"Dear Cinderella" and other work

It's a busy season...I don't know why it's always that way for me...more work over the Holidays than in the summer. But that's alright. Here's what's been going on.

I received my advance author copies of "Dear Cinderella" from Scholastic. I illustrated this cute girly book and it'll be out in February 2012. It is always fun to see the finished result of months of hard work. And they even added glitter to the cover (glitter always makes things even more special, right?). I love it. My seven year old daughter read it again and again the day it arrived. Christmas came early for me. I'm sorry this book can't be to you by Christmas, but you can pre-order it so it arrives when it's released if you'd like.

Then I was told that ToysRUs will be stocking the book on their shelves. They requested, through Scholastic, that I sign bookplates to place in each copy. I happily agreed to sign them. I was a little surprised to see 1,275 bookplates arrive via UPS on Monday. It took nearly three hours to sign them all. My right hand is a little bit cramped. So if you happen to see the book in ToysRUs come February, open up the front cover and see my signature and think of my little cramping hand. But I'd gladly do it all again. :-)

I've also been working on adding color to my ebook and I just finished and sent off all the sketches for another book I'm illustrating. It's nice to feel productive.
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Creating an eBook

Text and Images for "Princesses, Princesses, Princesses" are copyrighted by Julie Olson 2011

I am working on an eBook for Nook and Kindle and downloadable pdf. I decided to take this approach with a personal project of mine and see how it goes. Tell me what you think so far. Keep in mind this pdf viewer has compressed and pixelated the images greatly. But you'll get the general idea. Honest critiques are welcomed. Now is the time to make changes. :-)
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Working on a few projects

So my summer was fairly slow in the illustration arena but very full with adventure and fun on the home front. And then school started and my baby boy began to walk. I think things were turned upside down for me then. HE GETS INTO EVERYTHING now. So even though he takes a lot more of my time and attention right now (and for the next few years of mayhem) I'll enjoy the sweet moments and get what I can done when I can get it done. Here he is in a rare, holding still moment...

That said, I've been working on a couple of projects...

Project #1 came about from the picture book marathon. I'm working on an ebook for the Nook. It's the "Princesses! Princesses! Princesses!" book. I've got it all sketched out and laid out. Now I need to put color to it and get an editor friend to look at a few of my phrases in the text. Here's a sneak peak at one sketch.

Project #2 is a picture book called, "Purple." I didn't write this one, but it's a sweet story about a little boy's blanket and all the love it had to give. (in the same vein as "The Giving Tree" but the blanket will not be personified in the illustrations like the tree is).

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Little Penguin: Emperor of Antarctica

My book "Little Penguin: Emperor of Antarctica" just released. You can check for it at your local bookstore on get it here. It's so fun to see your books actually printed. They even got the color matched really nicely on my illustrations. (That's always a concern)
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"Lazy" days of Summer

I had grand plans at the beginning of this summer. I'm in between contracts right now so I thought, "PERFECT! I can work on my own projects." I thought with the kids out of school and no homework or school obligations to worry about, I could just let them run free and get some personal illustration projects done. I did finish my "Doggy Day" picture book dummy and have my agent shopping that around. And I got started on another story about a little girl who wants to be a princess. I got the story written and edited down and have about 1/3 of the sketches done, but that's it. Here's a little sketch of the main character...

UGH! I wanted to get so much more done! Oh well. Maybe this picture depicts what I've actually been doing instead. No, really...I've been trying to be a good mom and give my kids a great summer. Between swimming lessons, family reunions, birthdays, camping, swimming, hiking, crafting...the summer has flown by. It's been a great one for our family...just not for my illustration career.

BUT...school starts next week and I'll just be left with a 1 year old at home. I'm hoping his nap times will be nice and lengthy and I'll get back into a routine. So I apologize for the lack of posting. Maybe you've been so busy you didn't even notice. :-)

Here's to a productive Fall!
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All for Nothing

I've never had it happen before, but a publisher has decided not to publish a book I illustrated.  They killed the job. Fortunately it was a "Flat Fee" project meaning there were no royalties in the contract. Instead, it was a large up-front flat fee. So if a project had to be killed before going to print, this would be the one because I'm not out any potential money by it never going to print. (Here's a link to a few posts about the project)

But no matter what the job is or was, it is really frustrating to have put in so many hours and months worth of time into it and then it never comes to fruition. Maybe I should see if any of the illustrations are sell-able. Here's what was going to be the cover...

copyright 2009 Julie Olson
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Little Penguin coming this Fall

Marshall Cavendish just put a link up to their Fall 2011 Catalog. The book I finished illustrating last summer about this time, "Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica" written by Jonathan London (author of the well-known Froggy books), can be seen on page 18. I can't wait to actually see the book itself. If you click on the "Portfolio" tab under the title bar above, you can see some of the interior illustrations. I'll give you a hint...they are the illustrations that have penguins in them. :-)

Page 18 from Marshall Cavendish Fall 2011 catalog.
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books
99 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, New York 10591
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XBox Birthday Cake - Illustrator's Creation

So I think if I weren't an illustrator, I could definitely get into cake decorating...especially with all the fun things you can do with Fondant these days. I thought I'd just post a little ditty about how I made my son's birthday cake this year. I had a blast doing it.

First I researched on YouTube videos on how to make homemade marshmallow fondant. Here and Here are the videos I followed, but I added a drop of pina colada oil flavoring to the mix as well.

I also made this BUTTER CREAM FROSTING recipe with 3 drops of pina colada oil (found at the local cake shop) added to the flavoring.

With my basic white fondant  and buttercream frosting ready, I started the cake.

First I baked 2  9x13 rectangular cakes (my son requested rainbow chip), leveled the bottom one, stacked them with cream cheese frosting in the middle and then covered them and placed them in the deep freeze for about 8 hours. 

Then I printed out a top-view of the Xbox controller found on google image search on 11x17 paper (making sure the controller was sized to no more than 13 inches and 9 inches tall). I cut out the image and placed it on top of the cake.
I cut around the paper template with a serrated paring knife.

 I rounded the top edges a bit with the knife and then I frosted the entire cake with the homemade butter cream frosting. It didn't look this smooth initially. I frosted it as smoothly as I could, then placed the whole thing in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When I pulled it out, I used small pieces of parchment paper, placed it on the cake (section by section) and lightly rubbed to smooth out the icing. I know this isn't the professional way, but it works.

Then the REAL FUN began. It was just like sculpting out of playdough. I tell you, I was a kid again.

I took tiny bits of the white fondant and made the two top center left and right arrow buttons. I also took a bit of white and rolled it into the rings that surround the joysticks.

Then I took a small bit of white fondant and added a titch of black food coloring to it for the center button and kneaded and kneaded it til the coloring was mixed in. Make sure you wear plastic gloves or your hands will turn black too. I took a larger clump of white fondant and mixed in enough black food coloring to make a dark grey for the majority of the controls. Seriously, I was having a blast.
As for the colored buttons, I simply added the food coloring for each to a small amount of fondant and made the buttons. I even rolled and sculpted the letters on the buttons themselves. The X on the center button was also just colored, rolled fondant. 
Then I freehand carved the letters for my son's name out of some rolled out white fondant. It turned out spectacularly...better than I could've hoped for. And not bad for my first attempt with fondant. And the whole thing was DELICIOUS. My kids liked the fondant but it was far too sweet for me to eat...seeing as how it's just sugar sugar sugar. But hey, if you've got a sweet tooth, go for it!
Now my daughter is requesting a dog cake. That'll be a bit more of a challenge. We'll see if I dare. OK. I guess I better get back to the studio. Enjoy the doggy book posts in the meantime.
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Doggy Day- Pages 14-15

copyright 2011
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Doggy Day- Pages 12-13

This is a sample of how I'd finish off the illustrations. Copyright 2011
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Doggy Day- Pages 4-5

And the actual story begins. Here are pages 4-5...
copyright 2011
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Doggy Day Dummy Book Finished - Pages 2-3

copyright 2011

I finally finished a dummy book I've been working on for a few years (in between paid work).

For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to post a spread a day until it's all out there. So stay tuned. Today you get the cover and the dedication/copyright pages. Feel free to comment and suggest.

copyright 2011
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I'm So Proud

My adorable 7 year old daughter says she wants to be an illustrator when she grows up just like me. She had to do this worksheet at school I'd say she's well on her way...
 Here's the portion of the original page from the book she was referencing. I don't know if she had it in front of her at school or not. This was from the first retail market picture book I illustrated, "Hip, Hip Hooray for Annie McRae!" by Brad Wilcox.
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Bank Street Book list 2011

I just received notification, that the chapter book I illustrated, "The Chihuahua Chase" by the talented Ann Cannon, made the 2011 Bank Street Book List.  See the complete list HERE.

From their website, the Bank Street Book list is "One of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant-16. The Committee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the best 600 books, both fiction and nonfiction, which it lists with annotations, according to age and category."

Yea, for Ann! Yea, for me! Yea, for "The Chihuahua Chase."
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Finished the Princesses

Sorry for the delay in posting, we've had a lot of stuff going on in my family the past three weeks. To make a long story short, my husband had to have 1/3 of his lungs removed because of a rare tumor. Thankfully it wasn't cancerous and he is on the road to recovery after a brutal 9 hour surgery. But, I must say the blog has taken a back seat.

On a happier note, I just thought I'd share some snapshots of some of the princess illustrations I finished. Thankfully, all revisions etc. were completed before my husband's surgery.

Enjoy the sneak peak! The book (title announced this Fall or so) will be released Spring 2012.

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Sometimes I need someplace quiet, pleaceful, clean and serene to retreat to...get away. I wish it could always be here...(ahh that was a nice trip 4 years ago)...

But most of the time, it's just my bedroom. My Husband and I redid the room a couple years ago. We put in Bamboo Flooring, painted the walls a calm grey, and got new furniture, lamps, and bedding. New Paint, lighting and cement counter with steel backsplash in the Bathroom as well. I created some complimentary art and wahlah...My retreat...

reading nook
resting nook
refreshing nook

I just wish I actually could get there more often these days.  I also wish I had the funds to redo my whole house and take another trip.  Someday. But for now, go find yourself a retreat!
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Picture Book Marathon- Day 28 - THE FINISH!

So here I am...at the finish line. I took my final day off yesterday and geared up for the big final push. I didn't have it left in me to do a full color comp for you today, but that's what happens....sometimes we limp to the finish line. BUT I MADE IT!

I visited my 95 year old grandmother today. And she inspired today's post. She's an amazing woman and still hanging in there. My dad and my baby boy were there too...so we took a 4 generation picture. Even though we weren't all female (like in my book here), you can see where this idea came from. I feel very blessed to have a strong family heritage and I am proud of my family. I want to publicly thank my wonderful grandmother for the woman she is and the son she raised to be my dad. I love you!

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Picture Book Marathon- Day 26

Today's idea plays back to the simple in illustration style (I'm not feeling 100% today). But we're almost near the end.  This book is about a giraffe who wonder's why she looks different than the other giraffes. She's embarrassed to be seen at first but by the end loves herself for who she is. (really, it all just started because I drew a giraffe head).

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Picture Book Marathon- Day 25

We're closing in on the end of the marathon. I must say, it got me thinking and drawing and being more creative on a daily basis than I have been in a long long time. So, THANK YOU, PB Marathon.

I decided to go a bit retro with today's illustration style. This book idea is about a little boy who would deliver groceries to his elderly neighbor every week.

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Picture Book Marathon- Day 24

I see how much my baby boy  loves his binkie right now and I dread the day we'll have to wean him from it. However, it's much easier to wean a kid from a binkie than a thumb. I'll tell you my trick, I cut off the tip of the binkie nipple when the child isn't looking and leave it out for him/her (at about 2 years old). When the child puts it in, they don't like it.  they bring it to me and I say "I'm sorry, sweetie. It's broken. You'll have to throw it away or use it like that." None of my kids have ever chosen to keep using it. They throw it away themselves. Then when they ask for it later (at bedtime usually), I say, "Remember, it was broken and you threw it away." I know it seems deceptive, but it really has been less traumatizing for me and the child than if I were to take it away and just say, sorry you can't have it any more. So this story is inspired by that experience. Good luck all you parents out there weaning your children from binkies!
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Picture Book Marathon- Day 23 & illustration Friday

As per the previous post, I used my own kids as inspiration for today's picture book as well as Illustration Friday. Illustration Friday's theme is "Layer."

So how many of you parents out there can relate to this...
It has just snowed...A LOT! Your kids are elated. They can't wait to get out and play in it. So they start getting out all the gear (while in a T-shirt and shorts). You remind them to go put on appropriate winter clothing just like you do every day and then proceed to put on the layers of snow gear. In the end it has taken you 30 minutes to push, tug and pull on all the layers of clothing and YOU are ready to put on a T-shirt and shorts. You send your little "Christmas Story" movie look-a-likes out to play with an exhausted wave and watch them waddle across the yard. 20 minutes later, just when you've pulled out a good book to enjoy in the comfort of your living room, there's a banging at the back door... "Mommy, it's cold. I got snow down my glove. I want to come in and have some hot chocolate." So, you sigh and begin UNlayering your child, which is a little easier but a lot more wet and slushy. You make them a cup of cocoa and sit down to enjoy it with them. They finish in a flash and are off to play. You throw the snow clothes in the dryer, wipe up the tracks of melted snow, clean up the cocoa drips off the counter, and sit down to enjoy your good book. But alas,

"Mommy, I'm warm now. I want to go play in the snow again."

I love my kids.

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Cutest Inspiration EVER!

So I have to put in here that I am sooooo proud to be a mom to 4 beautiful kids. They literally have become my inspiration in so much of my illustrating. Because of them, I draw better, I think like a kid better, and I have many experiences to pull from. I don't know how illustrators do it who don't have children in their lives somewhere. So THANKS to my cuties!
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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at JulieOlsonbooks.com

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