My 2014 Thankful List

I’m thankful . . .

For the Baristas that keep me caffeinated so I can write for hours.

For Crockett who believes my writing is my career not a hobby.

For my teenagers who put up with my, “Not now, I’m in the middle of writing a good part.”

For my critique partners/friend, Katy Kritique. They pick me up when I’m down, and cheer me on when I’m at my best. And not to mention the multiple times they’ve had to endure critiquing the same manuscript.

For my friends and family who are my avid cheerleaders, whether I’m published or not.

For my SCBWI Houston chapter. They are a supportive bunch.

For the SCBWI Listserve that hosts chuck-full of informative posts.

For my Twitter followers. I look forward to the retweets/favorites, and most of all getting to know them.

For my writing desk where hopefully the next NY Times Bestseller will come from.

For those that have given me a “yes” to my interview requests for Tiny Talk Tuesday. (Btw-I have amazing people in my future line up)

For the agents/editors who have rejected my manuscripts in the past and present. To know that I’ve made it through the slush pile makes me smile. It gives me the push to work harder.

For those who take the time to read this blog. And all that have decided to subscribe to it.

May you all have the most wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Be well.

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Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Doris Fisher

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Doris started writing 15 years ago and her hard work paid off. I was privileged to see her accept her 2014 Crystal Kite Award in the Texas and Oklahoma Division during one of our monthly SCBWI Houston meetings. There she told her humble story about her journey as a writer. Her book, Army Camels: Texas Ships of the Desert tells the amazing story of camels sailing to Texas to open up the west. I found Doris’ book on the shelf at a local book store. I was intrigued in the camels journey.

Next we’ll learn a bit more about Doris.

ME: Do you have a special talent?

DORIS: What an interesting question to answer! Talent has many meanings 🙂  I know I can do any needlework…sewing, crocheting , embroidery, crewel, you name it! I can raise one eyebrow, and am a school spelling champion…but I could not attend the city (Tulsa,OK) spelling bee because I came down with appendicitis and ended up in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy! It was quite a surprise to the runner up who had to represent our school in my place!

ME: I’ve seen your craftiness on your website with those adorable bracelets. Bummer about the spelling bee.

ME: Plane, train or automobile?

DORIS: I’ll take a plane to Alaska or Hawaii, a train from Durango to Silverton, CO and an automobile on a Texas trip.

ME: You’re one versatile woman.

ME: What genre have you not written in, but would love to write?

DORIS: Actually I’m quite happy with picture books. I do not want to ever, ever write a novel!!! But I also write for magazines with published poetry and games, as well as nonfiction articles. Probably 100 published items of various lengths by now … My poem in Babybug had 17 words. But please don’t make me write chapters!!!

ME: I bet if you wrote a novel it’d be great!

ME: Describe your writing style?

DORIS: I write in the afternoons, after I finish other daily chores. I try not to be interrupted. I like a block of time. I often come up with titles and then start a book from that idea. I have books published in rhyme, but boy is that hard. Not sure if I’d start another rhyming book. I have a few others written in rhyme that I’m submitting now. And I’m always submitting. As a writing teacher said…No one will coming knocking on your door and say…”Let me see that manuscript you just wrote.” You have to get your work out to critique groups and editors. A writer wears many hats!

ME: You got a good little routine going and it’s working for you.

ME: If you had the opportunity to be a book character who would you be and why?

DORIS: Winnie-the-Pooh sounds like a good answer to me. He eats honey, has devoted friends, sleeps a lot, has parties, and lives in a forest where he has plenty of time to play outside!

ME: Who wouldn’t love that?

Thank you, Doris for giving me the time out of your busy day. I look forward to reading your next book.

You can learn more about Doris on her website. Her books can be found in your local bookstore and Amazon.

Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Akiko White

 untitled I had the pleasure of meeting Akiko for the first time at a SCBWI Houston conference. At Houston’s conference, this past April, I got to experience, first hand and up close, her cake artistry. (It was delicious, see below)

BmGAcCnCAAA-Y6LShe calls them, “cakelustrations.” I can see this word going viral someday and possibly getting a spot in Webster’s dictionary.

Akiko is an avid baker who recently included this aspect into her illustrations. She has been enjoying art and baking since she took a painting class with her mother and started baking with her grandmother at the young age of 4 years old.

She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the McNay Art Institute in 1993 and worked as a professional illustrator and graphic designer. In 2011, Akiko became the Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators Southwest Texas Region.

Akiko recently won the 2014 Tomie dePaola award through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This first cakelustration was composed of a fondant and (of course) cake. Her recent picture book project is a poem by Eugene Fields about a Fly Away Horse. All her illustrations will be done with cake as my medium. Akiko is represented by Rising Bear Literary.

At the present, Akiko is enjoying life on the farm in the Texas hill country and gathers inspiration from her past, her children and the many animals on the farm.Profile%20for%20LA14%20portfolio

I am pleased she took the time from illustrating to answer a few simple questions for my blog friends.

ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.

AKIKO: I’m a pretty good roller skater.

ME: I wondered, four-wheels or blades. I’m a four-wheeler myself.

ME: Do you have a nickname?

AKIKO: Aki. That is the name my friends called me growing up and it is the name that most of my family calls me. When I was in kindergarten, the children couldn’t pronounce Akiko, so they started calling me Aki.

ME: I think you have such a cool, original name.

ME: What is your greatest accomplishment?

AKIKO: Personally- having three healthy children and a happy marriage. Career- Winning the Tomie dePaola this past year.

ME: Life is good.

ME: What motivates you in your illustrating career?

AKIKO: Books, stories, movies and art. I get inspired from my peers too! That’s what I love about this career. We are all there to cheer each other on.

ME: What book character would you be and why?

AKIKO: I would like to be Stillwater in the book Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I could sit around telling deep stories, paint pictures and eat cake all day long!

ME: Sounds like a perfect life.

I want to thank Akiko for our Tiny Talk and sharing some intimate details about herself. I wish her much success in her “cakelustrations.” I hope to see you again soon, Aki, my friend.

Aragorn

Aragorn goes up to the counter, looks quizzically at the menu, and then turns around and takes a seat in the corner. He pulls up his hood and stares intently at the group of rowdy, short men sitting at a table near the counter. Everyone in the shop grows increasingly uncomfortable, especially when they notice the plethora of knives and swords that he has hidden (rather poorly) under his cloak. ~Literary Starbucks

Tiny Talk Tuesday With Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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When you visit any of Debbie’s social media pages you get a strong glimpse of her bubbling personality. Those big dimpled smiles are for real. I met this energetic bundle at a Los Angeles conference. I introduced myself, and she was exactly what I imagined. We chatted about her baby Sea Monkeys. I was impressed with their growth. She took top-notch care of those little floaters. But what Debbie is really known for are those adorable inked illustrations.

She’s a Japanese-Canadian children’s book writer & illustrator living in Toronto with her husband Jeff. She’s the founder of Inkspot and Inklings, one of the very first online writing communities and electronic newsletters for writers. Debbie ended up selling to a U.S. company, so she could focus on doing more creating and less administration/managing.

Debbie illustrated I’M BORED and NAKED!, two picture books written by Michael Ian Black, as well as some Judy Blume chapter books and middle grade titles. Debbie’s first solo book, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? comes out from S&S Books For Young Readers in May 2015. You can find her on Twitter at @inkyelbows and at DebbieOhi.com.

As you can see she is soaring in her writing and illustrating career. Now to learn a little bit more on Debbie.

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ME: How do you want to be remembered?

Debbie: With laughter.

ME: You easily got that covered. You’re a bundle of smiles.

ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve…

DEBBIE: A perfect day would involve reading an entire book for pleasure in a comfy chair, an afternoon nap and a two-player evening board game with my husband in front of the fireplace.

ME: Now all you need is a little snow to fall outside the window.

ME: What book character would you be and why?

DEBBIE: Douglas Spaulding from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, so I could see Green Town, Illinois through his eyes.

ME: Love his stuff.

ME:  What motivates your illustrations?

DEBBIE: Depends on the day and my mood, plus whether the illustration is for a book project. So motivation can range anywhere from joy, sadness, discovery, experimentation, an occasion and deadlines. But these are just a few reasons. Mostly I draw because I can’t help myself.

Me: I can relate.

ME: If you could have lunch with a famous artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

DEBBIE: Dead artist: Edward Gorey, because I’m such a huge fan of his work and am so curious about what he’d be like in person.

Living artist: Dan Santat. Same reasons as above but also because I love his social media posts, which are fascinating and funny and insightful. I’ve chatted with Dan online but haven’t had much chance to hang out in person yet.

Thank you so much Debbie for being part of my blog. It was a pleasure getting to know you, and I wish you many more successes. I look forward to our next meeting.

DICKENS

Dickens goes up to the counter and orders a cup of tea. He quickly finishes it and asks for more. He can’t afford to pay for the refill. The barista drags him out into the street and sends him to the poorhouse, where he pines away for his lost love, who is married to another man. He works his fingers to the bone in a factory, eventually rising to the upper echelons of society. Ten years later, he walks into the same Starbucks and orders a cup of tea. When he asks for a refill, the barista gives it to him free of charge. He pays for it anyway.

~Literary Starbucks