Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Bring it On, 2019

New year, new art, new stories. Hold on, January. This girl is fired up.

Nessa Dee

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Why Hello There!

You've probably forgotten who I am, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vanessa. I am the author, illustrator, and neglecter of this little blog.  

I am a wife of one,

(this and photo below by Emily Ingalls Photography )

mother to three,

five if you count my two fur terrors, one of which is the cutest dog in the world. I'll let you decide which of the two.

Ok, I know that was hard. It's this one:

I teach art to middle school and high school homeschoolers.

(Some of my students' work.)

I love to travel...

with my family.

 Scotland has been my favorite trip so far.

I'm super strong.

Well, not really. But I am a big dork, which my kids absolutely love.

Honestly, they can't be more proud.

But, hopefully, that goofiness shines through in my work. I write and illustrate picture books. My debut book as an author/illustrator, Lucy and the String (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers), came out on August 7th, and boy do I have a lot to share about release week, which I will do as I'm determined to revive this dying blog.

Here's a bit of praise for Lucy:

"Roeder uses pencils, watercolors, and “lots of digital string” in a palette of red, black, and white to create an imaginative and entertaining tale of crafting and friendship."

"Newcomer Roeder works in a gray-black-white palette lit up by the yarn’s brilliant scarlet, and she paces the story’s panels and vignettes with care while exploring the full range of the yarn’s possibilities."

"The two-color palette (shades of black and a zingy red) and effective paneling balance the scribbly string with the more fully defined, expressive ursine and child figures. Pair this with Watkins’ Pete with No Pants (BCCB 5/17) for some serious giggles, but make sure everyone knows no pants, no storytime."


"Lucy and the String celebrates the power of imagination driving the friendship between gap-toothed Lucy and her ursine companion."

"With strong lines and vivid color, Roeder tells the story of a little girl’s insatiable curiosity and the endless possibilities that result. The spunky, vintage style will appeal to fans of Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers."

"[The book] teaches children the values of curiosity and innovation through an entertaining (and adorable) storyline."

Lucy and the String was also named one of Amazon's Best Books for the month of August!

I love my family, I love being a mom, and I love what I do. Life has been quite an adventure so far, and I can't wait to see where this journey takes me!



Friday, January 13, 2017


Last Saturday, my beautiful daughter turned 16 years old. It's been such a joy to watch this girl blossom. She is wise beyond her years. She's smart as a whip, quick-witted, and oh so talented. She puts me to shame when it comes to art. Almost every free moment she has is devoted to sketching, painting, playing the piano, or strumming the ukulele (her new obsession). On a side note, she received the ukulele for Christmas, and by sunset, she was strumming out familiar tunes. She'd never played a string instrument before. It's kind of annoying how she makes us all look talentless. ;)

Audrie loves words and word play and continues to challenge me almost daily with some sort of game involving rhymes, or haikus, or synonyms, or riddles. And I love every minute of it. She is super sweet, and good big sister (most of the time), and just a delight to be around. I don't like to think about how in two and a half years, she'll be leaving this nest. I'm not ready for our family dynamic to change. So, until then, I'm going to cherish this time we have while our nest is full, and continue to remind her of all of the great colleges we have just right down the street.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.
I love you so.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hello 2017!

I love beginnings. There's so much promise held in beginnings... the excitement of a budding relationship, the first day of a much anticipated vacation, a crisp clean sheet of paper that greets you in a new sketchbook, or the first line of a book that draws you in and begs you to read more. And the beginning of a new year is no different. It's a jumping off point to set our goals, map out a plan, and work towards achieving our dreams. Just like a sprinter coming out of the blocks, we all like a good start. 

But as much as I love beginnings, I hate late starts. Ten days into 2017, and I haven't even written my goals yet, much less mapped them out. I feel this sense of anxiety looming as each day passes and I haven't taken the time to even write down a goal. I have some vague ideas of smaller goals like sketching everyday, or blogging more, or writing a couple of new stories every week, but I've already balked at accomplishing these. If I were a sprinter, I would have been disqualified from this year's race. 

I don't know why it's so hard to recover and start again without that shiny new, first day of the year beginning, but it is. January 1st holds the promise of everything you hope to achieve as you set sail into the year, while January 11th feels like you missed the boat. But I have to remind myself that everyday I wake up is a new beginning. Every day holds promise to accomplish great things. So instead of staring forlornly at the January 1st boat quickly disappearing over the horizon, I'm going to bid it farewell.  I'm opting to step onto this January 11th boat. It may not seem as clean and fresh as that first day of the new year boat, but hey, it's right in front of me, and I can't wait to see where it takes me. In fact, we're already off to a good start:

-Write a New Years blog post.
-Make a sketch for this post
-Use tired analogies about boats and races in one post.

Okay, so maybe I just now added that last goal, but it feels so satisfying to mark things off a list, who wouldn't want to keep riding that gravy train?

I apologize.

Here's to making things happen. Happy January 11th, 2017!

nessa dee

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