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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.

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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2.



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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3.

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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4.

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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5.

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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6.

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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7.

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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8. 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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9. 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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10.

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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11. 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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12.

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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13.

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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14. 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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15. To "E" or not to "E"

I am lucky enough to be doing a job that I truly love. Illustrating for children's books. Some of these I also write.  My goal has always been to create a beautiful work of art that children can hold in their hands, take to bed, take outdoors, take on vacation, and when they feel they are too old for that 'sort of stuff', place on their bookshelf to be discovered much later in their lives.


E books are something new. Six of my  30 + books have been converted into E-books, and I am sure there will be more conversions as the clients I work with want to cover the children's market from all angles.

My personal preference is the hardcover book. With or without a dust jacket, (they often get lost or torn) this is the book a child can hold, keep for ages, and pass down to younger siblings or their own children is still a timeless treasure.  My own copy of Babar the elephant is on my current bookshelf. It shows the loving wear of the 50 years I have owned it. The marks of my children are there as well and when my oldest child felt she could give it up, she returned it to me for safekeeping.  Most likely I will someday part with it again for a grandchild or two.


If you are planning to publish by seeking out an established children's trade book publisher who will acquire your manuscript or accept your illustration style for future books, you need to be ready for the long wait, the rejections, the disappointments, and the frustration. But if you persevere, there is a very good  chance that your work will be picked up by a publishing house that not only creates a beautiful book, but pays you a decent advance and royalties.

If you plan to follow the shorter path and publish yourself, choose wisely.  There are many publishing venues that promise a great deal and deliver less than you would expect.  There are a very few that actually hold your hand along the way, help you create a beautiful book and offer you the additional option of creating an E book along with your hardcover or softcover book.



Check out the options offered by Create Space, Gorham Printing, and Ingram Spark.  They all offer short runs, or print on demand and there is the option for conversion to an E-book if you wish.

There are different models here but one might fit your publishing needs.  There are many good Asian printing houses as well, but there the minimum order for books is 1000, and then you have the problem of the language difficulties, shipping, and marketing and selling your boxes and boxes of books.


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16. The Phantom Poodle of Rainy Pass, It's a book!

I would like to introduce you to Dan Levinson and John Suter the men who made this book possible.
The book and e-book are available from Amazon.com or from the 
Poodle Dog Productions website at:  Flying Poodles where you can find bookII of the Poodle Dog Trilogy.



The Phantom Poodle of Rainy Pass    was written lovingly by the late Dan Levinson.  
His story will speak to young and old, but is especially geared to the 6-12 year old age group.  He based his story of a lost sled dog on the true life adventures of John 'the Poodleman' Suter. John Suter raced the iditarod many times and some of those times were with a team of poodle dogs.

Dan's writing is exceptional, reads beautifully, and creates the perfect mood for an Alaskan winter adventure.

It was my pleasure and honor to be chosen to illustrate this delightful story.  I am sure that anyone who knew Dan Levinson would enjoy his story.



                       The Alaskan winter can be lonely. Rose Ningaloo, knows that.
                      But on her 9th Birthday a special surprise arrived by plane. 
            A girl her own age, to play with, do homework with, and "adventure" with.


Sharing secrets, making taffy and reindeer ice cream, playing video games was all part of getting to know one another.  But soon the girls decided they needed an ADVENTURE.

Off they went, up Rose's mountain. What they saw from the rock they were perched on was a mystery at first.  Soon it became quite clear what the dark object was that they had seen hiding in the 
snow covered trees below.


You can be part of their exciting discovery when you get your copy of the book or the eBook.
Visit Flying Poodles Website to learn more.

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17. A Milestone in Illustrating Children's Books


Today I added another book to the growing list of those I have illustrated.  Today's count is at 31!  I have three more waiting for me and I am so grateful and happy that I am able to do something I truly love, each and every day!




Published Books Include:

Flying Poodles,  A Christmas Story
I Like Pink
The Phantom Poodle of Rainy Pass
Saskatchewan Lullaby
Willow, An Elephant's Tale - I also wrote this book
Gunther the Underwater Elephant-I wrote this as well
A Dinner Date for Dilly
Carla's Cloud Catastrophe
The Angry Little Boy
Little Charley Thornpaws 
In My Bath
If Wishes Were Fishes
A Wish and A Prayer
While You Were Away Daddy
Zubie the Lightning Bug 
Daniel and the Harmonica 
Princess Caitlin's Tiara 
When Wishes Come True
The Adventures of Cali 
Song for a Giraffe 
My African Bedtime Rhymes 
The Peace Department
One Day in Peace
A Moose on the Loose
A Birthday Wish
The First Map of Maine
A New Friend for Dilly
Pony Strings and Critter Things
Rhino Crashes and Critter Classes
The First Flag of New Hampshire
I Love San Francisco

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18. Upgrading to Mountain Lion on the iMAC




I just upgraded my iMac to Mountain Lion. I have to say I did so with a bit of fear because I have very expensive software that I need to have working. After a horrible experience with Lion it made me even more cautious. BUT... after downloading Mountain Lion and starting everything up... it all works. The only change that bothers me is that the scrolling on my mouse is now the opposite of what it was before.
Main reason to upgrade... all the new upgrades leave some of the older operating systems in some kind of techie graveyard, never to be found or downloaded again. Second and very important reason is that Painter X3 just came out and it needs Mountain Lion to operate.

And Painter X3 is just as good as ever. I am looking forward to exploring all the new things that make this program my choice as a digital PAINTER.

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19.


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20. Snow Kidding


©Ginger Nielson

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21. Illustration Friday~Ocean






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22. Illustration Friday b~ Whee



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23. Illustration Friday b~ Whee



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24. Been away from here....But having work is a blessing*:)

I have been blessed with enough work to keep me going for the next year and one half...but have neglected the blog.  Some of the things I am working on are not for sharing just yet, but there will be snippets from time to time.  Here is a study for a larger illustration in a book that will be underway later this year.



And here is one from a dummy book I submitted recently.  I got great feedback from one editor and have reworked the key points to see how her suggestions will impact the entire book.  Then I will decide if I want to resend it, or keep it for a later submission.

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25. The NEXT BIG THING


The Next Big THING! is a blog tour that gives authors and illustrators a chance to share their work, and then tag others to share theirs.  Each blogger answers the same ten questions.   The tour started in Australia, and has spread world wide.


I was tagged by Diana Delosh a fellow artist in the group we both belong to, CBIG.  Please check out her blog at:The Hare Illustratere.  Her Next Big Thing is about her newest picture book dummy, ROBIN. Her book is only one of the many ways in which Diana uses her magnificent talent.  Visiting her website will give you a idea of just how gifted Diana is as an artist.

At the end of this post I will tag children's book illustrator/writers  Robert Baird for your next stop on the tour. And now my questions will be answered.

1.) What is the working title of your next book?

     Actually there are several. I usually don't work on more than one book at a time, but this year has been particularly busy.  I am currently working on a book by a well known author who has written her first picture book.  I can't share any images, but I will say it is about a sweet little girl who loves the color pink.

   One of the other books is a work in progress that I have had on my drawing table for a long time.  When I write and illustrate my own work, it usually takes a back seat to the work I do for publishers. The tentative title is :
Half Past Winter.  Although I liked the title at first,  it may change to something more like, The Bears' Winter Surprise.




2.) Where did the idea come from for the book?
 
 We have bears here, and we have lots of snow in the winter in New England. I love both and decided to write and illustrate a story about both. Even after a wicked winter  once the summer is over and fall has set in, we just can't wait for the first new snow of the next winter.

3.) What genre does your book fall under?
   
    This is a picture book for ages 4-8 and any adult who still loves the magic of a picture book.

4.)  If this were a movie who would be the actors?
 
     If it was a movie, I think an animated movie would tell the story beautifully.  Three bears, a cardinal, some squirrels, and lots of snow would be the featured characters.

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
 
     It was half past Winter, and there was no snow.

6.) Who is publishing your book?
 
      I have a special place in mind but I can't say where I will ultimately submit the work.

7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

    Not too long. Actually I wrote the first draft in a day. BUT, I reviewed, edited, and re wrote it
about 6 times after that making sure that every word was actually needed.  I have two versions now,
one with  650 words and one with only 15 words.  I am leaning toward the longer version.

8.) What other books have you written and illustrated that feature animals as the main characters?

There are two as of this writing. Gunther the Underwater Elephant, and Willow, An Elephant's Tale.
Both books were published during the last two years by 4RV PUBLISHING  in Edmond OK.

9.) Who or what inspires you to write a book?
  
Sometimes it could be as simple as a shadow on the wall, or a walk though the woods.  Children and animals have a way of wiggling their way into my days and nights in many ways. Music plays a part as well.

   10.) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
In this particular book there is a surprising ending. I like to add a big surprise in each book I write and illustrate.
Sometimes it comes at the very end, and sometimes just before. It is always planned so that the reader will get a hint of the surprise before they actually see it.  But, by then I hope they are laughing really hard!

The next stop on the tour is  a visit with writer/illustrator Roberta Baird















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