Sunday, January 30, 2011

January Beach Day

For those of you who are snowbound, I almost hate to show you this photo, taken today on the beach in North Carolina. Sixty degrees. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right.

Walking on the beach is one of the best ways to solve problems, either in 'real' life or in stories-in-progress. On such a walk last January, a solution to an awkward bit in the new book arrived, unbidden.

You reach down to pick up a broken shell and instead you pick up a gem of a character.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Photo Play

You have probably all been proficient with Photoshop for ages, but I am just beginning to explore its possibilities. Today I'm particularly enchanted with the painterly effects, as in the above, using an original photograph of an Iris border on the TASIS campus in England.

Any suggestions for what I might try next with Photoshop?

And do painter or photographer purists scorn this program or embrace it, do you know?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Design

Above is the cover for the Japanese edition of Heartbeat.  They've added an interesting design element inside, the use of flip-book-type art in the lower left-hand corners:

As you flip through the book, the runners . . . run:

And run . . .

You really need to hold the book and flip the pages to get the full effect.

I like it. You?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Change of Perspective

I've been immersed in the land of snow since November, but am now in North Carolina for a few months. It's a shock each year to leave that white, frigid landscape and emerge in a place where the grass is still green and the sun shines more often and you don't need boots and hats and gloves to venture outdoors.

It's a healthy change of perspective. Awakens the senses. I'll be revising the current work-in-progress soon, and it's good to go into that fresh and alert.

The above photo is not from North Carolina, however. It's from Thorpe, Surrey, England.  When we lived there, I used to walk here in order to refresh my brain.

Another favorite spot on that walk is this fence (below). I don't know why I like it so, but I think it wants a story of its own.

Some day.

Bye-bye for now. Going for a walk.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Love That Dog: Design and Jackets

I'm always intrigued by the cover designs that are chosen for translations.  Above are four examples from the dozen or so foreign editions of Love That Dog (from top left, clockwise: American, Mexican, Japanese and Netherlands.) From the beginning, I loved the classic, simple American cover with the perfect William Steig drawing of a dog; this was also used as the basis for the Japanese cover.  The Mexican cover takes a sort of bold Picasso-like approach, whereas the cover for the Netherlands edition plays off the original American one but with a different dog and with red lettering instead of blue.

It's also interesting to compare the various portrayals of the concrete 'dog poem' in this book. First, the American version:

Two other versions (Japanese and German):

I love the pure, simple layout for the original American version; foreign editions also pick up this approach. The story seemed to require generous white space. First, the American edition:

The Japanese edition:

And from the Netherlands:

This story, in its content, form and presentation appears so simple, and yet for me it conveys so much complexity.  The companion to Love That Dog is Hate That Cat:

Hate That Cat is similar to Love That Dog in layout and design, and we were fortunate to secure a William Steig drawing of a surly cat to adorn the red jacket.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Caps

While the latest manuscript is with editor and I'm awaiting comments for revision, it is time to fill up the internal well.  Breathe. Get outside and gape.  The latest snows have left soft caps and puffs everywhere:

I like this one on a bird's nest:

And these in the pines:

The snow is so light and soft and white that you want to eat it or lie down in it.
Well. At least I do.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Terrain


I tried to get these two photos side by side in order to show the wide expanse of our frozen and snow-covered lake, but I was not able to merge them as I hoped.  That's my husband out there, testing the ice.  It felt as if we might be on the Alaskan tundra: snow as far as the eye could see and, except for the thin line of the opposite shore, a beautiful blue-white light enveloping all.

We followed many animal tracks. Deer tracks led in a straight line across the lake; rabbit tracks disappeared into bushes; and squirrel tracks (below) led from tree nests to holes dug in the snow and dirt to retrieve nuts, and back to tree and up to nest:

Monday, January 10, 2011

A World in an Eye

Is everything you see shaped from within or without?

This close-up of an eye startles me because it absorbs the light instead of reflecting it, and so it looks more like a planet, a world.  It reminds me that we shape our own world(s), and that my world, while similar to yours, is also different from yours. Sometimes I think that I write in order to imagine what you see and to clarify what I see.

Above, it is my eye you see.
With your eye.

Dizzy yet?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow at the Lake, again

We continue to have beautiful, gentle snowfalls of about three-to-six inches nearly every day. The snow changes everything, all is new, and you (I) want to take a thousand photos . . .

The lake is frozen. Snow covers that vast expanse (in the background here):

I had been out on cross-country skis; that's my husband in the photo, on snowshoes. Afterwards, he said, "I don't really get the point of snowshoes."

The vistas are surreal and the close-ups are magical. These are down at the lake's edge:


And me, I am twenty feet tall:

Night, all . . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Reader

It is a touching moment: discovering a child reading one of my books.  This photo captures something even more touching: discovering my granddaughter reading one of my books. It wasn't even a staged photo-op!