Friday, July 31, 2015


My last post was in... March?!

My apologies for the lack of blog posts! I don't know what could possibly be taking up all of my time these days.

No really, I have no idea.

ANYway, I am now on Twitter, and I do hope you'll follow me as I am doing a better job at staying active there.

In the meantime, some images to share! Here is the cover for my newest graphic novel, coming out in February 2016! Yippeee!

And here's a sketch from the interior. Hint: trouble is brewing in the cafeteria.

This graphic novel is for younger readers than the audience for ROLLER GIRL, and writing it has been a much different experience. If I had to describe the experience in one word, it would be "fun". If I were given 3 words, they would be "fun, fun, fun". That is why I decided to become an author- my command of the English language.

I hope your summer has been fun, fun, fun as well! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kid Life Drawing

I teach a children's book illustration course at Pacific Northwest College of Art. One of my favorite parts of class is a little thing I like to call Kid Life Drawing. Students have lots of adult life drawing at PNCA, but kids have such different proportions and it can be hard to draw them well. So, every few weeks I ask parent friends of mine if their kids would like to model for our class. In return, each student gives the parent/kid a drawing at the end of the session. Here are a few sketches of mine from this week's class- an awesome 11-year-old named Aria.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Making of ROLLER GIRL

Oh boy oh boy, VERY FEW DAYS REMAINING until the release of ROLLER GIRL! I am preparing for my book release parties as we speak! (hint: a rainbow of frosting). In the meantime, please enjoy a *free* e-book on the making of ROLLER GIRL- you can click on the image to download a pdf file.

And if you're in the Portland area, please come to my party! You know it will involve rainbow frosting, so how can you say no?

Tuesday, March 10th
7 pm
Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing

Saturday, March 14th
2 pm
Green Bean Books

Monday, January 26, 2015

An interview with yours truly

... Me! Betsy Bird, with School Library Journal, interviewed me for her new and awesome web series. We talk roller derby and graphic novels and the comic strip "For Better or For Worse". WHAT ELSE COULD YOU WANT? Thanks for having me, Betsy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ANOTHER star!!!

Holy moly! Another star for ROLLER GIRL! This time from School Library Journal! I am beyond thrilled. One of my favorite lines: "Her clothes shopping 'hell' sequence is spot-on". Ha- I am glad my hatred of clothes shopping translated so clearly. You can read the whole review here. Thank you, SLJ!

A page of early thumbnails from my sketchbook. I am so neat and organized!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A star!

I am so thrilled that Kirkus gave ROLLER GIRL a *starred* review! They said it was "full of charm and moxie." Thanks, Kirkus! You can read the whole review here.

An early, early sketch for the book.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baby steps

As always, you can read all of my derby comics on my website!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My new project

It's going to be a lifetime labor of love...

It's a live person! My little boy- our first- was born a month ago. I will now attempt to figure out how you working parents do it! So far he is healthy and we are very happy- the rest will work itself out, I am sure. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blog tour!

Here I am, participating in my first blog tour! Tour bus not included. I was invited by my pal Abigail Marble, a fellow Portland illustrator. Isn't this illustration of hers charming?

So much warmth and tenderness between the characters. You can see more of her work (and read her responses to the blog tour questions) here!

Alright, let's get down to business. Here are my responses to the bloggy questions:

1. What am I currently working on?

Answer: I am currently "working" here!

Just for the week, though! I'm on the faculty this week of the wonderful OCCBWW conference (Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop). Yes, I'm being forced to spend a week in Oceanside, Oregon with a bunch of amazing people talking about children's books, while I am fed delicious gourmet meals three times a day. It is a rough life.  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am currently working on quite a few projects at once! Several middle grade jackets and interior illustration projects are just waiting for me, and I for them. I love what I do. I can't share any of those images yet, but I CAN share some from my other current project...
This is a (rough! unfinished!) page from my upcoming graphic novel with Henry Holt, coming in 2016. It's the first of a young reader series about a bunch of classroom pets creating meyhem in a school by night. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

We often discuss style in the classes I teach at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and in a recent class I came up with what I think is a very poetic description of "style". Many people worry that they don't have a "style", to which I say, relax. Most people also think that their house doesn't smell funny, but that's probably because they're used to it. Visitors to your home can probably smell your distinctive house odor, even if you can't. (*note to self: clean Sharon's litter box upon return home). Point is, you probably DO have a style, just as you have distinctive handwriting or a particular way of walking- keep drawing and it will become more and more obvious.

I think your style will evolve naturally depending on your interests. I tend to gravitate towards humorous stories, so I guess that's how my art has evolved, too...

3. Why do I write what I write?
I always write about things I care passionately about. The Olympics, for example, or Broadway musicals. Probably the closest correlation to real life is my forthcoming graphic novel, ROLLER GIRL.

It's a subject I care about deeply and I wanted to channel my love for roller derby into my other love, writing & illustrating. It was so fun drawing on my past experiences with the sport and translating them into a work of fiction. I'm so excited for the book's release (March 2015!!!)

Me in my glory days.

4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
My graphic novels and my picture books both start off the same way: sketches. Lots and lots of sketches.

I like to work on loose sheets of printer paper because sketchbooks make me nervous. With loose paper I'm free to screw up without worrying about crummy drawings being stuck permanently in a book.

This is how I get to know my characters and start to think about their story. Basically I'm just doodling and thinking up funny situations for my characters to get into. After a while, plot points start to emerge and I begin to weave together various scenes into a cohesive story. I go back and forth between typing a Word document manuscript and scribbling tiny little indecipherable thumbnail sketches.

Once I have a general sense of the story arc, I do a set of more detailed sketches:

Still on loose paper. At this stage I then scan my sketches and add text to send to my editor for her input. Once I've received her feedback and I've sent in revised sketches, it's on to final art! This page, for example, needed a few added panels.

I've graduated from junky paper now, to nice smmmmoooooth Bristol board. I use a brush pen along with some smaller pens for detail work.

 The next step is adding color to the ink drawings. In Photoshop I add placeholder colors (also called "flatting"). The colors are close to the final, but not exactly. The final step is adding lighting, shadow, mysterious creepy effects-- and of course, word balloons. I'm not there yet with this book, so you'll just have to take my word for it!

5. Who are the two author/illustrators that you are passing the interview to?

Airlie Anderson is a dear friend of mine from art school. She's the author/illustrator of MOMO & SNAP ARE NOT FRIENDS, terrific illustrator, and all-around great gal. She's been an early set of eyes on many of my projects and I'm very thankful.

Deborah Hocking is a Portland illustrator. I just love her work! We share the same agency- go Team Rodeen! We've been meeting with small group of illustrators recently and that support has been very helpful with my recent projects.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First rodents, now chickens

Here's a little somethin' somethin' I did for a buddy recently. It's Portland- chickens are required.

kid portrait