08 December 2011



I loved the responses to On Beauty (Part 1), so I thought I would highlight some of the comments while discussing MATCHED, a book that deals with the subject of beauty in a unique way...

Read more at We Heart YA.
19 October 2011

When I open a book and read about a character described as "perfect" or "ordinary", I have to roll my eyes. We see it all the time: Perfect Girl that no one understands, Ordinary Girl that Perfect Boy just so happens to fall for. In reality, very few people fall into those categories. Most us of are somewhere between ordinary and perfect... Read more at We Heart YA.


12 August 2011
I took a week off social media to get caught up on work, but now I'm back.

This week, I'm featuring some covers that I designed for The Hunted Series by Patti Larsen.

From the back of the book: "Sixteen-year-old Reid thinks life is back to normal. His sister Lucy pulls herself together and cuts him free from a year of foster care. She promises to take care of him, that her new boss and her new life are what they both needed to start again. Until Reid is taken in the middle of the night, dumped in a wild stretch of forest far from home with no idea why he is there. Lost and afraid, he learns to run from the hunters who prowl the darkness, their only pleasure chasing down kids like him. And killing them."

Patti is a fantastic client. She's very spunky and energetic, and that's just what I can gather from her emails. ;) Be sure to check out her website for more information about her books.

♥Steph




01 August 2011


Some of my writing friends and I went to an author panel on Saturday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, which is my new favorite bookstore, by the way. On the panel were YA authors Linda GerberJulia KarrJulie KagawaKay CassidyKristina McBride, Sara Bennett Wealer, and Saundra Mitchell.

It was so much fun! The authors were all great, and I loved getting to meet them. I got signed copies of THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa and THE VESPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell, and I'm excited to read them. I only wish Ingrid, the fourth piece of the We Heart YA pie, had been there.

My critique group is pretty fantastic. I'm little biased, of course, but I really feel like we have something special. We're all completely different, and I think that's why we mesh so well. Every single week, I'm thankful that I found them.

If you want to be a writer, I think the most important thing, besides the actual writing, is having a good critique group.

I somehow stumbled into mine by accident. We Heart YA just sort of happened, without any of us really planning it. So I'm curious to know how other people find their critique groups.

If you're a writer, are you a part of some kind of writer's group? If so, how did you find them? I'd love to hear the story.

And check out the blogs of my critique partners Kristan and Sarah.

Steph
29 July 2011
Every Friday, I am going to be featuring a recent design that I've done, as well as the author or blogger who commissioned the project. So here goes!

This week's design is the cover for Abbi Glines' novel Existence

Log line from her website: "Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him." 

Abbi is a lot of fun, and it was a pleasure to work with her. Make sure you check out her blog

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So far, I am loving my new "job". I have trouble calling cover design work. Can it really be work if you get to wear sweatpants while you do it? It's been a busy week, but I've loved every second of it.

Here are some essentials for a freelance graphic designer:

- Audiobooks
- Good music
- Frequent stretch breaks 
- Posture exercises
- Eye drops
- Patience
- Chocolate
Okay, so maybe that last one isn't strictly a necessity, but still. Check back next week for another book cover. If you're interested in commissioning me to design something, you can find more info here.

Steph
27 July 2011
                    

I've recently started designing book covers, so it's all I've thought about the last couple weeks. And what do you do with the stuff you can't get out of your head? You blog about it.

When we come across a book, the first thing... read more at We Heart YA.
25 July 2011
A painting I did for a friend
Life is a bus. Time is the driver.

One day, somewhere between Here and There, the bus driver was droning on and on about the sites, which we passed too swiftly to get a good look at. 

"To your left, you'll see Untapped Potential, to your right, Unformed Decisions." 

Then the bus started up a hill and slowed just enough that I could see the pale blue sky, the bare trees, and the brown grass.

"Excuse me," I lifted my voice. "Mr. Time, I'd like to get off please."

The bus driver looked at me in his rear view mirror. "We aren't There yet. This is Between. Nobody gets off in Between."

"Well, I'd like to have a look around. Smell the flowers, you know?"

Father Time didn't answer, but the bus slowly ground to a halt and the door squeaked open in the way that bus doors do. Suddenly a bit nervous, I walked down the aisle, down the stairs, and stepped onto the brown turf outside. I took a deep breath and turned back to look at the driver. "There'll be another bus?" 

Father Time smiled. "There's always another bus." Then he gave me a nod and headed for the peaks and valleys that lay ahead. 

I walked over to an old park bench, brushed away the leaves, and sat down. There was something quite magical about the place between Here and There. It looked a bit like the mild days between winter and spring. 

I stayed there a long while, with my memories stretching to the left and forever to the right, listening as the Winds of Change rustled the long grass. I watched the birds fly overhead and the butterflies saunter from flower to flower.

"I think I'll walk the rest of the way, Mr. Time." I said when at last the bus had come back around. 

Father Time blinked at me. Then he turned off the ignition and climbed out of the driver's seat, his silver beard spilling down the front of his robes. "I've never liked the fast road myself," he said. "Shall we?"

Dedicated to Ingrid Palmer
17 July 2011
Happy Monday, everyone! Yeah, so it's Sunday, but there's a reason I'm posting a day early. This week's post is also part of a contest entry. Four teenage girls from Brenda Drake's book club are going to be judging a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of the manuscript of each contestant. They'll pick three that they would buy in a bookstore, and the winners will receive free critiques from an editor.

I couldn't decide what pitch I liked better, so please let me know which you prefer. And leave any other thoughts in the comments too. :) I'd love to hear from you.

Steph
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Aurora and the Signet Ring
Young Adult Fantasy

Pitch choices:

1) Aurora has no patience for faerytales. But when Thorion, the Starish prince of Lasseren, enlists her to help him save the kingdom from a dark enchantment, she must learn to embrace the magic that surrounds her.

2) Are the stars alive? Aurora has never believed the legend of the guardians in the night sky. But she can no longer deny it when the Morning Star is standing before her, flames dancing in his eyes.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 — How History Became Legend

Though the story still sits vividly in my mind, the sting of death has passed. The world has been remade, life's begun anew, and with the breaking of dawn, my sorrow has faded like the night. Only after drawing my last breath do I understand why it was that I lived.

As I stand here on this side of time and reflect on all the ages past, I am grateful that I gave my life away. Shortly before the end, knowing not the cost or the reward, I chose to fall in love. I’m sure I would still be here in victory, even had I not given quite so much of my heart. Nevertheless, to see beyond the end of the world and not be in the arms of the king would be an unfathomable loss. What purpose do I have in victory, if it does not seal me in his embrace? For all he gave to have my heart, I could not withhold it from him.


Aurora of Lasseren
16th of December, in the year 7005 by the Stars

*      *      *

15 May 6992 by the Stars

Norin ran through the forest in a race against a disaster of his own making. The war had ended hours earlier, but it left the world a dangerous place, left the kingdom of Lasseren in uproar. Just when Norin thought he was safe, his enemies discovered where he kept his daughter Aurora hidden. Now he had to reach his family before the shadows did.
11 July 2011
I recently went through all my old photographs, and I had to pause when I came to this one. I was seventeen in this picture. Even though I don't look a whole lot different now, I feel like this was lifetimes ago. 

At the same time, I can still see myself clearly in that girl in the picture. The beginnings of who I would become 
 who I'm still becoming  are written in its every detail. Carefree with cut-off jeans, a goofy expression, a hint of whimsy, a severed unicorn head hanging from a stick... clearly this is a girl that marches to her own drummer. 


What I see more than anything is a rare moment of uninhibited confidence and spunk from an otherwise shy teenage girl. I wish I had let my guard down more often.

That got me thinking. If I could write a letter to my teenage self and send it back in time, what would I say? Come out of your shell? Speak up more? Honestly, I don't know. If I wasn't so quiet in school, I might not be the same person I am today. Depending on what time travel rules we're following (sci-fi nerd), who I am right now might fade away forever.


Joking aside, I don't harbor any serious regrets, especially because I don't always know where I'm headed. Sometimes even stumbling can get you where you need to go. 

So if I could send a letter back in time, the advice that I would give myself would probably be to just enjoy it more. What would you say?

Steph
04 July 2011


I can apply the principle of "a single story" to several areas of my life. Perhaps the most interesting is my writing. Fantasy often has a way of painting the "baddies" as fixed and shallow. How many times have we read about invented races and creatures that are, by their very nature, evil? The truth is never that simple.

What's the big deal? It's only fantasy, right?

In many ways, fiction mirrors the way we view the world. It saddens me that even in our limitless imaginations, we still find instances of one race dismissing another. Groups of people that are inherently evil are not only boring but impossible. There is both light and dark in all of us.
"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story the only story."
It's always my goal to embrace culture and stay open-minded to other perspectives, but life is a constant process of learning and growing and getting better. Truth is never finished. We'll forever be seeking it out.
03 July 2011

The girls from my writing group and I took a trip to the Cincinnati Nature Center for a hike. The weather was perfect in a gloomy, not-too-hot kind of way. We had a fun romp through the forest, then ate cupcakes at a picnic table in the rain.
27 June 2011
I'm twenty-four years old. I'm still young, but I'm not a kid anymore. If you look at my life in terms of goals met and prizes won, you could say that I've really accomplished very little. 

Deciding to become a writer might have been the most impractical choice I've ever made. So far, it's meant years of hard work without any pay off. While everyone else was starting their careers and making something of themselves, I have been poring over pages and pages of paper.

When you tell someone you want to be a novelist, however kind their response, you can usually see the skepticism in their eyes. Sure, I can explain my passion for storytelling and how I've wanted to do this since I was a little girl. It's still going to sound more like a psychological condition than a smart career move. And that's okay. I'm not doing this to impress anyone... and maybe you do have to be a little crazy to devote your life to something that might never happen.

Time is precious  it cannot be renewed or rewound  and five years is quite a lot of it. But I wouldn't trade what I've written for all the time in the world. Because this isn't just a story I've told. It's an experience I've had. Every sentence holds more meaning to me than anyone will ever know.

I know I'm taking a risk. I know that all of this could come to nothing. But it's a risk that I'm willing to take. I'm doing what I love, what I'm passionate about. I think one could do worse.

*      *      *

Are you a dreamer like me? What are you passionate about
Steph
22 June 2011
Growing up, my role models were Anne Shirley, Pippi Longstocking, and Elizabeth Bennet. I wanted to be like them — bold, ahead of their time, perhaps a bit eccentric, but strong. This image was constantly at odds with the other women I was reading about. I had to wade through a sea of damsels in distress who seemed to just let the world... read more at We Heart YA.
20 June 2011
"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies." 
— James Matthew Barrie

Welcome to my new blog!

I love beginnings. There's something so refreshing about a blank canvas. Sometimes I'll even go out of my way to start something new or make a change — like rearranging my furniture, or buying a new journal when I don't really need one.

I went through all my old scrapbooks and keepsake boxes this weekend. I sifted through stacks of purple giraffes, hand prints, and bunnies with sticks for legs, searching for the genesis of my creative spark. 

What I found was a collection of beginnings, still sweet with a lingering sense of excitement.

I half expected all those pieces of my past to have faded with my memories, but they're almost perfectly preserved like little windows in time. They bring kindergarten rushing back, and I can still smell the crayons and glue, still hear the other children laughing around me. 

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[what to expect from this blog]

Posts about writing; book reviews; samples of my artwork, poetry, and photography; stories about traveling and adventure; and anything else that happens to spill out of my box of tricks.

You can find out more about me here, or follow me on twitter and tumblr. I'm also a member of We Heart YA.

Here's to a new beginning!
Steph

about


This blog is about everything. It’s a collection of daydreams, fairytales, and hidden treasure. It’s a place for rainy days, stargazing, wonderful nonsense, and impossible things. It’s about passion and faith and nostalgia.
It’s about life.

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