Happy September,

     Every month I like to add to my diary as a children's book illustrator and writer. This month I am preparing to promote my 2017 children's picture book, THE MERMAID. It was just released, and can be purchased at your nearby bookstore or on line. Like my other picture books, it is for ages 4 to 8, with some more visually oriented older children also enjoying the story. If you know a a little one who is fascinated by mermaids and mer people this would be a story they would like.  Although historically,  mermaids can have an edge to them, my heroine, Kiniro is not just empathetic and kind, but she leaves a heartfelt gift for Baby Octopus. My story is an underwater Goldilocks, and the three bears are played by Octopuses. I know many children are fascinated by unusual creatures, not seen in their daily life, and I think the Octopuses in the story will fire up their imaginations, as they did mine. I hosted my first book signing and introduced the book with a drawing of an Octopus wearing traditional Japanese clothes. We have visited Japan many times, and I was able to find an antique Indigo cloth jacket, much like the ones my Octopuses wear, and I will wear it to my book signings.  In the next several weeks I'll be creating two "How to Draw" videos. One is on how to draw a mermaid, and the other is on how to draw an Octopus. I admit I was very challenged by the Octopuses' strange (to us) anatomy and movement. Even the Octopuses' color does not stay the same. When I go on my book tour the day after Thanksgiving I will have my markers and easel ready to do a “How to Draw” lesson at the signing. I am packing up my full color newsnote letters to children about THE MERMAID, with hopes it will inspire young artists and storytellers. We will also bring mermaid tour buttons for everyone who attends, and posters for the first 100 people at each signing.  I am looking forward to seeing all the book lovers. I have a complete schedule including the towns I will be visiting on my tour bus on my website, www.janbrett.com
           All summer I have been working on the finishes for SNOWY NAP, my new book about the winter Hedgie decides he wants to skip hibernating and really experience winter. I will be going to New York to meet with my editor and art director to discuss what we have done so far, and the title and the jacket art. The jacket art is different than the inside work because it should be arresting when seen across a room, give a preview about what is between the covers, and have a little mystery added in. I want people to open the book and look inside! I usually present 3 different jacket ideas, but it is invariably the first one that is chosen. That said, I have redone many jackets to get it just right. So much effort and resources go into a children's book, we all want the jacket to show our commitment and care. It is a labor of love, but done with delight.
         Since I am almost half way through SNOWY NAP I have a few reflections about the process that may resonate with others working on a creative project. One of the contradictions in the process is that you need a plan or road map. Once paintbrush or pencil is put to paper though, a different part of my mind engages and lots of fresh ideas storm in. At the best of times it's like a force takes one over. I need discipline to start with a viable story with genuine characters and a good story line. At the same time I have to be ready to give up ideas I've become attached to when new ideas make themselves known. I guess that is why creativity sparks so much controversy and interest.
       Good Luck with your unique effort.   Happy creating!

                            Your friend, Jan Brett