Tourist Blog Hop

I love getting to know about other authors and illustrators and volunteered for the Tourist Blog Hop with Tanja Bauerle.


Tanja Bauerle, an award-winning children’s book illustrator, escaped many years in the corporate arena of design to pursue her love for children’s book illustration.  Originally from Germany, Tanja grew up outside Melbourne, Australia, and now lives near Phoenix, Arizona, with her family and her menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, a horse and two alpacas. To date she has illustrated three picture books and is continuing to illustrate the “Wright on Time” middle grade series. Tanja is currently focusing on writing and illustrating her own picture books. She is an SCBWI member is actively involved in several online writing and illustrating communities.

You can read more about Tanja on another one of the Tourist Blog Hop posts

The questions I was asked and my answers are as follows:

Jan Clifton Watford
Jan Clifton Watford
1.What are you currently working on?
I have three children’s books I am presently working on both the text and illustration phases.  They are in different stages of development.  One is Big Ten Little One , a math concept book for young children. I have also been working on illustrations for a ABC book of insects and on the text for a nonfiction book about a squirrel that was raised as a baby inside and then returned to live with other squirrels outside.  I also have been working on a revision of a chapter book I wrote two years ago, Roland’s Stupendous Imagination And The Native Americans.  Two other books are still in the text stage, and I have a list of over 25 more ideas..
2. How do you process work?
My process of the work is usually to write down the idea for a book as I get them so I won’t forget..  Then I try to make notes about where I want the story to go sort of like a flow of where things will go in the progression of the story.
3. Why do you write/create?
The two biggest reasons is that I love to make up stories and love young children.  It is the greatest feeling to be able to see their reaction to something I have created both through text and illustrations. I also feel that I am teaching them by sharing my stories and illustrations. My stories are usually educational which I attribute to my background in teaching.
4.How does your writing/creating process work?
I am trained as an artist and usually I will think of an idea for  book and then create the characters because that helps spurn the idea for the story.  The creation of the characters is one of the most fun parts of the process for me.  Illustration is a much more difficult type of creativity than just painting a canvas because of the challenge of trying to break the story into the different pages and critical moments to depict the progression of the story.  Once I create the idea for the book, write some text and the storyline then I try to write the entire book and get some feedback on it through my critique group.  I then polish it up some from their feedback and then submit for critique at one of the SCBWI conferences.  At this point, I then develop a picture book dummy and draw most of the illustrations.  I also try to get feedback on the illustrations too.
Now it is time for me to pass the Tourist Blog Hop on another fellow author and illustrator, Jo Linsdell.  Jo Linsdell was born and raised in the UK but found her real “home” when she came to Rome, Italy in 2001. – She is a multi-genre, award-winning author, artist ,blogger, general social media junky and the proud mother of two young boys. She hosts an annual event, to help others in the field.  We look for ward to seeing Jo’s post next Monday to Tourist Blog Hop.
 Jo Linsdell
Jo Linsdell






My August ABC Insects Illustrations For Doodle Day

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My August ABC Insects Illustrations for Doodle Day kept me very busy last month.  For those of you that might not have heard of Doodle Day, it is a group on Facebook for anyone that likes to doodle, adults and children.  The prompts each month are daily and based on a them for the month.  The members are a combination of all abilities from professional illustrators  to those that are beginners.

It was a great experience and I not only enjoyed it but also learned a lot. I found out although my research for the project that there are quite a few insects that i had never heard about before.  The illustrations will become a part of a new book on ABC Insects which I will add a description and interesting facts about each insect.



Todo Math App Review

As a retired teacher, I can say that I never thought that learning math could be so much fun for kids as I observed for the Todo Math App Review.  When I taught first grade, all the teachers knew the importance of manipulatives for early math learning.  There was a supply of beans, paper clips, blocks and just about anything that was readily available in multiples.  The kids loved it.  Now the Todo Math App offers the possibility of a child progressing on his own through different levels of math activities.  Brightly colored backgrounds, special effects, and sound and music all combine to make it a magical experience that draws children and intrigues them with the interactive activity.

Why do I like this app so much?  It’s concept is simple and it offers many levels of learning in a gradual progression.  These levels have to be unlocked one at a time after completion so the child cannot jump around and try them out of sequence.  Although it does offer upgrades that you can buy, the app at the free level offers many options and interactive learning activities starting from simple counting and tracing numbers through the other higher  levels of math.  In my opinion, this is a great learning app for children 6-8 years old.

Price:  Free with upgrades available

  • Category: Education
  • Updated: Aug 14, 2014
  • Version: 2.2.0
  • Size: 95.6 MB
  • Languages: English, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese
  • Seller: LocoMotive Labs Inc
  • Made for Ages 6–8

Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

My rating ***** 5 stars


Teachers Apps -Teacher Kit and Teacher IO Review

It is the that time of the year when school will be starting soon and I thought it would be good to suggest some teacher apps.- Teacher Kit and Teacher io App Review.  As a former teacher I fully realize the amount of work that goes into setting up a classroom and preparing not only for the first day of  school but also for the new school year.  There is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done so I will make it easier and suggest some ways that technology can lessen your work load.  Since there are so many different subject and age levels for curriculum for the is blog post I will be suggesting apps that help with general classroom organization.

Teacherkit- Classroom Organizer is one app that I think would be

a great aid for back to school apps for teachers.  As described in the Apple app store. it is a Swiss army knife with tools for classroom organization, behavioral monitoring, and grading.

Price:  Free

Available in the following languages:  English, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Turkish

Since I am not presently teaching I can not rate this app but would be interested in your comments.  Please tell me what you think about this app and ideas you might have to help teachers in the classroom through technology.  This app is rated 4 stars in the App Store and I think it will be a great help to teachers.


Another teachers back to school app is Teacher io.  With this app you can organize your classes and copy between sections and semesters. A syllabus can also be uploaded so your students and parents can stay informed about your curriculum.  Resources with links can also be included so the student will have the information readily available.  his information can be shared with students through the widely used myHomework apps.  For students that do not have an tablet or iPad, there is a myHomework website where they can view the same info.  Teachers can also connect with other teachers through a blog that is provided to share info and photos.  This would be an excellent way to also connect with parents and post the results of classroom projects and events.  On the Teachers io website you can view how other schools are using this app to their advantage.

This app is free and available in the Apple App Store AND the Android store

Apple rating of 4 stars

Category:  Education

Compatible with iOS 6 or later and with iPhone,iPad and and iPod touch



My Diversity Illustrations from Doodle Day

My diversity illustrations from Doodle Day are from the prompts that are suggested for different days for the month of June. Each day the prompt was for a different country and  anything could be drawn that related to that country.  Doodle Day is a FaceBook group for those that like to draw.  Some are teachers, students, illustrators, but basically it is  just for anyone that likes to draw.  The prompts are assigned daily but usually follow a theme for the month.  It is great fun to not only participate but also to see the work of other participants.  I love to draw children from different ethnic backgrounds and have a special interest in learning about traditional clothes so this project was great fun for me. This project  was a great learning experience for me as I tried to capture different facial features and skin tones of the different races depicted in each illustration.  There currently is an awareness project going on to all attention to the fact that more diverse books are needed for children, #weneeddiversebooks.  I am proud to contribute my diversity illustrations to the awareness of this project.

Drawing And Painting For Kids

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This summer I am teaching drawing and painting for kids in Stone Mountain, Ga. near where I live.  The classes are small and concentrated during the summer with three classes per week and 2 hours long each.  The advantage of teaching private classes over public school art is that the class size is much smaller and the time frame is much larger.  The time allowed for art in public school is usually 30 minutes once a week and with my private art classes it is 2 hours a day 3 times a week for a total of 6 hours per week.  For a child that has a passion to draw and paint this is greatly needed.  The extra time gives them the luxury of focusing their creativity  and being allowed to have enough time to work on their artwork with guidance.  The kids are doing a great job and having a lot of fun in the process.  They are very proud of their finished artwork and I am too.  They are also working at home on a list of drawing prompts and receive a prize of they finish the list.  These can be used to encourage any child to draw and are a great activity in the summer or any time. to practice drawing and boost their creativity.

Kids Drawing Prompts List  

1.    Draw or trace your hand in any position
2.    Draw a wild animal
3.    Draw a clock or a watch.
4.    Draw a forest and two animals with one in a tree.
5.    Draw a picture of what you will look like when you are 16.
6.    Draw a picture of what you will look like when you are 60.
7.    Draw yourself favorite Halloween costume.
8.    Draw a monster having a nightmare.
9.    Draw a picture of animal by combining the parts of two different ones.
10.    Draw a picture of a windy day with trees blowing in the wind.
11.    Draw your foot.
12.    Draw a picture of someone in your family then draw a funny hat on them.
13.    Imagine what it would look like if you lived on Mars and draw a picture of it.
14.    Draw a picture of your favorite toy.
15.    Draw a picture of something from nature.
16.    Draw your pet.
17.    Think about what your home would look like if you lived in Antarctica.
18.    Draw a picture of you as an astronaut walking on the moon.
19.    Draw a character from your favorite book.
20.    Draw a picture of your favorite birthday party.
21.    Imagine yourself in a country far away.  Draw yourself and      what you would like to do there.
22.    Draw the jungle and 3 animals that live there.
23.    Draw a picture of your home.
24.    Draw a picture of your best friend and you having fun.
25.    Draw an imaginary place that no one knows about but you.
26.    Draw a picture of a circus and what you like best.
27.    Imagine if bugs were as big as people.  What would it look like?
28.    Draw a picture of your hero or someone you think is great.
29.    Draw a picture of your favorite things to eat and make them into characters with eyes, mouth, nose, hands, and feet.
30.     Imagine the world at peace with everyone loving each other and being kind.  Draw and color or paint it.

Cheryl Johnson, Author, Illustrator Extraordinare


Cheryl Johnson, artist, author, illustrator
Cheryl Johnson, artist, author, illustrator

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Cheryl Johnson, author, illustrator extraordinare.  I had been watching her progress on FaceBook as she shares her progress on her picture books.  One day I noticed that had 5 books she had published and working on the sixth to be published within a month.  This is truly an amazing accomplishment.  For traditionally published books, it can take 1 to 1 1/2 years to publish a picture book.  For self published one in 6 months is a exceptional task.  How can this be possible?  I asked her if I could call her and find out her method.

Cheryl and I did have a phone conversation and I found out more about what makes her tick.  She explained how as a single mom of four children she took out school loans to obtain her degree in art.  After reaching that goal she found out she had cancer and could not work.  She beat cancer but now the interest on the school loans has compounded.   Knowing that she had to come up with a plan,  she has plans to finish a book per month until she reaches 42 books. At the time of our conversation she had 5 and now has finished a sixth book.  As an illustrator I know that the most time consuming part of creating a picture book is the illustrations.  When I brought this up, she explained that she does 1 to 2 a day.  Convinced that she will meet her goal and pay off her student loan debt, she is also working in her passion, writing and illustrating children’s books.  She self publishes her books through Createspace and also has them available as ebooks on Kindle, KDP.

Mish The Mushroom Man, written and illustrated by Cheryl Johnson
Mish The Mushroom Man, written and illustrated by Cheryl Johnson

I also asked Cheryl:

When did you decide to be a n author/illustrator and what impact has this had on your life?

Cheryl Johnson:  I don’t remember a specific age that I said to myself that I wanted to be a writer. At the age of ten, I was writing and drawing small books to show my friends at school.  They were mostly about my friends themselves and usually very silly because I wanted to make them laugh.  At the age of 12, I started writing a book that I have continued to expand on for 47 years.  The main character is myself.  I started creating an alternative existence because I wasn’t pleased with my own reality.  I concocted a totally different family and circumstances.  It was really freeing and fun, but at times as become an obsession because I am an addictive personality  I have to maintain vigilent discipline in order to not immerse myself completely. Full of  personal details, I will never publish it. The impact of being an “author” has kept me sane and in touch with my own core over my life.  I have a rich imagination and writing and drawing helps to empty some of the hurricane of ideas and thoughts from the crowded spaces between my ears.  I’m hoping I can actually make a living doing what comes naturally.

Cheryl Johnson's fantasy world
Cheryl Johnson’s fantasy world

Can you tell us about your latest work?

Cheryl Johnson:  I have just completed “The Three Mishkateers and Dot”, the fifth in the Mish series.  I wanted to create a story for Mish and his friends that had a bit more action in it and some clearly “bad guys”.  I like children’s stories that are moral and teach values.  Some of the images in this story were so much fun to create, draw and bring to life in my books.  I love writing children’s stories because there are no limits.  I stay in touch with my core child and write what feels right from a gut level.  I don’t know if it is right or wrong or whether it will be accepted or valued by the general population but I have to follow my heart.

Sidley's Story, by Cheryl Johnson
Sidley’s Story, by Cheryl Johnson










Thanks to Cheryl Johnson for sharing with us about her wonderful books and illustrations.  Please visit her websites and check out her books,

Mish and Friends website

Artist Cheryl Johnson website

Chairulart Store – Cheryl’s Imaginative products

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