Info

Writer | Illustrator

Posts from the Blogged! 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!

It’s that time of the year to reflect on the months before and set goals for the months ahead.

First, some highlights from 2015 . . . 

My goal for 2015 was to internalize R=R+, a Top 20 Training concept that says you can be right about something while also recognizing there’s more you don’t know. I resolved to listen with the desire to understand, to embrace feedback, and to relish opportunities for growth. I made strides toward these resolutions.

  • At my day job, we relearned aspects of our roles in order to be more productive and effective. This required us to toss out processes we’d grown accustomed to and shift our attention to areas where we could make the biggest difference for customers and sales. This mindset has already affected how I determine where to spend my time and energy.
  • With regard to my writing and illustrating, Rebecca’s mentoring has shown me there’s much to learn about crafting a satisfying, marketable book and building a meaningful, enduring publishing career. Rebecca persuaded me of the value of outlining, made me confront my crutches and weaknesses, and gave me tools to attain real, noticeable growth.
  • As for my personal relationships, I still have work to do. It can be challenging for me to see people as they are. While I’m comfortable admitting when I’m wrong, I rarely adjust how I approach these relationships moving forward. This year, I will strive to be kinder and more accepting of others, especially when they’re trying to change for the better.

My goal for 2016 is to be more purposeful with my time and my goals. I intend to accomplish this through the following ways:

  • Bullet Journaling: At the end of 2015, I looked back and couldn’t account for a great deal of my personal time. Rebecca recommended I try the Bullet Journal. I hope it will make me more productive and also help me keep an eye on my goals.
  • Dedicated Think Time: I will set aside one hour each week to spend with my thoughts. It’s time to get serious about a long-term plan that takes into account the next few projects I want to work on as well as the kind of career I want for myself.
  • Krav Maga: While being healthy should be its own goal, this hasn’t proved enough for me to stick with a routine. Last night, Aaron and I signed up for Krav Maga at Warriors Academy KC. Krav Maga will teach me self-defense and help Aaron write more believable fight scenes. Along the way, we hope to also get stronger, more flexible, and healthier together.

Happy 2016, friends! Here’s to a productive and creative year with fond memories, happy surprises, and stacks upon stacks of good books.

Priscilla

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.