Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Big Announcement!

I have an agent!!

 After many, many years of illustrating, writing, revising, and rejections, more revising, more illustrating, more writing, I am beyond excited to announce that I am now being represented by Rebecca Sherman of Writers House for all of my book related projects!

It was through my fantastic critique group, The Girllustrators, that I first made the connection with Rebecca. As a group, we send out one collective postcard mailer a year to various agents, art directors, and editors. This year, our postcards were Texas themed recipe cards, and it was through this mailer that Rebecca first contacted me. Since then, Rebecca has been working with me to polish several of my projects, and her advice has been tremendous. I'm grateful to have found an agent who invests so much time and thought into my projects.

Thank you so much Rebecca and Andrea for working with me and my little projects. I'm looking forward to being part of such a wonderful team and community of authors and illustrators! 

nessa dee

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Favorite Children's Books of 2016

I am super exited to be joining a wonderful group of authors and bloggers today to discuss our favorite children's books of 2016! Each of us has written about one book; simply follow the links included at the bottom of each of our posts to see the remaining recommended list. You can also find out more about who we are at the bottom of this post. 

And now, I present to you...

If there's one thing that can make or break a book's standing on my personal list of favorites, it's the book becoming a preferred read of my preschooler. If any book can survive night after night of multiple readings, and I don't end up hiding it under a rug, then it's gotta be top notch. Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah O'Hora not only survived a potential life of rug exile, I found myself suggesting it when my four year old ventured to stray from tradition.

Horrible Bear! begins when Bear breaks Girl's kite. The incident sends Girl stomping away screaming HORRIBLE BEAR! But bear didn't mean to break Girl's kite, and this unfair proclamation sends bear into a tirade of his own, until he has a "Horrible Bear idea." He stomps after the girl to show her what a horrible bear truly looks like, but just as he reaches her house, something happens that takes all the horrible right out of the bear... Girl apologizes.

A mere 258 words, Dyckman packs a tremendous amount of emotion into this story of forgiveness and acceptance. Every word in this simple story is used to great effect, and the fun language repetition makes for a lively read aloud. Accentuated by O'Hora's expressive illustrations, the story's emotional outbursts are felt just as much in the bold black brushstrokes, the girl's mop of red, curly hair, and the bright orange of the bear.  O'Hora's jewel toned color palette give the illustrations a richness, and his creative use of vignettes echo the parallel storylines.

Together, Dyckman and O'Hora have delivered an adorable, offbeat story with a lovely sentiment. Horrible Bear! has not only captured my four year old's heart, it's charmed this reader enough to keep it at the top of our nightly reading list! Plus, I kind of like getting to read in a Horrible Bear voice.

nessa dee

Ready for the rest of our 2016 recommendations? Just follow the links! 

So...who the heck are these suggestion-making people? 

Cate Berry is an author, performer, songwriter, and teacher. She's the author of two original shows, one of which (Dish) was produced at the Long Center for Performing Arts in 2014. Cate's debut picture book, Penguin and Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime will be available in Spring 2018 (Balzar + Bray).

Charnaie Gordon, a computer programmer by trade and a Distinguished Toastmaster, is the blogger behind the popular Here Wee Read blog, where you'll find tips and suggestions for finding the best children's books, and be inspired to make the most of your read aloud time, however much that is.

Danna Smith is the author of many books for children, including her most recent fiction titles, Swallow the Leader and Arctic White, as well as numerous non-fiction titles, such as Balloon Trees and the forthcoming The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry (Candlewick, 2017).

Eileen Manes is a writer, an artist and the blogger behind Pickle Corn Jam, a blog about books and writing for children of all ages. She was recently nominated as a finalist for the SCBWI-Austin Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award, and her current projects include picture books, a middle grade novel and a novel for adults, all in various stages of completion.

Henry L. Herz is the author of numerous books for children, including Mabel and the Queen of DreamsLittle Red Cuttlefish and the forthcoming Dinosaur Pirates (Sterling, 2017). He's a regular panelist at conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon, and has been a guest blogger on several blogs, including Tara Lazar's amazing Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and Angie Karcher's Rhyming Picture Book Month (RhyPiBoMo).

Karen Santhanam is a writer, an artist, a blogger and host of the popular Storybook Spotlight podcast. Storybook Spotlight is about reading with kids, children’s books and family fun, including interviews with children’s books authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, preschool folks and friends. She was also recently nominated as a finalist for the SCBWI-Austin Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award.

Kell Andrews writes novels and picture books for children and nonfiction for adults. A little bit of magic helps with both. Her first novel, Deadwood, was published in 2014 and her debut picture book, Mira Forecasts the Future, came out this year (2016, Sterling).

Keyosha Atwater is an avid reader, Instagramer and blogger. When she isn't reading to her own kiddos or reviewing books on Instagram @weebooklovers, you'll find her working on her brand new blog, Wee Book Lovers, where she'll be reviewing even more books and suggesting the best of the best kid-tested, mom-approved books to try with your own family.

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous beloved books for young people, including the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book, All the World, and her debut novel for middle grade readers, The Great Good Summer. She's also a poet, a teacher and a frequent, popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences.

Vanessa Roeder (Nessa Dee) is an illustrator, painter and self-proclaimed crafty mess-maker. She's worked as a muralist and made art for magazines, children's books and homes around the world. She's taught art, writes stories, has been featured in Highlights Magazine and on Apartment Therapy and was the grand prize winner in the Austin SCBWI 2016 portfolio contest.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mole on a Scooter

All he needs is a pair of glasses! I’ve been challenging myself to paint animals other than my usual list of jungle and woodland creatures. Mr. Mole popped up in one of my sketches, so he found his way onto a canvas via little red scooter.  And he doesn’t seem to mind that I dressed him in clashing patterns.

nessa dee

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Better late than never.

My baby boy turned four at the end of July. FOUR! I missed doing his birthday post because we were traveling on the big day, one of four trips we took last month. It's been a busy July, and things haven't slowed down for August, but I'll tell you more about it in my next post. For now, a very late birthday post, just in case August ever looks back at these and wonders why Mom forgot to wish him a happy fourth birthday.

Little boy...what can I say about you. You have enriched our lives so much. Your independence and confidence amazes me. You "know" things even if you don't know things. You have a hunger to learn, and when you set your mind to achieving something, you will see it through until you're satisfied. You have already taught yourself how to write and are a confident speller. Your most recent letter reads DEOL AUGUST HABTPY (Dear August, Happy Birthday).

You seem to be following in your sister's footsteps when it comes to music. Thanks to her, you've learned how to play several songs including Silent Night, House of Gold, and Chopsticks, and you took it upon yourself to learn March from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. (Thank you Little Einstein's)
You are quite the ham, and are learning the art of making jokes, though, like your spelling, your jokes don't always make sense. Lock-lock jokes are among your favorites, and the punch line is always "Yes."
We laugh every time.
 Sweet boy, what a blessing you are. Though you are four, going on 24, you are and always will be my baby.
I love you so much.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Reluctant Swimmer

It started with a sketch...

She's one of many swimmers I've sketched lately, but I just loved her 'attitude,' so to speak.
So, out came the paper, Mod Podge, and paint, and I set to work bringing this little sketch to life.

 I spend a lot of time picking the right papers to use in my art. The paper combinations might look random and haphazard, which in some cases it is, but in most cases, there's a lot of thought as to which patterns and colors I'll use. For example, in a travel themed piece of art, I might layer my canvas with maps and old travel adds, or I might add recipe pages for a food themed painting. In all of my paintings and illustrations I try to use general, but bold patterns that have stark, contrasting colors to base my canvases because I know that once the paint is layered on, only hints of these patterns will sneak through, so the bolder the pattern, the more likely it won't be completely obscured.  Once the background is finished, I sketch out my subject and get to painting.

Then comes the fun part... dressing the subject.
 I generally have an idea for a color, or a particular look I'm going for, and I pick out a bunch of papers that I think might work. If I'm painting a bird it would be the feathers, or a robot, his metal casing, but in this case, it was this girl's swimwear. I thought I wanted a navy blue swimsuit, so I picked several papers that fit the bill, along with a few other colors with classic patterns. I held each paper up to the painting and tried to imagine the finished piece. Once I narrowed the papers down to a shortlist, I cut out the suit in each color, laid them out, and photographed them. The cutting was through trial and error. I started big, and trimmed it down to fit. If I'm illustrating a piece that requires more intricate scissor work, I'll have a detailed sketch and trace the images on my paper before making the cut, but I thought I could eyeball this one.

I had to call in the jury to help me decide the winning suit...

Then it was glued down, sealed and given some extra details before the I called this reluctant swimmer finished.


nessa dee