Giveaway Winner & When Things Break

Congratulations to @beingkeri for winning a copy of Jonathan's children's book Woodward and McTwee! Keri, just send your address to Jennifer (jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com) and I will send a hardcover copy to your attention. Thanks to those who shared, followed and tweeted! On a completely different topic...

Are you experiencing broken things? We feel you. We know your pain.

A few months ago, we unwittingly entered a season of broken things. And we're not talking about small items. In no particular order, this is what failed, broke or burned in the last few months:

> Car AC (our mechanic broke it when he repaired something else but we still had to take the car back to be fixed, gratis. This involved Jonathan biking forty miles back and forth from the repair place in Denver in one day since we car share.)

> House AC. Not even kidding. This is a BIG expense. Currently, we are saving to replace the unit. So, this summer, we enjoy the great outdoors, indoors. All of our windows look like this:

An open window in a suburban house

This also means we buy allergy medicine. Having a lot of open windows is actually kind of fun; it's not too hot here in Colorado and you can hear the kids playing outside. You can also hear your neighbors discussing trimming their hedges; yelling at their dogs; and jumping on trampolines. This part is a little weird.

As a southerner, not having air conditioning seems like not having a lung. Or a dinner table. It just feels like a major THING is missing. But once we realized that saving up for the replacement compressor unit was really the only option, well, I just kind of accepted it. And cranked open sixteen windows.

> Garage Door. The torsion springs were apparently put in by the neighborhood builder using the cheapest product available. So, along with all of our neighbors, our garage door broke down like an old donkey.

> Dryer. When we moved into this house almost seven years ago, we purchased a very pretty middle-of-the-line Whirlpool washer/dryer combo. At some point, the heating coils overheated, tripping every fail safe inside the dryer. Melting ensued. Jonathan YouTubed the heck out of that thing and then ordered $125 worth of parts online. After watching videos over and over, he was able to get the dryer back on its feet.

> Dishwasher. Again, another nice Whirlpool appliance. Something plugged and whatever...I stopped listening. A few dollars online, another YouTube video and Jonathan had the dishwasher up and running again.

I know these are all first-world problems. I know I am blessed to have a newish house filled with modern conveniences. I know all of this. And hopefully, things are about to stop breaking down around here. 

But when you are facing hundreds or thousands of dollars of repairs you weren't expecting, it can get a little panicky. So, if this is you, take heart. We're going through a Season of Broken Things. It's not fun and it's not cheap. I hope that your brokeness passes quickly. And I hope our story encourages someone, somewhere.

Also this: if you stop by for a visit, dress in layers.

Have Some Happy Thoughts

Here are a few illustrations from Jonathan's picture book HAPPY THOUGHTS. It's not sold yet, but we're working on it. Excited about tomorrow: WOODWARD AND MCTWEE'S publication date! Yahoo! You can buy it in any bookstore or online, of course. Look for the Penguin Young Readers series carousel in your favorite bookstore. Thanks for supporting Jonathan's work...we are so appreciative.

A little girl sleeping next to a cloud

 

An illustration of a sunset by Jonathan Fenske

 

An illustration from Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

A Pig, A Fox, and A Box Finds a Home

Yeah! We're tap dancing here. Jonathan has sold A Pig, A Fox, and A Box to Penguin USA. We heart this, most completely. It will be a part of the Young Readers series and is set for Summer 2015. We love our people at Penguin/Grosset & Dunlap/PSS. And Jonathan is so very happy to work with his editor, Ms. Bonnie Bader.

Just a reminder: Woodward and McTwee comes out next month--March 20, 2014--also from Penguin USA. Thanks for the love you've given Jonathan's other two books. We think you'll like Woodward and McTwee, too.

Also, in other news: Jonathan has finished two new picture book dummies and is shopping those around. I have also completed the writing for the first book in The Magical Raintree Daughters three-book series for middle grade readers. I am editing and hope to have it all polished up soon. Then, I have to sell it. THAT'S NOT HARD, IS IT? Hahaha, I'm laughing over here, just all by myself.

An image of Jonathan Fenske's children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box
An image of Jonathan Fenske's children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box

#MSWL #MGLIt #MGlitchat

Buy Brick: A Jonathan Fenske Illustration

Jonathan has always been fascinated with fairy tales. Here's a recent illustration of the Three Little Pigs, with both the industrious Pig #3 and the Big Bad Wolf thinking that bricks come in pretty handy. An illustration of the Three Little Pigs by Jonathan Fenske

Jonathan is a Penguin USA children's book author and illustrator available for commissioned work. He's collaborated with some fabulous agencies and creative firms. For more information: jonathan (AT) jonathanfenske (DOT) com. 

Jonathan Fenske Illustration: Chicken Legs

Jonathan is doing editorial/commercial illustrations for Mercury Payment Systems and New York Life this week. I'll show some of that work later, but for now, here's a quick illustration from Chicken Legs, an as yet unpublished children's book Jonathan has written and illustrated. You can see more of Jonathan's children's book characters and books in this blog post. Chicken Legs is about a young chicken who gets teased by his friend Pig and Goat because of his "chicken legs" His father lovingly steps in to help comfort his son by sketching some drawings...with some funny results.

Chicken Legs image, a children's book by Jonathan Fenske

A Family Portrait

Today, I updated Jonathan's website with a new image showing his children's books (those published, soon-to-be-published and not-yet-found-a-home-but-we're-hoping). I love this collage because it kind of lays out Jonathan's style which is playful and steeped in vintage comics and general cartoon wackiness. Illustrations of Jonathan Fenske's children's books

Here's a key for those playing along at home:

Clockwise, starting at top left.

Love Is in the Air (Penguin USA, 2012)

Bright and Dim (unpublished)

Woodward and McTwee (forthcoming, Penguin USA 2014)

Guppy Up! (Penguin USA 2013)

Chicken Legs (unpublished)

A Pig, A Fox and A Box (under consideration)

Guppy Up!

Center: left, "Buck" from Grubby and Buck (unpublished); right, A Pig, A Fox and A Box

New Work: A Pig, A Fox and A Box

   

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan has written a new children's book, A Pig, A Fox and A Box. I have to say, this might be our collective favorite. We both laugh reading it---he laughs because I am laughing, I like it so much.

The book has three chapters and features the spry and impish fox. Pig is a kindly, slower-moving creature. The two play together one fine day until things go awry. It reminds me a little of the Looney Tunes cartoons we used to watch as kids (and have purchased for our girls). Think rocks and casts and some good-old-fashioned slapstick.

We'll let you know where this one ends up! Fingers crossed, on a bookshelf near you.

An illustration of pig and fox by Jonathan Fenske.

 

Keep up with Jonathan and Jennifer (that's me!) by scrolling to the bottom of the page and subscribing to our blog. Or you can always check out what's happening on Fat and Appy, our online store for canvas prints of Jonathan's work. 

Children's Modern Art Canvases + Free Autographed Book

It's crazy exciting to announce our first promotion for Fat and Appy: Modern Art Canvases: A Free Autographed Copy of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske with purchase. No coupon code needed: We'll throw an autographed softcover copy of Love Is in the Air* into each order through April 24, 2013. Shop on, art lover! If you have been following our blog, you know we have been moving toward focusing Fat and Appy on art, rather than apps. We still love apps (hello, Apple!) but our first love has always been art. So, Fat and Appy is officially relaunching as Fat and Appy Modern Art Canvases for Children. 

A happy fat tomato with green background

There are several reasons for our new direction. A lot of parents want to have affordable art for their children's rooms and play spaces. Too often, they are stuck with tacky prints at big-box stores. Simple, short-run prints have a place, too, and you can find them on Etsy, for instance, but then you have to frame them and we've found not everyone wants to do that.

Need tips for finding affordable art? Check out our post, "Art on a Budget: 6 Ways to Find Art That’s Affordable"

Another reason is that we discovered an amazing partner to create our canvases. They are handmade in North America, guaranteed not to fade or crack for 99 years and we offer a 30-Day Happiness Guarantee. The quality is so good, I practically swooned when I saw the first sample.

An orange popsicle on a blue background by Jonathan Fenske

We've added 18 designs to the store, starting with the artwork from Healthy Creatures (that's our app for iPad!) plus some fun Popsicle illustrations. Jonathan is hard at work on more illustrations, so if you have some ideas, leave a comment below.

Two peas with faces with pink background

More details, if you are in to that type of thing:

-High-quality canvas stretched over 1.5" wooden frame

-Printed with gallery-quality Giclee method

-Available in four sizes

-Designed by Jonathan Fenske

-Canvas wraps around sides providing a white finished decorative edge

-Durable piano wire mounted on back for easy hanging

Thanks for reading, and for supporting us!

--Jen and Jonathan

Who are Jennifer and Jonathan? Read about us, here.

Image of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske

* While supplies last. Softcover copy of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske has a retail value of $3.99. Sorry, we cannot personalize the autograph. No cash value. Offer ends April 24, 2013. 

What's Your Favorite Children's Book? + Book News

If you have kids in your home, you read a lot of children's books. Books are everywhere around here. And beware the tidy mother who attempts to curate the collection. There were howls of protest when I started to "thin" out the bookshelves earlier this week. But we had to...shelves were stuffed and books were piled and the baby would drag them around, chewing and mewing for someone to read to her. (Kidding! She's in that stage where a book is simply not that interesting. We still read to her, of course, but she wanders off to see how her older sisters are clobbering each other. True story.) In any event, we filled a box-o-books to take to Goodwill.

Box of children's books

This book curating made me think of a guest post Jonathan did in February over at The Write Now Coach, Rochelle Melander. I've known Rochelle for many years and she's a true tour-de-force of a writing coach, author, editor...the list goes on. She kindly had Jonathan on her blog and he guest posted about his 5 favorite children's books. Here's an excerpt:

"When we had our first daughter seven years ago, I delighted in buying old picture books at thrift stores and discovering new titles at our local bookstore. When I wrote Love Is in the Air (indeed, whenever I write) all of my favorite books were (and are) swirling in my head, a beautiful, highly respected and influential mass of collective imagination."

In book news, we're pleased as punch to tell you that Penguin USA made an offer for Woodward and McTwee. It's one of several stories about a sweet, innocent hippo and a super snarky bird. The book will be published in 2014. We love Penguin, including Jonathan's editor, Bonnie Bader. Go book people!

Here's a homemade mock-up of the cover:

Cover of Woodward and McTwee children's book by Jonathan Fenske That's it from here! We invite you to head over to the new home of Fat and Appy, and our new collection of canvas prints for children featuring Jonathan's designs. Save 15% by signing up for our newsletter. Thank you for visiting. We adore you so much.

Tell us in the comments: what is your favorite children's book? 

5 Tips for Writing the Best Love Letter Ever

Forget the perfume. Ditch the roses. For Valentine's Day this year, all you need is a pen and a pretty piece of paper. Your love letter doesn't have to be penned to a romantic partner. Write what's in your heart to your child, mother or father, best friend or simply someone special in your life.

If you need a little nudge, I've written 5 pointers below. Go ahead...write a letter this year! Your loved one will always cherish it. Four times per year, Jonathan and I pen letters to each other (birthdays, our anniversary, Mother's/Father's Day and Christmas.) I love that our girls will inherit boxes of letters from their parents. As our oldest says now when she sees us kiss (with gentle disgust): "Smoochie! Smoochie!"

Valentine's Love Letter Tip #1: Tell Them Why You Are Writing

This is a secret tip to writing a good love letter. Open your note telling your loved one why you wanted to write this letter.

Dear Honey, I wanted to sit down and tell you a few things that are in my heart. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #2: Reference Your Current State of Affairs

Life is crazy right now. With the three girls, it seems like we're always making a peanut butter sandwich or scraping one off the ceiling. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #3: Tell Your Loved One You're Crazy about Them

But even with our long days of chasing our art dreams while chasing down the girls, my heart still jumps when I see your face. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #4: Praise Something Awesome 

Quite frankly, I'm in awe of your talent. I'm blown away by how you care for us. I am deeply, deeply thankful that you are the biggest part of my life. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #5: End with a Sentiment from the Heart

My home will always be with you.

I love you, 

Jennifer 

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This week's contest winner is Jaymie from Snacks for Max! Thanks, Jaymie, for commenting! Please also check out Jaymie's blog for a really sweet review she wrote of Jonathan's easy reader Love Is in the Air. Last week, we also had a great post on Rochelle Melander's Write Now Coach blog (Jonathan guest blogged about his fave children's books). And Secrets and Sharing Soda did a beautiful review of Love Is in the Air.

Photographs Copyright 2013 Jennifer & Jonathan Fenske

Free Book Friday: Win a Copy of Love Is in the Air

Hi friends! Jonathan and I are super happy to launch a new Friday freebie: we're giving away a hardcover copy of Love Is in the Air each Friday for five weeks. That's five chances to win! For today, please leave a comment telling us the answer to this question: Who will you read Love Is in the Air with?

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, we'll choose a number from Random.org and that number entry will be our winner. Easy! (Contest is open to U.S. addresses only, please.)

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 9.45.47 PM

Want to know more about Love Is in the Air? Read this wonderful review by the children's book blog Sweet on Books. It's posted on their blog and also the NYC local ABC affiliate, WABC's website. I think the WABC link will only work for one week, so click today to see it!

Melissa from Sweet on Books writes: "Love Is in the Air is a cheerful, heart-warming story; this is a subject not often found in "Learn to Read" books. This particular kind of children's book is deceptively hard to write, and write well. I don’t think that many authors even attempt it. So much of what is out there is just meh. But Jonathan Fenske has changed that."

Thanks very much to Melissa and the folks at Sweet on Books. Stop in there for quality children's book recommendations, plus a gorgeously designed site that makes you want to stay around for a long time. They have an awesome rating system, plus you can sort recommendations by reader level which is very helpful.

Good luck and get those entries in!

Criminal Reshelving and Other Seedy Book Details

The first few weeks since Love Is in the Air published have been super fun, super exciting. We receive great pictures texted to us from friends and family around the country who have so kindly ventured out to bookstores to pick up a copy. Here's one from our dear friends, the C----- family who may or may have not engaged in a little "criminal reshelving." That's the practice of artfully promoting your loved one's books to the front row. Ahem, totally not condoning the practice but....thanks ya'll! http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

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IMG_3493

 

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

Other Fenske news: Jonathan heads into the studio tomorrow with Room 214 for some visual scribe work. That's where he sits and draws and they take like a million pictures of him and then editors stitch it all together into something really cool. He's also doing painting commissions, per usual. He's currently working on a commission of an Andy Warhol portrait and the other day, Jonathan had a slip of the tongue and called it an "Einstein portrait." We both giggled because there's kind of a big difference.

Jennifer (that's me!) is scheduling children's book blogger visits for Jonathan. Jodie from the awesome young readers blog Growing Book by Book has graciously agreed to post about Love Is in the Air; writing coach and all-around awesome author Rochelle Melander will also have Jonathan do some guest posts in February and then again in May.

I also work on Fat and Appy each day. Still find it crazy that we have an iPad app for sale on the App Store. Wild! People ask me what our next app will be and I think definitely ebooks. We both love children's books so much and it would be a cinch to take Jonathan's orphaned books and turn them into digital wonders. First, though, we have to get through promotion for Guppy Up! which comes out next month.

 

 

Love Is in the Air: Jonathan's New Children's Book Is Published!

This week was a fun one in the Fenske household. Jonathan's first children's book that he wrote and illustrated published Dec. 27. Love Is in the Air (Penguin USA) is the story of a lonely balloon and a lively kite and their special day in the park together. Jonathan is pretty excited and I am over the moon. It's not every day you get to walk into Barnes and Noble and see your sweetie's new book on the shelf. Proud of you, baby!  

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

Love Is in the Air is available in soft cover, hardcover and (soon!) it will be an enhanced ebook, produced by Penguin's awesome ebook partner.

 

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

 

What's next for Jonathan? Penguin will release Guppy Up! Feb. 7, 2013. Plus, he always has new children's books in progress, and Penguin is interested in some new titles for 2014. So, stay tuned!

Content Creators

I really do think that well-done, original content (whether that's books, animated series, webisodes, podcasts, cartoons, you name it) is a rare thing in this world. Probably it's not so rare, because there will always be starving artists, poets and writers who create. But does the world see their work?

Read More

Heavy Odds: We'll Take Them

Yesterday, we woke up to fun news and several "congratulations!" emails: Healthy Creatures, our children's app for iPad was featured in the Denver Post. We were interviewed by technology reporter Andy Vuong; Aaron Ontiveroz took our portrait. Both journalists were awesome and couldn't have been easier or nicer to work with. I liked Andy's angle in the story about the hard road ahead of us as indie mobile app developers in a crowded market. He's absolutely correct---finding mobile app success on the App Store without Disney or Dora in your name is really, really tough. But here's the thing: working our tails off in the creative world is all Jonathan and I have ever known. It was tough when Jonathan was a talented painter in search of a gallery. He walked in and out of galleries in Atlanta until he found one that believed in him. Jonathan's paintings now hang in collectors' homes across the U.S., a museum, foundations and currently, Santa Fe. His commission backlog is months long.

It was tough when I wanted so badly to publish my novel, I could barely step into a bookstore without being overcome by longing. I wrote query letters and was rejected by everyone on my list--until an agent took a chance and asked me to rewrite my first novel. That one didn't sell, but my agent sold the next one to St. Martin's Press. And the next one.

It was tough when I wrote novels at the kitchen table after working all day at my marketing job. Both times, my belly was swollen with a kicking, nutrient-sucking daughter. But Jonathan would not let me give up. When the development dragged on for Healthy Creatures, Jonathan told me to dig deep and keep at it---that we would see it through, together. And we did, with a third newborn daughter kicking on the floor beside me as I worked.

And it was tough when Jonathan kept rising to the top of the slush pile for his children's books that he wrote and illustrated. He came so close several times before a major publisher offered a contract. We rejoiced, champagne flowing, and then plummeted to earth when the publisher shuttered the imprint, dumping all of the recently acquired titles. I watched in awe as Jonathan picked himself up and headed back out there, pitching his books on his own. In December 2012 and then again in February 2013 Penguin USA will publish Jonathan's children's books Love Is In the Air and Guppy Up!

Do you have a dream? Of course you do. If you've read this far, let me tell you: it will be tough. You'll never work harder. But don't you dare give up.

The odds are heavy? Of course they are. You are short of money? Time? Connections? We are, too.

But here's the thing: the alternative is not trying. That's not an option for so many of us. So, for that, I'll take a longshot any day.

What's your longshot dream? Tell us in the comments so we can encourage you.

Making a Children's App for iPad: Why Are We Doing This Again?

Just dropping in while the house is asleep to post a link to our second YouTube video for the new app company, Fat and Appy. You can't start up smaller than us! Exhibit A is this homemade video. But you know what, I love it. We are doing this new app out of our (sappy language alert!) creative wellspring. I really need to go to sleep. I think I just wrote creative wellspring.

Okay, dear reader, I am signing off. Because I respect you too much to continue.

But before I go, a quick update on the art garage sale. We have sold two of the four paintings. Thank you, social media!

Also, this: The new app for iPad, Healthy Creatures, comes out later this month. We had thought it would be the 11th, but alas, we are still in line at Apple.

For those following carefully on the video, I am wearing a Lisa Leonard necklace called "Captured Heart" and it is turned around backwards. I love me some Lisa Leonard. 

Finally, Jonathan's first Penguin USA children's book is ready for pre-order! It comes out Dec. 27, 2012, so if you like to get your New Year's 2013 shopping done early (ahem), here's a link.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMCLmRuuoO4]