Saturday, May 31, 2014

Interview With Quinn Cole

Linda Williams is a formidable writer. Using her knowledge as a Scientist in Microbiology she has written a large amount of Non-Fiction books (over 20 to date) which is enough bragging rights for any good author. As Quinn Cole Linda is now finding a new voice in Children's Literature. Her newest book: Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z was published last year and is available on Amazon!

Linda Williams' blog is filled with the history of science, exiting leaps in technology and fun facts. As Quinn Cole she writes about picture book reviews, writing tips/inspiration, and lots of other fun topics. I'm not sure how she does it all, but I'm sure you'll agree that this woman is amazing!

Dani: What were your favorite picture books when you were a kid?

Quinn: My favorite books were: Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel both by Virginia Lee Burton.

My favorite picture books as a writer are Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. I also love Margie Palatini’s books.

Dani: Do you prefer Spring or Autumn?

Quinn: Winter is my favorite (love snow), but Spring is next since I’m big on flower gardening.

Dani: What was your background before writing and how has it helped you in your writing?

Quinn: For my science writing as Linda Williams, here’s the scoop:

When I was in the 5th grade, I saw a health film on open heart surgery. It was fascinating! I went home and told my parents I wanted to be a heart doctor. I studied hard and upon high school graduation enrolled in a pre-medical program of study at the University of Nevada. It was tough but I did pretty well. One day, I went to my first microbiology lab and looked through a microscope for the first time. I discovered an unseen world! I switched majors and graduated with a B.S. in microbiology. My first job was doing research at NASA - Johnson Space Center. So cool! I did a ton of science writing for my job and answered an online call for science writers from McGraw Hill. They asked for sample chapters and the rest is history.

For my children’s fiction writing as Quinn Cole:
The daughter of a career librarian, I was in the library from the time I could walk. I lived on a farm with no close neighbors and my brother was 5 years younger. A huge gap when we were small. I built castles from weeds and had grand adventures with the dog, chickens, horses, cows, and even the local muskrat.

I started writing children’s stories and sending them out after the birth of my second child. I received several super nice and encouraging, hand-written rejections. So, I took a children’s writing class at Rice University. I got better and eventually had 2 more children. (Lots of story ideas from the children’s antics) Writing time became very scarce with my NASA day job and home commitments, but I never forgot my love for writing children’s fiction.

Dani: I know you had a successful career in Microbiology and writing science books which is great, but what made you decide to write picture books?
Quinn: I attended an SCBWI conference in Houston and asked one of the editors on the faculty if she thought I should keep writing fiction, which I dearly loved (even with the rejections) or just give up and focus on science writing (which I could do in my sleep). Here is her advice, “Do the science writing until you have a few books under your belt and then go back to writing picture books. You’ll have a professional track record and editors will notice.”

I took her advice and over 20 books later, I returned to children’s fiction. Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z was a hybrid book that spanned science/medicine and children’s fiction. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m having a blast sharing it with children, parents and teachers at schools, children’s museums, children’s hospitals, and at author events. I was also thrilled that AP was selected as a Picture Books, Early Reader (Children’s) finalist in the 2013 ForeWord Reviews Book Awards.

Dani: Have you ever had a monster puke the alphabet on you?

Quinn: My four monsters had that privilege over the years. In fact, my oldest daughter who just became a mother herself suggested the title originally.

Dani: What, in your opinion, is the best thing you have ever written?
Quinn: Wow. That’s a tough question. I was really pleased with Earth Sciences Demystified because my father was an amateur geologist and rock hound. I dedicated that book to him.

Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z has provided me the chance to connect with young children and picture books in a big way. I’m very visual and really enjoyed creating an Alphabet Puke book trailer for YouTube. Choosing the lively music and pulling it all together was a great adventure. I love watching the littlest kids dance to it.

Dani: Where do you go now from here?

Quinn: I will continue to write both fiction and non-fiction for children as the inspiration strikes me. In fact, I just submitted a proposal for a new science and technology series for grades 3-6. It’s the first time I’ve suggested a series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I have a couple of picture books out to editors. I am looking forward to hearing back about those. Since I maintain fiction (Quinn Cole) and non-fiction (Linda Williams) social media pages (i.e., Twitter, FB, Pinterest), I’m endlessly busy (usually trying to remember which password goes to which site). I’d like to figure out how to create a combined author website for both, but since the readerships seem to be vastly different, I keep them separate.

Quinn: Here are links for anyone who wants to stop and say hello or share their thoughts about the latest post. I love to hear from folks.

I must confess, my favorite social media website is Pinterest. I use it as a visual file cabinet with boards for inspiration, humor, illustrations, science cartoons, science education, NASA news, story starters, art, architecture & design, steampunk, and robots. SOO FUN!!

Quinn Cole – blog, FB, Facebook author page, Blue Robot books, Pinterest- Picbooksrock, fiction website, Twitter

Linda Williams – williams-science blog, FB, Pinterest, Twitter, (science website is being updated)

If anyone wants to chat in person, I will be at the Terry Library in Little Rock, AR at 10:00 a.m. on June 18, 2014 to read Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z and talk about children’s fiction and health as part of the library’s summer reading program. I would love to meet you!

Or if travel this fall brings you to Jonesboro, Arkansas, I will be hosting a Science cafĂ© event on October 6th as part of the Arkansas Science Festival. Watch for a Facebook “heads up” as it gets closer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's Up Wednesday!

I can't believe May is almost over! The one year aniversary of Doodle Day May is quickly coming to an end: and for more info. I still have a few more doodles to post and I will be posting some of those soon. I will likely continue doodling after this, but I won't be posting every doodle here. A big problem with posting my doodles is that somewhere in the digital world something is out to get my illustrations and when I post them here they are so very dark. The last ones I posted were my fault because I posted directly from my camera, but even after scanning and editing in Photoshop my posts are ending up too dark. 

I will however, be drawing fairy creatures for anyone who wants one drawn. The requester of these fairies can be used as avatar, displayed on your blog/webpage or other reasonable digital uses as long as I'm given credit for the work. You will also be the first one able to purchase the original drawing when it's finished, but by no means required to buy! 

What I'm Reading
Brown Bear, Brown Bear over and over and over and....

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

I'm still working on the dummy for my picture book. I finished two more drawings so I have 3-3.5 spreads left for the dummy. These drawings will need work before sending them off, but I'm excited that they are getting done!

Every Day Possible
-  Picture Book Dummy work

Wed 05/28
- What's Up Wednesday Post DONE!
- Visiting my friend and her new baby!

Thursday 05/29
- Expecting another day full of "What's That?"

Friday 05/30
- Working On Dummy
- Interview with Quinn Cole!

Saturday 05/31
- Illustrator's Meeting in North Vancouver (Excited!)

Sunday 06/01
- Hopefully wrapping up my dummy!

Write down some interview questions

Monday 06/02
- I think I'm going to skip this day.

Tuesday 06/03

- Dancing toddler!

Wednesday 05/28

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now
- The idea of going to a place (SCBWI Canada West Illustrator's Meeting) and drawing!

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
He helped himself to chocolate... someone save me.

I think I deserve a gold star for all the things!

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

I Want to Draw You a Fairy!

May is quickly coming to an end. I have really loved doodling these last few weeks with Doodle Day. I don't want it to end (and I'm hoping it wont). I probably won't be sharing all of my doodles after the end of May, but I will likely be sharing my best doodles. 

Starting in June I want to start drawing more fairy creatures. I do want to say that I didn't draw a lot of fairies when I was young, so I may as well make up for it now! If there is a fairy you would like me to draw for you please let me know! This is a free thing, but please note that I won't be sending the results to you in the mail (unless you wish to purchase the drawing). These fairies will mostly be doodles, and may or may not be used in other illustrations.

Backgrounds will completely depend on how much time I have. Fire, ice, musical ect fairies can be requested. Don't like fairies? You are welcomed to ask me to draw any fairy creature from nyiads and dryads to mermaids and elves. Any requests given are requests and will be done as I can. I will not do a likeness of any person in these drawings (unless a commission is requested). I will put the person's name on my blog that requested said fairy drawing. Sound like fun? Send me your requests!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Still Doodling!

I've done a few more doodles I wanted to share! These were fairly quick drawings that I did today. I'm especially fond of Princess Peach. If you'll remember these are all nature themes for Doodle Day. I like to cheat, though.

Weeping Willow


Rosemary and Lemon

Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview with Lucy Elliott

Lucy Elliott
With me today on my blog is Writer and Illustrator Lucy Elliott. Lucy's book Frank the Gentle Viking can be bought here. This book won an Aviva Gittle Award in 2013! Lucy's images range from enchanting to downright funny!

Lucy's blog is filled with book reviews, doodles, illustrations and musings. She has a lot of great and fun illustrations to view and she posts often. Some of her illustrations here are hilarious! I was laughing while going through her old posts. I'm sure you'll get a giggle too when viewing her blog! I love funny art and I'm sure you'll love Lucy after reading this interview -- that is if you don't already!


Dani: Where do you get the ideas for your drawings?

Lucy: My ideas for drawings come from all over: dreams, conversations with my husband, things I see in the world that strike me as odd, or that could be odd if I just tweaked them a bit. Puns and wordplay inspire me as well.

Dani: Chocolate, Vanilla or Butterscotch?

Lucy: Chocolate. Hands down.

Dani: How did you get started in Illustration?

Lucy: I've been drawing as long as I can remember, and illustrating children's books was sort of a romanticized career my mother encouraged me to pursue. I think an artist-sized paycheck didn't occur to her when I was seven and by college it was too late to persuade me otherwise.

Dani: Please tell us a bit about your book Frank the Gentle Viking.

Lucy: Frank the Gentle Viking is the story of a little Viking having trouble finding his place in the Viking world. He is surrounded by brothers who overshadow him with their rough warrior ways, while Frank is more of a gentle soul. But it takes all kinds to make a Viking world, and Frank has a chance to show his own talents when a dragon comes to town.

Dani: What is your ideal illustration job?

Lucy: My ideal illustration job...well, when I'm working for myself I'm definitely working for my favorite client, but the pay is lousy! Honestly, I think having a chance to contribute to concept development for a feature film with Laika or Dreamworks would be an incredible experience, even if I was just an intern, because I'd be surrounded by so many other amazing artists and have such an opportunity to learn.

Illustration from Frank the Gentle Viking

Dani: If you got to redo any picture book with your illustrations which book would it be?

Lucy: Oy...probably the first freelance job I had right out of school. I had no idea what I was doing on any level and I feel like it showed. There was a lot of pressure on me at the time, because that job not only came with a paycheck, but my final graduation credit! I think my style has matured since then and I'm much more confident about my work. But still, I don't know that I'd be enthused about re-doing it. With art, I think it's generally best to learn from mistakes, then put the past behind you, unless you have something to really prove by a redo. I reworked Frank from scratch because I knew it wasn't what I saw in my head, and it was totally worth it. I guess it's all about how much you believe in a project.

Dani: If you could do anything what would you be doing in 5 years and where would you be living?

Lucy: In 5 years I want to have a publisher/agent excited to carry my work, which I magically have time to do while raising a happy, delightful family right here in Charleston!

Follow Lucy:





Thursday, May 22, 2014

What's Up!

Wednesday has once again slipped through my fingers. Technically, since I haven't slept it's still Wednesday, right? Anyway here's my update post for today!

What I'm Reading
Passed up my chance to read Dan Brown's new book. 

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

After that awful bout I had with the illustrations I was working on I finally gave in and made up with them. They are now sparkly finished and up on my blog and portfolio websites. It is my professional opinion that they look pretty spiffy.

Today I've moved on to bigger and better things. At least bigger things. I'm once again working on a dummy for this book I've been creating. I'm now down to the last four spreads (8 illustrations) of the book. Technically the pages I've redrawn aren't finished and ready for a dummy, but they are fairly close to what I'll be submitting to editors/agents soon. I'm glad to be almost done with this, because my brain shut down promptly at 6pm today. I'm hoping it will start itself again soon. 

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 05/21
- Finishing Illustrations

Thursday 05/22
- I'm just hoping I have enough coffee in the house for tomorrow's insanity.

Friday 05/23
- Interview with Lucy Elliot
- Work on dummy
- Go to Kid's Festival today?

Saturday 05/24
- Working a bit more on my dummy!

Sunday 05/25
- More artwork. 

Write down some interview questions

Monday 05/26
- I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...

Tuesday 05/27

- David's dance class and other insanity.

Wednesday 05/28

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

The sounds of the refrigerator running. No I didn't just type the first thing that came to my head. "What is wrong with that stupid cat?" didn't seem appropriate so I went with the second.

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
He's "helping" with everything!

I came, I saw, I slept (in theory).

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Doodles of This Week

I haven't been very good at posting my doodles here this past week. So, here they all -- all at once. Many of them are 2-10 minute drawings. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Illustrations!

I have been working on these illustrations for some time now. The first one you see has been in my portfolio for a while. It wasn't working for me, and I wanted to add more emotion into the piece. I redrew everything, and now am able to show what I came up with! One of the things that I've been missing from my portfolio is a series of illustrations and I finally have that now. 

 For those of you who don't know a "series" in illustration or art is three or more paintings that relate to each other. In picture book illustration (and many other fields) it's very important to show that you can take a character and draw it over and over again in different situations. I've done this before, but mostly in dummy work. I'm happy to have them done and can now move on to bigger and better artwork!

If you are interested in seeing more of my artwork or to contact me about comissions please visit my website:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Interview with Romelle Broas Guittap

Lucky me, I do have an interview for everyone today. Sent an email last night and got an answer this morning. It's no wonder Romelle is published, she is on the ball! (Don't we all wish we could say the same thing about our work... especially those pesky emails?)

I am so happy to have Romelle Broas Guittap on my blog today! Romelle has a wonderful blog that covers great interviews and wonderful information on writing. The blog itself is geared towards those who write kidlit, but has information that is useful for writers of any genre! 

Romelle has her work published in many magazines. Her published children's books are Casey Chameleon (ebook by Flying Books 2012) and Tummy Monster (MeeGenius 2013). She also has two more books coming out: Running Boy and The Case of the Funny Face. Both of these MeeGenius titles will be coming out this fall!

Dani: What was your first big break in writing?

Romelle: I'd have to say my big break was when I completed the Writing for Children's course with the Institute of Children's Literature. That course gave me the skills I needed to get published. It taught me how to write a good story, how to write a query letter, and how to research publishers. Shortly after I received my certificate, I submitted a few of my assignments to magazine publishers and got published right away! I was amazed at what a difference taking this course made.

Dani: Chocolate milk or hot chocolate?

Romelle: Chocolate! What? Choose only one? Then it's chocolate milk because I can pour it right from the box and drink it. The quicker the better.

Dani: Where do you go to be inspired?

Romelle:I use to say my kids are my source of inspiration, but now that they've outgrown my genre, I turn to the library and the bookstore. It's filled with inspiration and ideas. I could spend hours in the picture book section. When I find a book I love or see my friends' books in print, I'm inspired to write.

Dani: Would you suggest that other writers publish in magazines before moving to full length books?

Romelle: That was the advice given to me when I started writing so that's what I did. It gave me something to write when an agent or editor asked to list my credentials. It may get you noticed, but I don't think it matters much. Great writing, passion, determination, patience, and good timing will get you published with or without credentials. If you want to write books, then I recommend finding the genre you enjoy reading and writing. If it's picture books, then immerse yourself in it and study the craft of writing picture books. Writing for magazines is so different than writing for picture books.

Dani: How did you go from being a Dental Hygienist to being a Writer?

Romelle: I think there was always a writer in me. It wasn't until I left my job as a dental hygienist to go on maternity leave that I developed a passion for picture books. With barely enough energy to lift up a book, I’d lay down with my son, close my eyes, and make up a story for him. I enjoyed creating stories in my head and told myself that I should be writing it down instead. At that moment, I rediscovered my passion for writing. It was then that I decided I wanted to write for children. I am still practicing as a dental hygienist. I am fortunate that I can continue to do what I enjoy most- providing optimal dental health for my patients and writing wonderful stories for children.

Dani: I love the sample of your book "Tummy Monster". What's the story behind this book?

Romelle: It was two years ago when I participated in the Picture Book Marathon with Jean Reagan and Lora Koehler. I was sitting at my desk scribbling in my notebook trying to come up with a story to write when my tummy monster growled. He would not leave me alone. So, I did what I had to do--I wrote about him.

Dani: I know you have a few books coming out soon, please tell us about them!

Romelle: Running Boy is one of the first stories I wrote when I decided to write for children, which was in 2008. I am an avid runner so the long runs provide me with ample time to create stories in my head. This led me to write a book about a boy who enjoys running. In this story, the question that everyone is asking is, "Running Boy, why are you running?" As you read along you will experience the feel, the sights, the sounds, and the smells that Running Boy experiences on his run to find the answer to the question everyone is asking. I am excited that this will finally be published by MeeGenius by the Fall of 2014.

My other book, The Case of the Funny Face, will be published in the Fall of 2014 as well. I entered this story in a contest held by Sleepytown Press back in 2012. I won the New Voice award and as part of my prize, Sleepytown is publishing my book. The Case of the Funny Face is another one of my earlier stories so it is nice to see this in print.



What's Up Today -- If it is Really Today

I don't know what I have against Wednesdays now. My reason for not posting was that I was working on my artwork so I can't feel too badly about that. I do feel bad for those people who read my blog and then are like, "What is wrong with this woman? Why can't she make a simple post?" The answer is: So many thing are wrong with this woman. Still trying to balance the toddler/work situation. The good thing is that once I'm making enough money that I can get regular daycare then I can post more often. Me working makes me feel less bad, because it's one step closer to achieving my goals.   

What I'm Reading
If only I could read with my eyes closed... then I'd be reading so much right now. That is if I could ever get any sleep. 

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

Wednesday I decided it was time to finish these three illustrations I've been working on for a while. Two of them are finished and the third is being an evil piece of paper. The problem is the technique I'm using over the painting as a finishing touch and doing said finishing touch late at night. It's basically colours painted over the illustration so it adds to the underwater look and adds depth to the picture. 

That third painting was making me angry. It didn't look right to me while I was working last night. I was worried at first that it look like I mistakenly put colours on my painting. Then I was worried that it was looking over worked. I spent about an hour trying to fix it (and I do think it can be fixed), but was too exhausted to come up with a reasonable solution. At this point all my solutions contained expletives, encouraged destruction and were really not getting me anywhere. I decided to throw all the paintings into a drawer angrily (but carefully) and will look at them again tomorrow. 

So I'm going to get art tippy on everyone here. If you make a mistake on a painting and it's not easily fixed, then trow it (angrily) into a drawer or onto a shelf and come back to it later. It's usually the best thing to do! I have ruined many paintings by working on something when I should have stopped. With watercolours you can end up pulling up too much of the paper and ruining it and sometimes waiting until the painting is dry will save you from that problem. Resist the urge to destroy your work! You may be able to do something else with it later, or it could end up not looking as bad as you thought once you've not thought about it for a few days.

I didn't get a chance to work on many doodles this week. Those that I had, I've already shown you. I'm going to see if I can find time tomorrow to do a few. I have an idea of something I want to do, but I won't announce it today. Too much other things on this page!

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 05/14
- Finishing Illustrations

Thursday 05/15
- They were insane... don't ask

Friday 05/16
- Interview postponed? I forgot to ask my lovely interviewees for photos, so I may not be able to post this week. We'll see!
- Finish illustrations, Work on picture book, other projects too!

Saturday 05/17
- Celebrating Father In Law's Birthday!
- Sitting in on an art class (carried over from last week).
- Working a bit more on my dummy!

Sunday 05/18
- More artwork. 

Write down some interview questions

Monday 05/19
- My name is Dani... I think.

Tuesday 05/20

- David's dance class starts today!

Wednesday 05/21

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

Fresh air and being able to leave my front door open.

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
Little David is sick with a cold. Send Tissues!

Worked out at 11pm tonight (haven't done anything in a couple of days). Peter joined me, sort of. He did some of the exercises, but mostly was just being silly. He passed out on the floor while I showered. He's ridiculous! 

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

Some Quick Doodles

These doodles only took me a couple of minutes to do. I'm a bit behind with these so I have a couple more I want to get done today. I'll post them if I finish!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Interview With Jacque Duffy

Meet Jacque Duffy! She is a Writer, Illustrator and Fine Artist. She will soon be putting on an art exhibition called "Hindsight". She is working on a non-fiction book about Mother Nature's fury and on a crime novel.

Jacque's newest book "The Bear Said Please" was released on April first of this year. She has written and Illustrated many children's books including, "That's Not a House!", "That's Not a Milk Carton!", 'That's Not a Balloon!", That's Not a Raincoat!" and That's Not a Moo Cow!" The first four of which were created to help promote rural life in the cities.

Jacque gives a detailed look into her life as a picture book writer/illustrator on her website and with us as well! I'm sure you'll love her whimsical illustrations and fantastic Fine Art works. Read on to hear more about Jacque!


Dani: How do you approach your Fine Art differently than your illustration?

Jacque: This is a kind of tricky question. I work in all art mediums (including etching) and my artwork ranges from photorealism to complete abstraction, therefore even my approach to various fine art works vary as each medium or subject requires. (For your question I will answer for my current love of semi-abstract urban landscape canvases.) Both my fine art pieces and my illustration works are creative, they come from the same place in my heart (and head). Being very busy, both have to be allocated time; so unless I have a spurt of “I must do this NOW, quick, run and get the brushes out”, I make a conscience decision of what requires my time. I work best when under threat of a close deadline, or violence, so, even though I say I allocate time, I am still working quite spontaneously. The one BIG difference is, I stand up and dance whilst I paint on canvases, and I sit or lounge when illustrating, often with my eyes closed while I am trying to visualize the image.

Dani: Do you have any art tips that you would like to share with us?

Jacque: The white page or canvas can often be discouraging. I am known for making a mark or doing an upside down scribble before I start a canvas, this to loosen up and just to get rid of the white. Sometimes I will spill paint on purpose too (I wear a lot).

Dani: What do you do when you have writer's/artist's block?

Jacque: I vacuum. That is a no fail way to come up with an idea. I loathe cleaning and am naturally very messy, vacuuming puts me into a mood so I talk to myself; eventually I come up with a crazy idea or two.

Dani: How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Jacque: I breathe, I have ideas. I have so many ideas (not all good) that I will have to clone myself 100 times and each of us will have to live indefinitely to be able to see all of my ideas into fruition (look, another idea for a story). I have dreams of being an inventor, explorer, and archeologist, architect, my list goes on but you get the idea (look, another story idea). I guess I am interested in so many things I “see” stories everywhere.

Dani: Which of your books is your favourite?

Jacque: Each has been my favorite as I worked on it, but can I say “Anzac” even though I haven’t finished illustrating it yet and I don’t have a contract for it? I am in love with the main character and what happens to him. It is the story of a little goat; he is a prize in a Two-Up game. All he wants is to be loved by his new family, he tries various ways to win them over with no success until a butcher arrives and takes a fancy to him. It is one of those stories that has been with me a long time and has become part of me. I am considering self-publishing this one as I know I could do a fair job of it. The agents that have seen it have all loved it but it “wasn’t for them as it is so Australian”. Also time wise I think I should do it myself, next April 25th (2015) is the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps – day of commemoration for the fallen). It is probably Australia’s most important national occasion, everything stops, nothing is open, but the streets are filled with people watching the dawn service, the march of old Diggers (soldiers) servicemen and women, and school children wearing red poppies or the medals of past family members who fought for the country. Afterwards the crowds fill the local RSL halls and play Two-Up, share stories and drink beer.

Dani: I've heard you've had a lot of success with your books in schools and libraries, could you please tell us more about this?

Jacque: My first leap into writing was to write a ‘learn to read’ style book for my nephews who live far away in a city. It was to show them how their cousins (my children) live so differently to them surrounded by farms and machinery that work day and night. Not long after I wrote that, the Australian Government was making policy changes that were affecting many local farmers and many protests were held, farmers were losing their farms. I wanted to help, I knew that to engage the interest of city people protests were not the way. I thought if, as an x-city person, I put my money and effort where mouth was in aid of the farmers it might attract attention. I wrote and illustrated a ‘learn to read’ book for each kind of farm affected and self-published them donating the money raised to the farmers fighting fund. The government somehow saw these books (5 in total) and bought thousands of them to put into schools and libraries. They were evaluated by the Education Library Services and (phew) accepted. I have since discovered they are even used within Australia’s various university Education Faculties. Last year I was contacted by the Education Dept and asked if they could digitize my books so disabled children could access them, what an honour, I was so pleased. Then late last year I was approached by two professors who were creating the new National Curriculum and asked if I had anything new they could see. I put them in touch with the publisher of my latest picture book “The Bear Said Please” it is now part of a lesson plan for the National Curriculum. It sits alongside books by Jane Yolen, Mem Fox, Roald Dahl, Jackie French, Emily Gravatt and lots of other incredible authors and illustrators. I can’t believe it, I am still pinching myself.

Dani: Do you have any new book ideas that you're working on?

Jacque: As I said before I have a problem with ideas. What I need to do is finish things. Last year being part of 12 x 12 was the BEST thing I could have done for myself. I learned so much about writing picture books (who knew it could be so complicated - like an intricately woven doily on Granny’s sideboard) and the monthly check-ins kept me producing.

PiBoIdMo made me organize my ideas pile (mountain) a little better, I now have a dedicated handmade book that I add to daily. The best thing about joining 12 x12 I managed to polish many stories thanks to the critiques from those people (like you) that I have become friends with, you guys are without doubt the most generous, trustworthy, and … I could go on here. So far this year I haven’t spent as much time with my 12 x 12 buddies and I miss them terribly but I have been crazy busy with two solo art exhibitions, a city beautification project in a city far away, and the launch and promotion of my latest picture book “The Bear Said please”. There is as much hard work and creativity in promoting a new book as there is in actually producing it. For the moment, I am going to concentrate on “Anzac” as well as continue to write new stories and make more time to visit the forums on 12 x 12.


Friday, May 9, 2014

No Interview?

Today completely got away from me. I have to get up early tomorrow as well so I won't be able to post an interview tonight. I will do my best to get it up tomorrow. Sorry!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's Up.. Today

Usually Wednesdays are my days off from toddlerness to draw and I think this is why I keep forgetting to post Wednesdays! Things went well this week I got a lot done. I also was able to clean my house (somewhat) so that was fun. I also got a babysitter for my son on Monday nights. Hopefully May will continue to be awesome!

What I'm Reading
I forgot to read something this week! x_X

What I'm Writing/Drawing 

Yesterday was a decent day for drawing (it's about time)! I'm working on a dummy for a picture book I'm writing. I've had the dummy pictures for a while (and probably could have submitted it years ago). Now I'm working on changing the style of the drawings and making them more consistent and making them look cleaner. Unfortunately, I have to re-do all the colour images as well. It's okay, because I think I'll end up with a stronger book.

 I'm pretty much done editing the manuscript (at least before an editor/agent gets their hands on this) so at least that much is done. I also have the equivalent of two spreads (12 in all) done for the dummy. I have about 4-5 drawings for each spread already done. Some of it I can just copy over, and other things I need to change completely. 

I did lots of Doodle Day doodles this week. I'm finally caught up! I want to share this month's doodles with you so I'll be posting them all during the week. Fridays is the only exception. I don't want to take the spotlight off of the people I'm interviewing. If you see a doodle or picture in an interview the picture was taken by or owned by the person I'm interviewing. 

NAPIBOWRIWEE Is a failure for me. I was able to write one story, oh well. I got a lot of other things done. I'll go back and look at all the posts when I have time to sit down and write!

Every Day Possible
-  Portfolio Work

Wed 05/07
- Lots of Picture Book Dummy Work!

Thursday 05/08
- Dealing with insane boys who are hungry but wont eat anything!

Friday 05/09
- Interview today. I believe it's Jacque Duffy. Lucy Eliot and Helena Juhasz are coming up as well!
- Artwork if I get the time!

Saturday 05/10
- Kid's Swap Meet in Cloverdale (Have to get rid of baby things!)
- Sitting in on an art class.

Sunday 05/11
- More artwork. Maybe I can get my dummy done by now... maybe not! 

Write down some interview questions

Monday 05/12
- Recovering from the weekend insanity!

Tuesday 05/13

- Enjoying the outdoors!

Wednesday 05/14

- What's Up Wednesday!

What Inspires Me Right Now

The idea that sleep might be a thing.

What Else I've Been Up To

Toddler Minding 
He's eating me out of house and home!


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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dr. Who & a Doodle

Two Doodles for you today!

Fiesta doodle.

Dr Who. Doodle Day prompt was Rose!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Couple of Doodle Day Doodles!

Here are a couple of drawings I did for Doodle Day. I haven't done the rose for today so I'll have to post that tomorrow. These doodles are maybe 30 minutes worth of work and are just fun sketches. I'm not sure why the second one is showing up so dark on blogger. I think my next drawings may be in ink. 

Day 3 -- Birch Tree

Day 2 -- Lily (Lily Aldrin from How I Met your Mother)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Interview With Yvonne Ventresca

Yvonne Ventresca started out in the technical side of life. She has an MBA in business and worked as computer programmer, a compensation analysis and other technical jobs. She majored in English and computer science in University, but the English part didn't come to play until later in her life.

It's so wonderful that Yvonne has now moved on to the creative side of life. She has written many articles for children. Two nonfiction books (Publishing and a biography of Avril Lavigne) got her started writing longer books. Now with her new fiction book Pandemic there's no telling how far she will soar!

I think writing was always meant to be for her. Even at a young age she created books. Many of us writers start at a place that seems a long way from writing. Those experiences just make us better writers in the end. Join me now for an interview with the wonderful Yvonne Ventresca!

Dani: How long was your writing journey before you first got published?

Yvonne: My first nonfiction book, Publishing (Careers for the 21st Century) came out in 2005, followed by Avril Lavigne (People in the News) in 2007, both by Lucent Books. I found it much harder to sell young adult fiction and Pandemic (just published by Sky Pony Press!) was my fourth attempt at a novel. I guess I’ll never qualify as an overnight success!

Dani: What is your favorite animal and why?

Yvonne: I love dogs, especially the smaller breeds. I have two, Rocky and Luna, who keep me company while I write. They’re a little yappy but very loving. I can leave for a short errand, like to mail packages at the post office, and when I return home they are overjoyed to see me.

Dani: How challenging is blogging when you are writing a book?

Yvonne: I just completed the April A to Z Blogging Challenge (there’s a Pinterest collection of my posts at, and that was tough. Normally, I blog ( twice a week to keep it manageable. On Tuesdays, I provide resources for teen writers, and on Friday, I create a roundup (“Friday Five”) for writers of all ages.

Dani: Now that you've written both, which do you prefer Non-Fiction or Fiction books?

Yvonne: I enjoyed writing the factual nonfiction books, but I really love fiction because I get to make up my own version of the facts. Fiction, to me, is more creatively satisfying.

Dani: Did your writing habits change moving from Non-Fiction to Fiction?

Yvonne: The nonfiction required thorough research and I was definitely able to use those skills in writing Pandemic. While writing the novel, I read several books on both historical and emerging diseases. For example, although the blue flu in Pandemic is a fictional disease, it was modeled after the Spanish Flu of 1918 (like the fact that it primarily affects mostly healthy people, not infants and senior citizens). I also interviewed a local public health official to understand the possible ramifications of a widespread disease on a small town. So my nonfiction training served my debut novel well.

Dani: Tell us about Pandemic, your new book coming out this May!

Yvonne: In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder's sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. After her parents are called away on business, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With her worst fears realized, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

Dani: Do you have anything you are writing right now?

Yvonne: I’m currently working on a YA psychological thriller about a girl who fears she is either being haunted or going insane. I like the idea of creating scary circumstances in our ordinary world.

For more information about Yvonne and Pandemic:





Where to buy the book:



Barnes and Noble