Friday, January 31, 2020

Self-Publishing Success

We asked two indie authors from SCBWI-MI to share their success stories. Thanks to Melanie Hooyenga for sharing her experience with contests and to David Stricklen for his experience with professional reviews. Read on for their hard-earned perspectives.

Enter At Your Own Risk
by Melanie Hooyenga

I’ve been writing novels for twelve years, am currently writing my tenth, and have self-published six since 2012—and I’ve learned a lot over the years. One of the hardest things writers face, aside from actually writing the book, is marketing. You could spend every waking hour learning everything there is to know about how to market your book, and before you got to the end of the list, everything will change.

One option that I don’t feel gets enough attention is contests. Like most anything else in the world, not all contests are created equal, and you have to a) do your research, and b) know what you hope to get out of entering.

My first novel, Flicker, had been out for over a year when I heard about the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards. A writer friend encouraged me to enter, so I submitted my book, paid my $99 entry fee, and promptly put it out of my mind—as you do with anything in the publishing industry because it’s soooo slooooowwww.

Imagine my surprise when I learned I’d won the YA/MG category! Winning came with a mention in Writer’s Digest, a review that I could blurb, $100 in writing-craft books, and a $1000 cash prize. All of this was more than I ever expected, and the one part that I felt helped me the most was the blurb. Having Writer’s Digest say that I was good enough boosted my confidence in the decisions I’d made with my writing career.

My marketing efforts for my first series were lackadaisical at best, so when I published the first book in my second series, The Slope Rules, I decided to follow a marketing plan. Aside from boosted posts, blog hops, and creating an ARC group, I researched contests.

I started with contests my friends had won, and came up with six. My criterion:
  • They allowed self-published books 
  • The covers of past winners were well-done and didn’t scream “self-published”
  • The entry fee was under $100
  • All books received a review, regardless if they won
Let me repeat that last one, because that’s the most important thing for me: all books received a review, regardless if they won. There are a lot of services that provide reviews for a fee, but I decided to spend my money on contests that came with a review.

That first year, I won or placed in three of the six contests I entered (hooray!!) so with my next book, I only entered the contests where the previous book had been successful. And I won or placed in those as well! With The Edge Rules, the last book in the series, I only won/placed in two of those three, but I entered several new contests and have won a couple of those. AND, for the first time, I was a finalist in the BookLife Prize, which is the self-publishing arm of Publishers Weekly! I won the YA/MG category and best-selling author Amanda Hocking read and blurbed my book.

When researching contests, it’s important to determine what’s in it for you. Some have awards ceremonies, some give trophies or certificates, others award money or an equivalent, and some feature winners in their publications. Ultimately it comes down to what you want out of the process. Since my number one goal has always been an industry review, that’s what I’ve focused on.

Contests in which I’ve won or placed:
Contests I considered, but passed on mainly because of price:

This article has a good breakdown of contests for self-published, traditionally published, debut, genre-specific, and more:

If you belong to writing organizations, look into their contests—including regional chapters, even if you aren’t a member of those specific groups. I heard about the Orange County RWA contest through the national newsletter. The Slope Rules won a cover contest in Alaska that I entered that because they said all entries would be displayed at their annual convention—which meant the $15 entry fee placed my book in front of hundreds of people who might never have heard of my book. (And I took a chance that readers in Alaska would like a book with snow on the cover.)

I’ve had success entering contests where past books have been well-received, but that hasn’t worked every time. Like everything else in publishing, tastes are subjective and winning is never a guarantee.

Multi-award winning young adult author Melanie Hooyenga writes books about strong girls who learn to navigate life despite its challenges. She first started writing as a teenager and finds she still relates best to that age group. When not at her day job as Communications Director at a local nonprofit, you can find her wrangling her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with her husband Jeremy.

You can see the full list of her books and awards here:

Editor's note: SCBWI provides numerous competitions/awards/grants for members (learn more here) and has not endorsed the contests listed above. Melanie has shared many pros and cons based on her own experience, but as she noted, it's important for every author to do their own research to make the best decisions for their own work. Want to learn more? Here's another post about book awards for self-published authors:

Melanie discussed the importance of book reviews in her experience with contests. Now, here's David Stricklen, SCBWI-MI's Indie Publishing Coordinator, to share his experience with reviews for his popular self-published books.

by David Stricklen 

It is all about validation. If you are an indie published author, it will generally be assumed that you are second best until you prove otherwise. I submitted my newest book, Ripley Robinson and the Worm Charmer, to Kirkus Review at a cost of $425.00. Remember, you are paying for an honest review, you are not paying for a good review. What you get is what you get. You will receive a one page review from a respected professional who will read the entire work. You can only hope there is a positive sentence in there somewhere that can be used in promoting your work in a brochure or slide presentation with the Kirkus name on it.

In this case, I lucked out. Kirkus liked it. I received a personal phone call from them and was told that it was a recommended review. My work had also been chosen (at no additional charge) as one of the reviews to go into the October 2019 issue of Kirkus Review magazine. I received a free copy of the magazine and on page 137 was the entire review with a picture of the cover. Let the book orders flow, right? Wrong, there are hundreds of reviews in the magazine and I didn’t see a jump in my website book sales.

What is the benefit then? Again, as stated above, it is for validation. I am able to mention during school visits and seminar presentations that Ripley is a Kirkus recommended book. In this way, I am validated by a respected industry professional and yes, this does help sell books. I routinely outsell the traditional titles at school visits.

Below are a few to try: Midwest Book Review and PW Booklife are free but they may not do a review for you because of the high demand. PW Booklife does have the option to pay for a guaranteed review. I hope this helps.

David Stricklen is the SCBWI-MI Indie Coordinator, Grand Rapids Shop Talk Coordinator and the overall MI Shop Talk Coordinator. Learn more about his middle-grade novels at

Learn more about reviews for self-published books at:

Registration opens today at 6pm for the SCBWI-MI Spring Conference: Building Your Nonfiction Toolbox.

Don't delay, registration is limited to 100 participants!

A variety of critiques are available, and they will sell out quickly. Go here to find the registration link and everything you need to know:

Friday, January 24, 2020

Ask the Editor with Katherine Gibson

Welcome to our quarterly Ask the Editor feature! Katherine Gibson is an editor at Zonderkidz and was previously at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She's collecting questions from SCBWI-MI members and sharing her answers with our community. Did you miss her other Q&As? See the links at the end of this post.

Here's Katherine:

Hi everyone! As always, a big thanks to everyone who sent me their questions! I hope all of you, whether you sent in a question or not, find this post helpful and informative.

As with my previous Ask the Editor posts, I humbly ask that you take my comments in the spirit in which they’re intended. The advice here is meant to be friendly and helpful; I sincerely hope no one finishes this post feeling vulnerable or discouraged.

Also, a general disclaimer that my thoughts are my own; I do not speak on behalf of all publishing. I would not be surprised at all to learn that you’ve heard an editor or agent say something that directly conflicts with my perspective. Everyone in publishing has their own views and preferences, and I can only be honest about my own.

Finally, if you have any questions about writing or publishing that aren’t addressed here, please feel free to email me. I’m always happy to gather questions for my next post!

Thanks so much, and happy reading!

What time of the year is best to submit to either an editor or agent? Does the genre or subject make a difference? When is the worst time to try to get a hold of editors or agents? 

Submissions are always ongoing, so I don’t know that there’s necessarily a “best” time to submit. But I do think there are some days/time periods when your submission could get missed or set aside for a bit. Of course, I can only speak as an editor, not an agent, but in my experience, manuscripts that come in on a Friday are liable to be temporarily set aside in favor of more urgent tasks that have to get done before the end of the week. This can be especially true in the summer, when some publishing companies keep summer hours (meaning they work a half-day on Fridays).

Submitting in December and January can also result in a delay in response, as most people in publishing take time off for the holidays and then spend the first couple weeks of January getting caught up. It’s also worth researching whether there’s a big book conference going on around the time you want to submit, as editors and agents could be attending those and thus not checking their inboxes regularly.

My current work-in-progress is a middle grade novel written in third person. My previous works have been in first person, and I'm struggling with how to be "outside" the main character while still showing what's going on "inside." Can you recommend a few third person middle grade novels you feel would be good examples for me to study?

If you’re writing in third person but still showing the internal thoughts/feelings of the main character, then it sounds like a third person limited point of view. Personally, I think Kate DiCamillo is a master at writing in third person limited. I’d especially recommend Raymie Nightingale and Beverly, Right Here; both of them are third person limited, and you feel deeply connected to the main character despite the third person POV.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is also a great one to read. It’s third person limited, but the story is told in parts, and the perspective shifts to a different character in each section. Which, come to think of it, probably makes the book as a whole third person omniscient. But you’re only treated to one character’s inner thoughts at a time, so I’m saying it counts.

What are your tips on trying to publish a local/regional picture book? Is self-publishing a better route or would you hold on for a local publisher?

If you’re interested in pursuing traditional publishing for a local/regional book, then it’s certainly worth looking into local publishers. I don’t think the publisher necessarily has to be in the same state, but I wouldn’t look much past the particular region; a small southern publisher probably wouldn’t take something that’s specific to the Midwest. But I also think self-publishing could be a great way to go with this kind of project, especially if you can schedule author events in the particular area!

Is it appropriate to query an editor with an idea for a picture book, rather than a completed manuscript? If so, does it make more sense for nonfiction versus fiction? Would it perhaps only be appropriate from a published author? From an author the editor had worked with before?

Great questions! I’ve definitely seen authors pitch picture book ideas without having a complete manuscript before. Though I will say, I think you have to be a published author before you can do this, as an editor will want to be able to see examples of your writing. And, of course, if it’s an editor you’ve worked with before, they’re probably already quite familiar with you and your style and happy to chat with you about new ideas. I think you could do it with an editor you haven’t worked with before, but it would probably be a bit trickier. I know if I received a queried idea from an author I hadn’t worked with, I’d ask to at least see a few sample pages of the book before taking it further.

As far as fiction/nonfiction, I do think it makes more sense if the proposal is for a nonfiction picture book. There’s quite a bit of research involved for nonfiction picture books, so I understand an author wanting to make sure there’s interest in the idea before diving into the research. I think the only time I’ve personally seen a fiction picture book proposal was for a wordless picture book where the author wasn’t an artist. Otherwise, a picture book is short enough that the author usually just drafts the whole manuscript.

What two or three books did you truly enjoy from 2019 that are doing well in the market? What did you like about them?

Oh dear, just three? I’ll do a picture book, a middle grade, and a young adult novel then.

A Stone Sat Still by Brenden Wenzel is definitely on my list of favorites from 2019; it’s playful and poetic and powerful, and there are so many things to take away from it. I didn’t think I’d like anything as well as his last book, Hello Hello, but here we are.

For middle grade, I keep thinking about Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow. It tackles a lot of tough topics in such an honest, heartfelt way. I fell so in love with the whole cast of characters that I was upset when the book was over, because I wanted more.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys is unlike anything I have ever read. The book has an epic, sweeping feel to it — all these different threads are so intricately interwoven. And I’d never read a YA book about Francoist Spain before! I was fascinated by the whole story, and I found myself doing my own research on the time period. Which, in my mind, is a pretty darn good indicator of quality historical fiction.

I recently had a sit-down with an editor at a workshop, and we went over a manuscript together. This was a manuscript critique I'd paid for. The editor was positive about the project and shared their ideas, but they didn’t invite me to resubmit the manuscript. If I rework the manuscript based on the editor’s feedback, can I resubmit to the same house? Or does the editor invite this?

If the editor had good things to say about the project, and if you’ve worked on the areas they critiqued, I think it’d be fine to submit the revised manuscript to them. Especially given the context — it sounds like perhaps the editor was viewing the manuscript as more of something to workshop than a formal submission, in which case it makes sense that they didn’t say “revise and resubmit.” I’d mention in your query letter that you worked with the editor on an early draft of this and finessed it based on their comments, and that you think it’d be a good fit for their house because of XYZ. Good luck! :) 

Katherine Gibson is an editor for Zonderkidz, having previously worked for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She graduated from the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2013 and has spent the last five years editing and publishing award-winning children’s books, including Sibert Medal and Caldecott Honor book The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and Plume, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book.

Thank you, Katherine!

To submit a publishing question, email Mitten blog editor Kristin Lenz with "Ask the Editor" in the subject line, and she'll forward your question to Katherine. Or, stay tuned on the SCBWI-MI MichKids listserv – Katherine will ask for questions a few weeks before her next post.

To read Katherine's previous Ask the Editor posts, click on these links:

Save the date! 

The SCBWI-MI spring conference is March 7th, 2020 in Livonia, MI. Registration opens on January 31st. 

Learn more at

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Diversity Dialogue: How to Pen Diverse Narratives That Work

The Diversity Dialogue is a monthly feature on the SCBWI-MI Chapter Blog. Learn more and meet the committee members HERE. Read the previous posts HERE.

Artwork by Rebecca Howe

We welcome Rachel Werner, our guest blogger, to this month’s Diversity Dialogue blog post. 

How to Pen Diverse Narratives That Work

By Rachel Werner

‘Diverse’ and ‘Authentic’ are mutually exclusive. To create narratives which will resonate with the intended audience, a firm grasp of this premise is crucial. Many authors, playwrights and filmmakers, although making an increased effort to more be inclusive, are actually having an inverse affect—by widening the disparities a lack of #OwnVoices representation in the arts has produced. Novice and seasoned writers alike can struggle to accurately construct a lens into the societal nuances, subtle hierarchies and enduring traditions within a marginalized community.

Whether writing from lived experience or attempting to generate a genuine depiction of another culture, use these objectives to ensure diversity comes through as substance rather a than a soapbox.

  • Stay in your wheelhouse—and make it a mansion. If the evolution of your protagonist is starting to stagnate, take a step back and reassess the setting. Fallacy could be seeping in from the foundations, if say, you set the story in a city or country you’ve never been to (and have done less than a week’s worth of research on). Characters can’t properly evolve in spaces they don’t organically exist in. Thus, take time to reflect if you are adequately informed about a historical era and/or geographical locations the streams of consciousnesses you are creating are unfolding within. (Even sci fi or fantasy realms should incorporate some variances across regions.)

  • Describe the small pieces of a BIG connection. Story structure is about how people are; Not about how stories are. Remember: Your readers are experiencing the tale through the main POV you’re crafting. Editor and Popsugar book reviewer Andrea J. Johnson cautions writers to avoid subconsciously weaving racial bias into the text. “Sure, you can include a LGBTQIA or Latinx best friend. But when you do so, give those characters their own goals, conflicts, and desires. Don’t saddle them with motivations hitched exclusively to the main (or a Caucasian) character’s whims,” she advises. And “precisely determining a person’s ethnicity upon sight is not only laughable, it’s unrealistic. Omniscient viewpoints aside, don’t make gross assumptions until the characters do or say something to verify it.”

  • Find stories. . . but also let stories find you. In other words, take the truth that shows up. Part of the craft of storytelling is the writer giving themselves permission to notice what you notice. . .  then noticing more. The writing should also prompt the reader to do so as well. You can cultivate this skill further via creative writing prompts such as generating a one-page description of how your character moves through the day. A neighborhood? A social group? Then ask yourself: Does the scene “fit?” And how will his/her/their perception of this environment (plus other characters) change as the plot progresses? These sorts of sensory cues can be used to portray growth—or limitations.

  • Need mentor texts suggestions for additional guidance? What I most appreciate about the following books are the complexity of their characters. Yes, several of the authors are blatantly addressing contemporary themes and issues, but their fictional casts transcend stereotypes—with a handful also having to confront a few of their own before the conclusion of these tales:

Picture Books:

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian Robinson

A Different Pond by Bao Phi; illustrated by Thi Bui

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Middle Grade: 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Young Adult:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Penning diverse narratives is certainly challenging, but it does not have to be solitary or isolating work. Find a critique group, writing course and/or book club focused on exploring such themes in a specific genre. And we all have much to gain from a more inclusive publishing industry—endless opportunities to discover fragments of others (and ourselves) we never knew existed.

Rachel Werner is the Content Marketing Specialist at Taliesin Preservation; guest faculty at The Highlights Foundation; Hugo House, a We Need Diverse Books program volunteer, and former digital editor at BRAVA (a Wisconsin-based publication
created by women for women). In 2019, she also presented at the UW-Madison Writers Institute, Write to Publish at Portland State University; and The Loft Literary Center's Wordsmith conference in Minneapolis on digital marketing and social media strategy for writers. Follow her adventures around the country on Instagram

Monday, January 13, 2020

Build Your Non-Fiction Toolbox and #TagYourTools

Building Your Nonfiction Toolbox, Michigan SCBWI Spring One-Day Event 


A one-day nonfiction writing conference


VistaTech Center at Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty Rd. Livonia, Mi. (Maximum of 100 participants)


March 7, 2020, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm


Early bird SCBWI Members: $150
Early bird Not-Yet Members: $180 (become a member today and enjoy reduced pricing on all SCBWI events!)
Fee includes a pre-conference nonfiction webinar
* Seating is limited to 100 people *

Have you tinkered with the idea of writing or illustrating nonfiction, but don’t know where to begin? Do you have a nonfiction WIP that needs a tune up? Do you long to write narrative nonfiction that reads like fiction? Are you eager to learn more about the current “buzz” in nonfiction book creation? Join SCBWI Michigan for a day of tool gathering, project planning and practice building. Bring your laptops, nonfiction works-in-progress, nonfiction ideas, and leave with a toolbox full of things you need to craft compelling nonfiction that sells in today’s competitive marketplace.

Our featured speakers are: 

Carol Hinz is the Editorial Director of Lerner Books and was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s 2018 Star Watch Honorees. Carol joined Lerner in 2003 as editor and was promoted to Editorial Director of its Millbrook Press imprint in 2007. Ten years later, she took on overseeing picture books and nonfiction at its Carolrhoda Books imprint as well. Carol’s list includes National Book Award Longlist selection Sachiko, Sibert Honoree Sea Otter Heroes, and Orbis Pictus Honoree Dazzle Ships. Carol will guide attendees to find the nonfiction nugget that becomes the heart of their stories in her presentation, “Finding Your Nonfiction Nugget: Uncovering the Heart of Your Story.”

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. Her subjects range from snake lungs to snail tongues. Heather will be filling attendees’ toolboxes with ideas on how to make nonfiction exciting in her presentation, “Don’t Do Boring: Turning a Nugget Into a Story That Sells!”

Some of Heather’s nonfiction books include:
Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids (Charlesbridge)
Little Monsters of the Ocean: Metamorphosis Under the Waves (Millbrook)
Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill (Bloomsbury), an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a VOYA Nonfiction Honor Award Winner.
Learn more at

Lindsay Moore is an artist and writer with roots in Northern Michigan. She studied Marine Biology and Fine Art at Southampton College on Long Island and figure drawing at the Art Students League in New York City. Lindsay earned her Master of Science in Medical and Scientific Illustration from Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University) and has received recognition for her work from both the Association of Medical Illustrators and the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustration. Sea Bear, published by Greenwillow Books, is her picture book debut. Sea Bear received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal and Shelf Awareness!

Lindsay will give us a glimpse into how she uses notebooks to build nonfiction stories in her presentation, “The Illustrator's Notebook: From Epiphany to a Story in Pictures,” including how to draw from wonder and life and do research that informs illustrations and bring out a found story. And something just for illustrators, Lindsay will share, “The Artist’s Notebook: Drawing from Life, Research and (Yes) Imagination. This will be a practical talk about chasing good ideas, gathering information and creating interesting nonfiction art to tell a story.

Other highlights of the day include: 

  • Morning and afternoon workshop time focused on finding your nonfiction nugget, writing backmatter, building a bibliography, using dialogue and primary vs. secondary sources.
  • An afternoon conversation/panel discussion, “The Importance of Authenticity in Nonfiction Writing,” which will help answer the question, “Can I write my nonfiction idea?” 
  • For those who’d like a nonfiction refresher or are new to nonfiction, we’ll have a free pre-conference webinar so we all come to the building site on common ground. 
  • Detroit’s Pages Bookshop will be on hand with books on craft mentioned in the presentations, some mentor texts, as well as titles from our guests and Michigan writers and illustrators available for purchase throughout the day.
  • Opportunities for in-person paid critiques for authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators. 

No matter where you are on your creative journey, “Building Your Nonfiction Toolbox” will help you create compelling and beautiful nonfiction for children.

Registration opens on January 31. 

Mark your calendars and join us for this amazing day!
Link to register will be available on January 31.

Until then, join us on social media for #TAGYOURTOOLS

The fun has already started. Writers and illustrators are sharing pictures or lists of their favorite writing tools on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram #tagyourtools! Hope you'll all play along!

Here's my #TagYour Tools:
A room with a view and hot tea, no matter the season.

Your turn! Please join us on our SCBWI-MI social media pages:

Non-fiction mentorship competitions are coming later this spring!

Full details here:

(Thanks for the reminder from mentorship coordinator Ann Finkelstein!)

Coming up on the Mitten Blog:

Please come back on Wednesday this week for a special Diversity Dialogue interview. No post this Friday because my long-delayed move to a new house is finally happening. I will miss the pretty view from my office window in the picture above (and the birds!), but my new office has a window too (with a ledge for plants!). 

Happy New Year!
Kristin Lenz

Friday, January 10, 2020

Featured Illustrator Melanie Bryce


This questionnaire goes back to a popular parlor game in the early 1900s. Marcel Proust filled it out twice. Some of our questions were altered from the original to gain more insight into the hearts and minds of our illustrators. We hope you enjoy this way of getting to know everybody.

1. Your present state of mind?
Excited. I am organizing my art space and setting goals for 2020.

2. What do you do best?
From my kids:
Eleanor, 6: Clean the house (after organizing her room), be polite, be helpful, and hug
Harrison, 9: Draw, drink coffee

3. Where would you like to live?
Somewhere really green with 60°–70° temps

4. Your favorite color?
Well, I wear a ton of black and grey, but if I had to pick to a color from my watercolor palette, it would be viridian or sap green.

5. Three of your own illustrations:

6. Your music?
Stevie Wonder or dance, new wave, and alternative music

7. Your biggest achievement?
My family

8. Your biggest mistake?
Not going to art school after high school. I went the safer route, into business and marketing. I am thankful and do love the job I have in marketing. It has been a success, and I understand now that you can have more than one career or change careers later in life.

9. Your favorite children's book when you were a child?
The Secret Garden, which I am now making a goal in 2020 to reread as an adult and share with my kids.

10. Your main character trait?
Realistically optimistic with a touch of goofiness

11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?
I appreciate picking up where we left off, no matter where we are in life. I am drawn to friends that love to laugh, are driven, and are supportive.

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?
Making small wrong choices because we are all human. Even when I see myself, my children, or others being unkind to another person, I believe it’s coming from something going on that day or in their life.

13. Your favorite children's book hero?
My childhood heroes, which are Ramona Quimby, from the series by Beverly Cleary; and Pippi Longstocking, from the series by Astrid Lindgren, both adventurous and bold.

14. What moves you forward?
1) Coffee and music
2) Seeing others in action and surrounding myself with others who are motivated moves me forward. With the support of my best friend and the Borgess Run Camp teams, I completed multiple half marathons and a 25K run. Also, the SCBWI KAST (Kalamazoo) group is a huge motivation for me to keep going on my writing and illustrating journey. The group is so uplifting and encouraging.

15. What holds you back?
My own fears of failure and feeling average

16. Your dream of happiness?
My kids to grow up happy and stable; a peaceful mind for my husband; and days and days of open art and yoga studio time for me

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?
I love Corrina Luyken’s color choices in her art and books, which can be very minimal, like My Heart or extremely colorful, like in Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse. Both books are beautiful. I appreciate her celebration of ink mistakes in The Book of Mistakes. I’m going to cheat here and also add another illustrator, Erin Stead, whom I admire because of her printing techniques and softness in her illustrations. A Sick Day for Amos Gee is one of my favorites.

18. What super power would you like to have?
My super power would be being a power hugger, which is inspired by my huggable son. I would go by “Huggy” for short. The power of my hug would help others protect and overcome sadness and fear. I’m already prototyping this power on my kids.

19. Your motto?
Seize the day. This is my mindset, even on vacation. Always do or experience something.

20. Your social media?