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.