Info

Writer

Posts from the About Me Category

This fall, my brother-in-law, David Mizell, texted with an intriguing proposal:

“Every day for a month, I will draw a character and send it to you. With your help, I’ll make a story for it and then at the end, we can pick one to win it all. Are you in?”

I responded, “Yes, absolutely!”

As promised, every day he would sketch a character and text it to me. I’d reply with some initial thoughts and, together, we’d flesh out a story idea.

For example, here’s Day #13:

unnamed-7 img_0031

img_0032 img_0033
30 days later, we had 30 sketches and 30 starts for stories. We plan to identify our three favorite concepts when we see each other at Christmas.

I invited David to stop by the blog to talk about “Sketch and Text.”

Welcome, David! How did you happen upon this idea?

With the first character, the mouse. I sent Priscilla an illustration I did on a boring Sunday night. Really, she sparked the whole thing because she kept asking me questions about the character and I was like, this is super fun, I want to do this more often. Then it hit me like a can of Pepsi on fire . . . What if I do an illustration every day for a month and send them to Priscilla? So I asked that simple question and the magic began.

David texted this sketch with the caption: “He is just a mouse trying to make something of himself in this big world.” Of course, I had questions! I wanted to know his story.

unnamed-4

What did you enjoy about this creative exercise?

The stories that came out of the pictures. Some days it was hard trying to come up with one, but usually by the end, I could really fall in love with each character. It was just so awesome to see them grow and evolve over a few text messages. Man, I miss doing it really.

What aspect of this exercise did you find most challenging?

Probably on like the 20th day when I saw the characters I had already drawn and I didn’t know where to go from there. I would try to find inspiration and if none came, I just put pencil to paper and hoped for the best.

I didn’t know about you letting the pencil on paper lead you!

Yeah, do you remember the pig? That was one of the times.

unnamed-6

We did cheat on three days, though, and used some old illustrations, but came up with stories for them.

We did. But we also determined the rules in the first place. Even when we worked with what already existed, something new came together. I drew some inspiration myself from a picture book draft I had in a drawer. Your whistling plant sketch sparked that connection for me.

unnamed-5

Not every day is going to be perfect. Some days are busy, but you just got to keep the creative juices flowing.

I think the key for us was doing something creative.

Yeah, and I think it is a good trick if you have writer’s block or illustration block.

Definitely. Which I actually had at the time! Since this exercise, I’ve spent more time with my novel-in-progress and created a new cut paper collage, too.

That’s awesome. It helped me find my love for illustration and inspired me to make all those Thanksgiving and Christmas cards for coworkers and family members and find my style.

Oh, I love your new style. The stark ink and bright watercolors are perfect for the paper you chose. Would you like to share a few of those illustrations here?

unnamedunnamed-3unnamed-1unnamed-2

The musical mermaid is a personal favorite. Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Just do something different and creative that makes you think outside of your box and inspires you to do more. It doesn’t have to be this exercise, it can be anything. All you have to do is start.

img_1178

In December 2014,  Deb and Pete of the Reading Reptile sent an email about “an entirely new place to experience children’s literature.” They put out a call for volunteers, requesting everyone from tearers and seekers to shapers and sewers. I attended Deb’s “Mushroom Making Lesson” on January 15th, an introduction to shaping and paper-macheing. Thus began my journey volunteering for The Rabbit hOle.

Over the next couple of months, I shaped mushrooms at home from newspaper and masking tape. Every other week, I’d come in to paper-mache.

In February 2015, Deb and Pete announced the lease of a temporary home, a start-up space in the Crossroads. Throughout the spring and summer, The Rabbit hOle team was hard at work building out the space, laying plans, and launching their capital campaign.

In September, we toured this temporary space during “Late Night at The Rabbit hOle with Brian Selznick and Lemony Snicket.” What a place!

In January, The Rabbit hOle sent out another call for volunteers. This time, they needed help putting together an Immersive Storybook Gallery based on The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee, a proof of concept for the World’s First ExploraStorium.

Again, volunteers came out to tear paper, shape walls and frames, paper-mache, and paint. Meanwhile, more volunteers started construction on the space at 700 East 16th Street.

The Immersive Gallery opened to the public on April 9th. Today Aaron and I had the privilege and pleasure of taking a guided tour.

It’s been a thrill to watch the The Rabbit hOle come into being.

You can help, too!

Right now The Rabbit hOle is in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign. Every dollar is appreciated and there are all kinds of children’s literature-themed perks to choose from. Once you’ve given, there’s a handy badge you can display on your social media or wherever else you please:

I Contributed

If you live in Kansas City, you can sign up to be notified when they need more volunteers. Word on the street is there will be a new Immersive Gallery debuting August 1st.

Of course, you can also help by simply spreading the word. Follow The Rabbit hOle on Twitter, InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest and share their posts with your friends.

Together, we can make the World’s First ExploraStorium a reality!

A post-Pitch Wars interview with me and my marvelous mentor, Rebecca Petruck, is up on her blog. Swing by for a peek behind the scenes and learn what it’s like to be a mentor and a mentee.

Rebecca is the author of STEERING TOWARD NORMAL (2014) and the forthcoming WILL NOLAN EATS BUGS (Fall 2017). She also teaches a phenomenal Plot Your Novel Workshop in person and online. Rebecca is whip-smart, challenging, hardworking, encouraging, generous, and kind. She’s also funny! I couldn’t have wished for a better mentor.

I will forever be thankful for Rebecca, Brenda Drake, and the rest of the Pitch Wars community for this incredible experience.

I’m back home after an amazing four days at John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort on Sequim (pronounced “skwim”) Bay, Washington. Organized by west-coast agents Mandy Hubbard, Kristin Vincent, and Bree Ogden, Camp D4EO was attended by a dozen writers and Mandy’s New Zealand assistant Claire.

The week was ripe for reflection and professional growth. We wrote outside among the calls of gulls and scent of salty ocean air. We dove into contract clauses, how to work with librarians and booksellers, and spaces for success in domestic and foreign markets. We pow-wowed about current projects and plans for our careers.

We set aside our laptops and explored. We hiked sloping woodland trails and walked marina docks. We fed bread to bison, yaks, reindeer, and elk. We lifted tide-washed rocks and uncovered scuttling crabs. We tasted sea beans fresh-plucked from the shore.

We feasted on chili, burgers, seafood, French pastries, Tim Tams, jícama, and American and Kiwi s’mores. We drank our weight in coffee, wine, beer, and Diet Coke.

And we told stories. About our books and publication journeys, our hometowns and our travels, our first loves and forever loves, our trials and our triumphs.

We became friends.

Thank you Mandy, Kristin, and Bree for bringing us all together for this retreat. Sequim Bay will forever be the setting of this writer’s heart.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.