New, New, New – Lots of NEWS!
I can’t believe I haven’t posted a blog since December, but that pretty much sums up how busy I have been! Since my last post, I’ve completed a middle grade novel, which is being read by a few literary agents (fingers crossed!). I’ve also started writing a NEW middle grade novel and am about halfway through. Mackie Bushong, my long-time graphic designer created a darling NEW logo for me. I’m showing off a NEW smile, having just finished a long run of wearing Invisalign braces. And a Houston NEWspaper ran an article about me [Southwest News, April 23, 2019]. But my most exciting announcement is the upcoming launch of my NEW children’s picture book, Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn.
DRUM ROLL …
Here’s how YAZZY came to life! One day, a random burst of inspiration set my NEW book in motion. Author Elizabeth Gilbert refers to this as BIG MAGIC and even titled her 2015 New York Times bestseller as such. Well, here’s how my own big magic popped into my brain, giving me the idea for my story. Ever since I launched Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, friends and acquaintances have enjoyed sending me photos of art cars that they see or read about. I cherish (and smile at!) all the various pictures I receive. A few years ago, a friend I’ve met online through social media—Gia Volterra De Salnier—sent me a photograph of an art car/bus that she read about … covered entirely in YARN! Gia likes to knit and crochet, and she also runs a Facebook group to support kid-lit writers called Promoting Picture Books. I was fascinated by the photo that Gia shared, so I started digging a bit more. What I discovered was a fairly NEW phenomenon called YARN BOMBING.
Turns out, the photo Gia sent me was a Mexico City bus that had been yarn bombed by an amazing textile artist, Magda Sayeg. The more I read about Magda and yarn bombing, the more inspired I was to write a NEW children’s story. Magda is credited as being the mother of the yarn bombing movement. I learned that in 2005, Magda was feeling bored at her store in Houston, Texas, when she decided to knit a cover for a metal door handle. That first project led to more street art, and before long, Magda’s fuzzy art adorned neighborhood stop-sign poles, fire hydrants, and statues.
Large-scale projects followed, and Magda has since yarn bombed the bus I’ve shown, as well as a double-decker bus in London, ninety-nine trees on the University of Texas campus, and more. In November 2015, she discussed her ten-year body of work at a TED Youth Conference, where she asked teenage listeners to consider what they might make if they, too, put down their electronic devices, controllers, and cell phones. Other notable yarn fanatics are also associated with yarn bombing, and I’ve enjoyed reading about their colorful installations.
So, with my NEWLY-acquired yarn-tastic knowledge in hand, I wrote a playful children’s story. In it, Yazzy is a creative girl, always sketching out her next adventure. She loves yarn, and she loves to knit. Her neighborhood park is dull and rusty, but Yazzy has a grand plan. With help from her friends, she transforms Penny Park into a fuzzy rainbow of warmth and color. The book includes a “History of Yarn Bombing” for readers who are not familiar with this whimsical form of art. It’s suitable for readers of all ages, but especially children who are 4 to 8. ISBN: 978-0-9961150-1-8 (2019).
Once my story was polished, I discovered a remarkable artist named Emily Calimlim of The Woodlands, Texas. We decided to tackle my project together, and I’ve made a wonderful NEW friend in Emily along the way. Emily has illustrated a few other children’s books, including: Goodnight Lakewood and Goodnight Park Cities, both by Jaclyn Amend (2017, 2018); and Adventures with the Jujukas: Lauren For President by Kadeja Wexler (2017). In addition to helping create books, Emily also does beautiful child and animal portraiture as a professional freelance artist. Her website is: http://limlimillustration.com. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with Emily’s hand-drawn, watercolor illustrations just as I have.
In addition to book publishing and writing, I’ve also done almost twenty more school visits (since my last post), and my NEW total will hit seventy by next week! With each presentation, I gain wisdom, experience, patience … and I have a lot of fun, too. The best part? The children and their delightful innocence. I’ll wrap up this post by telling a few precious (and sometimes hilarious) examples of what I’ve heard over the years:
Inspired Kid #1 = “Can you tell me again some of those suggestions for how you get great story ideas?” (I was happy to repeat!)
Amazing Kid #2 = “I’m going to write a book when I get home tonight.”
Naughty Kid #3 = “I’m going to paint all over my parent’s car when I get home tonight.”
Super Honest Kid #4 = “You look much younger on your poster than you do today in real life.”
Fibbing Kid #5 = “My dad’s real name is Arthur Zarr.” (Gullible Me: “Wait, realllllly???”) (Librarian To Me: “I’m not sure that’s true”).
Fame Game Kid #6 = “How are you here without any body guards?” (I mean, it’s a valid question, right?! LOL).
Observant Kid #7 = “Where did you get your teeth?” (My Invisalign retainers must have looked odd to her).
Blunt Kid #8 = “How much money do you make?” (Umm… )
I’m so excited about the launch of my NEW book this summer. And I have a few rainbow-colored, fuzzy plans up my sleeve to celebrate the release of Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn. I’ll keep you posted!
And … BE AMAZING!