Words to Live By

Putting crayons in the dryer is an ineffective way of dying fabrics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday! Getting Back in Gear

It's been a bit of a sad week. Not much done all week, but I think it's a bit of a backlash from last week. Tomorrow David (my three year old) has to go in for oral surgery. It's just some cavities that need to get fixed. He has to go under because he's too young to do it any other way. It's a bit scary, but everything should be okay.

What I'm Reading
I've not been reading a lot. I did read a couple of books to my son yesterday. One... I think the title was "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More". It was a beautifully illustrated picture book. The kid in the book wasn't supposed to be painting because he made a huge mess. He gets into the paints... he compulsively needs to paint just a little... soon he ends up painting a lot!

There was also an easy reader that we found about Spider Man. As much as I'd like it to be more comic book like in the layout of the book, I think overall it was a decent book. The words flowed well (can not say that about the lego books) and the pictures were good. David kept saying "I like that!" which is a pretty good complement coming from him. The book held his attention the whole time I was reading the story.

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

I'm slowly getting back into gear. Last week was a wash, but this week there will be more posted. My husband has a three day weekend so I should be able to do some artwork!

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 04/16
- Post What's Up Wednesday Post - done
- Worked on Illustrations - just did a tiny bit today, but still progress!

Thursday 04/17
-Hoping David's surgery goes well.
-Working on my online comic with my husband.
-Working on Artwork and enjoying family. 

Friday 04/18

-Maybe finding an Easter Event with Family.
-Getting all the art things done.

Saturday 04/19
- Getting things done!
- Doing artwork.
- Easter Event with Family.

Sunday 04/20
- Loving Easter!
Send out interviews

Monday 04/21
- Insert activity here.

Tuesday 04/22

- Hoping for good weather so David and I can play outside!

Wednesday 04/23

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

Wonderful people who are helping or have helped me edit my current manuscript. Karen Konnerth, Rene Aubre, Robyn Campbell, and Cecilia Clark. Thank you! 

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
He has grown out of his size three outfits. Almost overnight too! Glad I've been telling people he needs size four! He was barely in size threes. 

Not eating many carbs and feeling okay about it. Well I had some cake on Monday, but that doesn't count. It's birthday cake. I'm pretty sure all low carb books have birthday cake down as not counting.

*What's up Wednesday is part of Jamie Morrow's summer writing intensive: "Ready. Set. WRITE!" There are other host blogs including: Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty Upperman, and Elodie Nowodazkij.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday! I Wish I Stayed In Bed Edition

This has not been a great week for me. It's been hard for me to focus on things lately, and I haven't gotten much done. To make matters worse my husband, Peter, just had his Grandmother pass away last night. Needless to say I didn't get much art done today even though I had the day off. I spent time with my MIL (which was nice) and just a bit of time went to painting. I regret nothing, though. I was glad to get to spend time with her today. We spent time at the mall buying things for Peter's birthday party.

What I'm Reading

I haven't set up a new thing to read so I haven't been reading. I did, however, recently download this really cool game. The game is called LoneWolf and it's for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Plus. The reason I bring this game up is because the game is very story driven. The game itself is rated 9+ but age nine might be a bit young for this depending on your own personal rules. There is a bit of animated violence and I don't see blood, but that doesn't mean to throw your kids at this game! Check it out yourself and see what you think first for sure. This game is free this week and maybe beyond... there are four more chapters that you do have to buy.

Why do I bring this game up of all things? Well it's basically like reading a fantasy book. You have pages you have to flip and they have lovely "inked" drawings scattered throughout. These drawings are animated in areas, but rarely fully animated. There are full animation sequences when you go into battle, but the battles aren't excessive. The story is very immersive and written in the 2nd person. It reminds me of the choose your own adventure books with a few additions that make it that much more fun to read.

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

I've made a decision about my blog this week. I know I change up things often here, so just prepare for another change! I'm going to combine my Interview and Blog Review days. I am not finding enough time to do both per week. I'm also sorely behind on sending out interviews (sorry about that!). What I need to do is take some time to focus my efforts so I can keep giving out good things on a weekly basis. This will also let me focus more time on actually working on illustrations and writing when I have time. 

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 04/09
- Post What's Up Wednesday Post - done
- Worked on Illustrations - just did a tiny bit today, but still progress!

Thursday 04/03
Hoping my headache goes away so the kids don't drive me insane. 

Friday 04/04

-Enjoying time with family.

Saturday 04/05

- Doing artwork.

Sunday 04/06

Send out interviews

Monday 04/07
-Finding a brain that's more focused than my last brain. They sell these on Craigslist, right?

Tuesday 04/08

- Blog review

- Insane toddler time outside... maybe without headaches.

Wednesday 04/12

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

My wonderful family.

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
My son is eating everything in site! He's three and ate a whole order of cheesy bread on his own & a glass of chocolate milk. His tummy hurt afterward and Daddy and I had to kiss it to make it better. I think a growth spurt will be taking place soon!

Lost a bit of weight, but might have gained some back in the last few days... so maybe I broke even this week? Ha, ha!

*What's up Wednesday is part of Jamie Morrow's summer writing intensive: "Ready. Set. WRITE!" There are other host blogs including: Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty Upperman, and Elodie Nowodazkij.

Monday, April 7, 2014

On Blogging: What to Give Away

I'm like most people. I like getting presents. Some of the best presents are little things that I don't have to do much to receive. I am more likely to come back to a website/blog if I'm going to get something from my visit and most people feel the same. Giving away things on your blog is great for bringing people to your website/blog... except what to give away? Luckily I've read a lot of blogs and visited a lot of websites so I can show you the options that are out there now! Both writers and illustrators should be able to find information here to help improve their blog.

Chances are if you blog you are already giving out something for free and that something is information. I love book blogs and websites that will give me information on a book, author/illustrator, art/writing tips, process information, and finished artwork. These are all things that people generally have on their blog and I feel they should be included when talking about giving things away on your blog. These are all great and if you do a few of them you will have a solid blog, but what if you want to do more? Let's focus on the big things first and then go to the smaller things.

In order to do this post correctly I will give you examples of individuals who give away things for free. I want to start with the big things. By big things I mean things that take more than a week to create. These are things that you put your blood sweat and tears into making. You might only have one of these on your blog because they are so labor intensive. There are ways to monetize your blog from these, but I don't have the time to list them all in this post.

1. Novels/Books One of the ultimates in labour intensity. Novels take a few months to many years to write and it may seem like a mistake to give these away. If your book is good you could more easily get signed with a publisher for your next book. You might also get more fans. This is certainly not for the faint of heart! Ksenia Anske gives out her ebooks here for free. (You can also choose to support her by donating or buying the eBooks/paperback books). Amy Good's "Rooted" is also free. 

2Partial Books: This could range from anything from the first few chapters of your novel, or the first book in a multi book series. Dani Jones gives away a digital version of her graphic novel "My Sister the Freak" On her webpage along with other cool downloads. 

3. Interactive Webpages I can't say that I know of many of these. They are more difficult to set up, but are a lot of fun! I do know that Tiffany Stone has a wonderfully interactive page with some little games you can play. 

4. Podcasts These are a lot of work, but oh so much fun to listen to. The following are my favorite audio podcasts. Escape from Illustration Island is my ultimate favorite hosted by Keven Cross and Joshua Kemble. Chris Oatley's Podcast is great. Now Chris is working with Paper Wings Podcast and is no longer creating new podcasts. Thomas James' podcast is the first podcast I listened to, but unfortunately he's not doing anymore for "Illustration Age" or "Escape From Illustration Island". The information of Thomas' podcasts are still great information.

Now for some of the smaller things you might want to give away on your blog. It might not be a small task making these, but people will be encouraged to visit your blog time and time again to download, print, view these cool things! 

1. Short Stories and Poems These are things that might not require a download, but people love to read. They might take you a few minutes to several hours to write. Bisky Scribbles has a couple of short stories on her website.

2. Colouring Pages Who doesn't love a good colouring page? You can see my colouring pages here. Elizabeth O. Dulemba gave me the idea for my current colouring page format. She also has a widget for people to share her colouring pages on other blogs. Also don't forget to visit Wendy Martin's page!

3. Activity Sheets Oodles of fun for kids and adults alike. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Evelyn B. Christensen here. She has new puzzles every week on her webpage with a link to more. You will never get bored visiting her site. Chieu Ann Urban and Jean Reidy both have a lot of great activities on their sites.

4. Videos It's one thing to blog about something. It's a whole different ball of wax to make videos instead of a blog post. For the Illustrators may I introduce William R. Palacio and for the writers Amber from the Mile Long Bookshelf Christina Farley and Amy Good (yes again!).

5. Paper Dolls Okay, maybe this fits under the category of "Activity Sheets" but I love the idea of it so much I'm putting it here. I was only able to ever do one of these and I wish I could give you tons of examples of these. It took me a lot of time to get the clothes to fit on the characters. It hasn't put me off completely, but if you do this know it's a lot of work to get your clothes to fit your models! You can see my paper dolls here.

6. Contests/Giveaways/Events These usually come with a lot of prizes. They are not easy to set up, but they are lots of fun for the participants. Julie Hedlund has the biggest event I know with the "12 x 12". Shannon Abercrombie does "100 days of Summer" and "Start the Year Off Write". Other great events include Tara Lazar's PiBiIdMoMeg Miller's ReViMo, Angie Karcher's RhyPiBoMo, and Becky Fyfe's Chapter Book Challenge. A great site for general giveaways is Cherie Colyer's blog

Other Ideas: I do not have links to these other ideas but maybe something here will spark your interest. If you aren't the artist make sure you have the rights to distribute these for free.

1. Original Video Games/Book Apps

2. Wallpaper

3. Calendars/To-Do Lists


5. Artwork to Print

6. Colouring/Activity Books

7. Web Comics Dani Jones has a few of these on her site.

There are as many things you can give out on your blog as the sea is wide. I can't possibly fit them all into this post, but I hope I gave enough examples for people to develop their own ideas. If you think of any more, or more examples of such websites please post them in the comments below!

Thank you so much to Jacqueline Bryant Campbell's whose question inspired this post!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's Up Wednesday? EVERYTHING!

I am not sure if I am going to have an interview for this week. I allowed myself to get too far behind and the interviews did not go out as planned. On a good note I finished my manuscript for the Chapter Book Challenge (which is mostly why I'm behind). I wrote 25,052 words last month and I'm really quite tired. I think I kind of deserve a break this week anyway! The story I wrote was based off a short story I wrote for the Chapter Book Challenge's SuperHERo Tales. For the Challenge this time I wrote a YA novella. Though the story is complete I'm not happy with the story like it is. My two options are doing a YA novel or making it a Graphic Novel. The latter of which will take a long, long time to do (with my current time restrictions). I've got it in my proverbial drawer. Going to email it to myself now, so if something happens to my computer I still have it! A bonus to this event, I won my very own KINDLE! Yay me!

What I'm Reading

Finally, finally finished Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen. I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It was a lot of fun to read! I never thought I'd have this much fun reading a book about gas. Seriously, I have a thing against that, but I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit~

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

I'm pretty burnt out with writing so I'm not sure how much I'll get done this month. Other than the YA Novella draft that I finished this month I also got a PB draft done! It's pretty sketchy, but it's still giving me a direction to go in the future. It is mostly wordless. The way I'm constructing it the story wont need words. I got 1/4th of the way through sketching another book last month, so I hope to finish it this month. I do not believe that one will have words in it either.

I was not able to finish my three paintings today. Somehow I misplaced my pallet of watercolours. I'm hoping I just put it in the wrong area. I do not want to find it in my son's room! I did a bit of sketching and painting, but didn't make any great strides today.

After I finish my 3 paintings I need to get going on some other projects to round out my portfolio. I'd like a few more black and white artwork pieces in my portfolio. I don't have any people in my portfolio so I may need to do a few colour illustrations of that (but I don't think I'm going to make this my first priority). The other big thing is business card, post card and portfolio web page design. I would like to do something to tie all these together, so to the drawing board I will be going. 

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 04/02
- Post What's Up Wednesday Post - done
- Work on Illustrations - Never done, but progress was made today!

Thursday 04/03
Hoping that the two Toddler Supermen in my life wont drive me completely insane.

Friday 04/04

- Getting a hair cut.
- Doing all the things.

Saturday 04/05

- Buying Art Supplies?

Sunday 04/06

Send out interviews
-Meeting with the SCBWI illustrators!

Monday 04/07
-Putting my brain up for adoption

Tuesday 04/08

- Blog review

- Outside, sunshine and hopefully peace

Wednesday 04/09

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

The amazing Chapter Book Challenge people! I know I've said it already, but thank you BECKY FIFE for creating this challenge. Also a great big shout out to everyone who wrote posts, gave prizes and was supportive in the Facebook Group! Love you all!

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
He is trying to make daddy and I his night time teddy bear! GAH!

Hoping I can find people to take my classes. Also cutting carbs so you might not want to bug me for a while. :P

*What's up Wednesday is part of Jamie Morrow's summer writing intensive: "Ready. Set. WRITE!" There are other host blogs including: Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty Upperman, and Elodie Nowodazkij.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jobs I Could Do From Stripper to Snowman

Usually I do a blog review on Tuesdays. I know it's really too late to do an April Fools joke, but in the spirit of the day I will give you a sneak peak of some of the things I would do if the whole picture book thing didn't pan out. I laboured on these for a whole 10 minutes... most of which was writing words on them in Photoshop and loading them onto this blog.


 Snow Woman in a Snowstorm

Because I was too lazy to draw a fourth thing.



Bikini Model

A short lived dream for sure.


Astro Woman

Yes I would be this skinny. Even in my wildest dreams this wouldn't pan out. Instead imagine the background as a cardboard backdrop. I'm freaking out because that plastic headpiece has no holes so I'm probably going to die of asphyxiation. Yes, if I were an imaginary Space Woman I would be that thin.



Wait for it....


You are a pervert if you thought anything different.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Winter Lovelies

A couple of more winter lovelies for you today. Today's little guys are a Panda and a Snowman.
These are both very small drawings. 2.5" x 3.5"

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview With Tracey M. Cox

I am happy to have Tracey M. Cox on my blog. I thought for certain that I had done a blog review with her in the past, but it seems that's not the case (I will have to remedy that in the future). I did write a blog post for her blog ages ago and have enjoyed reading her blog since I've discovered it's existence.

Tracey is the author and photographer for the book Arachnabet. I wont hesitate to say you are going to love reading what Tracey has to say even if you don't like spiders. I don't like spiders and I very much enjoyed reading her answers to my questions. Now without further ado here is my interview with Tracey. 

One last thing that I have to mention. I keep spelling Tracey's name wrong. I'm so sorry for that! (Not that she's ever complained. She's awesome like that.

Here is part of Tracey's bio in her own words. To see the whole bio click here
When the boys were little, I told them stories at bedtime. Stories of heroes and villains, giants and bears, and all sorts of other characters, and the adventures they all went on. One night Austin asked if I knew any other stories. I thought really hard and remembered my papa's story of three frogs and how they had to find a new home. When I finished the story Nelson said, "Mom, THAT would make a cool book!" and he fell fast asleep. I thought, "Why not?" 

That January night in 2000 was when I decided to become a children's writer. I haven't looked back since. I have stepped forward by joining organizations, taking classes, doing writing challenges, reading a lot of 'how-to' books, attending conferences, and talking with my fellow children's writers. 

Dani: What is the first book you remember buying?

Tracey: Oh my... I have bought so many I can't remember which one was first. *laughing* I can say that I don't ever remember a time when there weren't books present in my house.

Dani: Talk Radio, Book on CD or Music in the car?

Tracey: Music. I love to sing. My second passion. :)

Dani: What inspired you to write Arachnabet?

Tracey: Would you believe it is because I was looking through a book catalog. I noticed this one publishing house had tons of ABC books, but none on spiders...
And the idea stuck.

Dani: Did Arachnabet have to be about scary spiders?

Tracey: :) The majority of the spiders in the book are not poisonous. I agree about scary spiders though. I do NOT like spiders to the point of hyperventilating not liking them. After nine months of research, I have found that I'm not as scared of them anymore. In fact, some of them are really beautiful! BUT I don't go looking for them. hahaha.

Dani: What can you tell us about Christmas Angels with Guardian Angel and The Children at the Playground?

Tracey: Christmas Angels deals with Volunteerism. It takes the view point of two children... one who is well off and one who isn't. They both learn that the gift of giving is wonderful.
The Children At the Playground is a remix of The Wheels on the Bus and explores the different things to do at the playground and promotes exercising.

Dani: How does doing photos for a picture book differ from illustrations?

Tracey: I think with pictures what you see is more concrete. It shows you things that have happened. Illustrations give your mind more access to the possibilities.

Dani: Please tell us about your involvement in the Books Love & Taters Book Festival.

Tracey: I am the director and owner of Books Love & Taters Book Festival. I live in a small rural community in South Georgia. Our closest book festival is over 3 hours away. :( I saw a need to promote literacy in my community. Our literacy rate is not very good. After several years of planning, I launched the Books Love & Taters Book Festival to coincide with the Georgia Sweet Potato Festival that takes place in my town on the same day. Our little community of 4,000 spikes to close to 10,000 for the weekend. I use the arts & crafts venue (that our local mental & physically challenged facility puts on as their fundraiser) to hold the book festival event. This gives us tons of foot traffic and what better way to showcase authors and their books AND get people excited about literacy.

Dani: What's next for you in your career?

Tracey: I'm taking my doodling to another level. :) Yep, I want to begin illustrating. I also want to be able to support myself fully as an author. So my Author Visits are top on that list too. I don't think I will ever stop challenging myself. :) Learning is fun and it is also growth.

Here are the links:
website: www.traceymcox.com
blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com
facebook: www.facebook.com/traceymcox.author
twitter: @traceymcox

Tracey M. Cox
children's book author

Local Liaison of South Georgia for Southern Breeze Region of SCBWI
Books Love & Taters Book Festival, Director
Shaping Up the Year - Guardian Angel Publishing (June, 2009)
Ribbert's Way Home - Guardian Angel Publishing (October, 2010)
Liddil Gets Her Light - Guardian Angel Publishing (June, 2011)
Just the Thing To Be - Guardian Angel Publishing (December, 2011)
Angels Do That - Guardian Angel Publishing (August, 2012)
Arachnabet - Guardian Angel Publishing (January, 2013)
Cam's Asthma - 4RV Publishing (Sept/Oct, 2015)

Dani: I sincerely apologize for any weird formatting that may have occurred with this post!