Friday, December 5, 2014

New baby! New book! New year!

Hey everyone!
So much has happened since my last blog post in October! The biggest thing- I had my beautiful baby boy, Baxter, on November 7th! He arrived two weeks early unexpectedly but he was perfectly healthy with all fingers and toes, so we were delighted to meet him when we did! He arrived on a full moon, so any werewolf potential is still yet to be discovered. My husband and I are over the moon for this wee man. Here he is pictured with a hilarious book of comics by the incomparable Glen Baxter:

Even though we've been keeping VERY busy with our new family member, I still have some news in picture book world:
I sold my third picture book to Roaring Brook Press! It's called "Laundry Day" and it stars my two twin badger brothers Tic and Tac and they set out to help their mother with the laundry... That's all I can say for now. Here was a post in Publisher's Weekly:
I'm SUPER excited for this next book adventure! I love my badgers and plan on having lots of fun seeing what mischief they'll get into!

Its hard to believe the holidays are upon us! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you all get to share in the rest of the season with the ones you love! 2014 has been the most eventful and exciting year of my life to say the least and I can't wait to see what 2015 will bring!

Best to you and yours!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Boats for Papa- BIG BIG NEWS!

Hey all!
It's been a whirlwind past month and half and there is sooooo much to talk about!

First off, I finished all of my art for my next picture book Before I Leave. This is the book I spent the summer lovingly toiling over about the friendship between an anteater and a hedgehog. I sort of fell in love with these animals while making this book, to the point where I would highly consider having a hedgehog as a pet. Before I Leave is due out Winter 2016, so more to come with that!

The next most recent big news is that earlier this week I got my Advance Reader's Editions of my book Boats for Papa! I was SOOO excited to receive these! It was such an awesome thing to hold my book in my own hands was sureal to say the least. It's was like holding my dream in my hands. It looks so good. I am beyond words to say how I feel about how it turned out. I can't wait for it to hit the shelves June 30th, 2015!

AND to top it off- just this morning, I received some phenomenal news: The Japanese rights to Boats for Papa was just sold at the Frankfurt Book Fair to distinguished publisher, Asunaro Shobo. SO awesome- and the book hasn't even come out yet!

And if that wasn't awesome enough- I found out Boats for Papa was selected by the Junior Library Guild!!! It is an AMAZING honor to be selected by them! They go through over 3000 books and select what they believe to be as the best ones and send them to small libraries that can't afford their own selection staff. It's a very bog honor and I am so grateful to be among the chosen "best books" that will make it into the hands of thousands of little kids.

All of this is so awesome and overwhelming, and all just before I'm about to have another dream come true- having a baby! Ahhh!!! So much to be happy, and thankful for.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014


Hey Everyone!
I've been sitting on this for a few weeks, but I got my book proofs for Boats for Papa!!! I was SO thrilled when the package made its way to my doorstep on my birthday! I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift! Book due out JUNE 2015!!!

Here the the full final jacket:
I LOVE IT and can't wait for my book to come out!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Hey all!
I've been spotty about posting the last few months but for two good reasons:

1) I'm working on my second picture book for Roaring Brook Press. It's called Before I Leave. I don't want to say too much about it other than it's a story about moving and parting from friends, and that it stars an anteater and a hedgehog. Needless to say I am IN LOVE with both animals right now and they have made a special place in my heart. The book is due out sometime... in the future. Maybe winter 2016? I'm not sure. All I know is I have an October deadline and reruns of Cake Boss are getting me through the fast paced crunch!

2) I am having a baby! Woo hoo!

So that is what I'm working on right now. I've been pretty occupied with both things, hence my blogging hiatus. I can't reveal much about the book now, but I have been documenting the process pretty well this time, so I'll be able to share more about it after the book is finished and I have the  go ahead.

So much to think about and to do over the next few months. 

In other news, I am supposed to get my proofs for my book Boats For Papa this week- AHHHH!!! So I will try to post at least a snippet of the cover when they arrive. I can't wait to see the book!!! So much work and so much love went into it, it will be magic to see it getting even closer to being published!

I have to get back to work but before I do, I had to mention that today is Beatrix Potter's birthday! She has been an inspiration for me since childhood and contributed to who I am as an artist today. I love her illustrations and stories so much- she was so good at creating a world for her creatures to live. My favorite Beatrix Potter story is the Tailor of Gloucester- which was Beatrix Potter's favorite story as well. I think that we could have been kindred spirits in another time! So happy birthday to a creative hero!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Writing Process: Author/Illustrator Blog Tour

Well I just got tagged! Last week my good friend and AMAZING AMAZING illustrator Brooke Boyton Hughes tagged me as the next one up in this cool series. When I first met Brooke I was truly humbled by her talent and she quickly became an artistic mentor for me. Everything she draws is sweet and dark like the perfect chocolate. She just illustrated the book "Cupcake Cousins"written by Kate Hannigan which she is working up a second for now. She also has a picture book, Baby Love, written by Angela DiTerlizzi coming out next spring! "Lovely" and "magical" aren't descriptive enough words to describe Brooke's style. Do yourself and favor and check out her work. You will instantly fall a love and want to live inside one of her drawings.

1.  What am I currently working on?
I am currently working on my second picture book with Roaring Brook Press due out the winter of 2015. All I can say about that project at the moment, I'm drawing hedgehogs and anteaters these days. I'm soooo thrilled to have finished my first picture book, Boats For Papa, which is due out next spring. Both books I'm writing and illustrating. I've also been doing some gag comics for a new project for Highlights Publishing.

2.  Why do I write what I write?
I find that I as much as I love humor I am very drawn to stories that have a deep emotional connection with the reader. It's because of that attraction to an emotional story I naturally want try to write compelling and important work- work that has meaning and depth that will provide a safe place for a young reader to not feel alone. I've been trying to get better with writing what I know and I think that has allowed me to tap into those places inside of myself that can resonate with readers.

3. How does my writing/illustrating process work?
Well, I rub this magic lamp that I have and... Just kidding. It depends on the story. I'm always jotting down and drawing random things that I like or interest me as well as things from memories. That helps stir up ideas for stories. My best work comes when I act on inspired ideas.That is how both of my current books were started. When I get one of those "YES!" ideas I really try to act on it fast. Sometimes the "YES!" ideas turn out to be a big fat "NO WAY!" but the important thing is to get them down, then you have something fresh to work with instead of something labored and forced.

Usually it works better for me to do rough thumbnails and story writing simultaneously. Sometimes I write out the stories in advance, but those stories tend to get overwritten right off the bat and require extra work. Most often I'll see the story in pictures in my head and use that as my mental structure for how the story is going to unfold. Once I have my rough story and thumbnails, I start to work out the story a little more. Refine it and get it to a place that makes more sense. Once it's more than just a idea and has some recognizable visuals, I'll usually let my crit group in on it. They are all so awesome and really help to find the holes.

Once the idea has run through many edits and tweaks, it is ready to turn into a real dummy. I flush out the characters through sketches and color tests and get them to where I want them to be. Then I turn the thumbnails into real sketches. After I have my sketches, I lay out the dummy in InDesign and put in the text. Then usually I will turn a few of my sketches into more complete and finished illustrations to see what things will really look like.

(Sorry I don't have pictures for some of this next part.)

For my illustrations I take tracing paper and trace over my sketches to refine them. Then I flip over the tracing paper, and go over my line work again on the reverse side with a darker/softer graphite- like drawing the image backwards.This lets me see where the drawing looks a little wonky (if it looks out of balance backwards, it gets re-worked). Once the reverse image is completed, I burnish (or rub) over the traced image onto watercolor paper so the pencil lines get transferred to the paper. I find this easier sometimes than just tracing via a light box because watercolor paper is so thick, sometimes it's hard to see the details. And the best part of this is that if I have to redo an illustration, I just have to rub the image onto the paper again instead of re-tracing the whole thing all over again. It's a little extra art insurance!

Once the pencil lines are transferred, I use a fine black waterproof pen (Uni-Pin .01) and trace the lines and add in my extra line work (textures for trees or animal fur). Then I erase the pencil and watercolor over top. I use cheaper toothy Canson Cold Press 140lb watercolor paper to help retain my "pooling" technique (nicer and less toothy papers naturally make the watercolor behave smoother). I also don't stretch my paper to allow the watercolor to pool and stain.
That's pretty much it! Just repeat the illustrations and boom- you have a book! It's THAT easy! Just kidding. It's not easy and it takes a long time but it's SOOO much fun!

So I guess that's it!
Next up is my SUPER AWESOME friend Lisa Anchin! Lisa is just like her illustrations, colorful, bold, imaginative, and just downright fun! I've always loved and admired Lisa's use of color, perspective and her ability to show movement. Not to mention her characters are just too freaking cute. She's a fantastic writer and illustrator who is currently working on a couple of picture book projects. Check her out next week!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Hey all
I'm not really spring cleaning, but it's a glorious idea, isn't it? I've been on a minor hiatus recently since I'm in between books so I've been trying to just relax- for once. I'm so anxious to get working on my next book though its hard to relax. I can't talk about the project yet but all I will say is "anteater." Once I can reveal more I'll let you know!

This past month though wasn't completely uneventful. I attended this year's Western Washington SCBWI Conference a few weeks ago and it was great! Lots of great speakers presented, like the awesomely talented Renata Lewiska. I got to talk with her a bit and she is so sweet and honest. She is just such a fantastic illustrator and I was extra inspired by how much she draws her animals from her own life experiences. I try to do that with my work, but I was even more inspired to dig deeper! And after her great sketchbook workshop, I realized that I think I've been using the wrong drawing tools in my sketchbook- which has personally hampered some sketchbook momentum. So crazy what sort of "ah-ha moments" you get at the conference. I always walk away with something inspiring and interesting from going to the conferences- they are never a let down in that respect!

Also, big news at the conference, I was runner up in the portfolio showcase! Woo Hoo! It was cool to be so highly honored by my peers and professionals!

Other than that I'm working on oodles of ideas for new stories which is always fun, exciting, and sometimes frustrating. But I love it so I'm up for the challenge!

So I better get back to it! 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday sketches!

Hey everyone!
It's a rainy and overcast Saturday here in Seattle so Aaron and I are drawing and painting! I'm working up some new portfolio pieces for the upcoming Western Washington SCBWI conference.  So my woodland creatures are keeping me dry and busy today! 

I've also been working on a new design for my website. It's going to be more visually focused to my children's book illustrations so stay tuned!

Okay, back to it!

Monday, March 17, 2014

NY NY- picture book paradise

Hey Everyone!
It's nearly a month after the fact, but I thought I would catch you up on my recent trip to New York! It was super fun and exciting. My husband and I went to meet with my editor Neal Porter to see where the magic was happening with my first book Boats For Papa (due out April-June 2015) and to talk about my next book project we are doing together. So exciting!!! It was a truly magical experience getting to go the the Roaring Brook offices (in the freaking Flatiron Building) and see where my book is going to come to life! I got to meet my AMAZING book designer Jennifer Brown and everyone in the office and they were all so nice! I couldn't have asked for a better home for Buckley and Mama. We laid out the artwork and Neal did a dramatic reading of book. I got a little misty when this was happening as one does when they get to see their dreams come true. Definitely the highlight of the trip. I even got to go to Neal's and meet his kitty, Arthur. It was love at first pet.

We were in town when the SCBWI NY Conference was going on- a sneaky plan on my part so I could see all my friends while I was there and meet with my super rad agent Alex! Alex and I hadn't formally met in person since I signed on with her last year. So it was great to see her in the flesh- not over the phone or email. We even got to have a karaoke jam together while in NY. Now that's what I call an agent.

It was sooo great to catch up with my good friends Lisa, Brooke, and Maple while in town too. I love these ladies. They make it so fun to be in the children's book community and I'm lucky to call them my friends and artistic peers. We even managed to sneak in a little hangout time in between all of the children's book madness. Hot chocolate, Books of Wonder, Pho, Wine... all the stuff that is good in life. (Please Note Aaron on the far left is the victim of a panoramic face melting in the photo and doesn't always look like this-but he loves when the camera makes him look like Sloth from Goonies.)

On my trip, I also got to meet a ton of WONDERFUL folk at Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Greenwillow Books & Little Brown and Company. All so, so lovely and fun and kind. It's a reminder when you get to me so many amazing people why I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to get to be a part of this business.

And if all of this wasn't enough, while we were in town, there were two AMAZING exhibits going on. The first was the Little Prince exhibit at the Morgan Library. They had the original manuscript and drawings from "The Little Prince"by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on display. It was so moving to get to see the early stages of this book that is dear to my heart. Oh and, not to mention, I got to see a Guttenberg bible at the Morgan Library collection. Sort of amazing. The second exhibit we saw was at the New York Public Library called The ABC of it: Why Children's Books Matter. It was incredible. It was a retrospective on children's literature and they had so many original manuscripts and pieces of artwork from classic children's books like: Beatrix Potter, William Blake, John Tenniel- the list goes on and on. A very magical and amazing exhibit that I recommend anyone checking out if you are in NY between now and September.

Lastly, our trip ended with a walk at Highline Park. It was a lovely day and a trip I'll never forget.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Painting bears and fish

Hey all 
It snowed last night in Seattle, so it's a great excuse to stay in and paint! It's bears and fish and trees and whales today. I'd say its already a perfect day.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sketching on a sunny afternoon

Happy weekend!
I for one can't be more excited its Saturday. And to start it off withe a bang, I'm doing some sketches for a joint project that I'm working on with my husband Aaron. It's always so fun to collaborate with him and I feel like each time we work together we get closer and closer to having a unified artistic voice. With out last show back in September, we did joint writing and drawing for our comics art show, 1828 Lincoln St. This time we are taking a slightly different approach, with Aaron is doing all the writing and the initial sketches while I am doing the final art. I don't want to say too much more about it, but will show more as we get more completed. 

Other than that I'm just in the process of revising my portfolio and making some new postcards for an upcoming visit to NY to meet with my super awesome agent Alexandra and my amazing editor Neal at Roaring Brook Press. So lots to do-but all art related so its very fun!!! Back to the paper!

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Well I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm done with my illustrations for my first picture book "Boats For Papa." I sent off my paintings this week and they arrive safely at Roaring Brook Press (cocooned in tape and bubble wrap)! This has been an incredible experience. I still can hardly believe that it happened. I guess when i get a copy in hand I'll finally believe it. I gathered up my painting test pages when I was cleaning up my book stuff and enjoyed the view! I still think there's more laying around somewhere I overlooked...

This has been an immeasurably rewarding and fulfilling process and I can't wait to get started on the next book! But, I think I've earned the weekend off so I'm heading to the art museum to see some Franz Von Stuck and get a hamburger with Aaron! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sketching day!

Hey everyone!
I've been closing in on finishing my book and sent off some of my final illustrations today! I still have to do the cover which we are working out, so while I wait for feedback, I thought I would get some sketching in. 

I'm currently working on a picture book idea that features an anteater, so I thought I'd try out some sketches of these hairy beasts and see how they feel. I really love drawing animals. They have so much personality and character in their simple gestures! It makes them ripe for drawing; and the reference material is SO fun to look at! Now I have to see if this little guy likes wearing clothing because what I love even more about drawing animals, is drawing anthropomorphic animals!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What's up 2014?

Hey everyone
Well, sadly I succumbed to the holiday madness and haven't posted since just before Thanksgiving! So quick catch up:

My lovely husband and I did our booth at Short Run just after Thanksgiving. Short Run is a local comics festival that features self-published works as well as comics and books from small publishers. It was our first time having a booth at the show and it was super fun. We both debuted our graphic novels at the show as well! When we do work together or print up our books, we do it under the name Gorilla House Press. We have a tumblr of joint work there. Aaron is insanely prolific, so a lot of the work on the tumbler is his, but it's sort of a catch all for all of our random work.

What else? I am nearly finished with the illustrations for Boats For Papa, which I am really loving working on, so a part of me will be sad to be finished. But it just means I'm that much closer to getting it finished in hand-which is AMAZING to me! This has been the best creative project I've ever got to do in my life and I've cherished every moment of it! And also once this book is finished I'm onto book two already! What??? How did I get so lucky?! I am so over the moon I still can't believe my dream has come true! So at least I have another awesome project to look forward to! I'll keep you posted as things come up.

But that is really the bulk of what I've been up to. That and juggling a million work and holiday things. So I'm glad to see the new year come around to allow for new things to unfold!

Also, here is the front and back of my promo card I sent out this year. It features my favorite twin badger brothers, Tic and Tac, being silly as usual. So happy new year to you all! I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store.