Thursday, April 30, 2015

Help! I Need Blogging Advice.

I am trying to make my blog more inviting and approachable.  I want it to be the sort of blog that when people visit for the first time they think, "Hey!  She seems awesome.  I want to be her friend.  I want to follow this blog and continue to see what she has to say."

So my first step toward making this happen is changing my bio.  My current one is decidedly lame.  I've written a few scenarios and I'm leaning toward using the 3rd, but I would love your input.
  1. “Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are.” - Arsene Houssaye                                                                                                                                        There are so many things in my life to love! I love to write. I love to draw. I love books (especially picture books). I love nature. I love Marlon Brando. I love to play board games. I love my dog Ginny. I love my husband. I love my 4 year-old son. So I guess that makes me a writer, artist, bookworm, tree-hugger, old movie junkie, geek, animal lover, wife, and mother. That’s me!
  2. When people used to ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “A picture book author/illustrator.” Then as I got older I decided that wasn’t practical so I majored in sociology. But when I became a mother and started reading picture books again. The childhood dream was revived, and now I spend my days doing what I love: writing, drawing, and reading lots and lots of picture books!
  3. Hi!  My name is Heather.  As an aspiring children's book author/illustrator I am constantly reading picture books.  They are my research, my inspiration, and my mentors.  I am always looking to connect with other picture book enthusiasts.  Parents, librarians, teachers, illustrators, you are my people!  I would love to hear from you!  Seriously if you have any book recommendations or have a blog devoted to picture books like mine, please make yourselves known!  My email is  
Also if you have any other blogging tips or advice I am all ears. What can I do to improve my blog?  How can I form lasting friendships with other bloggers of similar interests? What in your opinion is the key to having a successful blog?

Thanks so much for your time!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Best Mother's Day Picture Books

 For the 4 years I've been a mother it's been our family tradition to go to a book store each Mother's Day to buy two or three new picture books.  It's my way of treating myself.  It does my heart good to watch treasured picture book collection grow.   With Mother's Day being only 2 weeks away I thought I'd share my top 15 favorite picture books celebrating motherhood.  After all, you can't go wrong with giving a fabulous picture book as a Mother's Day gift.


1.  Little Lost Owl
     Written and illustrated by Chris Haughton
     Recommended for:  Ages 0-5
     Style:  Funny, simple
     Why I Love this Book: The illustrations are so unique and colorful, and the plot is both funny and endearing.

2.  Just Me and My Mom
     Written and Illustrated by Mercer Meyer

     Recommended for:  Ages 0-5
     Style:  Funny, detailed illustrations
     Why I Love this Book:  When I was a kid we had a computer game version of this book.  I loved that game so much, and I am delighted that my son loves this story as well.

3.  The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg
     Written and Illustrated by Bill Peet

      Recommended for: Ages 5-8
      Style: Intriguing plot, animals
      Why I Love this Book:  My dad read me many of Bill Peet's work when I was a girl and his books will always have a special place in my heart.  

4.  Hush!
     Written by Minfong Ho
      Illustrated by Holly Meade

      Recommended for:  Ages 0-5
      Style:  Animal noises, rhyming, set in Thailand
      Why I Love this Book:  It's catchy, it's fun, and I couldn't stop quoting for days after reading it.

5.  Owl Babies
     Written by Martin Waddell
     Illustrated by Patrick Benson

Recommended for: Ages 0-5
Style:  Sweet, few words
Why I Love this Book:  This is by far one of the most adorable books I've ever read.  The 3 little owls have the cutest little personalities and their subtle facial expressions are fantastic.


6. Someday
    Written by Alison McGhee
     Illustrated by Peter Reynolds

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style:  Whimsical, Touching
Why I Love this Book:  Every illustration and word rings with truth and beauty.  

7. A Chair for My Mother
    Written and Illustrated by Vera B. Williams

Recommended for:  Ages 5-8
Style: A story about family values and community
Why I Love this Book:  I found the story so touching that it nearly brought me to tears.

8.  Heckedy Peg
     Written by Audrey Wood
      Illustrated by Don Wood

Recommended for:  Ages 5-8
Style:  Fairy Tale
Why I Love this Book:  This is another nostalgic one for me that my family read to me when I was a girl.  Also the mom is a total bad ass.  I love her.

9.  Before I was Your Mother
     Written by Kathryn Lasky
      Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style:  Sweet, nostalgic of the old days
Why I Love this Book:  The rhythm and flow of this book was wonderful and I always love LeUyen Pham's illustrations.

10.  It's Snowing!
      Written and Illustrated by Olivier Dunrea

Recommended for:  Ages 0-5
Style:  Simple, few words
Why I Love this Book:  As a mother who enjoys taking her kid out in the great outdoors I found this book really resonated with me.


11.  Mama Do You Love Me?
       Written by Barbara Lavellee 
        Illustrated by Barbara M. Joosse

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style: Reassuring, touching
Why I Love this Book:  It captures so well the relationship between mother's and their children.

12. Are You My Mother?
     Written and Illustrated by P. D. Eastman

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style:  Sweet, Repetitive
Why I Love this Book:  This is one that my son wants me to read again and again, and I never get tired of reading it.

13.  Mommy Hugs
       Written by Anne Gutman
        Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben

Recommended for:  Ages 0-3
Style:  Interactive, Simple
Why I Love this Book:  This book demonstrates many different ways to communicate love and encourages the readers do each of them.

14.  Bedtime for Mommy
       Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
        Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style:  Funny, Few words
Why I Love this Book:  This is one of the first books I ever bought as a parent and it remains a family favorite in our home to this day.  

14.  Love You Forever
       Written by Robert Munsch
        Illustrated by Sheila McGraw

Recommended for:  Ages 3-7
Style:  Lyrical, Touching
Why I Love this Book:  Who doesn't love this book!  It's a classic and for good reason.  It drives home the message of unconditional everlasting love.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


My good friend Maggie just commissioned me to illustrate this portrait for her.  This marvelous photograph was my inspiration.  I absolutely love doing projects like this.  Maggie is a very gifted writer and you can read her work at

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Wonderful, Talented, Adventurous Sister

Today is my younger sister Brooke's birthday.  She is an amazing person and I wanted to illustrate something to capture the essence of her very soul for this special day.  Happy birthday little sis.  May you always be the strong, passionate, and loving person that you are today.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Being an Artist is like Being a Parent

Trying to juggle my life as an illustrator and stay at home is like trying balance on a beachball while spinning plates on sticks. It’s nuts. It takes every last ounce of energy to just keep everything from crashing to the floor.

As I sat on my bed this morning trying to make sense of my life, it occurred to me that being a parent is rather like being an artist. Sure, they are completely different worlds, but when you think about it there is an undeniable number of comparisons: chaos, heartache, hard work, and a tremendous sense of satisfaction. I’m sure other artists with kids out there would agree. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

No Instruction Manual

There is a tremendous amount of resources out there for both parenting and illustrators. So much in fact that it’s overwhelming. I often wish that there could be a single instruction manual that told me exactly what to do. But there’s not. Trial and error, are our teachers. They can be rather harsh, but it’s the only way we learn.

Each path is different. No two artists are the same. No two children are alike. What works for some may not work for others. We have to find our own way. Sometimes the hardest thing to do in life is trust your own intuition. Human beings crave structure. We are to taught to follow rules and guidelines from a very early age. To think independently can be terrifying! However it is absolutely essential for parents and artists. No one can tell you how to do your job. You have to learn to trust in yourself, take chances, and embrace the chaos. Only then can you live up to your full potential.

Good Days and Bad Days
There are times when I feel like my artwork is fantastic. I’ll finish a piece and then not be able to stop looking at it. I’ll peek at it throughout the day to admire my brilliance. But then the next day I’ll turn around, see the same piece, and want to rip it too shreds. I’ll see nothing but the inconsistencies, the amateur touches, and mistakes. Those are the days I just want to take all of my artwork and burn it in a faraway field, never to be thought of again.

Parenting is the same way. Sometimes I’ll think, “Man, I’m such an awesome mom.” My son and I make cardboard box castles, we go on nature walks, I may even get him to eat a few vegetables. But then come the days when I can barely pull myself out of bed. My son sits in front of the TV, and I stare at the computer screen like a zombie. He eats goldfish crackers and plain, white, store-bought bread while I guzzle coffee just trying to maintain sanity.

Good days and bad days. There’s no way of predicting when they’ll come and go. The key is to enjoy the good times while they last, and learn to forgive yourself when things go wrong.

Fear of Failure
Failure. This is my worst fear, both as a parent and an artist. What I’m just pretending to be something I’m not? What if I never become a professional, published illustrator? What if I’m not cut out for motherhood? These fears plague me every single day of my life. Most of the time I manage to keep them at under the surface, but then someone may make a snide comment about my parenting, or I’ll receive a rejection letter from an agent or editor, and those fears break lose and I become lost in a sea of insecurities and despair.

Fortunately my passion for illustrating and love for my son always reign victorious, pushing those fears back under the surface, but they still lurk, waiting for the next opportunity to pounce. Someday I hope to be rid of them for good.


Never am I more happy than when I get lost in the lines and color of my work, or snuggle up to my son to read him a bed time story. These are the moments I live for. They make up my identity as a human being. There is a quote by Arsene Houssaye, “Tell me what you love, and I will tell you who you are.” I am an artist. I am a mother. These are two facts that will never change for as long as I live. It is who I am.