Sunday, December 04, 2016

I have updated things on my website. Check out

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mind Mapping

There's something I want to share in the hope of helping writers who might be pulling their hair out like I was recently.

Every so often, I get to that place where the ideas aren't flowing, or if they're flowing, they aren't working. Trying to write when I feel like this can feel like banging my head against the wall.

So this time, when I got really, really stuck, I just stopped. I knew what was happening and I didn't see the sense in going down that path any further. After taking several days off to do other things, I sat down, ready to try again. I had the beginning of an idea, but not much more. How could I get myself moving? I tried to think of all the tools for overcoming writers' block and I remembered one that I had almost forgotten about. It's called mind-mapping.

In researching to see if I got this right and to be sure I wasn't sharing someone's trade secret, I found that there's a lot out there on mind-mapping (especially for kids). It's sort of an elaborate way to brainstorm and get your left and right brain working together. There are some very dry descriptions and accompanying software that can help you mind-map, but what helped me most, was picking up a colored pen and a very large piece of paper and doing it by hand. I am looking for creative solutions and to make connections that I hadn't thought of before.

Items needed:

  • colored markers
  • LARGE piece of paper
  1. write your idea in the center of the paper and circle it
  2. draw a line out from that circle and draw another circle
  3. in that circle, write the first word you think of when you think of your first idea
  4. from that circle, draw another line and then another circle
  5. in that circle write the first word you think of about the last word you circled
  6. repeat this process until you can't think of any more words
  7. Start back at the center and create another branch
This mind-map of mind mapping is a little hard to read, but if you squint you can make out the important parts. Follow the link below to read more.

Be sure to use your colored markers and circles. There's something about this that gets your left and right brain working together. Maybe the visual aspect distracts your creative right brain, while your left brain is free associating. You must also take each path to it's end. Go quickly, don't think too much or self-edit, either. Be silly and open.

Below is my own mini mind-map. Lots of what I wrote is silly and useless, but I definitely came up with some ideas that I hadn't thought of before. (the word in the middle is octopus) An octopus shoe shopping for work? An octopus conflicted about whether or not to eat his friends, the fish?

Once you've finished, take a look at what you've written. Look for new connections that might spark new ideas.

Good luck! I hope this helps.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

PiBoIdMo- Day 5
Sometimes instead of jotting down ideas, I sketch.

Friday, August 28, 2015

sketch a day?

Warming up before really getting down to work is always beneficial. I'm going to try to post a sketch a day for a month. No theme or limitations, but hopefully it will spark some creative ideas.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New toys

I am playing with my new Wacom Intuos tablet, which is lots of fun. Check out the great brushes created by Kyle Webster at : and I have found some really cool pencil, pen and watercolor digital brushes there.
Here's a little doodle I did using a few of his brushes:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Last day for Kidlit 411 Birthday Bash entries

These guys are giving out some great prizes and today's your last day to enter. You could win a critique, a course on illustration, or a jump to the front of the slush pile with my agent, Lori Kilkelly!
Enter here:Kidlit 411 birthday bash contests

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy New Year!

What better way to start the new year than reexamining your craft. Whether it is writing or illustration, craft can always be improved. What better way to do it than with a critique or a class. Check out KidLit 411's Birthday Bash Giveaway TODAY. They have some pretty fabulous prizes that include an illustration class taught by Will Terry, and a picture book writing class taught by Susanna Leonard Hill. My entries are in and my fingers are crossed!
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2014

My new studio

This fall I decided to shake things up a bit and move my studio. I was very happy in my other studio and things fit well, but it didn't work well for the rest of the house. In the thirteen years that we have lived in this house, my studio has been in three different rooms and now I am back where I started. It's a nice bright room with lots of space. With new doors it is actually almost warm.

 My studio assistant is busy making sure I don't waste too much time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

When a drawing is better than the finish

I think this happened because I didn't know when to stop. I am not sure, but it's not as clean like I like my new work to be. I also did the drawing with charcoal pencil.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Dot Day- September 15

Dot Day is coming up. It's a day to celebrate creativity. The idea started with Peter Reynolds' book The Dot, which tells the story of a girl's journey of self discovery through creativity.
You can check out more dots here:
Creating this dot was lots of fun. I loved putting my regular work down so I could play.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Emerson and Eva

Emerson loves his girl Eva.
And Eva loves Emerson, too.

Friday, June 27, 2014

My new story idea

This might be one of the main characters.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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

My friend Jennifer Goldfinger tagged me for this blog tour, so I will start by telling you a little bit about her. Jen is an author, illustrator, and fine artist. 
She has written and illustrated several books, including:



We trade manuscripts, so I get to peek at some of her new work. I have a feeling we all will get to enjoy some of the wonderful stories she's working on very soon. You can see more of her work at her website. You can also find examples of her amazing fine art there. 

Now I will get to the questions for the blog tour.

What am I currently working on?

Right now I am working on the illustrations for my first author/illustrator project. My picture book is called Emerson Barks. It tells the story of a little dog that loves to bark, and what happens when he tries to hold in his voice.  The book will be published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt in 2016. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not sure how different this is, but in my illustration I try to develop the characters beyond what's told in the writing. I love to add humorous details and subplots in the pictures.  I hope this will give readers something to look for and laugh at. 

In my illustration from Ten On the Sled, by Kim Norman, you might notice on second glance that the rabbit has motion sickness. You might also see that the snowman's head has just fallen off. If you want to find out what happens to the snowball, you'll have to read the book. 

Why do I write what I write?

In my writing, I try to see things from a child's perspective. The world can feel big and scary, and children can wrestle with some complicated issues. I hope that the things I write about might comfort and reassure readers.
I have watched my own children pick up certain books again and again. I think that reading certain books can help them make sense of what's going on around them.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

Before I write, I need to gather ideas. These ideas seem to come to me when I am walking in the woods.  I have a very energetic dog who needs at least one walk a day, so this is a good time to think about things I am working on or come up with ideas.
By the time I sit down to write, I have often sorted things out in my head. I write and revise until things look okay, then I show it to my critique group. Friends like Jen have great ideas for improving my writing. 

When I am working on an illustration project, I begin with character sketches. Sometimes I also like to write a sort of profile for my characters, listing personality quirks, strange preferences for clothing, etc.. Knowing that the bunny from Ten On the Sled had motion sickness told me a lot about how what he'd be doing and why. 

Book illustrations begin with character sketches and thumbnails, and end up with tight sketches. I transfer the final drawing onto watercolor paper and start to paint with my watercolors.  I go back and forth between colored pencil and watercolor until I feel I am finished.

character sketches:

tight sketches:

finished artwork:

Thanks for checking out my stop on the blog tour.

Next week, you're in for a real treat as we get to learn more about Kim Norman.
Kim is the author of many books. Two of my favorite are Ten On the Sled, and If It's Snowy and You Know It Clap Your Paws, but I am a little biased.  Her newest book, Puddle Pug, is absolutely adorable. Kim is as fun and funny as her books and I have had the good fortune to work with her on two projects.