This the week I pause to give thanks

Every year about this time,  I stop and look back on past the year and all the things I am thankful for. I am fortunate in life to have a wonderful loving husband, two fantastic children, two incredible grandchildren, a mother who is healthy and still lives near by and many fun and supportive friends. When you really get down to what’s important, it’s friends and family. Oh yeah, and that other important thing– health. We have been healthy also.

Soaring_Sislen_300Let me make a short list:

  • Sunrises
  • Sunsets
  • Baby’s cute little toes and noses
  • Puppies and kittens
  • Mittens
  • Snowflakes
  • Good friends
  • Good food
  • Good health
  • Fireplaces
  • Long walks with someone you love
  • Picture books

I also feel very lucky to work at a job that I love so much, I don’t even consider it working. I have met a lot of new friends through the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) by attending conferences, workshops and meeting with my critique group every month. I also meet fellow children’s book writers and illustrators online using social media that share my love of children’s books. Since I work alone each day in my studio, I enjoy the companionship of a large group of dog walkers and their delightful dogs every morning at 7am in the park across the street from where I live. We walk 3 to 4 miles every morning in all but the most inclement weather (ice storms and thunder storms, we stay home).

This year I was fortunate to illustrate a children’s picture book called “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” with my good friend, Donna Warwick. I have worked with so many authors to illustrate their picture books and chapter books and we usually become friends by the end of the project. But this is the first time to start out as friends at the beginning. It’s been a fun experiment in self publishing. Other authors I have worked with have self-published, but I have never been so involved in the process of marketing the book. It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

School visits, presentations, readings, signings, and give-aways keep us busy. I feel like I need to take a breather to start work on another picture book. I keep writing manuscripts and sending them off into the world and I keep illustrating, it’s what makes me happy.

I hope everyone who reads this has a Happy Thanksgiving and a warm and wonderful  Holiday Season.

I am praying for the victims and families of victims senselessly murdered in terrorists acts in Nigeria, Yemen, Paris, Turkey, Tripoli, Israel, Philippines, Ukraine, Pakistan, Mali, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Kenya, India, Afghanistan and Cameroon. And home grown terrorism (shootings) in the U.S. I pray we can all learn to live together in peace.


New Etsy Shop for our books!

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 1.18.43 PMI just set up a brand new Etsy shop called Glass Pen Press so everyone can buy the SIGNED versions of Donna Warwick’s and my book, “There’s a Mouse on My Head! The signed books can be purchased locally around St. Louis at: The Jewish Book Festival Book Store until November 12th, Imagination Toys in Ladue, Webster Groves Book Store in Webster and Sound Mind in Creve Coeur, Missouri. The books can also be ordered from and B& in hard cover and soft cover, but the books ordered online are not signed by us because they are shipped directly.

The books in the Etsy shop will be signed by both of us.

I also plan to add art prints suitable for framing using a few of the illustrations from the book. I still need to figure out the logistics of having them printed and mailing them safely. So books are ready now, the art prints in a few weeks.

Hope you can drop by the shop. Let me know if you see any glitches. It’s brand new and untested.

30 days, 30 new Picture Book Ideas!

PiBoIdMoI love November. What fun it is to have permission to dream away for a little while each day. Dreaming of new picture book ideas that is. I have a slight head start with 9 ideas right now. I like to get ahead and store up ideas, because there are sometimes dry days with no ideas or busy days without time for ideas. I also find great ideas come in bunches.

My best time for great ideas is in the morning when I’m sort of awake, but still dreaming. It’s easy to remember these ideas. The great ones I get when I’m falling asleep either keep me up all night or disappear when the Sandman shows up.

My ideas come to me as visuals because I am an illustrator first. I see the character in my mind and later comes the story. I also have a list of spare characters hanging around looking for a story. It’s so much fun being able to invent characters and the world they live in.

I just love being an author and illustrator of children’s books.

Here is the link to my website:, I just added some new work. If you need an illustrator for a picture book or chapter book, contact me through my website. I would love to talk to you about your story.

I also have a portfolio page:

The first of November starts Picture Book Idea Month or PiBoIdMo!

PiBoIdMoI’m counting down the days, November first can’t get here soon enough. I just love Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month. It gives me a fun reason to come up with 30 new ideas for picture books. Last year I came up with more than 30. I was so excited to start working on them. But, for some strange reason I misplaced my list and could only remember about a third of them. Maybe this year some of those lost ideas will come back.

Tara sets up inspirational and informative blogs and guest-bloggers for participants. There are exciting contests with fantastic prizes. Here is the registration page on Tara’s Blog. Everyone should try it at least once. You don’t have to write the whole book, just jot down a few notes or insight on characters. You might find you have a picture book in you. If you do and you need an illustrator, contact me and we can work together to make your picture book the best it can be. Go to my website to see my children’s book illustrations and find my contact information.

National Day on Writing!

Why do I write? Why does anyone write?

MOYH_9780996561518-Perfect.inddIt’s a form of personal and artistic expression as well as communication. Writing is important to our lives because information is passed from one person to another and to future generations through the written word.

I like to write and illustrate children’s books because I love to impart lessons of life in a fun entertaining way. With picture books, it is not necessary to scold or preach to children. Children can easily learn lessons by reading or being read stories with actions and consequences. They see their favorite characters solving life’s problems in entertaining stories. #whyIwrite, #picturebooks, #Kidlit

My newest book with author Donna Warwick is: There’s a Mouse on My Head! is available on, Barnes and Nobel and can be ordered from independent book stores.


I love this quote.

We love grandmothers as imaginative caregivers.

When Donna Warwick was writing “There’s a Mouse on My Head!, she made the caregiver of the little boy and his sister the Grandmother. Why not a mother or a father?

This is what we learned from our research: 

28-MOYH_page28RGB“Six out of 10 grandparents served as caregivers to their grandchildren over a 10-year period (1998-2008), and of that group, 70% offered care for two years or more, according to a 2012 study from the University of Chicago. The study echoed the 2010 U.S. Census, which found that 2.7 million grandparents are primary caregivers that meet most of a child’s needs, compared with 2.4 million in 2006. . .

“In many families with young and school-age children, both parents need to work to meet family needs and, as such, require child care arrangements,” she said. “Infant and child care is costly, budgets are stressed to the max and many families simply cannot afford to pay for child care.” ”

It seems more and more grandmothers are taking a major role in raising children.We make no judgement on these facts, We think it is wonderful grandmothers have the time to spend with their grandchildren. We felt this special role should be celebrated. So the book, “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” shows a Grandmother as a fun care giver. She has the time and patience to play a silly game of imagination before bed.

Donna and I have good memories of our grandmothers. We hope that kids today remember their grandmother as fun caregivers. #grandmarules, #grandma, #PictureBooks.

You can order Donna Warwick (author) and Dayne Sislen’s (illustrator) book, “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” from Amazon, B& and it can be special ordered from your local independent book store.

Preparing for our picture book presentation tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day

Donna Warwick and I have been preparing for this event since March. We will present our book “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” to the Jewish Book Festival Book Club Tea.  Representatives from all the book clubs throughout St. Louis and the committee chairs for the Jewish Book Festival will be attending the tea. Our book will also be available for sale at the Jewish Book Festival Book Store in the Missouri’s Own Section the first week in November.

MOYH 3d_BookCoverOur book release was based on being ready for this event. Donna Warwick, the author of “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” has prepared a video of the book using my illustrations, Donna’s singing the words with ukulele music in the background played by her cousin Sandy. I saw the finished version yesterday for the first time and it is fantastic. We thought it would much better to show it large on a 9 1/2 foot x 8 foot screen. Much easier for 70 people to see than holding up a picture book.

We will also talk to the group about self-publishing. We feel that everyone has a story they want to tell. We will give insight into the children’s book publishing world.

Yesterday I spent a large part of the day preparing small chocolate mice favors for each attendee. It was a lot of work. I sure hope everyone likes them. Making 70 of anything requires quite an assembly line, I had no idea what I was getting into. I don’t think there is a career change in my future as a candy maker. You can buy our book on Amazon and B& or order it from your neighborhood independent book store :-).

chocolate mice 5Chocolate mice4

CU_chocolate Mice

Interview: Diane Gronas, Author and Illustrator

Today I welcome Diane Gronas, author and illustrator of “Starseeker: the Flower of Tameroon.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.48.49 PMI am interviewing Diane today, so more readers can hear about her exciting book. I gave Diane a 5 star review on Amazon because I loved reading about the lives of Annie and her teenage friends living in a future world. There’s a lot of action and romance in this thriller! 

Synopsis: In a distant future, Annie lives alone with her aunt in a high-rise refugee tower as the world around her turns to ice. The Starfire that once warmed the regions of the twelve kingdoms is failing. There is little to do in her cramped quarters and she spends far more time with star charts and flight simulation than what is required for any shuttle pilot. Uncle Jordan has become her mentor and tutors her and the prince of Treya; soon to be crowned heir apparent at the royal ball. Annie dreams of dancing at the ball but her deepest desire is to join the desperate flights of Starseekers searching the universe for food and survival. Launching into space is her only hope of ever finding her parents, missing on the lost planet of Tamaroon. This is a triumphant Space Age Cinderella tale that blooms into romance and action.

Dayne: Why did you choose the genre of Science Fiction as your first book?

Diane: “I always wanted a flying car and Cinderella is my favorite theme, so the setting became a science fiction world in the future with castles.”

Dayne: I love that Annie is learning to pilot her own starship.

Dayne: Have any other writers inspired your writing style?

Diane: “Yes, I found Rick Riordan’s “Heroes of Olympus” style easily connects with young YA readers. I love his humor and easygoing characters. John Rocco’s cover illustration of the mechanical dragon is terrific. Rick’s books target the same age group as my books even though STARSEEKER has been re-read 3 times by adult readers working for NASA. The comment I hear most from readers is that it is a good story.”

Dayne: The mechanical dragon by John Rocco is one of my favorite illustrations. Your story is strong and stands on it’s own. All the great future space travel action just adds to the fun.

Dayne: As an illustrator, I am always interested in the work of other illustrators. I love your cover for Starseeker: The Flower of Tameroon. You did a beautiful job.

Diane: “Thank you Dayne, coming from you that means a lot. My major was Graphic design and I taught drawing in graduate school. My goal was to illustrate children’s books like you, but I got wrapped up in the Starseeker world of Treya and Tamaroon. Drew Struzan with his beautiful sketches showing through intense airbrushed hues in his Star War posters has always been at the top of my list of favorite illustrators along with Sheilah Beckett, Tomie de Paola, Mercer Mayer, Brothers Hildebrandt, and of course the Disney Company.,,, ,”

Dayne: You are multi-talented to be the author AND illustrator of your own book.

Dayne: What was the hardest lesson that you learned while writing your novel.

Diane: “Re-writes and formatting take forever and plot changes not only increase the complexity of the story but also are hard to keep track of.”

Dayne: I loved reading about Annie, Garret, Tipper and E-Chip and want to read about them again. Is there a book two in the works?

Diane: “I’m really excited about Book 2, STARTRAIL TO TAMAROON. E-Chip and Tipper join Annie, Garret, Melody, Brandon and the crew to explore another world. New surprises in discoveries and technology will be found as they meet interesting characters along the way.”

Dayne: Can’t wait to read it.

Dayne: What is your favorite scene in your book?

Diane: “Truthfully it’s the one I haven’t written yet. But, if I have to choose one from the first book, it would probably be where Annie meets the prince. Although the shuttle race, sword fight, discovery of the Lastradanyan luminos dociles, palace escape, and explosive ending were all fun as well.”

Dayne: I have many favorite scenes, these are some of mine also.

Dayne: How do you feel now about the self-publishing process?

Diane: “The whole idea of being able to upload your own edited manuscript along with a book cover you created in Photoshop and being able to order your own book was unheard of not many years ago. It still is amazing to me. But simply having it available on-line is not enough. The huge job of letting people know what it is and where it is available is daunting. If you are able to find a publisher who will promote your book, do it. Self promotion will only get you so far and you want your book available in libraries and stores. Not everyone shops on-line.”

Readers can read the beginning of this book at Amazon or learn more about Diane and her books on her website:

Regional SCBWI conference was inspiring.

The Missouri’s regional SCBWI conference was held just outside of St. Louis in St. Charles, Missouri last weekend. Our Regional Advisor Kim Piddington, Asst. Regional Advisor Shannon Moore and Regional Illustrator Coordinator, Katie Wools did a professional job organizing the event. The key-note speaker was Artistrator (fine artist and illustrator) E.B. Lewis, other presenters were: Author Peggy Archer, Author Jennifer Brown, Agent Melissa Edwards, Agent Kristen Hall, Editor Connie Hsu, Agent Brianne Johnson and Editor Kate Sullivan.

Scottie dog swimming

It was an exciting and stimulating experience for me. I am now full of enthusiasm to start new projects and spiff-up old ones. I will start by tightening my Penelope Picture books using suggestions I was given in my critiques. I have two written and have an idea for a third. I am also going to work on a story I wrote years ago about my Scottie puppy Ghillis learning to swim. That illustration garnered some interest about the story behind the illustration.

In October I will be posting an interview with Author Diane Gronas, author of Star Seeker: The Flower of Tameroon


My entry for the Missouri SCBWI 2015 conference poster Illustration

Soaring_Sislen_300This is my illustration for the SCBWI-MO conference Illustration competition. The theme is “Soaring to New Heights!” The conference is this weekend, September 15-16th at Lindenwood University in St. Charles Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.

If you have been following this blog, you might just recognize the mouse character from theMOYH 3d_BookCover last picture book I illustrated “There’s a Mouse on My Head!” by Donna Warwick. I enjoyed illustrating that book so much, I have just fallen in love with the little chubby mouse.

The first week of October, Donna Warwick and I will be doing a presentation at the Jewish Book Festival Book Club Tea. We have some fun surprises for the attendees.

Just in time for “Talk Like a Pirate Day”

Ahoy, me hearties! Blimey, I had to batten down me hatches to do this wee Sea Dog lad just for fun. Just a wee loose sketch, No time t’waste this fine day to color it in. I love Talk Like a Pirate Day! PIrate_Day

Middle grade author interview, Paul R. Hewlett

Today I have the honor of interviewing Paul R. Hewlett. Paul is the author of the Lionel’s Grand Adventure series. Lionel Goes to Camp is the third book in the series. In addition to writing the Lionel’s Grand Adventure books, Paul does freelance writing and co-authors a children’s/middle grade/young adult blog called Sher A. Hart: Written Art. You can learn more about Paul at

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 8.03.29 PMLionel is dying to go to summer camp to try to learn more about his dad. Lionel will have to endure Martha the kitchen lady, wander through the desert in the old west, find his way through the woods, escape bad guys, and collect all the scavenger hunt items before everyone else if he wants a chance to spend the day with Carrie at Lake Yellhorn, survive summer camp, and find out the mystery of his dad. Luckily, Lionel has his magical charm to help him out, or will it land Lionel in a mess-and-a-half he can’t get out of? The signed books are available on Paul’s website: and unsigned books on

1. How did you get started writing children’s books?

Most of the ideas I come up with seem to really fit into that category. I admit, I’ve tried to write novels, but as I write I seem to always veer towards more of a children’s/middle grade theme. I really enjoy writing stories that are somewhat straightforward on the surface but, perhaps, with a little more to them underneath the surface.

2. Tell us about Lionel Snodgrass.

Lionel is just your typical, everyday kid. He’s a little overweight, self-conscious, and looking to fit in. I think nearly every one of us has felt like he does. Many have moved to a new town, had an older sibling pick on them, had a crush on a girl, wanted to do well in our activities, etc. Nowadays, many children live in single parent households too. Many of us have had that awkward stage; it just happens as we grow up. Most of all, Lionel is a good-hearted kid that just wants to fit in and have fun. The situations Lionel finds himself in have a way of highlighting his strengths and all of the things that make him special. We all have strengths and are special in our own way. I think Lionel is a good representation of this.

3. The theme of bullying is evident in all Lionel books. I love how Lionel handles it so creatively. Were you ever bullied as a child?

Of course. It wasn’t a big deal, but there was this kid (a big kid) a few years older than me that just didn’t like me. I keep going back to the theme that many have experienced these things, but sometimes we come across people that just don’t like us. For whatever reason, we aren’t even given a chance. Luckily, in my case, I was faster than him so anytime he saw me I was able to peddle my bike or run away faster than him.

4. What do you believe is the best way to get kids (especially boys) to read?

This is a topic I’ve discussed a lot. I think there are many ways to accomplish this. It always helps to start reading to your child at an early age. I also encourage parents to expose children to reading in as many ways as possible. Take your child to the local library, get them a library card when they are old enough, have family story time, and most importantly encourage, ask questions, and praise children when it comes to reading.

5. What is your favorite children’s book or who is your favorite children’s author?

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol and The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur. I love the simplicity and genius of Donald J. Sobol’s writing. I still pick up Encyclopedia Brown books for inspiration and enjoyment. I really loved The Three Investigators too. They had the coolest club house. It was located deep in three investigator Jupiter Jones’ uncle’s junkyard (with secret entrances). Both authors seemed to write in such a simple, yet rich, way that really connected with me. If you look really close at the Three Investigators logo on the original covers (up in the right hand corner of the cover) you just might see a resemblance to the Lionel’s Grand Adventure logo.

6. Any question you wish someone would ask you, but they never do.

Ha! I’ve been asked a lot of questions but never this one. Not really, though. I would really just like to take a moment and salute all of those out there working so hard to promote reading to children all across the globe. I can’t think of anything more important than reading. It helps develop so many things in a child. Reading develops critical thinking, imagination, helps with spelling, comprehension, and the list goes on.

Hope you enjoyed this interview with Paul Hewlett. Please view his Lionel’s Grand Adventure series on Amazon.

“There’s a Mouse On my Head! is officially on sale today!

delivery of books

My puppy Ghillis is “helping.”

Today is P-Day or publishing day for us. Our book, There’s a Mouse on My Head! is finally able to ship. Amazon listed it earlier, but held up shipping until today. My front hall is filled with books for Donna Warwick and me to sign. My puppy Ghillis “helped” with the unwrapping.

Right now the only way to get a signed book is directly from one of us. Hard cover books are $14.99, Soft Cover books are $9.99.

MOYH 3d_BookCoverWe did a lot of running around like crazy people at the last minute. I have to admit the website site is not quite up. The author Donna Warwick has a few more things to write and finalize. I have posted activities pages and coloring sheets for parents and teachers to download for their kids. We will be setting up school visits and library visits for this Fall and Spring. Hopefully the website will be up and running by Wednesday, August 19, 2015. Contact us directly: DonnaWarwickAuthor(at) or Dayne.Design(at) 

 Here is the website link, be sure to wait until August 19th to visit:

The Amazon listing for our book & the B& listing. “There’s a Mouse on My Head” is also available by special order from your local independent store book.