In like a badger; out like a viscacha

Forget being nibbled to death by ducks, right before I took off for vacation, I was feeling I was being badgered to death.

a real badger, not the human kind

So, thank goodness I got to visit my family and friends in Vancouver. Hanging out with my sister/BFF and venting to her helped a lot…as did good food…and I’m feeling a lot more calm. Not quite the zen of this viscacha, but less like I want to rip someone a new one anyway.

Are viscachas Buddhist?

You ever have one of those months (years)? What did you do to not let your annoyance get the best of you?

My first ever graphic novel pitch

I’ve spent the past 16 weeks in the 20-week Kids Comics Intensive (the link is for you to find out more about the one coming next year). The first 10 weeks are on the craft of creating a graphic novel. We were promised that if we did the work, we’d come out of it with a fully fleshed idea and pitch, and, wow, did it deliver!

Taught by the very talented and approachable Rivkah LaFille, the craft section had me working harder than I’ve ever done on a project before (outside of school anyway). But in the end, it was worth it, and I’m quite happy with the idea I came up with, which is a science-themed easy reader graphic novel. 

Here is the opening page of the story for your viewing pleasure…

I still have to edit my pitch some more but I’m hoping my agent will think it’s a worthwhile project and send it out come September (because publishing has closed its doors for the summer siesta already). 

Challenge yourself

Because I wasn’t swamped and stressed enough with deadlines last month, I decided to try an illustrated journaling challenge on Skillshare.

Some people say that doing art lowers their stress level, but I don’t find that the case for me because I’m very critical of my own work. Despite that, it turned out to be surprisingly fun. And because I didn’t hate the results too much, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Let me know if you try this yourself! I’d love to see what drawings you come up with.

Books By The Banks – Cincinnati edition

When she found out my book, Queen of Physics, was going to be out this month, an author friend (now a dear friend after we spent 11 hours together on Saturday…LOL!) in my SCBWI chapter told me about a local book festival, Books By The Banks – Cincinnati. She said she was going and would love the company. So, I thought, why not? Because things always seem like a good idea several months before they happen.

Me, acting all author-like…hahaha!
Goofing off with Skila!

But, you know what? I did have a great time! Not only did I get to hang out with my friend, Skila Brown, but I also met a whole bunch of online friends in person for the first time!

These friends include Shauna Reynolds who is my Notable19s debut group buddy (you need to read her wonderful “Poetree” book):

And prolific author Laura Gehl (whose book, “I Got a Chicken For My Birthday” is a favorite of mine):

Then there is Ariel Berstein who wrote the positively sublime “I Have A Balloon”:

But the award for best prop goes to my 12×12 Picture Book Challenge friend Wendy Greenley for her cloud hat that goes with her gorgeous book, “Lola Shapes The Sky.”

I also met some new friends! This is Jay Kalagayan of the very cool MessedComics…the lovely model for his comic, V Chau, is the person on the right side of the photo.

I was also on a nonfiction panel with some fabulous authors: Mary Kay Carson, Julie Rubini, and Susan Goldman Rubin (whom I adore as she kept telling me how gorgeous I am…LOL!). There weren’t many attendees at the panel but it was still a fun program.

The book festival itself was quite well attended. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside when people stopped by to tell me how glad they are to see a book about a woman scientist…and a person of color at that! They all agreed that this is a much-needed book that provides someone little girls can look up to. I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it. That heartwarming feeling negates all the naysayers who don’t appreciate my book.

And then the next day, Shauna texted me with this bit of good news:

I don’t pay much mind to accolades, but it was a nice way to end a terrific weekend (and also is another “pppttthhhhttt!” to the critics). 😀

Happy Halloween to everyone!

Sweet relief after the #NESCBWI18 conference

I always get all worked up before going to a conference but as usual, it went great. This was the second time I went to the NESCBWI conference. I wouldn’t have been quite as panicked if I hadn’t had to spend far too much time working on an illustration challenge (because I stupidly signed up for it). The theme was Fairy Tale Mash-up, and I combined The Little (Asian) Mermaid and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.


A long-time friend and critique partner went with me this time. It’s always fun to travel with someone. We got to listen to terrific speakers like my mentor, Jane Yolen:


Rita Williams-Garcia:


and Matthew Winner:


And I also won some swag:


and got to hang out with my tribe…people who are as happy to talk books as I am! But it is nice to be back home in peace and quiet, with only the birds to keep me company.


The subject line of this post also refers to the fact that I’ve decided to give up on pursuing illustrations for a while. It takes time away from the writing and things are going the way of digital art these days (I’m not about to drop big money on a Cintiq or Photoshop program). I’ll just do art for my own enjoyment, but the pressure to get noticed or to get work in that area is off.

I’ll share some other of my recent illustrations that I did for NESCBWI in later posts.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

No leaf left unpainted #art

More practice on painting leaves. I want to perfect the technique my dad taught me to load the brush in such a way that a leaf or a bamboo stalk have a gradation of saturation, lending a rounded, 3-dimensional look to whatever I’m painting. Not quite there yet.IMG_6493



Shiny things, captain

The title is a nod to Firefly, the short-lived cult-favorite tv series. 🙂

On Saturday, I hung out with my neighbor-friend (our wonderful chicken-sitter) to make jewelry together. I was in a warm, earthy-tones kind of mood, I guess. I made 5 good things instead of “One Good Thing.”

I officially have more jewelry than I’ll ever wear and need to sell a bunch.

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Doodle Day 6 #poem and #illustration

Because my buddy Russell wants more bears…the dark brown one is writing down the Boltzmann Equation for entropy, in case anyone was wondering.

Today’s idiom is “back to the drawing board.”

Back to the Drawing Board


you’d think as the only remaining
species in the genus,
they would come together
as kin,

but, no!

They’d rather fight
against and amongst each other,
bashing brains instead of using them
to make life longer
and brighter.

Maybe the next experiment
will be better stewards
of the planet
and each other.

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Doodle Day 5 #poem and #illustration

“At the drop of a hat” was the idiom for today.

Is Chivalry All Wet?

A drop of rain
was what provoked
Walter to act
so she wouldn’t get soaked.

He dropped to his knees,
undid his cravat,
dropping his cloak
at the drop of a hat.

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