Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In Season?


They say each season has a rightful place:

A time to scribble,
A time to paint.

A time to read good books,
A time to dream up new ones.

A time to craft words,
A time to delete.

A time to face the music,
A time to dance in the face of it.

It's the natural breath of our days -
The ups and downs of waves. 

Summer rushed to Fall a smidge too soon in my neck of the woods.
 
Birthdays, school starts,

First wiggly teeth,
Rounded hula hoops of doings.

Responsibilities loomed.

Do you ever drag your feet ?


I soured up a few days
kicking my heels against time and tides,
and then I remembered...

What of all the sacred moments today ?

What am I missing with my eyes shut tight against change?  

Here is the good news: 
Gratitude mends easily.
It always starts with today.

And thankfulness is magic. 
It turns straw into gold,
turns dirty dishes into a sacred space.



Farewell summer!    Hello Fall!

It's simple, right?
To find joy, we breathe.
In and out. 
   
And if breathing means working hard at a task today,
then may we find beauty under the stones at our feet.

Or if it means taking a ramble in the woods,
then let the leaves turn,
let the fruit fall
and find us with open hands.


"Nobody else but the rosebush knows
how nice mud feels between the toes."  
 - Polly Chase Boyden

 

 Book treasures that make me smile in all seasons:


The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Inga Moore
Firefly July - compiled by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    Lindbergh - The Tale of a Flying Mouse, by Torben Kuhlmann
    The New Arrival by Vanya Nastanlieva

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Odd, Weird, and Little by Patrick Jennings


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Writing Process: How we work...


Well, here is a fun thing.
Author/Illustrator tag!
Thank you Richard Jesse Watson for picking me to join this blog tour.

Fun facts about Richard Jesse Watson:
Besides being an award-winning children's book illustrator,
Richard roasts his own coffee.
He once dismantled a hotel window so he could
roast coffee for an illustrator pal without setting off the fire alarm.

Here's a stunning painting Richard created to go with one of my manuscripts.
Snow Queen
artwork (c) Richard Jesse Watson
Richard is also a folk dancer.
He loves  books, handball, anchovies, and waffles.
He can make or fix just about anything with epoxy. 
He has taught me much of what I know about art.
And he's my dad.
I'm inspired by him as an artist and a person.
Find him online at richardjessewatson.com.

Now, to the Q & A:

What am I currently working on?

Last week I shared with you the  driftwood of my life work.
Today I'll tell you about my other work - writing and art.
 
Lately I'm playing with picture book,
chapter book, and middle grade manuscripts,
as well as trying to work in some of that gorgeous momentum
I gathered from my UCSD "Illustrating Picture Books" course with Joy Chu.

I'm also working on creative discipline - how I manage my time.
Time is my huge thing. 
How to squeeze any more drops from days plumb full?

I drew a pie chart to see where all my spare time flows out
and to hunt for extra gaps I can curb into a writing / art habit.
I think it's helping. 

Why do I write what I write?


I write
to remember
the striking thing
about a day,
a shadow,
a loss.
to turn knobby memories
into strength and courage.
to spread adventure and creativity
like seeds
that will spark and sprout
in readers
and in me.

That's my why: remembrance. beauty. courage. hope. thanks.

 How does my writing / illustrating process work?


First, inspiration:

I keep notebooks, sketchbooks,
camera, pencils, pen
in car, in purse, in library bag,
in every place story lightning might strike.

Books!  I read like a sieve.
Not really sure how a sieve reads,
but I do
a lot. lot. lot.
(c) 2014 Faith Pray


Next, drafting.
I type manuscripts into a writing program called Scrivener,
and then write and rewrite until the manuscript feels just so.

I scribble sketches and move them around.
Sticky notes are brilliant for this.

Taping together mini books helps me feel how each story breathes.

And then I play with finishes.
Splashy ink and pen. Velvety oil pencils. Pooly paints.
I'm always playing.

When a story feels just so, I send it to my agent.
If he likes it, we work on changes,
and then he sends it out to publishers "on submission."

That's my writing process.
Next in this blog tour, my friend Carrie O'Neill
gets to tell you about how she works.
art (c) Carrie O'Neill











Carrie and I were friends in high school.
What a delight to discover her now at the SCBWI conference in Seattle!
Carrie is just as witty, talented and lovely as ever, and her art is vibrant and engaging.
I am excited to see what Carrie creates next, and I can't wait for you to meet her.

You can find Carrie at www.carrieoneill.com.
She'll be playing tag on her blog soon!




  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Driftwood music?




This summer is all about 
gathering what we find
and making music
out of it.
 
Sometimes it doesn't quite fly,
like our xylophone
constructed of driftwood
and rubber bands.

Scavenged from a sunny beach walk,
and a hoot to make,
it only makes one sound:
plunk.

And yet... sometimes we need to plunk
to figure out what the rhythm is.
Our new rhythm :
Winnie's had her surgery,
and after a long wait,
she can run!
the pain is almost gone!

Oh, the delight!

And here we are
in the crazy whirl.

Driftwood:
Winnie's surgery.  Swim lessons. Backyard soccer.
Cousins. Library storytime. 

Scissor mishaps.


{That's right. Preschool cutting practice.
Both of them. Missing chunks of hair.
Where was their mama, you ask?
Ten yards away, scribbling in my notebook. }


   

This has been such a year and more 
of wind and weathering.
and here is what I remember -

beautiful things come after turbulence.

sticks become pale as silver when they have tumbled through waves.
spiny stones become round and ripe across the sand,
fruit of sea and storm,
borne through time
and tides.

Is that art? music?
The transformation of rough things

into smooth beauties?

These tides might not be fruitful
in all the artsy, writerly ways I've been wanting.

but they might just be fruitful in the ways that I need.

humbling. compassion. grace. gratefulness.



To my friends going through rough waters right now,
my wish and prayer

is that Love will weather its way
through each of us
that Love will transform the rough places into smooth,
will fill the hollow places with sweet, clear water,
will turn our broken sticks into music,

and somehow
find us 
more of Love itself.


Thank you for your words and prayers,
books and courage
that have helped us march through this summer!
We are all so grateful.

Some of our brave reads:

Brother Hugo and the Bear - Katy Beebe, S.D. Schindler
Have You Seen My Dragon? - Steve Light
Soccer Fence - Phil Bildner, Jesse Joshua Watson
A Tangle of Knots - Lisa Graff
Word After Word After Word - Patricia MacLachlan
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai
Nightengale's Nest - Nikki Lofton
Small Acts of Amazing Courage - Gloria Whelan


And here's a fun thing:

There's a game of author-illustrator tag
running through blogland lately,
and I got tagged by my genius illustrator dad,
Richard Jesse Watson.
I'll post my scoop next week.

 






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