Thursday, January 10, 2019

The 2018 Holiday Post!

On the 17th Day of Christmas...

Okay, I'll just admit this holiday post is late. L.A.T.E. But better late than never, right? RIGHT?! (I guess it's appropriate, given my 2018 New Year's post.)

But we all know why you're really here...FOR A CUTE KIRBY CHRISTMAS PIC!

Kirby says, "This put me on the Nice List, cancelling out those boots I ate!"

Kirby was a very good boy for this festive portrait session--which took roughly sixty photos and four slices of cheese.

This fuzzy little elf graced our Christmas cards this year, which went out on December 28. The beautiful tree pictured is not actually mine; the lovely Kristy Boyce let me use hers since we did not put one up. In fact, as of this writing, I still have my Halloween decorations on display around my house.

You may be wondering, "Good gravy, Kathryn! What is up with you?!" Well, I neglected to post (back in October) that I was super fortunate to be chosen as a 2018 Pitch Wars mentee! My wonderful mentors are Rajani LaRocca and Remy Lai, middle grade authors with debut novels releasing in just a few months. (And they were both Pitch Wars mentees last year!) They are helping me get my PIRATE FERRET manuscript in tip-top shape for a big agent showcase in February.

I can't wait to read these!

Rewriting PIRATE FERRET has occupied my time these past few months just a teensy bit. But with Rajani's and Remy's help, my novel has VASTLY improved. There's still a lot to do before the agent showcase, but I know all the hard work will be worth it.

So you know how holiday songs like to talk about keeping the spirit of Christmas all through the year? Let's pretend this post is that. I'm not late--I just have EXTRA holiday cheer and want to spread it into the new year. ;)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! May your 2019 be healthy, creative, and bursting with family, friends, and fun!  

Note: Cover images are from and

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018

Look everyone! I'm a SHARK!


Happy Halloween!  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Kirby Puppy Post

Hello blog-world! My name is Kirby! Aren't I ADORABLE?!

I'm one of the reasons Mom hasn't been around her blog much recently. She's been busy training me, and playing with me, and cleaning up after me, and chasing me off the coffee table, and wrestling things out of my mouth, and cleaning up after me some more, and snuggling with me!

My full name is Kirby Bolesaw Powers. I'm a good boy, but sometimes people think I'm a girl. (Mom didn't know Kirby could be a girl's name. Oops.) I'm actually named after this guy, who is a DUDE despite being pink.

Yup, dude. Go look it up.

I've grown up a lot since Mom and Dad brought me home a few months ago. When I was a baby, I had teeny-tiny piranha teeth and chomped on EVERYTHING. Wanna see my baby pictures? (Of course you do!)

Awwwww! Itty-bitty me is the cutest!

Om nom nom!

This is me snoozing with Uncle Bailey!

Then I got bigger! I had a lot of "firsts"--like my first haircut and first tooth falling out--and Mom and Dad made me go to Puppy Kindergarten. I also had a "big boy" surgery that I'd rather not talk about.

Now I'm 8-months-old and getting more grown up every day! I'm starting to hang out with Mom when she's (trying) to write and illustrate, and sometimes I get to go into work with her. I'm an extra-good boy at the office and the official "Director of Cute."

Mom's home office, where I NEVER get into anything!

Director of Cute reporting for duty!

Spreadsheets are NOT as fun as Facebook videos.

But even though I'm getting to be a big boy now, I'm still a bundle of mischief! I make sure to steal the kitchen towels every day! (And tissues. And paper towels. And Mom's boots. And Dad's pork chops.) I also LOVE playing tug-o-war, booping noses, and giving a bagillion kisses.

I hear there used to be another dog around here named Penny. She sounds like she was pretty awesome. Some people have even told me I have "big shoes to fill." I'm not sure what that means, but Mom and Dad get bizarrely happy whenever I burp. They're weird humans. 

Like when they put me in this box. Seriously, what is wrong with them?!

I'm soooooo happy to meet all you bloggy people! Mom's better at posting photos of me on her Instagram, so if you want to see lots more of me, go follow that. Now excuse me--there's a sock on the floor that needs to be in my mouth. Toodles!

See ya around! (Erm, if Mom gets me a haircut...)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

SCBWI Meetings Galore!

It's time for another multi-month edition of SCBWI meeting summaries! 2018 has been a flurry of activity and fun for Central & Southern Ohio SCBWI. The meetings in Columbus included...

The February SCBWI meeting featured nonfiction author Tracy Vonder Brink. Tracy discussed writing for magazines--a part of children's publishing that many authors overlook. With articles published in Highlights, Spider, and Ask, Tracy offered great insight on the pros and cons of magazine writing, and gave tons of tips for writers dipping their toes into the industry. These included:

-Magazine publishing is a good way to build up your writing resume. It shows you can research and write professionally, work with editors, and see a project through completion.

-It's the perfect format for puzzles, games, recipes, and those ideas you have that don't lend themselves to a full book.

-It gives you the freedom to write on a wide variety of topics, so it's a good match for writers with a lot of interests, or people who get bored writing longer pieces.

-You'll get to see your work in print more quickly since magazine publishing is (usually) faster than book publishing!

Tracy cautioned that just because articles are short doesn't mean they're easy, though. They still take time to research and write, and must be submitted to magazine publishers following the proper guidelines and formats. She reminded everyone to put their best professional foot forward, but to also have fun in this bite-size, creative field!

The March SCBWI meeting featured author-illustrator Aiko Ikegami. Aiko gave a presentation on her road to publication, including a behind-the-scenes look at the release of her new book, Seed Man. Like many aspiring authors and illustrators, it took Aiko a number of years to break into the field, and she had a lot of hardships and trials along the way. She offered tips for navigating this bumpy road, such as:

 -Identify the steps that will help you on your journey. Aiko made a "Muscle Building" list of skills and milestones that she wanted to tackle to help her reach her end-goal of publication. These included elements such as "create a website" and "improve art skills." By breaking her big goal down into smaller ones, the list didn't seem so overwhelming--and each accomplishment brought her closer to publication!

-Don't forget that there are tons of resources available online and in-person that provide a wealth of opportunities! Aiko took the online course "Make Your Marks and Splashes" (, and joined both SCBWI and the Ohio Art League. Whether you want to learn more about the industry or hone your craft, there's a community that can help you on your way!

The April SCBWI meeting featured YA author Debbie Rigaud. Known for writing "comedy with conscience," Debbie spoke on the topic of using humor to bring out the heart in your writing. She credits her sense of humor as a family trait passed down through generations of funny women, and led the group in a Haitian chant of merrymaking. Because humor is universal, Debbie explained that it can be used in numerous ways in writing, including:

-Breaking tension

-Making tough topics more accessible

-Acting as social commentary 
-Translating secrets (who doesn't love finding out that a big, burly man is afraid to squish spiders?) 

By skillfully incorporating and balancing humor, you can make your writing more memorable and meaningful. (And don't worry if you don't consider yourself a funny person. Debbie reminded everyone that you can observe humor everywhere--from TV and books to the conversations at your local coffee shop!) So if humor is something you've shied away from, consider giving it a try in your writing project!


The May SCBWI meeting featured YA author Lisa Klein. To our chapter's excitement, Lisa's book, Ophelia, has been turned into a movie! Lisa shared her fascinating (and lengthy!) journey that took Ophelia from paper to the big screen. It took over a decade for all the pieces to fall into place, starting with an option/purchase agreement back in 2007. Lisa explained that an option/purchase agreement is no guarantee that a book will actually be made into a movie. There are a lot of moving pieces, including:

-a screenplay
-set pieces/props
-all of the above convening at the same time--and within the budget!

When these things don't come together, the "option" can be renewed annually until if/when they do. Fortunately, the stars finally aligned for Ophelia, and filming began in 2017. The producer invited Lisa to attend some of the filming in Prague, which she happily did last summer. Lisa pointed out that all of the movie-making details are usually out of an author's hands, so she feels very lucky that the producer kept her updated along the way and included her at all. Production and filming are both finished and now the movie is awaiting distribution. Hopefully a release date will be announced soon--we're all eager to see it!

May also featured a bonus event for members: our first Postcard & Query Party! Members came together for a casual evening of researching agents, editors, and art directors, working on query letters, and addressing illustrator postcards. It was a casual evening where members could share submission tips, ask questions, and get some work done--all while snacking and socializing with fellow writers and illustrators. It was tons of fun and something we hope to do again!

And that sums up the past few months of SCBWI awesomeness! A big thank you to all of these great speakers for sharing their time and wisdom with our chapter! If you want to learn more about SCBWI, be sure to visit the website at 

(P.S. Until my schedule lightens a bit, I'll probably keep to this multi-month format. I'm trying to keep a better balance between blogging, writing, illustrating, and making sure I have clean socks to wear. ;))

Note: For more information about our guest speakers and their books, visit:
Tracy Vonder Brink- 
Aiko Ikegami- 
Debbie Rigaud- 
Lisa Klein-
Book cover images in this post are from the authors' websites or Amazon.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Penny Post

I do not want to write this post. I really really do not want to write this post.

Every time I've thought about writing this post, I'm hit with the pain of the puppy-sized hole in my heart. But here I am, and this needs to be done, and I know I'll feel better once these words have left me.

At the beginning of the year, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Penny. With her diagnosis of mitral valve disease in early 2017, we knew it was coming sooner than later. Her heart was just too big--both literally and figuratively. I'm grateful to say that she had a really wonderful final year and we enjoyed every moment of our time with her--from her last holidays and Halloween dress-up to our final family snuggles. She was wagging her tail and giving us kisses until the very end.

If you've been around my blog over the years, then you know how much my fuzzy family members mean to me. Penny was my constant companion--always by my side while I typed and illustrated late into the night, and making me laugh with her talent for burping. (I don't think a dog has ever existed that burped as much as Penny!) I could easily fill a book with memories of how wonderful she was, and how many people loved her, and what she meant to us. But instead I'll go with the old 'a picture is worth a thousand words' sentiment and let some of my favorite photos do the talking for me.

The day she came to live with us.

That time she got a bone stuck in her fur.
That time she got stuck trying to follow us upstairs.
That time we stuck her in a pillow.


Penny's best dog friend, Bailey. He still doesn't understand that she's gone.

Even if we'd had fifty years with her, I'm sure it still would have seemed far too short. I'm honored we got to call Penny our best friend and couldn't be more grateful for our time together. No dog will ever be quite like her, and I hope you enjoyed reading about her over the years. I will always love and miss my sweet Penny-pup.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Happy New Year Blog Post

Happy (much-belated) New Year! <insert party horn noises>

I realize today is March 26. The tulip buds are poking out of the ground; Ohioans are alternating between snow boots and summer shorts on a daily basis; and we're nowhere near the "new year" anymore. But that's okay--I've never been a first-one-out-of-the-gate sort of person. Better late than never, right?

So now that we're here, what did The Very Busy Kathryn do in 2017?
I took a course through the Children's Book Academy. Then I took more classes through Storyteller Academy. I went to conferences, volunteered a ton with SCBWI, and hid in a cabin for several days to write by myself. Plus day-job. Critique-swapping with buddies. Family-togetherness. Spine-stupidness. Various traveling. Ate way more fast food than I should have. Kept stubbornly playing Pokemon Go. (I WILL catch them all!) 

I did so much that I honestly can't remember everything I did. My "2017 Summary of Art" looks like this:

I'm fairly proud of that mess.
2018 hasn't slowed a bit. So far I've been to Disney World, taken another Storyteller Academy class, passed my 11-year writing anniversary, and (mostly) completed an upstairs renovation of my house and Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up clean-out.

I'm also trying to keep better track of my life with a planner. (I haven't used one since high school--eek!) Ignoring the fact that I didn't open it until February when writing pal Kristy Boyce forced me to, it has helped me feel more organized. It has also made me realize that, um, I really do do a lot.

Kristy helped me pretty it up with unicorns, too!

All my goals for 2018 can be summed up in two mottos: "Keep Moving Forward" and "Just Keep Swimming." (And yes, those are both Disney quotes.)

On the surface they may seem the same, but I look at them in different ways. To me, "Keep Moving Forward" pertains to the craft and doing of things--the aim to make better art and better stories and not get bogged down by everything else. "Just Keep Swimming" is more psychological--the will to continue working and submitting hour after hour, year after year, with the blind hope that everything will come together someday.

I'm also becoming a huge fan of the "Better Late Than Never" concept. It might just become my third motto.

What's next on the horizon? By now, I'll bet you have a pretty good guess:

More writing.

More art.

More classes.


Keep Moving Forward.

Just Keep Swimming.

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming...

Note: Christmas thank yous should be going out in April. You already know my thoughts on that. ;)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

SCBWI Meeting January 2018

It's 2018, which means it's time for a new year of SCBWI meetings!

A little background for this post: as you may have read in my "About Me" section of this blog, I'm the Illustrator Coordinator for the Central and Southern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (or SCBWI for short). I’ve been involved with the organization since 2008 (has it seriously been ten years already?!) and I love helping to plan events and projects for our members. A few years ago, I started posting summaries of the monthly meetings on my blog for any local folk who missed attending, as well as for my readers spread far and wide who are interested in children's literature topics. I hope you will enjoy reading my SCBWI posts!

The January meeting started with an overview of chapter information. The Central/Southern Ohio chapter covers a large portion of Ohio including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. To help better serve this big region, Jody Casella fills the roll of our Regional Advisor in Columbus (which is where I am, too), and Andrea Pelleschi is the Assistant Regional Advisor down in Cincinnati. Unless otherwise noted, the monthly meeting in Columbus is held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Upper Arlington Library, and the monthly meeting in Cincinnati is held on the 4th Monday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Sharonville Library.

Information is frequently updated and shared via the following sites and social media platforms:

Twitter: @CSOhioSCBWI
Facebook: Central Southern Ohio SCBWI
Facebook Illustrator Group: Cen/South Ohio SCBWI Illustrators
(must be a chapter member to join the closed FB illustrator group)
Once all these details were shared with the group, Jody led everyone in a goal setting exercise from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. The exercise involved us imagining where we would like to be in our creative lives in five years. Then we worked backwards with stepping-stone tasks to the present, ultimately landing on what we could do over the next week to work towards those big goals.  
After the long-term goal exercise, Social Media Coordinator Kristy Boyce talked about a fun new game we're encouraging members to play this year: Query Bingo! Bingo sheets were passed out where the boxes are filled with common responses that writers receive from agents and editors during the query process. (Things like, "This isn't a good fit," and "The voice didn't resonate with me." There's even a square for "No response.") Querying a project can be tough on even the most resilient writers and illustrators, so the purpose of the game is to still have fun in the face of rejections and encourage everyone to keep submitting. If you'd like a bingo sheet, just ask at any of the meetings in Columbus--we'll have some on hand to keep passing out throughout the year, and members who fill out their sheet will be put in a drawing for something good at the end of the year party in November. :)
Lastly, members broke into smaller groups for peer critiques. It was a great opportunity to get feedback on query letters and manuscript pages, as well as meet new members and catch up with old friends!
This is shaping up to be a great year already! Tons of exciting plans are in the works, so keep your eye on that website for more information. I hope to see you at a meeting or event soon!