So you wrote a story, Now what? : I want to publish a picture book

I often get approached by people (in person, via email, in passing) who have this story they've written or verbally told to their children a thousand times. More often than not, they believe it would make a great children's story. That may very well be. However, few people realize the sheer work involved in making a picture book. This post will direct you today to an AMAZING resource.

Rick Walton signing at "Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers" June 2009
My friend and author Rick Walton, has published over 90 books and is who we in the children's book community of Utah call "The Godfather." He has had a hand in helping nearly every published author or illustrator in this state and beyond. He is full of creativity and knowledge and generosity. He currently teaches courses at a local university including Children's Book Writing.

Okay, so when I mentioned he is generous, you don't know HOW generous. He has posted his entire course from how to write, how to get published, to how to market your book online for free. Check it out if you are interested.

And be sure to thank Rick in your first book.

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A little Gift for you- September Free Printable Calendar

See how to use this free printable HERE

Here is September's free printable 4x6 calendar card for you. Enjoy!

for personal use only

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Back to Work

Now that summer is over and my kids are back in school (except for my busy toddler), I need to spend more time in the studio. I always think I'll get so much done during the summer, but seem to get too involved in family time and life. It's not bad, just a bit non-productive for my career. But I really think we all need to remember how important leading a well-rounded life is. So remember, take time with family, take time to be healthy, take time to enjoy, and then take time to express.

I started this book idea in the spring and I'm ready to finish it up. I'm giving myself 2 weeks. There...I've put it out there. Hold me to it. 2 weeks from now I should be able to say to you guys, I finished it. It's a book about a little boy who collects things (with his grandma) until one day... (well I can't tell you that).

Here are a few samples...

After the title and dedication page, the book begins with the words,
"Calvin collected." Then...

I do have much more finished. But I'll show you more in two weeks and maybe even along the way.

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More Non-Illustration Art: Cakes

Another form of art I love to do for my kids (and for other people if I had time) is cake baking/decorating. I've posted about the xbox cake I made a while back and last summer I made a movie themed cake. Earlier this year my daughter wanted a Jungle Themed cake and party and my son had "popcorn" cupcakes. This summer I made my toddler a "Digger Cake" complete with "dirt and rocks" (cookies and fondant and mint chocolate chips ground for grass. He LOVED it. It was adorable to watch him actually use the diggers to get at the cake after blowing out candles.

Construction "Digger" Cake...all edible except for the trucks.

Jungle cake...All edible except for the animals.

Made cupcake paper wraps, frosted the cupcakes, coated plain popcorn in white chocolate and placed on top.
So art does come in all forms. I'm glad I get to dabble in all of it.

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Summer Projects

So being an artist isn't always about illustrating books for me. As a mom and a homeowner, I LOVE decorating and designing rooms. I have many grand plans for rooms in my house and I have to keep telling myself, "One at a time."

Well, this summer I didn't listen to myself so well. I did FOUR at a time. It all stemmed from the fact that my teenage son wanted his own room. He was still sharing with a younger brother. So, my husband graciously gave up his office in the basement for our son (what a great dad!). But then, because of the age of the other kids left upstairs and positioning of the rooms, I decided to rearrange and move all of them. So one room turned into 4 (one for each of my kids). I mostly used items and decor and paint I already had. In the end I only purchased 1 gallon of paint, 2 sets of bedding, 4 magnet boards, 2 sets of vinyl decals, 4 storage boxes, shelving, 1 lantern, 1 leaf canopy and 1 curtain panel. Not bad for 4 bedroom makeovers.

Sorry I don't have the before pics. I'll give a brief description of each room's prior state.

Room #1 for teenage son- Small space made cool and functional. (by the way, we love orange and green around here as you'll notice later on)
This room just had blank white walls and the metal shelves on one end. We moved one shelf to make one side into a desk/shelf for my son. Now I just need to get a metal or acrylic sheet to lay on that shelf for a smooth writing surface. I installed ikea shelves/organizers in the closet, painted stripes on one wall and used magnet boards mounted to the wall as a headboard. The clock, the magnet boards, the bedding and the metal shelving is all from Ikea.

Room #2- for preteen son - a lego enthusiast
This room used to be a deep steel blue and had a travel theme (map on the wall, planes & boat pics, suitcase side table). It's actually very similar in style to the room he moved from which he was sharing with his brother (the big room).  It took an extra coat of white paint to cover all that blue though. I used idea expedit shelving (2 of them) as a bedframe with storage boxes underneath and painted and laid a piece of plywood on top as a bunk board instead of a box spring. I actually had 2 like this in their old room but since his brother moved out, we used the shelves that were under his bed, turned them on end and made them tall shelving. Now he has space for all his legos. I have to say, I love Ikea!

Room #3 - for the only girl in the family
This room used to look a lot like room #2 does now but with 2 beds in it (similar paint job etc.) But our little girl LOVES turquoise and black and had a grand time picking out the bedding from Ikea. I bought the paint, the bird decals from, 4 black storage boxes and the black lantern for this room. I painted the blue wall and the blue branches and used decals for the birds and birdcage. We hung a black lantern with a bluebird and blue butterfly in it up in the corner. This was a fun room for me...I could live in it. 

Room #4 - for the baby boy (now a toddler)
This room used to be our daughter's. The walls were sage green and had white flowers painted on one of them. The bedding was pottery barn pink and green and we had hung a large sheer white panel draped above her bed as a canopy. When cleaning out the room, I couldn't believe how dirty a little girl could make the walls of her room. That was the worst part of all of this...having to clean out everything. But it was much needed. The money we made in a yard sale with all the stuff we cleaned out of the rooms paid for the renovations. Anyway, our toddler loves robots and monkeys so I painted all these designs on the walls (trees, robots and robot monkeys). The carpet circles used to be in my husbands office, the bedding on my oldest son's bed, and all the paint was from other previous projects. I bought the leaf canopy from Ikea. It's called a LOVA CANOPY and is only $15. And I bought the curtain panel from walmart for $12 (to help darken the room for naptime). 
He's excited to sleep in the "big boy" bed someday.

but for now I'm keeping him in his crib (He LOVES the robot monkey next to his crib)

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ALA June 2012 in Los Angeles, CA: Brian Selznick, Lane Smith and more!

Hello everyone. I've landed. My kids went back to school today and my whirlwind summer of work,  trips, vacations, family time, and craziness has come to an end. Let me catch you up a bit.

I attended my first ALA (American Library Association) conference in June of this year. It came right at the end of the WIFYR conference I was involved with. So after a very busy month of work, I kind of took July off. I'll post a few things I did that month but obviously I wasn't posting on my blog. I apologize for leaving you all hanging (as I'm sure you were, ha ha).

Back to ALA. I got off the plane, greeted by my college friend and illustrator, Apryl Stott. There couldn't have been a better way to start the trip. She is the BEST! We started out our experience by heading over to Beverly Hills and eating brunch at The Ivy (restaurant to the stars). It was DELICIOUS and we felt very posh. 
Then we drove over to spend the afternoon at The Getty. It was actually my first time there. I was blown away by its architectural beauty and by all the amazing artwork inside. So perfect!
Then we drove through insane traffic to change and attend the opening reception on the convention floor at ALA. We checked in and unfortunately, I promptly dropped my iphone flat on its glass (face, that is). the screen cracked into a web of sadness. The phone and all the functions still worked for the rest of the weekend, but an $80 repair upon returning home is never a happy thing. 

The opening reception was cram packed with book-loving people toting bags upon bags. My friend and I soon found out why...the amount of free books and ARC's (advanced reader copies) given out was mind boggling. We found our fair share and laughed as we saw people waiting in the LONGEST lines for the hors d'oeuvres or free T-shirts. We were there for the books and the cool people!

On Saturday, I was scheduled to sign my "Dear Cinderella" books for Scholastic from 11-noon. I arrived at my designated spot at the 5 minutes prior as requested and was excited to see Brian Selznick signing exactly where I would be signing. I was only hoping some of his amazing talent would be left behind for me in that chair. 
Brian Selznick is the guy at the table closest to us, then the Publisher Arthur Levine is next to him.
Then I sat down and was quite honestly afraid it'd be an hour of smiling as people walked by. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I and my table partner, illustrator Bethanie Murguia, signed for the entire hour straight. Her book "Zoe Gets Ready," is absolutely adorable. It was great to meet her. I was so lucky to be in the company of such amazing talent at the table and with Scholastic overall.
Then for the rest of the conference, I was free to roam and have a great time. I met a lot of publishers and authors and illustrators. Here are a few of the other people signing at the conference.
Molly Ringwald...pretty in blue instead of pink that day.
I met and got a copy of Gary Ross's ARC. (He directed The Hunger Games movie)
And I was so pleased to meet the very kind and friendly, Lane Smith...someone I've looked up to in illustration since college.

I also met and chatted with the ever-cool and funny Dan Santat (illustrator, animator, artist), found my pal Nathan Hale signing and manning a booth dedicated to his work, and met the very busy but kind Simon Boughton (Roaring Brook Press founder and publisher) who even asked for me to send him my dummy book. That made the whole trip worth every second!

Finally, what is a trip to LA without Disneyland? I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go have fun and spend a day playing without any kids in tow. I actually spend all day Monday (before catching a flight home that night) at California Adventure Park. And I have to tell you, the Cars Ride is worth the wait. So fun!

I'll spare you the details of the long delays getting home, but let's just say I could've driven from California home in the time it took. But hey, I got a free plane ticket out of it. Hmmmm, now where should I go?
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August Calendar Too Late

Sorry I forgot to publish the August printable calendar. If you're collecting them, here it is. If not, here it is anyway. Hey, there's still a week and a half left. ;-)

I apologize. Know that September's is already scheduled to go out on August 30th so come back and print it. No more forgetting!

And this is how you can print it out and use it...HERE

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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

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