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Welcome to DULEMBA.COM!
     Here's where you'll find my Coloring Page Tuesdays, contributions to Illustration Friday, Blog Book Tours (interviews with authors and illustrators), movie and book reviews, marketing and illustration tips under Method, Events and Big News (mine and the industry's), and general things I just find interesting. Enjoy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Draft Blues

There's a fantastic post at Heather Vogel Frederick's blog "Set Sail for Adventure" called First Draft Blues. Several authors gave their quick summation. For instance:
“Writing a first daft is like driving through a howling snowstorm. Your headlights pick out only a few feet of the snowy tunnel ahead of you. If you go slow, don’t stop, and keep just a bit of the edge of the road in sight, you might make it without slipping off into a ditch or crashing into something large right in front of you.” — Shutta Crum

There are tons more and they're all golden so go to the blog to read more.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reading Rainbow at its End

'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter - from NPR. I hate to see it go. And it leaves the question, what will take its place? After all, literacy training isn't just about teaching children how to read, it's about teaching children to enjoy reading. How can we best do that?


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Local Color - the Movie


Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Memoriam: Liz Conrad

I lost my dear friend, Liz Conrad, to cancer Wednesday morning. It was a shock to everyone. She’d been dealing with the cancer for a while, but everything was going so well - she never even lost her hair. Tests proved the cancer had been destroyed where it was first detected. Unfortunately, two weeks ago the doctors found out that it had moved. They planned an aggressive attack, but the cancer was faster. So very fast.
     We spent the most marvelous day together just a few weeks back. We went to Little Five Points, had lunch and meandered through all the shops. She helped me pick out the blue flapper dress that I wore in Los Angeles. I’m so glad we had that day. It was the epitome of everything I loved about spending time with Liz.
     We met years ago at an SCBWI Southern Breeze conference and ogled over each other’s work and our (at the time) mostly pre-published status. From then on, we attended and roomed at conferences together, had dozens of wonderful lunches and when I became Illustrator Coordinator for our region, Liz was my right arm (and creative cohort). She and Vicky Alvear Shecter are/were my posse. After so many lunches we started sharing our work with each other and became an impromptu critique group, based on friendship and extreme mutual respect.

     Liz was always the most positive person I have ever known. Her artwork was filled with such joy. You can see some of it here and here and here. I went to her for smiles and clear thinking. Next to my husband, she was one of those rare people whose moral compass points true north. Absolutely and perfectly.
     I had hoped we would grow old together. I had visions of us at the family cabin, grey beyond reason, and going over our latest manuscripts together. I’ve missed her so terribly in these two weeks as she declined, I know I will miss her forever. It’s hard to get my head around the fact that she won’t be here. The world needs more people like Liz in it, not less. I am heart broken.
     I’ll post funeral arrangements here as soon as I know them. Meanwhile, do something nice for somebody today and smile even if you don’t feel like it. That’s what Liz would do.

Update (Monday, August 31st): Liz's family is following your lovely condolences posted here - so please feel free to reach out to them as well - her husband Rick, and daughters Lauren and Caitlin. (And her dogs Gus and Dillon and Max the cat.) I've spoken with the family and Caitlin's wedding is still planned for September. Liz was cremated and they will have a Celebration of Life ceremony for her towards the end of October - I will post details as I hear.

Update (Wednesday, September 16th, 2009): I've spoken with Liz's husband, Rick, and the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Liz will take place:
     Saturday, October 24th from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm-ish (est)
     at the clubhouse in Rivermoore Park (their neighborhood)
     in Suwanee, Georgia
     4720 Meadow Park Lane, Suwanee, Georgia 30024.

Directions: Peachtree Industrial Blvd. north from 285 (runs parallel to 85), left at Moore Road (north of 120), left at 3rd left - Meadow Park Drive, striaght to round-about (large Dovecote in the middle) and follow around to Meadow Park Lane.

At Southern Breeze, (our regional chapter of the SCBWI) we've also established a Liz Conrad Portfolio Critique Scholarship Fund in her honor. Click her image for details. Or, if you would like to make a donation (thanks so much to those who have donated already), send a check made out to Southern Breeze to:
     Southern Breeze
     PO Box 26282
     Birmingham, AL 35260

     The money collected will be used to award two free Portfolio Critiques at each Southern Breeze conference annually for budding illustrators in our Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi region. As Liz's daughter, Caitlin, said,
"Mom used the critiques to enhance her art and strengthen her confidence. Later, down the line, she was asked to actually do critiques for others...she was ecstatic! I just know how much it did for her and hope that it could help another aspiring writer/illustrator in the same way..."
     We feel this is a way our wonderfully supportive community of children's book writers and illustrators can honor our friend best.

     You can also send donations in Liz's honor to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society.

     Along with this blog post, Liz's good friend (and Rick's cousin) from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Julie Metsker, has set up a Memorial Page for Liz at http://www.memorial2u.com/LizConrad/id/104.
     I'm collecting photos for a moving picture frame to be part of a memorial at our next Southern Breeze conference and to include on this memorial page. So please send your photos to me at elizabeth at dulemba dot com or upload them to the gallery below. (For those of you in the midwest you can also send photos to Julie at jmetsker at iserv dot net.) If your photos are large, please send them through yousendit.com.
     Again, thanks so much. It's no wonder Liz was surrounded by such kind and generous friends as proven by all your wonderful comments - light attracts light.

Update - October 25, 2009: Many people expressed interest in having their own copy of the collected comments from this memorial blog post and the Memorial Page. (Two copies were floating around during the Celebration of Life Ceremony.) I've made the collection available through Lulu.com - click the cover.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

PHOTO GALLERY: I've started a photo gallery and you should be able to upload your own photos to it at: http://gallery.me.com/elizabethdulemba#100050

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SOAP, SOAP, SOAP arrives and a giveaway!

Look what my very favorite man brought me! (That would be the UPS man of course - ha!) These are my creator copies of SOAP, SOAP, SOAP!! I received 30 of the bilingual hardcover, all-English hardcover, and bilingual paperback!
     It seems like a lot, but I'll run through them quickly. Family and writing buddies and giveaway winners... But for now, I get to enjoy this enormous pile of SOAPy wonderfulness!!! Mmmm, I can still smell the ink...
     Want to win a signed copy?? Go check out my book trailer (yup, that means you have to visit my blog and scroll down) and leave a message THERE. Your name will go into a hat for a drawing on the official release date, September 25th. If I draw your name (don't sign anonomously!), I'll ask you which version you would like (bilingual or all-English) and what happens at the very end of the book trailer - so go check it out: http://dulemba.com/blogger.html!!!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coloring Page Tuesday - Birdsong

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     I write poetry, but I'm no expert. I just know know when a poem sounds good to me. Kind of like birdsong - a good poem makes your soul sing.
     Do you have a favorite poem? Which poem is like birdsong for you? (Feel free to write one and share in the comments!)
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more Back to School themed coloring pages.

     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.


Monday, August 24, 2009

A Schmoozy Good Day in Decatur

Sunday was a happenin' day in Decatur, Georgia. At 3:00 Sherri Dillard hosted an SCBWI Southern Breeze Schmooze at Little Shop of Stories. A good crowd showed up of budding and established children's book writers and illustrators, and we settled in for a great program.
     Shelli Johannes Wells of Market My Words spoke first about social networking for authors. With her marketing expertise we all learned bunches, including me - thanks Shelli!
     Then Nathaniel Lachenmeyer spoke about his method of writing picture books. Nathaniel has several books out (I interviewed him about THE ORIGAMI MASTER in July), five more under contract and even more about to be, so I was especially interested to hear him speak. His method is quite different from anybody else's and almost completely counter to the reported "rules" so it was an enlightening talk.
     Afterwards, Shelli, Sherri, Nathaniel and I grabbed some dinner at Leon's Full Service (awesome) and talked more on the subjects. Great time!
     We returned to Little Shop at 7:00 to help friends Jennifer Jabaley and Ginger Rue celebrate the release of their new books LIPSTICK APOLOGY and BRAND NEW EMILY (respectively). Remember I interviewed Jennifer a few weeks ago?
     They did a back and forth Q&A format which I thought worked especially well and it was wonderful to help share in their debut glow! Woosie. Here we are, Me Ginger, Shelli, and Jennifer:

     If you get the chance to attend some of these smaller gatherings, it can be a wonderfully intimate, educational and fun thing to do. Most of all, I love how supportive our children's book writing community is. Not only do we have some great talent, but we have some great friends.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing Advice from Philip Pullman

Fantastic writing advice from Philip Pullman - the master.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Birth of an Idea

Authors are always asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" Well, did you listen to my last post, "Crazy Idea #3?" That's it. That's where ideas come from - that's how they're formed. (And of course, they don't all come from my ink-eating printer, but you get the idea.)
     Because you know what? I haven't been able to get that little Octopus out of my head. Nope. Today while walking with my dog, that little Octopus informed me his name is "Ohi." And yup - he's afraid of everything - pointy coral reefs, slippery schools of fish, but most especially, he's afraid of the dark. Which is inconvenient considering he creates the very thing he fears the most whenever he squirts ink!
     And maybe Ohi has a friend... What would be the most unlikely type of sidekick - horrible and wonderful all at the same time? How about an Angler fish? They are very, very scary... but they create light. So what if this very, very scary angler fish was named Annabelle? And what if she was also afraid of the very thing she created - light?
     So, we have two characters. They are as different as can be, but with a lot in common on a deep, philosophical level. Somehow, they will have an adventure and help each other out. But how, what's their story? This is my job. I must figure it out. Can I do it?
     I hope so, because Ohi and Annabelle have something to say...

Read more about developing ideas: The Life Cycle of an Idea: From Concept to Reality - Thanks to Anastasia Suen for the link!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Illustration Friday - Caution

Hugo is very cautious on his way home - he doesn't want to get into any more trouble.
     I'm not able to post to Illustration Friday as often these days, but this week's topic was an easy fit. This art is from my forthcoming picture book, my first as both illustrator and author, Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón (September 25th!). Check out the book trailer I made for SOAP just the other day!


Crazy Idea #3 - Inky Idea

(Pardon the squeals.)

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Acquisition Process

Yet another fabulous article by Harold Underdown on the inner workings of the publishing world. Click to read "The Acquisition Process". The article originally appeared in the 2010 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market which is chocked full of good information like this. Every writer should have a copy.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Trailer for SOAP, SOAP, SOAP!

I've finally done it - I've created a book trailer for my first picture book as both illustrator AND author, SOAP, SOAP, SOAP ~ JABON, JABON, JABON! This is my first attempt so I'd love some feedback. Does the music work for you? How is the color? Does it make you want to rush out and buy the book!?

Speaking of which - SOAP will be officially released on September 25th and I am busy putting together promotions to get the word out! I'll have a Blog Book Tour, and am reaching out to librarians, reviewers, and bookstores. (Something new: I can send reviewers and book buyers an e-galley if you like!) I'm also thinking of other media like radio, tv, etc. Do you have any contacts you wouldn't mind sharing? Oh - and feel free to forward this link, link to the book trailer, and/or embed it in your own sites if you like. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer in getting the word out about my first picture book as both author and illustrator! Woohoo!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coloring Page Tuesday - Studying Mouse

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     So I guess most kids are back in the thick of school now, yes? Studying away, filling their brains with good and valuable information? Mice do it too (we just rarely see them doing it).
     Look familiar? You may have seen this little guy in the recent SCBWI Bulletin.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more Back to School themed coloring pages.

     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book (with lots of mice in it), The Prince's Diary, click the cover.


Monday, August 17, 2009


I want on of these fabulous treehouses for my office!!! I can't read about them (the site is in a language I don't understand), but I sure can enjoy the great pictures!
Thanks to Sharon Creech for the heads up!


Sunday, August 16, 2009


This is our cat, Boots - or Bootsie or Bootsie-ootsie as she is often called. She has this thing about getting under the covers lately and couldn't resist the unmade bed - ha! Had to take a pic.


Saturday, August 15, 2009


What an interesting idea. Ripple is in process of creating a website where a visitor can choose a book, record themselves reading it, and send it to somebody. Like say, a soldier overseas or a parent away on a business trip. Rights sound a bit tricky, but it also sounds like they're getting some good support from the publishing world. Read more about it at PW: Ripple Connects Families with Recorded Children's Books.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Returns, etc.

As a book creator and volunteer in my local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, I try my best to support my local independent children's book store, Little Shop of Stories. But some of the inner workings of a book store are a mystery to me, especially book returns, which can make it difficult to understand how to best to help my friends when dealing with festivals, school visits, etc.

Well, Josie Leavitt of The Flying Pig Bookstore wrote a great article on her syndicated PW blog called To Return, or Not to Return, in which she breaks down the process and the cost of returns. It's considerable and I'm so glad to know about this essential part of running a bookstore!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SCBWI-LA 2009!!

OMG - Where to begin? How do I describe an experience as intense and creative and communal and inspiring as the SCBWI National Summer Conference? It's hard to do, but I'll give it a shot.
     The trip out was uneventful, which is exactly what you hope for when being shuttled like cattle through our national transit system. The taxi ride to the hotel proved I wasn't in Georgia anymore... the trees turned to palms and the greens turned to browns. The hotel is luxurious and a prime location for star-spotting (and tv shoots as we discovered on Sunday - they filmed "Lie to Me" on the lenai).
     I was honored to be one of two recipients of this year's Volunteer Scholarships. Much to my surprise, my Southern Breeze RA's (Regional Advisors) nominated me for the honor, and even more surprising, I was selected for my volunteer activities as our region's new Illustrators' Coordinator. The only caveat was the two selectees needed to share a room. Allyson Valentine Schrier and I got along just fine...

Allyson is awesome in the 'I wish she lived closer so we could hang out' sense. But no, she hails from Washington State where she has some great friends who were also in attendance. Together, during the Blue Moon Ball, they took it literally...

Photo from the SCBWI blog - check it out!
     The party was already in full swing when I arrived - the hotel lobby was the meeting place throughout the weekend, and an easy place to find friends:

     This image was taken by David Diaz (I think) and posted to Margaret O'Hair's facebook pics. (David was in the next shot - anybody have it?)
     It was also where writers, illustrators, bloggers and tweeters gathered to put faces with names and catch up with the faces we already knew.
     Thursday I had dinner with the publisher of my very first book, The Prince's Diary, Renee Ting of Shen's Books. She was just as charming as I knew she'd be and it was wonderful to finally meet face-to-face. Of course, I was still operating on East coast time, so ran out of steam pretty fast.

     A coma later, and on Friday the conference began! Everybody saves seats for their friends in the initial rush into the large ballroom and it becomes almost assigned seating for the rest of the conference - or at least the general area you know you'll be able to find people. (After four days, there were still people I had hoped to talk with who I never even saw!) So festivities kicked off with a keynote by Sherman Alexie. I've heard him talk before, but he is truly powerful as he shares the story behind The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He was followed by one of my reasons for being in this business, David Wiesner. So, with that modest kick-off (ha!) we headed to our break out sessions. How to decide!? I ended up in Frank Portman's "Cultivating Your Teen Voice." I interviewed Frank a while back for my SCBWI article Blog Book Tours and he was just as nice in person. Played his guitar too - what a treat! (He's a professional musician first, leader of the pop punk group the Mr. T Experience.) I had lunch with Susan Simon, Co-Illustration Representative for Arizona.
Then headed to an editor panel on "Distilling the Secrets of a Successful Book." I had to miss out on the next round of sessions as I was having my Video Shoot! Woozie. Yup. Lights, Camera, ACTION! Very bizarre. I'll share the link as soon as I can. Betty Birney spoke next about serial fiction, and then we headed to the Book Sale/ Wine and Cheese Party where I remembered I hadn't taken any pictures yet!! So...here I am with...
Edna Cabcabin Moran (Fab author/illustrator and hula dancer!)

Holly Black (such a nice person!)

Hope Anita Smith (I was with her to celebrate her Coretta Scott King honor last year - what an...Honor!!) Luv her!

Jay Asher (Got to hang with Jay at the Alabama Book Festival - great guy!)

Jessica Lee Anderson (Look for her new book, Border Crossing, coming this Fall!)

Tracy Barrett (She's got some cool stuff coming too - stay tuned!)

Cheri Williams, Margaret O'Hair, me with my eyes closed (at least everybody else looks good), and Susan

and me with Gregory Pincus - being serious and silly. Greg is the master behind our twitter chat #kidlitchat, has a new blog called The Happy Accident and is an all around great guy!

     I joined Holly Black for dinner and we were soon joined by Lee Wind and his critique group as they tried to figure out some key plot points of his wip. Fun! (Lee is an awesome guy if you don't know it yet.)
     Then I ran off to our Illustrators' Social, which was more formal than I expected, but lots of fun. Had to give a quick bit of advice as an Illustrators' Coordinator too! (Note to self - limit public speaking after two glasses of wine. Hm.) Caught up with some friends from my PBAA (Picture Book Artists) group too: Mary Peterson and Erin Eitter Kono; and more like Patricia Cantor. Thanks to Prescilla Burris for organizing all us right brainers! More parties in the lobby - twitter group #kidlitchat - and then off to bed.

     Kicked off with a panel with Melinda Long, Eve Bunting, Kadir Nelson and Arthur Levine. I mean, they spare no expense at the National conferences - this was a PANEL for gosh sakes! Anyhow, then Karen Cushman before more breakout sessions. This time I headed for Jenn Bailey's Social Media 101 (yes, I learned a few things!).
The Protrack luncheon was interesting. Sat with Greg while we ate our very expensive turkey sandwiches and listened to Kris Vreeland of Vroman's Bookstore head off with Jon Fine of Amazon (I'm guessing you know the link) and Ed Masessa of Scholastic Book Fairs. Not sure it was worth that much of an investment, but it was a VERY interesting conversation. They all have very different audiences, needs, and approaches to bookselling. Then Ellen Hopkins, and a panel with woosie agents Brenda Bowen (newest agent at MY agency!), Sarah Davies, Stephen Fraser, Dan Lazar, Kelly Sonnack, and Marietta Zacker. This was one of the most entertaining and informative panels. Out of all the breakout session workshops I chose to go to Krista Marino and Anica Rissi's. Anica held up Terra McVoy's PURE as an example of a book she loves - go Terra! Then Wendy Loggia who gave a very honest and enlightening talk on why some wonderful (and some not) manuscripts still don't make it through. Then was THE PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE - my favorite thing. Unlike the 2007 Portfolio Show, this time I made a point of seeing ALL the portfolios and wow do we have some amazing talent around us!

And then there was... drum roll please....
The Blue Moon Ball!
     Yes, I wore a blue flapper dress - yes I did. And I think every woman should own one of these. I felt so... kinetic!!

You can see this picture and more on Lee Wind's blog.
     We danced our tushies off - that's all I'm sayin' - the rest needs to stay in LA!
     Although here's a little peek. Here I am with Katie Anderson and Shelli Johannes Wells. (Sarah Frances Hardy is the background - can you see her?)

And other great costumes...

The contest winner....

     Okay, okay, but in all seriousness...
     Sunday started off with Dan Yaccarino - very charismatic guy, and Holly Black who gave some of the best advice I'd ever heard. It was about dual arcs of plot tying together in one story - illuminating! For this breakout session I went back to Betty Birney. I must say, I was hoping to hear about the difference of writing animations vs. books, but instead got how to break into that business. I know many of the attendees enjoyed that, so maybe there's room for both next year?
The Golden Kite luncheon was amazing as usual. All the awards were given, (Allyson and I had got to stand up as scholarship winners), and Richard Peck gave us all chills as he is wont to do. I sat with some of my MidSouth faves - Genetta Adair and Sharon Cameron who was nominated for a Sue Alexander award! Go Susan! Then back to Frank, just can't get enough - his voice is one of the best I've read. This time he was with his editor, Krista Marino, and agent, Steven Malk. What a fairy tale. Elizabeth Law had us in stitches before we were free to play once more... For dinner, members of Southern Breeze and MidSouth headed for the Santa Monica Pier in what has become a wonderful tradition of chilling out at Bubba Gumps for some good food and a sunset to knock your socks off. (That big shrimp was kinda scary.)

     Nope, not done yet! (Although my rear end was tired of sitting.)
Editor Dinah Stevenson shared her 4 C's: An Editor Suggests Strategies for Hard Times. Then Ingrid Law talked about Writing Magic (I missed that one but can't remember why). Next I went to Sarah Davies, owner of the new Greenhouse Literary Agency. Yes, I already have an agent, but Sarah was so well spoken and I probably learned more about writing from her than anybody else the entire trip. She's incredible! For lunch I met Tracy Grand from Jacketflap. I don't know what you'd call it, but we get together and have these brain storming sessions sometimes - very exciting stuff. After lunch I ran off to see Ari Lewin. Had to. We hang in Vermont and I hadn't seen her all weekend. Her talk was fantastic too - about the editing process. Kathleen Duey spoke next and gave us all great advice on how to stay in touch once we got home. Great lady, that Kathleen. The book signing party followed - I bought two books (no more room in my suitcase): Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins; and Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo written by Ayun Hallaiday and illustrated by the awesome Dan Santat.
     And that was it. The faculty headed off for their party at Lin Oliver's and the lobby grew incredibly quiet after that. But I wanted to chill and luckily I was able to catch up with some illustrators I hadn't had a chance to yet: Natalia (send me your last name and link!); Mark Selander, Jeff James; and Stephanie Ruble (oh, and Greg again!). Monday I bunked with Hester Bass (be looking for The Secret World of Walter Anderson in a few weeks). I'm sure I hung out and talked with a million more people - I remember such great conversations and warm smiles. Love you all - truly!
And Tuesday I returned to the cattle sorter to head home...

     I can't believe I didn't get a picture of me with all my Southern Breeze RA's - but here I am with Heather Montgomery and Donna Bowman. Jo Kittinger is not in this shot.

And here they are saying their "word" onstage:

     I can't thank my RA's enough for nominating me for this scholarship. But more than that, I can't thank them enough for all the tireless work they do as volunteers to make our region so incredibly vibrant and fun to be a part of. Thanks also to all the staff of SCBWI for such a fantastic conference and to Stephen Mooser and Lin Oliver especially for their generous gift to attend. (Aaron Hartzler - I wanna be a beta tester!) Big fuzzy hugs to all of you.
Didn't get enough info? Head to the SCBWI Conference Blog for even more details! Team Blogger did a great job of covering every facet of this year's conference!

Oh, and be looking for my first picture book as both author and illustrator in a few weeks: Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón!


Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coloring Page Tuesday - Giraffe

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     Are you ready to go back to school? Stick your neck out and have a GREAT year!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more Back to School themed coloring pages.

     Make learning Spanish a priority this year in Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.


Monday, August 10, 2009

LIPSTICK APOLOGY by Jennifer Jabaley

I recently finished the fantastic debut novel by Jennifer Jabaley - LIPSTICK APOLOGY. Think Gossip Girl but through the eyes of a believable, likable, not overly mature teen. I laughed out loud (and cried) in several places - truly enjoyed it. This is one of those books you will finish with a satisfied 'that was awesome!'
     Today, I talk with Jennifer about her new book which comes out THIS WEEK!

Q. I think most people will be surprised to hear that you are actually DR. Jabaley - an Optometrist. How did your interests turn to writing?

A. I am an eye doctor - and so many people find it interesting when they learn that I have written a novel. It's true that people in the medical field tend to be very left brained, but I've always been split down the middle - part logical and analytical, but equally creative and (as my husband says) melodramatic.. As soon as I graduated from optometry school I really began nuturing my creative side. I took a lot of painting classes and tried different craft projects, but the thing I wanted to do most was write. It scared me, to be honest, this desire to write a novel because I felt so ill prepared. But I just thought, hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And the whole experience has been wonderful. My optometry career gives me stability and precision and socialization, but the writing lets me be fun and creative and full of emotion. It completely balances me. Of course time management is an issue. . . :)

Q. Can you share your journey to publication?

A. I toyed around with the idea of writing for quite awhile before I actually committed to it. When I stumbled across the idea for LIPSTICK APOLOGY I finally made the resolve to complete a manuscript. From start to finish it took me about a year. It was the fall of 2007 when I felt my manuscript was ready to submit for agent representation. When researching literary agents my methodical side kicked in. I pulled books off my shelves that I loved or that I felt were similar in tone to my manuscript. I searched the acknowledgement section to see if the author thanked their agent. Most often they did. Then I checked to make sure that agent represented young adult and if they did I sent out a query letter mentioning which book it was that they represented that I loved. I think this method worked very well because it narrowed my target search. I was prepared to wait, but within days I had several requests for manuscripts. Then, I had several rejections, but also several of the agents gave lengthy revision notes and wanted to see the manuscript back. So over the winter I revised then resubmitted to some of the same agents and a few new agents. In March I received a call from Tricia Davey of Sanford J. Greenburger with an offer of representation. Within a month we had the manuscript out to nine publishing houses and in May I received an offer from Lexa Hillyer at Razorbill. I feel so fortunate that my journey to publication was pretty smooth.. From the time I submitted to agents to the time LIPSTICK APOLOGY hits bookshelves is 21 months - and that, for the publishing world, is pretty fast.

Q. What was the inspiration for Lipstick Apology?

A. My sister inspired this story. Several years ago she and her husband took their first trip without their children and she was a nervous wreck. Being that I'm their designated legal guardian in the event of an untimely death, and being that at the time of her trip I was single with no children of my own, I think she was beginning to panic, thinking I would have no clue what to do with her two sons. The night before her flight she kept calling giving me updates in the event of a plane crash. She told me where the safety deposit box was, where the will was, where the spare key, the car key, the kids baseball uniforms, her son's special toy - it was getting comical. After the seventh or eight call I turned to my husband (boyfriend at the time) and said, "The plane would be going down and she would whip out her lipstick and start outlining the boys bedtime routine on a tray table." And my husband said, "That would be a great book." So I wrote down "lipstick on a tray table" on a post it note and stashed it away. Three years later when we were moving I came across that note and the inspiration was born.

Q. In Lipstick Apology you describe New York like a native and yet I know you call the North Georgia Mountains home. What's the connection and how did you get it so right? (This coming from a non-New Yorker.)

A. Thank you for that - I've never lived in New York and worried the setting would not come off as authentic. I grew up in New Jersey about an hour from Manhattan and I would spend summer vacation with my Nana who lived in Queens. She would take us into the city often. But when I originally wrote LIPSTICK APOLOGY I had the story set on the Upper East Side - the area I was most familiar with. After Razorbill acquired the manuscript they requested I change to a different location in Manhattan because Gossip Girls was set on the UES and they were afraid it would be too similar. My editor suggested the West Village. I had no experience with the West Village so I was worried. My mother works in lower Manhattan, so she did some research for me - sent me the subway schedules, sent the Village Voice, and I did a lot of research online. I submitted my final revisions to my editor in October then that December I flew home for the holidays. I went into the city and walked all the streets I wrote about and stopped at all the places featured in the book and felt like I had such intimacy with each place after so much research.

Q. You did such a wonderful job of creating characters I absolutely fell in love with - I wanted to hang out with all of them! Okay, well, most of them. Some of them were pretty snarky too. But that Anthony - what a hottie! Is he inspired by anybody you know? And his family's bakery - does it actually exist somewhere? (Because I really want to try those croissants.)

A. Originally I think Anthony was inspired by my brother in law because he is Italian and grew up working in a deli. But as I wrote him, Anthony just sort of morphed into his own, sweet character. Most of the places in the book are real, but Anthony's family bakery is made up.

Q. You created such believable characters. Emily seemed spot on for her age - not the over-mature teen we sometimes hit in Urban YA. So many of your characters were just plain good people at heart - truly. Did you have an idea of what you wanted to achieve with them when you were writing?

A. Oh thank you. You know, sometimes I watch T.V. or movies now and the teenagers seem so...mature to me. When I was sixteen I was still so impressionable and naive and unsophisticated. Life at sixteen was about wanting good friends, wanting to fit in, wanting a boyfriend, wanting your family to be normal and not embarrass you. When I first started writing this story I really paid attention to the teenagers I saw as patients at work. And the thing was, they may dress more sophisticated and wear more make up and carry fancy cell phones, but deep down when you talk to them - those simple basic wants are still all there.

Q. I have to say, when I turned the last page, I was so happy for where Emily ended up in her life. And I was convinced she would eventually meet some of the other pivotal characters. But I was sorry to have to say good-bye for now. Any chance of a sequel? And if not, what's coming next?

A. Hmm, not sure. I've talked to my editor about not necessarily a sequel, but a maybe a spin off. But we're still just talking. Right now I'm at work on my second book - I'm branching into adult fiction - writing a story about a college age girl who has a quarter life crisis. It's been really fun.

Q. Jennifer, it was hard to believe this was your first novel. You sucked me in with skill and humor and I look forward to more of your work in the future!

A. Thank you so much, E! I appreciate all your kind words and support! Thanks for the opportunity to have this chat! Jen


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

OMG - I just don't even KNOW how they did this! I mean I do, but WOW!!!!

Click the YouTube logo to see it larger.
Thanks to Ian Sands for sharing!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sara Zarr on being a Star

Book Trailers and author interviews have become all the rage in the children's book marketing world. I've signed up to have one made while I'm in LA (a Pro-Track author bonus). So, my mind is on how to be an entertaining subject - ha!

Sara Zarr recently went through this and filmed some of the behind the camera glamour. Have a looksie:

Sara's video isn't live yet, but you can see others like it at LB-Teens.


Friday, August 7, 2009

14 Cows for America

14 COWS FOR AMERICA, written by Carmen Agra Deedy, collaborated on with Kimeli Naiyomah, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. I have to say, I am very excited about this book.
     I haven't seen it yet, but Carmen has proven time and again that she can pick out the best stories like diamonds in a rain storm. And since my husband and I spent our honeymoon (old pics on an old website) in Kenya and got to know some of the Masai people first-hand, I can attest to their warm hearts and generous natures. Their kindness after our disaster doesn't surprise me and after seeing a few of the images in this book trailer, I think this book is going to feel like a warm hug from those remarkable people.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm off to Los Angeles! - tweet tweet!

Today I leave for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference. Ever wonder what a national writing conference is like? You can follow along on
twitter at http://twitter.com/dulemba or follow the hashtag #scbwi09.

Of course, I'll do a big wrap-up on my blog upon my return too. And in the mean time, I have some fun posts set to go live while I'm gone. So stay tuned!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Amanda Project

First there was The 39 Clues - an interactive mystery series for mid-grade readers pulling reading into the next generation with online activities (Read, Collect the Cards, Play the Game, Win the Prizes). Now we have The Amanda Project written by Melissa Kantor, for the young adult set.

I haven't heard any feedback from Scholastic on the public's reaction to 39 Clues yet, but I'm curious. It's been interesting following this next evolution of what a book IS. And here are the first best guesses. I just finished reading The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones (Book #1) and it was fun - kind of like a Da Vinci Code for kids. So, now we'll see how the teens react to this new kind of "book" as well.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coloring Page Tuesday - School Lunchbox

Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Hard to believe, but summer is near it's end. Out come the books, the backpacks and the lunch boxes...
     What is your favorite thing to find in your lunch box? And what would you least like to see?
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more Back to School themed coloring pages.

Learn some tricks to get the kiddies off to school a bit more smoothly in... Ready for Bed! , Ready for the Day!, and Ready to Play! - click the covers!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Cloud by Pixar

Thanks to Jay Montgomery for turning me onto one of Pixar's latest bits of magic. Awwwww!!!

Cloud - Funny bloopers R us
Go here to see a larger version.
(Sorry for the ads - this seems to be a sneaky new way advertisers are trying to reach us...)


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jerry Pinkney and my computer

Lovely interview with Jerry Pinkney at Publishers Weekly. I can't wait to see his latest book, THE LION AND THE MOUSE.

On another note - hubbie has been getting my new computer all set up for me over the last few days. When he's finished I'll be running faster and better than ever. For the geeks among us, he got me an 8 core Nehalem tower (Mac) with a 1 TB second hard drive and the CS4 Design Premium package, which means the latest Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, etc. I'm going to explore the new brushes available in Photoshop before we upgrade my Painter program. Very exciting! :)

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters

Some friends and I had lunch yesterday and I was telling them about this great book trailer for the new SENSE & SENSIBILITY & SEAMONSTERS - the second in the Jane Austen *ahem* adaptations by Quirk Books coming out this September. This one follows PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES. Jane Austen never imagined Victorian society like this! Warning: a bit scary and gross... watch at your own risk. Although I'm thinking they had a lot of fun making this...
See how long you can make it through your day without exclaiming (in your best English accent), "Oh, Mr. Whiloughby!"


All Artwork © Elizabeth O. Dulemba,  - Y'all play nice, okay?