Monday, September 28, 2015

Artist Highlight: Jess Smart Smiley

I met Jess Smart Smiley almost 4 years ago at LTUE, a sci-fi/fantasy writing conference. I was perusing the different author/illustrator tables when I came across Jess's booth. We chatted for a few minutes--he had recently published Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and he asked me if I was a writer.

 I told him I had an idea for a book and he actually seemed interested, so I elaborated. He told me how awesome it sounded, which was pretty neat. Honestly, it was the first time someone, other than a family member, showed genuine interest in and excitement for something I wanted to write. Looking back, it was pretty pivotal in keeping alive my hope/dream of one day publishing a book.

Since then, Jess and I have stayed in touch and he has become one of my favorite illustrators. He has done some awesome work in picture books, graphic novels, comic books and even a huge mural along a local river trail.

It's always great seeing what Jess is up to next. His most recent project is a look and find coloring book. My daughter loves to color and loves look and find books, so we can't wait for it to come out. Jess currently has a kickstarter set up for the project, which you can check out here. Seriously, take a gander and support the project.

He is a pretty busy guy--between this month and next, he will have 4 new, published books: 3 picture books and a sequel to his graphic novel for kids, Upside Down.

My whole family really enjoys his work. Just last night, I checked on my daughter, who was supposed to be asleep, only to find her propped up in bed, paging through Rumpus on the Run: A Monster Look and Find. A lot of his illustrations are done in brush pen, and I absolutely love the style. 

I have the utmost respect for Jess, and I can't wait to see all of the amazing projects he is sure to have in the future. 

If you'd like to learn more about Jess Smart Smiley, you can follow his Tumblr, like him on Facebook, or visit his website

Monday, September 21, 2015

Too Much Filler Crap

Back in January, I noticed that Goodreads had the option of setting up a personal reading challenge for the year. I thought, “Yeah! That would be great.” So I set my goal for 52. Easy peasy--a mere book per week. Now here I am, in week 39, and I have completed 24 books. What the heck?

I guess I’m not too far behind--I only have to read about 1.8 books a week for the remainder of the year. Still though, I look at some of my friends and I think “How on earth do they have the time to read so many books?”

One of my friends, Lorren Lemmons, who has an awesome blog that you should totally check out, has already read over 60 books this year! And I know that she doesn’t just sit around all day; she’s a nurse and a mom to a cute little boy. How on earth does she do it? In all honesty, I think she must have super powers or something.

Seriously though, why am I so far behind? When I stop and think about it, the answer comes pretty easily. My life has too much filler crap—Facebook, solitaire, and plants vs zombies to name a few. Why is it so much easier to stare blankly at a screen than do something engaging? If I was thinking correctly, reading wins hands down every time when compared to any of the above things.

It makes me think of Jim Carey as the Riddler from that one Batman movie--the one where he mind controls everyone through their TV. I think my eyes even glow a little green while I’m staring at the screen. Stupid Riddler.

So here’s to kicking the Riddler’s trash and spending more time reading (and writing) for the remainder of the year.