Blog Hop (Hoppity Hop)

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in blog, illustration, projects, thoughts, writing

I was asked to participate in a blog hop, featuring some amazing kidlit authors and SCBWI friends. This post is my contribution to this blogging venture.

First and foremost, let me introduce to you, a talented author and SCBWI member, Dionna L. Mann:

Dionna is a spinner of children’s yarns, a weaver of nonfiction articles, a forever-learner enrolled in the Institute of Imaginative Thinking and a keeper of an MFA–a Mighty Fine Attitude, that is. Her work has appeared in WEE ONES, KidMag Writer, the SCBWI Bulletin, the ICL’s newsletter, and in regional newspapers. She has sold a non-fiction feature to Highlights for Children and has had a poem accepted by Ladybug. For eight years now, Dionna has been writing articles on editorial assignment for Charlottesville Family, a Parent’s Choice winning magazine. In 2012, her début middle-grade, FREEDOM PEN, was published by Pugalicious Press. She may be found at

You should definitely check out FREEDOM PEN from your local library, buy it from your local indie bookstore or get the e-book from And check out her Middle Grade Blog Hop post where she features some great authors, too, including one of my favorites, Kathy Erskine.

Freedom Pen CoverNow I get to do my part of this “Blog Hop” thing and answer five questions:

1. What am I working on?

Running my design business and working on illustration and writing projects, I’m never at a loss for something to work on. My to-do list changes daily. I am currently juggling three picture book dummies in various stages of completion. I also have some personal illustration projects under construction, including a promotional piece and a storybook app. I’m also working on a middle-grade manuscript that takes place during WWII in what is now known as Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

2. How does my work differ from others in this genre?

The thing that sets my work apart, is really the thing that sets all serious illustrators and writers apart. I do the work that resonates in my soul. I don’t care to follow trends. I want my writing and my artwork to be authentic and honest. That’s a tough thing to say…glad I got it out.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write (and draw) what I do, because it is meaningful to me and I hope it will be meaningful to others. I love writing about that easy sense of wonder young children have that adults somehow seem to lose hold of as they grow up and enter the world. I write within historical periods because I believe they can act as a mirrors by which we can check ourselves and understand our own place in the stream of time.

4. How does my writing process work?

In a word, erratic…but I work a lot on my iPad using the Simple Text app and Dropbox, organized with folders for each project. I tend to work on the move because thoughts never come to me in one place, especially not at my desk. (They usually come to me in the shower…which is not a great environment for an iPad.) I have my Dropbox synched to my computer and all my mobile devices, including my iPhone so I can write an idea or a paragraph or two wherever it hits me.

just a sketch…don’t judge.

I write out my PB manuscripts like free verse poetry so I can see how the words flow. The rhythm of words is important to me and I scrutinize every syllable. Reading, to me, has a rhythmic quality and so I feel like writing is similar to composing music. Once the words are down, I tend to do my edits in the original document. I prefer not to have a lot of versions of something jamming up my work folders because that is confusing.

My illustration process starts with thumbnails. I carry around a sketchbook and it becomes the start point for most of my illustrations (but I’ll draw on just about anything). Then I progress to a tighter comp (usually done in blue colored pencil) and then a final graphite drawing that is the basis for both my black and white graphite work or my color digital. I scan the drawing and color the piece in Adobe Photoshop CS5. If I’m working in gouache or graphite, I transfer the image of the final drawing to a piece of cold press illustration board or double weight bristol.

My routine for getting things done involves time blocks where I’m most productive at that particular activity. I try to work on writing early in the morning, when it’s quiet, before my kids are up and getting ready for school. I do illustration later in the day when my house is mostly empty and I can jam out on Pandora or listen to audiobooks while I’m working.

I do a lot of my sketching later in the evening because I can do a lot of it while being with my family. After 20 years of marriage and 19 years being a mom, I’m pretty good at drawing while the everyone else is watching TV. I have to keep my hands busy or my brain will explode.

That’s all folks!~


1 Comment

  1. Dionna
    June 6, 2014

    Thank you, Tami, for sharing how your writing and illustrating process works! Very insightful! Hope Apple comes out with a shower proof I-pad very soon! (Why do great ideas happen in the shower?) And, I must say, I judge that sketch as fabulous!! It was fun blog-hopping with you!