Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Desmond jacket painting

Last week I posted some of the sketches for the Disappearing Desmond back jacket. Here is the version we decided on, and the front cover too. In the end we thought it made sense for Gloria to be on the opposite side of the fence as Desmond, as though she is tiptoeing up to the fence looking for him...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned Books Week

In case you didn't know, September 26 to October 3 is Banned Books Week!

Check out the First Amendment First Aid Kit at Random House here. It includes a list of banned books (including Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret for which Judy Blume was called a communist and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among others- crazy), information on how to discuss banned books with kids, and strategies for booksellers, librarians, and teachers to support free speech.

From the site:

"We should never take for granted our freedom to read. Case in point: four library board members in West Bend, Wisconsin, lost their jobs this year when they tried to keep young adult books on the YA shelves where they belong, rather than on the adult shelves, with warning labels affixed. Read more here on CNN."

PS. Pass it on! Random House will send a free banned or challenged book (while supplies last) to anyone who posts the graphic or blogs about Banned Books Week. Tell them about it at

Yay for free speech and free books too!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Furball Friday

In the early days, George was not at all sure we were on the same team. Not at all sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peace Pagoda

We made a trip out to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett recently. Its a lovely quiet place. Good for recharging when you've been hunched over your drafting table too long.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lots of Glorias

So the front cover for Disappearing Desmond came pretty quickly, the below sketch was Knopf's favorite version, and mine too!

But for some reason it took me awhile to nail down the back jacket. Desmond's new friend in the story, Gloria, is peering over the fence at Desmond... here are some of my zillion different attempts to get her pose and gestures right:

Monday, September 21, 2009


When I am painting a lot and get stuck and need some new ideas and inspiration, I take a break to look at an artist I admire. Lately I've been looking at the work of Penelope Dullaghan. Her work is AMAZING. I love the color combinations and graphic but painterly touch. Just the thing to get me going as I round the corner to the second half of Desmond paintings... 10 more spreads to go...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Furball Friday

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Publisher's Lunch

I signed up for this e-newsletter a few years ago to stay on top of "industry news", but I will admit that I usually don't read them. They stress me out. And yesterday, when I opened one up I remembered why. In it was a link to this article by Danel Manaker, former Senior Vice President and Executive Editor-in-Chief at Random House. It is about adult publishing, so there may be some small hope that children's is not quite as dire, but still better not to have your head in the sand I guess. If you are in the mood for some cold hard publishing reality, read away. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Desmond Painting

Sketch and painting for Disappearing Desmond (click to enlarge)...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Congrats Alison and Gareth!

On Saturday Bruno and I had the honor of being the wedding day coordinators for Alison and Gareth; fellow book people, friends, and crafters-in-crime. They had just the loveliest wedding! It was set at a summer camp for inner city youth, and filled with 100 beautiful handmade details. It was a joy to return the favor of working their wedding, as they did such a smashing job of being our wedding day helpers. This is a trade I highly recommend to any folks out there getting married who don't have a wedding planner- and honestly it is SO much fun.

While the wedding party dressed and spent time together and took photos (they have incredibly talented photographers, One Love Photo, can't wait to see the pictures), we coordinated the decoration of the ceremony site, the reception hall, and were point people throughout the evening.

These two planned so many amazing and original craft projects that sadly I was too distracted to take pictures of (I'm sure she will post them on her blog anyways), but I will share a few shots from later in the evening...

The reception ceiling was strung with papel picado and a million twinkle lights, it looked so magical:

And here is the first dance... Alison and Gareth didn't choreograph their dance they just, um, happen to be AMAZING swing dancers:

Thanks for letting us be part of such an amazing day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Furball Friday

Sunbeam + desk = perfect place to sleep

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Made by hand: buttons

Since I posted about the buttons I'm making for Abigail Spells below, I thought I'd add another installment in the Made by Hand series, in case you are dying to know more about the crafts we undertook for our wedding :)

We made little bunny buttons for our guests, similar to the ones I'll be making for Abigail... they aren't exactly made by hand, but they were designed by me and a lot of fun to put together. First I sketched these bunnies:

Next I scanned them into Photoshop and filled them in with color:

I sent the file off to Pure Buttons and a week or so later had these in my hands:

We set them out on the gift table with the napkins, expecting folks to take them.

What we didn't realize is that our guests would all put them on and wear them throughout the wedding! In retrospect I guess that was kind of obvious. But still, it was a nice surprise to come out and see a crowd of people all bunny-clad...

Photos © Kelly Lorenz

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Faster Times

...wrote a lovely article about Abigail Spells and What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? that totally made my day. Thanks guys! Click here to read.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I am making some little buttons of the characters from Abigail Spells to giveaway at book signings and events, which design do you like the best? Leave a comment* and I will send you one when they're finished! Just make sure your email address is in the comment, or email me at

*Giveaway ends 9/15. Only for those in the US, sorry!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Susan's hollyhocks

When I delivered the art for Priscilla and the Hollyhocks a couple of years ago, I gave my editor and art director some hollyhock seeds from a farm in Illinois (near where the real Priscilla lived).

I recently received this picture from the art director, who planted them in her back yard. Beautiful!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Furball Friday

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Survey for educators

Dear expert educators out there,

I am doing some research about where teachers and educators of all kinds go to access new lesson plans and material for their classes. Why do I need to know this you ask? I think Abigail Spells could be a really useful book in the classroom, both to generate excitement about spelling and give kids a place to practice what they've learned. So I'm compiling a list of teacher resources I might be able to team up with to get the word out.

SO. If you are a teacher or educator who works with young kids, where do you go to research your lesson plans? Are there any sites or other materials that have helped you develop spelling lessons and teach it effectively? Any great online resources that have been useful?

Thanks in advance for the help, I really appreciate it! You can leave a comment here, or email me at

Many thanks!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Disappearing Desmond painting part 2

My apologies for taking so long to post the last half of this "painting in progress". A couple weeks ago I posted here about how this painting began... when we left off I was layering the color, mainly in the background:

Next I built up the figures some more, and tightened up edges:

Then added details like the beach goers in the background, and the shells and sand in the foreground:

When it all came together the painting looked like this: