Getting Ready for a trip to Highlights Foundation with SCBWI Eastern PA

April 20, 2017

It’s a fun and crazy time, getting ready for a long weekend at the Highlights Foundation.  I am looking forward to sharing my art, getting excellent professional feedback, great surroundings, fantastic food, and time with old and new colleagues and friends.  Illustrating and writing can be a lonely experience, well, unless you count your sweet dog who curls up at your feet!  It’s a great time to connect with likeminded souls.  

I continue to learn and grow as an artist, a mom, a friend.  I have come to accept that things will happen when they happen, and the best I can do is to do my best.  I’ll keep my feet pointed in the right direction and try to be ready when opportunity knocks.

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Back in the saddle again!

February 21, 2017

     Here I am, back home after a great SCBWI NY conference.  I come home inspired, and hopeful, and ready to hop back in the saddle, (otherwise known as my chair!) and get painting.  My brain is bursting with ideas and my brush is ready to go!  

     That so much talent can fit into one hotel, is amazing, and intimidating.  Whether the conversation is about writing YA novels, or drawing board books, the theme that resonates  with me is to be authentic, and have heart.  As my mentor once told me, “Feel it.  If you feel it, it will come out in your art, and the view will feel it too.”  I will try, E.B., I will try!

     Congratulations to the portfolio winners, and best wishes to all of my fellow pre-published authors and illustrators.  Keep your feet pointed in the right direction, and be ready with some great stuff when the opportunity arises.  When you get tossed around, like these “cowboys,” remember to “Cowboy Up!” and get back in the saddle for another try.

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SCBWI Mid Winter Conference NY 2017

February 03, 2017

The train ride to New York is not nearly as much fun as this, but I’m so excited to hop on Amtrak to attend the SCBWI Mid Winter Conference.  There is always so much great information, inspiration, and positive energy to absorb.  I plan to come home challenged and inspired.  Fingers crossed that my portfolio will catch the eye of an art director, editor, or agent this year.  I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  It’s going to be a fun ride!Callie practiced real hard

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Picture Book Dummy

November 03, 2016

I recently completed a picture book dummy workshop conducted by Annie Ericsson, through SCBWI Eastern PA.  All I’ve got to say is Wow!  What a treat it was to have her insight and thoughtful critique!  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity, and so excited to have finished with a fun story in dummy form.   It’s an admittedly silly story, with a lot of heart, the I can’t wait to illustrate!  Here’s a little post card teaser!

My critique group was essential in the process too!  I LOVE you all!

Thank you, everyone for helping to move my project along!





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May 24, 2016

penguin flight

Go, take a leap!

I so enjoyed the Highlights Foundation, and the SCBWI retreat.  I left challenged and inspired, and very enthusiastic about the feedback I received on this piece, as well as a story and dummy that I am working on.  The creative crew is so generous, and genuine.  Love being part of you wonderful people!  Goal today: brainstorming and sketching.  Tomorrow is a trip to the Philly zoo!  I wonder if I will catch sight of any flying penguins there….

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Looking forward to a great weekend at Highlights Foundation!

April 27, 2016

I am so excited to dive into the workshops at the Highlights Foundation for the annual SCBWI Eastern PA Poconos retreat.  The faculty for the weekend..Ame Dyckman, Zachariah O’Hora, Meg Medina, Erzsi Deak, Sean McCarthy, Leila Sales, and Lauren Rille.  I hope to get some great feedback on my portfolio and First Pages/First Looks submissions.  There’s always more to learn and room to grow!

This is not my first time at Highlights, and I am looking forward to the yummy nibbles, the beautiful setting, and truly, all of the great people.  Author/illustrators are a pretty nice group of people to hang with on a weekend!  SCBWI folks are always enthusiastic and encouraging, and honest.  We all can use a dose of that, right?

See you on the other side of what looks to be an awesome weekend!


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Who wouldn’t want to mess with that mane?

March 10, 2016


Who wouldn't want to mess with that mane?

Who wouldn’t want to mess with that mane?

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I’m Back…

February 24, 2016

Thrilled to have been able to attend SCBWI NY and see old friends and make new ones.  Also great to meet the people behind the twitter/facebook contacts.  The scbwi community is so generous, and kind.  My racing giraffe Home Stretch made the shortlist for the Bologna gallery, and I am thrilled to be in such good company.

An unexpected contender wins by a neck.

Congratulations to those honored as winners and finalists in this gallery, and wow! I am so impressed by the talent represented here.  Gorgeous work!

I am so proud and excited for my friend, Adrienne Wright, for placing second in the Tomie DePaola contest, and enjoyed meeting Lisa Cinelli, and Anni Matsik.  All of the winners should be proud!  Visit the entire gallery.

I took time on Thursday to visit the Society of Illustrators. So glad I did.   Love that Olivia reigned supreme in the hall of portraits!

IMG_2583 (1)

The conference has left my head spinning with inspiration, information, encouragement, new self expectations, and challenges.  Throughout the weekend, there was talent everywhere, and I gleaned gems of wisdom and awe from each speaker, too many to mention.  The Illustrators Intensive speakers, William Joyce, Sophie Blackall,  Paul O’ Zelinsky, Mike Curato, and James Ransome  (I know, right?  I had to get over my “I’m in the same room with these jaw dropping celebrity rock star artists ” thing to listen) remind me to work hard-very hard, and never give up, but love it too.  I am impacted by a common thread in many of the speakers, and workshops, that what I choose to leave out is as important as what I leave in.  I am remembering the illustrations/illustrators of my childhood, and why I loved them so.  Evaluating what spoke to me, has kindled my desire to evoke a similar response in my own pieces.  Let that joy flow through to the page.  Feel it. (sound familiar, E.B.?)  I am hearing the echoes of my critique group, mentors, self evaluation, and portfolio reviews.  I apologize to those I did not name specifically, I appreciated everyone- the volunteers, panel participants, moderators, faculty, staff, and board members.  I know this all takes a lot of time and is a labor of love.

I am embracing the challenge and ready to push harder, dig deep.  The studio awaits!

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SCBWI Winter Conference 2016

February 05, 2016

Post cards are printed, portfolio prepped, reservations are made.  I’m so excited to once again join the crowd of talented, generous, and enthusiastic children’s publishing professionals and eager pre-published writers and illustrators at this SCBWI winter conference.  There are so many people, so much to take in, that it can be a bit overwhelming.  I almost didn’t attend this year.  It’s a holiday weekend, and my kids are home from school, so I considered skipping it.  But, no.

What draws me back?  It’s the energy.  It’s a kid lit pep rally.  Even the most tentative creatives get caught up in the welcoming crowd of artists and writers that fill the Grand Hyatt, cheering on the value of children’s publishing.  It’s the validation.  It is the, “wow, this is a real profession and this is a place where people take it SERIOUSLY,” feeling.  It is the understanding.  We’ve all been there…where you are… we know.  It is the challenge.  Work hard, don’t give up, keep at it, be persistent, be open to criticism.  Did I say, work hard?  It’s the reminders that there are no guarantees, but you can put your feet in the right direction and arm yourself with knowledge and skills so when you get a chance, you are prepared.  It is the opportunity.  It is the opportunity to exit my creative bubble and meet other artists traveling the path to children’s publishing.  It is the opportunity to view my portfolio with openness and raw comparison to the masses of talent that fill the portfolio showcase.  It is the generosity.  Don’t all of these professionals have better things to do with their time than stand up before a bunch of starry eyed, hopeful  wannabes anxiously gleaning any tips, wisdom, encouragement?  Yes.  But they love this.  They are rock stars.  In general, I have found the professionals in this industry, (at least the ones at SCBWI and RUCCL events)  the editors, art directors, authors, and illustrators, to be exceptionally passionate about their work, and generous with newcomers.  I have encountered patience, kindness, and most importantly, honesty.

Although the winter conference at times feels like a giant pep rally for the children’s publishing industry, it is so much more.  SCBWI is committed to it’s members, and it shows.  I have never left an SCBWI event without a new challenge, a new contact, new insight, positive or negative, about my work, and sometimes a new friend.  I appreciate that I am able to attend the winter conference and look forward to what may come.

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RUCCL 2015

November 06, 2015

This is a little late, but what an amazing day!  I am so grateful to have been part of this fabulous mentor/mentee experience in New Brunswick.  The One-on-One Plus conference is a great opportunity for kid lit wannabes like me!  It is a selection process in which over 100 authors and illustrators are paired with a mentor from children’s publishing.  It is run by generous volunteers that are fueled by their love of creating children’s literature and art.  Check them out and apply for next year if you are looking for a valuable experience and honest critique.

I received excellent feedback, and encouraging words from my mentor, Julie Bliven of Charlesbridge Publishing.  (Thanks, Julie!)  I am looking forward to revising my story, BROKEN BEAUTY, keeping her comments in mind.  Her praise regarding my artwork and page design left me elated and inspired.   I remain excited and interested in complimenting any manuscript with my illustrations, not just my own stories.  So nice to catch up with old friends at this event and make some new ones!


Truly, kid lit folks are generally the nicest people on the planet!

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