Saturday, September 29, 2012

two horses came by, an artist's inspiration

wandering around town
It's alway an inspiration to learn how writers and artists come up with ideas, especially when ideas happen to appear out your window.

Last week two horses wandered along a dirt road in rural Idaho. They stopped to graze in front of Cody Rutty's studio, just as he looked outside. He snapped this photo [left] then started painting. His time-lapse video of the process is really cool:  

Photo: with time-lapse :
acrylic on canvas 36"x48"
Cody's illustrations are in several of my books, and he'll be doing my latest. Meanwhile, I can't wait to see his next inspiration!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

watching golden retrievers play--one of life's small pleasures

My family and I call them LSPs: Life's Small Pleasures. Sometimes it's hard to muster enthusiasm for the day but watching dogs in the park always makes us laugh. They're stoked to be outside and goofing around, no problems or worries. LSPs super-sized!
Poppy meets Oliver for the first time.
A pair of 4-year-olds have a great time!
4-year-olds, Oliver  & Poppy, meet in the park for the first time ...
Take down and pinned.
... and become instant friends

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

prairie river series & fun interview with blogger

Leah Good

Leah Good interviews me about A Journey of Faith, #1 in the Prairie River series, recommending the books as "good, clean and entertaining reading." Yay! So here's her blog!  /

Kristiana, hard at work!

~~What made you want to write the Prairie River Series?
Scholastic wanted to branch out into the Christian market, so they asked me to come up with a series featuring a young girl who relies on her faith to get through tough times. I was thrilled by the challenge and opportunity to create Nessa Clemens and all the other characters who become her friends.
~~How much research did you have to do for the Prairie River series?
My mom and I traveled to Fort Larned, Kansas, to interview rangers and historians. There’s a wonderful ‘living museum’ at the fort, recreated to resemble the mid-1800s, which was the era for Nessa’s adventures. A cool gift shop had additional resources, books, maps & music (and chocolate!), so I loaded up my suitcase and brought everything home to Boise where I could study in depth. It was wonderful seeing the miles of open prairie and the tall sky, then writing about it from Nessa’s perspective. I was impressed by the constant wind and I kept seeing signs that said, “Welcome to Kansas, where the wind always blows.” Of course, I weaved this fact into all the chapters!
~~What is one personal lesson you learned from writing these books?
It was really hard to end Book Four because I became so attached to the characters. They’d been in my mind and heart for a few years, so when Scholastic cancelled the series I felt empty and sad. Apparently readers did, too, because the outpouring of letters was phenomenal. I learned that fictional characters can feel like real friends.
~~Now that you’ve branched into self-publishing, you should try to get permission to continue the series on your own! I’d buy the book(s)! :) 
~~What is your goal or mission as a writer?
To encourage kids to read. Also, to provide parents and teachers with stories they’ll enjoy reading aloud to their children and students. I like to knit a moral into each novel without preaching, and to show a world where parents are respected and where kindness is a virtue despite tragedy or hard
~~Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I’ve recently branched out on my own, and have published a young adult thriller on Amazon, as an e-book and paperback. My artist son did the cover and interior illustrations so it’s a real labor of love–as are all my stories–but after 30 books with traditional publishers, I finally have creative control. Exhilarating!
STALKED is set in 1912 in the tenements of New York City and was inspired by my great-grandmother who immigrated from Denmark. When I learned that the Dane she married–my great-grandfather–spent much of his life in an insane asylum in Wisconsin, my mind raced. How did this young man hoping for a new beginning in America end up “criminally insane?” What was he like when he stepped off the ship from Copenhagen and how did he get by the strict medical examiners on Ellis Island? Anyway, the novel was birthed by those questions, coupled with family lore that my great-grandmother worked in the Danish royal palace before her voyage across the Atlantic. So that’s my most recent adventure with writing!

~~Thanks so much for this interview, Kristi!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

not-a-critique-group writers

hanging out with Gloria, 2nd from right
We meet once a month at Gloria Skurzynski's place, a shaded deck alongside the Boise River and Greenbelt. Lunch is brown-bag but she spoils us with a pretty table set with fruit, cookies, nuts and lemonade. It's a friendly feast where we share our writing woes and joys, and specifically do NOT critique manuscripts. We just want to laugh and gab and hang out.

It's a comfort having Gloria as our friend. She's a mega-award winner of more than 60 children's books and she's been married to Ed for 60 years, so when she encourages us to keep going, to keep learning and to never give up, it means something.
 ( photo clockwise L-R: Elisabeth McKetta, Neysa Jensen, Amy Cook, KG, Leslie Gorin, Gloria, Christine Bender)