Monday, August 26, 2013

Dispatch #11: A Rumination on Time and Story

Photo by L. Fernandez
by Lupe Fernandez

Who's to say what happens next? In an instant. A moment. Now.

If I flow down a river with mossy rocks underneath, who's to say I won't get up and feel the snow melt water, cold to my skin, sending a chill to the core of my bones?

The black inner tube is hot to the touch under the mountain sun. I turn it around and wet it in the river water. The tube hits the river with a loud slap and a splash. There is a fish, a tiny fish swimming against the current. Dragon flies flutter and buzz above the river, hunting for flies that glow gold in the sunset.

Photo by L. Fernandez
I don a mask and snorkel and plunge into the river, some parts swallow enough to stand up, some parts deep enough to swallow me. I do the crawl against the current, like the tiny fish below me. The fish swims for life, while I swim for pleasure.

I push along underwater rocks until I make it to a pile of stones in the middle of the river that form a rough platform in the sun. I pull myself up, out of the cold water and lay upon the gray rock, embracing its rough warmth. Water drips off me, the stain darkens the granite, revealing streaks of green feldspar and glittering flecks of quartz.

Photo by L. Fernandez
Who's the say this hidden mixture of minerals hasn't seen Pleistocene mammals live, breath and die? A thousand sunrises and sunsets?

A wash of water in the river, the same gurgle of white for centuries until I climbed upon this spot and thousands others like me, tourists in nature with our dusty cars, fabric tents, plastic coolers, propane tanks and bare feet.

What stories has this collection of rocks seen, sitting in the middle of the river, at low and high rises, of summer melts and winter frosts, of squirrels and deer tramping by, looking for the next meal?

Photo by L. Fernandez
If granite, feldspar and quartz could talk, what would they say? Would they talk of heat, pressure and time? Are we of flesh and blood mere wisps like the dragonfly to these round sentinels? Geological Time is Deep Time, compared to our lives as our lives are compared to that of a fly. Long vs. short.

Our stories in books, whether they be of paper or digital, how long will they last? How short of time? How long of memory?

I'd wish to see a shelve of spines with my name on it, but I'll settle for a list of bytes with the alphabet online.

Photo by L. Fernandez
In the future, will I hold a book in my hand, smell the pages and feel the breeze of spinning pages, or will I scan and click and save on a screen?

Perhaps I see another kind of story delivery system. Sounds rather dry. Story delivery system. Did the tired fingers of the parchment scribe resent the inky black stamp of the metal letter type? Did the printing press stamp out the feathered quill?

Who's to say it can't happen to you and to me?
Who says?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nancy Thibert, A Painter's Interview

by Catherine Lee, Contributing Editor

One of the featured artists this month is Nancy Thibert, a Canadian painter and teacher, who creates beautiful collages mixed with a bit of realism - simply unique. Recently, she opened up painting classes and will have a solo show in May 2014 at the Leo Koo Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I hope you enjoy this interview.

1.  When did you start your creative journey?
I started my creative journey the day I was born.  I've always been creative in one way or another, as nearly all children are, if they are given the slightest opportunity with materials in hand.  I did not consider art/illustration as a career until university, when it became clear I couldn't take the pressure of pre-veterinary medicine.

2.  What mediums and materials do you use for your artwork? 
I use a wide variety of mediums and materials for my illustrations and paintings - fabric dye, acrylic, oil, oil stick, charcoal, pencil, graphite sticks, canvas, various types of linen, and fabric.  I work with modeling paste, wax medium, sand, wood chips, paint chips, feathers, plastic netting and many other small objects and materials I've got floating around.

I'm returning to working in a very small format again, so will be using watercolour, oil and chalk pastels, pencil crayons and water soluble wax crayons.  It just depends on which medium seems to suit my subject the best.  I understand it's wise to have Photoshop skills as well.  It happens that my new landlords teach Photoshop, so over time I'll be adding this skill to my tool kits.

3.  When did the interest and love for unicorns come? 
I do have a love for unicorns though it came as an adult.  I was never exposed to them as a child and didn't even know what they were, until I was in my teens.  My real love and interest in them came in 2001, when I discovered a photographic book called Unicorns I Have Known, by Robert Vavra.   He was a great friend of authors James Michner and Ernest Hemingway.  He got his career start actually by doing all the photos for the now iconic book Iberia, written by Michner.  Now in his mid-seventies, he was world-renowned in the 1970's and 80's for taking animal photography and making it an art form.  He created beautiful color changes and transparent collage manipulations long before digital photography ever hit the scene - a true master of the medium.  It was so easy for me to believe the stunningly beautiful creatures on the pages of his book were real unicorns.  And to top it off, Vavra is an exceptional writer as well, telling the story of how he came to photograph them, and how he wove an interesting and credible tale.  I was immensely captivated from cover to cover.  From that point on, I became quite obsessed with unicorns and learned everything I could about them, which fortunately isn't much.  I got copyright permission from Robert to paint the images in his book, which is where the subjects of my unicorn paintings come from.

Nancy Thibert and her dog
4.  What style does your art resemble? 
It's a bit of a Heinz 57.  It's eclectic, collagy, combined with realistic elements.  I'm not actually sure what it resembles, to be perfectly honest.

5.  Where do you find your inspiration? 
I find them from nature, animals, art history, history and children's and teen stories, mostly with the odd picture or photography book thrown in, as was the case with Robert Vavra's Unicorns I Have Known.

6.  What artists do you admire?
Many, many artists and illustrators, and I do try to incorporate similarities into my work, but it never works out the way I want it to, if I consciously try to incorporate their style.  So, I just do what I do and let their influence show up however it does in my expression.

7.  What do you like best about being an artist?
The freedom that it allow me to express my soul, i.e. . . who I really am.  The expression part of it is usually very easy.  After that, I find it very hard, a lot of times, when it comes to marketing and promoting my work.

8.  What advice would you give other artists, who are just starting their careers in art?
If you're an extrovert - go for it!  If you're an introvert - be prepared to do other jobs to keep a roof over your head as you build your career, because promoting and marketing yourself and your work is very difficult for introverts.  I'm an introvert, so I know what I speak of.  To everyone - learn how to market and promote your work or find someone who will do a great job of that for you and be prepared to pay them for that service.

9.  Where can you work be seen? 
Currently, my work can be seen at my retail studio on Main Street in the tiny town of Nanton, Alberta, Canada where I also teach classes to adults and children.  In May, 2014 I have a Contemporary Solo Show at the Leo Koo Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

10.  How can people find you?
They can contact me by calling at 403-560-7860, by sending me an email to or by visiting my website,  I'm also on facebook as NancThibert, Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Heart Studio & Classes and Nan Thibert Fine Art.  My twitter page is nancythibert@peacefulmindnan.

Nanton, population 1800, is about one hour directly south of the City of Calgary, population 1,000,000, which is famous for the Calgary Stampede, one of the largest outdoor rodeos and exhibitions in the world.  People from all over the globe attend each year.  This is oil and gas, farming and ranching country, similar to Montana and Texas.  We also have a number of First Nations reserves in the province, one of which is the largest in Canada; and three of which are about an hour south of Nanton.  Alberta is quite literally the land of "cowboys and Indians".  You can see large herds of cattle and horses, giant farm machinery and oil and gas wells in the space of a mile as you drive along the highway south or north of Calgary.  Also, Nanton and Calgary are only 45 minutes from the Rocky Mountains, so think Denver, Colorado.

Thank you Nan Thibert for your wonderful insight and interview.  Below is her symbol for her art courses available for both kids and adults.

The Management would like to thank Catherine for providing us with this interview. For more on Catherine Lee visit

Writers can sign up on there...and get news...and also agency listings...and also exposure to publishing companies...they actually go in there to look at artists and writers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Non Fiction picture Book Links

by Susan J. Berger

 I attended the Writing Biographies for Children breakout session at the 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference.

 The Presenters were Angelica Carpenter, Alexis O'Neil, and Susan Goldman Rubin (I linked to Susan's Amazon pages so you could see what different thing's she's written.)

I loved their joy in their subject matter. I came away wanting to write a biography. Two days after the conference I woke up with a full blown idea for a Non Fiction picture book. How They Wrote It. I Googled the title and the idea because it was so clear to me that I couldn't believe anyone hadn't written it before. I've been researching and writing since last Tuesday and I have a first draft. That's a wonderful feeling.

I missed Michelle Markel's Sparkling Non Fiction Picture Books (Link is to her post about the event.)  Golden Kite winner Jen Chase Ferris' Primary Sources! Out to Find The and How to Use them.
I also missed Andrea Davis Pinkney's workshops. Andrea is both an editor at Scholastic and an author. Here's the link to her breakout session, From Idea to Acquisition: Turning Your Brainstorm Into Books from the SCBWI Conference blog.  I couldn't fined a report of her session - The Art and Craft of Non Fiction.

Just for fun, here is the GoodReads list Best Non Fiction Picture Books. Perhaps you would like t add to it.
Write on.

Monday, August 12, 2013


We don't have a post up yet, but in the meantime here's an interview and a book that sounds great.

Literary Rambles: ELLEN BOORAEM INTERVIEW AND TEXTING THE UNDERWORLD...: Hi Everyone! Hope you're all having a good end to summer or start of school for those of you who have kids starting school. We still hav...

Monday, August 5, 2013

.Picture Books That Will Never Be Published.

By Susan J Berger

My Granddaughter Grace reading to my Granddaughter Eleanor

I have a theory that kids learn to read more easily
when confronted with one sound at a time. I taught a second grader to read with Hop on Pop.

To that end I have written a few one sound picture books that are hopefully funny and publishable. Allyn Johnston at Beach Lane bought Log on Log. She has not yet rejected Nat The Rat and Fat Cat. Allyn is pretty quick with lovely rejection letters. She rejected Claire and the Bear. I will be shopping that elsewhere.

I love working with one- sound picture books, but some sounds make really bad books. For example: Fun with Nun and Hun. Even changing the Hun from a Nazi to Attila the Hun didn’t help.

Fun with Nun and Hun

Nun and Hun have fun in the sun.

Run Nun, run.

Run Hun, run.  

Hun finds a bun.

One Bun.

 Nun finds none.

“Bun, Nun?” asks Hun.

 Nun is hungry. “Yes, Hun.” 

“No. No bun for Nun.” Hun runs. 

Nun shuns Hun.

Hun has a gun. 

“No Hun!” says Nun. “Not fun!”

 Nun takes gun from Hun. 

Nun stuns Hun with gun.

“Not fun, Nun,” says Hun

Hun is done.

Now Nun has a bun and Hun has none.

Nun won.

See What I mean? I tried the “an” words. Hmmm.

Stan’s Bad Plan


Nan and Dan.


Nan and Dan go with Gran in the van.

Gran and Dan and Nan go to Jan’s.                      
Nan wants Jam
Dan wants Spam.

“I have a plan,” says Gran. She buys Bran and Jam and Spam.
A man in a tan van scans Nan.
“Gran,” said Dan, “the man in the tan van scanned Nan.”

Gran scans the man in tan.

“The man is Stan,” says Gran. “He is a bad man.”

“Scram, Nan and Dan.” Gran throws the can of Span at Stan.

Nan and Dan ran.

Stan rams Gran with the van.

Poor Gran.

Bad Stan.
Then there is Skunk and Monk. This one is almost publishable if I left out the work drunk…I put illustrator notes in parentheses, as the words have more than one meaning.


Monk and Skunk

Monk saw Skunk.

Monk shrunk. 

Skunk stunk.                                            (skunk sprays)
Funk.                                                        (Cloud of smelliness)
Monk in funk.                                          (runs to pond)
Monk dunks

Monk sunk in gunk.
Hunk of junk.                                             (old boot in pond)

Monk has spunk. 
Monk chunks junk at skunk.                  

“Punk!” says Monk.
Skunk bunks                                            (skunk flees)
Monk shrunk.                                          (His robe shrank)
Monk in trunk                                         (underwear)
Monks on Bunks.                                    (Monks lying on beds)

Thunk!                                                     (Skunk posse arrives)
Skunks on trunks.                                  (Skunks sit on trunks at ends of bunks)
Skunks stunk.                                        (spray)
Monks slunk.                                          (Run away)
Skunks in bunks.
Monks get drunk.
Currently I am working on Buck and Duck. It’s not going well. Hopefully I will find a sound that makes a good story. Please feel free to leave me a suggestion.

I apologize for any oddities in the layout and spacing. I returned from SCBWI's fabulous National Conference at 9:30 and couldn't make blogger behave.