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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Signing at The Learned Owl this Saturday 6/4!

This Saturday, June 4th, I will be signing books at The Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio at 1pm! I hope to see you there. Click the link below for more information:

Friday, May 27, 2011

STAR Academy 2: Dark Secrets

So two years ago I had the lovely honor of illustrating the cover and interior spots of Canadian author Edward Kay's new middle grade novel, STAR Academy. I had such a blast working on this book for two reasons: one, IT WAS MY FIRST ILLUSTRATION JOB EVER!!!!, and two, I got to do research illustration, which I love.

Back to reason one, as I said this was my first job ever! So naturally I was thrilled beyond all reason. I had sent out a mailer with a little girl dreaming about space (the very first drawing of Pelly oddly enough) and I was lucky enough to have Jennifer Lum, with DoubleDay Canada, ask me to illustrate the cover and four black and white interior spot illustrations for Edward's new book. Not only was Jennifer awesome to work with (she happens to love cupcakes too!) but I loved the book as well, which made it a dream job to illustrate. For all of you who haven't read it...go pick up a copy!

Reason two: the opportunity to do research illustration. All illustration is essentially research illustration because when working on any book reference is almost always involved. However, Edward had very concrete details about certain scenes in the book. One of which being the car. It had to be a 1950's Studebaker Starlight. I love getting illustration jobs that require me to do some serious research. As in "I can't just make this up out of my head" kind of research. It forces me to learn to draw new things and keeps me on my toes as an illustrator.

STAR Academy 2: Dark Secrets is coming out soon! So here is the new cover folks. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

To Art Note or Not to Art Note, That is the Question

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI conference "Uncovering the Picture Book," where I met lots of fabulous new people and learned a ton about self editing (thank you Judy, Stephanie, and Laurie!!). Yet the one thing I found very interesting was the amount of questions surrounding the issues of art notes to the illustrator. Should you, as an author, put art notes in your manuscript when sending it to an editor? And if so when is it appropriate to do so? Now, a majority of the SCBWI members attending this conference were picture book authors, in fact I only met one other picture book author/illustrator, so it is understandable that this question was a hot topic. So I am going to clear it up.


For example, say you are writing a manuscript where the text is supposed to be opposite of what the images are showing, or you intend there to be a character hiding on each page that is not mentioned in the text, and so forth. You get the idea. This would be an appropriate time to insert an art note.

Melissa Manlove, Editor of Chronicle Books for Children, put it best this weekend "...if your text on page one says 'Boop, Boop'...then yeah, I am going to need more..."

However, if you are inserting art notes left and right in your manuscript that look like this then you need to start using your delete button:

"Pelly and Mr. Harrison jumped into the tub." (Art Note: Pelly has blond hair, a helmet, and bunny slippers on. Mr. Harrison is spotted dog)

I hate to break this to you, but as an author you don't usually have a say in every detail of how your character looks or the setting they are in. You can give sensory clues with your word choice as to what you want to infer about the character, setting, and so forth, but don't spell it out in art notes listed throughout the manuscript. As illustrators, it is our job to interpret and come up with a visual solution for the text that will marry the two together seamlessly. Great books are the combination of text and illustrations that enhance each other!

So for future reference, let go of the perfect image you have in your head about what the illustrations for your book should look like. If an editor offers publication of your book, know that they are going to make it the best book they possibly can. They have to fight for you in acquisitions. They are your cheerleaders, for lack of a better word. Editors, art directors, book designers, copy editors, and everyone else who will have a hand in your book along the way are wonderful people who believe in your book just as much as you do. And they know what they are doing. So have a little faith.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pelly Shirts!

Check out these awesome Pelly shirts that Erin Webber, an Usborne rep made! I have my very own too! Erin and her daughter Bridget look great modeling the new Pelly swag.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Here is a list of upcoming events and places I will be in the next few months:

School Event at St. Jude School in Elyria, Ohio
8:30-10:30 a.m.

School Event at Rocky River Preschool in Rocky River, Ohio
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

School Event at Albion Elementary School and Royal View Elementary in North Royalton, Ohio
9:15 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

The Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Book reading and signing

Hicklebee's Children's Bookstore in San Jose, California
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
I will be coming home to the place where it all began, doing a reading and signing books!

Library Event at the Peninsula Library in Peninsula, Ohio
11:00 a.m.
Cut paper demonstration/class
All participants must register for this event. For more information please visit

Library Event at the Cleveland Heights Public Library in Cleveland Heights, Ohio
6:30 p.m.
I will be doing an art demo, reading, and signing books.

Barnes & Noble Westlake in Westlake, Ohio
10:30 a.m.
Story time for preschool ages and book signing.

Also beginning September 8th I will be teaching two classes at The Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio. One class for ages 8-12 on creating illustrations out of cut paper and an adult class for learning to make your own picture book dummy. Please visit this link for more info:

I hope to see you there!