Abby Murphy is a self-proclaimed history nerd who lives in Providence, RI. She has donned 19th-century clothing to work at a living history museum, pored over manuscripts at a literary agency, she now teaches middle school students to read, write, and think. She writes YA historical fiction and recently finished a novel based on her great-great-grandmother, who traveled to Europe in the 1890s. You can learn more about the crazy talented Abby, what she's working on, as well as some yummy recipes, at KeepTheHearthFiresBurning.net
And now a bit about my writing process:
1. What am I working on?
With the fine people at Candlewick Press, I'm working on completing Jabari Jumps!-- a picture book about a little boy who, despite his big talk, may or may not actually jump off the diving board. Its a nail biter.
2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?
The most obvious difference is that Jabari Jumps! centers around a boy and his dad who are black. (There's a little sister in there too, but she doesn't actually do much 'cause she's just a baby.) But I think the presence of a dad who is kind and supportive, and obviously very involved, is a unique perspective as well.
3. Why do I write what I do?
There's a been a lot of focus lately on the lack of diversity represented in children's books. (#WeNeedDiverseBooks ) Its something that's been going on for well, basically forever, so I think its great that its getting talked about. But honestly, when I thought up Jabari over five years ago it was more a reflection of my life's experiences--like growing up and living in cities, my involvement with adoption and experiences with blended families-- than a direct reaction to the heartbreaking statistics . However, though I'm newer to writing, representing people of all colors and ethnicities is important to me and has always been reflected in my illustration work.
In the broader sense, I really love getting into the minds of young kids. Its always a challenge to capture that voice authentically, but when it's done well it's such a treat.--for young and old readers alike. So thats what I'm aiming for.
4. How does my writing process work?
Some phrase or scenario will catch my eye and then I try to build a story around that. I try to figure out what kind of character would say/do such a thing and then it builds from there. At this point, my "writing" looks like lists with tiny scribbled thumbnails and notes After several drafts, I move on to the drawing with bigger thumbnails and storyboards. Then I redo it a million times going back and forth between the drawing and the writing. My critique group keeps me from going crazy and makes sure I'm moving forward. Everyone can relate to getting trapped in the-- oddly comforting-- endless cycle of revisions, right? Thankfully, my crit group does not allow wallowing.
Ok folks, that's it for me! Abby thanks for having me!
Let's get to know Jorge, (from my critique group as well!) Russ, and AJ! Click on the head-shots to read more about their creative processes next week!
JORGE LACERA is a fun guy with a background in creating art work for television and feature animation. He has also created visual development for computer games. Now that he's a dad, he's turned his quirky eye to children's book illustration. While the work currently shown here is of the darker kind, Jorge is developing a children's portfolio that shows his warmer, fuzzier side as well. Jorge is particularly interested in doing picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, and YA covers.
RUSS COX was raised by a pack of crazed hillbillies in the back woods of Tennessee. Without much in the way of modern conveniences, like a television set or running water, he spent his time drawing and whittling away the hours. All of that drawing paid off. He has illustrated the Freddy the Frgocaster series written by Janice Dean (Regnery Kids), Major Manners Nite Nite Soldier by Beth and Mike Hofner (Outhouse Ink), A Merry Moosey Christmas by Lynn Plourde (Islandport Press Fall 2014) and his first book that he wrote and illustrated, Faraway Friends, will be released in April 2015 by Sky Pony.
AJ SMITH: I’m an author/illustrator specializing in silly stories and funny drawings for kids (and immature adults). I live in Newburyport, MA with my beautiful girls, Karen, Mirabelle and Chloé. My first trade picture book, Even Monsters comes out in Spring 2014.
So I've been keeping this quiet until it was official, but the papers are signed, and I can't believe it but: I HAVE A BOOK DEAL. (Yes, those caps mean I'm screaming at you.)
I'm very proud to announce that Jabari Jumps!, written and illustrated by your's truly, will be published by Candlewick Press and coming to you in time for Father's Day 2017.
(I'm having a hard time writing a super heartfelt post about how much this all means to me. So I'm going the animated gif route instead:)
I am so excited. And nervous. Giddy. I have been working towards this for a long time and am so happy the stars aligned and matched Candlewick and my little book up together. It is such a good fit. And wow, I will be in good company. WOW. I can't even...
The manuscript edits are finished and soon dummy illustration edits will begin. And then, I'll get to illustrate a book.
A BOOK. Guys:
Anyways, I can't wait for you to meet Jabari, his baby sister and his dad. But in the meantime, I'll of course keep you updated on how its all going.
Ok let's wrap this up with Prince:
I stumbled on this a few months ago. Its from an issue of Vogue from a while ago. Pretty awesome, right?
I thought it would be fun to pick out a few pieces for your living room to go with my Reindeer in Color print. Wouldn't these look nice together? They're all from West Elm and right now quite a few of them are on sale, so hop to it!
- Reindeer in Color print
- Metallic Chevron Pillow Cover
- Montgomery Sofa
- Gates Lacquer Side Table
- Kasuri Wool Dhurrie Rug
- Broken Stripe Pillow Cover
- Ceramic Animal Planters
- Reactive Bronze Vase
I'm seriously eyeing that chevron pillow for myself...
To celebrate Earth Day, I wanted to recommend two picture books. Wangari's Trees of Peace and The Tree Lady are each about women, on either sides of the world, planting trees to better their communities. Wangari's Trees of Peace written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter:
The Tree Lady, written by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry:
Happy Earth Day reading!
The film follows a small group of people who cryogenically freeze bodies after death in hope that they will be revived sometime in the future.
The subject is totally fascinating, (and a bit baffling?) and of course beautifully shot. Watch the whole thing here!
Congrats you guys!
Oh hey, look it's a post not about my print for West Elm (that's available right here!! Gah!) haha. Anyways... Who has seen the Divergent movie? We haven't yet-- and I'm blaming that on a certain drooling monster who seems to be demanding an awful lot of attention lately. (The cutest kind of monster, I assure you.) We were huge fans of the books and as each still came out from the movie, I found myself frowning-- She doesn't look like that! Where are all his tattoos? Why is he so pretty? Blah blah. Now I totally relate to the angst Hunger Games fans felt. Anyways, what did you all think? Still fun even though the protagonists are way too attractive? I'm guessing, probably.
I remember years ago taking one of my babysitting charges to the second Harry Potter movie. He was in fourth grade and spent the entire movie furiously whispering (and sometimes not whispering) to me about what was wrong with xyz. It was not fun. He was upset and crushed by the end of it. No amount of explaining how movies are different than books, and, they can't possibly include every scene from the book, made him feel better. I understood then, and of course I still do now. I can whisper furiously through a Lord of the Rings movie with the best of them.
I guess what I'm saying is, I really hope this is one of those times where it's just a fun viewing experience, as opposed to a three-hour-righteous-outrage fest.
P.S. Oh hey there's a Divergent summer camp. That's cool, I guess? Better than a Hunger Games one.
Elk On The Ridge is available for sale through Minted.com!
It comes in all different sizes and with a variety of frames. And you can choose the standard art paper, or the super deluxe archival, museum quality rag paper --fancy! I love that its going to be hanging up in people's homes... You can get your's here.
Like I mentioned earlier, this print will also be available through West Elm! Woo hoo!
I have some exciting news: my collaged pen and ink piece, Elk On The Ridge, was selected to be sold at West Elm through Minted.com. West Elm is one of my favorite stores. --Ever since Vanessa Holden took over as Creative Director in 2011 they've been killing it. So I'm am thrilled to be selling a print with them! It should be available any day now-- I'll let you know when! [Edit: It's now available here.] The above piece is actually part of a series I've been doing for a while now of animal portraits over collaged pieces of vintage paper. I started doing them just for myself and they've been really fun to do:
In this series, I've combined my love of animals and vintage paper. The pieces of paper were carefully chosen mostly from discarded children's encyclopedias. Its been a joy matching that perfect bit of color and shape with the right animal.
Would people be interested in seeing more? I'm toying with the idea of selling the others as well...
PS. The Every Girl has a great interview with Vanessa here if you're interested.
Imagine nearly losing your life, the ability to work for awhile, and a place to live all in one month. How do you recover your health when you have nowhere to go, a tiny income, and no one is willing to help? That is happening right now for my mom Stephanie-an award winning journalist and educated advocate who will be homeless May 1st after almost dying from sepsis and pneumonia in January. When no one was willing or able to help us find her a house I got creative, started this site, and decided to become an advocate for home.
Houseraiser was started for Stephanie but this is bigger then her story. Millions of people with so much to offer are struggling to simply have a place to live. If we can raise a house for Stephanie what else can we do?
So how it works is you pledge money and receive an art print and the money raised will go towards a home, or house project, for someone in need. I'm very happy to be participating with my House print (above.)
You can watch a news clip of Jessika talking more about it here.
Homelessness is a huge problem in our country-- and Canada, where Jessika is-- so head on over to show your support and/or start your own campaign: HouseRaiser.ca
Anyone else freaking out about this? I still can't believe it's happening.
So who else can't wait to go back to Neptune?
This video of how designer Rachel Antonoff's parents met is adorable. Plus it has a bunch of my fav actors in it! http://vimeo.com/78011502
I guess it's dorky of me, but it totally makes me want to make a video of how G and I got together. Aw. Happy Valentine's Day folks.
I can't get this Miley cover, by Postmodern Jukebox and the Tee-Tones, out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXYWDtXbBB0
So good, right?
This Ke$ha one is pretty sweet too:
…Cause it's true.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. ~ Martin Luther King Jr, from Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
I think I can speak for the both of us when I say my husband and I totally relate to the "new assistant" character these days:
"IQ of a genius and body of baby", indeed.