Blog Book Tour for Dotti Enderle

Another Blog Book Tour! As I promised, several of my friends have books coming out right now. Today I ask Dotti Enderle about her latest picture book release, "Grandpa for Sale."
Dotti was interviewed yesterday by Karen Lee, me today, and will be interviewed by Ruth McNally Barshaw Wednesday, Kim Norman Thursday and Barbara Johansen Newman on Saturday. Joe Kulka (the illustrator) interviewed Dotti on his blog as well. Visit around to learn more about Dotti's successful career with novels and picture books.

Hi Dotti.
Congratulations on your newest picture book release, "Grandpa for Sale!" This is your third picture book now, after many successful novels in your "Fortune Tellers Club" series. How do you feel about creating picture books vs. creating novels?

Picture books are definitely more fun to promote. I love seeing the looks on the kids' faces when I read one of my picture books out loud at a public event. But they are harder to write. With novels you have a lot more leeway, adding as much description and dialogue as necessary. With picture books you have to tell the story with both words and pictures. And since I'm not the illustrator, I have to make sure the plot and characters are lively enough to carry 14 various illustrations.

You actually co-wrote "Grandpa for Sale" with Vicki Sansum. Is there a story behind this collaboration?

There's a story behind everything I do! Vicki and I have been good friends for a long time. We met through the Houston SCBWI, and she and I got together regularly to critique each other's work. While she was reading a chapter from one of her novels that took place in an antique store, the idea for Grandpa for Sale popped into my head. I ran it by her, and she loved it. We each wrote our own version, then combined them. After several drafts, and lots of cutting, we ended up with a colorful and fun book.

What's your favorite part of creating a picture book. Is it when you first write the story, when you see the illustrations for the first time, when it's released?

Actually it's the anticipation of seeing the illustrations for the first time. Sort of like waiting for Santa. I always have pictures in my mind when writing a picture book, but they're never as fun as the ones that the illustrators come up with. So, while I enjoy seeing the illos, it's the anticipation of what they might look like that makes me happy.

What's next in the pipeline? Do you plan to do more picture books, or will you return to novels?

Hopefully both. I have two more picture books coming out next year. One is a follow up to The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair. It's called The Fat Stock Stampede at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It'll be fun promoting it here in Houston during "Go Texan" week. I also have another picture book coming out with Pelican Publishing called Gingerbread Man: Superhero! I think you can guess what that's about. And I have two upcoming middle-grade novels, one this fall called Hidden, and another with Delacorte Press called Man in the Moon. I'm currently working on a YA.

I have to ask this. Do you still wear the pink wig?

Rarely. It was lots of fun for promoting The Cotton Candy Catastrophe, but it's cumbersome and limiting, and I've pretty much retired it. Though I'm not opposed to digging it back out should the occasion call for it. :-)

Thanks Dotti!

Illustration Friday: Remember

     Remember when books were magic? How they could carry you to new and fantastic worlds? They still can, they're just waiting for you!
     I created this a few years back. It was one of the first pieces I did where I felt I was finally getting a handle on working digitally. I originally intended to send this out as a promotional postcard, but the size was all wrong, and I quickly moved past it. Still, there are some things I really like about it. Click the image to see it larger.

Meet My Daemon

     After reading "The Golden Compass," I wanted a daemon too. Well, now I have one! This is my daemon, an Ocelot named Nicoleus.
     I had to take a short quiz to determine my daemon. My profile reveals that I am modest, sociable, solitary, assertive and outgoing. I liked the question, "Are you easily distracted." Well yah, otherwise I wouldn't be taking the quiz to determine my daemon!
     What's your daemon? Go find out at The Golden Compass website and check out info about the film while you're there - to be released this December!

Illustration Friday: Polar

     I started drawing this about two years ago when the whole Narnia craze returned. This was the Snow Queen in her polar environment, right when she hears a noise . . .
     I started rendering it this weekend, and it still has a long way to go, but I honestly don't think I'll have time to finish it this week - I've got too many deadlines.
     What I really want to announce though, is that I've created a gallery of all my IF submissions. I've been participating for a long time now, and it took quite a while to pull this together. If you'd like to check it out, hit the link under the IF logo to the right or Click Here.
     I'm also adding a coloring page for you this week. Just click the penguin to download the .jpg. Enjoy!

Hubbie's new blog

     A bike is bought, a blog is born.
     Did I ever mention how hubbie and I met? It was at a BMW motorcycle banquet. Yup. I walked in with my Dad (I used to ride on the back of his bike quite a bit). Hubbie's best friend, Buster, said, "Bob brought his daughter. You need to mingle," and pushed him my way.
     Wheels brought us together, and so I was clear from the start about the man I married. He is a motorcycle rider. Always has been, always will be. When we met, he had three. (His house had no furniture.) He's down to one and that's quite the compromise. But this is his latest - a K1200GT. It's the most technologically advanced motorcycle BMW makes, and hubbie is in love (he used to look at me like that - ha!).
     So, he's wearing out the roads on the weekends, having a blast and looking forward to acheiving his second 100,000 mile certificate.
     I just love seeing hubbie happy.

Pubbers Going Green?

     According to this article at Publishers Weekly, publishers in the UK are considering ways to cut down (sorry) on deforestation by using more recycled paper in their books.
     I'm all for it!
     But I do wonder, if you had the choice between two books, the one you only sort of wanted to read had a "recycled paper" logo and the one you really wanted didn't - which one would you buy? Would it make a difference to you?
     We book lovers tend to be consciencious people when it comes to everything but our books. We scoop 'em up like crazy! (Well, I do anyhow.) Wouldn't it be nice if we could do it with a little less guilt about our impact on the environment?
     The most ethically pleasing job I ever had was creating animations for the Stone Mountain Laser Show. Everything we did was on computers and our final product was light . . . just light cast onto the side of a mountain. The worst damage we were responsible for was the crushed grass from the picknickers blankets.
     I'd love it if publishing could rise to that level of ethical responsibility. Not that I could love books any more than I already do, but well, maybe I could just a little bit.

1st ever Blog Book Tour for Joe Kulka!

     I'm starting a new feature here at - a BLOG BOOK TOUR!
     What is that?
     Well, several of my friends have books coming out about now, and we've gotten together to help you learn about their new creations.
     Today, I interview author/illustrator Joe Kulka about his new picture book, Wolf's Coming! (Carolrhoda Picture Books).
     Joe will be interviewed by several friends this week (hence the Blog Tour): Ruth McNally Barshaw's brand spankin' new blog, "Ellie McDoodle" on Tuesday; Alan Gratz's "Gratz Industries" on Wednesday; Dotti Enderle's Blog on Friday; and Barbara Johansen Newman's Blog, Cat Jammers Studio on Saturday.
     Enjoy the interviews and go check out the book! (Click the cover to go to it's listing on Amazon.)

So Joe, congratulations on your new release, Wolf's Coming! (Carolrhoda Picture Books)! Is this the first book you've written and illustrated? Tell us about it!

     Thanks. Yes, this is my first book as both author and illustrator. The story is about the animals in the forest spying Wolf leaving his cave and heading towards their tree house. They spread the word that Wolf is coming, running and hiding as they do so. When Wolf arrives they are ready for him and the book ends with a surprise.
     O.K., I'll give away the ending here but don't tell anyone. They really are running because they have a surprise birthday party planned for Wolf.
     Hopefully little readers will get a kick out the story and especially enjoy reading it a second time with a new perspective once you know the ending. There are little clues in the illustrations that foreshadow the ending to the observant reader.

How many books for you is this now? Give us the list!

     The other books I've illustrated are Granny Gert And the Bunion Brothers by Dotti Enderle published by Pelican, Monkey Math (Rookie Readers) by Larry Brimmer published by Scholastic, The Spitting Twins by Andrea Jones published by Frog Ltd, "Woodsy's ABCs" published by the USDA Forest Service, Have You Seen King Candy? by Jackie Glassman, and Happy Birthday Princess Lolly! by Jackie Glassman both published by Scholastic.
     I've also illustrated a number of educational readers and a sticker story book on pirates will be out this summer.
     Right now I'm working on my 2nd book as author and illustrator, "The Rope" which will be published by Pelican.

What "drew" you (sorry!) to picture books?

     Reading Rainbow and Charles Santore get a lot of the credit/blame. For a couple years after graduating college the only work I was getting was scientific and medical illustration for text books. On the way to the publisher's to deliver my drawings of spleens and kidneys I would walk past Charles Santore's studio. I could see him up there painting away at his drawing table. This was around the time he was working on The Wizard of Oz. When the book was released I was (and still am) in awe of how beautiful it was. I also would tune into Reading Rainbow every day when I would eat my lunch. I enjoyed seeing the variety of children's books that they showed. I realized that children's book was the aspect of illustration that I truly wanted to pursue.

What do you love about the business, and what do you . . . not love?

     What I love the most is that I've suckered people into paying me to draw pictures and now make up stories.
Little do they know that I would do it for nothing! However, let me quickly add that I pride myself on being an astute businessman as well as an artist and absolutely realize the value of my commodity.
     What I'm really trying to say is that I absolutely love what I do and I'm extremely grateful that I am able to make a living doing it.
     I love having a 5 second commute to work. I love being able to (and usually do) work in my pajamas.
     The thrill of my professional life was when I got to sit down and read my own book, "Wolf's Coming!" to my 3 and 6 year old sons as a bedtime story. Even if I were to win a Caldecott someday I doubt that would top that one. But I'm certainly willing to find out, so feel free to throw one my way.
     The aspects of it that I don't love... working into the wee hours of the morning more nights than not, work for hire contracts - contracts from certain publishers that require you sign over the copyright of your illustrations - I avoid those as much as possible. Other things that I don't love- computers that crash, brushes that drip, advances that are long spent before the book is finished and books that somehow get printed with the colors far off from what they should be. Thankfully "Wolf's Coming!" colors look great.

Can you share your journey into children's publishing?

     As I said above after I graduated from college, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I had my degree in illustration but not a clear idea of what avenue to pursue. Somehow while in college pursuing children's books seemed to be something that only women did. So I never took a children's book class. Other than Reading Rainbow and envying Charles Santore, the other eye opener for me occurred at the medical publishers I was working at. I was filling in as staff illustrator for a few months while one of the illustrators was on pregnancy leave. The publisher was part of Harcourt and around Christmas time a big stack of children's books would appear in the break area from the children's division in San Diego. Stellaluna was in there one year. It was a joy to look at and dream of doing something half as good someday.
     It took me quite a while to be able to revamp my portfolio and switch from scientific illustration to children's book illustration. About 8 years for the complete transformation.
     During that time I had a couple small detours. One of which was getting myself up to speed using a computer.
     I had always worked with pen and ink, watercolors and oils. I wanted nothing to do with a computer.
     However my clients were starting to ask for work delivered in a digital format so I saw the handwriting on the wall. I got myself a Mac and shortly thereafter was lucky enough to land an in-house job at a multimedia company. I was part of a team that was developing one of the first games for the original Sony Playstation. I was doing storyboards and they needed to be done digitally so I got to learn my way around a computer pretty quickly. I found out that programs such as Painter were really just another tool to help you create - the same way a pencil or brush is.
     As the company I was working for began to implode I decided it was best to resume my freelance career and get back on the track of pursuing my children's book dream.
     At this time I started to focus on my writing. I was confident in my drawing skills but felt like a novice when it came to writing a story. So I joined a Yahoo group on picturebooks and someone posted an email about wanting to start a critique group. I jumped in and was fortunate enough to fall into a group comprised of 7 extremely talented writers, some illustrators as well.
     The crit group has done wonders in helping me hone my writing skills. First by having a deadline - I need to have something to submit when it's my turn - I'm forced to write. I think my years of illustration background has me needing that deadline to get something accomplished. Another key aspect is having to critique the work of the other writers. Having to look at a story critically allows you to pick up on writing techniques that you might otherwise miss. You can really learn a lot. I feel as though I've gotten my master's degree through my crit group.
     So once I felt my writing skills were up to snuff and I had a story that was ready to go I made up a dummy and sent it out. And got it back rejected. So I sent it out again. And got it back again. The third time was the charm for me and CarolRhoda bought "Wolf's Coming!"
     My editor, Ellen, was an joy to work with. It was such a pleasure knowing that her suggestions were always on the mark and made the book the best it could be.
     So now I just hope that I can keep doing this for about 40 more years or so and then you plant me in the ground with a smile on my face!

OMG - Gimme!

     Is this not the most adorable thing? Okay, maybe I mean the dog. Still, if I saw this on the street, I would just lose it completely. Funny how similar looking this doggie is to the mc of one of my early dummies, "Teacup."
     Thanks to Cute Overload for the image.
     Today's "overload" was full indeed. I wasn't sure which to post - the carrier or the video of a scientist who has discovered that rats laugh when tickled. Sometimes the world just makes you smile.

Tolkein Fans . . .

     We have a new book by J.R.R. Tolkein!
     Yes, I know he's no longer with us, but supposedly he worked on this manuscript for thirty years. And although he never finished it, his son has. "The Children of Hurin" will be released next week.
     Will it mark our generation the same way "The Hobbit" did in its day? Time will tell, but I know I'll be reading it!

Happy Easter!

I painted (yes, painted) this little guy with acrylics a looooong time ago. But he's still a little cutie.
Happy Easter everybody!

Illustration Friday: Green

     Well, there's the color "green" and then there's the definition of "green" as in newbie.
     Here is Lula, from my dummy, "Lula's Brew." She didn't like to fly on a broom . . .

     Lula wanted to be the chef
     of the neighborhood's favorite haunt.
     She wanted a four star bistro,
     her very own restaurant.

     But when your Aunties are witches,
     the wickedest in the land,
     you have to learn how to fly a broom
     and cast spells with a wave of your hand . . .

Click the image to see it larger. :)

The "eyes" have it

Well pooie.
     I'm reaching that point in life where the eyes don't focus as quickly, and sometimes not at all. I wear glasses for reading and working on my computer, but I've been wearing them more and more and suspected I might need a different prescription.
     Last night, my wondering was confirmed. The eye doc is putting me in progressive lenses (called bi-focals in our parent's days). And he says I'll be wearing them all the time. What!?
     Okay, I love the opportunity for a new fashion accessory, must admit, but the idea that I actually need these things all the time kinda freaks me out.
     I know many of you have probably worn glasses forever, even contacts, but this whole thing is rather new to me. I mean, where's my free will? Where's my choice? Why, oh why, are my eyes being so ornery?
     It's a little spooky too. You don't realize what you take for granted and all that. Between reading, writing, and illustrating, I lean on these puppies pretty heavily. I need to take good care of them . . . and apparently, now I get to decorate them too.

e's News - April '07

Hi Y'all!
Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese sold over 12 million copies . . .

April Fool's!
(although that is the number of the new Harry Potter books being printed - WOW!)

It's been a while since my last newsletter, but rest assured, it's not been for lack of activity! I have several projects in the works which I can't share too much information about just yet, including new picture books and my first novel.
2008 is looking to be a very big year for me —
so stay tuned!

One project I can share with you is
I'm busy illustrating it now and it will be released in June 2008 by Raven Tree Press

I've been taking Spanish lessons at the Latin American Association to prepare for my multi-cultural audience.

Also coming in 2008 is

from Harcourt Educational.

In the mean time, it's time to register
for my classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School
coming up this May.

I'm teaching two weekend classes this year:
Beginning Drawing, May 4 - 6
Creating Children's Picture Books, May 25 - 27
For those of you not familiar with John C. Campbell, it's just outside Murphy, North Carolina in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. The camp has been teaching folk/craft skills for almost 100 years and is a magical camp for adults. It's a great mini-vacation (even for the instructors) and allows you the chance to learn something new or hone a craft you don't usually get time for. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, and it is a true mini-escape.
Read more about the camp at
Hope to see you there!

Along with John C., I'm looking forward to the Kick Off Summer Reading Festival at River Eves Elementary School in April.

Want me to visit your school or event? Read about my visits at my website:

As always, you can order signed copies of my books
through my local independent children's bookstore:

Little Shop of Stories
Call (404) 373-6300 or
email for more information.

For free coloring and activity pages,
visit MY WEBSITE at or
sign up for my newsletter here.
To view this newsletter in its original formatting, go HERE.

Thanks Y'all!