I'm working on another picture book manuscript and illustrations (a personal project that I hope to present for publication someday)...and I'm collecting. I'm collecting memories.

Last summer my dear Grandma passed away. She was such a sweet and lovely person, always trying to serve and love others. I can't deny that she was my favorite Grandparent. So I began collecting my memories of her, like...

  • Her white patent leather purse on a gold chain strap
  • The black licorice she kept in plentiful supply
  • Her blue hair 
  • rolls and jam
  • peaches and cream
  • beautiful, handmade, quilts
  • the petite genes she passed on to me (she shrunk to about 4'11" through the years)
  • her little black heels
  • pearls
  • her smile
The list goes on and on. So I wrote a book. Based on truth. Beautified through the music of art and words. As I mentioned last week in my notes of Poet Lance Larsen...MUSIC TRUMPS TRUTH. Hopefully the music of this book will bring out the truth of the truth. I hope to share it with you someday. But for now,  here is a simple and my Grandma...

What are your memories of your Grandparents?

Read more »

12 tips on writing from Utah State Poet Laureate Lance Larsen

Here are my notes from Lance Larsen's Speech today

Read more »

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers- How to write

illustration by Julie Olson

Here are a few tips from Sharlee Glenn about writing picture books...

1. Choose a suitable shape for your story. Is it circular (start and then end at about the same place)? Is it linear? Is it an arc? Think visually.

2. Use ACTIVE not PASSIVE voice. 

3. Use Concrete Language. Circle all your adjectives and adverbs and decide if they are really needed or if the sentence could be written any differently? Make each word count.

4. Omit Unnecessary Words. Take out take out take out...anything that is absolutely not pushing the story or plot forward.

5. Voice. Distinctive voice from author and from character.

What to write?

  • write memories from childhood honestly & truthfully
  • write down how you felt, thought, and acted as a child
  • write things that you would never tell anyone
  • write the story that is in YOU
  • read a lot
  • pay attention
  • write a lot
Read more »

Creating Cute, Charismatic Characters

Yesterday I taught a workshop on creating picture book characters. I thought I would share a couple things here. When you are creating (writing or illustrating) a picture book character, think about these things...

Make sure your character is able to be "Indentified WITH."  RELATABLE. You need to think about your audience, what they would indentify with, and put some part of that in your character...whether it be age, a common problem for that audience, or a common interest that audience has.

The character needs to be "INVOLVED." They need to be part of the action of the story, the verbal part AND visually part of the action. Do not make them a passive bystander watching the action in any way. They must be IN it. INVOLVED.

And finally the character needs to be "INTERESTING." Something about them should be unpredictable. Instead of a cat for a little girl's pet, give her a bearded dragon. (see below)
In addition, ask yourself these three questions... WHO? WHAT? WHY?
Often the answers to those questions will provide you with a picture book story ready to go. For example...

WHO? Archer Aardvark, boy, Aardvark animal, age 5
WHAT? favorite color Orange, wears a baseball cap, loves baseball, needs his blankie
WHY? REALLY wants to play on the baseball team

So the story is... Archer Aardvark wants to play on the baseball team, but he can't give up his blankie. He tries all sorts of ways to play baseball WITH his blankie and finally figures out his problem in a fun way.

Then we talked about capturing the essence of an animal or person and then adding interesting things to visually create the character. I can't put the whole presentation here, but that's the gist.

Now, go create your own character and picture book.

Read more »

Signed a Contract for a new Picture Book!!! YAY!

So a while back (last September...almost a year ago) I posted this...., talking about the WAIT after submitting a picture book and what I do while I wait. Well, yesterday I posted a review of what I did during the last month of waiting. :-) But I have great news!!!

I signed a contract for that picture book! I have to have it all finished by December 1, 2013 and it'll be out one year from now in June 2014. It's a patriotic book with a fun twist. I am VERY excited about it and can't wait to share it with you. I'll have to ask my new publisher how much I can share. :-)

possible interior illustration from upcoming book "From Sea to Shining Sea" copyright 2012 Julie Olson 

Read more »

Main Floor Renovation - Why I've been absent from the blog

This is my latest creative project which took 7 weeks and was only supposed to take 3-4. When we bought our house, we knew the main floor wasn't our style and that we'd renovate it someday. Well, after 8 years and a lot of planning and designing on my part, we finally bit the bullet. I am thrilled with the results.

Here is our kitchen before the remodel (well we had already taken off some drawer fronts and taken out the stove). But standard cookie cutter kitchen and plain beige everything including ceramic tile with dirty grout.

And here is the kitchen after the remodel...
new much better for the work flow

We used the same cabinets but rearranged them, added 3 new ones, and put new doors and moldings on everything. (When I say we here, I mean I had the cabinet company do them.) They painted the cabinets and then added doors. The counters are quartz.

My husband and I did all the floors. They are bamboo hardwood planks, called Antique Strand Bamboo from Lumber liquidators. I personally painted all the walls on the main floor (whew!) and had fun installing all the new light fixtures and caulking the darn baseboards when we put them back on.  It was all a lot of work but we are excited to have it done.
Here's the flooring...minus baseboards. The walls are Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray (but they look a little green in this light. It's really a nice warm gray. See the other pics.
moved the microwave to the new island and installed a range hood 
view from the couches
The main room before the remodel
after the pillows, flooring, rug from and wall pics and ceiling lights from

front room before
front room after...ikea rug and cube by chair
So there's what I've been doing on the side. Living without a kitchen for 7 weeks really stunk. But I'll forget it now because it's all done! 

BESIDES all that I have some great news about illustrating I'll post next. Watch for it!

Read more »
My photo
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

Blog Archive