New Destiny Story

img_3132Destiny has a new story that will be released hopefully just in time for your Christmas buying. As fans may know the Destiny series has now morphed into Easy Reader Books!

This time Destiny has a problem that a lot of school children have: she’s being bullied and she makes a new friend!

I thought it might be fun to share a little about the illustrations for the new book, “Destiny Gets Bullied.” I don’t think I draw as well as I’d like. However, I have illustrated some books with drawings. Instead, of drawing, I’ve been illustrating these books with puppets. I made full size puppets for the last book, “Grandma Honey, I Turned into a Mermaid.” This time, there is going to be a whole classroom full of characters. So, I had to make everything smaller so they’d fit into my car and the photographer’s studio. Instead of simple backdrops, I am building sets.

I chose to make the puppets 18-inch size. That did several things for me:

  1. They are smaller puppets, so they take less fabric.
  2. At 18-inches, they all fit into the American Girl or Springfield doll clothes and accessories.
  3. Naturally, not everything I need for my sets are items I can buy affordably. Somehow it doesn’t make sense to pay over $100 for a piece of furniture, such as a couch that will be used for a photo or two. But that’s the beauty of going to 18-inch size! There are hundreds of postings on how to make almost everything!
  4. img_3149img_3150I’ve made everything from a rabbit and rabbit hutch to miniature food. I actually can appreciate movie sets and all the incredible details that are needed. A lot of things are manufactured from rocks to fake blood. Thankfully, we won’t need any fake blood!

img_3148I had a lot of fun making the rabbit hutch! When was the last time you go to make something with craft sticks? That was both fun and challenging. Then, there was the matter of needing straw. Hmmm! Well, mine is made from small pieces of yellow yarn. It did the trick. What every rabbit needs, of course, are yummy carrots. They were easily made from orange felt and green felt for the leafy ends.

I am almost down to creating the walls for the sets. These will be made from tri-fold display boards. Wonder what makes a window look realistic? Hmm…and how do you cut out a window and make it look neat enough? All things, I will begin to face in this last phase of illustrating “Destiny Gets Bullied.”

When it’s all done, I hope you all will tell me how well I did! I’m hoping it will be stellar. So far, I’m happy with the props I’ve made. I still have a few to go, such as desk/tables for the classroom. Lunch tables for the lunchroom, and what that lunchroom should have besides tables and chairs?

Tune in for my next blog.

Fall, Fairs, and Finding Items for Set Design

Today, the air was cool, giving us a slight sneak peek into fall! It’s one of my favorite seasons, when fall weather begins to grace our early mornings. Another fall favorite is community fairs and my favorite is the Cracker Barrel Fair in Wrentham, MA. I think I like it, because it is small and homey. The highlight is 4-H clubs showing their chickens, ducks, bunnies, goats, and sheep. They often sell cookies or raffle tickets to help fund the clubs.

I don’t know why I get excited seeing the children’s animals, but it’s so sweet to see these kids being so proud. One young girl was sitting with a chicken in her lap and had the chicken’s head in one hand and stroking it with her other hand. At first, I thought it was a duck, because the neck was so long. She smiled at me and said, “Chickens have long necks, but most of the time it’s compressed. When they get relaxed like this, then you can see the fully extended neck.”

The Cracker Barrel Fair has one very unique event, a huge yard sale. I found a prop to use in my latest craft project. Currently, I’m working on the next book in the series, Destiny Has Two Grandmas. I’ve been working on this book for several months. The children’s easy reader book is as illustration-heavy as a picture book. Instead of drawing, my artistic talents lie in creating 3-D puppets and props. With the new book, I’ve kicked it up a notch. I’m building sets for each of the six unique settings. There are 12 characters and 12 individual puppets to represent them. The classroom scene has posed the biggest challenge so far.

What has this got to do with community fairs? Well, the large yard sale helped me find another piece for one the scenes. I came home to make carrots for the bunny that I made last night. The bunny, of course, has a bunny hutch to live in, which I made out of craft sticks. A classroom full of kids needs carrots to feed the bunny, so I made cute felt carrots for my classroom of puppets. The school desks will be another challenge. The chairs are done. I made them from Dollar Store plastic tubs, which I cut in half. I used clear plastic jigger cups for the base. The champagne glasses did not have a tall enough stem on them. The long stem part is connected to the cup part, so the stem that is left is only a fraction of an inch, which meant that the puppets appear to be sitting on the ground.

I also enjoyed seeing the variety of bunnies that the 4-H clubs had brought. I checked out their eyes. Did you know that bunnies can have brown, pink, blue, or green eyes? I never knew it either. For my bunny, I chose brown. This prop of bunny and bunny hutch will go into the classroom.

My puppets are 18-inches. The scale for all my props and sets are for this size doll, which is the size of the popular, American Girl Doll and the American Boy Doll. It is roughly a 1 to 3 or 1/3 scale.

See link below for directions on how to make the bunny hutch.

bunnyhutch

Stay tuned. As I work on the illustrations, I will share more craft projects with you.

Diversity in Character and Author

wndb_buttonThe We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) at http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ gives out annual awards. You need to be a Diverse person and the book needs to have a main character that is Diverse. Currently, this award is for YA books. The guidelines describe Diverse as being:

  • Person of color
  • Native American
  • LGBTQIA
  • Person with a disability
  • Marginalized religious or cultural minority in the United States

Submissions are still open for the 2017 Walter Awards for self-published and traditionally published authors, and will be open through November 1, 2016. Details and eligibility information can be found http://weneeddiversebooks.org/submission-guidelines/.

We Need Diverse Books™ is a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.