“It’s time for a story Briley” said Burl as he opened his favorite book...
Whimsey Books Studio – Home to Leslie Ann Clark
(joined SCBWI in 1999)
In this day and age of violence, anger and all the seriousness of chaotic grown up STUFF, I felt the deep desire to create simple stories for children and parents to enjoy. I imagine parents cuddled up with their little ones and taking precious time out of their busy days to share stories filled with love, humor, warmth and a wee bit of adventure tossed in.
I remember only two times my parents read to me and the way it made me feel. I felt all was right with my little world. I felt loved and cared about. My own children always begged for “…one more story mommy”. When they were tiny they simply brought me an arm full of books and plopped on my lap. My grand kids did the same thing. Those are the things that make for a loving home and they show our children the value of time spent together.
If you are a publisher, I have many books ready to submit in the form of text and dummies and some color two page spreads.
Whimsey Books Studio is where I live on most days. It’s a fine little studio filled with love and light.
If you see something on my website (leslieannclark.com) that tugs at your heart , contact me at email@example.com
Something happened today. Some artist friends asked me if i got a word yet for 2021. A word being something to focus on during the new year. Yesterday another friend said her pastor asked their congregation the same question. I had said in my blog yesterday that I didn’t get a word yet but I was going to hunt one down.
This afternoon another friend posted a video of young girl singing a Disney song on Facebook. Many voices chimed in with her on the chorus. During the song they showed many children playing, jumping, dancing and being kids. It made me think of the video My sister so kindly made for my birthday on Sunday. It was of me and my sisters and brother as little children. I thought about what we were like as kids. I wondered how much of that little Leslie was still inside of me. Who was that little kid? Suddenly I started writing ….
I am joy
I am adventure
I am new
I am fun
I am creative
I am determined
I am happy
I am inquisitive
I am change
……..(to be continued…)
This was a powerful exercise for me for this new year. The words literally spilled out onto my page. I guess I could say I have many words for this new year 2021.
The Bible says this, “My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course.”Proverbs 23:19 NLT
Yes, we are to grow up and be wise, yet we are still Gods children with gifts in us. Has the world made us so very practical that we have lost our way? I do not want to grow up if it means losing who I was made to be.
Like my little sister Debby used to say in tears, “I don’t wanna grow up”!
Every year I get a word for the New Year. I happily bounce into the next year with wings on my feet. This year is different. I am patiently waiting. I think it’s going to be a very important word so I have to search it out. God does not leave me wordless! I will find it!
Did you get a word?
How many times can a person start over? Every day if you are human. As an artist, I find that every day there is fresh inspiration right in front of me. Color combinations, characters I meet on my walks, weather that surrounds me, friends I visit with, books I read, movies I watch and on and on.
The world is a fascinating place to live in. Even in our seclusion we can find joy. I am not about to stop singing or dancing out in the great outdoors. The fresh air fills my soul and I can go back to the studio and begin again.
In my seclusion I am finding new purpose. I am reaching out to people with encouraging cards I create just for the recipients. My imagination is taking off and heading in new directions.
Just like my little character named, “Peepsqueak” always says when we sign books, “All things are possible!!”
Covid the Alligator…
2020 found the whole world in lockdown, afraid to go outside for fear of contracting the big bad virus named covid. For weeks we put together puzzles, wore our masks, battled the smoke from nearby fires, Zoomed until we were tired of zooming, missed funerals, cancelled surgeries, graduations, weddings, church services, holidays, vacations and we can’t forget the rush to buy toilet paper and other items. (I for one, am glad I never ran out of coffee) WEIRD!!
Suddenly, Black Lives Matter hit the streets. Many jumped on board to support them not knowing that BLM was a marxist group intent on destroying the nuclear family. (Yep, I read their manifesto before they took it down). Black people DO matter. In fact, all people matter! Most of the country agrees but there are always the bad guys who love starting fights. 2020 made life very hard on our police too. Once again, a few bad eggs made the rest of our police suffer. Conversations with police in my own town confirmed how hard it has been for them to do their jobs taking care of their cities. WEIRD!!
In 2020 our president was impeached by the house and then acquitted by the senate while we found out that many of the ones shouting the loudest were those who were guilty of the things they were accusing him of.. but no one was arrested for it. WEIRD!!
Then came the election that will never end. The silence is eery as everyone awaits the final decision. We still don’t know! WEIRD!!
Am I am missing something? …perhaps the fact that the year sped by at record time while it felt like it was standing still. WEIRD!!
This year our Christmas celebration was in our backyard. Hot dogs over the fire. That was a first for us. It was a simple fare and only lasted for about two hours as the sun lowered in the sky and everyone got cold. WEIRD!!
NOW, with my foot poised, I am going to kick 2020 out the door in a few more days, never to return! I think most people feel the same way. The whole world is hopeful for a brand new year full of hope.
My studio is calling me! There are more characters to work on, and revise. There are stories to submit to publishers and greeting cards to design. I also have some fabric lines to sell. It should be a busy year. Let’s hope it is fruitful in every way. I have two friend who are homeless and living with generous people until they can get back up on their feet with good jobs. I pray for the best for them and for others who have suffered with loss of income. I am hopeful that this will be a year where those who were not affected by covid will reach out an help those who need it. Do you really need that new car? Perhaps you can help someone else get a car? Can you cut back in other ways so as to help someone get a job or buy a weeks worth of groceries for someone? Maybe you have a basement that someone can live in for a short time? On a Friday night you could go and visit your favorite restaurant and tip them BIG!
May your 2021 be your best year ever!
Almost everyone has heard of the phrase “Shiny Objects”. I decided to look it up online. It brought me to a website for entrepreneurs. The article spoke of SOS, Shiny Object Syndrome, and called it the disease of distraction. I have been distracted many times in my life. (Even this morning!)
When you have Jesus in your life and you take time to listen for Him, the distractions fade and Jesus, the true “Shining Object” of our faith becomes front and center.
I have been a Christian going on 45 years and Jesus has been true to me in every season of life. Together we have walked down some pretty rough roads. Daily I learn of why I must be completely devoted to him. The closer in relationship with Him that I am, the more the world and its cares fade into peace. His loves become my loves. His purpose becomes my purpose. He has taken over my house and I have never had such a wonderful house guest. You see, He is completely devoted to me too. Jesus is my shiny object and I am still captured by his love.
“But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” Hebrews 3:6
Definition of Rote
: the use of memory usually with little intelligence
learn by rote
: mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition
a joyless sense of order, rote, and commercial hustle
— L. L. King
As is often the case, I woke up with the intent of seeking out God. Most of you who know me know that I am quite passionate about Him. He often speaks to me “IN THE SHOWER!” I guess it’s where he has my full attention. I stand there with my Aqua Notes, ready and waiting. Today, I heard the word ROTE.
As you can see from the definition of rote, it’s not an exciting way to live. In fact, my personality goes against it on so many levels. But, in being truthful, I can see where I have allowed it to rule my life for many years because of fear of change, fear of failure, fear of what people think, etc.
Yesterday I was reading about an illustrator from Italy. She wrote about how she wanted to be a painter and novelist since she was 8. Now she is well known in her country and her art is amazing! She has a very long list of accomplishments and awards. It’s was so cool to see! I became inspired!
As the light went on in my heart, a questioned followed. “What is your passion Leslie? What are you doing now to pursue it?” I began to think of my successes and failures and dreams and what I was doing now to pursue them. It’s easy to walk down the “shoulda woulda coulda” road but it’s never been a road God let’s me travel on. He’s always there to point things out to me and spur me on. I love that about Him.
I have often lived by “rote” because it’s easier that way. It’s the path of least resistance. It somehow feels safe. Yet, a whole life of ROTE goes against God for so many reasons. First, it’s uninspired and can be boring exasperating, frustrating and depressing.
Imagine brushing your teeth… then thinking about it for hours…and wondering how others brush their teeth and wondering if you are doing it right and if you should get a new tooth brush or if you had the right kind of tooth brush and maybe you should watch a YouTube on how to brush your teeth better or buy more expensive tooth paste. ..or extend your thinking to include teeth whitening or braces or go to a trade show on dental care…aaack! BORING!
ROTE… I have spent hours on my art and hours trying to explain it to others and hope for their approval. It has taken me off the creative course. No one understands your creative process more than you. If you share your process before it’s time you risk aborting the finale, the ta da moment. The hard part is waiting. I for one, get so so excited to share that I can’t contain myself and I sabotage my efforts. (Haha! I’m working on that). It’s kind of like sharing your baby pictures! Do people really want to see your baby on the ultrasound after your prenatal check ups each month? ..or wait until that perfect little bouncing baby pops out screaming? (There are those kindred ones who love seeing your progress but beware of the stompers of dreams.)
It’s also important to know who you are working with and if you share the same vision. If you don’t, you won’t grow. You will stumble along on a path that is not yours or you will be on someone else’s path. It’s ok to jump ship. It does not mean the ship is bad, but to get to your destination you better take that leap of faith. If you are not leaping in your life are you living by faith?
The Bible speaks of God as being new every morning. It also talks about us being created in His image. We were created to create! Our lives should reflect our creators.
We may do some uninspired things by rote, like putting on our clothes in the morning and brushing our teeth, but in a world of decisions to be made, we should rethink “rote” through out our lives.
Let’s see, what should I change Lord? How can I begin living by leaping today? What rote habits have tied me down? Who am I listening to? Who must I please besides you? I’m listening…..
Sometimes work bogs down. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the way I process my thoughts? Today I took a break from my new book and played around with some new images. Taking a fork in the road is sometimes just the thing to stay fresh. I was thinking about my friend so this first image popped out of my pen. …but then I had to make her some friends…. I love to make little characters!
I am always making a To Do List. It helps me stay on task since my freelance jobs can be so sporadic….with ups and downs. When I have down times I embrace them. Those are the times when I can kick back and freely create whatever delights my soul. My last discovery came during this free time. This wonderful character came into my mind. She was so vivid I began sketching her right away. Enter Bitty Bettie! I hope to finish her story in the next few weeks. …keeping it fun!
Oh Bitty Bettie! And what are you dreaming of on this starry night?
Would you like to know the story behind this little “bit” of a Bettie? I was helping at the hospital by bringing food up to patients. I walked into a room and there was this little bit of a lady laying in bed. She was so little and so sweet and her name was Betty! I told her I was going to write a story using her name! She was a little “Bitty Bettie” and such a dear.
Now I am in the midst of writing her story! What fun to travel back in time to what it was like to be so little. Were you little? Were you big for your age? So much goes on in the minds of children as they grow up.
I remember going to the local grocery story when I was little. Who was visiting but the “Corn King”.
He was soooo tall! One little girl was so scared she cried. I remember vividly how sad he looked to see this little girls reaction. I felt sorry for him. I think it made a very big impact on me through the rest of my life. I always pull for the under dog… the ones who are picked on or left out. It could have easily been me. What really matters in life is the heart of a person. Watch carefully what you value. People are the greatest treasures on earth.
Oh wonder of wonders! I love when a new book comes into my heart. I was drowning in all my notes as you can see. I bought this nifty bulletin board to chart my chapters. Suddenly all the chapters came together. Yes, as an artist, it’s so good for me to have the visual in front of me. All these notes are now neatly arranged by chapters in my spiral notebook and my brain! Let the writing begin!
Onward into the New Year we go. Some are deep into their goals for the year. Some have weight loss on their minds, others may have travel destinations…still others are entertaining new attitudes about life in general…be nicer to people, live life on purpose, etc..
I found that the New Year has me in slow motion. I have a few ideas, but my usual clamor for my “Word For The Year” or my Grand Goals is just not happening.
I am in waiting mode. For so many years I have hopped through hoops and done what I was told. I’ve tried to please so many people that I lost myself along the way.
Okay….so I do have a goal..my one goal right now is simple. Toss it!
I am scaling down in all areas. As a visual person I find that too much stuff shuts me down..I need quiet and serene and clean. There will be a mass clean up in my studio. There will be rooms painted and the beginning of all things new. I am completely relying on God to show me the way. I am working on listening for His voice and He is speaking.
I am changing things up. If a person wants change they have to be willing to do things differently. 2018 will be full of adventure. Right now I feel like Abraham, not knowing where I am going….but it turned out ok for him!
Happy New Year Everyone!
A few months ago I was listening to someone on the radio talking about alpha-rhythms. There was a study done suggesting that it was a state of mind you are in upon waking each morning. A very creative state. It was suggested that you go straight to work in your creative area during this time as opposed to checking emails, surfing the web or watching tv…which shuts it all down. I had to chuckle when I heard it. I was reminded of an invention I dreamt of right before waking. It’s seemed “oh so real” and possible that I grabbed a pen and paper on my night stand and began jotting down the idea and sketching the prototype. My husband came into the room…I told him my idea…as I spoke it became clear that it was a bit whacky. Hahaha! Still, it could also be possible? All this to say, keep your pencil and paper handy on your night stand! You never know what idea might be hatching during your alpha-rhythm state of mind!
What lurks in your drawers? What hides in your closets? What’s buried in boxes under your bed or in the crevices of your life? It is different for everyone. When cleaning out my studio I found this quirky collection I began a few years back. I pulled the top off my coconut milk and slipped the plastic ring on my finger and thought…
“I could make fun rings out of these little things…maybe add some beads.. yeah…”
The next beginning was when I started making protein shakes about 3 years ago. I opened the canister to find a plastic scoop. I turned the scoop over in my hand.
“There must be a use for this scoop!” The scoop collection grew.
Which brings me to today. I have over 50 scoops and numerous rings… and it’s time to let them GO!
What’s in YOUR closet?
I LOVE a good magazine. There is nothing quite like finishing a long day and curling up in your Jammies with a delightful new magazine hot off the rack. I am very picky as to what I buy. Daphne’s is very fun. I was sucked into this issue by the colors as I leafed through it. Buying my magazines a process. I only look fast! If I don’t get a spark of interest in a few seconds, I pass. I savor my magazines for those moments in life when a bit of quiet and solitude is required. I wear jammies at home, warm sweaters in coffee shops on cold days. Summer days I go outside in my backyard to read. I love creating a dreamy atmosphere where I can get ideas and imagine.
One of my other favorite magazines is Artful Blogging. https://stampington.com/artful-blogging
Another is Where Women Create and hand Where Women Create Business. http://www.wherewomencreate.com/
These magazine really inspire me. My mother used to share her magazines with me. I must of learned from her. She always had a stack of them for me. I still tear out ideas for color and design and tape them in my sketch books.
What inspires you?
Everyone needs an occasional “Snow Day” in their life. Fortunately I was able to be home today. The flakes are huge and this time of year there is the threat of falling branches.
I’m spending the rest of the day by the fire with my drawings! Hubby is trying to get the big branch off his Workshop! It’s Springtime in Colorado!
It’s fun to watch a child read a book. Their eyes are captivated with story and pictures. Their imaginations take off. Many times they ask you to read the book again and again. My book, Peepsqueak goes a step further. After reading it a couple of times, the child can read it to you. Boy oh boy, do they love that! They feel they can read all by themselves.
Here we have two Peepsqueak fans doing just that! Thanks to my friend Karen S. For sharing this picture. I love it!
“Build it and they will come.” It’s a famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams”.
In my case, it’s a new area in my home where I can devote myself to writing my stories. Until now, I have found myself scattered around in different places, trying to find the best atmosphere for my work. My art studio, coffee shops, our little travel trailer, the library… but nothing seemed quite right. I would find myself getting distracted.
One day I picked up a magazine called, Where Woman Create. An artist told about her studio set ups, all THREE of them. One studio is in her house, another is out in her backyard and a third is in her basement where she builds her frames for her paintings. My mind went to a room in my house I affectionately call the YaYa room. The closet is full of toys for our grandkids. The sofa bed is ready for when they spend the night. BUT, mostly, the grandkids grab a toy and head for the family room. Basically, it is an unused space until now.
I went to Habitat for Humanity and purchased a door. I set it on top of a file cabinet and another small table and painted it black. “Voila!” a desk! Oh… I did have to paint the walls too. They were green, now gray! I love the peaceful tone. My sister gave me some lamps a couple of years ago. I replaced the shades with these white ones. The whole setting is magical.
I worked all day on a new story. What fun! A new place and a new grace. Keep on creating!
Leslie Ann Clark
After months of working on my new book, I finally finished up my dummy and sent it off to my editor. I am pretty jazzed about it. It’s my baby. If you have ever had a baby, you are convinced that yours is the best looking baby around… while others are thinking… “What a funny looking kid”. Haha!
I am hoping that others will love my baby too. I made it for others to enjoy! Parents reading to little ones, those are my target audience. I can picture them reading this to their little one on a cold winters night before bedtime. I love the idea of wide-eyed little kids being swept into a story… walking into the very pages and settling in. I hope my editor likes it!
(If you don’t know what a dummy is, it is a prototype or mock-up of a book).
I have the hardest time packing for a trip! What to wear is no big deal, but when it comes to what I might NEED I think long and hard. I usually take a back pack. This time I took a tote and a back pack. I might get bored.. I might want to do sketching, I might want look for ideas in a cool magazine or two or three,.. I should read that issue of What Women Create:Business. What about a notebook for writing? I always get ideas. So, I should take some pens too. And I have to read my Bible. Will I need my markers? An eraser and pencil sharpener? The list goes on. ..and ON!
This is Part Two of my last blog. There is no vacation for an artist ! Unless you knock us out! Haha! OH! Did I mention my trip was only an overnight trip? Haha! My husband usually asks me if I would like to put my STUFF in the back of the van? “NO!” I say, “I might NEED it!”
Help me! Haha!