Monday, September 26, 2016

Why I Love Picture Book Launches

Clover and the Shooting Star  was officially launched on September 11, 2016 and I was reminded again why I love picture book launches!  There is nothing quite like watching people react to your work and see their faces light up as they view it.  And planning the launch gives me a chance to be a kid again!  

Planning a picture book launch is just plain fun!  Yeah, sure, it might seem overwhelming at first, but remember who you are doing it for - kids!  They aren't picky, they just want to have fun.  You get to let your imagination go wild and think like a child to come up with fun food, interesting interaction stations and a fun venue.  I used Pinterest to create a board where I gathered ideas that would fit with my woodland animal, shooting star theme.   I enlisted the help of my kids to make fun food and decorations based on the pins I collected:)


I chose a park location because what kid doesn't want to go to the park?  And we have a beautiful park near us which is where we go to watch shooting stars!  Perfect!


Bringing the story of Clover and the Shooting Star to life for little ones and adults alike was really important to me.  The story is touching and the characters are engaging and I wanted all who came to the launch to experience that.  My good friend Maxine came to the rescue when she created plush versions of my characters from the book!  She is an amazing designer and works miracles with fabric.  Look at the adorable characters she made for the book launch!

A raffle of the individual characters allowed five lucky people to take a one-of-a-kind Clover plush home with them, and the proceeds went to benefit a "No-Kill" animal shelter in honor of my niece who loved dogs.   That's a double win!  But Maxine didn't stop there, she made me Clover the Rabbit in quantity so people could take Clover home with them along with the book!


But with out doubt the best part of the picture book launch was meeting and sharing with people who were touched by the story of Clover.  I am so honored that people shared their stories of loss and grief with me, and that they found comfort in the wonder and hope of Clover and the Shooting Star.  Moms, dads, and little ones alike can relate to Clover and his story.  And having the Clover the Bunny for little ones to hold and love along with the book just warmed my heart.

Creating Clover and the Shooting Star to comfort my family in a time of need helped others in their time of need too.  There is no bigger reward than that. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

News Coverage of Clover and the Shooting Star

Clover and the Shooting Star has been the benefactor of some wonderful news coverage this week, and I just wanted to share it with you!


Our local paper The Buffalo News, covered the story in their on-line and printed Lifestyle section called Refresh.  The fabulous student journalists at St. Bonaventure University where I teach, who publish in our school paper and in Tap into Greater Olean, gave Clover wonderful press.  And my amazing publisher at CrissCross AppleSauce, the children's imprint of Buffalo Heritage Limited, spoke to readers about Clover through The Buffalo

You can click on the links/articles below to see how Clover is touching others with his story of wonder and hope:)

Clover officially launches this weekend September 11, 2016 at the Book Signing held at Chestnut Ridge Park, in Orchard Park, NY from 2 pm - 4 pm.  If you can't make it to the event you can check back here on Monday where I will post pictures from the event.  And of course you can pick up your own copy at 

Thanks to everyone for your support of Clover!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Launch and Signing!

The books are here and everything is ready!  I can't wait for you to see Clover and the Shooting Star.  It looks fantastic and we have been receiving wonderful feedback!  Look at what some people are saying:  

“WOW! It is beautiful. I LOVE the gestural aspect of the art.”
Terry Ortolani
Children’s Book Printer

“A lovely story with many subtle life lessons cleverly embedded  
            Dr. Kathleen Alfano
             Early Childhood Specialist

Provides parents, grandparents, counselors, nurses, teachers and other adults with the perfect way to start difficult conversations about loss, be it of a person or a pet, with very young children”
Marti Gorman
Children’s Book Publisher

“This is a beautifully illustrated story for younger children about age-old questions about death, especially when it is unexpected.  It is hopeful and most importantly can start a conversation between children and parents or others caring for the child.  This conversation is perhaps the most important part of the book—snuggle up, read it together! And then listen and talk!”   
David L. Kaye, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry
Vice Chair for Academic Affairs (Psychiatry)
Medical Director, CAP PC
University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

We have officially planned the launch and book signing of Clover and the Shooting Star:

When: Sunday, September 11, 2016

Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Place:  Chestnut Ridge Park Casino, Orchard Park, NY

We will have books, kids activities, and snacks.  Plus Clover and the whole gang will be there!  You have to come to find out what I mean by that last line.  It's open to the public so please share with friends you think might enjoy Clover as well.  

See you there!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Vacation Sketches

Another thing that kept me busy this summer has been a few trips to some pretty spectacular places.  In late June we went to Glacier National Park in Montana for a family hiking vacation.  While I didn't get a lot of time for art because we were hiking 10+ miles a day, I did get a chance to do a few sketches in my sketch book.

The sketch to the left was of the fireweed and daisys that grew along side the deck of the house that we rented.  They were so beautifully delicate that I just had to try and capture them.  Then, while I was sketching, a little bee came up and decided to buzz around in my scene, so I added him in!  

I also tried to capture little thumbnails from some of my favorite scenes of Montana, like the night time sky, and trails that we hiked.  The top right is the view from the deck of the house that we rented, looking into the park.  The bottom right is from my all time favorite trail Grinnell Glacier.  We were not able to make it to the glacier that day because the path was blocked by snow!  In late June!  But we made it most of the way and I was able to capture the beautiful glacial lake that is formed from the run off from the glacier.  The bottom left is from St. Mary's Lake and a beautiful trail where we walked along side the lake and happened upon a mother moose and her baby! 


After we returned from Glacier National Park my husband and I took a trip to California with our oldest son to visit the college he will attend in the fall.  Cal Poly! It is located in the beautiful coastal town of San Luis Obispo in the central coast of California.  The golden hills of California were in full force in the middle of July and I just had to try and capture them.  There was also a beautiful flowering tree on the campus at Cal Poly that had specular purple flowers...I had to paint that as well!  And we were lucky enough to stay at a hotel by the ocean so I woke every morning to a beautiful ocean view!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Update on Clover

I'm sorry it has been such a long time since I have posted anything.  I have been up to my ears [pun intended!  LOL] in activities for getting Clover and the Shooting Star launched!   Everyone has been helping out and I am so thankful for it. 


My publisher has been working hard to get Clover and the Shooting Star in front of specialists who deal with young children, my friend Maxine has been helping me create beautiful dimensional representations of the characters from Clover, and my son joined in and created a website just for Clover!  

You can go there to check out some of the inside illustrations as well as pre-order a copy of Clover....especially helpful if you are from out of town and won't be able to make the launch party in September. 

I am also working with my niece, Amber, to create a fantastic book launch party.  We are holding it at the star watching rock at our local park, Chestnut Ridge Park, in Orchard Park, New York.  It felt completely appropriate to have it at the place that we as a family go to watch shooting stars:-)

Everything is coming together and I can't wait to share it with you all!  Check out the website and let me know what you think by dropping me a comment below.  

Next week is press check so I'll have more news, and hopefully photos, for you then!  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gone Too Soon

I was recently introduced to a couple of songs that were written by musicians to express their feelings about losing someone too soon.  Since Clover and the Shooting Star was written for the same reason I felt a kinship with these artists.  I don't want to give you the background for these songs, since you can just follow the links I provided if you are interested.  I thought I would just let the words speak for themselves.

Gone Too Soon 
By Michael Jackson
Like a comet
Blazing 'cross the evening sky
Gone too soon
Like a rainbow
Fading in the twinkling of an eye
Gone too soon
Shiny and sparkly
And splendidly bright
Here one day
Gone one night
Like the loss of sunlight
On a cloudy afternoon
Gone too soon
Like a castle
Built upon a sandy beach
Gone too soon
Like a perfect flower
That is just beyond your reach
Gone too soon
Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight
Here one day
Gone one night
Like a sunset
Dying with the rising of the moon
Gone too soon
Gone too soon
written and composed by Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan.

Gone Too Soon

By Daughtry
Today could've been the day
That you blow out your candles
Make a wish as you close your eyes
Today could've been the day
Everybody was laughin'
Instead I just sit here and cry
Who would you be?
What would you look like
When you looked at me for the very first time?
Today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you
I'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
Such a ray of light we never knew
Gone too soon, yeah

Would you have been president?
Or a painter, an author or sing like your mother
One thing is evident
Would've given all I had

Would've loved ya like no other
Who would you be?
What would you look like?
Would you have my smile and her eyes?
Today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you
I'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
Such a ray of light we never knew
Gone too soon, yeah

Not a day goes by, oh
I'm always asking why, oh

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you
I'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
Such a beautiful life we never knew
Gone too soon
You were gone too soon, yeah

And not a day goes by
That I don't think of you
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed by LyricFind

Friday, June 24, 2016

La Grande Fabrique De Mots

I am in love with a new book and illustrator and I wanted to share it with you!  The book is called The Great Word Factory by Agnes de Lestrade and illustrated by Valeria Decampo.  It was originally written in French, however when they translated it to English they changed the title to Phileas's Fortune, a story about self expression.  The English title is really clunky if you ask me, however, the story and the illustrations are just as beautiful! 

I found a video of the reading of the book in it's original French which you can see below.  It's absolutely lovely and you must click on the link:)   (I tried to embed it but it didn't work, so please click on the link, you'll love it)

I discovered her work through internet searches.  Every time I see artwork that speaks to me it is almost always picture book art.  Lucky me!  That means there is a whole book full of this beautiful artwork!  So of course I quickly research and figure out what titles the artwork belongs to and then I add them to my personal library.  That's how I found Valeria Decampo's work.  Her characters are sweet and whimsical and the world's she creates reminds me of something Sean Tan would imagine.  I also like her selective use of color to add emphasis to the words and the work.   Here are a few more images from Philea's Fortune.

It's a beautiful story about trying to find the right words to express ourselves to those we love.  Sometimes it's difficult to find those words, and in Philea's world it's even harder because you have to buy every word you want to say!  But in the end, the words of the heart shine through even if they aren't spoken out loud.  

This book was so popular it has sold more than 120,000 copies and was translated into over 20 languages!  Now that's a book you need to read.  I'm not sure what took me so long to discover this lovely book and this wonderful illustrator, but now that I have you can bet I will be collecting more of her work.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:)