Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Jim Averbeck

headshot by Sonya SonesI had the pleasure of meeting Jim Averbeck at a LA SCBWI conference.

Jim joined the Peace Corps in his late twenties and went to live in Cameroon in western Africa for almost four years. It was there he first realized he wanted to write for children. You can tell in his portfolio that he paid close attention to detail while living there. Ten years later he sold his first book.

hitchcockJim is the author of the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, In a Blue Room and the author and illustrator of except if, Oh No, Little Dragon and The Market Bowl. He studied writing and illustrating for children at UC Berkeley. He was the Regional Advisor for the San Francisco chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He continues to create  wonderful work in San Francisco, California.

I couldn’t be more pleased for Jim to say yes to my tiny talk interview. Enjoy!

ME:  How do you want to be remembered?

JIM: I’d like to be remembered for writing stories with endings that are either surprising, emotionally satisfying, or both.

ME:  Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve . . .

JIM: A perfect day would involve peace of mind and a feeling of being grounded in the present moment.

ME: If you can spend a day with one of your book characters who would it be, and why?

 JIM: Alfred Hitchcock is a character in my book A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT. I would love to talk to him. I think he would have a lot to teach any writer about storytelling, and any artist about doing it visually.

ME: Definitely a fascinating man.
ME:  Who influenced your writing/illustrating career?

JIM: There are so many people who influence us, but for this interview I am going to give a shout out to my high school art teacher, Mary Ann Meyer. Before she came along, art classes in school were all given at about kindergarten level. She was the first teacher to demand that you work hard at your art. She was even willing to fail you if you didn’t. Suddenly art wasn’t a joke. It was a discipline.

ME: She must be beaming right now. Hail to all teachers.blue room amazon cover

ME:  Describe your writing style.

JIM: My greatest joy when writing is playing with language. So I’d say my style is simple and lyrical.


Thanks so much Jim for be part of my tiny talk. I really appreciate it and wish you all the best in your future successes.


Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Bob McMahon


I noticed Bob’s illustrations while doing an illustrator search. Then I asked him to be my friend so I could get a first hand look at his WIP (work in progress). His illustrations have a certain quality that makes you want to squeeze the cheeks of each character he illustrates. His digital artwork is expressive and full of detail.

For 20 years, Bob McMahon’s work has ranged from advertising, toy concepts, movie posters, educational and children’s books. Bob enjoys creating his unique humorous illustrations from his home studio in Southern California. He is represented by Ronnie Herman.

I hope one day one of my manuscripts can be Bob McMahon illustrated. I’m just in love with his illustrating style.


ME: How do you want to be remembered?

BOB: I would like to be remembered as an artist who drawings make you smile a little. Maybe that’s a pretty modest goal but seeing the horrific things that are happening out there in the world it’s pretty important accomplishment.

ME: Your work brightens my day!

ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve . . .

BOB: My perfect day would involve sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and working full time on my own children’s book ideas. As fun as it is doing illustrations for other peoples books, I really yearn to work on my own lunatic ideas.

ME: And I look forward to that book that says written and illustrated by Bob McMahon.

ME: Describe your illustrating style.

BOB: Fun. I hope people can see how much fun I have doing these illustrations.

ME: Your work is definitely full of life and vibrancy.

ME: What book character would you be and why?

BOB: Most definitely I would be Harold with his purple crayon. I would love to bring my artwork to life like he does!

ME: Who doesn’t love Harold?

ME: If you could sit and have coffee with another artist dead or alive who would it be and why?

BOB: I would love to sit and have coffee with Chas Addams. I love the dark and completely original way he looked at the world.

Thank you, Bob for taking the time to chat with me. It was a pleasure, and I hope one day we can meet in person to get a photo. Good luck with all your future endeavors.

For my readers, please leave a comment if you enjoyed the Tiny Talk interview and don’t forget to check out Bob’s work.

Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Joel Cook

My apologies for not getting this post out this morning, but I’ve been in the midst of moving from one house to another. I did not want to miss an opportunity to share my Tiny Talk, especially on a TUESDAY!

Joel’s self portrait

I met Joel at the SCBWI 25th anniversary conference at the Westin in Houston. This was where I got to know Joel. He not only is he a terrific illustrator but a great dancer as well.

Joel is an art teacher in Houston by day and an illustration all day long.  He is a big fan of art, archaeology, robots and strange stuff.  Some of his that he illustrated are The Littlest Vampire Story and Mayor Jalapeno Hal. He is also extremely talented as comic illustrator. Any kid would love to get their hands on these. Joel likes to work in a variety of media: from traditional to digital.


I asked Joel a couple of simple questions to get to know him a little better.

ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.

JOEL: Um, let’s see. My studio is also a pseudo art gallery. I collect comic book and children’s art. I have been very fortunate to collect pieces that I have always loved…. I still have a bucket list of around 10 artists whom I would love to get a piece of original art. It’s like treasure hunting sometimes.

ME: Sounds like a fun hobby.

ME: What is your greatest accomplishment?

JOEL: I don’t think I have one that outshines the others, but I have been very fortunate to have a “normal” job (teaching art) that I love going to each and every day. This year I am also teaching sculpture and thinking that I didn’t live a full, complete, exciting life.

ME: I’ve seen some of your sculpture work on Facebook. I love it.

ME: What is your greatest fear?

JOEL: I don’t believe in being scared, which probably sounds macho…. I try to make most days count. I think if I did have a fear, it’s probably being on my deathbed one day, and thinking that I didn’t live a full, complete, exciting life.

ME: I remember teaching. Every day is an exciting adventure, lol.

ME: If you could be a book character who would you be and why?

JOEL: Hmmm. I would love to be Fone Bone. Living an adventure filled with danger, intrigue, romance, and humor… and the occasional Cow Race.

ME: Who doesn’t love a good ol’ cow race?

ME: Describe your illustrating style.

JOEL: I would say that the artists that have influenced me. I would like to think the characters that I draw have an energy that is just waiting to explode. I don’t think my characters have a quietness to them, if that makes sense. It is something I am working on.

ME: One can fully understand what you mean when they look at your illustrations. The illustrations speak volumes. There is an intensity to them, if you know what I mean, lol.

It was a pleasure Joel doing my mini interview with you. Those Houston Kiddos are lucky to have such a talented art teacher. I bet they’re mesmerized each day with your illustrations. I wish you much success and hope that we can meet up again at another SCBWI conference.

Tiny Talk Tuesday With Debbie Ridpath Ohi


When you visit any of Debbie’s social media pages you get a strong glimpse of her bubbling personality. Those big dimpled smiles are for real. I met this energetic bundle at a Los Angeles conference. I introduced myself, and she was exactly what I imagined. We chatted about her baby Sea Monkeys. I was impressed with their growth. She took top-notch care of those little floaters. But what Debbie is really known for are those adorable inked illustrations.

She’s a Japanese-Canadian children’s book writer & illustrator living in Toronto with her husband Jeff. She’s the founder of Inkspot and Inklings, one of the very first online writing communities and electronic newsletters for writers. Debbie ended up selling to a U.S. company, so she could focus on doing more creating and less administration/managing.

Debbie illustrated I’M BORED and NAKED!, two picture books written by Michael Ian Black, as well as some Judy Blume chapter books and middle grade titles. Debbie’s first solo book, WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? comes out from S&S Books For Young Readers in May 2015. You can find her on Twitter at @inkyelbows and at DebbieOhi.com.

As you can see she is soaring in her writing and illustrating career. Now to learn a little bit more on Debbie.


ME: How do you want to be remembered?

Debbie: With laughter.

ME: You easily got that covered. You’re a bundle of smiles.

ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve…

DEBBIE: A perfect day would involve reading an entire book for pleasure in a comfy chair, an afternoon nap and a two-player evening board game with my husband in front of the fireplace.

ME: Now all you need is a little snow to fall outside the window.

ME: What book character would you be and why?

DEBBIE: Douglas Spaulding from Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, so I could see Green Town, Illinois through his eyes.

ME: Love his stuff.

ME:  What motivates your illustrations?

DEBBIE: Depends on the day and my mood, plus whether the illustration is for a book project. So motivation can range anywhere from joy, sadness, discovery, experimentation, an occasion and deadlines. But these are just a few reasons. Mostly I draw because I can’t help myself.

Me: I can relate.

ME: If you could have lunch with a famous artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

DEBBIE: Dead artist: Edward Gorey, because I’m such a huge fan of his work and am so curious about what he’d be like in person.

Living artist: Dan Santat. Same reasons as above but also because I love his social media posts, which are fascinating and funny and insightful. I’ve chatted with Dan online but haven’t had much chance to hang out in person yet.

Thank you so much Debbie for being part of my blog. It was a pleasure getting to know you, and I wish you many more successes. I look forward to our next meeting.