Welcome to my Blog! Hello, my name is MaryLouise and I am a Special Education Language Arts Teacher. I have utilized my lesson plans and other original teaching material to create picture books, workbooks, nonfiction and fiction articles and teacher's guides for educational resources.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's Topic: Graphic Memoirs and Cartoon Strips

  Written by Bart Davidoff
                       Illustrated by Maria Madonna Davidoff

   Maria Madonna Davidoff

Little Mado Comic Blog

Today's interview is with Maria Madonna Davidoff, graphic novelist, graphic designer, writer, cartoonist, painter, crafter and blogger who has a degree in Fine Arts  (Visual Communications) from the University of Phillipines.
MLAC: You have quite an unusual and very interesting background!
MMD: I was born in the Philippines but have lived in Switzerland, Singapore and the USA. I am now based in New Jersey. I come from a family of writers. My grandfather (Juan L. Arsciwals) was ahead of his time because he was profeminist. He wrote books about women...not in the way they were perceived at that time. My mother, Luzviminda Arsciwals, was a screenwriter for a popular TV Series, and a journalist for a Phillipine newspaper called Taliba. She wrote in Tagalog Language which is the National Language of the Phillipines. My brother, Jolan Angeles, is a playwright who won a major award for a screenplay entitled "Kastilyo ni Kardo". My father was an architect turned businessman. All of my life I've been working as an illustrator/graphic designer for several publishers and have been influenced in a visual sense. I got the visual from my dad and my interest in the literary from my mother.
MLAC: What was the onset of your career?
MMD: Right after I graduated  from the University of the Phillipines, my family and I moved to New York. So, my professional life started in America. My first illustration job was with Crane Publishing in New Jersey and my assignment was for a 4th grade reader in full color. I've done lots of graphic design work and illustrations for magazines, newspaper, graphic studios, catalogs, retail catalogs, publishing houses and textbooks.
MLAC: Describe your cartoon strip...Little Mado.
MMD: My cartoon character Little Mado (short for Madonna) attends a Private Catholic School for all girls run by American Nuns ( Maryknoll Sisters). The medium of instruction there is English. It's really like a fictional memoir because I want to use my imagination. I attended an all girl Catholic School from 1st grade through High School.  I want to use the environment, atmosphere and the interaction among classmates. I'm compiling all the cartoons into a sequential graphic novel. Little Mado's experiences take place within the school and outside of the school.
MLAC: Any other inspiration or influences for the Little Mado Cartoon?
MMD: Social media played a big part in this. I had a lot of friends that I found through Facebook. When I started to post some of the Little Mado Comic Strip, I got a lot of comments from my former classmates who inspired me to develop it further into a graphic novel. These classmates are from Switzerland, NY, Phillipines, Canada, Australia, etc. and have made comments about their own experiences also. So, I dedicated the graphic novel to my classmates (school girls) from Maryknoll.
MLAC: Can you tell us a bit about your latest projects?
MMD: The Little Mado Graphic Novel is just one aspect of my work. I am finishing the illustrations for a nonfiction book I've written about homes around the world called At Home Around The World. I was inspired by living in different countries around the world. This Pre K book depicts children of different cultures and what they do in their homes. Another project I am currently involved with ..."The Crafty Madonna Items". I have created International Plush Dolls, Postcards and Paintings and sell them on my website. I also exhibit Batik Paintings that I completed in Bali Indonesia and are displayed at the Yippie Museum in NYC.
MLAC: What type of materials do you use?
MMD: I use a combination of digital and conventional materials. I can work in wash and water color. I scan them and rework them digitally. It's easier to revise them. I start with a pencil sketch, then I scan them and rework them. I use a Wacom Tablet to draw directly on my computer.
 View Some of Maria Madonna's Latest Projects:
Maria Madonna's Comic Strip Little Mado is featured weekly at the online magazine OSM!
 (The online magazine for awesome global citizens):
Maria Madonna’s Online Craft store “Crafty Madonna”showcases her handmade Plush Dolls representing different countries, Postcards and her Original Small Canvas Paintings:

Maria Madonna originates from a family of writers starting with her maternal grandfather,
 Juan Lauro Arsciwals:

Maria Madonna’s website:

Maria Madonna’s Artist Blog:

 A New York Times features Maria Madonna together with other artists painting in Central Park, NYC:

An Award from the SCBWI first Art Showcase 2003 in NYC:

Maria Madonna’s Art exhibit appeared last summer at the Yippie Museum in Soho NYC:

Maria Madonna’s latest book published will be launched Spring 2013

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's Topic: Memoir Writing

Today's interview is with Maria Okros, Memoir Writing Instructor at the Lawrence Branch of the Mercer County Library. Maria was born in Hungary into a literate family where "reading was religion". She is the eldest of 4 and always excelled in school. She remembers fondly how her mother would read the classics to the family.
MLAC: You have quite an interesting background!
MO: I studied to be a fashion designer, had 2 years of nursing school, became a professional beautician and therapeutic masseur. I'm a triathlete and fitness instructor and give health and physical fitness classes. I am also a Toastmaster with the Princeton and Successfully Speak Up Clubs and a Professional Writer.
MLAC: How did you find yourself in the role of Memoir Writing Instructor?
MO: I originally came into the group as a member and was voted into the position and became leader of the group.
MLAC: I've always wondered what exactly is a memoir and how do I write one?
MO: It's remembered events of different times and places in life which includes the tremendous to tragic, from birth to the present moment. Memoir writing is intensely personal. What people write about and how intimate is up to the person. There are no musts, have tos, or shoulds, but good writing is good writing. The single greatest thing about memoir writing is that it's about ourselves and getting our story out. You don't have to make up a story because you have lived it!
MLAC: Can you tell me about the Memoir Writing Class? I noticed that the class (after listening intently to each others pieces) gave opinions, reminisced about similar situations, etc. You also gave instruction about sentence structure, where more descriptions were needed and if more details were called for.
MO: It's a group setting where people inspire each other, learn from one another and energize each other. The group setting also sparks other peoples' memories. Writing for many people is a dream. They think here is my opportunity to be a writer! It's wonderful because people feel safe here. If people aren't comfortable, it wouldn't be an authentic experience. And writing styles differ from person to person. We all carry our own story. There's no competition in here...so just relax and tell your story!
MLAC: You asked the class a question: What is the greatest thing about Memoir Writing?
Class Response: Memoir Writing gives us the opportunity to hear beautiful stories and from people who have written them. We inspire each other. Allows us to get in touch with our entire life. We can better understand earlier things and where we went wrong.
MLAC: Is there a specific format to follow for Memoir Writing?
MO: You have a choice how to write it. It can be written chronologically or stages of life in any order depending on how you want to organize your experiences. Some people want to write about turning points. Every one doesn't want to start with childhood. There are people who focus more on growth of relationships, hobbies, their work or career. These are some of the ways in which Memoir Writing can be approached. Everything that we have experienced and how these are stitched together as in a progression of events. Like little stories stitched together like a film frame and made to flow like a movie. Story + Story + Story.
MLAC: Any closing thoughts about Memoir Writing?
MO: A lot of people get stuck because it requires too much honesty. They say “I don't know where to begin.” To get started...go to a place where you are comfortable and happy and write about it. Look for turning points and moments of insights. And write enough where you can trim down. Let your thoughts and feelings come out. Don't worry about capitalization, punctuation,etc. Don't worry about the mechanics. Find an austere time in life that really touched you. What made an impression? I guarantee that every one of us has books in us!
For more information about the Memoir Writing Class at the Mercer County Library (Lawrence Branch) go to www.mcl.org and click on Adult Programs.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Today's Topic: PiBoIdMo


Not much time left to sign up for PiBoIdMo....Picture Book Idea Month!  Created and Hosted by Tara Lazar, picture book author and blogger .... Writing For Kids (While Raising Them). It's a 30 Picture Book Ideas in 30 Days Challenge! ...And you can win prizes! Registration remains open until November 7th. Go to taralazar.com for inspirational blog posts and to sign up.