In Miami I packed away my down coat, traded bare oak branches for the tick, tick, tick of palm fronds, slipped on sandals and spoke to the entire school one day, then each individual grades in the remaining two days. We started the SPIKE FRIEND’S workshop, where students learn to write from a dog’s perspective in order to practice characterization through development of “voice.” I am just developing this workshop and I cannot wait to see/read/hear their results. I will report back when I’ve heard from them. Recent Minnesota tests have been marvelous: students love their selected dogs so much that they can make the jump into their invented characters.
I test-read my books throughout the process of creating each picture book but this is the FIRST time I have ever had someone ELSE test-read the book…The book is very nearly done, with only a one-off proof of SPIKE, Ugliest Dog in the Universe, and the marvelous librarian, Julie Reimer *, read it while I sat back and watched! I learned so much that I made THREE changes at this late, late stage and will never publish without this step again.
* See Julie’s Library blog at:
On my new website we are building a print store where signed pictures from On the Day You Were Born can be ordered. Steve Palmquist, my web genius, is helping me to learn the zillion details of how to set this up. Being an author now takes so much more than the “old days” when On the Day You Were Born was published (1991). I have been scouring the internet for packaging, slip casing, postage pricing, photographing and preparing text.
1. Studio on Land: In June I moved to a new studio in St. Paul, MN, cleaned, scraped, painted, and had a brand new linoleum tile floor installed. I am upstairs, with a row of southern windows and a giant new maple table I found on Craig’s List. It is the proverbial new start.
2. Cyber Studio: In December 2012 my web genius, Steve Palmquist, (www.windingoak.com) and I opened this Studio-in-Space, a new website with more playing room for me. Designing and building a website is a lot like moving into a new studio on earth: scraping and cleaning and painting and new floors. Welcome!
3. Studio of the Heart: A new journal, gorgeously and frighteningly blank, lays on the new maple table, a tiny boat to steer through the confusion of being a book artist just now. Untie the rope! Push off! Time to start trusting the clues that will glimmer at the dark edge of what I know. A dialogue will unfold inside this journal, a conversation between my attention and the world.