Debbie Ohi

Debbie OhiWow! Do we have an exciting way to end our 5th year of 12 x 12 – a featured author post from none other than Debbie Ridpath Ohi! I’ve met Debbie several times at various SCBWI events, and I am always amazed by how bubbly and cheerful she is. She makes time to talk to everyone, even now that she’s catapulted into stardom (basically, I consider anybody who gets to illustrate JUDY BLUME books a superstar)!

For years, I’ve been a fan of all things Debbie. She was a pioneer in the arena of technology for writers. She created (and still creates) epic comics depicting the agony and ecstasy of the writing life. And, not least of which, has written and illustrated some of my favorite books in recent years – especially WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?

Please join me in giving the warmest of 12 x 12 welcomes to Debbie!

We have something in common. We both came from corporate careers – me in electronic banking and you in programming. How did you KNOW you wanted to switch into something that was arts focused?

​Hey, I didn’t know you came from an electronic banking background! I was a programmer/analyst, helping to design and code the teller interfaces at Toronto-Dominion Bank branches across Canada. At first it was fun… then less so over time. I looked ahead to where my career track was heading — much more management and less programming— and dreaded the future rather than being excited about it. I tried to transfer within the company, but wasn’t able to. I felt trapped. My boyfriend (who is now my husband) saw how miserable I was and convinced me to finally quit after two years, saying he’d support me so I could pursue my creative dreams. While I worked on my novel writing, I earned money doing nonfiction freelance writing as well as working part-time for the Toronto Public Library as well as in a children’s bookstore.

I’ve always loved the arts but had never considered a career in the arts. My family didn’t have a lot of money; my mom sewed most of our clothes, we sometimes used powdered milk instead of liquid milk because it was cheaper, etc. It made sense to get a full-time job that had a steady income. I liked computer programming, so I decided to get a computer science degree.

Hm…I don’t think I really answered your question. To sum up: I have always loved the arts but never considered switching careers until my husband convinced me to do it. I will always be grateful to Jeff for that. Here’s the dedication at the front of I’M BORED, my first children’s book project:

It’s one reason I strongly advise children’s book authors and illustrators to have a supportive network, people you trust and who encourage you. It’s made all the difference to me. There are different types of support, of course. It’s wonderful to have a peer group for critiquing, commiserating, etc. but I also find it so important to also have people like Jeff and my sister Ruth for closer emotional support.

I heard you in an interview say you didn’t have formal training in illustration. How did you educate yourself in order to become a professional in this field?

I didn’t really set out to educate myself about children’s book illustration in the beginning, mainly because it never crossed my mind that I COULD be a professional in the children’s book field. I was doing a lot of writing, reading books about the craft and business of writing, however, because I was all about writing middle grade novels.

I was also doing a lot of webcomics, just for the fun of it. I’ve always loved drawing comics, ever since I was a little kid. One of my very first comic strips was created when I was in grade school, about a baby named Boppy. Wish I had kept some of those! I created comics for a homemade family newsletter.

I entered and won a comics contest in a country-wide high school newsletter; the prize was an electric typewriter! I was so excited. Then came the Internet, and I started several comic strips including an semi-autobiographical comic called My Life In A Nutshell, a comic about avid fans waiting in line for the Lord Of The Rings movies, Will Write For Chocolate, plus a lot of comics about freelance writing.

I loved the feedback I got for my webcomics, and would make changes to how I told the stories and conveyed characters because of that feedback. Creating comics helped me hone my storytelling skills and also taught me to essentialize, to pick out key moments in a storyline, and to craft a satisfying ending.

Since my career-changing SCBWI Summer Conference in 2010 (You can read a blog post about it here: http://kidlitartists.blogspot.ca/2010/09/how-rejection-got-me-book-deal-my.html), I’ve also been trying to learn more about the craft and business of children’s book illustration through sessions at SCBWI conferences, reading blogs and other posts by people I admire in the industry, constantly reading children’s books, browsing the children’s book sections in libraries and bookstores, experimenting with new techniques and media, doing more life sketching and drawing a LOT.

I’m also learning a lot from other children’s book illustrators as well as some of the art directors and editors I work with, especially Laurent Linn and Justin Chanda at Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. I like taking on book projects that challenge me somehow, force me to learn something new.

You have illustrated several books for others (Michael Ian Black, Rob Sanders, Aaron Reynolds, etc.). How do you approach illustrating other people’s words?

​I always start by reading over the manuscript through several times. Then I read it over again many times but do some scribbling on the paper (I like to print out the manuscript for this reason) as well as on notepaper.

I figure out what illustration style would be best for the story, how to best enhance the author’s text, how I could enrich a reader’s experience through the story. I try to do something a bit different for every story to make it more fun and challenging for me as well as for the reader, plus make sure the books I illustrate don’t compete with each other.

I love the puzzle-solving aspect of illustrating picture books! There are always many different ways to draw a certain illustration spread, but I want to choose the one that best enhances the story in context with the other spreads. There’s a lot of experimentation, going back and forth, checking the overall flow. My favourite part of the book illustration process is right at the beginning, when anything is possible! But it’s also the most stressful, since I do have so many choices.

I’ve created some templates that help me with the initial idea-brainstorming process with picture book illustrations as well as when I’m writing and illustrating a new picture book. I’ve provided these online for free download/printing, if anyone’s interested: http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2015/11/4/free-picture-book-thumbnail-templates-for-writers-and-illust.html

You have also written and illustrated your own book (WHERE ARE MY BOOKS?) How was that process different from illustrating others?

I get a huge amount of satisfaction when I both write AND illustrate my own book. It’s also kind of scary, though. When a book comes out that I’ve illustrated but not written, then I feel as if I’m standing there up on stage with the author, both of us supporting each other. When it’s completely MY book, then it’s just me up there alone. If reviewers don’t like it, it stings more.

Illustrating my own book is easier than illustrating someone else’s book. If I’m working on the illustrations and realize that there’s a flow problem or a change in the text that would strengthen the book overall, for example, I can make that change without having to get the art director to talk to the editor to talk to the author about whether it’s ok to make the change. I also don’t have to guess what was going through an author’s head when he or she wrote part of the story.

Having said that, however, I will ALWAYS want to continue illustrating other people’s stories as well as books I’ve written. I get a different kind of satisfaction from that process, bringing other people’s text to life with my drawings, plus it gives me the chance to work on stories that I could not have written myself.

Can you talk a bit about how you (as an illustrator) know that an illustration is finished? How many drafts/sketches typically go into one completed illustration.

If it wasn’t for deadlines, I could probably keep tweaking an illustration forever. That’s why I’m so grateful to my art directors and editors, who help keep me on track and let me know if an illustration needs more work. I’m the same way about my writing as well.

As for the number of drafts/sketches that typically go into one completed illustration, it depends on the project and on the illustration. I usually go through at least two or three formal rounds of sketches before final illustrations. By “formal,” I mean rounds of sketches that I send to my art director. For each formal round, I also do multiple versions of each sketch on my own. For the more complicated or challenging spreads, I will go through at least 40-50 rounds of sketches.

Has your illustration style changed/evolved over the years?

​Yes, definitely.

I have multiple illustration styles, and each has evolved over time. I like experimenting and challenging myself, trying new techniques and new media. Here are just a few samples to show how much my illustration style changes:

 

 

 

 

One thing I’ve noticed about you is your energy, enthusiasm and positivity. This is a tough business. What are your strategies for staying upbeat even through difficult times?

Thanks! I appreciate that.

When I’m finding myself in a particularly difficult or stressful times, I try to focus on:

– Being grateful. I find it helps to focus on the good people and things in my life rather than the bad.

– Staying positive in social media. I want to emphasize that this is just my approach, what helps me; I’m not saying everyone needs to do this. Why I try (I fail sometimes) to stay positive: I find negativity feeds negativity. Though posting something snarky or complaining or venting online can feel good in the short-term, I almost always regret it long term. Instead, I vent or lean on trusted friends and family in private.

– Keeping things in perspective. See my “When I Learned To Actively Pursue Happiness” post in Robert Lee Brewer’s Life Changing Moments series: http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com/2012/02/when-i-learned-to-actively-pursue.html

– Having a life outside of the business. This was especially important during the many, many years of rejections. I go for walks outside, play my flute, get together with friends, play board games, dance in the front yard when the moon is full. Ok, maybe not so much the moon-dancing part, but only because we have no front yard.

– Making time to play.

Any advice for pre-published illustrators still working to develop portfolios and/or get an agent?

A few tips I’ve learned from my own experience as well as from others in the industry:

– Only include images that you’re excited about. Don’t just include them because you think other people will like them.

– Include a sequence of images that show you can tell a story through illustration. This also helps show that you can keep a character or characters consistent-looking throughout. Most illustrators can come up with great standalone images but the challenge is to show editors, art directors and agents that you can illustrate picture books.

– If you want to get into children’s picture book illustration, read a LOT of children’s books. Especially look at the ones that have been published in the past few years. I’ve seen so many portfolios by aspiring children’s book illustrators that include pieces are absolutely gorgeous but are also not appropriate for children’s books. You are much more likely to get attention for your portfolio work if you can show that you appreciate and understand picture books.

​- Include images that suggest a story. And not just any part of the story, but a bit that hints that something exciting or intriguing is about to happen, that makes us want to know MORE.

What’s up next for you? Books you are working on? Double-secret projects you want to share? 😉

​Right now I’m working on:

– Sketches for I’M SAD, a sequel to I’M BORED written by Michael Ian Black, to be published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.

– My contribution for Colby Sharp’s THE CREATIVITY PROJECT middle grade anthology with Little, Brown.

– A middle grade novel. I had put this on the back burner when I began getting picture book illustration contracts. I took it out again and am still excited about it, so I figure that’s a good sign. 🙂 Some people don’t know that I began as a middle grade novel writer, and it’s my MG writing that helped me get my awesome agent (Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown). I’ve written three MG novels in the past. The first two were sent out and though I close with the second, neither found a home…. though the rejection letters were getting more and more encouraging. I never ended up sending the third novel to my agent because I could tell it just wasn’t strong enough. Fast forward to now, and I’m working my fourth MG novel. In retrospect, I’m glad those early novels weren’t published because I am a better writer now and also have more experience with the industry. There’s no guarantee that this new novel will be published, of course, but I’m more hopeful this time. Please cross your fingers for me!

– A new picture book dummy. I actually have two ideas that I’m working on right now.

BONUS: If you had to choose only ONE dessert to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Cupcakes.

I’m a big fan of cake in general, and I’m also a fan of miniature food. Cupcakes are the ULTIMATE DESSERT for me.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? (Simon & Schuster). Debbie’s illustrations appear in books by Michael Ian Black and Judy Blume, and she has worked on projects with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Random House. Upcoming books in 2017 include Debbie’s second solo picture book, Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster), Sea Monkey & Bob (Simon & Schuster, author Aaron Reynolds), Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in The Secret Ingredient (Random House, author Lauren McLaughlin), and Ruby Rose, Big Bravos (HarperCollins, author Rob Sanders). Debbie posts about reading, writing and illustrating children’s books at Inkygirl.com. Twitter: @inkyelbows.

This Post Has 174 Comments

  1. Thank You for sharing your story and how you stay so positive, in writing and in life. Best Wishes for continuing success:>

  2. Debbie, thank you for your bubbly, cheerful, and helpful links, tips, and illustrations. I love the illustration you made on the beach and how you used the marks a wave left plus your own to make your graceful girl in gown. Thank you for the positive energy you give to picture book writers and illustrators everywhere! I’m looking forward to reading your new books :).

  3. I feel as if I’ve gotten to know you through your post. Thank you so much for sharing and being so open about yourself and your writing/illustrating life. I’m sure everyone who reads your article will draw inspiration from it, as I have. Thanks to you, I will not be taking up scorpion petting today. 🙂 I wish you much continued success!

  4. Great interview. Thanks for sharing your story, Debbie. Your illustrations are fun and funny. The “You May be Luckier than You Think” comic made me smile. And I totally relate to the Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder Support Group pic. I am definitely a member of that group.

  5. I admired you before, but knowing that you came from a poor family, were brave enough to leave your job and follow your talent, makes me regard you even more. Success and smiles.

  6. I follow Debbie on Twitter and read her blog. She’s inspiring and just makes me happy. Thanks so much for this post! The kids and I had a good laugh over the comic with the missing frog.

  7. WOW…what a fabulous interview and post, Julie. Although I’m not surprised, considering it is Debbie Ohi. 😉 Your comics are so perfect…and I LOVE the Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder Support Group…I must be a charter member of that one. 😉 Thanks for letting us tag along with the inside peek at your journey, Debbie. I’m a total fan of passing along positivity. 😉 😉

  8. This was eye opening and helpful to keep pushing that pencil and trying different ideas in writing and
    seeing those pictures or illustrations in my mind. Debbie moved from one profession to another and kept herself involved in learning the process. That is encouraging. I will be checking out Inkygirl.com. Still just scribbling notes and ideas not necessarily trying to be an illustrator. Revisions happen even with illustrators not just writers. I choose Chocolate Chip cookies or chocolate mousse or . . . decisions, decisions, decisions.

  9. Thank you, Debbie. I am so grateful to you for sharing your humor, your insights into difficult times, and your encouragement to actively pursue happiness. I also thank you for the link to those helpful templates which I plan to put to good use.

  10. Polly: Thanks so much!

    Lori:Thank you! I had fun drawing that sandy girl. 🙂

    Lauri: Yay for no scorpion peeting. And thanks!

    Kristi: Thanks! And don’t give up on illustrating. I don’t have any art training but just practiced for fun a LOT.

    Rona, Angie: Thank you!

    Linda: Glad to hear that I’m not the only member of the OCEDS group. 😀

    Darshana, Zoraida, Myrna, Johnell, Susan, Lynn, Diane: Thanks so much!

    Vivan: Thanks, Vivian! And thanks also for sharing on FB. 🙂

    Sheri: I’m a fan of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate mousse as well. 😀

    Maureen: Thank you! I hope you find my templates useful. 🙂

  11. Following you online (but not in a creepy way!). I feel like you’re a writing friend. Congratulations on your huge success (NAKED! is genius in how you make it realistic but G-rated and makes me laugh every time), and best wishes for novel #4.

  12. Loved seeing the illustrations you made when you were younger. I have some of those my parents saved from so many years ago. I too loved the illustration in the sand-so graceful and fitting.

  13. Great post! It encouraged, inspired, informed, and made me laugh. I’m going to post your OCED comic to keep me moving!! All the best to you with #4!

  14. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your journey with some insightful tips and great templates! I’m looking forward to your next book and the humor you do so well 🙂

  15. Thanks for the great post Debbie! I particularly loved this piece of writing/life advice: “Being grateful. I find it helps to focus on the good people and things in my life rather than the bad.”. Thank you for that!

  16. Thanks for your passion as is so evident in this exchange. Your drawings match the personality of simplicity I pick up in your interview. I can only wish I had the double talent of writing and illustrating. Keep up the direction you are heading and I will do my best to keep up with all you accomplish.

  17. Thanks for sharing, Debbie — excellent point re: the “supportive network” we surround ourselves with makes everything possible!

  18. Wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing so many aspects of both your writing and illustrating careers. Your positivity is both encouraging and contagious! Congrats on all of your accomplishments!

  19. Oh, to be an author illustrator. They have it made. Lol Thanks for the interview. I love seeing your sketches. And this is even more fun for me to read as Rob is in my crit group. Thanks, Debbie.

  20. How inspiring to read such a thorough and honest interview. Thanks for sharing some really interesting, detailed points about how you’ve reached such a wonderful level of success! Your energy gives me a boost to carry on… And I take note of your tips of the trade. Always good to hear them from people as experienced as yourself. Much appreciated.

  21. Impressive. Thank you for sharing your journey. It is always encouraging to know that those who have ‘arrived’, went through the same things as those of us who have yet to ‘arrive’.

  22. Life sure gets super-duper busy in December and alas, my writing has taken a backseat to many other things. However I had some free time today and although presents need wrapping, clothes need cleaning, food needs making and I’m pretty sure a child needs picking up, I set to and decided to read your post.
    WOW! I loved it–so uplifting and ever so humorous! I knew I saved this gem for a reason 🙂 Thx for sharing your journey, Debbie and please keep up with the comics!

  23. Great interview! Thank you for giving us a peek at your writing/illustrating life, Debbie! I loved your Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder Support Group sketch!! I’m definitely a member 🙂

  24. I have always said the journey is the most important part of a career followed by the people you meet. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  25. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Debbie! I can’t wait to use your PB templates. Good luck on your MG novel (and I agree – cupcakes all the way)!

  26. Wow, Debbie! Love the “They have it made” cartoon — so reassuring. You gave some advice for illustrators; would you have a nugget for aspiring PB authors who don’t illustrate on working with an illustrator??

  27. Great interview! A support network is key for sure! Wow, Hank you for sharing about your childhood, too! I enjoyed hearing your story. Happy New Year, Kristen Olsen

  28. It is great to read all your experience and advice. I wish I’d had all the positive ways to look at rejection back when I started out. I also come from a family with little money. I managed to get myself into art school [both parents died before I made it there], but I ended up needing a job with a regular paycheck after school, and art got shoved to the side. This go round feels easier to stay positive from many methods learned, and just knowing it doesn’t help to be negative. I wanted to simply illustrate kids books starting out, and now am writing as well. Love your sense of humor. I hope your dream of MG novel is fulfilled soon, and you go on to pull in all your future dreams as well.

  29. Thanks for sharing your journey, Debbie. My first career followed a similar arc, beginning as a programmer for the banking industry and becoming less “fun” as I moved up the corporate ladder. It’s always inspiring to see a success story that combines talent with hard work and persistence!

  30. Debbie, I read your post about the day that changed your life. I’m sorry for the losses you experienced. I love your turn around message that you received. You are so positive. Positivity doesn’t find us. It’s a conscious choice to make in life. Your drawings and every picture I see of you reflects how positive you are. You are always smiling. One of your pictures has even inspired a picture book manuscript for me. It’s still in the percolating stage. Love you and love your message.

  31. Thanks for your inspiring post. I love hearing how people from essentially non-creative backgrounds can successfully break into unexpected fields.

  32. This was an incredibly insightful interview! I’m going to read it over a few more times so the messages stick! Your spirit, work, and journey inspire me. Thank you!

  33. Great interview! I met Debbie at her first NYC SCBWI conference ages ago. Best to all for a productive 2017 writing year!

  34. Thanks Debbie and Julie for this fun and encouraging interview. I’ve been following Debbie on Twitter and love her perspective on the life of a kid-lit author/illustrator.

  35. I love the four stages in the writer’s life. I’m in the upper left square and know friends in the other squares. You nailed a writers thoughts and career.

  36. I like that you challenge yourself to do something new with each project—seems like the perfect approach for a long career. Love your work!

  37. Debbie:

    I must tell you your little doodle that you post on FB every so often have encouraged me to try my own hand at illustration, and now your secrets of success have added to my determination to succeed. Thanks for a great post and your adorable little pictures. 🙂

  38. Debbie – thank you so much for sharing! It’s interesting to hear how a successful illustrator goes about her work. Also, I love your outlook and attitude!

  39. So interesting! Enjoyed reading all about your journey. I love your work and look forward to reading and viewing your upcoming books. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you…and cupcakes are also my favorite dessert! (Especially white cake with white frosting.) Happy New Year!

  40. Thanks for sharing, Debbie.. I totally agree with keeping thoughts positive. This has been a year when I’ve held my tongue many times online. (not so much at home sometimes!) Children’s writers and illustrators are the best.

  41. Fun read, Debbie. Thank goodness for deadlines, or we’d never “finish” anything in the arts. We always “see” a tweak or twelve we could make. Good luck with your middle grade, such a fun age to write for.

  42. I’ve followed you for what seems like forever on twitter Debbie and I love watching your drawing and illustration evolve and change. Thanks for being an inspiration to me as an illustrator!

  43. Thanks for the great tips for getting through the tough times, Debbie. Remembering to keep things in perspective is especially helpful to me. Happy New Year!

  44. What a great post to end the year! I want to be an awesome illustrator when I grow up! But seriously, thanks for the positivity and sharing your process and fun books!

  45. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your experience, comics, illustrations, and templates! I look forward to reading your books. A Happy and Rewarding New Year to you!

  46. I always like hearing back stories of authors and illustrators. I find your story especially inviting because I have a secret desire to eventually illustrate as well as write. Self taught artists give me hope that maybe if I keep working, I could reach that goal.

  47. I love that we get to hear from Debbie to round out this month! I’ve long been a fan of her books and social media pick-me-up drawings. And I appreciate a peek behind the scenes of the illustration process. Thanks, Debbie!

  48. I love that we get to hear from Debbie to round out this year! I’ve long been a fan of her books and social media pick-me-up drawings. And I appreciate a peek behind the scenes of the illustration process. Thanks, Debbie!

  49. Your enthusiasm is refreshing and inspiring! Thank you so much for a shot of “yes”! I particularly enjoyed hearing of your brave exit from corporate security to enter the uncertain world of children’s books.

  50. Boy, what an encouraging glimpse of someone else ‘alongside me’ in these ‘trenches.’ I appreciate your light and fresh spirit, Debbie, which shows through in your drawings. You reminded me of the inner strength we all have inside, and to dust it off. Let’s just Do It in this new year.

  51. Thanks for the great post. The pictures of us confused authors was exactly what I needed to see/hear right now. Good luck with I’M SAD and your own stories.

    Happy New Year! 🙂

  52. Debbie, thanks so much for sharing your background story and your process with us! I could get lost forever in following your very helpful and inspirational blog links. You are generous with information!

  53. Debbie, I have loved your art and illustrations since the first time I encountered them, and I have always appreciated your attitude towards life and art. So glad to have you as a friend. *hugs*

  54. I can see that from an early age you loved to draw from an early age and you had a sense of humour.Both are great for producing picture books. Your inner joy comes out in your reflections and is stimulating. Thank you for the inspiration,Debbie

  55. Thanks, Debbie, for the downloadable templates and especially for the advice on creating a storytelling sequence for the portfolio – very useful suggestions! 🙂

  56. Debbie,

    Wow, your enthusiasm and the positive focus for life and your craft are evident in this interview. Thank you for generously sharing yourself.

  57. Debbi, what I love most about your work is the emotion that comes through. Your illustrations gives the reader a moment of pause to ponder. You are a testament to going after your dream career even if you are vested in a different one. Thank you for sharing this with us. Great ending post to 2016 to give us all the needed uplift for tackling 2017.

  58. I enjoyed your interview and learned a lot about myself through you. I hope someday you will illustrate one of my books. PS I like your humor and Thank you for sharing your life.

  59. Your interview was fun and honest. I’ve drawn for years and never considered myself an illustrator (no formal training). You are so encouraging. 2010 was just, like, uh, yesterday, right? Thanks!!

  60. Thanks so much for sharing all these stories, details, and words of advice! I really appreciate all you bring to the kidlit community and to the world of picture books!

  61. So glad to see the diverse books–these are hard to find, and I try to keep up with good stories with diverse children so that I can read them to my beautiful multiracial 2-year old granddaugher. Interesting transition for you–I have a degree in math but have always and only worked as a writer…now employers want Millenials and content creation (and lower pay). So I’ve been trying to draw, and am very new to it…so I’m going to print your post to save for inspiration.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  62. I agree with everyone else, your positive attitude and enthusiasm are contagious! Thanks for sharing them as well as your creativity with us Happy New Year!

  63. Thank You for sharing your story. My favorite is the Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder Support Group comic. Your positive energy inspires me.

  64. Thank You for sharing your story. My favorite is the Obsessive Compulsive Editing Disorder Support Group comic. Your positive energy inspires me.

  65. Thank you for such an inspiring interview. I love your work, as illustrator and writer. I connected with needing deadlines.

  66. Your talent and enthusiasm for children’s literature oozed out of this interview! Awestruck. Envious. Humbled. Encouraged.
    Thank you for re-motivating me.
    I hope to meet you someday.
    Happy New Year!

  67. Thanks for sharing your journey with us Debbie. I was so interested to learn about your MG writing. Best of luck!

  68. Thank you for sharing your journey, and for your post on keeping things in perspective- it’s a great message for the new year. I love your work and look forward to more of your creations!

  69. Debbie,

    How exciting that you were able to change careers and thrive. Your story is a hopeful one. And thanks for the illustrations inserted into the blog post. I appreciated them.

    Best,

    Tonya

  70. Debbie,

    How exciting that you were able to change careers and thrive. Your story is a hopeful one. And thanks for the illustrations inserted into the blog post. I appreciated them.

    Best,

    Tonya

  71. Such wonderful information Debbie! Thank you for sharing. I have been a big fan ever since I met you at my first SCBWI LA conference in 2011. I love your positive energy and enthusiasm. 🙂

  72. Debbie, i met you at a recent SCBWI Florida conference, and your enthusiasm is indeed wondrous–and contagious! I love your wacky sensibility, too, as in your PB “Naked” (which, I’m delighted to say, you autographed for me). The interview here in 12×12 is particularly interesting, as I haven’t thought about PBs from the artist’s point of view–it helps give me a better perspective re: the entire process.

  73. Thank you so much for sharing your comments regarding the challenges of the writing business. For me, your blog i so encouraging and gives me motivation to keep going- bring on 2017! Thanks!

  74. I love the idea of making time to play–I feel like this should be my New Year’s resolution.
    Your tips on building a portfolio–I jotted some notes, as I’m preparing to update mine.
    *Fingers crossed* for MG novel #4!

  75. I don’t know how I missed this post when it was posted in December but I’m so glad I read it! Debbie, you have been such a source of encouragement to so many writers and illustrators, and yours was one of the first sites I stumbled across a couple of years ago when I started learning about the craft of writing picture books. I still use some of your dummy outlines on your website as a reference, I adore your comics, and I love that you are also a board game enthusiast. Any future plans to illustrate a board or card game?

  76. Debbie, thank you for sharing your story with us. I love your comics, just thinking about them makes me smile.

  77. Debbie,
    Thank you for this post. Reading it and looking at your illustrations and comics makes me feel happy. I’m working on my first book dummy for a story I wrote. I’m starting my 4th draft (I’m not sure how many drafts I did of the story, but more than that). I’m learning a lot. And you have provided me with inspiration–Thanks!

  78. Your sand picture of the women in the gown is stunning – do you have more of these? will they be in a book? Would love to know more about that.

    I also love your take on positive v. negative – so very, very true. Looking forward to reading your piece on pursuing happiness.

    I came to this post late, but it’s the perfect way to kick off the new year. Thank you.

  79. Thanks so much, Debbie, for an inspiring and uplifting post! I love your webcomics…I can really relate to your characters. It looks like 2017 will be a banner year for you. I look forward to reading more of your work!

  80. Thank you for sharing your journey. I will remember your interview when it is time for me to take that leap from the steady 40-hour medical office job to the wonderful, beautiful unpredictable art world. Twenty-plus years of suppressed creativity needs to come out.

  81. Debbie,
    I love your positive mindset – a perfect post to start 2017! Thank you for being the featured author/illustrator & continued success in your writing & illustrating.

  82. Thank you for this fantastic upbeat and encouraging post, Debbie! I love all the links provided and am excited to try out some new templates in the new year. Just what I needed. I really love your work. It’s so expressive and lively.

  83. Debbie,
    Wow, what a wonderful post. Thank you for being so generous with your time and knowledge. Love your smile!

  84. I followed your link to ‘My Name is Not Bob’ You are a remarkable lady, wading through your sad thoughts allowing them to become happy memories. Actively pursuing happiness is a great way to live your life.
    PS – What flavour of cupcakes?

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