Friday, May 3, 2013


JANICE:  Writing and illustrating books is hard but joyous work and has enormous rewards. The best reward of all is hearing about a reader relating to the story and being affected by it.

There are many other rewards and we recently had two. I was inducted into the august company of writers in the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) They have decided that children's books are literature. Hooray!

Out of 15 new members I was the only writer for children. Each of us was asked to read from one of our books, and I chose I, Vivaldi. Tom stood beside me and showed his illustrations. If only the organization was called the Texas Institute of Letters and Illustrations (TILI), Tom would be a member too.

I must say those august writers seemed to enjoy our picture book biography. It is indeed a book for all ages.

Even better was our experience at the Texas Library Association Conference in Fort Worth. Tom and I donated an original illustration from I, Vivaldi titled "First Lesson." It was raffled off at $5 per ticket to raise money for the Texas Library Disaster Relief Fund. Fortunately and unfortunately it will be used to help libraries in West, Texas, recover from the recent explosion tragedy.

Tom drew the winning ticket onstage before 4000 enthusiastic librarians. The illustration was won by Willie Braudaway, a library consultant. Congratulations and farewell "First Lesson."

First  Lesson
After the drawing we were ushered to front row seats for Neil Gaiman's speech that he titled, "What the Very Bad Swear Word Is a Children's Book?" a charming, thought-provoking performance by the winner of the Newbery Award for The Graveyard Book.

During the conference Tom and I signed copies of I, Vivaldi in our publisher's booth, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, with the help of editor Kathleen Merz. All very rewarding!

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