Saturday, February 27, 2010

Third Graders!

I read to about 130 third graders last week at Sandra de Gallardo Elementary in Folsom, CA (truly the greatest perk of being published). They were absolutely precious! I have to say, third grade is my favorite to share my book with. They have great questions, and really comprehend the poetry.

I thought it was hilarious that when I asked for 10 volunteers to stand next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, to demonstrate the length of a Mekong giant catfish, and they wouldn't touch each other. It was especially obvious between the boys and the girls. Now, kindergarten and first graders practically jump to be shoved up against their fellow classmates, too funny how just a couple of grades later their hormones are already kicking in. Ewww boys, ewww girls.

Some of the questions I received were wonderful: What came first, the art or the poems?; Which animal is most endangered in your book?; Which is the least endangered in your book? How long did it take to write the book?

My favorite question (stumper, surprise) of all... If you see yourself as any animal in your book, what would it be? Hmmmm. At first I said the tiger, and then I really thought about it. I concluded I was most like the snow leopard.

Monday, February 22, 2010

As it Should Be

I am listening to Eckhart Tolle's, A New Earth right now. I admit that reading books like that put me to sleep, but listening, ahhh now that's the way I learn. Anyway, Tolle is fascinating. Many times he mentions how recognizing the now, not dwelling on the past or anticipating the future is the most peaceful way to walk through life. Wonderful philosophy, but tough to live by. Every time I feel like things should be happening more quickly with my book, or my artwork, I now force myself to think about how things are flowing as they should and I should enjoy the ride.

My book offers me random beautiful moments. Last week, a high school student emailed me from Rhode Island. I have never met her, nor have I met anyone in her family or circle. Yet, she wanted to let me know that she liked my book and was using it for her senior project - if that was okay by me. She is a reminder of why I wrote my book in the first place, I want it to mean something to people. I light up with passion when I talk about helping endangered species and my book does that too. The louder the voice the more people will listen.

My next book, which I hope my publisher likes, is only about Desert endangered species. It has been so fascinating to study a single ecosystem. It seems logical that desert species have a lot in common, but it still surprised me when reptiles, mammals and birds that are so different have so much alike. They have all evolved and adapted to survive such arid and harsh extremes, they are truly amazing. Splitting my books into ecosystems will help to demonstrate the importance of leaving a specific environment intact, and how making slight alterations to a chain, disrupts the balance of everything.

Okay, that was my pitch, but it sums it up.

I started a red eyed tree frog painting. I LOVE IT! I have missed painting more than I realized. I love to paint as much as I love to write. Pretty cool that I get the opportunity during this stage in my life to do what I love. Persistence pays off, if it is meant to, that is.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Last week I visited Sac Splash, whose mission is to help children understand and value their natural world through scientific investigation and outdoor exploration. Great mission. I spent a couple hours with Eva Butler, the director, and several of her staff members. They greeted me so warmly, I found myself blushing. Eva is a woman with passion for the environment and teaching children to love and care about it. I am so excited to have made her acquaintance.

David, a photographer/scientist and Eva took me and another artist for a walk near the vernal pools of Mather Park. It felt so great to be out walking on something other than a side-walk. The pools, which will practically dry up at the warmest part of the year, are teaming with life. I really enjoyed connecting with nature, even if it was for a short amount of time. I'll take some pictures the next time I am out there and post them on my blog.

I used to walk for almost a half-hour in a valley of Wisconsin, to find my horse. He would be grazing with a herd in the base of the field. It was so beautiful. I would sing and follow a dirt path beat by hooves and then try to catch my sassy quarter horse, since of course he didn't want to leave his paradise to go to the barn. Once I caught him though, I'd jump on his bare back and gallop up to the top of the valley.

Spending just a few minutes walking in a field, brought back memories.

On a side note, I submitted my manuscript last week to my publisher at Finney Company. It has motivated my butt to get back to drawing, so I can paint more inspired images.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Through Desert Eyes

After months of writing, tweaking, research, even moving into a new house, I am finally ready to send out my "Through Desert Eyes," manuscript. Hooray!

I am only sending it to my publisher, Windward Publishing an imprint of Finney Company. I will be so excited if they want to take this project. I have been doing so much with "Through Endangered Eyes," that I can't wait to get another book out there to share with kids.

I am planning a trip to Arizona where I can photograph so many of the species I have chosen for my book. Being endangered, most of the species are hard to locate in the wild, so I'll have to depend on the Phoenix Zoo. My photographs will help my process in sketching out the images for the book. I learned the hard way with the first book that images need to harmonize with the words. I did many of the paintings first and then the poetry, two separate elements of art, not always relating to each other. This time, I am tightening the poetry and letting the words inspire the images.

I am still working on "Peridot Cage," mostly on the re-write, synopsis and 1.5 minute pitch.