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Creating a Picture Book: Part II – Things I Didn’t Think About

[This is the second post about the creation of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. You can read part I here.]

After finishing the text for Ellen and the Winter Wolves, I thought I would simply crank out twelve to fourteen illustrations and be done. (I thought twelve to fourteen would be the perfect number because that seemed manageable with my schedule.) So I sat down and broke the text up, attempting to make the breaks at natural transition points. I ended up with fourteen pages.

A problem quickly became apparent to me, however. As I sat on the floor reading the pages aloud, I realized if I was reading this to a kid, each page would take way too long to get through. They would be bored. This story is somewhat text-heavy (at the time it was around 3,400 words) and so fourteen illustrations weren’t going to be nearly enough.

Let’s Take It From The Top

Nick Flora debuted his new music video for “Let’s Take it from the Top” on Monday. How many people in the video do you recognize? Good luck getting that “Only…Lonely” ear-worm out of your head.

Come out to North Wind Manor this Saturday at 7:30pm and see Nick live with Jon Troast. It’s going to be a fun night. Tickets available here.

New Release: In the Round, Vol. 1

Almost four years ago, we published our first issue of The Molehill. The intent for the book, an anthology, was that it would give us an opportunity to showcase the works of different people in the community and hopefully introduce readers to writer’s they hadn’t encountered before. The Molehill, Vol. 4 is now in the making, and I think it’s safe to say the series is a success.

So let me introduce In the Round, Vol. 1. Think of it as The Molehill for musicians. We’ve pulled together a compilation album from within the Rabbit Room community in the hopes that it will not only be a fun collection of music, but that it will give you a first taste of a talented bunch of musicians that you might not have heard before.

So what’s on the album? Something for everyone, we hope. There are brand new songs from Randall Goodgame (w/Pierce Pettis), Arthur Alligood, and Ron Block. There are a few old classics from Andy Gullahorn, Eric Peters, and Jill Phillips (and a new classic from Andrew Osenga). There’s a track from Andrew Peterson that you’ve probably heard at the Ryman, but you won’t find on any album—and similarly, a song from Son of Laughter that has yet to appear on any record. Then there’s a great bunch of music from folks you may not be so familiar with, talented songwriters like Buddy Greene, Ellie Holcomb, and Melanie Penn.

We also want to showcase some new blood. Volume 1 includes debut tracks from Service Unicorn and Cardiff State, good friends here in Nashville. All told, In the Round is an album packed with 14 tracks, and it’s on sale now for the reasonable price of just ten bucks. We hope you enjoy the music. And while your listening, we’ll get to work on Volume 2.

[In the Round Vol. 1 is now available in the (new) Rabbit Room Store.]

The Rabbit Room Store 3.0

The webstore has been showing some wear and tear for a while now, but no more. The new Rabbit Room Store is now live, and we think you’re going to like it.

So what’s new?

—Gift Cards
—The ability to gift downloads
—Pay with Paypal (or any credit card)
—Download links both at checkout and emailed to you
—A working Coming Events calendar
—Better (and more accurate) shipping options
—A shareable wishlist
—Easier navigation
—A review and ratings system that’s actually reliable
—The Rabbit Hole (find out for yourself)
—The ability to update your account and change your password and email settings
—General fanciness

NOTE: Unfortunately you’ll need to create a new account for this new version of the store.

Go check it out, and while you’re at it, you might want to pick up In the Round Vol. 1 or JJ Heller’s new CD that just released last week, Sound of a Living Heart. Take a look around, we’re sure you’ll find something you like. (And if you find anything that’s not working correctly, please shoot us an email at [email protected] and let us know so we can get it fixed.)

Rabbit Room Members–read this…

Your current Membership ID will not work in the new store (yet). We’re presently working on a solution that will apply your discount automatically during checkout.

Storied Lives

I wrote this piece five years ago. Two years later, my Daddy was diagnosed with a merciless disease, and on Monday, August 3, at 67 years old, he passed from this life into the presence of his Savior. I’m so thankful that his sufferings are over, but the enormity of my loss will mark me for life.

Tell your stories, friends. And love your people.

It was a glorious November day, stark and long-shadowed as only South Georgia can make it. The road we traversed was a familiar one—as familiar as the drive to my own home—and every field and house and stand of pines was a familiar friend. Even the red dirt roads veering off to the left and right, which I’d never traversed but in fancy, were known to me. I remembered straining my child-eyes down them as we whizzed past in that lumbering Buick station wagon, my sister crouched up against the opposite window with a book and my brother hanging his elbows over the seat from the ‘back back’ and infringing upon my highly affronted personal space, and knowing what their sudden curves and tree-hung shadows held hidden from the passing view.

I saw the old white farmsteads and the barns weathered black with their rusted tin roofs and the pine-guarded pastures stubbled gold in the light of a vanishing year. And if the imaginative sprite was strong upon me, I saw the folks that once inhabited them: women fiercely womanly whether their labor lay in a garden or a schoolroom or an immaculate kitchen, and men whose veteran integrity infused humble origins and working clothes with a courtly grandeur. I both saw and knew such phantom figures, for they were none other than composite daydreams of the kith and kin I had heard stories about all my life.

The Universe in a Cube of Cheese

My eighteen-year-old son is a math whiz. He’s the kind of kid who learns Calculus 2 from some website, then lands a perfect score on the AP test without ever taking the class. Meanwhile, I’m still struggling with five times seven.

Was it really fifteen years ago when I bought a gallon bucket of plastic counting bears to teach him addition? Now he’s dragging me to the kitchen table at midnight and patiently drawing out diagrams on paper napkins, unpacking the glories of the numerical universe one step at a time.

He’s a born teacher, massaging higher math into the vernacular until my fog lifts, waiting for that moment when I gasp because I finally understand. All at once I see what he means and why it matters (Hallelujah!). I see why this concept is beautiful, why he wanted me to see it; then just as fast all the light passes away, and I’m back in the dark.

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