Sunday, February 25, 2007

Revision in NYC

My yearly trip has become a place of REVISION for me. It is a time for me to revision my career as a children's writer. I open myself up to the possibilities. It's one place where I focus on the task at hand. I search myself to climb every mountain and to ford every stream -- to lay hold of my dreams. I let go of the closed doors that I've smashed into and begin to look for the open windows. (I'm a shameless fan of The Sound of Music.)

This year did not let me down. I always join with fellow illustrators and writers in NY and do some touristy stuff. This year I bought a NYC CityPass. Somehow this soaking in of the wonderful city, of this New York, gets mixed with my whole revision process. This year was no exception.

On Sunday, after enjoying the last keynotes of the SCBWI conference, having my obligatory books signed, wrapping up touch base conversations and general book research, I joined several friends on a harbor journey around Manhattan. Illustrators John Shelley and Obadinah Heavner and writers, Chris Eboch, Marion Holland, and myself completed the group. This is the boat we took. I'm not sure if this picture totally gives justice to the blueness of the sky. Yes, that is ice on the river. It was a frigid day. This image is reminiscent of the beginning of every creative journey I've ever taken. There's a blue sky, it's cold, but the boat looks sound, the ice on the banks is a surprise, but my heart tells me there is a swift moving story out there.

Next -- Glory! I'm out on the creative river and what do I find but Lady Liberty and shining light. Untold thousands have found this pathway before me. Isn't that just the way it is when a project starts rolling.

Here is the brillant photographer John Shelley. Thank you for permission to use these photos. You really get better pictures if professionals are involved. Seek good advice and the most expert help when creating any project.

The light began to fade, turning the sky the color purple. It took about 11 months to build the Empire State Building. Hold that in your heart the next time you feel that your creative journey is taking a long time.

Back on the shore the ice seems different. In the beginning the ice on the river's edge seems forbidding, after that you see that the edges of your story are full of complex possibilities.

The next phase was a walk across town and added in were batches of meaningful conversation. We stopped at Ollie's Noodle House for little dishes and time to warm up. We shared our vision of the next step on our creative journey. I can not express the importance of narrating your vision to respected colleagues. Do it. It might change everything. You might find yourself in front of some pretty big lights.

Times Square -- Chris E., me, Obadinah and Marion

Next up was the awesome St. Patrick's Cathedral. The luck of the Irish was with us. Keep working. Make something that lifts the soul and reaches across generations.

Last up, we stopped in a diner for lovely cups of rice pudding. Several heads were nodding by this time, but the journey, ah, the journey, what a treasure it is, how much joy spills into your soul and warms the depths of your heart. This was my revision in New York.

Half my life is an act of revision.

John Irving

I still have more news to come...

Monday, February 19, 2007

More NY and Molly Tech Warning

New York was a blast. Some folks know about me an my blank books. When I got to New York I realized that I had forgotten my blank book! I hurried over to the MOMA and purchased a another blank book. When I purchased it, I saw a set of handy markers and I was off to sketch. I was totally drawn into the art of Paul Klee. Here is my interpretation of Cat and Bird.

Next I was drawn into sketching Picasso at the Guggenheim.

Next some folks from the first conference session signed my book.

Wow, look at this signed and illustrated page, wow -- Cynthea Liu, Dororthy Crane, Greg Fishbone and J. L. Bell -- that's just the folks that I was sitting with at the SCBWI Winter Conference. Later, as I surveyed this page, an old memory fired within. I searched out my stacks and found what I was looking for. This is the story of my dubious past. Back in 1986, yes, gasp, almost all the way back to the dark ages, a certain warning was recorded for all mankind.


Important things for law abiding Terrans to know:

Attention Earthlings!
Beware of the wayward Plutonium Aliens, Molly + Angie B.
They can be recognized by their assumed human forms
(2 Earth Females, colour: Aggie)
Their common habitat and disguises are as follows:
Asleep in bed,
asleep on the floor
and asleep at the wheel.

They are wanted as outlaws because they force innocent people to write to them in in books.
--LEE <= hey, isn't that Molly and Angie B.'s sister?

Many things have changed since those days of yore, but some things never change. Molly Tech is still forcing innocent people to write in books for her.
Last but not least, big news is still stewing, keep checking back.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New York! New York!

I'm back from New York folks and my head is still spinning from my publishing whirl.'At the SCBWI conference. Friend and fellow author, Holly Cupala has put out the conference so much better than me, check out Brimstone Soup blog entry. Still, I couldn't help weeping when Susan Cooper spoke so eloquently about the dichotomy of light and dark within us all and the need to explore the ghosts that haunt our souls -- here is the star nursery, here in the haunting.

A resounding brilliant to J.L. Bell. Thanks for listening to and answering my meandering questions and adding your unabashed gossip about colonial America. You have enlightened me in countless ways. sandmen, contracts, a country of children, education, and we didn't even get to plagues, silversmiths, furniture makers and what about those whalers?

Hey, to Chris, Marion, Obadinah and John S. Thank you for the most magical day, one of those rare, perfect, carefree times that spins out for hours and that will be treasured for a lifetime. Taxis from the hotel to the most gorgeous green glass sea of broken ice, bobbing on the edges of the river and then traveling out around Manhattan by boat, swinging right by the Statue of Liberty. An icy wind burned my cheeks, roared in my ears. Orange-red fire of a setting sun backed the eternal flame of Lady Liberty.

The previous day I had watched night creep over the Empire State building in a movie at the MOMA and then I watched as the night glow flooded the city for real. Shining red, white and blue lights on the Empire State building stretched upward like sentinels. As we passed the Financial District, random bits of songs fired within me, like a thousand voices of healing, humming tunes of redemption and hope in the wind. Humans are that that way, we always find hope hidden in the darkest day. Pandora's box swung wide open and after the shrieking voices have long disappeared, hope springs eternal. We find the Phoenix rising from the ashes, and from the tomb, Christ from the grave aspiring, triumphing over death's sharp sting.

I feel within myself that someone out there is going to write a children's book about the Twin Towers and the day they fell, and that book will have healing in it wings. I pray for that haunted heart to hold on and to wait 'til their strength is renewed, 'til the day they rise up on the wings of eagles.I have more things to say but they will have to wait. I've got contracts to read and sign. I will be back soon with more news.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jelly Belly Beans, Dr. Who, Hakuna Matata and a Sigh.

I'm a fan of Jelly Belly Beans. Buttered popcorn, pina colada, tangerine, strawberry cheesecake and very cherry are my favorite flavors. I'm not sure why a pocketful of Jelly Bellies makes it easier to think but really they do. I feel very Doctor Who when I'm walking around pondering complex problems of the universe while keeping the destructive powers of our planet at bay (mostly laundry, dishes and teenagers) and all the while nibbling jelly babies (that's English for jelly beans).

I've been a Doctor Who fan for most of my life. I remember being grounded more than once for staying up and catching the late night reruns of Doctor Who on PBS (Fourth Doctor). I'm watching the new series. I loved the Girl in the Fireplace episode. What, a spaceship with multiple doors that lead into the life of Madame de Pompadour in 16th century France? I watched the whole thing three times. Woo, hoo clockwork robots. Thank goodness the CBC is on my baby cable line-up.

On the writing life, very little forward movement on the 2007 Novel Push. I sent in my synopses for my new easy readers for Picture Window Books. I continue to peck at my rewrite. I'm sending happy thoughts toward the Netherlands and I'm striving to not worry. An editor mentioned I've done a yeoman's duty on my current project. I think that means that I can manage 1001 details to keep a project afloat. That was a shot in arm for my writer self. I'm not going to worry this week. That's my main goal. Every time I start worrying about the current project, I simply reassign myself the task to not worry. Hakuna Matata!

New York is very soon now. Before that, I must cast myself into the rough seas of creativity wrenching scoring for two days. That not-to-be-named test would have caused William Shakespeare to lose his creative spark. I also have taxes to do over the next couple of weeks. Sigh.

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
Isaac Asimov