A Tale of Two Chowders

It was the best of chowders, it was the worst of chowders.

I love a good traditional milky clam chowder. By milky, I mean that it is not thickened with anything like cornstarch or flour. I realize that I am, apparently, in the minority here, because un-thickened chowder is actually very hard to find.

We recently returned from Cape Cod. I had a hankering for clam chowder, so the first day when we were coming back from a pleasant walk along the salt marsh, we stopped at a seafood restaurant along Rt. 6. “Is your chowder thick or milky?” I asked, as I always do before ordering chowder. The girl turned around and lifted the ladle for me to see, and it was JUST as I like it. Peter and I each ordered a cup with our lunch, and it was delicious – flavorful, milky/creamy with butter floating around on top, perfect! We wished we had both ordered a bowl and forgotten the rest of the meal.

On the way home we left too early to stop for lunch at Our Perfect Chowder Place, but we had to stop in Hyannis, so I did a google search for “best chowder near Hyannis.” One of the places that came up billed itself as a seafood restaurant and CHOWDER HOUSE. It was rated 4 1/2 stars on Yelp, and said that they specialized in chowder. It sounded perfect. So off we went, following a twisted route through residential neighborhoods until we finally found it. We went in and looked at the menu. I was expecting more than one kind of chowder, since they “specialized” in chowder, but there was just clam chowder. Ok, that’s fine. It was touted as “award-winning!” It certainly sounded promising! Thinking they MUST know what they are doing, since they actually had “Chowder House” as part of their name, I did not ask first whether theirs was thick or milky… We each ordered a bowl.

The anticipated chowder arrived. Set before us were two bowls of gelatinous goo that actually quivered as our waiter put them down. It was like clam pudding. We looked at each other with dread. Maybe it was so tasty that it would make up for the texture? We took a bite and found that no, it was not tasty. It was flavorless paste. A big jiggling bowl of library paste. I picked through it, looking for the potatoes and clams. In the process I actually got a couple of mouthfuls of globby thickener, whatever it was. “Award-winning?” Who gave this award? What was it an award for? “And the award for most terrible chowder on the Cape goes to….” Or maybe, “Chowder most able to support a standing spoon…” Yeccchhhh. Needless to say, I ate about a third of it and called it a day. A day of disappointment. Thank goodness we had some Goldfish crackers in the car.

So the life lessons I learned from this adventure are that I should take online reviews with a grain of salt, as it were; that awards (or the lack thereof) sometimes don’t mean diddly squat, and that they do not necessarily signify the value of one’s work; and that I should always, ALWAYS, ask if the chowder is milky or thick.

And the winner is….

Happy New Year, everyone! We have a winner in the book-and-plush giveaway contest! Drum roll please……..JONATHAN! Congratulations! I will contact you through the comments so that you can give me your mailing address for shipping. Thanks to all who entered!!

Virtual Book Launch

At least one person has asked me, “Why haven’t you had a book launch??” Well, good question haha… But I am going to do a virtual book launch! The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is offering its members the opportunity to get the word out from their site. It will go live on December 1st, so I hope you will check it out!

In conjunction with the book launch, I am doing a book giveaway. The prize is a copy of I Love You More Than Moldy Ham, plus a hand sewn plush monster to go with it.

plush

To enter, leave a comment below telling me the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten! Doesn’t that sound like fun? The contest will run from December 1st – 31st, and the winner will be drawn at random from all entries on January 1st. I will send the winner a reply message for address information.

 

Doesn’t that sound great? Let’s do it!

Podcast!

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for a podcast! It’s called Storybook Spotlight, run by the super-nice Karen Santhanam. We talked about my new book, I Love You More Than Moldy Ham, my twisted career pathway, and my ability to move one eye independently of the other. There was a lot of nervous laughter on my part, but other than that it went pretty well!

You can check it out here: http://storybookspotlight.com/59

Welcome back from the dead, Blog…

I see here that it has been a year since my last blog post. Dearie me. Well, here is what has been happening in Slugland, briefly.

First of all, I have a new book out! Just released (well, in August), it is called I Love You More Than Moldy Ham. It is the touching tale of a rotund monster on a quest to make dinner for his mother, and is filled with delightful bits of mucous, head cheese and, of course, moldy ham.

Cover of Moldy Ham!

Cover

DSCF4008

Whistle as I trudge along. Squirming insects join in song.

DSCF4007

I love you more than mucky feet, more than squelchy things to eat!

Check it out on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! And if you like the book, feel free to leave a glowing review there haha…

I was just interviewed over at The Writers’ Rumpus about the book and about some of my influences etc. It was a fun interview, so give it a look if you are so inclined! http://writersrumpus.com/

 

The other thing I have been spending time on is oil painting. I had my first group show at Bowersock Gallery in Provincetown, MA this summer, and it went well, yay. I have really been enjoying this – the style is quite different from my illustration so hopefully by stretching myself this way I am increasing my little gray cells. Here are a couple of examples:

 

Funny Action

Funny Action

Cryptid Encounters

Cryptid Encounters

A Deadly Game

A Deadly Game

The Cheesiest Shall Reign

The Cheesiest Shall Reign

You can find more examples on my website here.

And once I finish the latest one (Twinkie Terror) I am working on, it is time to start ornaments! Hoo boy. Running a bit late on that…but it will get done!

And there you have it, finally – an update!! I would promise to post more frequently, but I know better…

Kidlit Creature Week

KCWbadge

Wow, I see it has been a year or so since I posted on my blog…oooops. But here is something! Check out Kidlit Creature Week at http://www.birchtreepub.com/kcw/ All kinds of people are submitting pictures of creatures they have drawn/painted. Should be fun!

The Next Big Thing World Book Blog Tour!

Picture book tag: The Next Big Thing!

The Next Big thing Blog Tour has been traveling around the world visiting authors and illustrators and talking about their latest projects. My lovely friend Jeannie posted last week and tagged me to go next. First, check out Jeannie’s entry at http://www.jeanniebrett.com/news and her fantastic work at www.jeanniebrett.com! Then keep reading for my post. Or vice versa 😉

 

Ok, here we go!

  1. What is your Next Big Thing? Or your latest Big Thing?

I am going to talk here about my book, Ten Creepy Monsters, which was released in the fall. However, I also have a book coming out next fall, written by my cohort Deborah Lee Rose, called The Spelling Bee Before Recess. (see my last blog entry!)

61ZuJ8ZYzBL

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I have always loved monsters! When I was a kid I used to watch all the old classics with my dad – Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman. I watched Dark Shadows every day after school. I asked for a ring for my index finger for christmas one year so I could be like Barnabas Collins. I loved movies with giant mutant things in them, like THEM! (giant ants), The Beginning of the End (giant grasshoppers – starring a very young Peter Graves), and Night of the Lepus (terrifying giant bunny rabbits). I had a poster of Bela Lugosi on my wall right next to the Beatles and the Monkees… So it is only natural that I should finally do a book all about monsters!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Picture book.

 

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oy. Let me see….How about just a couple of them. Well, of course Bela Lugosi would probably have to be the vampire. Although he is dead now, which could make for difficulties in filming. How about Marty Feldman for the hunchback? The witch – I think maybe Carol Kane. And the goblin/kid… I would have said maybe Freddie Highmore, but he is too old now, so how about that kid from Modern Family?

 

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ten monsters gather on a dark and stormy night, and disappear as the evening progresses and the numbers count down from ten to one.

 

6. Who published your book?

Abrams Books for Young Readers.

 

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Actually, the first draft didn’t take too long – a few days or a week? That is the first draft, however. Much polishing was required, off and on over many weeks. And the pictures, of course, took longer – a couple of months for sketches, more for final sketches, 4 – 6 months for the paintings.

 

8. What other stories would you compare it to in your genre? 

These questions are getting harder! Maybe By the Light of the Halloween Moon by Kevin Hawkes  or 10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman  It has the same kind of countdown going on, but it isn’t quite as dark.

 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

LIke I mentioned before, my dad was a big influence on my sort of dark and twisted bent. I dedicated the book to him. Besides that, I have a group of writer/illustrator friends who kept pushing me to “let my freak flag fly,” as one of them said…

Oh, and may I just add, I considered it my duty to inform the youth of the world that vampires do not sparkle or shimmer in the sunlight. They burst into flames and turn into a pile of ash.

 

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hidden in the book are references to those old monster movies – For example, the name on the rowboat is from Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the vampire has a towel from “Bats Motel,” a reference to Bates Motel in Psycho.

Also, readers could check out my book trailer I put together!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ2xOIJetto&feature=youtu.be

 

And there you have it! If you can’t find my book online, it will be restocked in time for Halloween, never fear.

 

Now, I would tag someone else for this blog tour, but unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone to participate, haha… So instead I am going to just mention some new books by people I know who don’t blog, and you can just check out their books!

 

1. First up, Jane Cowen-Fletcher and her sweet book Baby Be Kind, released last fall:

199800_418273174875171_899593929_n

2. Next, Deborah Lee Rose – my partner in crime on the 12 Days books – and her new book about the most adorable baby koala, Jimmy the Joey: the True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue.

61bTHb-fRKL

3. And lastly, from Timothy Young, whom I met at the Baltimore Book Festival last fall, I Hate Picture Books!, just released last week!

71ljtjxqdWL._SL1000_

Thanks for reading this, and hope you enjoyed this small part of the book blog tour!

 

 

Worst Blogger on Earth

Yes, it is I, the Worst Blogger on Earth. It has been many moons since my last post. Yikes. But here we go, trying once more to keep you all up to date on my so-exciting news….

Ten Creepy Monsters came out last fall and did pretty well (I think. I haven’t gotten any sales reports yet.) But my editor did mention that they would probably reprint it next fall so that is certainly a good sign! Plus, a publishing house in Germany is going to do a small printing in German next fall, wheee!

In other book news, I finished the art for a new story by Deborah Lee Rose, my partner in crime on the Twelve Days series. Whew, it was a long haul, with many delays, but it will be released next fall. Below is a sneak preview of the cover!

Low res image of part of the jacket for The Spelling Bee Before Recess

Now I am trying to come up with a story that my editor says “should be something boys like; something smelly or yucky or gross.” Hahah, sounds good to me! Unfortunately, he also says it has to have a “hook” that will make people buy it… So now I am trying to think of holiday-related yucky things. Or counting smelly gross things. Or something.

I just signed up to attend the NESCBWI conference in May. For those of you not “in the know”, that is the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – whew, quite a mouthful! I’ve never been to one of these before, but I am hoping it will give me some inspiration! Just hanging around with all those people should help. Unless it just makes me feel hopelessly inept. In any case, I will be taking workshops in how to do a graphic novel and how to make your rhymes work, among other things. Should be interesting!

So that’s it for now, folks! I will try to do better in the future….ha!

When Vegetables Go Bad

Here is a new sculpture I just finished for a show at the George Marshall Store Gallery in York, ME. The show is in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Stonewall Kitchen and so is food-related. I haven’t done a multiple-piece sculpture for a very long time, haha, so it was a challenge at first… But by the time I got to the painting/embellishing stage, I was having a good time! I think I should start doing some more of these things.

So. We all have known them. Good vegetables lying quietly in our vegetable bins, peacefully existing amongst their peers… We look in at them; they look perfectly fine. And then, one day, with no warning… they have turned on us. Yes, they are VEGETABLES GONE BAD!!

Lock up your sons and daughters; the vegetables have gone bad!

Monsters!!

The artwork is DONE! Woohoo!! Well, almost done – I still have the cover to do, but we haven’t even discussed that yet. I am delivering the pictures to Abrams tomorrow – let’s hope it isn’t torrentially raining when I go…. They say it is supposed to rain every day I am going to be down there, oh sigh. But what the heck. While I am there I am going to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the met, and the Harry Potter exhibit in Times Square! And we have big plans for sushi and french fries, yaaay!

Doing the Batty Bat!