A New Year and new picture book beginnings for me.

Usually when the holidays and New Year come around, I am deeply involved in illustrating a picture book for someone else, because that’s what I do for my living. This year I finished one book in the late fall Fall, then the book I that was scheduled for the early winter into Spring was canceled. I was not totally disappointed, I always need a few days or so between books to clean up my studio and rest my mind so I can give a new project my full attention.


This extra free time this year gives me an opportunity to work on some of my own story ideas. I have about four or five drafts of picture books and chapter books I have been working on in-between illustrating books for other authors. I now need to work hard on perfecting these drafts to get them to the point where they are ready for submission to agents and editors. My SCBWI critique group has seen most of these drafts. They have helped me to see where there are weaknesses in the story and character development. I strongly suggest everyone join a critique group of knowledgable writers.

Pen_sketchesBMost children’s book authors start their books very differently than I do.

Because I am an illustrator, I always start with a story idea, then do all the rough illustrations in dummy form. I only add the words when I am satisfied with the flow of the pictures. This is the exact opposite from the way most children’s book authors work. It’s not a perfect way to work so I don’t suggest it to everyone. I need the pictures to think the story through, but when I later add words there isn’t always a smooth flow.

Because I have carefully thought through the visuals in my mind, I know so much more back story than I can possibly show or write about in a 32-page picture book. I’m trying to work through this dilemma and get these stories in shape.


Every year I participate in Picture Book Idea Month also called PiBoIdMo. I sign-up on Tara Lazar’s website to dream up 30 new ideas for picture books. I been participating for four years now, so I have lots of ideas. This year the challenge is called StoryStorm, Tara Lazar is the organizer. It’s starting right now. I think everyone should sign-up. Hurry the decline is soon.


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: www.daynesislendesign.com, 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 Behance.com portfolio page: www.behance.net/DayneSislenDesign

Working on new Picture Book ideas I came up with during PiBoIdMo


November was Picture Book Month. It was also PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) for me. I came up with more than 30 new ideas for picture books. It’s great to have such a file of ideas to work from. Now I need to go through them and decide which ones are worth working on right now, which ones need a little more time and which ones just need to disappear.

Since I am first an illustrator and a writer second, I always start with visual ideas. So my idea of expanding these ideas is a little more complicated than just jotting down a few lines. My best work comes from developing the characters visually, their personalities and all their quirks before I start with the story. I also sketch out each scene of the book before I start writing. So this process takes a bit more time than I would like it to.


Yay! I have finished PiBoIdMo with ideas to spare!!

It’s such a good feeling to finish a challenge and to go beyond what is expected. PiBoIdMo stands for Picture Book Idea Month, participants pledged to come up with a new idea for a picture book every day for the month of November. This challenge was good for me, it forced me to make a conscious effort everyday to do something I love. Now I can’t wait to narrow down the ideas to the very best and most workable for a childrens’ picture book. Tara Lazar is the best for providing this opportunity.


Half-way point for PiBoIdMo 2014

ScottieDog_portfolio_coverFBI’ve made it halfway through the month for Picture Book Idea Month. It has been a wonderful way to keep the creative juices flowing. Everyday, Tara Lazar has an inspirational blogger give us encouraging hints and ideas. I am way ahead of myself on picture book ideas, but I may weed out a few as I keep coming up with more and more new ones. Now the real work comes with fleshing out the stories and making outlines, so I don’t lose the ideas when I have a future “idea drought”.

You know we all have these times of drought, when you most need an idea and they just won’t come. I always have a lot of ideas when I’m working on a project and can’t stop to write them down. It’s when all the desktops in my studio and my computer are cleared, that I come-up with a blank wall (screen).

I want all the other children’s book writers and illustrators who are doing this PiBoIdMo challenge to hang in there. We may find we want to do this all year.

I just signed up for PiBoIdMo

piboidmo2014wordpressbannerNovember is Picture Book Month. So Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) was also created to gently nudge (force) picture book illustrators and writers to come up with lots of ideas. In fact we pledge to come up with one picture book idea a DAY! Luckily we don’t also have to write the book. Today is the 5th of the month and I am happy to say I am right on schedule, in fact I have written down a few extras for hectic days ahead. Read Tara Lazar’s blog for more information.

Sign up for PiBoIdMo yourself, you might be surprised by your own creativity.