Friday, December 17, 2010

Snail Mail

Look at my new cute return address label! I ordered a bunch of them from Stand Out Stickers and they turned out beautifully! A snail for snail mail! hee heeThe stickers were a great way to spruce up my new promotional mailer (and spare people from trying to read my handwriting). The woodland theme was rounded out by awesome evergreen stamps from the post office. This is the first time I have not sent out a postcard, and I thought a nice vellum envelope would be fun to give folks a peek at the illo before they even open up the card. It is a good feeling to have all the cards in the mail and on their merry way! Just in case I don't blog again before the New Year, here's wishing you all the best for a safe and happy holiday season! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My First Interview

I was just thrilled when the lovely ladies over at The Sketchables invited me to do an interview, and they posted it yesterday! Hooray! My sincerest thanks to Kelly, Heather, Diandra, Joy, and Priscilla for being so amazing and inspiring. What a wonderful group of gifted artists! They are as kind as they are talented, and I feel honored to know them. :)
Oh, and in "Minnesota Blizzard News," we figure that we ended up with about 15 inches of snow in our neck of the woods! Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, December 3, 2010


My New Year's Resolution was to read more books, specifically for myself. I am very proud to report that I have read five books this year! Cool, right? :) We read picture books by the boatload at my house and are starting to read some middle grade (and YA for me). Books for grown-ups have their appeal, of course, and I have some in the queue. As anyone who knows me knows, I am generally sunny. Writing in-depth, thoughtful, comprehensive book reviews would be pretty pointless because giving glowing reviews is pretty much all I'd want to do... so here are the books I read this year and a little bit about why I loved them:
The Art and Flair of Mary Blair was a wonderful biography. Her work was brilliant, vivid, and inspired (and I never read biographies).
Thirteen Reasons Why had me wanting to find out what would happen next, and not wanting to find out what would happen next... and wanting my kids to never grow up.
I sat down with The Invention of Hugo Cabret one lovely afternoon when my kids were getting along famously and devoured it. It is absolutely magical.

Shiver is a book for all your senses. Well-written and compelling. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Stargirl was fantastic. The last book that made me cry when I read it was Little Women, and that says a lot.
Oh, I bet you are wondering what Readmill is all about... I started reading books while walking on the treadmill! It has been working out great! 2 mph is a great speed to read (so the book doesn't bounce around too much). Don't worry, I promise not to ever walk and knit! Hahaha

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Week In Review

Hello, Hello! The beautiful painting I won from Bonnie Adamson arrived this week! Isn't it lovely! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Bonnie over in twitterland. She is a very kind lady and an extremely talented illustrator. Please go here and here and here to see all of the cool things that she has been up to! Thank you, Bonnie!!!
Here is my newest sketch for the Sketchbook Project. More bugs! (click to see larger)
Also, I can knit now! I ordered a knitting board over a year ago and re-discovered it a month ago when we lost power for a couple days. Knitting was always something I wanted to learn how to do. Learning to knit the traditional way will have to wait for another day! Here are a few pics of the process:
You wind the yarn back and forth along the nails in an alternating fashion and use the hook dealie
to lift the bottom yarn loop over the upper loop. I think they have tutorials on the website...
It isn't really tricky and the stockinette stitch looks really nice on both sides.
This is how it looks from the top before you wind the yarn around another time (and this is a good example of why I don't write directions for a living- ha!).
Here is the scarf! You finish it off with a crochet hook, and if I could do this you could for sure! Pretty fun! This scarf is going to be a gift for my husband, who really is the best guy ever. Back before I was a Mom, I used to cross stitch a bunch. It is fun to have something crafty to do again that is easy to pick up, work on for a bit, and put aside again. Hope this finds you well! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prints Charming

They are having a sale on the imagekind website right now through midnight on Monday, November 29th. Prints of my work are available, along with artwork by the talented Alicia Padrón, Angela Matteson, Vittoria Faruffini, John Rocco, and Megan Coyle just to name a few...
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I See Me!

The Holidays are coming up quickly! I am getting excited to bake rolls and pies for Thanksgiving, and thought it would be cool to share a great some great gift ideas with you guys! My friend (since 7th grade!), Jen Dewing, has written these three books for I See Me! (a Minnesota publisher of fantastic personalized books for kids). A Christmas Bear for Me and Who Loves Me? both won Mom's Choice Gold awards this year! I cannot adequately express how impressed and amazed I am by my friend, Jen. She is compassionate, driven, giving, funny, kind, spunky, talented, and completely adorable. You would just love her! A Hanukkah Bear for Me and A Christmas Bear for Me are both filled with Wilson Ong's gorgeous illustrations, and Who Loves Me? is perfectly paired with Maria Carluccio's playful artwork.

Dear Wilson and Maria,
Your work is amazing.
Love, Nina
I See Me! is offering a FREE SHIPPING promotion on all personalized children's books through November 29th. Just enter coupon code FSR795 at check out! Happy Shopping!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Diandra Mae!!! Diandra is a very talented illustrator who also happens to be the Illustrator Coordinator for the Houston SCBWI. Her artwork is filled with endearing characters, vibrant colors, and a silly charm that I just love! You can see her work on her website and blog, visit her over with The Sketchables, or catch up with her on twitter. I feel very happy to know her, though we have yet to meet in person... hope to someday! Congrats, Diandra! :)
Since I have two little assistants, I thought it would be nice to have an additional prize!
A little pack of Nina Notecards! And the winner is:
Yay, Michelle! Michelle Kondrich makes her art with intricate lines and fills it with depth and humor. One of her short stories was just featured in 8: A Kids Book Anthology! You can see her artwork at her website, blog, and follow her on twitter. She is a wonderful gal! Hooray, Michelle!
Thank you Alicia, Julissa, Heidi, Casey, Jenie, Susan, Jen, Karrie, m.b., Alissa, Diandra, Loni, Michelle H., Daun, Karen, Mark, Sarah, Steve, Kurtis, Mrs. Duff, Lynn, Aimee, Erica, Jackie, Nicole, Michelle K., Angie, Andi, Nicki, and Shawn for throwing your names in the hat!!! You are all wonderful! Crossing my fingers that I'll get to illustrate another book someday so I can have another giveaway! ;) I cannot thank you enough! All my very best, Nina

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday Giveaway

Hello, There! It is time to have a fun book giveaway! If you would like to win a signed copy of Cedric and the Dragon, leave a comment on this post (along with your email address). I'll pull names out of a hat next Friday morning (November 12th) and announce the winner! *YAY*
[Here are the details that would be covered by a fast-talker if this was on tv or radio: One comment per person and make said comment by Midnight on Thursday the 11th of November. ] GOOD LUCK!!!

My Sketchbook Project is coming along... Here are two new spreads. It isn't RAINING Dogs & Cats, it is REIGNING Dogs & Cats! Hahahaaaa

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

KidLitCon, Murals, and Book Fairs (oh, my)

Hello, Hello! This blog post is full of words and pictures! Here goes:
I was lucky to attend Kidlit Con this past Saturday in Minneapolis. Wow. Just wow. I don't really know how I could sum it up... There are a lot of folks doing a far better job at recapping it at the Kidlit Con blog, so check it out if you get a chance. The best part of it for me was actually meeting a lot of the people I have only known online. The kid book community is amazing, so many smart, funny, talented people. I have just been plodding along as a new illustrator and had honestly not realized how huge the community is: teachers, writers, librarians, publicists, editors, illustrators, agents, publishers, parents, bloggers who just love kid books... it is pretty amazing. Also feel very relieved that reviewing books is not a must for every blogger. This was great to hear b/c I'm a pretty awful book reviewer. I pretty much love all the books I read and that doesn't make for interesting reviews. Might try putting together a list of books I like, an informal blog interview, or a giveaway sometime soon! Won't even attempt to mention all the great people I met at Kidlit Con, just feel very inspired to be a part of such a terrific community! On to the mural...
Here you can see I have been busy outlining my sketches in Mouse Ears (DC4B-10-5).
Gordy and the Unicorn are beginning to take shape. We decided to make all the flowers Sunny Spot (DC1B-10-5) and Sleeping Beauty Pink (DC2C-30-3). Oh, and the blue sky and green grass and trees are Mickey Sailor and Apple Orchard and Friendly Forest (same as in the other room). The yellow closet is Bee A Friend (DC1C-20-4).
The Unicorn's coat took two coats of Clock Strikes 12 (DC2A-20-1) and Gordy's coat is Honey Butter (320C-3).
As requested, there is a Mother Bunny with baby buns.
I was particularly proud of this part. Here is a baby bunny and when you open the door...
you see the cat! The Mother bunny is in Buzz Beta Sector (DC1A-50-2) and the babies are in Honey Butter. My kids both love the sleeping baby bunny the most!
Here is a view of the whole wall that will also hold a dresser, bookshelf, and quilt rack.
Look! A baby fox! (Donald Orange, DC1C-60-3)
The unicorn's mane and tail are a combination of Powdered Blush (130C-1), Cafe Pink (130C-2), and Oh Bother Blue (DC3C-30-3). Bunny, fox, and unicorn ears and noses are all a mix of Cafe Pink and Powdered Blush. Ready for the big reveal?
It is such a good feeling to have the kids in their own rooms again (Gus the cat is happy, too)! They are very happy, and we have almost gotten everything back where it is supposed to be (I will move the bookcases back in today and fill them back up with all of their books). This was a good experience for me, I had never worked on such a grand scale before. All told, I think I put in about 33 hours into this mural. :) Thank you all so much for your interest and encouragement, it made it really fun for me because I was excited to show all of you as much as I was excited to finish for the kids! Good times!
Lastly, Christina Rodriguez and I had a good time at the Twin Cities Festival of Books two weekends ago. I can honestly say it was really overwhelming, but getting to spend the day with Christina was fun. What a long post! Sheesh! Thank you for reading the whole thing! Stay tuned, my next blog post will be a giveaway!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Illustration Friday: Spooky

It is always nice to go trick-or-treating with your Mummy...
Here is a page for boys and ghouls to color!
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bang! Smash! CRASH!

Meet Lieutenant Gwynne! He plays the cymbals proudly for Colonel Windpipe's Musical Brigade! He inspired me to make a little coloring page for all the cymbal playing penguin loving kids out there! Crayons and markers are much quieter than cymbals! Yay!
Tomorrow I will be participating in my first ever Book Fair (EEK!) with my dear friend Christina Rodriguez. We will be at the Elva Resa table at the Twin Cities Book Festival. If you are there, be sure to stop by and say "Hi!" We will have coloring pages, books, and mints!

Twin Cities Book Festival
Date: Saturday, October 16th 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 1501 Hennepin Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Hello, Hello! Look at Baby Gordy! It is almost his birthday! On October 9th he will be ONE! His favorite time of year has arrived: our backyard has turned into an all-you-can-eat leaf buffet! This past Saturday was the Minnesota SCBWI Fall Conference. It was really fantastic. After handling all of the conference registration it was fun to see folks walk in that morning and see their smiling faces (although I felt like a nerd behind the desk). Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why, was our keynote speaker that morning and he shared his journey to publication with us. He is an excellent and engaging speaker, and also a very nice guy! Jay also talked to us about injecting suspense into any novel, which was super interesting. My plan is to file it away in my brain in case I ever decide to write anything... The rest of the conference was great: it was fun to listen to all of the speakers and try to let it all soak in. My portfolio review was with Janet DeCarlo of Storybook Arts. She is just the nicest lady ever! I had a review with her 3 years ago and couldn't believe that she even remembered me! It was great to have the opportunity to thank her for all of the great advice she gave me years ago. She was very kind and gave me a lot of great ideas for new things to add to my portfolio. It was just wonderful! That was probably my favorite part of the conference. I also got to listen to editors Heather Alexander and Jordan Brown give their impressions of the first pages of manuscripts submitted by conference attendees. It was wildly entertaining to hear what they had to say after these pages were read aloud to the lot of us. It was a great conference and the weather was gorgeous. Minnesota is absolutely beautiful in the fall! Oh, and Susan Marie Swanson read a quote by Naomi Shihab Nye in her keynote speech that really stuck with me:
"Be modest, brave, and hopeful forever." How lovely!
Onto Mural no. 2! We began with painting the blue sky and green grass (same colors as the other room). Actually, my husband did all of the painting... Isn't he great!?!
Better than Astroturf!
Grab your sunglasses! The closet is very, very YELLOW!!!
Here I am drawing on the wall again... Let the painting begin!!!

Yesterday was the first day of a little gallery show I am in with a bunch of great art friends: Barb Björnson, Anne Adix Fabie, Alicia Schwab, Sharon Wagner, and Sara Weingartner. Our art will be at the Good Samaritan Society (Westview Acres Apartment & Assisted Living Home, 433 W. 5th St., Waconia, MN 55387) until the end of the year. Such fun!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Peek at Mural 2

Happy Wednesday! Thought I'd quickly post the little sketches I did for Mural 2 (including a unicorn I drew a while back that never found a home!). I was instructed to include (along with the unicorn), a baby fox, Baby Gordy, Gus the cat, and a mother bunny and some baby bunnies. My client is adorable and infinitely patient (as I finished her sister's room a good month ago), so it is nice that we are moving forward again. Sending off my registration today for KidLit Con 2010 that will be here in Minneapolis on October 23, so that will be cool. I am busy now printing up new art samples for my portfolio so it will be extra spiffy for my portfolio review on Oct 2 at the MNSCBWI Fall Conference. It is nice that the more conferences I attend, the less jittery I feel beforehand. I still end up with a ooey gooey brain when the conference is over, but I recover more quickly now. :) It is so great to get all that great information, to hear amazing and talented speakers, to walk away feeling so inspired! And so fun to spend a day with kid book friends!!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

Very excited to share the beginning of my Sketchbook Project with you! "It's Raining Dogs and Cats" was the theme that I chose, and I'll be posting pages as I make progress. Be prepared, my odd sense of humor has just found an appropriate venue! :)
And so it begins...