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Today I once again Get All Grateful on Your A** on Katie DavisBrain Burps About Books podcast. It’s a special segment because it’s all about The Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I talk about specific people I met who inspired gratitude, but also about the overwhelming sense of honor I felt walking the halls and realizing that I am part of this amazing community and industry. The segment is about 10 minutes in, before the main interview, which is AWESOME! Author/Illustrator Maryann Cocca-Leffler talks about taking one of her books to the stage, and about how she sold more than a million copies of two of her books. Fascinating!

I haven’t written much about my experience in Bologna on the blog yet. I’m still writing my articles for SCBWI and CBI, and I don’t want to scoop my own self by publishing on the blog first. However, I would like to share some inspirational quotes with you from some interviews I caught in the Author’s Cafe.

Meeting Katherine Paterson

Katherine Paterson, Newbery Medal-winning author, Former U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and Recipient of the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (+ many others):

  • “I love to write because I can live so many lives.”
  • “The world is full of people with talent, but perseverance is rare. To be a writer, you need talent and perseverance.”
  • She writes for children because, “I have the same questions that children have, and I haven’t been able to answer them.”
  • “I don’t publish anything I don’t love.”
  • It is very humbling to have someone say that your book inspired them to become a writer.”

Sonya Hartnett, Australian author and recipient of the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

  • “When you write for children, you have to call upon every single ability you have as a writer to write a difficult scene (like war). Never do I have to reach as deep into my abilities to write for adults as I do for children.”
  • “A writer lives many times, and yet doesn’t live at all. I put my entire experience into my writing. I’ve given my life to fiction.” She said in reference to sometimes feeling existential angst with regard to questions such as, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’

Ryoji Arai, Japanese Illustrator and recipient of the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

  • “The ending of my stories are also a beginning. I think about that beginning when I write my stories.”
  • “An artist has to find space between the words.”
  • “People ask me, ‘How do you invent stories?’ I answer, ‘Well, how do you play?”
  • “A child equals hope.”

Lin Oliver, U.S. Author and Executive Director of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

  • She became a children’s author because she went into the L.A. Unemployment Office and saw a sign that said, “Children’s Book Writer Wanted.” She went on to say that she “hasn’t seen those words before or since.”
  • “If you write for children, you are going back to your own childhood.”
  • On writing for boys: “They like to laugh or be scared.”
  • If you want to get published, “Read everything in the field. Write and practice your craft until you are good enough to be published.”
  • On why we need to support libraries. “Librarians are people who teach you how to find information.” This is a critical skill for 21st century kids.
  • “It is important that we all come to regard children’s literature as a global enterprise.” That is why SCBWI is now playing an active role in advocating diversity in children’s literature.

Which of these quotes inspires you the most?

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One of the lovely porticoes

Another crazy fantastic week in Italy – this time Bologna. Learned so much about the children’s book biz, including much ado about apps (more to come soon).  Bologna won me over with its lovely porticoes and outstanding food.  It’s a completely different world in Bologna from Florence, even though it’s only a 35 minute train ride.  If you ever go, make sure you pack your black.  It seems the only two colors people wear there are black and dark wash jeans.  I felt like an Easter egg in my wardrobe.  As a friend said, “Bologna – where black is the new black.”

Quotes on Gratitude

“Joy is not in things, it is in us.” — Joan Borysenko

“There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it.” — Seneca

“Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: our love to others, and others’ love to us.” — Thomas Traherne

Gratitude list for the week ending March 24

  1. First, I am grateful for my in-laws, my stepmother and my mom for helping my husband hold down the fort while I took this epic trip to Italy.  Thank you!!
  2. Learning enough about apps and ebooks at the ToC Bologna conference to make my head spin.  Cheers to Kat Meyer and the entire O’Reilly team making it all happen.
  3. Meeting Katherine Paterson, author of one of my all-time favorite books – Bridge to Terabithia
  4. SCBWI Bologna dance party!
  5. The folks who put together the SCBWI booth program for the Bologna Book Fair – Kathleen Ahrens, Angela Cerrita, Kirsten Carlson, Bridget Strevens-Marzo, Tioka Tokedira, Chris Cheng, and anyone else I am forgetting.  These guys worked tirelessly to provide great programming, regional showcases, and opportunities for writers and illustrators attending the fair.  Grazie mille!

    The hard-working SCBWI team at the booth celebration

  6. Making wonderful new friends – including all of the above, plus Sarah Towle, Emily Smith Pearce, Danika Dinsmore, Susan Eaddy, Lucy CoatsBarbara McClintock, and Andi Ipaktchi.
  7. Hall after hall after hall of nothing but children’s books – enough said!
  8. Tagliatelle ragu and red wine with Danika and Susan – lovely dinner
  9. The city of Bologna itself, with its seductive porticoes, antiquarian bookshops, black-clad residents spilling into the streets from Enoteche at night, savory food shops and best of all, Gelateria Gianni!
  10. Receiving the best welcome home in history from my kids. The sign was fantastic, but the hugs and kisses even more precious.  How I missed them!

What are you grateful for this week?

The best part of the trip was coming home and knowing I was missed.

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I know I said I wouldn’t be posting Gratitude Sundays until the end of the month, but how could I not after spending a week in Florence?  My gratitude cup runneth over so much it might flood the Arno again. 😉  In celebration of all that is La Dolce Vita, in lieu of quotes on gratitude, this week I offer quotes from some of Italy’s most beloved poets.  And yes, Michelangelo was also a poet.

Quotes from Italian poets

“Remember tonight… For it is the beginning of always.” — Dante Alighieri

“True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving. There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness.” — Francesco Petrarch

“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.”  — Michelangelo.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” — Cesare Pavese

Gratitude list for the week ending March 17

  1. A group of young adults singing an impromptu hymn inside the Duomo – Santa Maria della Fiore
  2. Being reunited with pistaccio, bacio and nocciolo gelato!
  3. Prosecco at sunset on the rooftop bar of the Hotel Continentale
  4. Santo Spirito, lit up at night, fully reflected on the black glass water of the Arno
  5. Il Santo Bevitore and Olio & Convivium in Oltrarno, restaurants that provided two of the best meals I have eaten in a long time.
  6. Enoteche (wine bars) where a person can dine and drink alone and not be considered an oddity.
  7. Cafe Giacosa Cavalli – my favorite place for a morning coffee and pastry and for observing the local Florentines.
  8. Cafe Florian chocolates. I ate a few of them as my lunch on the train to Bologna (not kidding)!
  9. Lisa Clifford, an Australian author living in Florence, treated me to a lovely aperativo in Oltrarno.
  10. Walking along the Lungarno toward the Ponte Vecchio, under arches, with ripples of the river reflecting on the walls of the buildings opposite.  It gave the feeling of walking through water.  Beautiful.

What are you grateful for this week?

Reflections of the Ponte Vecchio

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One of the things I love most about blogging is the social aspect – receiving comments on my posts and leaving comments on others’.  For the next three weeks, however, I will not be able to read and comment on blogs.  I am leaving on Friday for a two-week business trip to Italy.  This week, all the time I have that is not spent on preparing for the trip will be spent with my family.  Then I’ll be on the ground in Italy, and when I return, the kids will be on Spring Break, so I’ll be catching up with them, recovering from jet-lag, closing out the March 12 x 12 giveaway and launching April’s.  So please don’t be offended if I normally comment on your blogs and you don’t see me for a while.  All will return to normal in April.  I will be checking my blog, however, and will do my best to respond to comments left on my posts.

What am I doing in Italy, besides eating pasta and gelato?  First I’ll be in Florence, working on a yet-to-be-revealed project.  Then I’m off to Bologna for the O’Reilly Tools of Change in Publishing Conference and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.  Some regular features on the blog, such as Tuesday 12 x 12, will continue to run while I am gone, and I have a couple of guest posts in store too.  I might be able to blog here and there, but I can’t promise.  I will, however, post short updates, photos and snippets on my Facebook Author Page if you want to follow along there or follow me on Twitter.

I will be thinking of you while I am here...

And here...

And eating this...

And this!

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Today is March 2nd and the good Dr.’s birthday, so of course I had to make a Dr. Seuss selection.  Today is also Read Across America Day, and Teaching Authors has a fantastic post about Dr. Seuss and how to celebrate.  Fox in Socks doesn’t seem to get the same kind of love as Seuss’ other books, but it is definitely one of my favorites just because it is SO FUN to read aloud.

Fox in Socks
Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
Random House, 1965
Suitable for:  Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics:  Tongue twisters, Rhyme, Humor, Silliness
Opening and brief synopsis: “This Fox is a tricky fox. He’ll try to get your tongue in trouble.” Dr. Seuss gives fair warning to anyone brave enough to read along with the Fox in Socks, who likes to play tongue-twisting games with his friend Mr. Knox.
Activities: Just trying to read it out loud without making any mistakes is a great activity! It would pair well with other tongue twister books.  Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Eric Van Raepenbusch’s fantastic post on his blog, Happy Birthday Author, with amazing ideas for celebrating Seuss in general.
Why I Like This Book: Talk about a book that’s fun to read over and over!  That’s because you can seldom read it perfectly, so it becomes a challenge.  And the rhyme is mesmerizing for kids.
Finally, check out this video of a woman speed reading Fox in Socks.  It is unbelievable!

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books!

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Guacamole made tableside

When I sat down to write this post, I was happy to discover I had a full list of things to be grateful for despite having a horrible cough and cold this week.  Here’s to better health this coming week!

Quotes on Gratitude

“I am grateful for what I am and have. 
My thanksgiving is perpetual… 
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. 
No run on my bank can drain it 
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Learn how to carry a friendship greatly, whether or not it is returned. Why should one regret if the receiver is not equally generous? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold companion. If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou art enlarged by thy own shining.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.”

— Author Unknown

Gratitude list for the week ending February 25

  1. We ate at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant in Breckenridge, where I drank the best margarita I’ve had in years!
  2. Likewise, the food (I had elk mole enchiladas) was the best Mexican food I’ve had outside of Austin or San Diego (and that says a LOT!).
  3. And let’s not forget guacamole made tableside. Yum!
  4. Last weekend was a long one due to the President’s Day holiday, which gave us extra time to ski with the kids.
  5. My new segment on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast debuted this week.  It’s called, “Julie Hedlund Gets All Grateful on Your A**!” :-)
  6. I am in the process of developing my professional author website, and I made great progress this week.
  7. I read and finished ROOM, by Emma Donahue.  An unbelievable book that has kept me thinking about it all week.  Those are the best kinds of books.
  8. I had my second school visit with a class of 5th graders.
  9. Both kids got great report cards.
  10. I got caught up on my blog reading.  Take THAT Google Reader!!

What are you grateful for this week?

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The flowers I bought myself this week

I am now officially halfway through The Artist’s Way and twice as far as I’ve ever made it before.  That in and of itself is an accomplishment, but it’s beginning to feel likely that I will complete it this time.

  • Week 6 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Abundance.”  This chapter asks us to tackle our beliefs about money and its connection (or lack thereof) to art.  Artists of all stripes tend to convince themselves that it is not possible to make money by making art, or even worse, that money corrupts art.  Clinging to these beliefs limits the ability for all kinds of abundance to enter our lives because we somehow feel unworthy, or that the art is not worthy.
  • Morning Pages: I did the morning pages every day except the day Katie Davis and I recorded the Brain Burps podcast.  I got out of bed that day charged up and ready to go.  What’s interesting now is that I’ll realize I missed later in the day and then everything feels “off” somehow.  I guess that’s what happens when a practice becomes a habit.
  • Artist Date:  I had two full days at our Breckenridge ski rental to myself.  I spent most of the time dreaming about and planning not only 2012 but the years beyond.  Then I made a tactical plan to support the goals and dreams.  The time I wasn’t working was spent walking the dog with the views of mountains all around or soaking in the tub with a book.  So yes, I’d say it was one heck of an Artist Date!

Any “Aha” Moments? 

  • Because money and abundance is such a charged topic, I actually thought this chapter gave it short shrift.  It dealt mostly with the ways in which we can be miserly with ourselves, suggesting we allow more luxuries, however small, into our lives.  One thing I did was buy myself fresh flowers.  I love the sight and smell of flowers in the house, but I almost never buy them because it seems like such a frivolous use of funds.  I’ve decided that I’ll buy them once a month from now on.  I didn’t notice any additional flow of prosperity into my life as a result of allowing myself that luxury, but maybe over time… 😉
  • One thing I realized is that I have to confront my overall fear of numbers. I’ve been living in avoidance of them for so long because I consistently tell myself I’m no good with them.  Can’t do that if you want to run a business and make money.  My most common recurring nightmare is that I have a math exam of some sort coming up and I haven’t attended any of the classes so I know nothing and have no way to pass.  Maybe if I believe I can learn to manage numbers (and actually take steps to learn), I will one day have a dream where I pass that exam!
  • Overall, I do believe that doing what you love leads to abundance of all kinds, that there is enough money to go around and that creating art is a worthy livelihood.  I don’t feel deprived in any way.  I’ve always had everything I needed and most the time what I’ve wanted.  I want money to support my family, yes, but I view luxury as experiences – travel, classes, dining, recreation, etc., rather than things.  I view money as the means to have those experiences and the freedom to choose how to live my life.  If there is one word I associate most with money, it is freedom.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 6 chapter:

“Most of us harbor a secret belief that work has to be work and not play, and that anything we really want to do–like write, act, dance–must be considered frivolous and be placed a distant second.”

“When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”

“Because art is born in expansion, in a belief in sufficient supply, it is critical that we pamper ourselves for the sense of abundance it brings to us.”

What are your beliefs about money, art, and doing what you love to do?

Week 5 Check-In

Week 4 Check-In

Week 3 Check-In

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

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