Thursday, September 17, 2015

Inspirational Cheerleader Russ Cox and a Prize!

I thought at this time you might need an inspirational post. Who better to give that inspirational pep talk than Russ Cox? I originally wanted Russ to come on my blog because he has a wonderfully funny and whimsical style. What I didn't know is that he was going to put his very soul into his post. On those days you get frustrated with your Writing or Illustration I want you to come back and read this post.

Win a prize from Renee Krulla! Details are at the bottom of this post

Heart and Soul

I thought a long time on what to write for the picture dummy challenge. Since you will have a ton of excellent “how-to-do’s” and “step-by-step” tutorials, many of which are so good, why reinvent the pencil. Oh wait, they did. It is called a computer. Well, you know what I meant. For my article, I figured I would play the role of cheerleader.

As you begin this challenge, or are neck deep into writing and/or the sketching phase, it is really easy to loose focus. Often you will hit a wall and become discouraged. Especially as you see friends and colleagues move forward, with amazing stories and illustrations. The “I can’t do this” or “I suck! Why should I continue?” gremlins will start to whisper into your ear. Ignore them, but also use them as motivation. You can do it. Prove them wrong. What do they know anyway? You’ve come this far. The first step was the drive to create a book for children. The next one, signing up for this challenge. Those are big steps. Some folks talk about doing this, but they never do. It is easy to talk about it, but extremely hard to begin the process. We all know that writing and illustrating a picture book is probably the hardest book to create. The words and pictures must do this serendipitous dance together. Not an easy task.

Let your voice find its way to the surface. Be natural with your story. Do not get caught up in what has been done, appease this group or that group, or copy another style that is not you. Stay true to who you are. Giving in to those temptations will only lead you astray, off course, and in the end, it is no longer your story that you wanted to tell. Yes, it good to get feedback from others, but do not over do it. Find a few trusted individuals whose opinions you value. Writing and illustrating by committee is not the way to keep your voice. In the end, you are just one small voice in choir of opinions and will no longer see yourself in the book.

There are going to hiccups through this journey. I still have them with every book. Lots of self doubt creeps in. Nothing is good enough. “This is it! The end of my career because I don’t have any new ideas.” “Ugh, my work just stinks. Why would anyone buy this book?” Yes, every one of us has these thoughts too, including well known published authors and illustrators. Again, it those nasty little gremlins that keep whispering, sometimes shouting, into our ears and bouncing around brains. But you know, it never reaches our hearts. Because in our hearts, and deep into our souls, the love for creating a children’s book outshines those aggravating little gremlins. When a child picks up your book, opens it, and begins to read, the long, sometimes painful, journey is the true reward.

So I urge, beg, plead each of you, when you are stuck, do not stop. Do not give up. Break on through to the other side (thanks Jim).


Follow Russ:

Books (Here are just a few):
Faraway Friends
Freddy the Frogcaster
Mikey the Manufacturer




Renee Krulla has donated many books for this competition. Today I'm going to announce 2 copies of Zebrafish! The hard cover version is going to someone who completes the challenge and the other copy is going to go to a hard working entrant. Please comment below if you'd like a copy of this book please comment below!*

*Since Rene is donating so many prize packs she is only able to deliver to the US. 


  1. Thanks for the much needed motivational pep talk! :)

  2. Thank you, Russ, for the encouragement. Seeing the quality of your illustrations did discourage me a little, but also it reminded me that this is a growing process and it takes time to reach that level :)

  3. And thank you Renee for donating books.

  4. Thanks for your encouraging words Russ! You have such fun illustrations too :) I would love to win a book from Renee Kurilla, I've always been drawn by her beautiful style.

  5. Just loving this post so much! This is a wonderful post for anyone having doubts at this point in the event. Also it's fantastic for any challenge we as Writers and Illustrators must face in their career. Thank you so much for this post, Russ. Thank you for sharing a piece of your soul with us.

  6. Thanks for the motivational words, Russ. Really needed to hear it at this point of the process. Your work has a fun, light touch without sacrificing detail or imagination.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement. And a reminder ont to compare ourselves to others.

  8. Thanks for this fun post. And yes, I'm learning my 'voice'. Very important.

  9. I feel like this was the most up and down month thinking "i can do this!" "I can't do this" sometimes within 10 minutes of each other so this was a great post to get going with :)

  10. I would love to cartoon! Great art!

  11. I loved the posts. I was able to complete my PB dummy before deadline and am very happy with it. I still need to scan the sketched images into the pc and continue working on the dummy, so we'll see if I can stay motivated now that there is no deadline to keep me going. Ugh.

  12. Thank you so much, it is wonderful comfort to know that I am not alone...