24 March 2018

Dalhousie Castle with Kindling Words

I attended the Kindling Words retreats in Vermont several times while in the states. Happily, the latest KW retreat came to Scotland to Dalhousie Castle just a short train ride south of Edinburgh! I went down to visit them for lunch one day last week.
Dalhousie a lovely, 700-year-old castle pronounced Dal-HOUSE-e to the world, and Dal-hoooz-e by locals.
Although it had some small cannons, the castle didn't look like it had seen much fighting in its day, as it wasn't especially set up for defense.
Instead, it is situated on a lovely rolling piece of land surrounded by farms, with a stream running alongside.
There's also a lovely coach house that served the castle and now serves as overflow for guests.
All that said, the castle did have a dungeon, which has since been turned into a restaurant called The Orangerie.
Libraries and sitting rooms riddle the winding maze of a space, making it perfect for a writing retreat. Here's Hazel Mitchell.
Michelle (Mikki) Knudsen (who you've been reading about as she stayed with us for a few days before the retreat).
And Laurie Edwards, one of my former students at Hollins University. I always joke that I only see the top of her head as Laurie is the most prolific writer I've ever known. She had SIX books come out last year, at least five coming out this year, and works under at least three pseudonyms!
Hazel got a groovy 180° picture that she shared on FB, so you can see me working too. (CLICK HERE to see the entire groovy photo!)
I stuck around for a while to get some of my own work done, which I did!
The highlight of the trip, however, was the Falconry Center. More on that soon!

23 March 2018

Friday Links List - 23 March 2018

From Medium: What Jane Yolen Learned from Writing 365 Children's Books

From The Scottish Book Trust: 10 Springtime Reads (0-2) about BUNNIES

From LitHub: The 10 Most Beautiful Book Stores In the World (including one that floats!)

From Mashable: Kids are drawing more female scientists than ever before

From SLJ: School Librarian, Where Art Thou? (State of the Union)

From The Cut: Teens Already Know How To Overthrow The Government

From Electric Lit: In Honor of the School Walkout, Here Are 8 Books About Young People Making Political Change

From SLJ: Students Walk Out; Librarian Creates Display to Inform, Support Kids

From Nathan Bransford: How Writing Changes the World

From The Atlantic: Writing a Feminist Novel With a Man's POint of View: "...what they come to understand is that empathy will free you, not just power. Empathy is what makes you a citizen of your relationship, or your community, and ultimately of your own life. Empathy is how we are able to understand ourselves as part of a community, nation, or family, and ask ourselves what we are doing for that whole." Wow.

From PW: The making of 'Sleep Train' in photos - this is COOL!!!

From Precious Presence: Power of #classroombookaday

22 March 2018

Andrea De Santis' SPACE KIDS

Space isn't what it was when I was a kid. Not only is Pluto no longer a planet, there's all this space junk up there now. So, our kids need new books to learn about it! Enter Andrea De Santis' all the way from Italy. He stopped by to talk about this entertaining and educational book from Little Gestalten Press.

e: What is your creative process/medium for SPACE KIDS, can you walk us through it?
Andrea :
It was a very special experience, even though I have worked for years in the toys sector and been publishing on many magazines, this is my first children's book entirely illustrated by myself. It was not an easy task to make my illustration purely conceptual and readable even for children, and the merit goes to the Editorial Manager Angela Francis of Gestalten who directed me helped me to make the right choices.
      Gestalten wanted me to maintain the same poetic approach that I usually use in my illustrations, and I hope I succeeded in this. Undoubtedly it was very helpful the theme treated "space" that has a good dose of poetry within it.
My first step, perhaps the most important, was trying to think about a context, the characters and to make this book fun and rich of elements. What's better than a group of aspiring little astronauts who page after page fantasize on their space travel chasing nebulous stars and planets?
      Each scene has been designed to create a connection between earth and space, for example in the reflections of a river or in a glimpsed sunset over the hills we can see constellations nebulas and planets with which our little heroes interact, each kids in the story is passionate about different scientific aspects related to space. At the end of their long day of discovery they meet in their little house on the tree / spaceship to tell everyone about their adventure and their dreams.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Andrea :
I think that what makes an illustration magical is also connected to the state of mind of who creates it, what it wants to transmit through it, putting something personal as much as possible. When I work I do not limit myself to interpret the message linked to the article or to a story, but I want also to look even minimally to think and identify myself with the character that lives in my illustrations. When everything works, people immediately perceive all messages and the sensations I want to communicate, the most sensitive people are those who immediately catch all this.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of SPACE KIDS?
Andrea :
There is a curiosity that is hidden in the pages of Space Kids that perhaps the fans of illustrated books will notice. I wanted to dedicate to the great illustrator and author Miroslav Sasek (1916-1980) and pages 18 and 19 are inspired by his book for children "This is the way to the moon“. There are many references to his representations of the Cape Canaveral space museum with its typical palm trees among the exposed rockets.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
Andrea :
Mainly on several socials like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Behance, and by the fantastic agency in Frankfurt the Kombinatrottweiss Illustration which represents me.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Andrea :
There are many challenging parts to deal with, such as to invent something new and try to convey a clear and immediate message. There are also many aspects of my job that I love, including seeing my work appreciated and knowing that there are people who follow me constantly.
e: Is there something in particular about SPACE KIDS you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Andrea :
A small detail, perhaps not very obvious, is a small rocket-shaped tree house in the upper right corner of the cover, that refers to the last double page where the children meet inside their headquarters. The need to insert it on the cover comes from the lack of a table eliminated during the design in which we could see the tree house from the outside with a child who jumps with the pulley, helmet and missile on the back, simulating a space trip. There are several references to the 80s and the memories of those good old days and I wanted to represent some of them including the tree house.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Andrea :
Mostly I do illustrations for an adult audience, so after this little break in the world of children, I have started again to collaborate assiduously for several major magazines. I can say that I feel very satisfied, but I'd like to publish an illustrated book with the works that more represents me and what I did in the last 5 years.
Illustrations by Andrea De Santis from Space Kids, Copyright Little Gestalten 2018”
“Artwork by Andrea De Santis from Space Kids, Copyright Little Gestalten 2018”

21 March 2018

Stirling Castle - inside!

I told you how COLD it was at Stirling Castle with Mikki - which is truly unusual for Edinburgh. It's typically quite temperate here. At any rate, we were very happy when our guide finally led us inside the castle!
When you see a castle in Scotland, you really should do a guided tour. These people are extremely knowledgeable and extremely entertaining. 'Frank' told us great stories such as this one... the door he's standing next to is the very same one Sir Rod Stewart went through to film his Christmas special. :) And we were in the very room where J.K. Rowling held a fund-raiser party. This was in the Great Hall, which had a ceiling like an inverted boat. Apparently, the King loved his ships and it made him happy to look up and feel like he was in one. It supposedly took 134 trees to create this.
He did something similar in the chapel.

What a humble guy. Truly, the throne rooms are never quite as grand as one might expect.
Happily, our visit coincided with a display of gorgeous tapestries. You might recognize this one (and yes, they all had unicorns!)

Just off the throne room was the bedroom. I could handle this.
The ceiling in another bedroom was covered with medallions, lions and unicorns.
Here was the fireplace. Noticing a trend?
Of course, we all rushed to the fireplace in the hopes to get warm, but it was just lights meant to look like a fire. Dangit! I would have complained, but this guy was standing right there and was rather intimidating.
Another ceiling had more medallions, all hand-carved. There was a map to tell you who was who (all allies of the King).
If the King needed a midnight snack, this was where he went.
Afterwards, Mikki and I went to a pub downtown for some fish and chips. It was a crazy day, but it was an awesome day! I hope I can go back when it's warm sometime, as I'd like to wander around the grounds more... and that fabulous graveyard! You know there are stories there!

20 March 2018

Coloring Page Tuesday - Suffragettes

     In honor of Women's History Month, I give you women who helped shape our history - Suffragettes. CLICK HERE for more coloring pages, and if they add joy and value to your life, please...
Become a Patron!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Also, check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

19 March 2018

Stirling Castle!

Sunday was a play day for me and Mikki. So, we went to Stirling!
Although, our adventure was almost undone by the 'Baby Beast from the East'. I awoke to SNOW... AGAIN! This is not normal for Edinburgh! I was worried we'd be snowed in again and that Mikki would miss her chance to see another castle. Happily, there was just enough snow to be really pretty, but not too disruptive.
That said, it was still colder than a... (insert expletive).
Even the graveyard loomed in a foreboding way.
We questioned our sanity several times, but went inside anyhow.
Then we saw the view.
Well, no. Not this one. We were still thinking we were crazy when we took this shot. But it cleared up, and Oh My! Click this image to watch a short video on Youtube:
The views from the castle were truly stunning.

As we walked up to the castle it was hard to miss the main building as it was a very different color from the others. Turns out it was on purpose. The color is called "King's Gold" and from the harbor, with the sun on it, that's exactly what it looks like - quite impressive.
Otherwise, it was a grand structure. We felt like we were in a movie.

A very cold movie!
So, although it was stunningly beautiful (the pictures don't begin to do it justice), we were so grateful to go inside... See more on Wednesday!

18 March 2018

#KidLitWomen - Week 3

#KidLitWomen is going STRONG! Have you been reading? I'm sharing this Sunday so that you can have time to read over the weekend.
We're celebrating Women's History Month with 31 days of posts focused on improving the climate for social and gender equality in the children’s and teens’ literature community. Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter #kidlitwomen.
MARCH 11th
Emma Walton Hamilton: Where the Women Are
Edith Campbell: Black Girl Economics in Young Adult Fiction
Jane Kurtz: A Woman Walked Into a Picture Book...
Emma Dryden: Determining Our Own Value...
Jane Kelley: Write the Change You Want to See in the World

MARCH 12th
Sarah Lamstein: In Defense of Aging
Grace Lin: When Certain Writers Ought Put Down Their Pens
A Discussion: What Would You Do?
Anne Nesbet: Cleaning Our Own Mirrors
Shoshana Flax: Just Put the Book Out There
Edith Campbell: Black Girl Economics, Part 2

MARCH 13th
Ellen Wittlinger: Questioning the Lens Through Which We See
Cheryl Blackford: Harmful Stereotypes in Traditional Fairy Tales
Amitha Knight: How To Be Invisible
Gwenda Bond: Living in a Fantasy World
Chris Tebbetts: …Lessons Learned on Another Front

MARCH 14th
Megan Frazer Blakemore: Banishing Boy Books and Girl Books from the Library Lexicon
Elissa Brent Weissman: Let’s Hear It For School Librarians…
Lori Steel: …The Sidelined Role of School Librarians
Kitty Flynn: Five questions for Winifred Conkling

MARCH 15th
Michelle Cusolito and Jeanette Bradley: How Much Should I Charge for School Visits?
Ann Clare LeZotte: …Deaf & Disabled Representation in Kidlit
Susan Van Metre: Rewriting the Stories That Shape Us
Rosalind Malin: Pink
Chris Barton: How To Diversity Your Kidlit-Related Lists

MARCH 16th
Don Tate: Honoring the Super Women who Run the Brown Bookshelf
Dana Walrath: Eliminating Bias
Chris Tebbetts: Male Allies: What We Can Do

MARCH 17th
Elizabeth Dulemba: Rewriting the Cultural Narrative
Michelle Edwards: My Mother Wants To Meet You
Jacqueline Davies: The Shaming of Desire
Erin Dionne: Women: What We're Up Against

In addition to Joyce Wan (3/3) and Traci Bold (3/6), a number of people are sharing daily or regular posts about women illustrators and books by women with the #kidlitwomen hashtag. Here are some of them:
Debbi Michiko Florence on Facebook
Kieren Dutcher on Facebook
Donalyn Miller on Facebook
Katherine Roy on Twitter, @KRoyStudio
Josh Funk on Twitter, @joshfunkbooks
Eve Aldridge on Facebook

You can also access the full list as it progresses at Mishka Yeager's Website.
MY post went live on March 17th! Rewriting the Cultural Narrative
Did the #kidlitwomen Caldecott Gender Gap article get you down? Try some uplift! Follow @citymousedc and @AlisonLMorris for a post a day about books illustrated by women! Post your own faves, too (don't forget WOC!) with #kidlitwomen and #womeninillustration


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...