Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments for Advent

Every year, on the first Sunday of Advent, my children and I begin to follow the tradition of the Jesse Tree. We download Jesse Tree ornament coloring jesse-tree-cover-samplepages, read the Scripture verse for the day, then color the day’s ornament.. all the way to December 24. Each Jesse Tree ornament and its accompanying verse is meant to help us grow closer to Christ and our understanding of significant Biblical events leading to Jesus’s birth.

After using the same illustrations for the past few years, though, I decided to draw new Jesse Tree ornaments for Advent 2014. I drew 12 illustrations, each the size of a CD, and wrote the Scripture reference for that day beside the date. (I didn’t write down the Scripture reading itself, for I didn’t want to lose the appeal of thumbing through from a worn, beloved Bible.)

Advent begins on Sunday, Nov. 30, so there’s still time to make plans for how to best use and display the Jesse Tree ornaments.

Some ideas include…

  • Print out your Jesse Tree drawings ahead of time.
  • Inexpensive display areas for your ornaments can include a branch from your backyard, a construction-paper Christmas tree taped to the wall, a paper tree outline on your refrigerator door, an unadorned Christmas tree, and a Christmas wreath.
  • Spend a little cash if you can and get a set of magnetic tape to use the Jesse Tree ornaments on your fridge door or dry-erase board.
  • Our family’s go-to cheap “lamination” is packing tape.
  • Don’t stress out over missing a day. Either make up for it the next day or skip it.
  • Remember that the Jesse Tree ornament coloring time is to be prayerful but fun.

Here’s a peek at two pages from my new printable Jesse Tree ornaments PDF.


The new Jesse Tree printable ornaments PDF is available right now.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block: Illustrated Tips to Inspire You

Need to write something but you can’t get beyond staring at your empty screen or notebook? It happens!

Just don’t give into the self-doubt and panic (and procrastination) that sometimes accompany writer’s block. Instead, check out these content-creating tips from Ann Handley, author of the forthcoming “Everybody Writes” book. The visual story of a frustrated writer aided by her faithful pets (and talking office supplies) will help you conquer your writer’s block and get creative!

Six Basic Blogging Rules I Should Have Followed When I Started This Blog


This personal blog has suffered an identity crisis for a couple of years.

It started as a place to share writing advice, but then I became so heavily focused on writing projects that I neglected it. (Which is fine. Novelists-in-the-rough with limited time should spend that time on their novels, not blog posts, or those novels will never be completed.)

I then refocused this blog as an online portfolio for my drawings, but then I became so heavily focused on drawing projects that I neglected it…

See the pattern?

Meanwhile, my passion project, The Invisible Scar, turned one-year-old recently. In that year, it has maintained its tone, focus, and passion. The amount of regular traffic it receives and its growing combox community let me know that The Invisible Scar is making a difference, filling a gap, and providing hope and information for adult survivors of emotional child abuse.

This personal blog, though? Not so much.

But how can The Invisible Scar do so well in engaging an audience yet this blog flounder in finding one? Continue reading

Up Close With Flowers [From My Sketchbook]

Have you taken time to draw the flowers in your yard? In your container garden?

Doing so is a lovely excuse to be outside and to dig into your colored pencils and Sharpies. And if you use lined paper in a cheap notebook, the stress of drawing a flower EXACTLY LIKE IT IS alleviates, and you find yourself falling in love with the proud, fuzzy lines of a lavender stem and the rounded edges of marigold petals.

You never pay so much attention to a flower as when you are drawing one…

Story-Driven Presentations, Nerdiness, and the Desire to Always Be Learning

One of my childhood dreams* was to become a children’s book illustrator. Now an adult, I’ve channeled my love of colorful drawings, bold lines, good stories, and the whimsical into the illustrated presentations that I put together for MarketingProfs.

So, when I saw Kapost‘s senior content director Jesse Noyes describe my illustrated presentations as having a “child-like interest in even the most nerdy topics,” I felt like my presentations really are conveying what I’ve been hoping they would: a hunger for learning, child-like (not childish) enthusiasm, and a love of nerdy topics (because Goonies never say die).

If you want to hear more about creating story-driven presentations and balancing text and visuals, check out the interview at Kapost.

* My other childhood dreams included becoming a novelist and time-traveling to marry Ludwig van Beethoven. I’m working on the first dream and ended up marrying a Graham, not Ludwig.

Happy Tolkien Reading Day

If ever you needed a reason to read (or re-read) The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by author J.R.R. Tolkien, today’s the day.  In 2003, The Tolkien Society (a group dedicated to the works of Tolkien) launched its own celebration: Tolkien Reading Day and the celebration now occurs every year.

Find out a little more about the author and his works in this very short excerpt from an archival BBC film. It’s an interesting peek at the man behind the astoundingly rich novels…

A longer documentary about Tolkien, narrated by Judi Dench:

Five Must-Read Romantic Classics for Valentine’s Day

mermaid-readingRomantic love is far too complex to be covered in a two-hour movie, so on this Valentine’s Day, instead of hunkering down in front of the big screen (or the little one), we recommend curling up in your favorite chair and immersing yourself in a classic novel highlighting the joy, complexities and heartbreak of a romantic relationship.

Read the rest of my article at Darling Magazine..

Valentines for Bookworms [Downloadable Literary Valentines]

Imagine receiving a little note or valentine from Edgar Allan Poe, Flannery O’Connor, Jane Austen, or Daphne DuMaurier. What would it say?

I created six note-card size illustrations of some of my favorite authors with a twist of Valentine fun based on their famous works. (For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s valentine says, “Be still my tell-tale heart!”) I call them valentines for bookworms.

printable literary valentines for your favorite bookworm
printable literary valentines for your favorite bookworm

The literary mini note cards are now available in my Etsy shop for just $3. (For a little more than a latte, you get an original, whimsical piece of art. Sounds good!) Here’s a peek at what the mini note cards look like. Note: The watermark doesn’t appear on the PDF I send you.

The set features:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (“The Tell-Tale Heart”)
  • Flannery O’Connor (“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”)
  • E.B. White (“Charlotte’s Web”)
  • Jane Austen (“Pride and Prejudice”)
  • George Orwell (“1984″)
  • Charlotte Bronte (“Jane Eyre”)
  • Ernest Hemingway (“A Farewell to Arms”)
  • Daphne DuMaurier (“Rebecca”)

For just $3, you get this PDF to make as many personal copies as you wish. Print them out on card stock to use them for Valentine’s Day, note cards, gift tags, etc.

Valentines for Marketers [Slideshow]

Late one night, I remembered how I had been unable to send out Christmas cards, so I had promised my marketing friend Courtney Bosch that I’d make her a Valentine’s Day card instead. Then I thought, “If only stores had valentines for marketers!”


By the morning, I had a sketchpad with wording and concepts for the look of the following marketing valentines. After a couple of meetings with my colleague Corey O’Loughlin and a graphic designer, we had downloadable Valentines for Marketers from MarketingProfs.

Feel free to download the slides and hand them out to your co-workers and marketing friends. If you’re on Facebook, you may prefer sharing the images via our Valentines for Marketers album. (Note: This presentation made the Featured Presentations page for SlideShare!)