Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 9 Jan 02 19:03
_Rhode Island A to Z, Coloring/Learning Book, A Creative Approach to the History and Natural History of Our Nation's Smallest State_. From johnnycakes to quahogs, from the Block Island Lighthouse to the Providence State House, this beautifully illustrated book gives readers hours of creative coloring fun as well as a wide array of fascinating facts about our nation's thirteenth colony. Adam Gertsacov - the author of this book - is an internationally known theatre artist and educator. Adam is on the Rhode Island State Arts Council Education roster, and the NEFA touring roster. His work as an actor, director, clown, and playwright has been described as original, offbeat, hilarious, and thought-provoking. He has performed his original shows from Boston to Brazil with standing ovations and sold-out crowds. Adam is a graduate of the Ringling Brothers Clown College, the University of Pennsylvania, Trinity Rep Conservatory, Rhode Island College, Dell'Arte School, and has studied with many clown luminaries, making him the most educated clown in America (barring certain elected officials.) Adam is the first and only Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Maryland. Adam has written plays, reviews, and articles , and has been published by Whole Earth Review, The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog, New England Theatre Journal, Factsheet Five, Focus Magazine, and East Side Monthly. This is his first book. Illustrator Donna Atwood is an award-winning artist and (my personal favorite) graphic designer with over 25 years of professional experience. She has owned her own design studio for more than 20 years, and her clients have ranged throughout all sectors of industry, including real estate, commercial, non-profit, banking services, educational, and manufacturing. Her work has won dozens of design awards. Since 1997 she has published and illustrated three coloring/learning books about the Southwest. Little Lords of the Desert, Ancient Harvest, and Sonoran Desert A to Z , which received a 1999 Glyph Award from the Arizona Book Publishers Association for best book from a new publisher. Leading the discussion with Donna and Adam is David Greene, a corporate software trainer who lives with his wife and two puppies in metro Boston. A native New Englander, he's been active on the Well since 1998, and co-hosts the East Coast conference. David has counted both Adam and Donna as friends since shortly after joining the Well. As a regional native, he has a lifelong appreciation for all aspects of New England culture and is particularly excited about the collaboration of Adam's writing and marketing skills with Donna's legendary artistic talent for this remarkable book. Please join me in welcoming Adam, Donna, and David to inkwell.vue!
A blank stare, then hide under the bed (dsg) Thu 10 Jan 02 06:30
Thanks, Linda, and thank you to Adam and Donna for your remarkable book. Donna has extensive experience with publishing, but Adam, how did all this get started? Where did the idea for RIAtoZ come from?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 06:43
It's good to be here! Well, Donna was visiting me in Rhode Island, and she'd shown me her books all about the Southwest, which I thought were fabulous, and we started talking about how it would be great to have her do a coloring/learning book all about Rhode Island, and she said "Well, you would have to write it." So I did! Actually, I didn't write it in one fell swoop. We talked a lot about what each of the letters was going to be, and then we did four sample pieces. I then applied to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts for a grant to print the book. They came through with some money (although not the whole kit and kaboodle that we asked for), but enough for us to know that we were going to do the book. The whole process took about 18 months from beginning idea to finished book. (Not full-time, naturally!)
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 06:48
Another thing that may be interesting to note is that the WELL was fairly important in doing and completing this book. Donna and I met via the WELL. (I've been on the WELL for over 10 years, primarily as the host of the theatre conference) Donna had been on the WELL for about 3 years, before we started the book. We used our WELL accounts to send back and forth quite a bit information about the book, trade ideas back and forth. (Donna lives in Arizona and I live in RI)
A blank stare, then hide under the bed (dsg) Thu 10 Jan 02 06:49
Living near Rhode Island most of my life, I've noticed that Rhode Islanders sometimes believe that people don't know where they are and how many wonderful attractions their state has to offer. Was this book in part intended to instill a little more regional pride?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 07:13
Ummmm... Hmmmmmm.... That's a good question. I'd say that the state does have an amazing amount of things to offer, and that yes, we wanted people to know and learn about those things (or re-know and re-learn-- many of the subjects in the book are subjects that I knew about, it's just that I didn't KNOW about them until I started doing the research.) The book for me, was and is a cool and fun project to collaborate on. From the moment we started discussing the book, I knew it was something that would be great to do, and that I wanted to be part of. I guess regional pride was part of it, but it was more about creating a really great and clear pointer to exciting and unique things in Rhode Island-- a sharing of knowledge more than a sharing in pride. (Although being proud of the invention of the diner here in Rhode Island, or the United States first navy, or our official state mollusk (the quahog) is all part of it)
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 07:19
When we wrote the grant application, we were asked to come up with the goals of the project. Here they are, and I'd say they are pretty accurate (although they are a little grant-speakified) *Study and understand the relationships of plants, animals, people, and their shared environment. *Communicate that understanding using methods with commercial and educational appeal. *Bring high aesthetic values to subjects often poorly portrayed or neglected in existing materials *Underline the value of art in science, history, and education. *Produce marketable art which honors the environment without depleting it through the use of recycled papers and humane production procedures. * Sell all of the books that we create to happy and satisfied retailers and customers.
A blank stare, then hide under the bed (dsg) Thu 10 Jan 02 08:14
Donna, you have a well-deserved reputation for remarkable artwork. For the most part you've concentrated on the Southwest. Did this new setting make an appreciable difference in how you apprached the subject matter?
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Thu 10 Jan 02 09:44
Yes. My Southwest titles are very much focused on natural history. The Sonoran Desert has such remarkable biodiversity that it's easy to find 26 popular and worthy subjects to cover with a simple overview. On the other hand, the east coast is significantly more urban, older, and more steeped in history. Adjusting to that difference took some re-visioning for me. I tend to dote on plants, animals, and their relationships. Years of commercial advertising with a focus on the man-made may have created that obsession with nature. But after completing a few images, such as the lighthouse and the carousel, I am more enthusiastic about man-made subjects. Still, I'll throw in some natural element wherever I can, like the gulls I put into the lighthouse and yachting compositions or the addition of the parrot and rhododendron in Kingscote.
David S. Greene (dsg) Thu 10 Jan 02 09:49
One of the first things I noticed when leafing through RIAtoZ is that it isn't the prototypical children's coloring book. Although kids will likely enjoy the lettered topics, there's a slightly different feel to it. Had either or both of you determined a targeted age group audience for RIAtoZ? Is the audience looking now the way you thought it would?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 10:03
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Thu 10 Jan 02 10:52
I think "prototypical" coloring books are often about sheer entertainment and visual development for very young children, some who don't yet know their a-b-c's or how to read. That approach has proven itself to be enduringly popular and useful (and perhaps more limited than the medium really allows). Many of my books have been used in the classroom by third, fourth, and fifth-grade teachers who copy the illustrations for their students to color while they discuss the various topics. It's a great way to stay focused on the lesson and coloring a subject anchors the information firmly in the student's mind. Once you've colored a Gila Monster, you'll never spot one in the wild and be unable to identify it. All my books, especially Rhode Island A to Z, are meant to endure over the childhood of the owner. Kids grow fast. What they didn't absorb last year, they'll get next year. But regardless of age, three to ninety-three, there's always something to enjoy.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 12:41
The targeted age for the book was (and is) ostensibly ages 9-12 (Grades 3-6) However, we both wanted to include enough interesting stuff so that adults could read it and enjoy it. In the month of December I did 8 book signings. I had a lot of adults tell me they were buying the book for their friends, or their parents, or for an older teenager, even. And I had a lot of teachers tell me that they are planning on using the book in the classroom. I like to say that it's not so much a coloring book as a book you can color. The coloring is like an added bonus. You don't have to color, if you don't want to. (But why wouldn't you want to?)
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Thu 10 Jan 02 12:57
(Too busy playing games on the Handspring.)
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 10 Jan 02 14:24
I've created a special page on our website for our inkwell.vue compadres. <http://www.riatoz.com/inkwell/> This will be the place to find some of the images that we discuss in the book.
David S. Greene (dsg) Fri 11 Jan 02 09:37
A question for either (or both) of you: Is RIAtoZ the beginning of a series? Could there be more AtoZ's? If so, which one might lend itself particularly well?
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Fri 11 Jan 02 09:49
Massachusetts is next. I've had California on the title list for a while now. My reps have been asking for it. But Adam's done such a great job getting Rhode Island out, it's hard not to want to work in New England. After all, they invented Basketball in Springfield. And Cape Cod is irresistible. And Harvard is chocked full of tasty architectural embellishments. I've already illustrated the Chickadee. Throw in a handful of cranberries and yummy-yum!
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Fri 11 Jan 02 10:12
<scribbled by bratwood Fri 11 Jan 02 10:12>
Donna Atwood (bratwood) Fri 11 Jan 02 10:13
scribbled redundant post
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 11 Jan 02 11:30
Yes, we are in the planning stages now for Massachusetts... Usually when I am out and about, people are ALWAYS asking, "So, are you going to do all 50 states?" On one level, it's very appealing to me to do all 50, and have this complete boxed set as it were. I mean, it seems like a natural idea. On another level, I'm not sure that I'm up to marketing in faraway states. From a marketing perspective, the book is easy to market because Rhode Island is small. In the course of 3 days I can drive to just about every one of the stores that carries our book. Even in Massachussets, it will take 2 weeks to drive through the entire state (and there are many more stores than I could ever go to) And Montana (I don't want to even think about!) The other thing is just a financial thing. Producing the Rhode Island book was made easier by the fact that we got the grant (and then the books sold through relatively quickly) But if we even had 10 or 12 books out, then we'd have a HUGE amount of money out in inventory waiting to be sold. That means that we'd need to rent a warehouse to hold the books in, hire people to guard the warehouse, fill the orders, call the people who haven't paid yet, etc. It's a level of business that we'd really have to think long and hard about before we pushed it up to that notch. Right now, I'm really happy in the "cottage industry" phase of publishing. Donna and I are wearing all the hats for this book. (Of course, Donna and I also are wearing the hats for our other respective projects and businesses as well-- me as clown, and Donna as artist and publisher of her other books.) I don't know if I'm ready to move up to "publishing mogul" phase (or even if I want to) I do think that it will be fun to do the Massachusetts book, and then we'll see where we are!
David S. Greene (dsg) Fri 11 Jan 02 13:31
Personally as a Bay State native and resident, I'm all excited to see a MAAtoZ book. So many possibilities in our neck of the woods.... Adam, you mentioned that you and Donna wear other hats. For you this is a brave new world. Could you briefly tell us about your "day job", and the challenges of moving from the performing arts to the written arts?
David S. Greene (dsg) Fri 11 Jan 02 13:57
In other words, what kind of clown are you (he asks with a wry grin)?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 11 Jan 02 14:00
Well, I'm a professional clown and actor. I have a small clown company (basically myself) and I produce touring shows that travel around the country (and even the world). I also teach clowning and acting in schools, conservatories, and wherever else I'm invited. I'm perhaps best known for my show The Acme Miniature Circus, which is an authentic Victorian style flea circus. I'm also the reigning Clown Laureate of Greenbelt Maryland! As a matter of fact (switching hats) I'll be performing the flea circus in Boston on January 19 at the Puppet Showplace in Brookline. You can call them directly for more information and reservations. 617-731-6400 (Hat changed back) One of the things that is really interesting about switching from performance to literary art is that the product is tangible-- I can hold it in my hand.... When you are a clown, people have their program and their memory of what transpired, but the artwork is not tangible. I like having something to point to, and say "This is the work I do." vs. what I can do, will do, or have done.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 11 Jan 02 14:08
David slipped in-- I'm a very serious clown. VERY SERIOUS! I should also say that I'm not a newbie to the book business or even to writing. I used to have a job writing articles for a local monthly. In addition, I've had several book reviews published by various places (including The Millenium Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Fact Sheet Five, and New England Theatre Journal. I also ran a bookstore for 3 years (a fine arts bookstore in Providence RI called Accident or Design) I was responsible for the marketing, business management, and special events for the store. And I also had a job selling encyclopedias! (Encyclopedia Americana!)
Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 11 Jan 02 16:30
>Many of my books have been used in the classroom by third, fourth, >and fifth-grade teachers who copy the illustrations for their >students to color while they discuss the various topics. I've recently been exploring a similar technique for myself -- drawing while listening. It's fascinating. I'm the kind of guy who starts to take notes while listening to a radio show, and one day I decided I'd start drawing pictures instead. It really does open up a new way of listening-knowing-remembering. >I'm perhaps best known for my show The Acme Miniature Circus, which >is an authentic Victorian style flea circus. Wow! I know a children's book that mentions, "a trainer of fleas," but I always thought it was a made up occupation. Say more. How do you train them? What do they do? (no sense strictly limiting out topic here, I say!)
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 11 Jan 02 18:38
The fleas pull chariots, walk on tightwires, and the finale of the show, they get shot out of a cannon, through a flaming hoop of death, and then into their lavishly decorated trailer. Rather than derail this topic with a whole new thought, I urge the curious to check out my website <http://www.trainedfleas.com> where you'll find lots of information and articles. There's also a discussion about the show in the theatre conference here on the well <g theat> and see topic 138 <theatre 138> (This is only available to WELL subscribers-- So, nu, what are you waiting for? Subscribe already!) <keta> you are already a subscriber, so feel free to poke around there.
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