Friday, December 31, 2010

May Your 2011 Glass always be...

I’ve always thought the glass was completely full – half full of water and half full of air!
My husband sees the glass as twice as big as it needs to be (he’s a technical editor).
Here's an idea to make a cold or boring January go by in a flash. Fill a glass half full of water (put a little color in it for fun) and place it where you see it often this month. Put it on a windowsill in the kitchen, in your studio or office. No matter whether you see it half full or half empty, pretend to fill it up with good thoughts, smiles and happiness for a month.
May your glass always be happily full!
Happy and Glorious New Year to all!

Monday, November 29, 2010

52,989 words = a Winner!

National Novel Writers Month, 2010, what an interesting experience. I improved my typing (but not my spelling). Ignored my inner critic, perhaps the hardest thing to do and managed to write 50,000 words + on my middle grade novel, “The Emerald Boots”. It is still very much a work in progress. It still needs some severe editing and elbow grease polishing but the whole story is there.

Much of the novel wrote itself, which was a big surprise. I’ve always heard of the phenomenon where the characters write themselves and emerge with traits you didn’t expect. The plot changes and the challenges I had planned on were far more boring than the ones that evolved as characters and problems converged at the 'The Greater Midwest Traveling Medicine Show'.

I abandoned my characters often: I left Jade and Mr. Diggs swinging from a hot balloon caught in a thunderstorm over Kansas to do the dishes. I turned a lost little girl into the ‘The Girl from the Moon’ on my birthday. I left Jade stuffed into an old tiger’s cage while I fixed Thanksgiving dinner. I found that cats have a wonderful philosophy on life in bed at 3 am during a wind storm. I discovered that the Bernice the Bearded Lady and Ralph the Strongest Man on Earth actually had a thing for each other after my guests went to bed…who knew? And I finished the rough plot and notes and dialog last night during a football game. I don’t know who won; I actually don’t even know who was playing.

But I know that I won as I logged 52,989 words to cross the finish line for NaNoWriMo 2010 (a self-imposed, joint marathon for writers). It’s a good feeling. I don’t think my family thought I could or would do it. I don’t think I thought I could either, but I did!

Now I need to polish, edit, revise, rewrite, sleep, polish, revise and edit some more, then find an agent...piece of cake.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three more days...

Three more days and 8,075 words to go. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't wait to revise it into something smooth. I can't wait for life to get back to normal!

Somehow I've managed to keep up with word count with sporadic typing marathons. Somehow I prepared the house for weather blast from the Arctic that hit the Seattle area two days before Thanksgiving and kept us prisoner with sub-freezing temperatures and drifting snow. Seattle doesn’t get snow like this in November. It’s the first time I was hoping for the rain.

The memories of barbequing the turkey three years ago during a power failure and the flavor of charcoal fire-starter flavored turkey haunting my every step as I baked pies and got the house ready for guests, hoping that the driveway would melt before they arrived. Our drive way is 150 feet, a lot to shovel. We did not lose our power however 50,000 of my neighbors did . . . including the grocery stores and gas stations.

Everything worked out fine in the end, although I didn’t write for 3 days. Three more days and 8,075 words to go. I can't believe I'm doing this.

Friday, November 12, 2010

21,477 words on the wall...

21,477 words on the wall,
take them all and
pass them around,
21,477 words on the wall.

It's easy to get lost in a place without time. The last time I looked at the clock...let's seems like ten, maybe twelve minutes was 7:48pm. It is now 9:23pm (Pacific time). When the mind is in the right hemisphere it is not aware of time. The right hemisphere is where creativity lives so I must have had the right address for the last couple of hours.
My, how time flies!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kate's NaNo Update...

Well, I'm almost to 10,000 (8,773 to be exact) words. It's amazing how these characters invent themselves as I go along. I'm already wondering what will happen next. Do characters in your stories tend to write themselves? Even though I did a personality sketch of each character, I am still discovering their quirks and flaws.

So far this has not been a chore, it's been fun. Only 41,227 words to go. Since this is a Middle Grade novel I probably won't have to go beyond 30,000 words. If I do finish at that count, I guess I'll just start the sequel!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My NaNoWriMo Mascot - NaNo Rhino

Whew, I'm up to 3,562 words for NaNoWriMo this year but a girl can't write all day so I created my own tiny (nano) writing buddy. Meet NaNo Rhino!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

One More day of Halloween Fun then...

NaNoRiMo! Next month is November. No, surprise there. And I have joined a group of writers, other blog friends, SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators) friends and associates to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

What is NaNoWriMo ( It is a writing challenge that has grown over the years to prompt writers out there to put their butt in a chair and write. The challenge is to write a 50,000 novel in the month of November (that’s only about 1,600 words a day). You start from scratch with a new idea or one that you have been chewing on but haven't really started. Everyone who participates starts at the same time, Nov. 1st, and writes their brains out. It is designed to get the ideas down and not worry about all the editing or rewriting. It ends Nov. 30th, hopefully with a new manuscript to edit. And a few new friends.

Last year there were 165,000 participants from all over the world and I think the Seattle area came in first in total word count. Must be all that rain and the free flowing coffee. I have talked to several SCBWI friends that have done this and they love it (and hate it). A marathon for writers where you don’t even have to wear shoes! Even if you only get 1/2 or 1/3 of the way to 50,000 words – you still win!

Ever wanted to write that novel? Now’s the time to start.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Details, details...

It is amazing what can stick in your head from childhood. When I'm writing or illustrating I pull from those odd little memories to deepen a character. Details make a difference in whether your character is dimensional or flat as the paper you are using. Details give subtle clue s to the characters personality and can foreshadow events. Details are the 'showing' not the 'telling' that is so important to a good story.

Any thing well remembered from childhood or adolescence works.  I remember a little Halloween song I learned in 3rd grade - that's about 48 years ago now. The words go like this:
The witch is riding high.
Have you seen
her shadow in the sky?
So beware, don't you dare
to even boast or a ghost
to your dismay
will hear you say
you don't care to say a prayer.
Or it may come and
Pull your hair!

The song still gives me goose bumps when I sing it on Halloween night...and I still sing it! I think it might appear in one of my stories someday. What Halloween memory keeps haunting you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not so Creative Halloween Costumes

Does anyone remember those old 50's and 60's Collegeville and Cooper brand Halloween costumes? You know the ones that came in a cardboard box and included a plastic mask with painted-on hair, hats and smiles. The costume itself was all-in-one, tie-on and flame proof! My brother once tested that claim with a match; the costume edge didn’t flame at all, it just melted. The top and bottom of the costume were permanently attached to each other and all the details printed on the fabric like jewelry, glasses and mustaches.

My witch suit 195
Most of them depicted cartoon characters or movie heroes or princesses. We loved those things! You couldn’t really breathe through the oval mouth hole, it made made you sound like Darth Vader, of course we didn't know who Darth Vader was then. Your face got sweaty behind those masks and your vision was severely constricted by those teensy, weensy eye holes.

We always carried a big hollow, plastic jack-o-lantern with a black handle for all our loot and a flash light for safety. The flashlight was also good for shining in your siblings eyes and destroying what little night vision they had through the mask’s creepy eye-holes.

Kate the Witch, 2009
Next Halloween you had to wear a hand-me-down costume unless you pitched a fit about being a princess because you were a boy. The inside of the hand-me-down mask might smell vaguely like candy corn and chili and the edge of the costume might be ripped or melted a little. Maw haa haa… I was the oldest kid, so it was one of my old costumes that got handed down to my sibs.

Costumes have come a long way from the early the 50s. What has your creative mind come up with for Halloween this year?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creative Thinking…

Teaching creativity is teaching the brain to think differently. Following ‘the straight and narrow’ path leads straight to tunnel vision in the creative world. Psychologist say to broaden your horizons and to promote creativity you must widen your path laterally. That works well for some problem solving and helps in creating empathy for other points of view. However, to really expand your creativity you need to think spherically.

What is linear, lateral and spherical thinking? Well, imagine driving your car home; you have a road ahead runs in a familiar even line. It is the linear path – straight and narrow, linear thinking. You may see some side roads along the way that you’ve never taken before; side roads that basically go in the generally the same direction as the original straight line but hey curve and meander a bit, these side roads can become your alternate path. The side roads give you a new and different path that can get you to the same place – home. This is lateral thinking.

Now imagine you are in an airplane, not only do you have to deal with what is straight in front and in back of you but also what’s side to side: the lateral view. But being in an airplane also means you must pay attention to the air that surrounds you in every direction: the spherical view. Behold, spherical thinking!

Try thinking spherically and you will likely experience a global perspective both in your art and in your life…unless you happen to be a gerbil.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Minor Redesign of My Blog or Me?

Did you notice? I did a little redesign of this blog. I was trying to make it a little more ‘me’ and a little less ‘Blogger Design: ‘Rounded Corners’. It took longer than I thought because I found I didn’t really have a clear idea of which me I wanted to show. The trouble was that were infinite images that could be me.

After a little self-searching I realize that there is not one image, illustration or design that is the real ‘me’.
Today I might feel childlike adventuresome or shy. I might have loads of self-confidence or feel like gnome (I kind of look like one). I might be a subtle pastel or vibrant sunset.

So I decided the safest route to the blog redesign was to match-up my blog header with my web page background (

Now when someone reads my blog they will hear a little bit of me in every entry and when they link to my website, they will see a little of me in every picture there. However this blog and the CedarMoon web page are still very much works in progress with many more illustrations, ideas and stories and yes, redesigns to come.

Oh, I guess that is the real me!A work in progress with more illustrations, ideas, stories and redesigns to come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creativity and Halloween...

Mwaah ha ha
“By the prickling of my thumbs, 
       something wicked this way comes…”

Halloween has been known as the Roman; Pomona, the Celtic; Samhain (pronounced sow-in), the Mexican; Day of the Dead (Nov. 2nd), Old English; All Hallow’s Eve (Hallows = Saints). Even Shakespeare mentioned Hallowmas, the day after All Hallow’s Eve. However no one celebrates Halloween quite like North America with pumpkins and costumes and trick or treating.

Halloween brings out the creativity in just about everyone. This week I saw teens and grandmothers cruising through the Good Will searching for something to wear on Halloween. I heard comments like “What can I do with this?” or “I need something green.” or “Does this make me look dead?”.

I too was searching for something odd and wonderful to wear as a hostess of the local Garden Club October lunch, boring you say? Oh no, I would never let even a garden club lunch be boring.  

Lunch is served...
My theme was “Recipe for the Perfect Man” a Frankenstein-esque tableau of body parts and ingredients from dreamy eyeballs to a heart of gold and everything in-between. I spent several hours ‘canning’ up parts to display on the table.
With a lot of dry ice, some clear tubing, some lightening and four women (who literally looked sewn together) and you have a creative lunch fit for a ghoul. It didn’t even kill anyone’s appetite. All the food, even the severed ladyfingers, disappeared.

Halloween allows you to be someone or something you aren’t. It opens up your imagination and allows you to explore the things that scare you and meet them head on. It softens your sense of reality and lets you play along if you let it. It also helps you deal with the fact that the nights are getting longer and we will have to face the dark eventually.

So get out there, rummage through the garage or attic and find something to wear that will allow you to step out of yourself and find the creativity of play. Halloween comes but once year – have fun!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kate's P&W received a Blog Award

One of my follower's Melissa L. Gil at Melissa Getting Published gave me a blog award: The One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Melissa, this is my first one.

I researched this award a little and found out it started at least as far back as 2008. Basically you receive the award, acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you then pass it forward to at least 3 (or 5 or 15, the quantity seems to vary) other bloggers that you have newly discovered. Then contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

This is a wonderful way to tag other bloggers and explore new blog sites. It also is a good way to get more followers and find new perspectives. I'm going to review my favorite sites and pick my own award winners soon. This may be harder than it sounds.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Place to Write or Draw…

There is unending advice about how, why, whom and when to write or draw but seldom do you read about where to do your passion. Where do you find that special place, one fertile enough but private enough to create?

It’s popular today to jump off the gerbil wheel of the office or ditch the constant din of domestic bliss for a coffee shop where the caffeine runs freely and the sounds of steam and conversation become a non-distracting white noise. The WiFi is free and there is usually not a clock to be seen.

Some people like to escape to a hotel room or a cabin on an uninhabited pond like Rowling or Walden. Some are lucky enough to have a haven set aside in or near their house where they can let the muse sit quietly by and interrupt only when necessary or invited. Choosing your writing sanctuary might be found serendipitously (love that word) or found only after a great search. It just might be found where you are at the moment. Often it’s a personal place or a place that contains memories. Or it’s the only uncluttered spot on the kitchen table.

A few essentials for choosing that inspiring place:

1) Find a good chair, a non-finicky computer, a well oiled typewriter or good pen (for the traditionalists). Author/illustrators should have all their art toys and materials surrounding them. Make a contract with yourself not to use the WiFi except for reference. Turn off the phone.

2) Have a dictionary or spell checker available. A Thesaurus is handy too.

3) Always start with a clear workspace either on your desk or table or your digital desktop. Hide all the open documents and piles of paper. Close all the programs but your writing program. File away the mail, bills and catalogs even if it’s just under the desk or in a computer file labeled “Later”. Put out the cat, kennel the dog and tell the kids to go outside and play.

4) Be comfortable. Unless you are writing of pain, angst, urgency and despair, definitely have a bathroom nearby (or a handy forest). Find the best lighting; too bright or too dark ambient lighting strains your eyes. Stay warm but not too warm; your brain works better when it’s not worried about shivering or sweating. And don’t forget some munchies – writer’s block often starts with low blood sugar!

5) Leave self-doubt in the closet. Then “Just do it”.

Where is your perfect place?

Monday, October 4, 2010

I have an Idea...

My family cringes when I say "I have an idea," but they listen anyway. Some of my ideas don't work or never get done or run into huge brick walls. But I have them and I share them and I do write them down. A notepad is by my pillow, another on the passenger side of my car and another in my studio. This may seem like an organization nightmare but I do take these notebooks and compile them – occasionally.
My idea of painted baseball fans for a theater set. Can you tell which one is me?
I get my ideas in dreams and while driving and sitting by the ocean. I get them from old friends and old people and old photos. I get them from my muse and my cats and my memories. I find ideas under rocks, behind the trees and in the sky. I see them in the moon and the stars and the great hot sun. And, well, I guess a better question for me would be be, "Where don't you get your ideas?"

I've got writing several works-in-progress going at the moment. Including a non-fiction Picture Book story about crab apple tree and Middle Grade about a boy who stows away on a hot air balloon and a Young Adult about a teen who inherits her Irish grandmother's Pooka.  I'm discovering the writing in one genre opens up ideas and better writing in the other ones. For instance writing a picture books forces to me find the essence. Writing MG is usually done from a narrator or storyteller's POV and YA is almost always 1st person. It stretches my mind. It also improves my typing skills and my spelling. And it provides me with text to illustrate.

I write at least 1 hour a day. I draw at least once a day and don't limit my time. The rest of the time life, people, theater, family, cats, Puget sound and books get the way. I have an idea, lots of ideas and I always will.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How not to be creative – an internal perspective

I used to think that I absolutely positively had to get my chores done before I was allowed to do anything I wanted to do. That’s what I had always been told and I believed it because I was a kid. But now as a grown-up I realize that although it’s a fairly good lesson to teach children, it can become a crutch later in life.
It can become a reason not to do art, or to write or to daydream.
You know those internal dialogs that insist that:
a) I can’t work on a drawing until I finish cleaning the floor, the dishes, the kids, the top of the bookcase, the cat....
b) I can’t sit down and write while the laundry piles up or the shopping need to be done.
c) I shouldn’t be daydreaming a picture book when weeds need to be pulled.
d) I’ve got to answer that email (oh, look at that youtube video – isn’t that cute!).
e) Etc. and so on...fill in the blanks.
What excuses do you use to NOT to make art?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Teaching creativity, outside the lines....

Coloring outside the lines (literally) gave me a lifelong appreciation for creativity and a desire to inspire others to color outside the lines.
 In the early days of first grade, my teacher had mysteriously gone to “get a baby” and a substitute teacher person was there in her place. She gave us a white sheet of paper with three apple outlines printed in a neat row. Her instructions were to color the apples and cut them out and paste them on another piece of construction paper. Simple, apparently clear instructions, right? 

So I peeled the paper off my new lime green crayon (no no #1). Then I broke them in half (no no #2). Then I used the side of my crayon to smoothly sweep color over all the apples (no no #3). I used another forest green crayon (also peeled and broken) to color the leaves. Definitely dark purple for the stems. I did not stay in the lines, any of the lines. And I finished way before everyone else. 

Happily I raised my hand for the scissors. Scissors were monitored in first grade and doled out as needed…I don’t know why. I had my own scissors at home, they were always handy for giving haircuts to my younger siblings.

The teacher came over and frowned at my apples. She took my paper and held it up to the class. “This,” she said, “ Is not how we are supposed to color the apples”.
I was confused; I had followed the instructions?
“We should stay in the lines and use our red crayons properly.” She announced to the class.
“But if we are going to cut them out,” I asked boldly, “Why do we have to stay in the lines?” She gave me a look.
“And my grandpa’s apples are green,” I said quietly.
“Just do what I told you to do.” She replied as she gave me a new clean printed apple paper.

I guess I had too much 6 year old logic and alternative thinking for a substitute teacher. I did follow her directions but I secretly went outside of the lines every time I could. And my red apples had purple stems.
They still do.

What or who has affected your creativity growing up?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can you teach creativity?

A few years back I was asked to teach a gifted and talented group of children. I firmly believed that my class was for all children because everyone is gifted in some way. I got my way and the class was extended to any class that wanted me.
My method of teaching creativity was to use drawing as alternative problem solving.
The first challenge was to get over,
"But I can't draw".
"Well," I asked, "Can you put a mark on the paper?"
Uh huh" was the answer.
"Then you can draw," I said. The first challenge was met so I went on to the second challenge,
"Are you going to grade this?" They asked.
"Nope" I answered quietly.
"Huh?" is the collective response.
My answer usually gives me 2 minutes of bewildered looks. Then hands shot up,
"Ms. Higgins, there are no erasers on the pencils! What if we make a mistake?"
"You can't make a mistake because everything and anything you put on this paper is OK"
Then, of course, the too cool kid would ask "So what happens if I don't put anything on the paper?"
"Then you won't have any fun!"
I smile knowing that this student will probably be the one who draws the most.
And so it begins.
Can you teach creativity?
Yes, by teaching people young and old to access the right brain not just the right answer.

Next Blog: How coloring outside the lines (literally) made me into an artist.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting creatively organized...

The great thing about living in the Pacific Northwet (not a typo), besides the fact that you never have to water your lawn, is that the weather provides amble time to get organized.

My studio was in dire need of a muck out so I took the advantage of our recent foggy,  drizzly weather to delve into the mysterious recesses of my messes. I ran across many unfinished projects, many duplicate art supplies and many things I swear I did not put there? Now I can stop quietly blaming my husband for recycling some items I was missing.

Organizing my space has given me time to sort through many ideas (good and bad), mental blocks, frustrated attempts and find space when I thought there was none.

If you have a area or room that is your private creative space take some time (a rainy day is perfect) to find and organize this outward extension of your brain. It feels sooo good, kind of like sitting down to a big piece of white paper with a brand new box of 64 crayons! Ah, the possibilities...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Avast! it's "Talk Like a Pirate" Day!

Ahoy, me Hearties!
Heave Ho and get with it! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! There be no better way to immerse yourself in fantasy and pure silliness than to talk like a pirate for a day. My daughter and I have been having pirate exchanges on September 19st for years now. And in case you didn't know, Seattle has it's own official pirates (of course we also have an ocean here too).
 A "real" pirate ship, The Lady Washington
Despite their reputations, old time pirates are a safe personae for kids, kind of like dinosaurs. They are scary but there is little chance of actually running into one.
What silly thing have you done lately? Suspend disbelief today, don't worry what other scurvy dogs think, pull on yer peg leg, grab yarr parrot and heave ho! Savvy???
  Katy the Sass

Some pirate reference:
Talk like a pirate site
All about pirates
The Lady Washington Blog 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gnome place like Gnome...

If you read Chuck Sambuchino's gtome on "How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack" (with lots of gnomenclature about attack gnomes), you might may just develop a syngdrome called "Gnomeaphobia" and stay ghome with your doors locked! I've always loved gnomes but those little plaster garden guys kind of give me the creeps!
I wonder does Chuck Sambuchino has a gnome de plume?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall reminds me of ...

The author, Kirby Larson has a challenge on her blog ( to write a 10-word story. The prompt word this week is 'Fall' (or Autumn). Her 10 word fall story was about saddle shoes. Some of you may wonder what those are.
They were two-toned, leather, tie-up shoes either black and white or brown and tan. Saddle shoes were always too stiff and my mom always bought them at Red Goose (where you got a prize egg!) or at Buster Brown's. I remember the took days to get used to them and they felt big and clunky and clop, clopped when you walked on wood floors. Not at all like my red Keds (see above) those were great shoes, you could run like a horse in them.
I had to wear saddle shoes and a dress to the first day of school. Oh, and an itchy cardigan sweater. I remember thinking it was terribly unfair that boys got to wear pants, jackets and penny loafers. Did you know you can't do cart wheels in a dress, it isn't lady like...just ask Mrs. Wilson my 2nd grade teacher. But you can climb apple trees if no one is looking!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September Starts and so do I...

Some people think the New Year or spring is the time for resolutions and goals but fall has been my favorite time for renewal. It started for me when the kids went back to school and the days ahead were warm and inspiring and least until 3:00pm.
Now I look forward to finishing a few picture books and doing the illustrations. I've got a million ideas for projects, a thousand ideas for more books and holy cats, I won't live for the 478 years it going to take to do them all. We'll see how far I get. What are your goals for fall?
Oh, I forgot, I won something! Go to Holly Schindler's blog and read all about it :
Holly has a Flash Fiction Challenge where she asks for writing prompts and she tries to come up with a 500 word story. She chose my prompts. Hmmm maybe I should use her story and illustrate it? Another thing to add to my lists, stay tuned...

Monday, September 6, 2010

It was a Perfect Wedding...

…hurry…wait…hurry…meet the caterer, outside ceremony, wind, meet the guests, is it going to rain?, porta-potties, don’t let the kids pee in the forest, pictures taking too long, wind stopped, forgot the bouquet, lost a boutonniere, where’s dad?, is the cake here?, lost keys, found kid, party crashers, sheriff says turn down music, is it going to rain?, we give away our daughter…no wait… I’m not ready, beautiful bride, sunset dance, hundreds of dahlias, stars to dance by, candles lit, lots of love.

It was a perfect wedding.
To my daughter Tyra and my new son Gardner,
May your life together be a perfect as this day:  
Chaos mixed with love 
and of course, a happily ever after ending!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wedding Day Forecasts...

My daughter is getting married this Saturday... at our house...outside. The dahlia flowers for the bouquet are late blooming this year (Pike Market here I come)
and I don't think all of our guests know when to take a ferry. I'm trying to remember only do what's important...that the guests are here to see my beautiful daughter not the dust bunnies way under the bed in the guest room.

I do a sun dance everyday. We live in the Pacific Northwest and even though they – the weather forecasters – say it will be can't count on it here. (Kirby, I could use some of that nine million degrees right now!)

Adjust, adapt and keep going in spite of the forecasts and delays.  It's good advice for mothers of the bride, new brides and of course, writers & illustrators.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Can a horse be a best friend?

Lisa Yee and Kirby Larson recently posted and re-posted a question which I'd like to pass along:
"What best friend from kid lit would you have wanted to be your best friend when you were a kid?"
 OK, I'm afraid my best friend would be Black Beauty (and Ginger and Merrylegs more horses in the book; "Black Beauty"). I was sooo horse crazy at 10 years old that I saved horse tail hairs, one at a time, old horse shoes and horse pictures from magazines. I even cut out the little Pegasus from the Reader's Digest covers. My copy of "Black Beauty" was read and reread until the pages got soft (you obsessed readers out there know what I mean).

I used to sit in a neighbor's pasture and draw the horses while they tried to nibble on my braids – which did look and feel like straw. (when I drew horses I always drew their feet in the grass because hooves were hard to draw).

Of course "Flicka" was a close second followed by "Flame" in the "Black Stallion" series. I also loved 'Hi, Ho' Silver in "The Lone Ranger" TV/Radio show and Trigger from "Roy Rodgers" TV show but alas, they don't count as kid lit. I guess that would give me a herd of 'best friends'. 
I liked this question, it reminded me of all the books I treasured as a kid – some of them without horses!

Orville Pig (left), owned by Wilbur Farmer, had heard about houseflys and fruitflys and horseflys but he'd never actually seen a horse fly.  
(from "Orville Pig's Flight Plan" by K.A. Higgins)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Best Writing Tip (so far)

This is the best writing tip I've heard of in a long time It's worth bookmarking and reading every time you finish a chapter.  From Katharina (Cat) Gerlach:
As writers, we are always told not to use adverbs and that usually is sound advice. Now, I noticed that I keep missing the little monsters, especially if reading on screen. So, how do I make sure that I keep only those few adverbs that I really, really need? I color them. It's fairly easy. This is how you do it:

Open the manuscript and choose a color for highlighting (In MS Word the icon is on the far right and looks like a knife hovering over a line).

Open the "Search and Replace" dialog of your writing program and enter "ly" in the search and in the replace box. Then, with the cursor in the replace box, click on a button called "More" or "Expand" or something similar (it depends a bit on which program you use) which will give you additional options. Choose "Format" and "Highlight" and then click on "Replace All". Now, you won't miss the brightly colored -ly words any more when reading through your manuscript.

By the way, this can be used for any other annoying word or word combination you use. 
I suddenly wonder if  I had an awfully lot of overly written, annoyingly stupid adverbs in my quickly written first draft. I understandingly ran through the first chapter and certainly realized I had embarrassingly used to many "ly"s in my manuscript.
Be sure to write happily ever after, after studiously reading this!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yoda's wisdom

On a day like today when it is gray and summer has not come to the Pacific Northwet yet, I attempt to find some words of wisdom to get me off my butt to write or draw. 
Today's find might work:

“Do or do not... there is no try.” -Yoda

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weaving my website..

I finally, finally got my first few website pages up. Doing html and cascading style sheets is much harder than it looks. Dreamweaver is great but there is all is code stuff that is very unforgiving, only one capital letter in a file name can cause something not to load. Yikes. And don't get me started on "AP div tags."

I wish they would make a web program where an illustrator
can just use a stylus pen and draw what they want and presto, you have a website. It could be called "DrawWeaver!"

But I did it and I did it my way with lots of emails back and forth to my web host. I'll be adding more content and more portfolio pictures and debugging (can't I just spray some Raid?)  but if you are curious about my home grown website check out my progress at "" and tell me what you think. Don't worry, I belong to a critique group and am married to an editor...I can take the criticism.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Appreciating Summer...

I just read Arthur A. Levine's new blog at, he's fairly new the blogging world but not to the children's publishing world (he's the American editor of the Harry Potter books). His own picture book is coming out soon, I can't wait to see it.

His long nostalgic blog made me realize that I have slumped in my blogging. There are too many excuses as to why but I am inspired. Arthur's blog is about appreciating summer so I thought about it and decided to share my appreciation with you.

I’m appreciating the anticipation of summer. The deck of our 65 year old cottage sits eighty feet above the Puget Sound near Seattle and it’s been raining and raining and raining. The slugs are conferencing in my garden and every seed we planted has molded.

But when the sun comes out, everything looks new and dressed in a thousand shades of green and I go out on the deck and fill my lungs with warm sea air and my mind with sunny thoughts and I remember that without the rain, you can’t have a rain forest. It might even get up to 60 degrees today – time to put away the fleece vest! Yeah summer!

What do you appreciate about the summer?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cheap Thrills...

My husband and I started calling the small things that delight us "cheap thrills". A blog I read by Kirby Larson mentioning riches beyond imagination. Her blog note made me remember when we would find these "cheap thrills" daily. Then kids and mortgages and life kind of buried the simple ritual of naming the cheap thrill when we saw it.

My favorite riches from the sea are a perfect Moonsnail shell or 'sea china", blue and white pieces of old china plates polished into satin jewels. Some of my cheap thrills include watching cream swirl in fresh coffee, standing in sunshine in the rain with your face to the sun and a rainbow to your back and finding a PURPLE sea star. Of course my favorite is a sleeping kitten in the warm fresh laundry basket.

Today's project during my 'drawing time' will be to draw a few old "cheap thrills". Be sure to treasure yours.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Judging a Book by it's Cover

I recently read a blog controversy about book covers matching the content of the book. I wrote a response and promised to post the cover on my blog.
The cover was for a book about "Leadership and Performance Management in Government" for accountants. The request was for something 'modern' but not too 'edgy'. It was an interesting challenge.
Sometimes it is tough to produce a cover without some knowledge of the content. Umm, I have been known to balance my checkbook by using the ATM and checking the remaining balance.
I read the introduction to the book and the letters back and forth to the client. I did a little research on the client's website  and came up with this cover. I opted to illustrate 'balance', it seems very appropriate for accountants.
(I left the printers marks because I thought you might like to see what it looks like before it gets printed. Click to see a larger size.)
The outside of a book is as important as the inside. It entices the reader to open the book.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I’m all ablog with IDEAS, but...

...apparently I can’t keep up.

My New Year’s Resolutions went out with the tide, flushed away in the things I need to do and want to do. I resolved to eat better not more – 'more' won out at my husband’s birthday party. I resolved to watch my weight…I watched it go up this week. I resolved to communicate with those I have lost connection with…I lost their email addresses. I resolved to finally get my website up. It still sits in all it’s glory…on my computer waiting for a hall pass to the Internet. I vowed to query, I'm still researching.

I resolved to put away my boxes of Christmas stuff before mid-January. (Cedar, my Maine Coon kitten-cat, helped sort them). The boxes are still sitting on the deck in a Pacific Northwest monsoon waiting to be re-deposited in my under house crawl space – currently inhabited by a ghost rat who leaves corporeal evidence of his hauntings.

I vowed to keep up my blog. I didn’t. So much for resolution #6. Tomorrow is another day. Is anyone reading this anyway?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Here's to 2010...

Happy New Year, New Decade, New Month, New Day! Here are some wonderful New Year wishes from writer Neil Gaiman:
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope it’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself."
Neil Gaiman’s website
Ditto from me, I couldn't have said it better!