Sunday, April 27, 2014

Literary Blog Hop

To celebrate the Sucker Literary Volume 3 release, the writers, readers, and friends of those who worked on the volume are participating in a blog hop. (In my case, friend of a friend.)  And that writerly friend of mine is the FABULOUS Kip Wilson!  THANKS KIP for letting me join in the fun.

Here's how it works.  Kip answered four questions and now I have to answer the same four questions.  Click here to see Kip's answers and keep reading to see mine.

1.) What am I working on?

I'm currently working on two stories that are in the later parts of the writing process (meaning that they've both been submitted to some houses and I've received feedback so I'm fine tuning and revision.)  The first one is a story centered around a nasty little character.  This has been challenging because you don't see too many villian stories and it's a fine balance to get the character right, make it a well-rounded character, give him his comeuppance, and maybe allow him to change and grow - but not in a cheap, schmultzy way.

The other story is about a brother, a sister, and a prank.  It started off as a light, silly romp.  Editors liked it, but everyone agreed that there wasn't enough story there.  So I'm trying to layer more internal plot throughout without losing the fun, rompy aspect that people liked.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

For starters, I write comedy.  That's not to say there aren't plenty of funny picture books, but it just distinguishes me from the Owl Moons and The Kissing Hands out there. 

Also, I illustrate my own stories, so as the years have gone by, I've found I use fewer and fewer words to tell the tale.  Most times, when I get to a sticky spot, I'll do the illustrations first.  I can say so much more with an expression than I can with words.

So: Fewer words, funny story, self-illustrated - that's a J. C. Phillipps book. 

3.) Why do I write what I write?

Like I just mentioned, my work has strong visuals.  Sometimes kids ask if I plan to write chapter books.  I get ideas for chapter books, but I consider myself to be an illustrator who writes, not a writer who illustrates.  There are so many talented people out there, I think it's best if I stick with my strong suit.  So my work will always be strongly illustrated, that means picture books and perhaps graphic novels.

4.) How does my writing process work?

Usually I get an idea: maybe a title, maybe an opening sentence, maybe an image.  Whatever it is, I jot it down.  I have at least three separate notebooks in three separate rooms just for writing ideas down.  If it's a strong idea, it grows.  Maybe I jot more down, maybe I just think about it while I'm washing dishes.  Eventually, a good idea demands to be recorded, shaped, created and I'll write a first draft - or, I'll write a small treatment and then I sketch a first draft.

These days, I do a lot of jumping between computer and sketchbook.  I generally like to have an somewhat developed story idea typed up before I sketch.  But I also like to know what the characters look like before I write too much.  So it's just back and forth, back and forth for awhile.

Early in the process I have to make an ugly, scratchy dummy.  I work a lot of plot out when I fit things into a 32-page template.  It's difficult and time consuming, but it's worth it.  Then I have to redraw the whole dummy so that it will make sense to others, then I start showing it around and getting feedback and making revisions.  Lots and lots of revisions.

I go through SO MUCH PAPER it isn't even funny.  But I like to save everything in case I want to go back to an idea or in case I write a book called, All the Work That Goes in a Picture Book.  (Kidding.)

Eventually I'll get a neater dummy with some color illustrations and a typed up manuscript and show it to my agent.  At this point he'll either think it's a weak story and I'll probably trash it or put it on the back, back burner, or it will get another 7 rounds of smaller revisions.  Each with it's own sketches.  Each with a new dummy pdf.  There's usually 10 - 12 dummy pdfs before we actually show it to an editor.  Then, fingers crossed, it gets picked up.

Was that long winded?  Sorry.  It's over now.  Relax.

Now, I was supposed to line up other authors to continue the blog hop, but I didn't.  Because I'm lame.  But I can shout out now, Hey author friends, want to play?  If you do, let me know either via comment or email and we'll link up! 

Thanks so much for stopping in and Happy Monday everyone!  (Although I'm actually posting this Sunday night because I have an author visit on Monday, so if you're a night owl, sleep well!)

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Color Series

Purple Tulips                    2014                       j. c. phillipps

Red Cherry Pie                     2014                     j. c. phillipps

Orange Goldfish                    2014                      j. c. phillipps

Yellow Tree                       2014                         j. c. phillipps

Green Pears                     2014                    j. c. phillipps

Light Blue Tea Cup                    2014                    j. c. phillipps

Dark Blue Uniforms                      2014                 j. c. phillipps

Grey Goose                           2014                     j. c. phillipps

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any art for awhile.  That's because I've been working on this series, The Color Series, and I wanted to post them all at once.

I got the idea for this series when I was organizing my papers.  I was being ambitious and trying to organize them by color.  Well, I have far too many sheets of paper.  It would take me forever.  But I started it nonetheless.  So I found myself staring a groups of reds and groups of yellows thinking, These look really pretty altogether.

I needed an idea for the library show I was doing in June, and BLAMO - the color series was born!

Some ideas came immediately.  I just pictured school uniforms when I thought of dark blue.  Others were labored.  I had a million ideas for red and switched and switched and switched until I saw a picture of cherry pie and thought Perfect!

They are all the same size, all framed exactly the same, and I think they'll look pretty sharp lined up side by side on the white library wall in Simsbury.  (I'll take a picture when I have the show hung.)

It's a great relief to have this project done, as I am going into a big three weeks of author appearances and travel.  And since my mother is coming for a visit, I have to clean the studio.  Now I can pack up this series and tuck it all away until it's ready for the show.

Thanks so much for stopping in!  I hope I brought a little color into your day!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Say Hello to My Little Tree

One thing leads to another.

I was so excited about my cute little felt food for my THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC table display, but I felt like something was missing.

A sign.

I had originally thought I'd simply prop a copy of the book in back of Ben and Lulu, but they are large and it's a square shaped book (meaning it's not as tall as some others) so it would be hard to see.

Then it hit me - a tree!  I should make a tree!

Type A Julie:  But Julie, do you have time to make a tree?

Type B Julie:  I don't care.  It'd be sooooooo cute!

Type A Julie:  You'll have to buy some foam board.  $$$.  Plus, you'll have to go to the store to get some and you can't afford to lose any time.

Type B Julie goes down to the basement and finds an old poster glued to foam board.

Type B Julie:  I can use this!

Type A Julie walks away.  Type B Julie goes to Crafty-town.   (That is to say that I started crafting, not that I went to a craft store called Crafty Town, b/c that's a good name for a craft store.)

Here's how it went: Draw.  Cut.  Paint primer.  Paint tree.  Paint letters.  Done!

After I shot this Vine, I decided that the basket covered up too much of my tree and made it look like Lulu and Ben were sitting in front of a big green dot.  (Good thing I didn't buy the basket.)

Here's what it looks like sans basket.

I am absolutely sure that when I set this up on my table at Project: Read I will seem like the biggest over-achieving spaz ever - but I don't care.  I think it looks really cute.

And anyway, I am an over-achieving spaz.

Happy Wednesday everyone -
I hope you're having a good week so far!
Thanks so much for paying me a visit!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crafting on a Monday

Spring Break is over and Magoo has gone back to school, so I have to get my picture book mojo back in swing.  But there were too many other little things that needed my attention today and I couldn't muster up the work ethic, so I decided to just roll with whatever I felt motivated to do. 

The first thing I did was make felt food!

You see, I have an author appearance in two weeks.  I'll be in Cambridge, MA at PROJECT:READ at the Cambridge Health Alliance.  When chatting with the coordinator, she told me that I could bring props for my table.

Normally I have no props.  But this time I do!  I remembered Lulu and Ben, the softie characters I made from my book characters.  And they alone are pretty cute - but how much cuter will they be with a basket of felt picnic foods?!?!  Soooooo cute!  (Not picture: felt donut.)

So that was fun.

Then, because this Thursday is Nature Fest at Magoo's school and I have volunteered to do collage birds with the kids, I had to prepare an art-to-go kit.

I gathered up a bunch of scrap mat board and patterned paper, pencils, Sharpies, and glue stix, and I made a lovely little panel of directions for kids who don't want to listen to me.  (It's cool - some kids just want to GO GO GO!)  (On the other side is a 4-step owl.)

It was a cute & crafty Monday on my end.

I hope you all had some spots of fun in your day too!

Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It will be a week of balance for me.

I have two books I'm working on.
I have started the Spring yard work.
I'm working on the Fifth Grade Yearbook at Magoo's school.
I'm scheduling author appearances.
I'm making three more pieces for my art show in June.
It is April break so Magoo is home and I need to schedule his free time and his social calendar as well.
I'm changing all my passwords because of HeartBleed.
Oh, and social media.

At least I have found that when I'm waiting for my computer to import an image, I can get a little ukelele practice in.

The rest of it, I'm working on.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Winners Are In....

Hi all!

I posted the winners on the bottom of the previous email, but I also wanted to post them in a separate post.

Here they are:


SIGNED BOOK:  Ame Dykeman
SIGNED BOOK:  Leandra Wallace
SIGNED BOOK:  Erin  (Erin, I don't have contact info for you.  You posted on my blog on April 8th.  Please send me an email at


Congratulations and BIG THANKS to all who played, posted, and tweeted.  I really appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


YAY!  Today is the day!  THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC is out and ready to buy in the stores and online.  For those of you who've purchased it - THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I really hope you like it.

But if you're not ready to shell out the buckos just yet, you're in luck!

Because THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC is my fourth picture book, I'm giving away FOUR COPIES!  And there will be one Grand Prize Winner.  Not only will they receive one of the four signed books I'm giving away, but I will also do an 8" X 10" collage portrait in the style of The Simples (of up to four figures.)

Want to get a Simple Portrait of Mom, Dad, Timmy, and Lucy?  I can do that!
Do you have three kids and pet?  I can do that!
Do you want an illustration of your five kids, three uncles, and Great Aunt Betty?  No!  That's too many people to fit in an 8" X 10".  :)

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

You send me a photo and I'll make it into a Simple Collage Portrait!  (That's my fifth grade school pic.  Stylish!)

Get the picture?

So again:  THREE lucky winners will each receive ONE SIGNED COPY of The Simples Love a Picnic.  And ONE GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive ONE SIGNED COPY of The Simples Love a Picnic and a custom made 8" X 10" Simple Portrait of up to four figures.

The contest will run until Friday morning, 9am.

Here's how you enter.

Leave a comment on this blog post.  You will get ONE ENTRY.

Blog about the book coming out or this contest (make sure to let me know about the post by including a link here or in an email to me at  You will receive FIVE ENTRIES!

Tweet about The Simples Love a Picnic or this contest and receive FIVE ENTRIES! (Make sure to include @JCPhillipps in the tweet so I see it.)

Post something on Facebook about the book or this post (make sure to tag me so I will see it) and receive FIVE ENTRIES!

The more you spread the word, the more chances you have to win!!!

Good luck and thanks for stopping in!

UPDATE:  THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN SELECTED (by me dipping my hand into a bowl and pulling out names on slips of paper) AND THEY ARE...

BOOK:  ERIN (who posted on this blog on April 8th and I don't have contact info for you.  Shoot me an email at


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Simples Love Worksheets

Hi all!  I've missed a couple blog days so I'm playing catch up with two new sets of worksheets:  Graphing and Prepositions!

If you're not a teacher, this post will probably not interest you, so let me just remind you that THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC is coming out Tuesday and I'll be running a giveaway starting that day, so come back.  (But you can go now, b/c it's gonna be worksheets for the rest of this post. :)

The first set is about graphing.  There's an ilustration of ants taking over a picnic and gathering near certain foods.  The studnt would look at that illo and graph the info on this graph sheet.

Go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store here to get the full FREE download.

My second set of worksheets is on Prepositions.

There are two worksheets.   The one below asks the students to look at the squirrel in each panel and circle the preposition that best describes where the squirrel is.

Go HERE to down the FREE Preposition worksheets.

I have two more sets to unroll this week, but I'll try to get everything up on teh Teachers Pay Teachers site today.  So if you're a teacher and you CAN'T WAIT, then click here to go to my TPT store.

It's a beautiful Spring day today in Sunny CT!  I hope you are all out enjoying the weather and having a fabulous Sunday!

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Remember - THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC comes out on Tuesday!  And I'll be doing a giveaway right here!  Come back!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Simples Love Coloring Pages

Five days to go until the launch of THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC and today I'm offering free coloring pages!

Click on the image to enlarge, then hit PRINT.

If that doesn't work, perhaps you'd like to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and grab them there.

In other news ...

My editor at Houghton Mifflin sent me a link to a nice review of The Simples from the blog, In The Know Mom.  It's a nice write up, because not only does the post say nice things about my book, but it also looks at some other great Spring books.  So if you want to put away the winter books (and don't we all) and buy some fresh books for the Easter basket, there are some great suggestions here.

Also, the fabulous librarian/blogger Mr. Schu honored me with a brief interview called Four Questions and Two Sentence Starters with J. C. Phillipps.  Mr. Schu is great because A. he loves books B. he highlights book trailers and C. he's a twitter fiend! 

Big thanks to Mr. Schu  and In the Know Mom for the shout outs!
And big thanks to you all for stopping in!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The SImples Love a Word Search

Six days until THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC drops!  YAY!

Today I'm celebrating with FREE WORD SEARCHES!

I have two versions.  One is slightly easier.  One is slightly harder.  They are both FUN!  (If you like word searches.)

Click and print from the blog or download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

In other news,

If you're a SCBWI member and you'd like to vote for the Crystal Kite awards, voting is now open.  And guess what MONKEY ONO is eligible.  Make sure you're logged in and click here to vote for Monkey Ono.  (But only if you're an SCBWI member.  Sorry Mom, you can't vote.)

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Simples Love Mazes

The countdown has begun for the pub date of THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC, so I am starting to roll out my Freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers.

The first in the series: Mazes.

These are just a couple of little fun pages for the kiddos.  If you have a little one at home, go ahead and print them up.  Be my guest!

If you can't pull them from this blog post and want to join Teachers Pay Teachers (it's free) click here for a downloadable zip file. 

In other news: the snow is melting and the land is slush - but the sun is shining.  Maybe Mother Nature pulled her prank a day early and today she is making up for it.

Have a Happy April Fool's Day!