Sunday, November 8, 2015


Hey All!
So after an exciting day of blogging in the stratosphere for PiBoIdMo, I thought I'd give you a quick update on some current news from my picture book corner of the world.

My next picture book Before I Leave (Roaring Brook Press, February 16, 2016) has already received two great reviews! This lovely review by Kirkus and a STARRED review from Publisher's Weekly!

I'm so excited for this next book to come out! I can't say how much I loved painting my little hedgehog and her anteater friend. The book is about cherishing the last moments with a friend before you have to move away, something as a child I went through several times.

It's available for pre-order through Amazon or see if you can pre-order it through your local bookstore!

I can't wait for February!


Saturday, November 7, 2015


Hey everyone
Happy fall! You might already know that November is National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) where you take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Pretty awesome I know! Well, it's also Picture Book Idea Month-or PiBoIdMo. PiBoIdMo's challenge is to come up with a picture book idea every single day for the month of November.

It's very fun and freeing to just let your ideas flow without letting them get too precious or (like me) end up stifling your creativity. So I'm participating in PiBoIdMo this year AND today (Day 7 of the challenge) I am guest blogging on the site! Check it out:

Thanks so much to Tara Lazar for asking me to chat about my inspiration!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Whoa I know- two blog posts in one day- I'm probably blowing your mind. But this came up in a conversation earlier today with a friend and he encouraged me to share it. The conversation was about my audience for Boats for Papa. It's come up several times that there is some question about who the book works best for- children or adults. So here were my thoughts on the matter:

"I genuinely created this book with children in mind. I myself was basically Buckley, and I know there are many children out there who have absence in their life. I felt so different from others because my father wasn't there everyday. But my mother was-something I only began to realize and appreciate the depth of once I became an adult. So by sharing my story, I hoped to create something that would make a child connect to the content in some way-so that they would feel safe and loved and not alone. Absence takes so many shapes and means different things for everyone, and maybe some young children don't have personal experience with it, but knowing you have love still around you is something I feel that every child (and adult) can benefit from. And hopefully creates conversations about compassion for others who do have personal experience with it. So I hoped that even if absence isn't a connection for the reader, that love is.

The overwhelming byproduct of this book touching adults in an emotional way has been beautiful, but wasn't the motivation for the work. I honestly had no clue that adults would feel so strongly about it. I felt I had created something that was touching, and I hope that everyone who reads it at least understands its heart in some way, but adults weren't the target at all. I just got a letter from a friend who shared that he wished he had this book when he lost his father when he was 6. And so many others have shared they felt a level of personal healing from reading it and yes- these were adults. But another friend says every time they read the book and they get to the part when Buckley thanks his mama, he turns around and kisses her!  And I just read a Facebook post about a friend of a friend who's son "finally connected with a book about grief" and he asked her to read it twice and then he made a boat. I totally lost it. I understand that a child emotional depth is different than an adult-but something made him feel and connect when he read it. And that is what I am so humbled and honored to be apart of. Whether I'm helping the 6 year old in real life or the 6 year old inside an adult, I can't tell you how much that touches my soul."

And I will add that I didn't write the book expecting children to cry when they read it. I know that is more of an adult reaction to the story. 

Hopefully that can shed some extra light. I know though that art is only part what the creator intends and the rest is what the world feels from receiving it. I think that is an exciting and beautiful process and I welcome the discourse.


One crazy summer!

Well summer, she came and went, and I'm left looking back wondering how/where did the time go?!!!

So I'll step back and do a catch up just so I know what happened over the last few months:

So June 30th was my amazing, fun, and emotional book launch for Boats for Papa! (I sort of dropped off the blogging radar after it happened). It was, in short, one of the best moments in my entire life. I was surrounded by friends and family all sharing in the exciting culmination of a life's work. 

Here is a me with Neal Porter (Roaring Brook Press) my AMAZING editor who surprised me and flew out for the book launch. Needless to say there were many tears of joy hat night. 
It was one of those nights that I wish I could relive over and over again! So much fun! AND I even made a cake shaped like a boat (like Buckley's Mama makes in the book).
After the book launch, I took a bit of a breather-for like a day- but I really was working hard already on Laundry Day, my third picture book. So was basically doing that for the rest of the summer. 

I recently did Story time at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle for Boats for Papa! It was very fun and I have never been so nervous in front of a group children under the age of 4. 

Also this summer, SO MUCH great press for Boats for Papa has been pouring in. It was reviewed in the School Library Journal Boston Globe, Washington Post, listed on Huffington Post's top 50 picture books of 2015 list, and then a month ago it was reviewed in the NY Times Sunday Book Review! I'm just floored and humbled by the love its received. I couldn't be happier!

In between the book work (evenings & weekends), and my day job, I spent the summer with my husband and my son as much as possible. The rigors of working on a book sometimes mean little time for play, but I tried as best I could to maintain a good life/work balance. I've also been writing a lot. Trying to keep new ideas churning for future books.

And the just finished Laundry Day and sent it off to my publisher last week-YAY! I loved working on such a fun book about two little mischievous badgers. It's totally different that my other two books in a really fun way. 

My second book Before I Leave comes out in February which blows my mind! So I'll have to gear up for that in the upcoming months. I have some other pots on the stove for sure. But for the time being, I am going to try and breath, relax, and celebrate being finished with my book!

I'm sure there are more things in between that happened the past few month. But that's all my brain can recall at the moment...

I have learned though that emailing and blogging were the great sufferers of my time slicing-hence the terrible delay in blogging. But I'm slowly catching up.

I hope you all had a great summer and are as excited as I am that it's fall!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Final boat-final day-BOOK LAUNCH DAY!

It's finally here! BOOK LAUNCH DAY! My number one & last boat of #30boatsin30days is ready to set sail! Thanks for following along this past month! Now the excitement really begins!!! #BoatsforPapa is officially out in the world! Grab a copy at your local bookstore!!!

It is also available online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Nobel! 

This has been such a fun project this past month as I've geared up towards the big day. I'm soooooo excited to have reached this milestone moment in my life! Today is the birth of my picture book career and the culmination of my dreams and hard work from my entire life. It's all I've ever wanted to do. It's this such special moment in time and I've made the best book I could make to start my journey. It's a part of my heart and soul and I'm honored and humbled that I get to share it with the world and leave it behind for others to experience. And if I'm dreaming, don't wake me up.

Monday, June 29, 2015

2 days until launch!

Today's#BoatsforPapa #30boatsin30days is a galley ship. It's a sailing vessel that is propelled mostly by rowing! 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Only 3 days left!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat is a 19th century warship called "Frigate." #BoatsforPapa
These are some of my most favorite boats. They make me think of pirates and the movie "The Goonies."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

4 days to go!

Today's #30boatsin30days Boat fact: The lookout point on the upper part of the main mast on a ship is called the "crow's nest." #boatsforpapa 
I love these parts on the old ships. Though my fear of heights wouldn't make me a very good lookout.

Friday, June 26, 2015

5 days!!

Today's #30boatsin30days is a caravel- a 15th century Portuguese sailing vessel used for exploring during the Age of Discovery! #boatsforpapa

Thursday, June 25, 2015

6 days!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat is a pusher boat which is designed to push barges! #BoatsforPapa
I love the big fancy ships, but some of my favorites are rusty old barges and tug boats. There is something magic In the power of these quite small boats.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

7 days!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat is a Bermuda Sloop- a sailing vessel from Bermuda in the 17th century! #boatsforpapa 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yo ho ho!8 days to go!

Today's #BoatsForPapa #30boatsin30days Boat fact: When pirates seized a ship they'd have to ready it for piracy by reinforcing the decks to support the weight of heavy cannons. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

9 days left!

#30boatsin30days Boat fact:If you see the nautical flag pictured here (representing the letter H) then it means a pilot is on the ship. #boatsforpapa 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New website!

Hey all! just got a much needed makeover. I've updated everything so it's all shiny and new! Sadly, gone are the day's of my hotdog gifs that I worked so hard to create, but life continues to move and change, so my website must change with it! So have a looksee when you can!

And there is still one cute animation of a bear fishing that can entertain you while you browse my work.


7 Impossible things!

Hey everyone!
I am SOOO thrilled to announce that today Boats for Papa was featured on Jules Danielson's awesome book blog 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast! It's such an honor to be recognized on this site where so many other amazing picture books have been featured and reviewed! I've learned about a ton of great picture books and illustrators because of this site and got to have a special sneak peek at their process. Now I get to be part of that! So please check out the link to get a look at my upcoming book- but fair warning: **SPOILER ALERT** The post does contain a lot of details about the story so keep that in mind if you'd rather read the book first.

Thank you thank you thank you, Jules for including me on your blog!

Repost: 15 days

So there were some technical difficulties and I realized that day 15 didn't post. So in case you missed it on Intagram or Facebook, here it is:

I can't believe I'm halfway there.It's exactly two weeks until my book hits the shelves! #30boatsin30days #boatsforpapa


Only ten days to go! Today's #Boatsfor Papa #30boatsin30days Boat fact: The colorful nautical flags you see on boats are part of an alphabetical and numerical coding system for signaling to other ships.   
Each flag represents a letter or a number that communicates a specific message to other ships nearby. Like my personal favorite: J (which they call 'Juliet') means-"I am on fire and have dangerous cargo on board: keep well clear of me."
"I am leaking dangerous cargo."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

11 days!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat fact:The phrase "weigh anchor" means to pull up a ship's anchor in preparation for its departure. #boatsforpapa 

Friday, June 19, 2015

12 days left!

#BoatsforPapa #30boatsin30days boat fact for the day: The rope used to raise a sail is called a "halyard. 
The term comes from the phrase "to haul yards," as in yards of fabric. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

13 days-port!

Today's #30boatsin30days Boat fact: On a boat "Port" means "left" and "starboard" means right. #boatsforpapa
You can remember this because "port" and "left" both have four letters.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

14 days left!

Today's #30boatsin30days for #BoatsforPapa is a floating home called a houseboat (or a boathouse).
In parts of China, thousands of people live on houseboats permanently and they buys their goods off of supply boats. Take that land dwellers!

Monday, June 15, 2015

16 days!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat fact: The front of a ship is called the "bow" and the back of the ship is called the "stern." #boatsforpapa  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

17 days left!

Today's #30boatsin30days boat fact: A cabin boy is a boy who waits on the crew and passengers of a ship! #boatsforpapa
  "Cabin Boy" is also a Chris Elliot movie I have yet to see. Something tells me I'm not missing much.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

18 days to launch!

Today's #boatsforpapa #30boatsin30days is a "junk." A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing ship!   
There are many different kinds of junks and they have been used for over 1000 years!

Friday, June 12, 2015

19 days!

Boat fact:An outrigger is a beam or framework projecting from the side of a boat to stabilize it. #30boatsin30days #boatsforpapa 

Thursday, June 11, 2015


At long last my shipment of Boats for Papa have arrived! I really felt amazing seeing the one book- but then to get a box full in the mail made it that much cooler!!! So thrilled- and nervous! It hits the shelves in just a few weeks! I get butterflies just thinking about it! I'd love to hold all of the books in my arms at one time. Needless to say, this was the best price of mail I've ever received.

20 days!

Today's #30boatsin30days is a lanteen: A long triangular sail set on long yard going from one end of the boat to another. 

Sometimes they are twice as long as the length of the ship! And they were the favorite sail during the Age of Enlightenment! #boatsforpapa

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

21 days and counting

Today's #30boatsin30days is a "skiff." Skiffs are basically small boats, but there are many types of skiffs. 

Saying "skiff" more than three times in a row will turn you into one.  #boatsforpapa 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

22 days and a yo ho-ho!

Did you know in nautical terms a "fathom" is six feet? #30boatsin30days #boatsforpapa 
"Fathoms below" always makes me think of The Little Mermaid. Now I want to watch the little mermaid...

Monday, June 8, 2015

23 days and a bottle of rum

23 days! Boat fact: The deck that forms the roof of a cabin built in the rear of the ship is the "poop deck." #30boatsin30days #boatsforpapa
I don't know about you but I don't think I'd want to swab that deck.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I got more of my @Highlights Puzzlemania books that I did some gags for! Super fun stuff! I would have loved these when I was a kid!
Buy them online at!

24 days of boats to go!

Today's #30boatsin30days is the Viking ship! 

Most often called a longship, these mighty boats of the Scandanavian sea pirates were also called dragon ships- namely for the intricate dragon carvings found at the front of the ships. These carvings were there to help scare off the enemy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

25, 25th

It's day 25 in the countdown and I've featured a "catboat." 
A catboat is a single person boat with one sail up near the front of the boat. Naturally though based on the name, I wish it meant a boat full of cats. That would be something.

Friday, June 5, 2015

26 days and a tugboat to prove it

Day 26: Today's addition to #30boatsin30days is a tugboat! 
Tugboats are really amazing. They are these tough stout little boats that guide ships in and out of port,tow barges, help disabled vessels, and dredge and salvage equipment. They are pretty extraordinary. Just goes to show you the power that comes from even the smallest things.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

27 days to go!

Hey all
We are four days in... so 27 days until book launch day. Today's boat is a fishing boat. 

Even though I don't draw hyper-realistically I use a lot of reference material when drawing for inspiration and so I don't forget important details. For this boat I found a photograph online of a lovely and cute green fishing boat and I knew it had to be part of my #30boatsin30days fleet!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

28 days!

Not the zombie movie 28 Days but 28 days until Boats for Papa comes out!   

Today's boat fact: The hull is the main body of a boat or ship!

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

29 days to go!

Hey all
Day 29 of #30boatsin30days! Today's boat is a small sailboat. Did you know that large watercraft are called ships and small watercraft are called boats? Yes they are!

Even though I am prone to seasickness, i still think boats are things of magic and to be admired! 

Stay tuned for tomorrows boat and another fun boat fact! 

Have a great day!

Monday, June 1, 2015

30 boats in 30 days

I can't believe it! It's almost here!!! 30 days until Boats for Papa is released!!! I would use more exclamation points but I think there is a limit on how many you can use before they cease to mean anything. 

I can't begin to describe how excited I am. There's been so much momentum as its gotten closer but to know that after 2 years (well technically 34.5 years since its my lifelong dream) my book will be on the shelves at the end of the month it too thrilling! 

So for the next month, I'lll be posting a painting of a boat a day leading up to the release! You can follow along at #30boatsin30days or you can see them here! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What floats my boat!

Hey all!
I hope you've all been having a lovely spring! I've been busy plugging away at my next picture book, Laundry Day, and things have been going awesome! With having a new baby we are doing A LOT of laundry, so my inspiration is very close to home these days.

Recent news, my ARE's (Advanced Reader Editions) of Before I Leave arrived a couple of weeks ago! I was SOOOOO excited to have those show up in the mail! It's still a surreal thing to have a book I created in my hands know that it's going to be a part of the world! Before I Leave comes out February 2016! I have to admit also, it was wonderful to see my little hedgehog and anteater again. I just loved those little characters so much!

I really big news news, momentum for Boats for Papa has really been gaining these past couple of months. It has received 4 starred reviews which has blown my mind!

Kirkus Review
Publisher's Weekly
School Library Journal

Boats for Papa was also selected by the incredible non-profit First Book that gives access to new books for children in need. It was such a HUGE honor to have my book chosen to be a part of their Stories for All program. The books they choose are geared to expose children diverse books that they can relate to and that promote inclusivity. A lot of the children they target are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or from underrepresented backgrounds. Being selected means that 10,000 copies of my book will be made available in trade paperback so it is more accessible to the kids who need it. I couldn't be more thrilled to know that my book will be helping kids and hopefully making them excited about reading as well as feeling connected to the book and comforted by its message.

And with that, my book launch is getting closer and closer! I am getting so anxious!!! Tuesday June 30th at Secret Garden Books in Ballard at 7pm is where we are having the party- the day my book comes out! I'm planning on having some fun and yummy stuff at the launch so hopefully you can make it out and join the party! If not, I'll be signing at the Urban Craft Uprising the weekend before!

Also in preparation for the big launch, I will be posting a boat a day on social media! So keep your eye out for my flotilla!

Hopefully more news is to come, so keep your eye out!
All the best!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Hey there!
Spring is upon us and for me that means one thing- by book Boats for Papa is nearly out! I've been waiting for this day, well my whole life, but for two years in publication terms. I wrote the story three years ago, signed my book deal two years ago, and finished the final art about a year and a half ago. It's been the patient waiting game ever since. And I get my advanced copy this week!!! Ack! The mail can't come soon enough!

I've already got so much good response for the book due to the early review process, so I'm anxious for its full emergence into the world! A couple of weeks ago it was reviewed on Kirkus to which it received a Starred review!!! I'm so honored! You can read the review here:

In the meantime, I'm working on my third book Laundry Day. Which is such a fun and different book than my first two. I'm just starting the paintings for the book, which is due summer 2016, I think.

Okay, better get back to it, but I just wanted to share my anxious mood with you all!

Happy spring!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Busy beaver!

Well it's been a long while since my last post. Things have been quite busy for me with having a new baby and such so I'm going to ride that excuse train on not posting sooner.

He past few months I was just enjoying lots of time with my husband and baby before I had to go back to work and get started on my new book. Now everything is back in full swing and I haven't got a square to spare! But it's all good! I'm just trying to manage the life/work balance.

As for books and such, I am just getting started with my picture book "Laundry Day." I've been getting the sketched finalized and will start painting in the next week or so. I'm excited to work on this book because it's so different than my last two books. It's funny with lots of silly details making it very fun to draw and paint. I'll be spending the bulk of the year working on it, since my time is limited at the moment.

In other news, my book "Boats for Papa" is nearly out! I've just got a few months to go, but I'm already planning for the launch! My official book launch will be at Secret Garden Books in Ballard in Seattle on Tuesday June 30th at 7pm! I'm pretty excited and am thinking of fun things to do for the event. If you can't make it on Tuesday, I'm also going to be at the Urban Craft Uprising the weekend before- June 27th & 28th at the Seattle Exhibition Hall at the Seattle center. I'll be selling and signing books. Hopefully you can make it to either event!

Also in preparation for my book coming out, I've been making these little driftwood boats! They will be shipping out to various bookstores and book buyers around the country to introduce my book! I collected the driftwood on the beaches of Seattle and handmade the little flags. The flags are the letter "B" in the nautical alphabet ('B' for Buckley)!

They are really fun to make and it's gotten me extra in touch with my character.

Other than that, my second book "Before I Leave" is off at the publisher having its magic happen. Stayed tuned for more info to come,  but it should be out early 2016!

Okay! It was great to catch up. Back to the grind I go!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hey everyone!
It's a new year! It's really hard to believe. So much happened in 2014. I finished two books and had a baby! So much more little stuff happened in between that was fun and magical. And now we are starting out a new and glorious year that has so much in store. It's such a good time to look back and look forward.
In book news:
My first book Boats for Papa comes out June 30th! It feels like it would never get here but it's so close. Before I Leave is in the process of being finalized and will come out Spring 2016. This coming year I'm working on my next book Laundry Day, also for Roaring Brook Press, due date TBD. So many cute animals in store for me to draw! I can't wait.

In personal news:
I plan on spending as much time as possible with the cutest baby west of the Mississippi and learning him on the ways of the Jedi.

I hope you all have a lovely 2015. Be kind to yourself and others. Love what you do and do what you love. Be in the moment as much as you can.