Through the Looking Glass

That's what going to LA SCBWI Summer Conference feels like. Wandering into a fantasy world populated by fantastical authors and illustrators, new friends of all nationalities, heads on sticks and, um, fighting monkeys.

Let me explain:
Fantastical authors - Gary Paulsen, Bruce Colville, Judy Blume to mention a few. That fantastic enough for you?
Fantastical illustrators - Paul O' Zelinsky, Richard Jesse Watson, Denise Fleming, David Small, Kadir Nelson, Marla Frazee, Jerry Pinkney. Amazing.

Someone said to me that being at the LA conference was a lot like speed dating, and you know it sums it up. Awesome people everywhere you turned and so little time before rushing off to the next great breakout session.

Did I learn a lot? Yes. Did I make new contacts? Yes. Did I have a good time ... er, yes :-)

The heads on sticks and fighting monkeys will be explained by the following photos ...

With the awesome Debbie Ohi

the Pixel Shaving's Gang (see heads on sticks)
Fred Koehler, Sheri Barnes, Moi, Debbie Ohi, Russ Cox

Fred and Russ hangout with the famous Emma Dryden

Lin Oliver interviews Judy Blume

View from our hotel window.

The Fighting Rave Monkeys explained courtesy of the talented Charlene Ellen

With the lovely Paul O. Zelinsky and Fred Koehler gets in on the act.

I also made notes and sketches at the illustrator's intensive day (SUCH A GREAT EXPERIENCE!) and if you would like to read them they are on Facebook at this link Illustrator Intensive Notes 

The SCBWI really excelled themselves this year, especially with the intensives.

The thoughts that I brought away were that I need to really work on discovering my passions in my work and not focusing so much on the passions of others. Although my portfolio got good feedback, I still haven't found what I really want to do with my artwork.

My website and portfolio online have had a makeover (again!) it's like painting the Golden Gate Bridge ... you have to start over as soon as you have finished. Take a look at Will be glad to know your opinions.

Also I started a new sketchbook blog at I am liking this because it auto posts to Facebook and Twitter. Shamelessly copying Dan Santat here, but what is good enough for him is good enough for me.

Anyway - it was straight back into work on my return. The finals are due for the next 2 'All Star Cheerleader' chapter books by the end of August and I tell you my ink dipping pen is frantic. Talking of which, time to start work.

Thanks for dropping by

Books on the Bedside Table

Burned - Ellen Hopkins
Lemonade Mouth - Hughes

Time Turner Anyone?

If anyone knows where to buy a time turner, please let me know, because could have done with one this week.

In my spare time I have been working on a dummy to take to the LA SCBWI conference (yee gads, that's next week!!!). It's about a clumsy kitty ... here's a couple of spreads to wet your appetite ...

Yes, a time turner would be good. (And talking of Harry Potter, I saw Deathly Hallows 2 - not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I had hoped. Well, maybe a second viewing will help. I liked part 1 alot. Anyway, wierd now it's all over. Or IS IT??)
In between finishing the portfolio and dummies to take to LA I've been working on sketches for the next 2 books in the All Star Cheerleader series for Anastasia Suen and Kane/Miller Publishing. My deadline for sketches is next Wednesday before I fly to LA. And then straight into the finals on my return. No rest for the wicked ;-)

Anastasia has a FABBY website for the books ... check it out ...
plus a great write up on: Jill Corcoran Blogspot

On Saturday I prised myself from my desk and bimbled over to Waterville to The Children's Book Cellar to meet up for a chat with Jeannie Brett who has a lovely new book out with Islandport Press. We had time to go for a coffee and then I hung around in the bookshop for a bit (bliss) and chatted with the owner, Ellen. She gave me lots of info about the local school scene and also about Book Expo America, which I hope to go to next June in NY. So it was a fruitful and inspiring morning and reminded me to leave the studio AND GET OUT MORE. See Jeannie's book here ..

DO YOU NEED A BOOKMARK? OFCOURSE YOU DO! Let me know and I will send you one of these ... the latest bookmark from PIXELSHAVINGS. I will be giving them away at the conference too.

That's it for now ... back to cheerleaders.


On the bookshelf:
No Sleep for the Sheep! Karen Beaumont and Jackie Urbanovic
Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman
Moon of Gomrath - Alan Garner
And always listening to

Google+ and all that

Just when I was already busy enough Google goes and launches a new social network. Darn.I musn't, I thought, I'm too busy. But I couldn't resist it and had to have a look. And those circles, they draw you in. Well, I have to say I am liking google+. Not sure if it is just because people on there seem willing to interact at present. Like kids in a candy store.

I 'hungout' with the vido chat facility and it seems pretty good. Nice to see some old friends and meet new ones. It's not that this is really new, as we have had Skype for ages, and I used a app called OOVOO the other week. I guess it is just that people seem to want to try things out.

Facebook, which I have been active on for about a year and a half now, has, (as you will know if your a member) been steadily changing so many things that now very often people don't see posts any more, due to the way the newsfeed  shows. Sometimes it feels as if you are just posting to yourself. I do have a fanpage, where I post my latest illustrations and stuff, and that too gets less hits than formerly.

Probably this is the downfall of all these sites, in the end traffic becomes just too high and it has to be restricted. Still I continue to post and comment. It's good to catch up with other illustrators and writers, and also people who enjoy your work. So thanks if you are a member of my pages, or have put me in a circle.

Also of course having to restrict 'TIME SPENT' on these sites!

Find me on Google+ simply under Hazel Mitchell.

Meanwhile I have been working on my portfolio for the Los Angeles SCBWI summer conference in August. With 2 chapter books to illustrate before the end of August I am on a big time crunch, so last week I decided to blitz the portfolio and get it finished up. I am keeping it to one theme - flying - and hopefully in a coherent style (my biggest issue!) I've had some late nights and early mornings this week!

So I will leave you with some of the images created ... and then I have to pack because me and hubby are off to the seaside here in Maine for a couple of days. Well earned I might add.