Why May Is Like December

Tree Costume

Well hello again! I’m sorry I’ve been away so long. It’s been a very busy month with not much promise of getting less busy anytime soon. Is it the same for you? I’m betting yes.

I’ve decided that the end of April through May is really just December all over again, with better weather. All the end-of-year events, school testing, gift-buying obligations opportunities, etc. etc. etc. General nuttiness. With that in mind, I’m trying to give myself permission to buy some ready-to-eat meals, to not bargain-shop every last little thing, to split infinitives, and to volunteer at the school only sometimes and not for every single event.

That said, I do love the weather, the flowers coming up, the outdoor meals, and time with extended family. Our daughter also (10) had her theatrical debut in a full-length play at our church, which was so, so fun to see. My most recent sewing project was tree costumes for the play. In the rush I forgot to take a photo of the finished costumes, but the photo above gives you an idea of the look.

Meanwhile, I’ve been very serious about moving forward my nonfiction book and my YA novel. Nose still to grindstone! Both are going well, but I’ve got a few more goals to reach before school lets out. Wish me luck.

Currently reading Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart. Such an interesting and funny read with a quirky, wry voice that I love. It’s a memoir detailing the author’s move from the Soviet Union to the U.S. in 1978, when he was a child. Thanks, Christina, for the loan!

Also, listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour podcasts and now All Songs Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts.

If you’re a kidlit person, maybe you followed the uproar over the lack of diversity at BookCon and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign that followed on Twitter and Tumblr. One of the coolest things to come out of it was a lot of buzz for a forthcoming book by Varian Johnson, The Great Greene Heist. Billed as Ocean’s Eleven meets middle grade, it sounds like such a fun read and *bonus* has a diverse cast of characters. So excited for Varian, who is a fellow Florence, SC native (though we’ve never met in person, only virtually). I’ve read one of his previous books (My Life as a Rhombus) and was very impressed. If you want to diversify your shelves, join the #greatgreenechallenge and pre-order Varian’s book from your local bookstore.

Hope to see you here again soon before long.

 

 

 

Post-Snow Days Catch Up

Yaupon Holly in Snow

Hello there! It’s been awhile. What with the snow storm and my determination to focus most of my energies on my (book) writing, I haven’t had much time to be here, and I’ve missed it.

How about you? How did you survive the weather, those of you who had it? It was the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in the South, and I’ve lived here most of my life. We were without power for a few hours, not too bad, and got in a good bit of sledding. I have to admit I’m glad to be back to a normal schedule, though. Except for the fact that my nine-year-old is being buried with homework and projects in an attempt to make up for lost time. Bless her dear little heart.

In other news, the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, along with the Charlotte Writer’s Club, had a great panel Tuesday night on writers and authors using social media. Very informative, with very knowledgeable guests. If you live in the area, you should check out these two groups.

Meanwhile, I finished Malcolm Gladwell’s latest (David and Goliath). Very Gladwell, very thought-provoking and entertaining. And now I’m diving into My Berlin Kitchen, given to me by a friend (thanks, Christina!). I looooove it! It’s written by a cooking blogger who grew up bouncing between Berlin and the U.S. I haven’t gotten too far, so I don’t know the story yet, but her style is so warm, so genuine and earthy. You throw that in with cooking and international living, and I’m so there. I’d recommend it to anyone but especially to my German-connection friends. It’s almost like sitting down to kaffe und kuchen with you. Almost.

Also, because I had to do something when I couldn’t use my sewing machine, I’ve unraveled a sweater to re-use its very worthy yarn. Don’t cry for it, Argentina. It was a very heavy, stiff sweater, out of style, that my husband hardly wore (and never since I’ve known him). I’m thinking of reincarnating it into some throw pillow covers. What do you think? The yarn is actually pretty soft, just soooo heavy for a sweater. It’s almost like soft rug yarn.

Unraveled sweater

If you’re insane like me and are interested in unraveling sweaters, there are tons of tutorials out there about it. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a sweater with very chunky yarn. This one worked like a charm, I think because it must’ve been hand-knit, but sometimes unraveling can be more work than it’s worth. The tutorials can point you down the right path.

Lastly, I made this little piece with one of my photographs:

Sea bathing

Recognize the quote, anyone? This is where I go when I need the Calgon to take me away.

Okay, back to work. Cheers!

New Year, New (ish) Projects

Dress Shirt Quilt

Happy New Year! Did you survive the holidays? Ours started out low key and then sped up after Christmas with the Colorado wedding of a dear friend, a couple of days of skiing, and 3 stitches in my lower lip after a minor fall.

Don’t worry, I’m fine! Luckily, nothing was broken, so I could go right back to skiing. Actually I can only find 2 stitches now. They are not the dissolvable kind, so I don’t know if I misplaced a stitch or if I just miscounted. Hmmm…

I’m finding, unexpectedly, that I kind of love January. Not for the weather. Who could love January weather, even in the South? But I love getting back into the routine and not having a bajillion outside actitivities to distract and exhaust me. And the days are getting just a tiny bit longer. So I’m told.

Currently I’m back to work on my nonfiction book for elementary-aged students. I’d taken several weeks away from it while focusing on my novel, and the break has really helped clarify things. It still needs a lot of work, but I’m excited to see how far it’s come since my initial brainstorm. I’ve been getting some feedback on both projects from writer friends, which is so invigorating!

The above picture is a sneak peek of a quilt I’m working on. It finally seems to be coming together, though it’s looking like spaghetti to me right now. For more sewing and quilting projects, click here.

What about you? What’s inspiring you this month? Reading anything fantastic? Stay warm, folks!

Hello Again

Sidewalk Crack Flower

Hey folks! It’s me again. Sorry to have been MIA for awhile. We had some nice relaxing days at the beach with my folks before school started. The photo above is from a favorite spot at the beach—it’s a sidewalk crack garden, world’s best!

My least one is off to kindergarten, as of this week. So far, so good. He’s happy, so I’m happy. I’m suddenly faced with plenty of nice, quiet time to think. Wow, it works wonders. Shortly I’ll be digging back into my novel writing (and other writing), but these first few days have been all about catching up on chores: organizing, gardening, errand-running.

Currently reading Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Also listening to Fresh Air podcasts while folding laundry. Loved the ones with the author of Orange is the New Black and with the showrunner for the TV series of the same name. No, haven’t seen the show, but it sounds fascinating. Another interesting podcast is with Penelope Lewis, the author of The Secret World of Sleep.

And oh, loved the one with Demien Bichir, star of the Fx series The Bridge. By the way, The Bridge, a grisly murder mystery set on the border between Texas and Mexico, is fantastic. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the writing and the acting are excellent, really riveting.

Coming up, some sewing projects and gluten-free baking we’ve done recently. Hope you have a great weekend and a relaxing Labor Day.

A Break from the News

Schneckenband

When I first heard the news about Boston yesterday, my kids were in the middle of playing.

We need some string.

What?

The red string. Where is it?

I made a half-hearted attempt to find the string and then told them I was busy, couldn’t find it, they would have to figure it out somehow.

My eight-year-old, very sweetly: It’s okay, Mommy. We’ll find a way. Don’t worry.

And they left.

Boston holds a special place in my heart. It’s my husband’s hometown and the place we lived when we first met. I fell back into iPad world, checking to make sure friends and family were okay, writing people I knew might’ve been near the blasts. I couldn’t do anything else for what seemed like a long time.

Awhile later I went downstairs to find this scene in the back yard, kids happily occupied. Sigh. What a welcome relief from sad news, and how nice to see they “made it work” with one of our favorite toys. More about the Schneckenband (literally snail-band—–the thing holding up the bucket) here.

We ate scrambled eggs for supper at the campsite. It was a happy distraction.

I hope you and your loved ones are well. My heart and my prayers go out to the city of Boston. I miss you always, but especially now.

Dawning Day Studios Winner

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And the Random Number Generator chose…Kathi Miller, whose comment was:

“My favorite is In Between Gray because  of its simplicity, blue which is my favorite color”

In Between Gray is pictured above.

Congratulations, Kathi! You can message me at emily (at) emilysmithpearce (dot) com to let me know your address, which I’ll pass on to Dawn.

Thanks to everyone who participated! If you didn’t win, remember  to favorite Dawn’s etsy shop, where you can nab whichever prints you like, at a very reasonable price, I might add.

If I don’t see you before the weekend, have a great one. I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for our trees to bud.

Book Signing at Park Road Books in Charlotte: Saturday, January 26

Cover-SlowpokeRevised-3

Please join me at Park Road Books for a book signing

on Saturday, January 26 at 11 a.m.

4139 Park Road
Park Road Shopping Center
Charlotte, NC 28209

Bring the kids! We’ll have snacks!

“This entertaining early reader features Fiona, a girl who really, really likes to stop and smell the roses…The text is interspersed with black-and-white illustrations that do a stellar job of conveying both leisure and frenzy. A clever early reader with challenging vocabulary and some food for thought to boot.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Pearce’s succinct text will amuse emerging readers with her only slightly exaggerated references to the hectic pace of modern life. Ritchie’s fluid, cartoon-style illustrations are equally adept at conveying the story’s speedy absurdities (Mom consuming an entire plate of meatloaf in one gulp) and its more relaxing moments (Fiona smelling the flowers). Best of all, everyone gains an appreciation of the other’s sense of timing—including where and when each is appropriate.” –Booklist

Letter Writing for Peace

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“About the last you write nothing. There are no words for this. Your typewriter hums. You can find no words.”

from Lorrie Moore’s “How to Become a Writer”

I am, as I’m sure you are, horrified and devastated by the Newtown massacre. There are no words good enough, but I’m trying to take solace in writing: to the people of Newtown, to my elected officials, to good friends. Want to join me?

The U.S. Postal service has set up a post office box to send messages of comfort to the people of Newtown:

Messages of Condolence for Newtown
PO Box 3700
Newtown, CT 06470

More soon with other updates.

Back in the Saddle Again…Almost

I’m back! I’m back! You know it. *bust a move*

Hey y’all. How are you? It’s been a long summer. After we left Hannover in early July, we spent time visiting family in the U.S. and then camped out in our house (yes, we kept the same house from before) with one bed and two kid mattresses on the floor. Our voices echoed through the rooms while we waited patiently (sort of) for our shipping container with our stuff to arrive.

After the ship arrived in Charleston Harbor after 4 or 5 weeks, our container was randomly chosen to be x-rayed, delaying it another few days. After that, it was randomly (really?) chosen to be hand-searched, delaying it another few days. After that, potting soil was discovered on some plant pots. I’m 98% certain this would’ve been residual American potting soil, since, sadly, I actually didn’t use my pots in Germany.

So a teaspoon of dirt was keeping us from getting our furniture. At this point, my patience was wearing very thin.

My friend Bettina helped me see the poetic side:

“I do like the notion of American soil being taken back and forth across the ocean and then being forbidden to re-enter… ” she wrote.

It’s almost enough to make me try writing poetry again. Maybe.

Our container finally arrived, and while you’d think this would be the high point of the transition, we found it to be the worst part, just as it had been on the other end in Hannover. It’s just so overwhelming to have to deal with the stuff all at once after having been free from it for so many weeks.

But we dug ourselves out of boxes fairly quickly, thanks to our kids being kept by their grandparents (thanks, parents!). We’re now putting the finishing touches on household organization. Not that a house is ever really finished, but, you know. We’re through the worst part.

The kids are in school, and I’m aaaallllmost ready to jump back into my work-in-progress, which I’m both super excited and also feeling chicken about. It’s a big leap to make after so many weeks away.

So glad to be back here with you! How was your summer? Are you glad to be getting back in the swing of things?

Bologna Book Fair: Illustration Roundup

Want to see what children’s book illustrators are doing around the world?

As I mentioned in my last post, illustration is the main course of the Bologna fair’s visual feast. Here’s where you see, more than ever, that a great cover is a book’s best friend. The photo above is from the posting wall at the Fair, where illustrators are invited to leave their cards in the hopes that they’ll be noticed.

Here is one of my favorites, from illustrator Daisy Hirst:

I love the fun, playful quality of her work.

In addition to the posting wall and the many booths of books, there’s a yearly exhibition of top talent and a spotlight on a “guest of honor” country—this year, Portugal. I was so inspired by the showcase winners and by so many other illustrators whose work was on display. Check out the exhibition artists here.

Some links to blogs by/ articles about my favorites from the exhibition:

Alejandra Barba of Mexico

Jo Suna of Korea

Fereshteh Najafe of Iran

Anja Reiger of Germany (Berlin)

Katrin Stangl of Germany

Gerry Turley of England

Just as when I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was struck by how many different styles of artwork there are across world markets. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in Spain, Korea, Holland, Iran, you name it.

I’d love to see some American publishers translate some of these books and/ or work with some of these illustrators. Most foreign book rights sales go the other way (English into other languages) but we’re really missing out on some fabulous stuff.

American publisher Front Street, back in the day, brought Dutch and French titles to the US market (A Day, A Dog, The Yellow Balloon, Little Bird’s ABC —all of which I love). But since Front Street’s passing, somebody needs to take up the torch. Is there a publisher out there doing this that I just don’t know about?

It was also interesting to talk to some European illustrators about where their work fits in best. One I spoke to had been told her work would sell best in Eastern Europe. Another had been told his would do better in Latin America or Asia. I’d love to see a map of what kind of illustration fits where.

Would you like to see more international books brought to the US market? There’s some dispute that Americans just don’t buy these books, but can our taste really be that monolithic? What do you think?