This picture makes me happy:


Is this a great picture or what?

My work on That Damn France Book is stalled for the time being — pleasantly stalled, but still stalled — because I’m waiting to hear from my publisher about trim size.

Trim size is something novelists and people who write real books don’t have to worry about. But, sigh…it’s something that us writer/illustrators have to worry about.

Trim size is the dimension of a book’s pages. My first book was arbitrarily given a trim size of 8 inches by 9 inches; this time around, the publisher wants to give the trim size some thought, in order to make its production efficient and cost effective. Which is fine with me; but until I hear from Bloomsbury as to what the trim size of That Damn France Book is going to be, I can’t design pages.

So I’m stalled. Which is why I have the time to browse the interwebs for pictures that make me happy.

So keep that in mind for when you put together your art journals and illustrated books for publication: trim size. Mention it to an editor and you will sound very informed.

Thank you, everyone, for all your kind comments and your Welcome Back emails. It’s good to be back.   And I’m sorry this post is so short: I’m writing it on Sunday night, having spent Sunday afternoon doing extensive taste tests between two Burgundy chardonnays, Pouilly - Fuisse and a plain Macon chardonnay.  Here’s my verdict: they both make you equally dozy by Sunday evening.

Good thing I’m stalled, and don’t have to get up early tomorrow for book writin’.  Being stalled, to me, means having the time to read guilt-free, for “background information”. Last week it was John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley (good example of how not to write a travel book) and this week it’s Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad (one of the best travel books ever written). 

If you’ve read a good travel book lately, one that made you think Why can’t all travel books be this good? let me know. And if you’ve read a travel book that made you think, Jeeze, how did this piece of crap get published?  let me know, too. And if you’re stalled, too, on your project, let me know what you do to assuage your work ethic…in between those sips of chardonnay.

7 comments to This picture makes me happy:

  • I’m off to my art class so will make this short but had to get my 2 cents in about my two favorite travel writers: Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. Theroux is a wonderful curmudgeon and I identified so much with his book on China “Riding the Iron Rooster”. And Bill Bryson never ceases to make me laugh out loud.
    P.S. I didn’t like “Travels With Charley” either. Although I’ve always loved Steinbeck.

  • Jacquelyn

    Here I am, stalled for the afternoon, with 1)good book 2) notebooks and pen 3) Laptop. waiting for resident cats to come in so I can close up, lock up, and go home, Their people arrive home today. All is tidy and clean, all that is needed is cats to come in and yes, they have difinitely taken a message and will get back to me…. While packing, making ready to move on, book titles kept popping up. “Travels With Charley” inspired me to travel the US w/family for 2 yrs in the late 60′s. I would love to do it again.
    Here’s a good armchair travel read: Tania Aebi’s “Maiden Voyage”…..Dad gives daughter, 18, choice of sailboat or college education. Sailboat comes with condition of sailing it around the world. She takes the boat….AND a cat. 20 Years earlier another young woman rode horseback across the whole of Canada…Barbara Kingscote’s “Ride The Risinig Wind”. An Embarrassment of Mangoes”….learn how to set a financial goal to set yourself free and buy and provision a boat to sail and eat your way thru the Caribbean Islands. I would rather read sea travel than do it…I prefer pilgrimages on land. Very satisfying treks, “I’m Off Then…” by Hape Kerkeling was great fun and adventure as he leaves couch potato life (a big stall) and “loses and finds himself on the Camino de Santiago” ….and following footsteps of St. Francis, there is “Songbirds, Truffles & Wolves, An American Naturalist in Italy” by Gary Nabhan.

    Ah, you got me started on my favorite pastime, travel, reading, reading while traveling, and travel reading.
    …..1 cat in, 1 to go,
    stalled wanderer

  • Sally

    Travel books: Don’t miss those by William Least Heat Moon, especially his first:
    Blue Highways:: A Journey Into America
    and his latest,
    Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey, wonderfully quirky and filled with Q words.

  • Deborah

    That pictures makes me happy, too! The man is so dapper.

    Your question about travel books made me realize that I like adventure/nature travel books.

    I’ve read all of Tim Cahill’s books

    I love “Traveling Light” by Deborah DeWit Marchant

    “Shooting the Boh” by Tracey Johnston

    “Bold Spirit:Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America” by Linda Hunt

    “Kingbird Highway” by Kenn Kaufman

    “Learning to Breathe” by Alison Wright

    “Wandering Home” by Bill McKibben

    “Far Appalachia: Following the New River North” by Noah Adams.

    I did just finish a book that made me think “How did this piece of crap get published?!” but it wasn’t a travel book, so….

  • Rachel

    So many books, so little time. I thank all of you for the suggestions. Let me add Tony Horwitz to the mix, A Voyage Long and Strange is just great.

    I have ordered *I’m Off Then* from the library. Camino de Santiago is a passion of mine. I havent the stamina to do it in person, but can read about it. Have just discovered that an acquaintance leaves for there on June 15 with her daughter.

    Now to start exploring for some of the others. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Just back from Norway and took a favorite travel book along. Have you read, Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. I am drawn to running away from home books and finding oneself. It is travel but with an interior purpose. I did start rereading the book and ended up giving the paperback copy to my Norwegian cousin who was traveling to NYC for her AFS H.S. reunion. She said it was her kind of book. An English teacher friend did not like it because of its journalistic style. The author is/was a journalist. She sends postcards to herself from Paris, England, etc. She wrote this book 6 years after taking a sabbatical from her regular life and met the spirit of her younger self. Travel memoirs are sometimes more than you think they will be. Good to be back in the U.S.

  • When I’ve hit a wall or my project has stalled, I follow people back from great comments they leave at Betsy Lerner’s.

    Your work is great. How cool to be both a clever writer and graphic artist.

    And your comments never fail to crack me up.

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