter and edit that, and get some people to read that. Write. Edit. Then send it out to agents and/or some small publishers (because the big ones will not look at it without the agent). Wait and wait. Work on the next story . . .

I am going to stop here because if you are a writer you know all this, and if you’re not, then you are probably wondering why anyone would actually comply with such a process.

It sounds crazy, right?

It’s a slow process. Turtle-y slow.

So I remind myself to take a chill pill when I get the questions, because yes I’m still working on that novel (actually two, both with endings, but you never know I might use your good idea someday).

(Oh and the dinner question? Only requires microwave skills, because the pizza is in the freezer.)

And as for Barnes and Noble (or Amazon)?

I don’t know–YET (this is the key word here, print it, cut it out and attach it to something).

Because if you love it, you do it and when the questions come, you can think about Stewie.

Yes, I give you Stewie. Because sometimes I just need to relax about the whole process and squeak out a laugh instead of taking myself too seriously. Besides, as Stewie says, we all deserve some time off (even if we sometimes let our kids eat pizza from the freezer).

Speaking of pizza, if you’re headed to the freezer can you get me some? It’s the gluten-free one, with the tapioca cheese . . .

 

Have a great weekend.