Common Core Standards

Thursday, October 31, 2013

HOLLY WILD: Keeps Me Hoppin' With Books 3,4, & 5

HOLLY WILD (Book 3) Packing for the Porkies!

After months of struggle, revising and reworking, book 3 of Holly Wild's adventures is out! Well, almost. The first 50 copies sold out and the 1,000 offset books are due next week. Yes, it is akin to childbirth. I call, write and nag the printer daily then weekly (prenatal visits) to make sure it is all good, all right, all done the way it should be. Cut the cord already, Lori! Now I wait to receive those babies, swaddled in corrugated cardboard. The due date, November 4th. An early birthday present to me!

Speaking of swaddle! Books 1,2 & 3 will be bundled in a designer Holly Wild bandana at holiday shows this year. Check my site for show dates if interested. The bandanas come in Lake Michigan Blue, Porcupine Mountain Green, Beaver Island Red and Kenny Orange!


What next Lori? Write Book 4 of course! I have not yet settled on a permanent title, nor told my editor-in-chief and chief-cook-and-chicken-washer, Marie Rust, about my title. I am a corn-aholic. So they say-- my editors, business partners and house mates, Lisa and Marie. I am corny. "But kids love it, so they say," I say.

OK, Lori, can the corn. What's the title? Give us a hint! So you ask. OK. Here goes. HOLLY WILD: (Book 4)...Questpedition for the Holly Grail. Tah-dah! Drum-roll. Corny? Funny? Enticing? I hope so. But let me know your thoughts and opinions oh, valued and patient reader of my blog. Please!

Looking back--yesterday--it amazes me just how quickly I put the first rough draft together. Two weeks! (I call this my MiGraFiTWeNo!--or in corn-ish--my Mid-grade Fiction Two Week Novel) Of course, this is so because the characters are known, they are family, and are ever present in my mind. Some old and some new will trot through the book as in the past three. This book was fun to write and intuitive and a bit different in plot--a quest. Holly and her Team are wrapping up the summer. It has been three weeks on the road and now they must return home--after receiving devastating news. But first they head east into the U.P. before hitting the bridge and the dreaded South I-75 sign, shudder, and become 'trolls' once again. Full circle. Wrap up. (Book 1-5 will be the Holly Summer Pack!)

The characters T and Sie take a more prominent roll on the stage in this one. The three blend so well and play off each other so superbly in the first and second book that they all needed to come back big time in this one. And for good reason. Ah, mystery.

It wrote quickly because we just returned from Tahquamenon Falls a few weeks ago. My mind observing and absorbing the area to bring it home and into the laptop. I see Holly changing and maturing through this book. So different from the first. In fact, I have an exhibit at the Riverside Arts Center Gallery this month in Ypsilanti. I have my writing a and illustrating process out in a portfolio for folks to peruse. I flip the pages and see how Holly changes. Like a real child. Like even my own granddaughter. Who wouldn't be changed after a summer like Holly had.

Which bring to mind all the parks, state and national I have been to this summer! I made a list to see where I have been because I scratch my head and think, "What did I do all summer? Right. Camped, rode a horse, camped! Here is a list if yo want to know where I have been since June! Ludington State Park (twice!), Hartwick Pines (twice!), Tahquamenon Falls (river Mouth and Lower Falls campground), Hiawatha National Forest (Flowing Well site), Manistee National Forest, Fisherman's Island, Interlochen, Beaver Island (we can call that one a big island park!) , a state park in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin, and the crown of crowns...Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. No wonder I am pooped! Everywhere I go I am always thinking, "What would Holly do?!" and it usually happens.

So while Book 4 incubates (it goes to the editor during her art show hiatus in January) on to Book 5! Holly's return to her hometown of Hayfields. The Urban Wild. A Wild 'family' reunion ensues on Belle Isle! We at Bear Track Press hope to have both books out next year by this time and then maybe start some picture books. No wonder time flies!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Return From the Isle Du Castor--BEAVER ISLAND!

What an amazing trip it was.Sunny, warm and beautiful--the people of Beaver Island, and the weather too.

After camping overnight at Fisherman's Island State Park and getting up at the crack of dawn, I packed my tent in a rush. The mosquitoes and I ate breakfast in the Jeep and I washed my hair with a water bottle. Did I mention that the park is a rustic camp? One of the best! You have to pump water by hand, walk the shore for Petoskey stones and unfortunately listen to the gravel plant nearby at night. But the sound does lull you to sleep.

I got to the boat dock and from there on it was a scramble. Unload, repack, unhitch bike, hitch luggage cart, buy the ticket, park the Jeep, come back from the parking lot a mile away and board the boat. Whew!
Once aboard I immersed myself in my sketchbook working on Book 4. I know, I know. But I had seen the Charlevoix bridge raise before and watched people wave--eleven years ago! I think I was a bit nervous with my solo journey ahead and having to time everything just so--a library program to give, art show to set up for and an author panel talk all in the next day.

St. James Bay
But after chatting for 2.5 hours with a lovely gentlemen and his family (on the Beaver Islander and not the Emerald Isle boat) we arrived to the island. A boat with waving, shouting passengers skipped past us as a biplane buzzed over us with a stream of smoke. Quite the fanfare! They must have know I was arriving!
Beaver Island Community Center
I got off at the dock to the usual hustle and bustle of baggage and people scrambling and hugging. I saw my bike wheeled out and then my cart. I knew NO ONE on the island. NO ONE was there to meet me. Gulp times ten! OK, maybe the plane and boat show was not for me. So I pushed and pedaled my way to a corner of the boat lot so my gear would not make a return trip to the mainland. After hopping into the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce Office I put in a call to Patrick McGinnity, the island's new librarian.

Patrick was there in a heartbeat. I had oodles of luggage and we dropped all of that helter skelter into his small car and car seats--with the cart hanging out back! It was comforting to see that he looked like a relative of mine--my nephew. So I felt at ease right away. Patrick is a red-head. I have red-headed kids, grandkid and nephews so he became my family right then and there.

This week was the island's annual celebration of Museum Week. The subject of my first HOLLY WILD book. And for me to be participating in this week long hooplah was beyond amazing. To think that the story I wrote about in Bamboozled on Beaver Island was eleven years old astounded me. But even more, the fact that I had not actually participated in the book's Museum Week story and I was now was hilarious!

I met so many wonderful people, young and old. Maureen Keating, a Notre Dame intern whom I shared the house with and Rod Navvrick who escorted around the island giving us facts and history. So many super artists and authors, Lois at the Beaver Island Art Studio in town and Dan Hendrix who wrote The King's Daughter to name a few.

Many, many thanks go out to Sue Thomson of Livingstone Studio, Patrick McGinnity and his adorable family, and Bill Cashman of the island's Print Shop. I felt immediately swept up into the island arms and fell into island time. They are one big, caring family and I am grateful that I was there to experience that. The island is a treasure to be cherished. It's more than the land--its the people there.

Thanks to the Damstras, the Archipelago Builders' House was my HQ

Beaver Island District Library program. I took the kids out front for a Scavenger Hunt
The Mueum Week Reading GeEK art that the kids and I made. It takes an island!

I had a loon fly over calling, super Pub food, Daddy Frank fare and a blast meeting so many fine folk.
Before I had to leave the island I was invited on an impromptu trip to see Fairy Rock, where it is said that faeries dance. When I came to the island eleven years ago, I came in search and study of the mysterious Stone Circle as well as beginning the writing of LISSY-LOST! (which was published in 2003).
What I came away with from Beaver Island was the HOLLY WILD story and series and new friends.
Fox Lake! I had never visited the lake but yet wrote about it in the book. I chose Fox Lake for the events in the story because it was closer to everything else going on. The real lake where the real story happened (finding the mysterious creepy arm/snake thing) was Lake Genesrath at the south end of the island. Fox Lake looked as I had imagined it. There were even "beaver pencils" and a trail that I wrote about! 

Sad to pack and go. The visit too quick, but I will return!

AND I WILL RETURN!! For next June I am presenting an Island Illustration Adventure 4-DayWorkshop.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

News and More News!

  • News flash! "Wise Sydney" has been released and is featured at this week! Written by Courtney Strimel and illustrated by Lori Taylor, ME! I will be working on another MeeGenius title this late August.

  • Heading to Beaver Island for none other than MUSEUM WEEK! Tuesday, July 16th I hit the shores of Lake Michigan's Beaver Island. Doing a library program in the awesome times ten Beaver Island District Library on the 17th and also selling and signing books at Gregg Hall in St. James Bay for the Museum Week Art Show the 17, 18, and 19th. 
  • Taking a long, long, long time for this big, big book about a big, big place! HOLLY WILD: Packing for the PORKIES! (Book 3) is moving along to make it fantastic. I have hopes for it to be released in August, but I will be happy with getting it put together and sent to the printer in August at this point. The Beaver Island trip has put a temporary kink in things. Then the Bear Track Studios/Press team heads out west to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for vaca in early to mid-August--that should be a rip roaring, rooting-tootin' time!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Good News, Good News!

In the words of Aunt Kitty in HOLLY WILD: Bamboozled on Beaver Island (Book 1), "Good news! Good news!"

Next month I will be heading to Beaver Island, that unhurried, unspoiled island in the middle of Lake Michigan to finally do a book signing there. Even better, I will be doing this during Beaver Island's Museum Week celebration.

Why is this such good news? Because twelve years ago when I last visited the island, the story that is Book 1 happened to me there and the story I wrote about was Holly's involvement with fictional Museum Week festivities. Holly and her friends happen to be on the island visiting their Aunt Kitty and supposed to be relaxing and in vacation-mode during this time but instead bumble into trouble.

I originally went to Beaver Island twelve years ago to write stories for kids. I wrote and sketched and drove and wrote and drove some more (took my van--gas there is NOT cheap). What happened when I wasn't looking, as when all good things happen, the story happened to me and my daughter and friends. What transpired is a humorous and educational story for kids and adults alike.

Book 1, Bamboozled on Beaver Island will be two years old this October and much has happened while I wasn't looking! Yes, it took a long time to put the book together (23 revisions throughout six years). Wrassling with characters, wrangling with plot, editing,  illustrating and studying how best to get Holly Wild out there to be embraced by kids.

Now I have retired from my "day job" as graphic artist and added book marketing to my now full-time writer and illustrator career. I am working on the new cover and waiting on Book 3 to be finished editing (chomping at the bit) and beginning to start an outline for Book 4 and 5. I never knew Holly was going to go this far! But as I go along I see and hear Holly change and mature during her summer adventure quest and also see how the story will eventually come around full-circle. "How exciting! How exciting!"

Oh, how Holly has grown! Since that day long ago the book and programs have visited schools, libraries and nature centers and more recently the Michigan BSBP, Braille and Talking Book Library will be recording the story read aloud so folks with visual and physical impairments. Good news indeed!

So before that old Emerald Isle boat leaves the dock and to celebrate my return to the island, I am offering a FREE pdf version of that first book, HOLLY WILD:  BAMBOOZLED ON BEAVER ISLAND (BOOK 1) on my website. Read for yourself why Holly Wild is getting kids into the outdoors!

Monday, May 13, 2013

If You Give a Kid a Camera--They May Surprise You!

The following pictures are from a photo journal as seen through the eyes of an 8 year-old in Detroit for the first time. My granddaughter, Kyah, was joining my daughter Jen and her baby Mae and me on a trip to the Eastern Market and Belle Isle'Aquarium for Mother's Day. 

It was the first time that Kyah had ever taken a real camera with a zoom on a trip to record whatever caught her eye and attention.
Detroit's Eastern Market--what a fabulous place to photo journal with all of its sights, sounds and smells--was the first stop before the aquarium. (Unfortunately, the camera battery died by the time we got to the aquarium).When we got home to look at her photos I was astounded at Kyah's insight and subject choices.

Her subjects spoke of love and compassion while others held great humor--all of the stories told with composition and focus. Here are subjects that to an 8 year-old that are important and beautiful and things we walk past daily.

If you give a kid a camera, they may drop it. (She didn't, but I dropped my brand new Polaroid) But if you give a kid a camera, it keeps them engaged and gives them a tool to observe the world. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Picture Book Show n' Tell

My Second Picture Book Illustration!

Tiny Sydney is shy and embarrassed that he doesn't know the right answers. Afterall, owls are wise, so he should have all the answers. Why should he try if he doesn't know what, why, or even who he is? When Sydney discovers that he IS caring, wise, and more importantly, all that he needs to do is be himself--he soars. This is the story in a nutshell due out next month from MeeGenius!, Wise Sydney, written by Courtney B. Strimel.

Copyright Lori Taylor
Copyright Lori Taylor
I wanted to share this tiny tale with you as sometimes all of us feel like Sydney. Unsure of the unknown. All it takes for any of us to soar is to believe in our wings. And it never hurts to have someone point out to us that others have flown this way before and that it can be done.

Copyright Lori Taylor
When I was offered to illustrate this story, I fondly remembered my encounter last summer when I sat calling screech owls on the front steps. These nightly visitors to my studio window, three of them, sang at dusk as they combed our catalpa tree snacking on caterpillars. Talking with them was fun and impressed my granddaughter that I could speak owl. They would answer me and come in closer bouncing on pine boughs, silhouetted against the purple sky.

Owls, particularly screech owls, have whinnied and floated into my life at various points of transition and life change. I've had many conversations with them through the years and know that when one shows up I need to pay attention and that things are about to change. And they do.

My office is filled with many owl carvings, images, and sculptures to remind me that they seem to know where to find me. And like Sydney, when I feel like I don't quite know what, why or who-o-o I am, that I will soon leap out into the dusk and find the answer on my own two wings.

Happy Soaring!

Copyright Lori Taylor

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Peek into My FIRST Picture Book!

It is done--finished--complete! I celebrate!

I just illustrated my first picture book. What a fantastic learning opportunity. I want to take you through a few sneak peeks of what is in store in this ebook that will be coming out soon. I was so excited to be offered this project by a fellow S.C.B.W.I. member, Sarah Perry. The book is an alphabet adventure with the Old Woman (who lived in the shoe). So, OK, this woman has lots of kids. Sheesh! Lots of character sketch time here. But first, I needed an old woman. A hip mother--loving, spunky, with-it and funky--of a LARGE multi-cultural family.

 "Who do I know who has lots of kids?" BINGO! Leone Trese! She was a one-time Clarkston, MI neighbor and resident.  I had taken an O.C.C. extension biology class with her many, many years ago when I was in my teens. At the time, Leone, working toward her LPN degree, was pregnant with her 17th child! The family as it turned out lived right behind us years later when I moved to Clarkston (at the edge of Ortonville). She was an inspiration indeed. She and her husband not only cared for this large clan of loving children, who by the way, all looked alike, but they cared for other children as well through their social work in the Flint area and Oakland County.

My OLD WOMAN character would the sassy, savvy Leone. (You have to sassy and savvy to have that many kids and do what she did!) Leone, you are remembered. She was an Ortonville Optimist Club member, church volunteer and became an RN. I often saw her planting flowers and handing out smiles and wheeling around two fully loaded grocery carts. She was at one with her busy life that she chose joyfully. Sadly, she died from cancer at an early age. Cheers to you Leone, you did a great job. Here's my tribute to you...

Most moms and caregivers spend their day in  their cars, vans or in this case, Mom Shoe--
getting kids to their classes, events, and activities on time!

AND at the end of the day, after the car and kids have been parked...
it's me time...for about five minutes!