Simple Desktop Wallpaper

I love these simple designs for my computer - they keep my desktop from looking so cluttered. (And they add to the overall decor of my office - yup.) So, here's a treasure trove of simple designs at SimpleDesktops - all free for download. Like pigeon love below. Cute!

Thanks to SwissMiss for the link.

Motorcycle Rally Support

One of the amazing things about the Iron Butt Rally is the incredible support people have shown to my hubbie all over the US. People have offered phone numbers, road assistance, trailers (just in case), you name it. His facebook page (which I am updating with his progress while he rides) is covered with good wishes and congratulations.
     And how's this for sweet? When Stan pulled into the second check point in Jacksonville, Florida, this sign was waiting for him... It's his facebook avatar and his tongue-in-cheek motorcycle nickname (most of them have one). I tell ya, when you travel all 48 states in 11 days, friends come out from all over. What an awesome, awesome thing.
     So, he's off to Los Angeles, the last leg of the rally. Then will head back home at a much more leisurely pace. Iron Butt indeed. Here's a great shot Larry Woodall got of my hubs:

Coloring Page Tuesday - Ugg on a Bigwheel

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     This is Ugg. You've probably seen him floating around on my website here and there (I use an image of him as my newsletter sign up button). I've been drawing him for years. This week, since I have wheels on the brain because of my hubbie's Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally (which you can follow by clicking HERE), I thought I'd turn Ugg into a coloring page for you. Go Bigwheel Go!
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!

Learn about proper parenting language and the power of choice to turn your little monsters into happy kids in, Ready for Bed! , Ready for the Day!, and Ready to Play! - click the covers!

Motorcycling through New York

Yesterday (Saturday) was a big riding day for Stan. The Iron Butt Rally announced the course requirements for Stage 2 at 4:00 am, so hubbie was on the road by 5! And since the goal is to hit all 48 states, he covered most of New England before ending his ride about 9:00 pm last night. Of course, that included New York City, which he decided to ride straight through. Apparently he received lots of strange looks "Are you a cop? Are you an alien?" and the cabbies didn't know what to make of him. He even got hit on by a woman in Queens, "Nice bike." (That's the way I heard it anyhow. The saying around here is "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.") Here was his amazing route:

Today is Save Bookstores! Day

All you have to do to participate is visit your local indie bookstore and buy a book (or 4). Easy peasy! And let 'em know you're coming by signing up at the Save Bookstores! facebook page (click the image).

Motorcycle Rally Progress

Stan made his first check point in Buffalo, New York yesterday with time to spare. So it became laundry day and catching up on sleep day. He was up at 4:00 this morning to receive the package with information for the 2nd stage of the journey and is already on his way to Schenectady (love that name). :)

Hubbie's Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally Progress

Since they announced the course on the Iron Butt site, I can share that this year's Rally is to visit 48 states in 11 days. Stan is making good progress already. Here's what his journey looks like so far on Spotwalla (Thursday morning). (Click the map to see it larger.) You can see his journey from Atlanta to Seattle (where I flew to see him off) and his journey since then. Last night he ended up in Topeka, Kansas. Tonight he'll end up at the first check point in Buffalo, New York. (Update: oops - he'll be in Buffalo tomorrow night. Tonight he's in Cincinnati.) He rode mostly in rain yesterday, but I can hear his smile through the phone. My crazy man is having a BLAST!

Katie Davis' LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY (giveaway)

Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a good friend of mine, extremely talented author/illustrator, uber-marketer, and now webinar hostess, Katie Davis. (You probably remember when I visited her talk show, Brain Burps About Books a while back.)
     Well, Katie has a new picture book out, LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY, and it is the cutest thing EVAH! I asked Katie a few questions about it and got some fantastic marketing advice in the process - get your pen and pencil ready...

     Please tell my readers how LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY came to be, because it is a very sweet story.

     Well, in a nutshell, for years my husband Jerry worked with a guy who, whenever Jer would ask him where some work was, would brush him off with, “Yeah, yeah, I hear you cluckin’, Big Chicken!” Jerry kept bugging me to turn that phrase into a picture book, but I just kept telling him that he should do it if he thought it was such a great idea. Truth is, I had no idea how it could possibly translate. It wasn’t my story, that’s why.
     So one day I was in Florida at a book festival, and I got an email from Jerry with an attachment. Two seconds later, before I had a chance to read it, I got another email from him, telling me, “DO NOT READ WHAT I JUST SENT YOU!” So I didn’t!
     When he finally got the courage to have me read it, I thought it was fabulous and got to work on it right away. My (now our) agent loved it, and soon after, sold it to S&S/McElderry Books.

     This is your first title with your husband, Jerry Davis. And he's a pretty creative heavyweight himself. Tell us about him.

     Jerry has been producing animated features for a long time. He's worked with mammoth stars (Ice Age), robotic ones (Robots and Iron Giant) and playful ones (Toy Story). He's a creative producer so he really knows about story arc and has been helping me with my picture books and novels for years so this was a very natural progression.

     LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY is such a simple story told with bold, simple art. It reminds me a bit of Roy Lichtenstein - only for a very young audience. I mean, that cover just JUMPS out at you! What was your thought behind your illustrations for this book?

     Wow. That's an incredible compliment, thank you. I knew from the start I wanted it very spare, but the art director brought it to an even starker level, which really helped "purify" the story. Then she suggested just a few pages have a bold background and for some reason, one only a graphic designer would know, it made it a cohesive style.
     As for the characters, I knew I needed to have some iconic items to "tag" them (like a character in a novel with a habit or quirk) and to make them unique, so I gave Little Chicken's red high tops and Big Chicken red pumps and a handbag. I thought about a pearl necklace for her but that ended up being too much and anyway, whoever heard of a chicken with pearls? But everyone knows they wear pumps and carry a purse so that made sense.

     You've done some uber-creative marketing for LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY - can you tell us about it? Especially the "Cutest Little Chick Contest" (how sweet is THAT!?). AND the MOST ADORABLE BOOK TRAILER EVAH, EVAH, EVAH...

     Hooboy. You sure you want this?! To preface my gigantic list that will certainly freak some people out, you should know that a lot of things had no effect or failed completely. I have no problem with failing because it means I’m trying things, experimenting, and hopeful. That said, it can be exhausting!
     We began this whole process with some researching, like simply doing a Google search of “chickens” and contacting people involved with backyard chicken raising, for example. From that, I met a famous chicken expert whose wife, it turns out, is also a podcaster and a kindergarten teacher! She interviewed me on her show, so you never know where things will lead.
     In no particular order I or we…

     • bought the URL for which leads to the book’s page on my site
     • redesigned my entire website and upped my commitment to blogging almost daily (and actually, my site is now a blogsite (, a site where the blog is incorporated within it so the visitor doesn’t need to find me in two different places)
     • created video FAQs to help visitors to my site (and to strengthen my SEO)
     • added opt-in forms to more places on my site to make it easier for people to sign up for my announcements and newsletter which I…
     • redesigned through Mailchimp and is full of book recommendations, literacy-related videos, and other links - it’s self-promotional, for sure, but I work at making it more weighted on promoting other people’s books
     • wrote an eBook all about how to market oneself and ones books that is now being edited and will be available this summer (and will include great tips and some of my giant FAILS!)
     • created a series of both free and low-cost webinars which you can learn about here (July 13 is my first, and there is an early bird discount through the end of June!) The presentations are fantastic, and even though I have great references from the Highlights Foundation where I’ve done similar in-person seminars, it could be a total fail. We shall see!
     • created tattoos to give out at events
     • printed business cards with same proportions as the cover so it looks like a mini version of the book
     • made onesies (which you can see here) to give as prizes or to sell with the book, since the two together make such a great baby gift
     • brought the book (along with Jerry!) on my regular monthly TV spot (where I usually recommend other people’s books!) on Good Morning, CT
     • interviewed Jerry on my podcast, which is #1 in iTunes in Children’s Publishing
threw a launch party
     • created a series on my blog called 30 Days to a Book Launch that garnered me a ton of readers and hits culminating with 666 on the day of the book’s launch
     • registered with Mitali Perkins’ fabulous “Twitter Book Birthday” site so it was feted exponentially the day it came out (and contributed to all those site hits)
     • threw contests which failed miserably so I discontinued them
     • contacted the Cutest Little Chick contest organizers in Petaluma, CA and created a book tour through Copperfield’s books in conjunction with that, and became a judge for that contest
     • bought copies on behalf of my large family from favorite indie book stores around the country (to spread the wealth) and in doing so, got connected with Books & Books, who then brought us to the Cayman Islands for a book tour where we also appeared on radio and TV
     • created a Facebook fan page (finally!) that highlights the book – though that will become more general over time
     • created my YouTube channel in conjunction with my other videos and …
     • created our book trailer, which then got a nomination for a Moby Award
     • took out or bartered for ads on various online parenting and/or chicken sites
     • wrote numerous conference proposals in anticipation of the book’s publication, resulting in acceptances to a regional IRA conference, the NAEYC annual conference and the national and largest regional SCBWI conferences, among others
     • created numerous craft projects and coloring pages available through my Freebie Fridays (inspired by your Coloring Page Tuesdays!)
     • became involved in World Read Aloud Day and offered free Skype sessions with a number of schools around the country, introducing the book to totally new groups. Here is where something like that can lead: last night on Twitter I got this tweet from one of the schools’ librarians: @KatieDavisBurps Little Chicken was 1 of the last overdue books returned to my library. Kids don't want to give it up!)
     • registered with Author Skype Tour and garnered many Skype visits through that (which Kate Messner created with Marjorie Light)
     • donated books to various places (libraries, associations) and contests
     • became a Cybils judge, which got my name out there more
     • attended BEA and ALA and donated a piece of original Little Chicken art to the ABC art auction at BEA
     • did a bunch of other stuff which I can’t remember and…
     • last, but perhaps most importantly, promoted other people which is exponentially more valuable, kinder, and frankly, a lot more entertaining for me (as well as others, I’d think). It is the ultimate example of “what goes around comes around,” as evidenced in being invited to do this interview.

     Woosie!!! I hope all my readers learned a lot from that. I know I did!

     Finally, you've got another grand adventure going on - please tell my readers about BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS!

     This is the perfect follow up question to the last point I made above, actually, because of the “passive marketing” I receive from Brain Burps About Books promoting other people.
     I started my podcast (which is an online radio show) last August for numerous reasons, but mostly because I love talking about this business, whether it’s about creativity, craft, marketing, specific books, whatever. When I started I had no idea if anyone would ever listen to it. At the time I’m writing this, eight months after starting the show, people in almost 100 countries have listened to through almost 30,000 downloads (more through the app), and scores of authors have been promoted either by being interviewed or through my contributors who review: Betsy Bird (the NYPL librarian whose SLJ blog is A Fuse #8 Production), Jennifer Hubert Swan (whose blog is Reading Rants), and now, Travis Jonker, of 100 Scope Notes.
     Through the show I’ve had the opportunity to interview fascinating people, like the man who decided to edit the N-word out of Huck Finn, and Ellen Hopkins after she’d been disinvited to the book festival in Humble, Texas, and to talk about ebooks apps, and passive income. In one of my favorite episodes which I posted during Library Week, 36 authors talked about their childhood experiences with libraries and how it had an impact on their lives as writers.
     Is there anything I’ve left out? Probably! But I thank you, E, for this great opportunity! You are an inspiration to me, and I know to many others too. Continued success to you and your readers!

Thank YOU Katie! This is incredible advice, and an adorable picture book. Y'all go check out LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY and BRAIN BURPS ABOUT BOOKS!!!
To make it easier on you - once I have 25 comments on my blog, I will do a drawing for someone (inside the US) to win a FREE copy of LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY - wahooo!!!! Be sure to leave your contact info so I can find you if you win - no duplicate entries please.

My novel takes flight...

My mid-grade novel is going to publishers. Yup. Two and a half years worth of work - finally heading out the door. My agent emailed me while I was on vacation in Seattle. I knew she'd be getting back to me soon, but wasn't sure if it would be a 'sign off' or another revision request. I was beyond thrilled to read it was the first!
     So now my baby is on its way into the world, to stand on its own, to be judged objectively and with luck, found to be worthy. Send good vibes!

2011 Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally - departure

I just returned from Seattle, WA where I saw off the hubs on his first Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally. This is no small affair - 11,000 miles in 11 days. They began in Seattle, will tour the entire country and end up in Los Angeles. Of course, hubbie rode out to Seattle first and will ride home from LA because he's crazy like that. Anyhow - here's the video of some of them (and Stan) taking off:

Coloring Page Tuesday - Pretty Princess

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     This week I share a Pretty Princess. Need I say more?
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!

     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

QR Codes - the Coolest thing EVAH!

OMG. So I generated a QR code for at Kerem Erkan's QR Cod and 2D Code Generator, and I got this:

Then I installed the Qrafter - QR Code Reader app from iTunes onto my iPhone. With it, I scanned my QR code and up popped.... the URL to my website with a direct link!!!!
     Can you imagine the possibilities??? Scanning bar codes (or these new fancy QR codes) is becoming the wave of the future to instantly access more information about the products we buy. So, I can add my QR code to my bookmarks and postcards and VOILA! People will be able to instantly access my website by scanning my handouts. HOW COOL IS THAT?
     Want to try it for yourself? Download the app, then scan my QR code - right here on your computer screen. Click the URL and you'll be able to visit on you cell phone too. Groovy!!

Southfield School Little Mermaids

I recently received a request from a teacher at Southfield School in Louisiana, Katy Merriman. The 3rd grade was putting on the play "The Little Mermaid" and they wanted mermaid t-shirts to hand out as souvenirs of the experience.
     Part of the reason I create my Coloring Page Tuesday images is to help teachers out. (Goodness knows their budgets have been cut beyond reason.) So, of course I said "yes"!
     As a thank you, they sent me a t-shirt (people often do when they use my art for t-shirts), but I especially loved seeing the kids wearing the t-shirts for their Field Day events. How cute is that?

John Rocco's BLACKOUT

I am thrilled to host one of my favorite picture book creators today - John Rocco. I have two of his previous books in my collection, which I study relentlessly: MOONPOWDER and WOLF! WOLF! His latest creation is just as impressive: BLACKOUT. I had the great pleasure of asking John about it...

Welcome to John!
Thanks Elizabeth! Glad to be "here".

Q. What was the inspiration for the story in BLACKOUT? Better yet, what was the inspiration for the artwork. Am I seeing some influence from "Starry night" by Van Gogh?
A. Yes, Starry Night is definitely in there. I wanted the moment they saw the stars to be magical and that famous painting is certainly full of magic. The main influence for the style of artwork was definitely Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. The panels, speech bubbles and the flat perspectives were definitely derived from that wonderful book. In some of the night scenes there are some influences from old noir films. The light and shadow played a large part in this books design.

Q. How challenging was it to work with a color palette that had to relay a little or no light situation?
A. I certainly wanted to go even darker at first. I was thinking the pages would be completely black and you would only see what was in the cone of light from the flashlights, but after trying that approach it was difficult to keep the story together. I knew that when the lights went out I wanted to switch the palette from full color to a very monochromatic black and white (or dark blue and white) and gradually add the color back in as the family discovered the magic of being without electricity. As far as the printing goes, the team at Disney always spends a great deal of effort making sure the color prints spot on. Because I work digitally I provide them with approved color prints of every page so they can match it precisely. I was extremely pleased at how the color reproduced in this book.

Q. I've always been impressed by how well designed your books are. How do you approach that aspect of your projects?
A. The design of the book is always something I try to spend a great deal of time with. It is important not only aesthetically, but as a storytelling tool. If you notice at the beginning of the book the family are all shown in separate windows in their apartment, but on the very last page you see them together in one window. That was something I had in mind from the very beginning. When I was working on this book I ended doing about eight different book dummies trying to get it to work as a wordless book first. Then I was able to sprinkle words in as I needed them. Once in a while I would show my dummies to my pal Brian Floca and he would make suggestions here and there that really helped. And of course my editor, Stephanie Lurie, was very helpful in keeping me on track with the main story.

Q. What is your illustration method?
A. I create a full tonal pencil drawing, and then I paint it digitally in photoshop.

Q. Do you consider yourself more writer or illustrator - or have the two merged completely at this point? (And if not, how do they get along?)
A. Because I do much more illustration work than writing, I definitely consider myself more of an illustrator. But I am also thrilled to be a writer. To have that tool in my toolbox allows me a ton of freedom when creating books. The two skills merge together and then I become a storyteller.

Q. And lastly, do you ever plan to make it down to Georgia so your southern fans might meet you in person?
A. If the devil went down to Georgia, so can I. Seriously, I would love to get down there. My wife has always wanted to go to Savannah. I will let you know when it will happen.

Thank you!
Thanks so much! e
Be sure to check out BLACKOUT:

Motorcycle Rally - Day 3

From Rawlins, Wyoming to...? Well, I can tell you there aren't many cities, towns, or junctions in much of the area he's traveling today! Hubbie called me from Utah just in case we'll lose coverage, which I'm guessing we will.
     Want to know what I'm talking about? CLICK HERE.
     Update: He ended up in Baker City, Oregon!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Jazz Cat

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     Cool tunes from a groovy jazz cat.
     Big fuzzy hugs to all of you for your wonderful birthday wishes on my blog last week. 79 of you left comments (!!!) and Laura Visser Anderson was the happy winner of my drawing for the Ellie Tine cling stamp set. If you'd like to see my entire JustRite Cling Stamp set (including faries, a dragon, a duck, and of course Ellie) CLICK HERE.
     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Motorcycle Rally - Day 1 & 2

Sunday the hubs rode from Atlanta to Columbia, Missouri. Monday, from Missouri to Rawlins, Wyoming! Woosie.

Motorcycle Rally - the Departure

Every now and then I mention that my hubbie is a long-distance motorcyclist. Well, he's off on the grandest long distance motorcycle adventure of them all - the Iron Butt Rally.
     I know, I know. But it's a well-earned title. Here's why they call it that... every other year, 100 motorcyclists circle the country - doing 11,000 miles in 11 days (each). Thing is, this year it starts in Seattle, Washington. So the hubs left Sunday morning (from Atlanta, Georgia) to ride to Seattle. Then he'll begin the actual ride - all the way around the USA, ending in Los Angeles, California. Then he'll ride home.
     Needless to say, this is a huge, big honkin' deal and we've been breathing nothing but motorcycles around here since January. He can't post much from the road (rally rules), so I'll be doing my own little update here.
     Day 1: Atlanta to Nashville, to St. Louis, to Kansas City (not sure where he's planning on stopping yet, but he was crossing the Mississippi River when I last spoke to him via blue tooth in his helmet).
     Here's Stan on his monster beast...

Skype Visit with Bonner Elementary

A few weeks back I enjoyed a Virtual Visit with Miss Emily's elementary class all the way up in Minnesota. Hi Guys!
     That's what's so awesome about Skype visits - they didn't have to fly me in and yet we were still able to share lots of fun information together. It also filled a technology requirement for the school. This was the view from my end:

     Did you know that many authors and illustrators offer 10 to 15 minute Skype visits for free (including me). You can find them at:

     Interested in asking me to speak to your students via Skype? While a short visit is free, I do ask for a few things up front:

1) Students I speak to have read at least three of my books. (You can see my titles at

2) Students have spent some time in my website learning about me and my books to provide informed questions.

3) The students and/or teachers have prepared questions prior to the chat, and somebody hangs around for tech backup (you may need your cell phone).

4) I can use a screen capture of the visit to promote my Skype visits on my blog.

If all that sounds okay to you, I'd be happy to virtually stop by! And remember, I also do one-hour Skype visits for $250 as well as in-person visits. More information is available at

Book Fair Coloring Pages!

A few weeks ago I received a request from a librarian at a charter school in Michigan asking to use one of my coloring pages for a contest surrounding their "Books are Treasure" book fair. You know I love librarians, so of course I said 'yes.'
     Well, 650 copies of my "Pirate's Treasure" image (from the 2007 "Talk Like a Pirate Day") went out to the students and here are some of the awesome results. (Click the image to see a larger version.)

     THIS is what my coloring pages are all about - a librarian sharing a love for reading with her students using my art... makes me proud.
     To share the image with your students, click here to visit the original blog post and download the full-sized coloring page.
     Have questions about usage? Please read my Angel Policy for my copyright information.

Janni Lee Simner's FAERIE WINTER

I'm proud to announce, FAERIE WINTER, the long awaited sequel to BONES OF FAERIE (which I loved) by Janni Lee Simner. She was nice enough to stop by to answer some questions...

Q. Hi Janni! What challenges did you hit writing a second book for this series?

A. Writing a second book scared me at first! Bones of Faerie had been hard for me to write, and in the beginning I let myself be intimidated by writing a sequel: I wanted it to be just like Bones of Faerie, only even better. What I eventually realized is that it's impossible for any book, even a sequel, to be just like the one before. Once I let go of trying to write Bones of Faerie all over again, and freed Faerie Winter up to become its own story, the writing became much easier. (Deciding to set the sequel in winter, when the deadly trees of Bones of Faerie's forest had dropped their leaves, helped a lot with this.)

Q. Unlike most faerie stories that occur in some medieval past, your series occurs in the future. What inspired that decision, and why the location you chose near the St. Louis Arch?

A. The series began with my realizing--only after I wrote the opening chapter of Bones of Faerie, in which protagonist Liza told me it was so--that there'd been a war with Faerie. Once I knew that, I sort of figured out the rest from there. I always thought of Liza's world as being our world, only magically changed, and so it naturally evolved to our near future.

Eventually of course I had to figure out where as well as when the story was taking place. Since I'd started writing Bones of Faerie while still living in St. Louis (I moved away long before finishing it), I decided to set it there. And once I'd decided to set it there, it soon became obvious that I had to make use of the St. Louis Arch, too. (Gateway to the west and--to other things!)

Q. I love how plastic is a valuable commodity in your stories. Do you have a philosophy behind matching magic with these modern supplies?

A. I think for me it's as much about the the effects of time and technology as about magic. There are so many things that are part of our world now that we don't think about, things that if society collapsed we wouldn't be able to recreate in smaller, lower-tech communities. Plastic is one of them. The sort of perfectly clear glass we take for granted is another--the list goes on and on. I was intrigued by the idea of being surrounded by things that we once knew how to make but couldn't make anymore, because the ability to do so was lost in the past--not only things like computers and cell phones, but also more basic things, things we don't even think of as requiring technology. I think that if such a collapse were to happen, even the most ordinary things--like plastic--would take on a sort of metaphorical magic, because they exist, artifacts of a past that's just out of reach, but in the lifetime of the characters, there'll never be more things like them again.

It's intriguing to me to imagine something so commonplace and also so problematic as plastic would take on that sort of magic!

Q. Each of your young characters is born with a special skill, from simple to huge. Can you describe them, and if you had one for yourself, which would it be?

A. Every human born after the War is born with some sort of magic in the faerie books. The magics vary, and I'm still exploring them. Magics that have shown up in the books so far include speaking magics--the ability to talk to animals, or plants, or wind, or fire; shapeshifting magics and magics that can force others to shift; magic for healing, magic for weaving, magic for summoning things to you. Most people are born with just one type of magic, and when it shows up can vary tremendously, but seer magic (the ability to see past, present, and future) tends to get tangled in with other magics. All magic flows in multiple directions--so if you can call something to you, you can push it away; if you can turn into a wolf, you can turn back to a human; if you can heal people with magic, you can also hurt them. Faeries have always been born with magic, but humans are new to it, and still learning how to live with it.

If I could choose, I think I would want to be a shifter of some sort, maybe a raven shifter. I think the magic I admire most is healing magic; I also think that's in many ways the hardest magic to have, though it doesn't always seem so on the surface.

Q. Worlds/Realms overlap in your world. Do you see that as very different or similar to our 'reality'? Death is also somewhat amorphous - how do you see it?

A. That's a hard question! I don't know that I really feel any certainty about whether there might be overlapping realms or not. In a literal way I tend to think that there's only one physical world/universe (at least if you ask me today--I might answer differently tomorrow!), but I also think there are things we don't understand, and that places can have a sense of power about them--so maybe that's a sort of metaphorical way of there being multiple realms.

I'm even less certain about death, much as I wish I had answers there! I think Liza and I are exploring that one together in a way. In Liza's world, death is very close at hand, something you can reach out and touch. In our world, I tend to think of it as a stronger separation--though the dead and the living can be metaphorically very close, because those who are gone do haunt those left behind, emotionally at least. All our presences echo on, in a sense.

And then there are the long-lived faerie folk amid all that death, and their place in the story--this is something I've actually been exploring with the third (and final) faerie book, which I'm working on right now!

Q. And I didn't even ask you about glamour yet! It's quite an evil weapon in FAERIE WINTER. Can say something about it?

A. I don't remember when I decided to make glamour a part of my faerie world. It shows up in other faerie stories, often used as a way for faeries to confuse humans' sight/perceptions, or to make the things of faerie seem unnaturally beautiful and compelling to us. It's always been dangerous magic, but I don't think I knew until I started using glamour in my own story just how harsh it would become there--in the same way that so many magical things became harsher when cast in the cold light of that story's magical War. Glamour is much more absolute in my world, something that not only clouds your sight, but pretty much takes away your will, without your ever understanding it, because you want so much to please the faerie who has glamoured you. I hadn't planned that ahead of time, but it felt right. And everything about my backstory changed, once it was seen through glamour's cold light.

I found writing the Faerie Winter scenes with glamour terrifying. If anyone wants to lure me into Faerie now, they'd find they're too late. I once wouldn't have hesitated to run away to Faerie, but after writing Faerie Winter, I think if I were invited, I would run the other way!

Thanks again for having me on your blog!

Thanks Janni! :) e

Giveaway Winner!!

OMG - so I go out to play for my birthday and come home to 79 Happy Birthday wishes and comments on my Coloring Page Tuesday blog post!!?? Wowsa guys - you know how to make somebody feel loved. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! Talk about a nice birthday present!!
     So, according to my random number generator, the winner of the stamp set is... (drum roll please)... Laura Visser Anderson! Woot, woot! Congratulations Laura! I've emailed her and the Ellie stamp set will be off in the mail asap.
     Meanwhile, I must respond to some of your sweet messages...

Gracie, I'm so glad you share my work by making cards for your family. Warm fuzzies!

Alethea, My birthday lasted for two weeks (as they should) - it's been awesome, thanks!

Karen, I can't think of a better way to share a happy day!

Susan B., I'm so glad you're enjoying my JustRite Stamp Sets! If the rest of you would like to see the entire collection (with links to where to buy them) CLICK HERE.

Christine, Thank you so much for sharing my images with your fellow librarians! And are you trying to make me cry? You made my day chickie.

Janae, you keep drawing!!! Hugs back.

Linda, I'm thrilled you share my images with your students! If you ever get a picture - please share and I'll post it to my blog!

Emily, You cracked me up! Sorry you didn't win this go-round.

Alex, Oh yes. I'm in complete agreement. Although I've already been playing for two weeks, so perhaps I should get back to work. Hm.

Irene, I'm so glad my simple images work well with your special needs students. That makes me so happy to know they're enjoying them. And the Kurzweil thing sounds very cool - I hope they enjoy my books too!

Andrea, Hello fellow Gemini! Must say - we rock! Happy Birthday to you too!

Allison, Yup - I've worked with two stamping companies to date. Click the above link to see my entire cling collection with JustRite. Thanks!

Creating Fun, make me smile!

Shelley, Thank you so much!

Arabella, I'm so glad you enjoy my newsletter!

Pat, Yes "44" was a hint. A very painful, but what are you gonna do, kinda hint! :)

AShu, Indeed!

Blimey, Very nice of you and thank you for the good wishes!

Lenoria, I'm so glad your grand-daughters enjoy my coloring pages!

Jennifer, You're too sweet. And trust me, you guys give me plenty. I've been quoting Sally Fields all day "You like me, you really like me!" Does a heart good.

Kimberly, I had no idea perfect peanuts were so hard to find!

Lyn, I'm so glad your grand-daughter loves my images too!

GrandmaLee, I'm so glad you know about my JustRite Stamps now! CLICK HERE to see the entire collection. And yup - they're on sale!

Carly, yes, lots of cake. Too much cake. Must go work out now...

Lynn B, Welcome!

Rufus, I'm so glad you use my images for Operation Write Home! Do y'all know about that? Click the name to find out more...

Beach Cat, you were still in the drawing!

Donna, OMG, make me tear-up why don't you? I love to hear that!

And to all of you - thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind wishes. Big fuzzy hugs to you all!!!!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Birthday Cake Bear! (Giveaway)

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     Do you know I've been creating a new coloring page each week for four years now? Well, every now and then CPT falls on a very special day... my birthday - yup! And despite the number I'm turning, I'm feeling in a giftie mood.
     To celebrate, I'm going to do a giveaway! If, oh let's say... 44 of you (or more) leave a comment on MY BLOG today - I'll draw a name and give the lucky winner my "Ellie Tine" JustRite Cling Stamp kit for FREE! (Be sure to sign with your name so I can find you!) It looks like this:

(Of course, if you'd like to purchase one, just click the elephant to visit JustRite and see my other cling stamp offerings.)

     Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!

     Click the covers to check out the picture book I wrote and illustrated, Soap, soap, soap and Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón.

Save Our Libraries

10 Ways Libraries Matter in a Digital Age.
     A few weeks back I received an email from New York City librarian, Michelle Marcus. She's the Children's Librarian at the Windsor Park Library, and like so many libraries and librarians in our country, her library and her job is threatened by budget cuts.
     The short-sightedness of these cuts is enough to make me fear for our future. Libraries do so much more than encourage literacy - which would be reason enough to keep them. And the children who treasure their libraries often end up being some of our proudest success stories as a nation. Children need libraries!!
     Michelle shared a picture of her patrons' creative pleas to let their library survive! (Click the image to see it larger.)

     Is your library in trouble too? Please feel free to share my "Save the Library" image with your patrons like Michelle did. (I'd love to post yours too!) Click here to go see its original post, why I created it (for yet another NYC librarian), and download the image to share with your library.

CRUSH CONTROL by Jennifer Jabaley

Today I have the honor of introducing Jennifer Jabaley's second young adult novel - CRUSH CONTROL. Perhaps you recall my interview with Jennifer when her first book came out, LIPSTICK APOLOGY. She's become quite prolific and I had to ask her more questions about her latest title and writing book #2...

Q. CRUSH CONTROL is now your second title after LIPSTICK APOLOGY. How does it feel to be a bona fide writer on a roll?
A. It feels fantastic!! When LIPSTICK APOLOGY debuted, I was forwarned that often debut books are given a shelf life of about three months. But something fantastic happened - Lipstick has been a 'word of mouth' book - so sales have picked up and been steady long after its debut and therefore most bookstores still carry it - almost two years after its release. So I think the thing I'm most excited about is seeing my first book and my second side by side on the shelf - something I never thought would be possible.

Q. How was writing a second book different from your experience of writing your first?
A. Writing CRUSH CONTROL was an entirely different experience from writing LIPSTICK APOLOGY. When I wrote Lipstick, I wrote it on my own, sold it and then went through extensive revisions under the guide of my editor. However, I was fortunate enough to be contracted for CRUSH CONTROL just based on a pitch proposal. So from the very start, my editor was involved. I turned in an extensive outline and my editor right away caught a few problem areas. Voila - that saved me a whole bunch of time. By the time we finalized my outline, the plotting was so thorough that ultimately the actual writing time was much quicker.

Q. Hypnosis plays a large role in CRUSH CONTROL. What was the inspiration for that and can you tell us more about it?
A. Everyone wants to know where I came up with the idea of hypnosis for this book and here's the true story: My daughter was almost two and still not sleeping well through the night. I know, ridiculous, right? :) One night I was so tired but she was wide awake. I rocked her back and forth and in my delirium, I jokingly said, "you are getting sleepy. SLEEEEEEEPY!" I thought how nice it would be if I could hypnotize her to go to sleep for real. Then I started to think how nice it would be to be able to hypnotize my kids to do whatever I wanted. Then I thought, hmmmm, can you imagine what a teenager would do if they had the ability to hypnotize people......

Q. I love that Willow, the main character, may have had hypnosis skills from a very young age, which lends a paranormal edge to your story. Can you talk about that and how it's affecting the book's placement in the marketplace?
A. Right now the teen market is so swamped with paranormal and also dystopian and soon it will be inundated with sci/fi. But you know, that's just not me. I don't tend to read those genres and therefore I certainly would not be able to write for the trends right now. In order to make my sweet, somewhat wholesome writing stand out in such an edgy market, I think it's important to pair my tendency to write romantic comedies with an unusual hook. My first book had the unusual idea of an apology left on a tray table in a plane crash and this book, hopefully, will hook readers with the idea of using hypnosis to control circumstances.

Q. You're turning into quite the prolific writer and I of course I want to know what's in the pipelines and how you see your future as a writer?
A. Well, we are "in discussion" right now for a third YA, so cross your fingers :) There was almost a two year gap between my first and second books and my future goal would be to attempt to close the time gap between the release of CRUSH CONTROL and a third book. Now that my daughter IS successfully sleeping through the night (no hypnosis, I promise!) perhaps I'll be able to accomplish that! :)
     In case you're interested, I recently filmed this author video that talks a little about CRUSH CONTROL, the fictional setting and inspiration.

Q. Thanks so much and congratulations! e