Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Support your local bookstore!

My favorite local bookstore* is Schuler Books & Music.**
It's just a 20-minute drive from my house.

My critique group (The World's Greatest Critique Group -- that's its name but it's also true) has met at Schulers for the 10 years since I joined them.

Before the Eastwood Towne Center store was built, and before the Okemos store moved into Meridian Mall, Schulers had a lovely store next to Meijer, and I visited often.

Over the years we've gotten to know the staff at the various branches.
I put one staff member, book buyer Rhoda, in the art for my Leopold the Lion book.

If you know real-life Rhoda, you know that this doesn't quite look like her.
Real Rhoda has glasses but the publisher wanted no glasses on Mom and no facial hair on Dad.
Real Rhoda is blonde, and I wanted darker-skinned, darker-haired characters for this book.
Otherwise that is definitely Rhoda.
And it's her on the page where she's fixing a bike, too -- Real Rhoda is tough and she plays sports.

If you want to buy any of my books, Schuler Books is likely to have them in stock.
They always do.
Thank you, Schulers!

To buy online -- only $1 per book for shipping! -- go to

To buy one of my books at the store, just walk in and find it on the shelf.
If you want, Rhoda will probably autograph it for you.

*actually two bookstores -- one Schuler Books & Music is 20 minutes away and the other is about 25 minutes away.
**I love Schuler Books. I love a lot of other fine bookstores, too. Schulers is closest.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hug a dumpling today

Sketch -----------------

To Finish ---------------------------------------------------

Monday, September 26 is National Dumpling Day. Go hug your lil' dumpling. :) 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finders, keepers?

I found this little toy fox in my studio.
I don't know how it got here.
It's less than an inch tall.

If one of the little kids who visits my studio regularly claims it on the next visit, I'll hand it over.
But I hope they forget about it for a little while because I love it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pensive mouse

I was thinking about how to draw something, and then I thought I'd draw a mouse thinking about how to draw something, and then I figured out how to draw that other thing, so I stopped drawing this. 

And that's why it's unfinished. 

(I do highly recommend both thinking and also drawing.) 
(also mice)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Time to post some art

I never know where to post the little art pieces I draw and paint while trying to figure out bigger paintings and stories. Usually I post them on Facebook and forget about them.
But it seems to make sense to post them here.

I drew this giraffe as a sketch in my Story Ideas notebook. Then I redrew him as a black and white dry brush sketch. Then I decided to paint him and add to his story.
Here he is.

And this is a detail of his little baby, picking up good reading habits from Papa.

This is pen and ink and watercolor plus a smidgen of colored pencil.
I think this little guy needs a name. (Or is she a girl?)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This weird thing about time racing past

Chatting with a friend just now made me think: I am older than I expected to get. 
When I was a teen looking forward to the millennium change in 1999 I was disappointed that I'd be an old lady, barely able to enjoy it. The millennium change was 17 years ago. I enjoyed it JUST FINE. Ahem. 

What would my teen self think of me now? 
She wouldn't approve of my short hair or my body, but she'd like my studio and work. 
She'd want to be friends with my kids. 
She would think today's Charlie is a nice old guy, and the Charlie I fell in love with in 1980 was romantic. 
She'd like my dogs. 
She'd think it's weird that I eat vegetables for breakfast. 

She'd think it's cool but not groovy that I became friends with my siblings, 

that I have so many good friends in my life today, 
and that I'm this happy. 
All of this makes me plan what I'll be like in 2046. 
I'd better not disappoint me.

Have you entertained your 17 year old self lately? 

Or your 87 year old self?

This is a page from my sketch-journal when I was 17.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thank you, teachers and librarians!! We love you!

Thank you, 
teachers and librarians and others who put books in kids' hands.

We appreciate you.

Taken from my sketchbook, this is me greeting Travis Jonker 
at Nerd Camp 2015. (He's not really that much taller than I am, I don't think...)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jean Little Library! July 16 at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin

I first became aware of Jennifer Wharton's brilliant book reviews on the Jean Little Library blog a couple years ago, when she mentioned an Ellie McDoodle book and my awesome friend, children's book author Carrie Pearson alerted me.
It occurred to me, why not look up Jennifer's library and see if my travels would bring me near it sometime? And to my utter shock, I was indeed going to be within sketching distance in just a few months.
I attended my agent's retreat in Lake Geneva, and the Jean Little Library isn't more than a pebble toss away.

We drew penguins, owls, Ellie McDoodle, Ben-Ben, dragons, cats, dogs, ... all sorts of stuff.
Here's Ben-Ben:

I like to draw on a document camera and project it onto the wall so people all over the room can join in easily. We were in a big room, and that crowd really filled it up.
One girl gave me a drawing with an impressive use of spirals:

This is my favorite kind of event: connecting with enthusiastic kids. What a great author life I lead.

Thank you SO much, Jennifer and Jean Little Library!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nerd Camp 2015! July 6 and 7

Wow, what a terrific event -- teachers and authors and kids and librarians and lots of talk about books of all kinds... and it's all FREE. Of course I carried around a sketchbook the whole time.

Here are some sketchbook pages from Nerd Camp 2015, our second year of participation:

These are the authors on our panel. Wow!! Big names!

After talking and sharing ideas with teachers for two days, we bring in the kids. 
Below, my group is drawing themselves as characters. Next they drew themselves as rabbits.
Then we started writing and drawing a story together.

In between sessions I got to hang out with fellow Bloomsbury author Erin Soderberg, creator of THE QUIRKS -- what fun she is!

Thank you so much to the organizers of Nerd Camp, especially Colby Sharp and his family.
Thank you to Bookbug, Kalamazoo's terrific independent bookstore, for handling sales at Nerd Camp. How great to see the overwhelming support for your store, from the crowd.
What an amazing resource this program is! I'm so happy to be part of it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 20: Potterville Benton Twp District Library!

On Tuesday we visited Potterville Benton Township District Library,
We brought an easel and drew bats, dogs, penguins, and my first-ever cat on a bike.
Before our audience arrived I showed off the art from Leopold the Lion.

Pictures from the event:

 We always draw Ben-Ben.

We brainstormed characters, then started a story.

Poor Lex the dog! Cat has swiped his bones and is getting away.

Can Lex's best friend the squirrel help?

Cat skids into a mud puddle. Will Lex stop to help him?
But what about those scary bats?

Librarian LuAnn helps with the easel pages.

Thank you, Potterville Benton Township District Library! 
That's a long name and you are long on hospitality, as always. We had a great time.