Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt &Isabelle Arsenault translators: Christelle Morelli & Susan Ouriou
Turned onto graphic and art novels by David Small's memoir Stitches, my obsession has only grown in the year or so since. This summer I stumbled upon many new wonderful titles and Jane, the Fox, and Me is the latest object of my gongoozling.
Making every word count, making every illustration emote, Britt and Arsenault deliver a powerful story. I heart this gorgeous book and hope to see more from these two, as a duo or separately, I'm not picky. Here are a few useful links if you'd like a longer look-see:
Things change. They ebb, flow, grow, shrink. They shift. With every step, with every breath, things take on a new shape, and if we're paying attention, we can get caught up in the shape-shifting and feel everything as new. Different. Fresh. Somehow this is where I found myself this summer, observing subtle moments when I could feel my world revolving. Evolving. So, I grabbed hold and unfolded into the shifts and now, today, I find myself here at the storm row studio blog, welcoming readers.
So what's it all about?
Since 2011, I've been expressing myself online. First with my art site, gongoozler art, and then with a wellness and creativity blog called small yellow songbird. In 2012, I built a second blog as a writing home base for my independently published YA novel, wildflowers. The r mccormack writes blog has grown with me. Until this summer. When the artist-me and the writer-me and the creative-me converged, tangled and knotted. I could no longer deny they needed one, simple place to reside together, and so, storm row studio shifted into view.
You can learn the history of the name on the herstory page. As for my writing projects and art, it's all here together. In the near future I'll phase out r mccormack writes, though all its posts have been imported here, and the gongoozler art website, replacing it with an Etsy shop. Small yellow songbird has already been taken off-line, but elements of my wellness journey will show up here. Mostly because I've experienced first-hand how connected our creative lives are to our general well-being. With that said, it's fair to say creative expression is what this new blog is all about and I plan to heap loads of it into my posts. Here's a preview:
the drawer of wonders - showcasing inspiration through collected vignettes
on the worktable, in the typewriter, at the easel - sharing what's new in the studio
gongoozler book & art love - hollering about beautiful books, gorgeous art, and their gifted makers
re:Vision - an offering of useful tips for revising and editing
creative cheerleading - posts with lovely quotes to lift and boost
And now I'm off. To make art with words and illustrations. Thank you for stopping by and having a look around. I hope you check in again soon, as things are ever-shifting.
"Hanging softly over the black Singer sewing machine, it looked like magic, and when people saw me wearing it they were going to run up to me and say, "Marguerite, forgive us, please, we didn't know who you were," and I would answer generously, "No, you couldn't have known. Of course I forgive you."
Maya AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Last Wednesday teacher, activist, and artist Maya Angelou died. The news reached me via Twitter, as I happened to posting when a flood of beautiful sentiments filled my home news feed. Profoundly moved by tributes and comments, I read post after post. Her own words rang out and were shared by people of all ages, colors, creeds, and genders. It was deeply touching, and as an artist myself, several of the quotes people added to the conversation struck me in the heartspace. And not just because Maya's words are always succinctly powerful.
For me, part of the impact came in seeing just how many others had been touched by the same sentences or lines from a book or one of her poems. I knew she was popular, of course. She's a best-seller. But I didn't know know. And seeing the proof of how far one woman's words can travel, I had to pause and give thanks for her will to use her voice and pursue her life.
Then, in that midst of that pause, something new occurred to me. In the act of living her life with an expressive and willful nature, she's provided a great lesson for writers, artists, and...well...creatives of every kind. I mean, consider this: Maya was San Francisco's first African-American streetcar conductor...at the age of sixteen! She wanted that job, so she got that job, ringing that trolley bell with confidence. It's so wonderful and simple. And a great inspiration!
For many of us, the inspiration doesn't end with her writing. She also demonstrated her commitment to her own courage by actively perfuming the world with real ideas about equality and peace. How? By showing up and telling the truth about herself. By speaking from the gut and gracefully refusing to apologize for having something to say. In the end, this is what most of us want...to tell our story in our own unique way, with poise and clarity. Watching Maya do it, revealed how alike we all are in spirit.
"Don't reinforce its power by listening to empty words. If the voice says, 'You are boring,' and you listen to it and stop your hand from writing, that reinforces and give credence to your editor.That voice knows that the term boring will stop you dead in your tracks, so you'll hear yourself saying that a lot about your writing. Hear 'Youare boring' as distant white laundry flapping in the breeze. Eventually it will dry up and someone miles away will fold it and take it in. Meanwhile you will continue to write."
Haven’t we all had it? Felt it. Anxious to dive into a beautiful, new book, but also not wanting to disturb its crease-free cover and perfect pages. Marveling at the cover design, the interior formatting, and maybe illustrations while holding it gingerly and gently flipping. And then we go for it, hearing the crisp crack of the spine, we read—really read—the words. And if there are illustrations, we get in close to view every inch of art. This is book love.
After receiving a book order in the mail this week, I fell into my own circling spiral of book love and it inspired me to write, not a love poem, but a love post. And it all began with the delivery of a box.
I knew it was on its way, had tracked it online. But when it arrived, I saved the opening ceremony until I had an extra hour or so to enjoy the contents of the box. It was worth the wait. Inside lay three books I purchased as gifts. All were picture books and all were titles from the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list. The Amelia Bloomer Project list comes out yearly and features recommended feminist fiction and non-fiction titles for readers ages 0-18. I found the list by way of Twitter and when I saw that Hattie Ever After, the follow-up to Hattie Big Sky, had made the list, I knew I had to learn more about the Amelia Bloomer Project. Hattie, you see, isn’t just a strong, female character, she’s brave and curious and willing to put herself out there. She was created by author Kirby Larson, who I admire for her writing andher support of teachers and librarians. Last year around this time, Kirby invited me to write a guest post regarding Independent Publishing for her Friend Friday blog (read here). Very friendly of her, I thought.
So, as I sat marveling (as we do) over these three wonderful picture books I ordered, I decided I needed to make a friendly gesture myself. And first thing in the morning I logged on to Twitter and let the authors and illustrators of these books know how they’d touched me with their words and art. Let them know how pleased I was to be giving such great books to a little gal reader. And I also wanted to thank those who put the Amelia Bloomer list together. It’s an amazing list and I’ll continue to use and recommend it. And after tweet-tweet,-tweeting, I felt good for sharing some book love.
Here are the new books I love and will keep on giving:
As the story circles, tweeting about picture books and sharing led me to consider other forms of book love. Popping to mind? My most awesome friend and critique partner, Dawn, and her blog PBCrazy.Besides being a dedicated SCBWI member and writing rhyme that goes to the outer limits of amazing, Dawn also reads more picture books than any human I’ve known.I’m talking thousands here, and with that crazy love of the picture book genre, she decided to focus her blog posting on giving credit where credit is due.She records her favorite lines in books with Love that Line posts and chronicles stand-out finishes with her Fabulous Finishes posts.In addition, Dawn posts and tweets all things Smart Girls, honing in on efforts to bring more girls into the fields of math and science. As I contemplated Dawn and the PB Crazy blog, I knew I had to tell her about the books I'd just ordered (she’s picture book crazy, if I didn’t mention it) and the cycle of sharing continued.
And then the Amelia Bloomer list re-entered the go-round.
First, let me say my days and weeks have been full of writing and revising. My natural writing process is slow—very slow—and this past week, the end came into view (hooray), allowing me to do some work for the fRead Project, my personal giving program for Row Press.
One item on my list was getting my Goodread’s Earth Day Giveaway up and running, and once that was complete, I moved to a donation project for fellow writing friend Sara Frances-Fujimura who is organizing a local creative writing and service event to coincide with the readergirlz Rock the Drop movement.
With those three girl power picture books still on my mind and in my heart, with thoughts about how Dawn gives and shares book love and girl power, I began to think about whether the Rock the Drop donation could include a few titles from the Amelia Bloomer Project list. I happen to be a huge supporter of The Representation Project, an organization that challenges gender stereotypes in media for both girls and boys, women and men. And sharing books that show the successes of a main character overcoming a stereotype or that display characters learning or teaching about the hurtful nature of stereotypes is important to me. Though I don’t talk much about this (because the environmental aspect dominates), the idea of stereotypes is a central theme in my book wildflowers. In it, my lead character Keifer grows only when he recognizes the contributions of his grandmother, aunts, mother, and sister, Abi. His growth continues when he decides to let go of what he thinks it means to be a "guy" so he can just work on becoming his best self. This stereotype-challenging idea is also why I loved finding the Amelia Bloomer list, which highlights the best books breaking stereotypical ideas about girls and women.
My head swirled with all this data and an answer came, finishing the circle. Yes, besideswildflowersI had to donate three other books for Rock the Drop drop day, and since Sara liked the idea, it’s a done deal.
Now, I get to go back to the Amelia Bloomer list and pick three young adult titles. And when I have the books in my possession, the cycle of book love and book sharing will begin all over again. Round and round we go.
The Rock the Drop-Phoenix Kick-Off Event is an off-shoot of a creative writing and literacy day Sara put together for her Girl Scout troop a few years ago. Then Sara heard about readergirlz and realized she’d used the exact format they used for their Rock the Drop events. The only difference? Her troop collected books and donated them to charity instead of sending the books back out with participants to “drop” on Drop Day. No matter, with a few adjustments her troop members became Rock the Drop pros, efficiently getting books into the hands of readers on Support Teen Literature Day.
And Sara wants everyone to know, a person doesn’t have to come to the Kick Off Event (or be a teen...look at me, I'm an old(er) gal) to participate in Drop Day, which is Thursday April 17. Anyone can print a bookplate from the readergirlz website, put it in a book, and drop it where young readers can find it. Sara will have identifying bookmarks up on her website in the next week or two, as well. The plates and bookmarks describe the project and let readers/finders know they can keep the book.
This year’s Phoenix Kick-Off Event (a day of writing workshops and general book love) will be held at Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, Arizona on Saturday April 12 from 1pm – 4:30pm. Presenters include YA author Erin Jade Lange, Sandi Greene, and many other great people from the local kid lit world. For more info, click here. To follow the news for events across the nation, check out #RockTheDrop on Twitter.
Thanks for stopping by!
In closing, I hope this spring you'll consider committing at least one random act of book kindness, sharing book love wherever you can, keeping the circle revolving.
Need more information or would like to enter thewildflowers goodreads giveaway. Five winners will receive a signed copy of novel and an eco-vintage bookmark and keepsake box.
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Want to join in on the second round of #nerdlution. Nerdlution is a movement where a person makes a resolution (or two or three) and attempts to stick to it, nerd style, for fifty (50) days. I'm dedicating myself to daring, bold, and focused forward movement in my creative life. If you come on board, remember: inspiration, progress updates, and cheerleading are offered at the above hashtag and various blogs. Just follow the links on Twitter.
Once the winter holiday events begin, minutes, hours, and even days of normal life can evaporate from the December calendar. It takes focused attention to pace oneself and avoid getting lost in the hoopla. Lucky for this Creative, the last month of 2013 was rather low key, and with that, I was afforded a few joyful surprises. For starters, from writing to arting to projects around the home or yard and meeting with friends to chat about their creative endeavors, the past six weeks or so have been an artistic time. And what a breath of fresh air it's been to spend time recharging the batteries! Leading the charge, however accidental, was the #nerdlution revolution that I joined. Found on Twitter, I arrived at the resolution party a few days late, but tardiness didn't deter me from going for it. I made my list of things I wanted to implement into my life until January 20 and I began.
Here's my list as of a few days ago:
As you can see, it hasn't been possible for me to add in or complete each component every day. But because I wanted to make an effort, no matter how small, I ended up getting pretty inventive. Especially with numbers 1 and 4. Standing and watching the birds in the birdbath for a few minutes on a busy day counted for #1, and though the end of the year is always a charitable time for our family, I found giving random words of kudos or compliments or giving moments of my time (sometimes to myself) just as fulfilling as gifting tangible donations. On other fronts, like with 3, 5, and 7, I've had lulls where I would run out of ideas or lack energy to make them happen before the clock chimed midnight. But I still went to bed happy I'd had an awareness that they existed as intentions at all.
In the end, the whole #nerdlution ordeal has become rather personal, which is the reason I haven't been writing blog posts about it, as I committed to early on. I just needed it to be mine for awhile. And once this shift happened, my list became a much more serious change agent. Item 2 (read for an hour) took precedent. Books and reading morphed into the reliable stand-by research tool. Along with being influenced by friends' fiction recommendations, the 2013 Nerdy Book Awards, and my own To Read list, I dove into art and writing and business books, and even checked out a towering pile of picture books to inspire the creative spirit.
So, here we are. With ten days left of the challenge, I'm eye-ball deep in new priorities and attitudes and energy. Not only is the nerdlution list embedded in my daily doings and nightly gratitudes, but I found what matters to me, in this moment, and am using what matters as my guide. You know, one of my favorite quotes is Praise the bridge that carried you over(George Colman) and before I sign off, I want to thank the idea-makers behind #nerdlution and also the supporters. Thank you for the insightful and fun ride. I wish all those who joined in, read along, or did private resolution ceremonies continued successes.