The manuscript for my YA memoir, “Still Stace” is DONE. I can’t believe the metamorphosis this story has undergone since my very first pitch (and I am so grateful for my editor!)
The version I originally pitched in Feb 2019 (which got me my agent) was about 1200 words. I envisioned it as a picture book. Now, as a YA illustrated memoir, it’s over 43,000 words! I never planned to write so much, or so honestly, about reconciling my sexuality and my faith – but I am so grateful for this opportunity.
Now that the writing is done, the hard part begins. THE. DRAWING. It’s one thing to write about tough and vulnerable experiences – now I gotta draw them. This weekend I sat down to start my roughs for the first chapters, and felt the familiar spiral of doubt hit me. How can I do this? Am I good enough to do this? …I can’t do this.
I got stuck. This happens to me when I am working on something I feel a lot of importance behind. The only recipe that works to get unstuck, is:
1 – get outside, preferably on my bike, stare at the mountains, sweat, lip sync some amazing music
2 – come home and create a piece of art with no expectations or judgement
Here’s what I created to get unstuck. And it worked – I drew most of yesterday and got the first section of roughs done! (Sometimes it’s a combination of letting go, and just being kinder with ourselves.)
This series of images came from listening to the lyrics of “Be Alright” by @dantebowe and @amandalindseycook. I have found great encouragement from it, I hope you connect with it too!
This week was International Dog Day (I would never know if not for hashtags), and it reminded me of my dog growing up, Denny. His fav thing was to waddle out into the sun (he was rotund, guys) and lay in an empty flower box in the sun.
I mean, it’s not a BAD way to spend a day!
Anyway, I had to do a quick memory sketch of him ❤
Here’s a throwback to wee baby me in 1980/81 with Denny. He was definitely my pal! (Even if my face suggests uncertainty, lol)
I believe I encountered a UFO whilst riding my bike last night.
I have drawn this photo-realistic evidence as proof – see my arm in the foreground to see how close I came to the creature. Please forward to your nearest FBI or X-Files agent asap!
Unrelated note: People are funny things, hey?
(PLEASE NOTE: If Gillian Anderson wants to speak about this, please send her to me directly. *swoon*)
This new normal, this quarantine life – it’s not easy, right? I don’t do well with unknowns, with large fears, with missing people. I am thankful for so many things, and also struggling with so many things. I know we all are. For me, music helps. Dancing helps. Working out helps. Hugging my kids helps. Getting outside on my bike helps.
Making art helps.
Here’s a couple sketches I have done outside of my book/animation projects that I’m not allowed to post about. I will keep adding as I do them!
Hang in there, we are all in this together!
Sending many social distance tight hugs. I can’t wait to have a big dance party when this is all over.
Stay safe and healthy!
May 5 – I don’t know why, but it gave me immense joy to paint my favourite chair tonight. I need to actually sit and rest (or write!) in it more, though. #notetoself
May 3 – I think one of my fav things is hearing/watching someone playing violin. Man, I love that sound. (Best sound on film scores, too.) When I worked in Gastown (a trendy part of Vancouver) someone would take up residence on a bench and play their violin. It ALWAYS made me smile. Sending hope, love and music therapy to everyone tonight.
Apr 24 – The sun was setting as I was biking the other day, so today I painted it. I’m hopeful, I’m sad, I’m trying my best not to give up. Remember, each day is a new one!
Apr 21 – My daughter turns 4 today! I have been dying to draw her in this most awesome Mr. Rogers dress she constantly wears 😀
Apr 20 – My daughter chose my outfit for me 🙂
April 18 – saw this guy on my bike and his outfit made me smile, so I had to draw it 🙂
Friends, I have some exciting news!
With the help of my agent Claire at The Bent Agency, I’ve been hired by Beaming Books to illustrate a really adorable picture book entitled “Rainbow Boy” (written by Taylor Rouanzion)! I’ve been working on it for a little while, but it was officially announced this week in Publisher’s Marketplace!
Here’s the official announcement. Stay tuned for updates!
UPDATE JAN 5, 2020: RAINBOW BOY is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca (for my Canadian friends)! It releases in September – and I am working hard now on the rest of the illustrations! Until then, here is the cover and a sample spread of the inside. 🙂
Oh my word, who else loved the most current season of “Stranger Things”, in all of its’ 80s mall glory?! It was just so fun!
I was really inspired by the first season to do my own Golden Book concept – you can see that here. I also just really loved the characters, so I did some ink sketches of them all – you can see that here.
I was too busy to do stuff for season 2, but for season 3 I just had to do some art. I have plans to do at least an illustration from each episode, but so far I did these two from episode 1.
My version of Scoops Ahoy with Steve & Robin:
A quick paint study of the cinematography – I loved this shot from episode 1!
MARCH 2020 UPDATE: We accepted a book deal from Beaming Books and it was announced on March 5, 2020! Details below:
My agent Claire and I have been working hard on this for the last few weeks, and hopefully soon I will have more news to share!
This project has just poured out of me, like a pitcher full of water finally being emptied. In my 18 years as an artist, I have never quite had that feeling before. Usually I struggle with getting what’s in my head onto the page/screen. I’m really excited to finish it, and for everyone to get the chance to read it! I have a lot more work [drawing] to do, but I feel so incredibly grateful to work on it every chance I get. Here are the latest illustrations I have done – they will make more sense with the text. 🙂
Stay tuned for the full story and publishing updates!
Hi friends! Life is sooooooo busy [Mamas & Papas raise your hands!] but I am continuing to move forward on this book project. I don’t know what will happen, but I feel it in my bones that I just gotta do it.
Here’s an illustration that will be for the inside.
If anyone needs/wants a reminder of why I am writing this, read my original announcement here. I will also post my cover again to see the art together.
Stay tuned for more updates!
This project is a long time coming (out).
I love working in the animation industry, and I hope I continue to for many more years. But lately these words from Mary Oliver keep ringing in my ears:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do /
With your one wild and precious life?”
What messages do I want to leave behind? What messages would I want my kids to be proud of me for? I believe we all have talents, and I think it’s important to think about how we can use those talents for something bigger than paying the mortgage.
I want to tell people’s stories with my art. I want to tell of their triumphs, their struggles, and the priceless lessons they learned. And I think this time in history – maybe now more than ever – we need to listen to each other.
But if I am going to tell other people’s stories, I think I need to tell my own story first.
I have shared my story before of growing up in the church, and finding peace about being gay, and a Christian. For years now, I have wondered if I would have the courage to put some of my own triumphs, struggles and lessons into an illustrated book. For years I have been thinking about it. But lately, I have felt a need to do it. Maybe it’s just that now I feel ready to do it.
I really struggle with this, as I can’t stand the spotlight. Like all of us I wonder – does my story matter? I’m sure it will rock the boat in some of my circles. Putting my deepest and darkest struggle out there for everyone to read (in illustrated-form yet!) is… terrifying. But years ago, after God gave me peace about who I am, I felt Him asking me to be authentic about how I got there. I struggled so much for so many years, and if my story can help someone else, then I will tell it every chance I get.
We have come a long way with LGBT inclusion. But there’s still a lot of work to do, especially in our churches. There’s still (LGBT) voices to hear. I want to do this for that teen sitting in their non-affirming church, not sure if they can continue. I want to do this for that person struggling with rejection from family or friends because they just want to be honest about who they are. You are not alone.
So here it is.
This is my work-in-progress cover for the book I am writing & illustrating, entitled “Dear Younger (gay) Me”. The story will follow a present-day version of myself, going back to visit a younger version of myself, following the journey where I was struggling the most, and trying to leave encouraging messages in place of the hurtful or difficult ones I received at the time.
I will be posting updates, I need to figure out how to get it published, I am in the midst of storyboarding…. it’s all a messy work-in-progress – sort of like all of us. 🙂 I’m not sure how this is going to go, but I keep hearing a small voice inside saying, “Just draw it, and see what happens.”
So, one illustration at a time, I’m doing this.
Thanks to everyone who supports me near and far – most of all Tams, for giving me the (daily) courage to do this. Life is too short not to do hard things.
If you know someone who might benefit from this when it comes out, please share. I just really want all of us to feel less alone.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for updates. 🙂