Coming Up: LA Times Festival of Books, and NYT Bestseller List

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Hey all! So in my earlier post this week, gushing over fan art by Mary Lundquist, I made a joke about selling 1 billion books. To be clear – that was very much a joke! BUT, since writing that post I found out that I made the April 28th New York Times Bestseller List for Children’s Picturebooks!!! Understandably, that new fact has turned my previous joke into something of a confusion for my family and friends. I promise I will be the first to let you know when 1 billion Miss Maple’s Seeds exist in the world! Not quite, yet.

I can’t wait to share the NYT Bestseller’s List with you when it comes out on 4/28!  

In other news, I will be at the LA Times Festival of Books this Sunday, 4/21! I’ll be signing books in the Penguin Books booth (#720) from 1:00-1:45 pm. If you’re there, please do stop by to say hi!

Miss Maple Fan Art by Mary Lundquist!

So, I’m going to be rich. Not because 1 billion copies of Miss Maple’s Seeds have sold, but because I am the proud owner of an original Mary Lundquist illustration! And she’s going to be big time. So, I’m going to be rich. Mary came to my book launch party on April 7th, and brought this adorable fan art:

Art by Mary Lundquist www.marylundquist.com

 

It kills me! That’s me, and I’m sitting on an acorn, drawing, in a tree studio!! I LOVE it.

Mary and I met at last year’s SCBWI LA conference, and her portfolio was incredible. I was super excited when she won a Portfolio award, and even more excited when I heard she got representation with agent superstar Steven Malk, and now has multiple book projects in the works. As you can see, she deserves it.
I was so touched that she made the trip out for my book party, and created this super sweet illustration for me. Thank you Mary!

Check her art out: www.marylundquist.com

The Next Big Thing: A Global Book Tour

When it rains it pours! On top of a book launch, taxes due, and project deadlines, I’ve added some major website technical issues to the list. Pardon the mess around here! Because of this, I’m a little late in posting for this blog tour, but if you don’t tell then I won’t either.

THE NEXT BIG THING: A Global Blog Tour

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Illustration friend and SCBWI mentee Christina Forshay recently tagged me for participation in a global blog tour called The Next Big Thing. The idea originated in Australia and is basically a cool way for authors and/or illustrators to promote their next or latest book.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Miss Maple’s Seeds, just out April 4, 2013 from Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Books.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The book merges a couple inspirations: a) when I was younger I was obsessed with drawing tiny people living in trees.  b) my grandmas and mom all have green thumbs, and though I don’t have the ability to garden now, I would love to follow in their footsteps and become a gardener one day  c) I was inspired for my character when I first saw fellow illustrator Diane Browning, and drew a little sketch in my notebook of “the acorn woman”, who eventually became Miss Maple.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Picturebook.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
movie rendition?
I would love to see this animated with claymation, and hmm, who would be the voice of Miss Maple? I can’t think of many older actresses at the moment, but someone with a warm crackly voice would be perfect.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A tiny woman collects and cares for orphan seeds, and teaches them all they need to know before sending them out into the wide world.

6) Who is publishing your book?
The lovely and intelligent Nancy Paulsen of Penguin Books!

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote a first solid draft in under a week. I keep wondering if that will ever happen again!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Miss Rumphius, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See answer for #2.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The story balances a fun, fictional story with a little bit of education about seeds (types of seeds, what they need to grow, how they travel) hidden inside. Kids love these little micro worlds; parents and teachers will relate to Miss Maple as a caretaker who has to eventually let her seeds set out on their own into the world.

Thank you, Christina Forshay, for incuding me in this fun blog tour!

I pass the torch on to a literary sibling (we share an agent), a talented and super nice guy, Mike Boldt! Mike has a hilarious new book coming out this year called “123 Verses ABC”.  Look for his post next week.

Book Party for Miss Maple’s Seeds!

I’m having a  book launch party for Miss Maple’s Seeds! Everyone is welcome, and I’d love to see you there!

Sunday April 7th, 5-7 pm
Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles CA 90027

Coming to the party? You can pre-order your book directly from Skylight to ensure there will be enough copies at the store. And of course, I’ll sign them! Pre-order here:

skylight books icon
http://www.skylightbooks.com/book/9780399257926

 

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MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS
April, 2013
AGES: 3-5 years
AUTHOR: Eliza Wheeler
HARDCOVER: 32 pages
PUBLISHER: Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Books
ISBN 9780399257926

Miss Maple gathers lost seeds that haven’t yet found a place to sprout. She takes them on field trips to explore places to grow. In her cozy maple tree house, she nurtures them; keeping them safe and warm until it’s time for them to find roots of their own, and grow into the magnificent plants they’re destined to become.

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE!  Check your local bookstore or online.
Order online from a local indie bookstore here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780399257926

A debut novel by the late Bridget Zinn

I’m joining in to spread the word about the debut young adult novel POISON, by the late Bridget Zinn. Bridget was from my hometown, and sadly died of cancer in 2011 at age 33 before she was able to see her novel reach publication. Her family and friends are helping to promote her new book on her behalf.

I was in Jr. High when Bridget was graduating High School, so I only knew her from afar. My strongest memory of her was from when I had joined cross-country and we always watched and cheered for the high-schoolers’ races. Bridget came in far behind the pack every time with a confident smile on her face. She was a beautiful example of doing what made her happy regardless of where the rest of her peers were. That had an impact on me then, and left a lasting impression.

I can’t wait to read her book POISON (Hyperion Books), and celebrate her amazing accomplishment. http://www.bridgetzinn.com

Read the article and review in Publisher’s Weekly.

 

 

Miss Maple’s First Book Review

Miss Maple’s Seeds is coming out in 1 month (April 4, 2013), and I was so excited to see that Publisher’s Weekly posted the first review a few days ago!

The Review: http://new.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-25792-6
Since Publisher’s Weekly is a subscription site, I’m not sure how long the link will be available, so I’ve taken a screen grab of the review here:

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Here’s what they said:

“Confident artistry and an intuitive knowledge of what the world looks like to a very small person make a winning combination in Wheeler’s debut. Miss Maple is a grandmotherly, Borrowers-sized woman who adopts “orphan seeds that got lost during the spring planting.” Dressed in a big straw hat and a billowing skirt, she marshals bluebirds to collect the seeds in baskets on their backs, finds leaf boats to take the seeds on field trips “to learn about being a seed,” befriends woodland animals to pass the winter days around the hearth with, then sets the seeds free from a bough high in the air: “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small. But never forget.” Careful observation of seeds (including a labeled seed chart), leaves, and plants gives the artwork substance, and Japanese woodblock–style skies that fade to sunset hues provide a wistful emotional overlay. Wheeler has clearly had a good time inventing fairy-house fixtures for Miss Maple: flower lantern boats and hollow-log houses make one yearn to escape our big, unwieldy world and inhabit hers.
Ages 3–5. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)”

Thank you, Publisher’s Weekly!

 

 

Workspace – Sketching for The Grudge Keeper

Right now I’m knee deep in sketching for the picture book THE GRUDGE KEEPER, by author Mara Rockliff. It’s a folk-tale inspired story of the one man in town who collects everyone’s insults, umbrage, and petty complaints, filing them all away in his cottage. Mara’s manuscript is brilliant! It’s been exciting to be able to visualize this quirky world and characters that Mara has created.

Here’s a little peek at my workspace while I’m sketching:

grudge_working sketch_72dpi

Sketching is, for me, by far the most grueling stage in the illustration process. I will admit that I look forward to nailing down these sketches and moving forward to inking and color.

Will share more as I’m able!

 

 

 

SCBWI Mentorship Friends

One of the many things that I love about being a part of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), is that with each conference and event I meet new wonderful writer/illustrator friends. This has become more significant since I’ve been a part of the Summer Conference Mentorship Award, in 2010. I’ve made some of my closest illustrator friends, Debbie Ohi, Kimberly Gee, and Andrea Offermann during my year being mentored, and we created the Kidlit Artists group blog. Each year new mentees receive the award, and our circle of friends gets bigger. To help us all connect, one of our mentors, illustrator David Diaz has hosted an illustrators’ retreat at his beautiful home in California these past two years (which we call Lost Weekend). We bond over all the things unique to being children’s illustrators – talking about techniques, art materials, books, writing, working with publishing professionals, building great portfolios, etc.

Lost Weekend, Photo by Debbie Ohi at debbieohi.com

For more on Lost Weekend, check out these great posts:

Lost Weekend With David Diaz (Part 1): A Retrospective From A Veteran Mentee – by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Lost Weekend With David Diaz (Part 2): More Highlights & Why I Will Always Be A Mentee At Heart – by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Lost Weekend 2012: A Kidlit Hobnob! – by Jen Betton

I spent the month of January introducing the newest crop of SCBWI mentee friends over on the Kidlit Artists blog, and they are an equally talented and sweet bunch. Go over and check out their interviews, where each of them shares a bit about their experience of the mentorship program and how it’s helped them to grow in their work. It’s fun to hear details about each of their experiences.

Jen Betton Interview (www.jenbetton.com)

Lisa Anchin Interview (www.lisaanchin.com)

Maple Lam Interview (www.maplelam.com)

Karyn Raz Interview (www.karynraz.com)

Brian Won Interview (www.brianwon.net)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m exceedingly sorry not to be joining them all this weekend as they romp around New York city for the SCBWI Winter Conference, and to visit with publishing houses (set up by David Diaz). It’s sure to be an amazing time! I chose to forgo this year’s trip to help chip away at some building debt – and so last night, in honor of missing this wonderful conference (did I mention Shaun Tan??), I paid the price of that trip to my credit card. Not nearly as fun, but it felt good all the same.

New Piece: Mother West Wind

I wanted to share with you my latest personal work, which I finished in December as a gift to my grandmother, Marvel Swanson. I credit Grandma Swanson for instilling in me an early love of children’s books. She has adored children’s stories since she was little, and when she read to me as a child I could tell she genuinely enjoyed every word and picture she shared with me.

I found out that her favorite books growing up were the stories of Thornton W. Burgess, particularly the story of Mother West Wind and the Merry Little Breezes. She once said she would love to see my illustrations paired with his words, and so I decided to make her a gift of original artwork inspired by the opening scene in the story Mrs. Redwing’s Speckled Egg.

Thanks to both my grandparents, Ray and Marvel Swanson, for all their love and support throughout my life.

MotherWestWind_72

 

Exerpt from Mrs. Redwing’s Speckled Egg, by Thornton Burgess (1874 – 1965):

Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills in the golden light of the early morning. Over her shoulders was slung a bag – a great big bag – and in the bag were all of Old Mother West Wind’s children, the Merry Little Breezes.

Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills to the Green Meadows, and as she walked she crooned a song:

Ships upon the ocean wait –
  I must hurry, hurry on!
Mills are idle if I’m late –
  I must hurry, hurry on!

When she reached the Green Meadows, Old Mother West Wind opened her bag, turned it upside down and shook it. Out tumbled all the Merry Little Breezes and began to spin round and round for very joy, for you see they were to play in the Green Meadows all day long until Old Mother West Wind should come back at night and take them all to their home behind the Purple Hills.

First they raced over to see Johnny Chuck. They found Johnny Chuck sitting just outside his door eating his breakfast. One, for very mischief, snatched right out of Johnny Chuck’s mouth the green leaf of corn he was eating, and ran away with it. Another playfully pulled his whiskers, while a third rumpled up his hair.

Johnny Chuck pretended to be very cross indeed, but really he didn’t mind a bit, for Johnny Chuck loved the Merry Little Breezes and played with them every day.