Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 in Review: I'm Thankful for My Creative Communities

© 2013 Sylvia Liu
My friend Alayne Christan encourages writers to look back on our year and celebrate our successes. My biggest success this year was connecting with creative communities of amazing people who have inspired me all year. With each of their achievements and the example of their dedication, I work harder to make my own art and writing meet up to their standards.

These are the creative communities that have sustained me in 2013:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: K for Kraken

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Kraken Facts:

  • For more than 2000 years, sailors have told stories of a giant sea monster that attacked boats. In the 1700s and 1800s, sailors from Norway and Greenland named these monsters kraken.
  • Kraken have inspired poets and writers. In 1830, Alfred Tennyson wrote The Kraken, a poem about a massive creature that slept "far far beneath in the abysmal sea." 
  • In 1870, Jules Vernes described an attack by a giant sea monster in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The characters debate whether it is a giant whale or a kraken.
  • For a good fantasy read, check out China Mieville's KRAKEN

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Monday, December 16, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: J for Japanese Flying Squid

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Japanese Flying Squid Facts:

  • The Japanese flying squid weighs less than a pound, lives near the surface, and flies up to 30 meters through the air in packs.
  • These squid live for a year and are a sustainable fishery, because Japanese fishers catch them after they have spawned and just before they die. They are very popular as sushi in Japan, China and the United States.
(I will get back to I at some point…)

If you liked this, you may also like:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: H for Humboldt Squid

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Humboldt Squid Facts:

  • Humboldt squid are large, up to six feet in length and weighing up to 100 pounds.
  • They are known to be aggressive against humans, though some scientists dispute this reputation.
  • The Humboldt squid is an opportunistic predator and has been expanding its range. Once limited to South America and southern waters of North America, it has now been found s far north as Alaska.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: G for Giant Pacific Octopus

The Creation of Giant Pacific Octopus illustration
© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Giant Pacific Octopus Facts:

  • Giant Pacific octopus are the charismatic octopus often found in aquariums.
  • They are very smart (they can find and get food out of difficult mazes & puzzles; they recognize specific humans)
  • They are escape artists (they can fit through any hole that their beak can fit through)
  • The female giant Pacific octopus is the ultimate martyr mother. After her eggs are fertilized, she retreats to a cave and slowly & carefully braids the eggs (100,000 or so) into long chains that she attaches to the roof, which takes about a month. For about six months, she constantly waves her arms & blows water over them to keep them clean. When they emerge, she blows them out of the cave. She has not eaten the entire time and dies of starvation.
  • An aquarium that had a giant Pacific octopus and several dogfish sharks soon found the sharks mysteriously turning up dead in the morning. Cameras caught the culprit:

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Monday, December 9, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: F for Fire Shooter Squid

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Fire Shooter Squid Facts:

  • The Fire shooter squid (Heteroteuthis dispar) is a tiny deep-sea squid that uses a cloud of blue light instead of ink to confuse and distract its predators.
  • The squid has a special organ which houses bioluminescent bacteria.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: E for Euprymna scolopes (Hawaiian bobtail squid)

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Hawaiian Bobtail Squid  (Euprymna scolopes) Facts:

  • This little guy fits in a human hand and is known to be quite laid-back
  • It spends most of the day buried in the sand. At night, it hunts.
  • The Hawaiian bobtail squid has a light organ in its mantle where it houses light-emitting bacteria. This helps the squid camouflage itself at night, because the light will match the level of moonlight that is out. Each morning, the squid ejects most of the bacteria, and during the day, the bacteria multiply again. 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

A to Z Cephalopods: D for Dana Octopus Squid

Dana Octopus Squid Illustration
© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Dana Octopus Squid facts:

  • The Dana octopus squid is one of the larger squids (reaching a length of 7.5 feet), living deep underwater
  • It has bioluminescent organs on the tips of its arms that it uses to shock and confuse its prey
  • When they mate, the male cuts deep gashes in the female's flesh where he deposits his sperm

Many of the facts I'm using for this series come from an excellent book, THE CURIOUS, EXCITING, AND SLIGHTLY DISTURBING SCIENCE OF SQUID, by Wendy Williams.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: C for Cuttlefish

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Cuttlefish facts:

  • Being highly sought after delicious morsels, cuttlefish are masters of camouflage, despite the fact that they are color blind
  • Cuttlefish ink was the original sepia ink used by artists
  • Cuttlefish are very intelligent - they learn and have a frustration response
  • Their blood is greenish-blue because they use a copper-containing protein heocyanin, to carry oxygen, instead of the red iron-containing protein hemoglobin

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: B for Blue Ringed Octopus

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Blue Ringed Octopus facts:

  • Blue ringed octopi generally use their colors for camouflage, but when they feel threatened, they flash their bright blue rings
  • Only 5-8 inches large, it's venom is deadly enough to kill humans, by paralyzing them and making it impossible to breath

Monday, December 2, 2013

A to Z Cephalopods: A for Architeuthis (Giant Squid)

© 2013 Sylvia Liu
I've continued to enjoy Alison Hertz's Doodle Day challenge, a Facebook group that posts a prompt every day, and artists and illustrators post a doodle. Some months have been themed, like Animals. This month, the theme is underwater creatures from A to Z. So Dec. 1 is any underwater animals that begins with an A.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Quartet of Bunnies

Here are four paintings I recently made for a friend. Revisiting my egg bunnies from awhile ago:

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How I Got My Agent: Alayne Kay Christian

Alayne Kay Christian is an award winning children's book author, life coach, and blogger who just landed her dream agent, Erzsi Deak from Hen & ink. Alayne and I met through Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 challenge and Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class, and I've had the good fortune of receiving several of her wonderful and insightful critiques.

She answers some questions about how she got to this point.

Q. Tell me about your writing journey. How long have you been writing for children?

First, I would like to thank you, Sylvia, for helping me celebrate this exciting time by sharing my news with your blog readers.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program: An Illustrator's and Writer's Dream

I recently got back from the Nevada SCBWI Fallen Leaf conference - a dream weekend for children's writers and illustrators. For starters, this was the setting, a remote lake near South Lake Tahoe:

Fallen Leaf Lake, South Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PiBoIdMo Blog Hop

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

November is challenge time. Next month, I will take part in two writing challenges: PiboIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). (My challenge to you poets out there: create a rhyming couplet with those words and leave it in your comment. My attempt is at the end of this post.)

First up is the PiBoIdMo blog hop:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Messy People of the World Unite (if We Could Only Find Each Other)

original cartoon at one of my favorite web comic sites, 

I recently read in a New York Times article that messy work spaces promote creative thinking. Scientists concluded after a series of experiments that Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Susanna Leonard Hill Makes Picture Book Magic

In my quest to become an author-illustrator, I’ve been studying books and taking classes to learn the craft of writing picture books. The most helpful class I have taken so far is Susanna Leonard Hill’s online course, Making Picture Book Magic. Susanna’s class is ideally designed for busy people, is reasonably priced, and best of all, covers all the basics and many advanced topics anyone would want to know about writing picture books.

In this post, I review her course, interview Susanna, and have the pleasure of having her announce some GREAT news (scroll down to the end of the interview).

Introducing Susanna Leonard Hill

Susanna is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen picture books, including Punxutawney Phyllis (a Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice), No Sword Fighting in the House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep without Sheep (a Children’s Book of the Month), and Not Yet Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award winner). Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, and one may be forthcoming in Korean. She lives in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dying and the Undead: Epidemics and Zombies

Here are a few books on epidemics, zombies, and the undead that are well worth reading: 


Pandemic Survival: It's Why You're Alive, by Ann Love & Jane Drake (Tundra Books, 2013). This compendium of how pandemics and epidemics across the world shaped history is an informative nonfiction resource for children with a fascination for scientific history and the macabre. The authors provide juicy details about the gross and gory symptoms and scientific facts of every plague and epidemic one could think of, from leprosy to small pox to cholera to TB and even mass hysteria. After reading this, I am reminded of how extremely lucky we are to live in an era with sanitary living conditions, penicillin, modern medicine and an understanding of how to prevent diseases.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Work: Space Opera & Siamese Fighters

A few new paintings from the studio. This one was a birthday present for my husband:

Siamese Fighters © 2013 Sylvia Liu

And a triptych commissioned for a friend's boy who is turning 9, part of my space opera series:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Good Quotes on Life, Writing and Art

"Plan for tomorrow, but live for today." © 2013 Sylvia Liu
Some of my favorite quotes to inspire you today:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don't eat Pickles & More Pirate Stories

Awhile ago, I did a roundup of pirate picture books. Now it's time to review some pirate chapter books and graphic novels.

Chapter Books (Younger Readers)

Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles, by E.S. Farber, Illustrated by Jason Beene (Chronicle Books, 2013). In this illustrated middle grade story, Fish Finelli is a smart, adventure-loving boy who sets off to find Captain Kidd's legendary lost treasure buried in a small island in Long Island sound. He and his buddies get into scrapes and near-disasters as they find a treasure map, avoid a Mystery Man on a similar quest, and arrive at Lyons Island to search for the treasure. What I liked about this book was the many factoids and illustrated side bars that gave interesting information, such as the history of pieces of eight or Nikolas Tesla. Fish Finelli also includes scientific tidbits in conversation, such as the definition of amps, the principles of photosynthesis, and the fact that seagulls don't like pickles. My one criticism was that the ending came abruptly and seemed a bit too pat. This review was based on an Advanced Reader Copy that I won through Library Thing. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Doodles for Doodle Day August

 For the past couple of months, I've been sporadically but happily participating in Alison Hertz's Doodle Day challenge, which began on her blog but has since moved to a Facebook group. A daily prompt is posted and the goal is to spend 15-20 minutes doodling the prompt. Here are few of my doodles:


© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program - Here I Come

Exciting news: I recently found out that I was accepted into the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program for 2013-2014. In this program, ten notable children's writers and illustrators mentor 2-3 aspiring writers and illustrators each for six months.

The program kicks off with a writing and illustration retreat in October in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. It is followed by six months of assignments and critiques from one's mentor, and it is capped by a final retreat in Virginia City, Nevada, in April.  This year's class of 24 mentees come from 11 states and 4 countries.

David Diaz is My Mentor

My mentor will be illustrator David Diaz. I am really excited to be working with him. He has illustrated over 35 books and won the 1995 Caldecott for SMOKY NIGHT, by Eve Bunting, a book I've had on my bookshelves for over a decade:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blogger or Wordpress? Why I am Sticking with Blogger

Which blogging platform should a beginner blogger use? Many different platforms exist, but the two most popular ones are Blogger and Wordpress.

People use Blogger because it's free, easy to use, and they can start blogging immediately. Many blogging authorities urge authors and illustrators to use (requiring self-hosting) because it gives them full ownership of their blog. Wordpress has powerful features, but I'm sticking with Blogger for these reasons:

1. From a design standpoint, I can tweak a Blogger blog in multiple ways, while I'm limited to the Wordpress themes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Writer's Blog Hop & Giveaway

Prize 1: four art postcards

One of my critique buddies, Elaine Kiely Kearns, tagged me in a blog hop. If you stick around and post a comment, I will give away two prizes: a set of art postcards and a new copy of SCBWI's The Book, a great resource for children's writers, listing publishers, agents, and other useful information. (This is an extra copy that I ordered after I mistakenly thought I lost mine). In your comment, mention which prize you would like to receive and I'll enter you into that drawing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Doodle Day July, Day 11: Crustaceans

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Steampunk Crab © 2013 Sylvia Liu

I love crustaceans. I love to look at them when snorkeling or scuba diving, and I love to eat them steamed with butter.

Crustaceans are the same phylum as insects (arthropoda) and include the large class of mostly aquatic animals with hard exoskeletons, like lobsters, crabs, crayfish, barnacles, and shrimp.

So express yourself in Doodle Day July (a daily doodle challenge brought to you by Alison Hertz) by doodling some crustaceans today:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How I Got My Agent: Kristen Fulton, Nonfiction Picture Book Maven

How does an aspiring picture book writer land her dream agent?

Kristen Fulton is a member of my fabulous online critique group who just signed with her dream agent, Kendra Marcus at Book Stop Literary Agency.

I have been so impressed by how Kristen has given it her all in her quest to become a picture book author. In the first half of the year alone, she has attended 4 SCBWI conferences, taken 8 courses in children’s writing, and drafted over 16 picture book manuscripts, keeping our critique group extremely busy.

She answers some questions about her journey so far.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Penguin Art Director Giuseppe Castellano Critiques Our Class

How does it feel like to be critiqued by an Art Director at a Big Six publisher?

Before: nervous, excited
During: a bit hurt/indignant, thoughtful
After: humbled, grateful, inspired

Here's how it happened...

The Assignment

A few months ago on Twitter, Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin USA (who oversees the Grossett & Dunlap, PSS!, Warne, PYR, and Poptropica imprints), offered to give students in illustration or art schools critiques based on an assignment he would give. Mark Mitchell, who helms an online children's illustration course, took Giuseppe up on the offer. Giuseppe's assigment to us: re-envision the cover of either the first Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys story. Twenty-six students from the class submitted covers.

my inspiration

When I started on my cover of The Secret of the Old Clock, I was inspired by the recent Lemony Snicket book, Who Could It Be at This Hour? I liked its fresh approach to the traditional middle grade cover:

I came up with this graphic novel look as a result:

© 2013 Sylvia Liu

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review: The Clockwork Three

I read a lot of books for children, and only rarely am I inspired to review them. Matthew Kirby's The Clockwork Three (Scholastic, 2010) is one that hits my sweet spot - it's a satisfying story of friendship, adventure, magic, and hope set in a 19th century industrial America with steampunk-clockwork-fantasy elements.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Family Album: Lt. General Fan Hanjie, My Grandfather

My grandfather's story includes a U.S. Medal of Freedom; 1,500 year old history books belonging to Chairman Mao; and Puyi, the last emperor of China.

I have always been fascinated by my family history. Both my grandfathers were generals for the Kuomingtang (KMT, Chinese government pre-1948) during WWII and the Chinese civil war with the Communists. Here are some photos and stories of my mother's father. (In a month or so, I will post about my father's father, who also had an interesting life).

Fan Hanjie (范漢傑) - My Mom's Dad (1894-1976)

My mom's dad, Lieutenant General Fan Hanjie (范漢傑), was one of Chiang Kai-Shek's favorite generals, in charge of Manchuria & Jinzhou in the civil war with the Communists. Chiang Kai-Shek (
(蔣中正 & 范漢傑) was the head of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1945, who led the Nationalist government that fought against the Communists in the civil war, and who was the wartime leader of China during World War II.

Here's a picture of my grandfather standing next to Chiang Kai-Shek, taken shortly after WWII in 1945, when Chiang Kai-Shek called a special high level conference with his senior civilian and military officials to discuss a post-war roadmap to rebuild and recover the nation: 

Seated: Chaing Kai-Shek, Standing: Fan Hanjie, my grandfather

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Om Nom Cupcakes and Cut the Rope Cookies

Om Nom (cut the rope) cupcakes
Om Nom (Cut the Rope) Cupcakes
Candy Cookies
Cut the Rope Cookies

My older daughter (11) recently found a series of cupcake decorating videos (I Has Cupquake on YouTube), including one on making Om Nom Cupcakes (the candy-gobbling character from Cut the Rope). For her sister's 9th birthday party this weekend, she made these adorable cupcakes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Dream Friends & Interview with You Byun

Dream Friends cover  by You Byun

A couple of weeks ago I won a copy of debut author and illustrator You Byun's Dream Friends (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013) in a Writer's Digest giveaway. 

In this charming picture book, Melody plays and goes on fantastic adventures with a special friend in her dreams, but she is too shy in real life to make friends. One lonely day on the playground, Melody dances as she remembers fun times with her dream friend, which catches the attention of the other kids and leads to new friendships. The bright pastel palette and the whimsical, textured illustrations complement the story perfectly.

You Byun was nice enough to answer some questions:

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Favorite Thing: Finding Great Books

I've been quiet the past couple weeks because I was busy organizing the annual used book sale at the Norfolk Academy Field Day. In two weeks, we went from empty shelves and boxes full of books to a pop up bookstore, with shelved books, displays, and gift baskets to raffle off:

Before & After pics of our used book sale
We did really well, making over $2900, which is impressive considering the prices averaged $2 a book. As usual, the most popular event was the end-of-the-day bag sale, where people stuffed as many books as they could into a reusable bag that we sold for $10.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Five Books that Will Take Your Writing to the Next Level

How do you become a better writer? You can write a lot. You can read a lot. And you can read how-to-write books. While my main focus is illustration, I have taken creative writing classes and studied many craft books. Here are the most useful and practical ones I've come across:

Picture Books

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication, by Ann Whitford Paul (Writer's Digest Books, 2009) Of the many how to books on picture books, I've found this to be the most useful and practical. Ms. Paul walks the reader through the development of a picture book, from the initial decisions (the story's central question, point of view, compelling main character, conflict) to the nitty gritty of drafting (beginnings, acts, themes, show don't tell, endings). She includes additional great advice on revising and marketing one's work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Norfolk Academy Art Show 2013

© 2013 Sylvia Liu
© 2013 Sylvia Liu
© 2013 Sylvia Liu

UPDATE 5/15/13: I sold all four pieces that I submitted to this show. If you are interested in an original painting similar to these, please contact me.

I just submitted four paintings to the annual Norfolk Academy Art Show.

This is a fun exhibit that attracts over 100 local and area artists. The show can be overwhelming because the visual stimuli of so many different styles from so many artists can be overwhelming. But it's a great way to see the breadth and variety of the local art scene.

The opening reception is Saturday, April 27, from 6-8 p.m. at the John H. Tucker, Jr. Arts Center, 1585 Wesleyan Ave., Norfolk, VA 23502. The show will remain up for about two weeks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ionesco's Stories: Theater of the Absurd for Children

Stories, by Eugène Ionesco, illustrated by Etienne Delessert (McSweeney's McMullens, 2012). Originally published in the early 1970s, this reissued compilation of four picture book stories by the famous playwright Ionesco is an excellent example of his absurdist views made accessible to children.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Illustration Friday: Swim

Siamese Fighter © 2013 Sylvia Liu
A recent painting I made for an upcoming art show, part of my sea creatures series (though Siamese fighting fish are freshwater fish, so maybe I'll just make it a water creatures series).

If you like this post, you may also like:

Monday, March 18, 2013

What I've Been Up to Elsewhere on the Intertubes

Critique Group © 2013 Sylvia Liu

Here are a couple of articles I wrote recently, found elsewhere on the web:

The Value of Critiques on Julie Hedlund's blog. How I've come to learn that getting my writing and art critiqued is one of the most valuable things to do as a writer and artist seeking to improve and take my work to the next level.

Not a Joke: Full Digression at UnderAcademy College at Where I interview my best friend from third grade, author Sandy Florian, about UnderAcademy College, a free, online "anti-degree institution" for innovative thinkers, artist, writers, and poets.

P.S. What do you think of my quick sketch, above? I'm planning to make a painting with a similar theme or look for the upcoming Norfolk Academy Art show (in early May).

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Zigby's First Day at The Academy

© 2011 Sylvia Liu

Thank you to all for helping create this story, as part of “Food Fight: Zesty Onomatopoeia Slinging.” Here is the whole story, in one piece.

            Zigby groaned. Two of his hearts sank to where his three stomachs began. Great. First day at Aliens A-1 Academy and he was already odd alien out. Not that he looked so different from the other kids in the lunch room. Other Martians like himself balanced trays, books, and drinks with multiple hands. Venutians slithered to and fro on slimy tentacles. Earthlings slouched together acting sullen and too cool to be seen with the gassy Jovians.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Zigby's First Day at the Academy: Food Fight!

Join me in this contest sponsored by Marcie Colleen of The Write Routine, “Food Fight: Zesty Onomatopoeia Slinging.” The rules are simple: between March 4-8, comment on this post and any other participants’ posts (links here at The Write Routine). Your task is to continue the story in the comments. You must include at least one word of onomatopoeia (words that are sounds, like ZING, POW, SPLAT) and one thrown item of food. You cannot repeat an onomatopoeia and the story must flow from the previous comments. Be creative and join the food fight! You can win a prize if you are the most prolific food slinger (in this & other posts), and one author's story will also be awarded a prize. 

Badge by Julie Rowan-Zach

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Mom is So Creative

Every time I visit my parents or they visit us, I'm struck by how handy and craftsy my mom (Terry Liu) is. She is one of those people whose hands are always busy, whether it is sewing, crocheting, knitting, or paper craft. She doesn't follow patterns, but instead figures out how to make an item by looking at it. She loves learning intricate paper folding techniques. Here are some of her many cool creations:

Money Origami and Paper Folding

I enjoy money origami, but my mom takes it to the next level. All of these creations are made from folded paper pieces. She made the ship and pineapple out of Venezuelan money (using pre-Chavez era currency: once upon a time, before 1983, these were worth quite a lot. The red bills were 5 Bolivars, or  about $1.25, and the brown ones were 100 Bolivars, about $25).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to Make an Art Portfolio on Blogger

How to make an art portfolio on Blogger
Screenshot of my portfolio using BoyBurnsBlog template

Do you want to create an art portfolio on Blogger? The free Blogger template, BoyBurnsBlog --developed by designer David Kutchner and his firm, Confluent Forms-- is a good choice.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fine Art Print Giveaway and Etsy Anniversary Sale

" Mesmerize" © 2012 Sylvia Liu

A year ago I opened my Etsy shop to sell fine art prints of my work. To celebrate this anniversary, I am running a 20% sale on my most popular items, and a giveaway of "Mesmerize." These prints are signed, limited edition glicees, or archival quality prints designed to last.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Four Creative Videos That Will Inspire You

I know you're busy. You don't like to spend time watching videos online because it's faster to read an article. But here are four videos that are worth the minutes of your life you spend on them. They will inspire you to be more creative and more appreciative of the world. At least one will make you cry; at least one will make you laugh.

Landfill Harmonic

This will bring tears to your eyes. A community that lives on a landfill in Panama builds recycled instruments and teaches its children to play them. (3:43 minutes) (Thanks to Sarah Pinneo for making me aware of this).

Landfill Harmonic- The world sends us garbage... We send back music. from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Picture Book Challenge


What am I excited about right now? 

Being part of Julie Hedlund's 12x12 in 2013 picture book challenge. The premise is simple. Write a picture book manuscript a month, and end up with twelve by the end of the year. The goal is to have a good start on twelve ideas, some of which can be polished into pieces worthy of submission.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picture Book Trends in 2013

Picture book trends 2013

Those of you who follow this blog know that I go to the big box bookstore every once in awhile to see what's featured on the main wall of the children's section as a quick check on what is trending in picture books (or at least what is being pushed for sale). For the last couple of years, I lamented the fact that an