Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Remember how I like to cram my dog into silly costumes where she can't see every Halloween?

Well, say hello to.... 


Penny says, "This is even worse than last year!"

As utterly confused as she looks above, I promise Penny doesn't mind the costume the second the doorbell rings.  She looooooooves trick-or-treaters!

Penny says, "Spiderman!  And princesses!  And another Spiderman! I love this!"

And the moment the door closes, she stares at us like we're big meanies who just ruined all her fun.

Penny says, "Why'd you make all the Spidermans and princesses go away?"

Happy Halloween!

I hope you seize this opportunity to cram your favorite doggy, kitty, kiddo, or other unsuspecting victim into a ridiculous costume with googly eyes!

Penny says, "At least I can see again!"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Construction Zone!

Please excuse my cyber dust for the next few days.  I'm going to be spiffing up the ol' blog, and I have no idea what's going to happen.  As you can see above, I've got my rain hat on and plenty of caution tape, so I'm clearly prepared for any issues that may come my way.  Don't be surprised if I somehow blow up the entire internet.

COSCBWI Meeting October 2013

This month's COSCBWI general and illustrator meetings were combined.  With the big, awesome, super-exciting member exhibition coming up ON NOVEMBER 2nd, it was an opportunity to go over some last minute details.  The illustrators brought in their framed (and beautiful) pieces and participated in a little show and tell.  Then postcards and fliers were passed around so everyone could spread the word! 

If you don't already know about the COSCBWI Member Exhibition, it's a collaborative project between the COSCBWI writers and illustrators.  First, the illustrators created works around the theme, "Open A Book To Find The Road Less Traveled."  Then, the writers chose an illustration to write an accompanying jacket copy or book text.  The illustrations and writing pieces will be on display together at Amy Clark Photography Studios during the Short North Gallery Hop next weekend. 

I am sooooooo excited for the event and very much hope you plan to attend!  The Gallery Hop runs from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM, so do stop by anytime to mingle, enjoy some light refreshments, and see the talents of the COSCBWI members. 

You can find out more about COSCBWI (and the gallery event) at  I hope to see you next weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2014 N. Ohio SCBWI Calendar Contest

If you hadn't noticed, I'm still playing a bit of catch up around this blog after my trip to Disney and a busy Tax Season 2 at my office.  And one thing I didn't get to show you was...

My entry for the 2014 Northern Ohio SCBWI Calendar Contest!

This is the third time I've taken part in the lovely calendar contest that Northern Ohio SCBWI  holds in conjunction with their annual conference.  (And it was a wonderful conference this year!) 

This year's theme was, "Recharge, Reconnect, Renew."  When I considered those words, I immediately thought of how it feels to wake up after a good, long nap.  And who is the best napper in the animal kingdom?  Bears, of course!  This little fellow is waking up to find the winter snow melting away and spring flowers blooming at his paws. 

I always learn so much while creating my calendar entry each year.  I used this opportunity to experiment more with textures, draw a new animal, and practice painting fur.  This also forced me to tackle my least favorite subject matter: ROCKS!  (Not gonna lie.  Painting rocks always makes me feel like this...)

But despite all the rocks, this illustration was a lot of fun to paint.  It's always so encouraging to see how I've grown as a digital artist from year to year, too.  (You can see my entries from the prior two contests here and here.)

I am very thrilled to report that my piece was voted into the 2014 calendar!  There were so many beautiful entries this year, and I'm honored that my piece was chosen for the final calendar.  This year, my piece will be featured in the month of February.  (My past two pieces were both featured in July for the 2012 and 2013 calendars, so it's fun to be part of a different season!)  You can see all the winning pieces on the Northern Ohio SCBWI website.  Order forms are also available online.  (It's a great way to support a fantastic organization!)  

I can't wait to see everyone's illustrations printed in the calendar!  2014 is just around the corner!  :)

Note: Indiana Jones and rock images are not owned by me.  The images were found on Google, and I just put them together for a goofy little meme.  :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

COSCBWI Meeting September 2013: Meg Brown, The Thurber House

While I usually attend every monthly COSCBWI meeting, I actually missed September's due to my trip to Disney.  But don't worry!  COSCBWI's Assistant Regional Advisor, Andrea Hall, wrote up a lovely summary for your enjoyment:

This month's COSCBWI meeting featured a fantastic speaker from the Thurber House in Columbus, Meg Brown.  She is the Manager of Children’s Programming.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Thurber House, it was the childhood home of James Thurber, humorist, author, and New Yorker cartoonist.  Here is a statement from the website: Our mission is to celebrate the written word for the education and entertainment of the broadest possible audience and to continue the legacy of James Thurber.  The Thurber House has a myriad of programs for children and adults.

Meg explained that the Writer-in-Residence program allows an author to live in the Thurber House for one month. In addition to focusing on writing, it gives the author an opportunity to teach children at the Summer Writing Camp.  Interested authors must apply for the program, as only one Children’s Writer-in-Residence is chosen each year.  Further information is available on the website.

Other events at the Thurber House include "Evenings with Authors" and "Summer Literary Picnics."  The "Evenings with Authors" run from January-May and September-December.  Each one features a reading from an author, a question and answer session, followed by a book signing and refreshments.  The "Summer Literary Picnics" take place outdoors, where attendees can either bring a picnic dinner or purchase catered box meals.  Schedules for both events can be found on the website, as well as ticket information.

In addition, Thurber House offers writing programs for both kids and adults.  The children’s programs range in age from preschool to high school on a variety of topics.  Thurber House is always looking for enthusiastic new teachers, so if you’re interested in volunteering your time and sharing your knowledge with future authors, please contact Meg Brown.

It was wonderful to hear about so many great opportunities to meet new authors, work on our craft, and be a part of another superb writing organization.  You can find out more about their programs and events at:

A big thanks to Andrea for writing up a great post!  You can follow her on Twitter @andreadawnhall.

If you'd like to learn more about COSCBWI, you can check out the website at  or "like" the group on Facebook.  I hope to see you at the October meeting!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Ferret Retrospection

You may have noticed that last month my blog activity was rather low.  While I was very busy with work, conference preparations, and getting ready for my trip, it was also one of the saddest months of my life.  Exactly one month ago today, on September 2, 2013, we had to euthanize our beloved ferret, Link.

Some of my blog readers already know this and sent me heartfelt, much-appreciated condolences.  Many of you have read about Link before, as ferret poop-scooping and medicine administration have occupied much of my time and thoughts for the past five years.  And if you've only recently found your way to this blog, you'll surely know just by looking around that I write animal fantasy novels, and that furry little critters are a big part of my life.

Link was always a sickly fellow, and his health had been a roller-coaster over the past few months.  We brought him to the ferret hospital on Labor Day weekend when he took an unexpected turn for the worse.  After spending three days in intensive care with the best veterinary staff we could ever hope for, his kidneys failed and we had to put him to sleep.  It was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever had to do.

In some ways, having such a busy September was probably a good thing.  It helped keep my mind off the half-empty cage, the unused medicine bottles and jars of baby food, and the ferret-sized hole in my heart.  But it also enabled me from dealing with difficult things, like working on a certain manuscript and writing this very post. 

One month later, my heart still hurts and the ferret cage is still half-empty, but at least I can look back on my time with Link with tears of  happiness instead of only sorrow.

Now that he is gone, I've been asked many times if I would do it again.  Knowing what I know now--all the vet bills and worrying; the 2:00 AM medicine administration; the expensive food and endless poop-scooping; the time and tears and headaches and heartbreak he would bring us over the years--would I go back in time to the pet store when Link was just a little kit and choose him all over again?  

My answer is:  Absolutely.

I'll be the first to admit that sounds crazy.  Link was NOT a healthy ferret.  Within a few days of bringing him home five years ago, his health quickly declined and he made his first visit to the ferret hospital.  My husband often reminisces of those early days, when Link crawled into my lap and just laid there as if saying, "Help me."  If you know me, then you know my bleeding heart could fill a swimming pool.  Link was just a baby, and he couldn't help it if he was sickly, so help him I did.  Over the course of his life, he had (among many ailments) Coronavirus, Green Slime Disease, IBS, helicobacter infections, an ulcer, a prolapsed rectum, Insulinoma, and a rare reaction to a Distemper vaccine that sent him into anaphylactic shock.
Like I said, he was NOT a healthy ferret.  (And if you couldn't guess, he ended up being a rather expensive ferret.)  Link shouldn't have lived to see his first birthday, let alone his fifth.  (Especially with his yearly routine of trips to the ferret hospital.)  I know a lot of people would see this as five years of wasted time and financial-draining, but not me.

To me, they were five years of silly antics and impressive thefts, of ferret chuckling and daring adventures.  If you think ferrets just live in a cage and are happy to sip from their water bottles all day, you're terribly misinformed.  They crave exploration and treasure hunting.  The most common sight of Link was his rump sticking out of a trashcan while he pawed through tissues and wrappers, searching for whatever his ferrety heart desired.  And boy are ferrets intelligent little beings!  We have a wonderful dog named Penny and she can do some pretty smart things, like ring a bell when she wants to go out and learn lots of tricks.  But ferrets can craft fiendish plots and execute them to perfection.  Link would actually swipe a draft guard we kept wedged under the door, run off with it, hide it under the bed where we couldn't reach it, then make his escape beneath said door.  It was dastardly.  It was brilliant.  It was a little annoying at times, but adorable all the same.

The little troublemaker slept like an angel.  :)

Link influenced my world in ways I never imagined.  We gave him life, but he gave me Pirate Ferret.

I can say with 100% certainty that if I hadn't owned Link, I never would have written Pirate Ferret.  Link is my main character, Tentacles, from the tips of his crafty claws to the end of his slinky tail.  Watching Link steal and sneak and build his stash of swiped treasures gave me more inspiration than I ever dreamed of.  No other ferret was, is, or ever will be quite like him.

Now, don't get me wrong: we ADORE our still-living ferret, Butters.  And this picture sums him up perfectly:

He's a fluffy, happy-go-lucky goofball who bonks into walls all the time and thinks placing a toy in the middle of the room is the perfect hiding spot.  He's well-behaved, delightful, and knows he's the cutest thing on the planet.  I love him to pieces, and wouldn't trade him for anything.  But Butters is not stealthy, or sneaky, or swift, or sly, and if you put him on a pirate ship, he'd probably get eaten in about five seconds.

Link was like Bart Simpson, Stitch, and Jack Sparrow all rolled into one.  He was cocky, clever, an absolute handful, (yes, sickly and expensive too), and simply amazing.  Pirate Ferret would not be the same without him, and neither would I.

When Link passed away, it almost felt like Tentacles died with him.  I couldn't even think about my novel, let alone work on it.  I know that will pass in time, and I feel fortunate that Link's spirit will live on between my pages.  But he will always be sorely missed.      

So no, I don't regret the bills, the tears, the late-night meds, or even the poop-scooping.  What I do regret is not taking enough pictures (I have mostly ferrety blurs), and that I didn't get to spend more time with him.  I know we're lucky to have had Link as long as we did, but I still feel like our time with him was all too brief.  He stole my socks, toilet paper, granola bar wrappers, and ultimately, my heart.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back from Disney

After a week of fun in the...rain...I'm back from Disney now!

Mickey jack-o-lanterns are adorable!

Yes, as they sing in Winnie the Pooh, "The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down," all over us, for most of the week.  Our first souvenirs were actually some very stylish ponchos... 

Hubby did not want to stand by me and my poncho hat.

...which I sometimes wore on my head like a hat.  ('Cause I'm just cool like that.)

But despite the soggy weather, we had a great time.  And the crowds were super-small all week, so that was definitely a bonus!  (Did you see how empty Hogwarts is in that picture?!)

Hubby and I visited all of the Disney World parks and spent an extra day at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure.  (To see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course!)

We dined with Mickey...

His ears were not made of ice cream.

Mauled a giant turkey leg...

This is how Tyrannosaurus Kathryn eats.

And attended Monsters University! 

Not really, but isn't it cute?

This girl loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Yes she did!

This guy did not enjoy, "It's a Small World."  NOT AT ALL.

Nor did he fit well in the boat.

And while Butterbeer was unfortunately one of the grossest things I've ever tasted, the Pumpkin Juice was DELICIOUS!

And came with a cute little pumpkin cap!

We came home with lighter wallets and suitcases stuffed with chocolate wands.  (Which were worth every Sickle and Knut!)  While it's nice to be home again, I already wish I could hop aboard Disney's Magical Express and head back to the Happiest Place on Earth.  (I'd gladly live in the Tiki Room if they let me.)  Guess we'll just have to start saving up for our 10 year anniversary!  :)  

Note: The above pictures were taken by me or my hubby.  He is just thrilled that I shared the "It's a Small World" photo with you all.