Monday, June 16, 2014

Welcome to the Writing Process: An Author/Illustrator Blog Tour

My friend Sarah Dillard invited me to be in a blog tour. I love connecting with her and like being a link to others in my profession.

Sarah is the author/illustrator of several books. Her most recent book, EXTRAORDINARY WARREN, A SUPER CHICKEN, just came out.

She has two more books coming out soon... so look for them in your local bookstore!

It's an incredibly busy time for me with two kids finishing school, one graduating high school with prom, graduation parties and preparing for college. The other child dancing at the end of the year performances and singing in concerts. Exciting stuff! Love being immersed in their busy lives. Then I get to go to bed and wake up in the morning and come up with another idea to bring a book to the next level.

I have a studio in an old mill and bring my dog Lila every day. She loves to visit in case there is a chance visit from another dog or a person who is a good patter. Here is a picture of her not wanting to leave.
 And here is a picture of the rubble after I've had a brainstorming session and I've scanned sketches into my computer. Big mess!

So here we go with the tour.

What am I currently working on?

I have my hands in lots of book pots so to speak. I just finished some revisions on a two book middle grade novel that's half non-fiction (based on my own life as a child growing up on a farm) And the other half bringing it all together.

I also am working on a few different picture books that are all in different points of development.
Two are fully written with a few illustrations and two are in dummy form. Meaning they are sketched out to show editors my vision for the whole book.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That's such a tricky question! I'll answer that according to my middle grade book. I don't think it's very common to see books that take place on farms these days. I may be wrong, but when I wrote this book I was thinking Judy Blume meets Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Jeannette Wells. When you think of kids living on a farm, you imagine them working with the animals and plants. Right? But these kids also have their own growing pains and friendship issues that all kids are going through. My protagonist was also befriending an Amish boy who was going through "rumpspringa" which means "the wild years". So many life changes going on with all kids at all times! It facinates me.

Why do I write what I write?

I just answered that question with my middle grade book. But in my picture books ... I work with three different thoughts in mind. One is issues I remember growing up with. I often feel that one of the hardest things for kids to deal with is the feeling that everyone else seems to understand whats going on. But whats really happening is most of us are just making it up as we go along. It was very painful at times feeling alone in this process. But EVERYONE is going through something at some point. So I hope to expose those feelings to kids so they can relate to the book and take a little pressure off themselves. And hopefully have a few giggles along the way.

The other types of books I like to write are more visual candy for me. I love thinking about perspectives and colors and images placed next to each other and see what kind of mood that brings. It's so fun to work in children's books because anything and everything is free game. That can be very exciting for me when I come up with a new idea and can't stop thinking about it until it's out of my head and onto the paper.

Thirdly there are the books which start in my mind with ....what if?
What if a kid claimed to own the moon...what if you woke up and were a giraffe instead of a kid...what if?....

Here are a few of my recent brainstorming illustrations.

So there you go! Thanks for joining me and having a glimpse of my process.

Next up Liza Woodruff Wright and Maryann Cocca-Leffler.

Liza is a good friend and is working on lots of exciting stuff. She's illustrated several books, most recently the book TEN ON A SLED by Kim Norman. Liza now writing some really great stories which I've had the pleasure of critiquing. So exciting! Love them.

Maryann is the author and illustrator of many books and she also has a musical based on her book PRINCESS KIM. She has a book coming out soon called JANINE which I'm really looking forward to reading.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


A friend of mine sent me this picture today. I was already in the mind set of drawing cats for a story I'm working on. This picture sent me straight to my pencil case and I had no choice but to draw it with my character.
Here is the original picture. How someone captured this cat we'll never know.

This is my character Felix in a quick sketch.