Illustration Friday: Phoenix

     Well, this was a tricky one! I didn't have anything in my archives that would work, and hey, it's the weekend, so here we go.
     So, why does a Phoenix have to be a bird? Okay, despite the actual definition of a "Phoenix" - pah! I can think of a lot of things something might want to rise out of other than just fire (boring!) I mean, what about a pig from . . . well, you get the idea.
     But Hubbie complained, "A phoenix has to be a bird." Pooey. So, I thought, what if a baby phoenix could be born from a match? Really, really tiny and quick. And here's where art can be lacking - I need a sound effect. Can't you just hear this little guy? "Eeep!"
     Actually, I was reminded how much I love finally knowing what my medium is (digital) because I drew these (pencil) while watching tv last night, then pulled out my old coloring pencils to get 'em going (and still be a couch potato). And? Well, I hated them - hated them! So into the computer they went this morning - ahhhhhh. Much better.

     Note: I just went through the IF posts, and Matt Phelan did a "Match Phoenix" too. What can I say - bright minds think alike (get it? bright minds?) - LOL! I'ts very cute - check it out!

Illustration Friday: Peace

I didn't have much time this morning, but really wanted to post to this week's theme. So, I took an hour to create this for you guys - what could be more peaceful than an angel meditating on a cloud? (Click on the image to see it larger.)
Along with wishing you PEACE, I'd like to wish you Happy Holidays too (so please see my card for this year.)
Best wishes for the New Year!!

Happy Yule!

Have a Happy Yule Y'all!

Tag, I'm IT too!

My good friend (and conference travelling buddy) Karen Lee tagged me this morning. And seeing as it's a Sunday and I'm being a complete slug - I'll bite.

4 Jobs I've had:
I was a hostess/waitress and I was absolutely terrible at it. I ended up being assigned the worst stations and doing portraits of the other waitresses on slow nights in the back.

I was a groom for the Atlanta Polo Club. That was pretty cool actually. Yes, I had to muck out the stalls, which I don't really mind, but I also had to exercise the horses, and they were some darned fine animals. Course, it's also how I attained a lot of the injuries that still haunt me today, including a broken nose. Hm.

I created animations for the Stone Mountain Laser Show - cast onto the side of an enormous granite mountain with laser lights. We were a small room full of artists, most true animators who went on to work for the Cartoon Network, and there wasn't a day I didn't cry from laughing so hard. Crazy good times.

Well, this one was volunteer, but I helped design and implement the landscape in front of the new Fannin County courthouse in Blue Ridge, Georgia with my Master Gardeners. The best part of it was I got to play with one of those enormous backhoes with a front dump. I didn't get to drive it, but I did get to direct it, and that was a FUN toy!!

4 Movies I could watch over and over
Yeah, Sleepless in Seattle is great
Somewhere in Time (when I need a good cry)
Finding Nemo (an absolutely Perfectly done movie in my opinion)
Valley Girl - I'm a geek, I admit, and oh, was Cage a hottie when he was young or what? And the music ROCKS!

4 Places I have lived (apart from where I live now)
A log cabin in the north Georgia mountains
A 1932 bungalow in Chattaboogie, TN (I loved that house.)
A cool old apartment in downtown Chattanooga (was a brothel before it was fixed up!)
An apartment in Paris for a summer as an exchange student - yeah, that was cool.

4 TV shows I love
Desparate Housewives

4 Places I have been for vacation
The best: Honeymoon safari in Africa. You can see pics online HERE
Completely rockin: Paris, and the surrounding areas
Snowmobiling through Yellowstone
St. George's Island, Appalachicola

Websites I visit every day
Jacketflap - megablogs
Maybe not every day, but a lot: Illustration Friday
SCBWI Message Boards
Most of my message boards come in to my email account though, like the

4 Favorite foods:
Thai anything
Home-made macaroni and cheese
Good chocolate
Yeah, me too on the gyros

4 Places I would rather be:
Hm, I'm in one of 'em - I love my office
Paris, of course
I'd love to go back to Africa
Beach, I'm in desparate need of a beach. I'm not picky about which one.

4 People I am tagging - bwahahaha!!
John Nez
Liz Conrad
Paige Keiser
Janee Trasler
Oops! Had to update this list because not all my friends have blogs!! Wassup widdat???

Bluegrass Lives!!

     As I've shared before, hubbie and I lived in the North Georgia mountains for four years, in a log cabin no less. My first novel, "A Bird on Water Street," was actually born there – we lived about five minutes away from the mining town of Copperhill where the story takes place.
     One of the things that made that mountain community so special was the music. We quickly plugged in with lots of bluegrass musicians playing the old tunes that had been echoing through those hills for hundreds of years. It's magic stuff.
     Well every now and then, it comes out of the mountains. We had the pleasure of seeing one of our favorite bands, Ducktown Station, play at the Red Light Cafe last night.
     They were fantastic, and it was so fun to hear how tight the band has become since we got to enjoy them in their early days. Lisa is a trip as she sings or plays one of the various instruments hanging on her throughout the show (guitar, mandolin, fiddle). Pete has become an expert at the dobro. And 17-year-old Jarrod rips up a banjo - keep an eye on this guy!
     What a great time!

Illustration Friday: Help

     In line with what I've been posting for IF lately, I'll post another illustration from "Haley and the Big Blast." Haley is a young scientist whose constant experiments go awry - here's another example.
     Haley thought that adding some dry ice from her father's fish cooler, would help make her flat root beer bubbly again. Well, as you've seen in the IF theme, "Sticky," the results were disastrous.

The Golden Compass!

Can't wait! Yet another fantastic children's book turned into a movie. Philip Pullman (the talented author) is on one of my message boards and loves the young girl they chose to play Lyra - thinks she's perfect for the role.
You can check her out and get fired up about the movie at the website:

My Classes at John C. Campbell

I’m often asked if I have classes on my methods, so I’d like to share two courses I will be teaching in May at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Beginning Drawing, May 4 - 6
You can create art with just one dark lead pencil. We will study the very basics of drawing including shading, composition, line quality, and perspective. Start with an easy subject - hard-boiled eggs - move up to simple shapes, and finally progress to the all-favorite still-life. There’s nothing like starting at the beginning. Give it a try!


Creating Children’s Picture Books, May 25 - 27
”Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War and Peace’ in Haiku.”—Mem Fox.
Come learn the art of creating a strong story through plot, tension, good characters, and delivery. We’ll discuss the difference in writing for children versus writing for adults. Learn the rules of a good critique, then trade manuscripts. The instructor will also cover the nuts and bolts of the children’s publishing industry. By the end of class you will have the tools to make your story the best it can be, and the knowledge to submit it to publishers once ready.
Note: This class will be for writers and illustrators. I will go over much of the same information from my “Nuts and Bolts” talks at recent conferences, but will go much deeper into the subject matter.

The John C. Campbell Folk School is basically camp for adults set just south of Murphy, North Carolina (it’s beautiful!). I like teaching the weekend courses because you get a nice mini-break from the real world, although they also have intensive week-long courses in everything from basket weaving to forging. You can request a catalogue or learn more at their website: Learn about my classes specifically HERE.

Hope to see you!

Santa Baby . . .

My friend Kim Norman has created a version of "Santa Baby" just for us children's writers - it's too funny and she has a great voice. You gotta check it out: (Click on the arrow in the blue box.)

Great feedback on 1st Novel!!

     Okay - so I'm getting into the groove of my 2nd novel, but I have to put it aside for a bit. I just got fabulous feedback on my first novel from my agent and her assistant. They love it. Woohoo!!! Could I be any happier?
     They do have some suggestions, none of which have to do with the story or my writing style - they're all really good suggestions that will make the book a little more marketable, timely, fleshed out in a few places where they wanted "more." In other words, the kind of changes you Want to hear. I'm thrilled.
     This is the kind of input I really look forward to and appreciate. Buried in thousands and thousands of words, it can be hard to keep it all straight in your head, so to get positive feedback is first, much needed validation, and to get information on how to make it even better is like working with a talented art director - it really does take a project to the next level.
     I don't know, maybe it's my days from graphic design working with teams and Art Directors, but I do feel like one person creates the initial *kapow* and then a team of people shine it up. I like the feedback and direction. I like the input. And I like being given the tools to take my initial *kapow* and make it *KAPOW!!*
     So, here I go . . . I've got work to do!!

"Octavian Nothing" - a review

     “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party,” by M.T. Anderson is not a thoroughly modern book. In fact its voice, amazingly accurate to the dawn of the revolutionary war, is the most intriguing thing about it. This flawless voice, so different from Anderson's other books, deserves admiration and makes for a captivating read along the lines of “Wuthering Heights” or “Jane Eyre.” But unlike both, its romance is not one of love and relationships, but a longing for freedom. Extremes of social standing and racial division define that freedom in vastly different ways, but remains the collective goal.
     The story of the atypical protagonist is secondary and quietly reveals itself with his growth and developing awareness of his extraordinary situation. I won’t drop any spoilers other than to say, it’s worth the wait.
     Set against an epic and insecure time in our history, we have the luxury of knowing how events turn out. This does not prevent us, however, from thoroughly engaging ourselves in the moment, experiencing the anger, paranoia, and fear of the time, and cheering for the main character’s ultimate success.
     Did "Octavian Nothing" deserve the National Book Award this year? Oh yeah.

New Novel

     I started a new novel today. Well, writing it anyhow. This one's been on my mind for a while, and unlike my first, I know how it ends. In fact, I know most of the story, I just need to get it onto paper.
     Starting a new novel is almost worse than starting a drawing. Wow, and I thought a blank sheet of paper was scary then! I've been procrastinating - my vice is twiddling with my blog or website (strange, sick hobby, I know). Hubbie and I went out to dinner last night, and he's so amazingly supportive.
     "Just start writing it!!" he says.
     "Okay, okay!!"
     Y'know, having one under your belt doesn't seem to make doing another one much easier, except for the fact that you do know you can finish one. And that seems to be something. Walking has become a fun way to work out the story too. Three miles zoomed by without my hardly noticing today. My mind is stuck in my story going, "what happens next?" and "what if..." It's actually pretty fun.
     Everybody always accused me of having my head in the clouds most of my life anyhow. Now, it's just on a specific cloud. :)

Make a Snowflake!

I did this last year and it's fun as well as a great procrastination tool - for a good cause no less. Every snowflake made, ups the ante from the Salvation Army. So check out and make your own snowflake!
This is mine:

Illustration Friday: Might

     I love these themes that can be translated in completely different ways. Is it "might" as in "strength" or "might" as in "I might do this, I might do that?" Well, I'm going to translate it this way, "Hiding your cheese puffs in the cooler with the fish your Dad caught over the weekend might not be such a good idea.
     This is another illustration from my latest book, Haley and the Big Blast, which is now available through Amazon in My Book Store as well as through the publisher, Amy Elise Press.

The Cybils

     It's official. GLITTER GIRL AND THE CRAZY CHEESE is on the list of nominations for the new Cybils Award.
The Cybils (a loose acronym for "Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards") is a new award invented by a group of (per the website) "librarians, teachers, homeschoolers, authors and illustrators, parents and the kidlit-obsessed" who felt the need for an award based "both on a books merit's and popularity."
     If Glitter Girl doesn't win, at least it will be read by some passionate people who may not have been familiar with it otherwise. But you never know – a girl can hope.
     Keep yer fingers crossed!

illustration Friday: Invention

     This is another illustration from my latest book, "Haley and the Big Blast," written by A.E. Scotland and illustrated by Yours Truly for Amy Elise Press.
     Haley is a young inventor who's constant experiments get her into all sorts of trouble.
     In this scene, she noticed the slide didn't "slide" very well - so she added cooking oil - which made it work a little bit too well!


Wippee!!! The movie comes out this December and the trailer looks GREAT!! And what a great role for Jeremy Irons! I can't wait!!
You did read the book, right?

     Okay, well we saw "Eragon" last night, and while the die-hard Eragon fans will find some things to love about it, for instance, Saphira can make one heck of an entrance, overall the movie was disappointing. Young Ed Speleers career has been made though - within two weeks every teenage girl in America will have a poster of him in those low slung leather pants on their walls (woowee!).
     I've heard critics call the acting horrendous, which on some levels I'll agree with, Joss Stone - stick to music sweetie, but my biggest complaint was with the editing, the directing and the CGI effects (or lack thereof). Breaks came at strange places, shots were held too long, scene cropping was lazy, the fight scenes looked like about twelve men trying to fill a room, and the crowd scenes, my hubbie noticed, actually flickered. Set design looked small stage and underdone in some key scenes. I would have expected about the same level of production for a made for SciFi Channel movie.
     That said, I do think Saphira was handled well, and I liked some of the ways they adapted some hard to translate to film ideas. (Except, how did he suddenly know all the Elven words for vaious spells?) Overall, I wish more talented people (where's Peter Jackson when you need him?) had spent more time and money on the film - it had the potential to be positively epic . . . but wasn't.

Welcome to the World Kate Olivia!

My cousin, Chris, and his wife, Kelly, just produced the first heir to the Oberholtzer clan (that's what the "O" stands for in my name). Kate Olivia is just six weeks old and sweet as can be. Her parents don't get much sleep right now, but they love her something silly. I'm looking forward to when little Kate can run around and make lots of noise - we're going to have so much fun! Welcome to the world little sweetie!

Illustration Friday: Thanksgiving

     Happy Turkey Day! This is an illustration I did for an Andes chocolates in-store promotion about . . . ten years ago - really? Wow, I think that's right. Anyhow, the bowl in front is supposed to be full of Andes (that was a photo dropped in later).
     But, you get more than just a pencil drawing this week kiddies - here's another free coloring page - just click the image to download a pdf of Mr.Turkey!

Mr. CityMen

Okay, I am totally stealing this link from Drawn! but geese - I am addicted. Y'all have got to check these out. The purple guy and the orange guy especially. These are just freakin' beautiful!

Mercer University Author's Lunch

     I was invited to draw on stage while Frank Hollon talked about the inception of our picture book, GLITTER GIRL AND THE CRAZY CHEESE, at this year's Mercer University Press Author's Luncheon (Saturday).
     Imagine my happy surprise at finding my name on the docket with chef extraordinaire, Nathalie Dupree! Hubbie and I met her at the Decatur Book Festival where he told her, "You taught me it was okay to be messy in the kitchen" - he's a great cook.
     Several acclaimed authors were in attendance with their books, but Frank and I had the only children's books. We signed copies until our hands cramped. It was so much fun.
     One of the guests got to my drawing of Glitter Girl before the organizer of the event could, so I need to draw another one for the Press. Too funny!

Children's Book Week Virtual Book Fair!

     Yesterday kicked off Children's Book Week! This celebration of children's books begain in 1912 and is still going strong today. You can read about it's history here.
     In celebration I have two things going on this week. The first is the Children's Book Week Virtual Book Fair hosted by Fandangle magazine.
     I'll be the guest speaker for a virtual chat tonight at 8pm EST, so if you'd like to ask me questions about my digital illustration technique, my books and upcoming projects, or how you can best dive into the business of children's books, come join us! And stick around this week as there are over 60 authors and illustrators represented, more chats, and opportunities to buy some great books for the holidays.
     I'll also be reading GLITTER GIRL AND THE CRAZY CHEESE at my favorite children's book store, Little Shop of Stories, this Thursday at 7pm. Bring the kids!

Haley and the Big Blast!

     Hi Y'all! I have BIG news!
     HALEY AND THE BIG BLAST, written by A.E. Scotland and illustrated by Yours Truly for Amy Elise Press, has just been released!
     Haley is a young scientist with a lot of crazy ideas. Her constant experiments get her into all sorts of trouble. But, when all the windows at her school are mysteriously shattered, it's Haley's science experiment which proves how it occured.
     HALEY AND THE BIG BLAST is a fun chapter book for bright young minds, and best of all, a "Haley" doll is available for your budding young scientist.
     Haley would make a great Christmas present! Click on the images to visit the Amy Elise website.

Illustration Friday: Clear

     This is a tricky theme this week, but I'll give it a go.
     This is an illustration from my latest release, "Haley and the Big Blast." When Haley pours hot water on clear, cold glass, it cracks - solving (clarifying) the mystery of the school's broken windows. (Notice she's wearing clear goggles . . . ) Ha!
     I just received my copies of "Haley" yesterday and am putting together my big web announce over the weekend. Look for details coming soon on my blog and in my newsletter (sign up to the right)!

Spanish 101

     Tonight I start taking spanish lessons at the Latin American Association in Atlanta. I'm excited and a wee bit nervous. I hope this old decrepit brain can squeeze a bit more info into it.
     I've always wanted to speak and understand Spanish - well all languages really. I LOVE languages. I speak some French (need a long vacation to Paris to trip over to fluent), and being a romance language, the structure is the same. That'll help. I can also speak a few words in Italian, Hebrew, German, Swahili, Mandarin, oh, and Amharic (Ethiopian). Love 'em, love 'em all.
     The Spanish is most important right now for two reasons: one, we have a wonderful culture moving into the state of Georgia and I want to be able to really experience it; and two, PACO AND THE GIANT CHILE PLANT comes out in June 2008. It's a bilingual picture book, and I'd like to be able to speak to what I hope will be a large, culturally mixed audience.
     Wish me luck!

Illustration Friday: Smoke

Well, I had about three pieces of art that fit this week's theme, however they were all still in black and white. So I'm going to take one of them all the way and show you my progress. This is a piece from my picture book dummy, "Queen Bea." First is the line-art version. I usually do sketches, scan them into the computer, then arrange my composition. Sometimes I then do a cleaned up line-art version to then work from. But I have to say I probably won't create line-art anymore. Editors seem to respond better to pencil sketches - where things look more rendered in black and white. My line-art seems to have more of a cartoony look that doesn't hint enough at the extent the final piece will be rendered.

So here is my next stage, flat color. I set the pencil or line-art layer to multiply in Photoshop. I work on a flat color layer below it. I may go in and add a few more color blocks to indicate light and shadow, but this is almost finished with stage 2.

Next I'll pull it into Painter where I do my shading and rendering. You'll have to check back to see how the piece ends up - it usually takes me a few days.

Update: Thanks for all the great comments - I'm so glad some of you find my process helpful. I used my weekend to finish the art - isn't that what weekends are for? Anyhow, the last step was to render in Painter then pull it back into Photoshop for minor adjustments. Click on the final piece to get a better look.

"A Bird On Water Street" is outta here!

I sent my first novel to my agent today and I have the strangest emotions going on. I'm relieved, nervous, scared. I feel about 50 pounds lighter. I mean, this thing has been with me for four years. It was born as a picture book and demanded to be longer. Turned into a chapter book and got some really good feedback, but again the word was "make it longer." So, it turned into a novel. A real novel. Who knew I could do that? I bled all over the paper - there wasn't another thing I could have done for it. It's as good as I felt it could be. And now it's out there - my little baby - to be slashed and edited and rejected and god knows what else. I'm just raw. I'm one big open wound waiting for either a band-aid or salt. Could go either way. And yet, I'm excited, really, really excited. Like I said, strange emotions today.

e's news: November '06

I send out a newsletter about every other month. If you would like to sign up, click HERE. Here is my latest:

Hi Y'all!
Well, it's been a crazy and exciting Fall.
Here's what's coming up:

I've been invited to present
with the author, Frank Hollon, at the
Annual Author's Luncheon at
Mercer University next weekend.

November 13th-19th is

In honor, I have two events planned:
I will be the guest speaker for an online chat in the First
Children's Book Week Virtual Book Fair.
If you have any questions about illustrating for picture books,
come join us on
Tuesday, November 14th at 8:00 pm.
To learn more, click the logo:

at my favorite independent bookstore

during the Evening Storytime,
Thursday, November 16th at 7:00 pm
Author Anne Ginkel will also be there to kick off her new book
Come join us for a fun time!
Call (404) 373-6300 or
for more information.

Along with working on
(Raven Tree Press, June 2008)

I have a new contract in the works.
I'll share the details as soon as they're confirmed.


That's the new stuff,
here's a recap of the last two months!

I had a great time at the Decatur Book Festival
which turned out to be a bigger hit than anybody expected.
To read my summary of the event on my blog, click the logo:

I had several book signings in September:
at the Barnes & Noble Northpoint;
the Barnes & Noble Edgewood;
and the Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta
What a blast!

My logo design graced the
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
Southern Breeze Fall Conference
in Birmingham a few weekends ago.
The SCBWI is the umbrella organization
that holds children's writers and illustrators together.
I was happy to give a talk about the "Nuts and Bolts" of this
business and do several portfolio reviews.
If you're an aspiring children's writer or illustrator,
look for the southeast region's Springmingle
event in Atlanta next March.


As always, you can order
signed copies of my books through:

Call (404) 373-6300 or
email for more information.

I'll be talking to media specialists and librarians
about doing School Visits at the upcoming
in Kennesaw this December
(more info on this soon).
You can learn more about inviting me
to your school at my WEBSITE.

For more information, additional events,
upcoming books and free coloring pages,
visit MY WEBSITE at

Thanks Y'all!
Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Black & Orange!

     Penelope does it again!
     The creator of the insanely popular Illustration Friday (which I try to participate in almost every Friday - you can check out my submissions HERE) has created yet another "I must participate!" creation. This one is called Black & Orange. It's a gallery of Halloween themed art, with judges and everything.
     I reworked a piece I originally did in colored pencil several years back. I always liked this piece, but the more I stared at it, the more the weak spots screamed at me, so I pulled it into Painter and reworked it. I think I can live with it for a while longer, although I ought to change . . .
     But don't just look at my piece - there are some truly wonderful submissions in Black & Orange. And if these don't get you in the mood for the ghosts and ghoulies this evening - I don't know what will!
Happy Halloween Y'all!

Pumpkin Carving!

We had our annual pumpkin carving party Saturday. I've been throwing this party for about seven years now, and it's always so much fun. Everybody gets gooey and messy. We roast the pumpkin seeds and then line up the gallery. Here are some of this year's creations with neighbors, Isaac (Buzz Light-Year) and Hannah (witchie), to show them off. I love Halloween!!

Illustration Friday: Wind

Wippee! This week's theme fits with this piece I just finished for a friend. The wind is carrying their balloon away, when they suddenly realize, they don't know how to get down! To see a larger version, click HERE.

Real Beauty

Wow. You've got to see THIS. It's about how "real beauty" gets distorted in our society.
I knew about make-up, and I even knew about photoshopping out imperfections, but this goes beyond. They change the size of the girls eyes, the length of her forehead, the length of her neck, etc. The end result may as well not even be a real human.

SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference

     Wow. I arrived home Sunday, unpacked, then fell on my bed. That was all she wrote.
     What a great weekend. This is going to be hard to cover (and I'm still tired so please forgive the sloppy writing), but I'll try.
     My traveling buddy, Liz Conrad, arrived about 2:00pm on Friday and we headed west. The party in Birmingham started almost immediately after we reached the hotel with a faculty dinner followed by a dessert party. The room was filled with fellow writers, and I was surprised and thrilled at how many were already friends, such as Alan Gratz, Robyn Hood Black, Diane Z. Shore, Hester Bass, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. (Pooh, I know I'm missing somebody!) For the rest, I put faces with names from the message boards, and made some new friends too. Ami Blackford was assigned as my "Angel." Too funny, they didn't know we were already friends!
     Saturday started early. I shared a quick breakfast with the dynamic and highly-respected literary agent, Rosemary Stimola. Mary Ann Taylor drove several of us to the school to start our busy day. Editor Alexandra Penfold (of Paula Wiseman Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster), gave a great keynote, and the speakers for the day were introduced. . . including me. I have to admit, I was honored and incredibly humbled to be introduced with this group of amazing speakers. Wow.
     We headed to the classrooms and I gave my "Nuts and Bolts" talk first thing. My handouts were waiting in the classroom, which was soon full of attendees. It's so fun to share this information, and there's so much I want to share! I definitely got my "teacher fix." It's not an "I know so much, I must teach you!" kind of feeling (I swear). It's a "isn't this cool!?" kind of feeling. I would be a teacher if I wasn't doing children's books. I really do love it. Several people came up to me afterwards saying how much they appreciated my talk, so I was glowing.
     From there I rushed in to John Margeson's talk on creating characters. John is the talented book designer for Darby Creek Publishing and designed the award winning "Wild Dogs" written by my bud, Kelly Milner Halls.
     We filled the cafeteria to overflowing for lunch. Afterward, we had a book signing. Each of the published authors (and illustrators) had an assigned seat, and I signed several copies of "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese." While we were signing, they announced the winners of the recent Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating Contest. I was surprised and thrilled when they mentioned my honorable mention for "Queen Bea." They also did a call out for Liz's Third Place Illustration contest win. Wippee!
     Back to the classrooms, I attended Alexandra's talk, "Nothing Wrong with Self Promotion." Alexandra came to editing from a background in publicity, and it has made her an astute editor. Kind of like my years of graphic design which help me enormously in my current career, I imagine she has an edge above other editors with her background.
     I also attended Jen Weiss Handler's "Pitch Letters" session. It was a laid back exchange of valuable thoughts and opinions, and I was surprised I learned so much. (Thought I was an old pro - ha!)
     We headed back to the auditorium for a panel discussion with Rosemary, Jen, John, and Alexandra. Again I was humbled as I joined this group to go to our classrooms early for our professional critiques. We ended up with quite a bit of spare time, so hung out talking. I actually had a manuscript critique with Alexandra first, and she was generous with her time and positive comments. How nice!
     I gave three portfolio reviews, all very different. It's such an interesting thing to take a moment and really get inside somebody's work. This is when my seventeen years of experience really shine. It's fun to have to find the words for my opinions. I always have a reason for doing things the way I do them (or believing something), but having to put that reason into words for somebody else is just as educational for me as it is for them. And then again, there's that "teacher fix." I hope I helped them out some. I think I did.
     Back at the hotel, I scraped myself off the bed for yet another party. This time it was at Joan Broerman's house (Joan is the founder of the SCBWI Southern Breeze chapter). Turns out she opens her home every year for a "fall apart" party after the big day. We all signed her guest book (I was so tempted to hang out and see what groovy names were in that book). We spent more time just hanging out and getting to know each other over a great lasagna dinner. After dinner, Hester Bass did a blues number - an adaptation of Queen's "We are the Champions": "We will be published!" - with a young guitarist (son of one of the organizers), and y'know what? She's really good! What a trip! Not that I'm surprised. We finally did a swap of "Glitter Girl" with "So Many Houses," her new book.
     We piled into the party van to return to the hotel, where I slipped into a coma until the next morning. Ahhhhh.
     The drive home was easy and Liz and I compared notes and reminisced about the conference all the way back. What a great time, what a successful event, what an amazing thing. I love that writing has become such a social event with such valuable activities. If you missed this one, try to make the Southern-Breeze Springmingle Conference in Atlanta next March. I'll see you there!

Illustration Friday: Ghost

     Bwahahaha! I love Halloween. It's my fave.
     This is a pencil spread from my picture book dummy, "Lula's Brew."
     Lula wanted to be a famous chef with her very own restaurant. But her Aunties Zelda, Tippy, and Dink were notorious witches, and they were determined that Lula would be the wickedest witch of them all.

     Well, Lula get's her restaurant. This scene is "Lula's Cafe was a hit." (Click on the image to see it larger.) See Mr. and Mrs. Ghostie going out to dinner? :)
     Here's a peek at Lula in color:

Off to B'ham!

     I leave for the SCBWI Southern Breeze Fall Conference in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow. Now you may ask, why would anybody voluntarily go to Birmingham, Alabama? (I have lots of family from there - I'm allowed to say that.) Well, to learn new things, meet great people, get some valuable feedback, and most of all - to be inspired.
     I was an attendee at this conference two years ago, now I'll be giving the "Nuts and Bolts" talk and doing several portfolio reviews.
     This will be the third time I've given this talk now, so I'm pretty comfortable with it. I basically hand over five years of research in one inconspicuous handout. It's overwhelming, and I imagine most people won't recognize it for the treasure it is. In it are links and information that I dug for during my years of research into how this business works, how to get published, and most importantly, how to be the best writer/illustrator you can be. I would have loved this information when I was starting out.
     I love giving this talk. It's part of that whole "pay it forward" mentality, although I'm paying it backwards. I've had so many kind people help me along the way and share good information. If I can keep that flow of positivity going, that makes me very happy.
     I'm traveling with fellow illustrator Liz Conrad and I'm sure we're going to have a great time. She's very cool.
     I'll report back at the end of the weekend (and what I imagine will be a much needed nap).

"Moi and Marie Antoinette"

     Saturday, hubbie and I stopped by my favorite independent book store, Little Shop of Stories, to see Lynn Cullen sign her new picture book, "Moi & Marie Antoinette" (illustrated by Amy L. Young, Bloomsbury).
     Lynn and a friend were dressed to the nines in bustled pink dresses and wigs. I honestly didn't recognize her when I first walked in. They looked great.
     The store played baroque music and served petits fours . It was a most refined event.
     There were even pugs! Of course, there had to be pugs as the star of the book is Marie Antoinette's pug. I bought a copy for my sister and her pug, Geisha.

     OMG - you get to see! Lynn sent me a picture of her with the pugs and the petits fours. Ain't it great?

Illustration Friday: Smitten

     This is an illustration from my first picture book, "The Prince's Diary." It's a Cinderella story, but from the Prince's point of view (and boy was he smitten). Not only was I honored to work on this story adding to Shen's Books collection of Cinderella stories from around the world, but "The Prince's Diary" was named No.1 2006 Valentine's Day Pick by Book Sense in conjunction with the Association of American Publishers. (Click the image to see it larger.)

Stats Addiction

     There's been an awful lot of talk lately about stats. Even editors and publishers aren't immune. So I thought I'd talk about my own stats addiction.
     I use a free service through The coding is hidden on most of the pages of my website, so I can track a lot of visitor traffic. The information falls off quickly with the free version though, so I do have to visit often (hence the addiction). But I've found checking in the morning and again at the end of the day seems to give me a good idea of whose been dropping by. It's part of my routine.
     Somebody on my SCBWI message board recently asked if keeping stats serves any practical use. I find my stats highly valuable.
     For instance, I watch my stats closely for hits from New York right after I send out my latest round of promotional postcards. Most of the big publishing houses' servers are named for the houses, so I can see if Scholastic or Random House has been to my site. I do a screen capture of these little snippets and keep them in a file to see who is showing the most interest in me. It helps me direct my mailings better, and it's a nice boost on those days when I feel like throwing in the towel.
     It's helped me recognize which marketing strategies attract more visitors to my site. For instance, when my blog was included in the megablog at Jacketflap my stats shot way up!
     If I've posted some work online for a particular client, I can see when they've visited (or if they haven't yet).
     I can see if people are downloading my art. For some reason, my "Angels and Devils" submission I did eons ago for Illustration Friday is extremely popular. I have no idea why, it's one of my least favorite pieces. Hubbie thinks people are using it for their personal icons. Could be.
     But my favorite part of following my stats is when I see that somebody in some faraway place like Kazakhstan or Taiwan has downloaded one of my coloring pages. Glitter Girl is on the other side of the globe! I wouldn't know it if it wasn't for my stats, and what a groovy thing to know.

Thumbs Up for Thumbs Up

We just had a new diner move in to our area, and the groovy thing . . . it's in walking distance. Okay, I know there are lots of places where walking to restaurants is a way of life (you lucky New Yorkers), but we don't happen to live in one of those. Just at the edge really. So, this is a great thing. This morning, we threw on baseball hats and running shoes and walked to "Thumbs Up." It was pretty good and I love people watching on Sunday mornings. They're stripped down to their bare essences - no showers, not awake yet, and don't really care. It's like peeking behind the curtain.
What a great way to start a Sunday.