Oct
2010

Painting Class

I started painting again. I took classes 15 years ago with an instructor in Oregon City. My stuff was VERY cartoon-like and I wasn’t pleased with my progress after 1 year.
Then, I found Melissa Gannon at an Art Fair at the (Un)Covered Wagons in Oregon City about 5 years ago.
So, I took classes for a few years – and I improved. Less cartoon-like and more “realistic.”
But life happened and I dropped out for about 1.5 years.
So, I was working this summer – and the kiddos and I made our own watercolour paints. I brought in some of my watercolours for them to look at as they explored their own art.
And I thought: “I should be painting again.” And I signed up.
I started back at the end of September – and have made 3 out of the 4 paintings. (I saw Mo Willems during one the class periods.)
So, here they are. Not hideous. There are some great parts, some good parts, and some awful parts. But, I’m learning.
Our first assignment was an exploration in tints, shades, and tones. We traced our hands and went from there:
Then, we did sunflowers. Egads. Not my best work, but I learned a lot about glazing (a layer of thin paint over existing paint). The darker red is a glaze placed over other shape-defining colours.
This last week, we painted peaches. I SUCK at leaves. TOTALLY SUCK at leaves. But the peaches aren’t too bad. One kinda looks like a butt. ☺
Next week I think we are painting leaves. I think. Gads.
Oct
2010

PNBA – Days Two and Three

The last two days of PNBA were a whirlwind. I did a variety of tasks: registration desk, author signings, breakfast with the authors, and door. But on each day, I ended up doing “Library/Breakdown” which is always awesome.

A quick introduction, too. This is Lana (I’m in the orange beside her). She introduced me to PNBA after we volunteered at Willamette Writers last year. THANK YOU, LANA! This is a great experience for me.

So, Day Two was business as usual. I met a few people. I hung out with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. And I was present at the author’s breakfast. There were 4 authors: two adult titles and two children’s/YA titles. I was lucky to get a copy of David Wiesner’s Art & Max, which is a children’s book:

David Wiesner is a three-time Caldecott winner (Flotsam is delish). He signed his newest book, Art & Max, which is a gem! The art is beautiful and the story is both amusing and profound. His presentation was wonderful!

And on Day Three, I came away with a few prizes, which I love.

Vladimir Tod is a series of YA books that I just got into – and I am enjoying them immensely. The first is Eighth Grade Bites. I’m sure you get the idea! On the last day, as people were packing up, I got a free bag.

The last goodie was a real surprise. A book representative was offering t-shirts from a book called Chicken Big. On the last day, as I was cleaning up, she handed me one and I said “thank you.” I wasn’t quite sure what I was thanking her for. Check out this shirt:

It’s a story about a “critter” who emerges from an egg and all the other barnyard animals wonder “what is it?” Delightful story. It’s a little huge for me, but I’m wearing the shirt to work today.

Next year? ABSOLUTELY! The volunteer coordinator is going to give me additional duties next year. I had a ball again! Thanks to Ben for helping me understand the author signing routine, to “the sisters” for helping me learn the ins and outs, to Larry and Karen for giving me the right amount of responsibility at the registration desk, and to Lana for introducing me to this event.

Oct
2010

PNBA – Day One

Again, I am volunteering at the PNBA Trade Show. PNBA = Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. I had a complete ball last year so I was invited back to volunteer all three days.

Last night, I was a part of the Author Night Capper. About 20 – 30 authors from all over the Pacific Northwest (mostly) participated. Books varied from non-fiction to cookbooks to adult fiction to children’s books.

And – once again – I was honoured to be seated with a fantastic author: Ron Lovell.

Ron is a former Journalism professor at OSU who retired a while ago. Now, he writes a mystery series with a professor as the protagonist: Thomas Martindale! The book he brought with him last night is the 8th in the series, Murder in E-Flat Major, which was released last July.

As I sat with Ron, he regaled me with funny stories about some of his signings – and offered fantastic advice for when I’m sitting on that side of the table autographing my books. ☺ And it was neat to see book buyers and booksellers talk to him about his series. Some were fakey-fake, but most were genuine and pleased that he has a new book out. Some just wanted books for their Christmas list, I’m sure. Giggle.

So, I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book – and it’s wonderful. The cover is absolutely gorgeous (as you can see from the picture) and each chapter number is enveloped in a cello. His details are spot-on without being overwhelming and his characters are intelligent, interesting, and very human. The Pacific Northwest comes alive in his books as it takes place (mostly) on the Oregon coast: Newport, Yaquina Bay, and Drift Creek Falls. I will offer a full review at a later date.

So, today, I head back this afternoon. I’m working ½ day today doing registration and clean-up so that we can be ready for Saturday. I’m working the entire day on Saturday: 7:30 to about 3:00.

Busy! Busy! But I love it!

Oct
2010

Mo Willems – LIVE

(all photos were taken with my iPhone – some are good. Some are not!)

Life is busy with volunteering, work, family, the gym, and writing. But I did manage to squeeze out a bit of time to see Mo Willems live!

The event started at 6:30. I arrived around 6, thinking that I had plenty of time. Boy, was I wrong:

The Barnes and Noble area was PACKED! When I arrived, a busload (FULL) was unloading parents, teachers, and children from one of the school districts 20 or so miles away. Barnes and Noble was smart in that they handed out bracelets with numbers on them. They were the numbers for our place in the autographing line. Here’s mine:

Yup. That’s 186! I was chatting with a few people and their numbers were in the 200 and 300 categories. Later, I was speaking with a teacher who left – she gave me her bracelet with 182 on it. I gave that to a woman with a bracelet in the 290s.

As for location, most of the time, I was stuck behind a pillar near the down escalator. Mo was somewhere beyond the sea of people. Can you see him? He has a beard. (Notice the people climbing over the bookshelves to see him? There were hundreds of people there.

He read his newest – and final – Knuffle Bunny book (Knuffle Bunny Free) and We Are in a Book, then he took questions and began signing. After the first 100 people went, I found a seat – and got to see Mo in person:

He asked us to respect the fact that he doesn’t like flash photography – and most people were great with it. A few may not have known or were confused, but that was very very rare. So, that’s why my photos are a little grainy.

I met a woman who had bracelet #157 – and she asked me to join her in line. I did. And I think she saved me an additional 30 minutes that night. Bless her heart.

So, after much ado, I finally got to see Mo – and get his autograph:

So, Mo signed my copy of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, which is my very first introduction to Mo Willems’ work. It’s fantastic. A naked mole rat who pooh-poohs society and wears clothes. BRILLIANT!

And my aunt’s books for 2 of the kiddos in her life:

(I have The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! also – and it’s wonderful!)

So, that was 2 ½ hours of my life last night. And well worth it! Thank you to Susie who saved me by asking me to join her in line.

Oct
2010

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (a review)

BruiserBruiser by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t blown through a 300+ word book in less than a day in a long, long time. I started this at bedtime, thinking that I would read for ½ an hour and then sleep. I read for nearly 2 hours – until I was exhausted and couldn’t focus on the story.

This morning, I picked it up and zoomed through it!

Absolutely fantastic!

Both with realistic and (light) fantasy elements, Bruiser is a literary vortex that sucked me in and didn’t let go – even now that I have finished the book. This is the story of Brewster Rawlins, a boy with a loner reputation – and the leave-me-alone personality to go with it.

Or so it seems.

When Brewster is be-friended by Bronte and Tennyson, his life becomes more of an open book. He likes to read Ginsberg, play basketball, and protect his 8-year-old brother from their mean, spiteful, drunk of an uncle. But he holds a secret that he isn’t willing to reveal – even if it means a world of hurt for him.

Ellen Hopkins (of Crank fame) writes that this is a “dark and darkly humorous, intense and intensely satisfying” read. Yup!

View all my reviews