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An Illustrator's journal where experiences are logged in as pictures with a word or two added from time to time.
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1.


Thanks to Linda Silvestri for the opportunity to join in the fun.

This is a busy month, but I will try to keep up.  Here are November 1 late but okay

for a start.  #SkADaMo



The assorted collection of useless tools.  Have fun deciding if any are actually used for any purpose.

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2. MEET MY CHARACTER BLOG TOUR ~

Good morning, Good Afternoon and Good evening wherever you happen to be:









A BIG thank you to Patricia Keeler who tagged me for this blog tour. I know Patricia from our association CBIG-NYC or the Children's Book Illustrator Group based in New York City. Although we have never met, I feel an artistic bond with this talented artist.  Her paintings depict the most delightful aspects of all children.  You can see more of her  work on Patricia Keeler's Blog  andher Website, I LIKE BOOKS With PICTURES


This time it is my turn to tell you about a character in a picture book I am creating.   

What is the name of your character?
Lenny is a very lonely, but hungry dragon. It has been given an enchanted cookie by a little man with a rather wicked sense of humor. That little man loves to play tricks on the forest creatures.

When and where is the story set?
The story opens in the  forest but soon moves to a castle kitchen just as Catherine, the  cook, and her helpers, Trevor and Amelia are preparing a huge birthday dinner for the Queen.

What should we know about Lenny?
 Lenny is an especially lonely and hungry dragon, but the favorite food of this particular dragon has unexpectedly become something other than what you would expect.  Even the dragon doesn’t understand why its tastes are so particular.  Fine china, crystal goblets and the Queen's favorite Golden Bowl seem too tempting to resist. (I would suggest that the forest trickster has something to do with this.)

What messes up its life?
 After gobbling up most of the china in the kitchen including the Queen’s favorite Golden Bowl, the dragon is chased throughout the castle by all the staff with swords, daggers and brooms.   It can’t get away unless it makes its way into the deep caves below the castle. Hiding and hungry the dragon is lonely, afraid, and in danger.

 What is the personal goal of your character?
 This poor dragon desperately wants to be free of the caves, return to a normal life of eating what it really wants, and find one or two true friends.

But what about that Golden Bowl?


You can see more of my work on my website and once there you can find my books, and more about how I work.

and now....

I have the pleasure of passing the Meet My Character Blog Tour to  two amazing children's book illustrators: Look for their introduction to their characters next Monday, Oct. 27.

 Christine Mix Blog  and Christine Mix Website

It was just after Christine Mix graduated from the University of South Florida in 1988, with a B.A. in Fine Arts and Mass Communications, that she painted her first children’s illustration in watercolor, titled Spike & Wordo’s Magical Wish. Hence, Spike the Dragon was born and Christine realized she had found her niche in art and her future.

Her children's illustrations can be found in Stories for Children Magazine, Back- to- School- Issue, 2012, in SCBWI’s Bulletin in 2005, 2009, 2010 and so far, one children’s book, Write Out of the Oven! by Josephine M. Waltz & Illustrated by Christine Mix, published by Teacher Ideas Press / Greenwood Publishing, 2005. As a children’s author, Christine has one non-fiction short true story, Standing Up, that was published, in Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul Character-Building Stories to Read with Kids, Ages 5-8, May 2007.
Christine is currently working on her second PB story & dummy, featuring Spike the Dragon and some ghoulish friends.





I have the pleasure of also passing this task to Amy Cullings Moreno.  This will introduce Amy Cullings Moreno's Blog...And you can find her website and portfolio here.


I have been creating children’s illustrations and art since I was a child. I have always enjoyed reading, writing and books, and creating art. The combination of these passions led me to study commercial illustration in Boston at Butera School of Art, where I specialized in children’s illustration.
I enjoy creating images that inspire and uplift, as well as sharing my faith in a Good God, and hopefully allowing that faith to shine through my art. 
My husband and I live in Northern Virginia, and we have three wonderful grown children who have been much of the inspiration for my children’s illustrations.
I am currently studying oil painting again, and finding great joy in it. I hope to add more of this style to my newer illustration work.


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3. How I work....

Sometimes I get emails from other artists and authors asking how I work.  I used to have this information on my website, but when I reduced the size of the site, I left that part out.  So here is a brief bit about how I work and where I work.

My studio is small.. only about 10 feet by 10 feet... and if that sounds like a lot... it isn't once you fit in two huge desks. There is one for the hardware and one for the drawing boards and paints.

In addition to those there are 8 bookshelves ( all filled) and two file cabinets, one rolling taboret, a large floor cabinet for storing paper and providing a place on top for the wide body printer, a CD cabinet (looks like a card catalog) another set of three oak flat file drawers...on top of a third table, and a dry mount machine.

Add to this the brushes, pens, sketchbooks, assorted small stuffed and ceramic animals, boxes of scraps for the children to use in creating their own masterpieces, and on and on.
In other words, the space gets used.  Since I only sit at the drawing board or the Cintiq I have room for me in there too.


But that is only the beginning... How I Work is a bit different.
I enjoy the option of drawing just about anywhere in the house or outdoors.  If I am upstairs with family I can carry a box of pencils and a sketchbook.  If I need something from those drawings I either scan or photograph them and move them to the computer.

Most of the time I use a very large drawing pad on the drawing board in the studio. I like to make BIG sketches. It seems to let the lines flow more freely.  Those can be painted or photographed for later. They are always way too big for the small scanner I have.

If I transfer work to the computer, I paint with Painter 2015 and / or Photoshop. The final results are always open to more traditional painting if I think it would make the work better.

When I am happy with the work I will print out a copy on the wide body printer and check the color and texture.  If the work is for a book I am illustrating the last step is to convert the final computer image to CMYK so that it can be printed by most printers.  Sometimes I can just submit in RGB..but always have to ask first.

For some of the authors I work with, I will also do the layout in InDesign and convert to a print ready PDF for their chosen printer.

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4.

A review for the Star Giver by Katherine Boyer.


There is nothing as sweet as a child who asks questions about the world around him or her.  “Why is the sky blue?”  “Where do babies come from?”  are the two that immediately come to mind.  In this case, Little Bear wants his mother to tell him where the stars come from. It gives her a chance to tell him a Native American folktale that will entertain him as well as relate a fascinating story.. 
            With beautiful l illustrations done in Native American colors, Mrs. Nielson illustrates the story, as it unfolds through the word of Mother Bear and the imagination of Little Bear. 
            The Star Giver holds the stars close until night, when it is time to release them, then waits until morning to finish his task.  You will love sharing this story with your children at bedtime, as well as any other time of the day.  And she tells you to look for the “secret on the last page of this book”.  What is it?  You need to get the book to find out.               
            From her website: “Ginger Nielson lives at the top of a hill, near the edge of a forest in semi-rural New Hampshire, USA. There is a magic wand on her desk, a dragon in her basement, and a tiny elephant in her studio. Everything else is nearly normal.”  Sounds like a great place for her imagination to run rampant through the wonderful, imaginative stories that she illustrates, whether that of her own or another writer.   
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->


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5. For Illustration Friday ~ NOVELTY


Of course it would be a novelty if Pigs really could fly... and someday one of them just might!

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6.

Our parents beautiful Log Home is for sale. On a hilltop in Southern Vermont it is both a hideaway, a peaceful retreat, and a place where the family and extended family can enjoy 67 acres of beauty, sports, and fun year round.

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7.


The Children’s Book Review | August 26, 2014
The Star Giver: A Legend from the Far, Far North By Ginger NielsonThe Star Giver
By Ginger Nielson
Paperback: 34 pages
Age Range: 3-7
Publisher: Virginia Neilson (September 1, 2014)
ISBN:978-0991309337
What to expect: Folktale, Bears, Stars, Illustrations
Ginger Nielson tells a soothing folktale set deep in the forest. When Little Bear asks, “Where did the stars come from?” Mother Bear leans in closely to share a Native American legend from “the far, far north.” Illustrations rich in deep nighttime colors create a peaceful visual to the comforting story of a man, made of stars and the branches of pines, who forever continues to spread starlight across the night sky. This man is known as the Star Giver.
“His gifts are hidden under an enormous cloak. Yet the starlight beneath sparkles through and lights his way wherever he wanders.”
Each night, the Star Giver travels through the forest to the sea. When he reaches the shoreline he opens his cloak and allows the wind to blow his stars into the aquatic scenery.
StarGiver-2
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Ginger Nielson from “The Star Giver”
The sea tosses them with “towering waves until they escape to the sky” where they stay until morning above the slumbering animals.
The Star Giver: A Legend from the Far, Far North By Ginger Nielson
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Ginger Nielson from “The Star Giver”
The Star Giver remains quiet and still until he opens his cloak and calls for the stars to return to him.
The Star Giver: A Legend from the Far, Far North By Ginger Nielson
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Ginger Nielson from “The Star Giver”
Dramatic brush strokes swirl across double page spreads expressing emotion and providing movement to the illustrations.
The nature of the story is mystical and therefore sure to open the slumbering doors of dreamtime if chosen as a bedtime read. Recommended for children ages 3 through 7.
Add this book to your collection: The Star Giver
About the Author
Ginger Nielson lives at the top of a hill, near the edge of a forest in semi-rural New Hampshire, USA. There is a magic wand on her desk, a dragon in her basement, and a tiny elephant in her studio. Everything else is nearly normal. Coming to the world of children’s illustration a bit later in life, Ginger was an elementary school teacher and art teacher before becoming a travel agent. Both of those careers enabled her to connect deeply with many children and many different cultures. To date she has illustrated over 45 children’s books. She is busy creating illustrations for other authors and writing and illustrating her own stories as well.

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8.

From the Reader Views :  Review for the Star Giver

THE STAR GIVER

Ginger Nielson
Ginger Nielson Children’s Books (2014)
ISBN 9780991309337
Reviewed by Miles Cassells (age 4) and Mom for Reader Views Kids (07/14)
It’s time for bed and Little Bear looks up into the sky and asks Mother Bear where the stars come from. Little Bear must close his eyes and listen carefully as Mother Bear tells the story of the Star Giver, a man made of stars and branches of pines. 
“The Star Giver” by Ginger Nielson is a beautiful story to read to young children when it’s time for bed. Not only did Miles love reading the book, he loved the illustrations. A few pages in, Miles said that “we need one of those on Earth.” (He has quite the fascination with knowing that we live on planet Earth.) When I asked him what he loves best about the book, Miles replied that he loves the bears and the man with the stars in his coat (cloak). 
 “The Star Giver” is a brilliant take on what to tell children when they ask where the stars come from. The story is told by Mother Bear to Little Bear at bedtime and explains how the Star Giver tosses the stars into the sea and the sea tosses the stars into the sky so that creatures below can sleep peacefully.
Bedtime can be such a hassle with young children and I surely have this issue with Miles almost daily. We like to read a book before bed and I always try to select a book that is calm and that will lead Miles into understanding that we need to rest for the next day. Having such a peaceful story to read to Miles is always at the top of my list. 
“The Star Giver” by Ginger Nielson will be a go-to book for many nights to come, I can already tell as Miles has had me read the story to him more than once. Ginger Nielson is a talented author and illustrator and I hope that she has more books in store. I highly recommend this title to others as “The Star Giver” is surely a fresh new way to look at the stars.

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9.


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10.



Another review for The Star Giver arrived in my mail today. I would like to share that and another image from the book.  I am pleased to say that the review reflects the gentle tone of the book.

The Children’s Book Review | www.thechildrensbookreview.com
The Star Giver
By Ginger Neilson Paperback: 34 pages Age Range:3-­‐7
Publisher:Virginia Neilson (September 1, 2014)  ISBN: 978-0991309337
What to expect: Folktale, Bears, Stars, Illustrations
Ginger Neilson tells a soothing folktaleset deep in the forest. When Little Bear asks, “Where did the stars come from?” MotherBear leans in closely to share a Native American legend from “the far, far north.” Illustrations rich in deep nighttime colors create a peaceful visualto the comforting story of a man, made of stars and the branches of pines, who forever continues to spread starlight across the night sky. This man is known as the Star Giver.

“His gifts are hiddenunder an enormouscloak. Yet the starlight beneathsparkles through and lights his way wherever he wanders.”
Each night, the Star Giver travels throughthe forest to the sea. When he reaches the shoreline he opens his cloak and allowsthe wind to blow his starsinto the aquaticscenery. The sea tosses them with “toweringwaves until they escape to the sky” where they stay until morning above the slumbering animals. The Star Giver remainsquiet and still until he opens his cloak and calls for the stars to returnto him. Dramatic brush strokes swirlacross double page spreads expressing emotion and providing movementto the illustrations. 
The nature of the story is mystical and therefore sure to open the slumbering doors of dreamtime if chosen as a bedtimeread. Recommended for children ages 3 through 7.
—The Children’s Book Review(www.thechildrensbookreview.com)

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11.

This is a new trailer for The Star Giver.... Read the rest of this post

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12.

I received a wonderful review for the book I wrote and illustrated: The Star Giver.
I hope it will be an invitation for many readers to download, or purchase or ask their bookstore for a copy.

Editorial Reviews

Review

Midwest Book Review

"The Star Giver" tells a story from Native American lore of the far north answering Little Bear's question: "Where did the stars come from?" A beautifully illustrated bedtime story, "The Star Giver" depicts a mysterious being from a deep dark cave who carries the lights of all the stars hidden under an enormous cloak. Each evening the Star Giver travels the dark forest pathways to the sea, where he opens his miraculous cloak and tosses the sparkling stars into the sea. The sea tosses the stars on waves to the sky where they twinkle on all creatures below who spend the night in peaceful sleep. The Star Giver waits quietly by the sea until morning, then he opens his cloak and calls the stars home to him. Before dawn's light strike the sandy seashore, he travels home to his dark cave with all the stars under his cloak until the next evening. Nothing can keep the Star Giver from his nightly pilgrimage. After a succession of stunning, darkly swirling, sparkling pictures, the closing page shows Mother Bear with sleeping Little Bear, saying, "Now go to sleep, Little Bear, under this blanket of stars, and wait with the Star Giver for a new day to begin."

Children's Bookwatch: July 2014 

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13.



This morning I packed up Five copies of Half Past Winter and sent them first class to the five lucky winners of the drawing for this book.  I hope those five families enjoy the story as much as I did creating it.  These little cubs remind me a lot of children I know and have known.  Children are always curious about so many things.  They love to find new ways to explore and have many questions that need to be answered.  Clarence and Alexander decided to find out on their own what SNOW was like.
When they found it they also encountered a few problems.
Getting lost in a super snow storm was one of their problems.  Finding the best route home, they decided to climb into the branches of a strong tree.
They crept WAY out to the end of the high branches for a better view.
But it really looks like that was not such a good idea after all.

Half Past Winter  ...  is available on Amazon.com in all three versions, Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle.


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14.

It was such a pleasure to read this review of the STAR GIVER.



"5.0 out of 5 stars
 Exquisite paintings and flowing wordsApril 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Star Giver: A legend from the far, far north (Kindle Edition)
I read a lot of picture books, and this one bowled me over!
The illustrations are amazingly beautiful. The text is lyrical, and children will enjoy the story - especially at bedtime!
I purchased this book as a Kindle ebook, for two reasons. Firstly, to see what a good picture book looks like on Kindle (from following Ginger's blog and looking at the sample, I could tell it would be good!) Secondly, because I can see it immediately and not pay for postage to Australia.The Kindle edition works well on the Kindle app on my laptop and Android phone - though the text doesn't resize, you can zoom the pictures a little larger. On my Kindle Touch, which is only black and white, some of the images work well but some don't have enough contrast to be easily read in greyscale.
I'm very happy to have this lovely ebook."

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15.

Recently a friend suggested I make more use of Pinterest.  So I have updated two boards with images and books I have either written and illustrated or illustrated for other authors.
This is the page of illustrations I wanted to share.



and This is the page that contains a list of my books.

I am new to GOODREADS as well and there I will be taking part in a giveaway of the book
HALF PAST WINTER .  The giveaway window is from May 8 until June 19. Once that window closes, Goodreads will choose 5 lucky winners and I will mail each a signed copy of the book.



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16.

Making Flying Tissue Paper Fish


I start with a large size tissue paper. You need two sheets to start.
On one sheet draw the outline of a fish. It doesn't need to be perfect, just kind of "fishy" looking.



 Next I cut out the two pieces and glue just the top edges together. You can use a small amount of Elmer's or a tombow glue applicator ( available from scrapbook Pals at a discount )


Then I start on the top layer at the back end and glue on tissue paper rounds that I cut from the multicolored tissue leftovers I have. Or you can order a whole pack of tissue in various colors from any art supply place or buy several colors at a gift and card aisle.  By working from the back to the front you can layer the tissues as if they were scales.


When you finish one side and place an eye where you want it, you turn the whole thing over and do the other side.  The fish is still open at the front, back and bottom.  Once you finish both sides, stuff the fish with left over scraps of tissue or thin newsprint or even news paper. Then gule the Bottom ONLY...leave the mouth and tail ends open for now.




I like to cut long strips of tissue to make a fancy tail. Since the tail end it open still it is easy to insert the strips inside the tail end.

To finish off the fish I poke a hole in the mouth end and put a string in there about 3 feet long. Then I tie the string to a balloon stick or any stick and if you lift the fish up by this you can "fly" it around.


Another option is to hang some of the fish on a porch or balcony in good weather and let the wind blow them around.  Our little ones like to "fly" them as they run through the yard on a sunny day.



You can make ANY size,  big, little, medium  or even teensy and have a lot of fun making them.
Actually the most fun IS in the making and enjoying the fun you can have together.

I have made these with a room full of adults and children and the results are always amazing on so many levels.  It is fun to see parents, grandparents, caregivers and children enjoying the process.

HINTS and Words to the Wise:

Don't over use the glue if you are using Elmers
If you are using the tombow applicators .. go lightly so you don't rip the tissue. Little ones may need help with either. 


You should be able to click on this page of fishy eyes and then drag it to your desktop for printing, or maybe you would rather make your own funny eyes.
Whatever you decide, I hope you have a lot of fun!



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17.

Here is a link to the trailers for my two new books. These are a first for me as I wrote, illustrated and published both. There are more to come, but for now enjoy these two labors of love....Half Past Winter ~ Two curious cubs off to find their first snow




The Star Giver, A legend from the far, far north.


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18.

The newest adventure in my own books as author and illustrator is now available on Amazon.com
The Star Giver is the legend of the very far, far, far north that answers Little Bear's question: "Where did the stars come from?"  When Mother Bear settles her little one down for the night's rest, she tells him of the legend that has been handed down from bear to bear since bears first walked the earth.

"Deep in the forest 
Where the wind never blows
In a far away cave
Where the sun never shines
Lives a man made of stars
And the branches of pines."

The Star Giver will soon be available as a hardcopy book as well.  
There is also a Kindle Version of the book, but having the book in your hands is worth the few extra dollars.

There has always been something about the magic of a quiet starlit sky that creates a peaceful world for the creatures below.

You can find more on my facebook page and website.

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19. What does an Illustrator want?


Many times illustrators are contacted by self publishing authors.  What are the dos and donts or the ins and outs when you respond to their requests?



Many times in a month illustrators can be asked for their rates and f they will illustrate a book for a writer.  Sometimes the reality of what an illustrator needs to create images for an author's book does not match the expectations of the author seeking the services.

There have been many articles, social media comments, and essays on the subject.  This is my take on the subject.  I am writing it here so that I can refer to it from time to time.  That way maybe it will help some illustrators, and some writers that are concerned or interested in self publishing.

Those who are planning to self publish, for whatever reason need to know some things about that process.
"Wow! I have a great idea for a book. I think I will write it and go off to find an illustrator. Then I will publish it!"
First of all the best advice is to seek a traditional publisher first. Why?  Because the trade book and magazine publishers will find the best illustrator for your work, and they will bear the cost of the illustrations and the printing. Sometimes they will also arrange for marketing and more.  They will offer you an advance and royalties, or just royalties, or a full fee with no royalties.  In any of those cases, your costs will simply be the sweat you spend making your story the best it can be, and the mailing of the manuscripts to the best publishing audience you can find.

Where do I find that?

The best source I know of is the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. It is published every year with updates.  You can purchase it in a bookstore, order one there or go online and get your copy from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  In this "bible" of sorts, you will find the Children's book and magazine publishers in the US and Canada. There are articles of all sorts, lists of agents, contests, and much more.


I did that, I sent out many, many queries... no response. I know my story is GREAT and I want now to self publish. Will you illustrate if for me?
This is where the illustrator has a chance to make one last plug for the traditional route. If the author is determined to self publish, the illustrator needs to make sure of five key things.

1.) The manuscript is something for which the illustrator can do her/his best work. That means the      illustrator needs to see a copy or at least an outline of the work.
2.) The manuscript is well edited and proof read.
3.) The author is willing to pay a fair fee for the work.
4.) There will be a contract signed by both the author and illustrator that is fair and agreeable to both.
5.) The decision of who will do the layout and send files to the printer must be made.

Normally the illustrations will be copyrighted to the illustrator. The text will be copyrighted to the author. Any use of the illustrations or derived characters that are later licensed by the author will need to provide adequate compensation for the illustrator. The illustrator is entitled to free copies of the finished book. That number needs to be agreeable to both the author and illustrator and can range from anywhere from 5  to 25 books or more.

The hardest part of the process is setting the fee for the illustration work. You have heard all this before. Illustrators cannot and should not work on spec or for free. It hurts every other illustrator when that happens, and the quality may not be there either.

Once the illustrator sets a fee there can still be negotiations, but there has to be a limit on either side.
Fees can range from four figures right up to five or six depending upon the experience and status of the illustrator or the scope of the project. The length of time to complete a project, the research that may be involved and the particular type of illustrations will affect the time needed and the final cost.

If the illustrator is also doing the layout and uploads there may be an additional cost, but it shouldn't be more than any service that is also offered by the printer of choice.

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20. Trailer for Willow, An Elephant's Tale

This lovely trailer was created by Tangerine Sky Productions, where Kevin Collier is the man behind the curtain. I am pleased with the peek into Willow's world, and hope that it may encourage you to buy the book. It is available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble. Elephant facts are included on the last two pages, and some of those may surprise you.

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21.

There is a new trailer for the book, Half Past Winter, online at YouTube. It is short enough not to keep you tied up and fun enough to get you interested in the book. Take a look when you have time.Half Past Winter

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22. Another Step by Step by Step

I normally finish all my work as digital paintings, but I like to paint traditionally as well. Sometimes the traditional work goes into the computer and is completed with digital media. This particular piece is a watercolor study that has been ongoing for a few days. While the paint dries I continue with other work.

Sometimes when you create a progression like this you can transform it into a fade-in video sequence and as you watch the colors and forms begin to appear. I have done that on my website several times, but since that kind of thing takes a while for it to open, I usually don't end up keeping those files there. Finally once in the computer with some issues worked out and space for the text... the finish.

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23.

I plan to start off the New Year with a challenge! I will participate in the Start the Year Off Write challenge.

This challenge will encourage all writers to extend their skills. You can join and find out much more about how this challenge will work for you at: Shannon Abercrombie's blog. Here is a link to the Challenge itself. Start the Year Off Write. There is a place to either join by email or on the Facebook page. The invitation is open to all and includes all kinds of writers. Read about the journey on Shannon's blog using the links I provided above.

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24.

A new book I illustrated has just been released. You can read more about Brian Halla's lovely first picture book using the link provided. Boot's Bridge is available on Amazon.com.The story of twins who are pretend fishing is heartwarming.  Not only do they catch an unusual item, it contains a surprise that they did not expect.

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25. HAlf PAST WINTER a New book!

I have finally decided to take the plunge into self publishing and have just finished a book I have been working on for over a year.


Half Past Winter is the tale of two curious bear cubs who have never seen snow.  They decide to go find it when the winter has lasted long enough with out any.  They find snow, have a great time playing and enjoying it, but end up with more trouble than they hoped for.


The story does have a very happy ending, and I hope people will enjoy the book. It is available on Amazon.com and in the Create Space bookstore.

Most of all, I wanted to offer a book at a reasonable rate so that people who wanted the story could feel comfortable with the price.

I enjoyed the process of creating something of my very own and have plans to do this with at least two more of my stories. They will be larger format and possibly hardcover is the price to the consumer is as good as it can be.

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