A Cafe Chat With Jennifer Hansen Rolli, Plus a Chance to Win a Critique AND Book!.

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A Cafe Chat With Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor At Scholastic, by Lindsay Bandy.

A Cafe Chat With Jennifer Hansen Rolli, Plus a Chance to Win a Critique AND Book!.

Yardley House

I just said goodbye to my childhood home of 46 years this Monday. It is hard to believe others live there now. I am sure it now sports its first flat screen and security system, but will their kids eat peanut butter from the jar, high up in the hall closet? Will the youngest get put down the laundry shoot? Will the all the neighbors’ kids be in the pool at once? How about the dad, will he tinker for hours in the yard? the basement? the garage?…they didn’t want his tool bench. Will they discover the snakes that live under the rocks in the patio wall? Will they play cards late into the night drinking ice cream sodas made with Pathmark ice cream and A-Treat soda? I wonder where they will put the Christmas tree….Actually, I don’t even know if they are Christian. I do know they love sports, but I’m holding out hope that this old house still hears the music and scuffles of creativity.

Is anything purely without influence?

This is my old bunny, Freddy….AND my first character sketch for Just One More. I did a search for first sketches to write a post and this guy popped up. I had forgotten about taking a crack at starting this book 10 years ago! The digital drawing never made it before the eyes of any decision makers. He only went as far as placement in a sample spread and then I closed the book for 7 years before I would revisit Just One More and the idea of becoming a children’s book illustrator, again. What an influence old Fred had on this sketch and I was oblivious at the time. He too, was once all yellow calico to match the insides of his ears but had worn so thin that my daughter thought it was a good idea to give him a new exterior.  Nice job, and she was careful to encase his original saggy body, couldn’t bear to cut it off. When I look to Ruby, my final character for the book, she is a conglomeration of my kids and a friend or two. A regular Frankenstein, you might say. 5 1/2 weeks before Ruby meets the world, let’s hope there is something in her for everyone.

PUSH

1964 family

My mom was certainly talking about money when she said this, but who the heck was flaunting it? I think it must have been her token response when I noticed or heard about something fabulous in someone else’s life. Either she was trying to pacify me or, more likely, pacify herself. Growing up in Yardley, Pennsylvania was not the richy rich it was, or is, perceived for my family or for the many families in the massive 50/60s split colonial style neighborhood I lived in. We were just a bunch of gritty kids with no boundaries, living on hand-me-downs and store brand food items. None of the moms I knew worked, except Wendy Rainy’s….why they didn’t name her Windy is beyond me. She had a beautiful mom with an even more glamorous aunt who attended every one of Wendy’s extravagant birthday parties. They were not Flaunters but those two women certainly had beauty accentuated with Elizabeth Taylor style make-up. Then there was Elsie next door, quite a bit of a dreamer with a polish husband that had one volume…10plus. A volume my dad liked to entertain most Saturdays when one of his five children were holding the flashlight into the engine of his Volkswagen and inevitably drifting into ideas of what they wish they were doing. Elsie, would tiptoe around in high heeled sandals and a white Marilyn bathing suit…..and way too tan. To me she looked quite lovely for someone who must have been at least 70 or 80. One day she confided in my mom and admitted she had one of the bedrooms converted into her “Hollywood Room”. Each wall was a different color with a chaise, one of those couches that swoops to one side for lounging….she said it was where she sipped her martini and pretended to be a star. I guess regular people really were meditating before it came into fashion. Now, Elsie may have been bragging to my mom, or maybe she thought my mom should convert one of our bedrooms, I don’t know…but Elsie had an escape and was proud. Actually, my mom did work. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday the doorbell rang every half hour with incoming piano students. And why not on Wednesday? She earned just enough from all those lessons to get herself a train ticket to NY and a big fat NY voice lesson every week. That was her escape, her religion, her everything. I don’t remember her flaunting to others about her hiatus from suburbia, but today, at 82, it is the one thing she remembers clearly. Never speaks of raising us kids but, boy oh boy, she remembers her teacher and director’s first and last names perfectly. And I am glad. She wasn’t meant to raise 5 kids, but she did. I am so glad to be here and I know she feels the same. But what did she think about at night when she lay down to bed…exhausted. Were there regrets of walking away from her music scholarship to marry? Did she wonder if she could have been Joan Sutherland? I wonder, too. She was at home with her eccentric NY friends. Perhaps they envied her suburbia life but I am certain she did not flaunt it. I bet they didn’t even know she had kids….and I’m glad.

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More times than not, when concocting new illustrations I inevitably start devising grandiose stories that grow with each stroke. Yes, this is why I love writing and creating, something coming out of nothing. But here’s the clutch, I have perfectly fine stories started already that still need lots of rewriting….some with sketches, some with none at all. This illustration, Robot Baby, was just finished for a SCBWI conference, along with at least 6 others for my portfolio. But, now I have a whole story swirling in my head. I think it’s a pretty good one, so much so, that I did another illustration to this Robot Baby story.. Someday, if it really does come to fruition, that would certainly mean doing these over, errrggg. Doing something twice makes me want to run the other way. I remember when my good pal, Valerie Coursen, was doing her illustrations for Mordant’s Wish and she repainted this bowl of a hundred different(and fancy) buttons, over and over again…jeez, and I thought the first one looked just fine. Patience and Perfection are the pages I need to take out of her book….and looking on the bright side, I can always use my Robot Baby illustrations to pitch the story to my agent and editor. But, first, I do think I should push my other stories to be finished and then move on. So my vote is, Story first, Illustrations second…sometimes, if you can help it.

Sycamore and Evergreen

Oh, lovely spring green. Far beneath the depths of white I am searching for the heads of crocus and daffodil. Tho I know you are there, how you surprise me every year. This is all I had in me to paint last week. Many photos of wonderful snow but just couldn’t bring myself to paint any more of it. This is the view from Pa Washington Crossing to the canal house on Nj side. Sycamore and Evergreen, 20 x 16 inches, o/c

Muted February

Three days into February and here we are again…East Coast wearing yet another white coat

Stereotypical

I always find myself returning to a portrait or two of my favorite Bucks. Co. residents.