My first book as author/illustrator! Launches from Simon & Schuster in May/2015.

LA Times list of "30 Summer Books That Kids Will Gobble Up"

Read the *starred* review for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? in Kirkus

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Welcome to Debbie's Blatherings, a personal blog where I've been posting since 1997. You can find my archives here: 1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 -2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010+ (current archives)

If you're a kidlit/YA writer or illustrator, see Inkygirl. To find out more about me, my books and comics, various collab blogs, online portfolio and press, other miscellanea, browse the navigation links beneath the header banner. And thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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Office purging, Inkspot award and reminiscing

I've been (very) gradually going through my office and doing some purging, motivated by my dwindling bookshelf space. Anyway, one of the things I couldn't bring myself to throw out: the crystal award shown above, which I received for Inkspot. Inkspot was one of the first websites for writers on the Web back in 1995.

Inkspot began as a resource for children's writers but after getting a ton of great press, I decided to expand it to include other genres. I began it as a way of finding others interested in writing for young people but ironically, the site became so successful that I had less and less time for working on my novel and spent more and more time on managing and administration. I have since vowed never to do this again, so have purposely kept my online projects small and avoid getting involved in the management/admin of other sites.

Anyway, I eventually decided to sell Inkspot. This inspired a thread in my semi-autobiographical comic starting here, where you can also read a summary of what happened.

I remember being completely shocked when I received the 1998 Mecklermedia Internet World World Impact Award by snailmail. It struck me as so odd, getting a physical award (made from Belgian crystal via Tiffany's, no was HEAVY) for something I had created out of bits and pixels in my tiny home office. Nowadays, of course, people are used to the idea.

I kept the award shoved back on a top shelf because it always brought back bittersweet memories: although I had tons of fun with Inkspot early on, my experiences in the corporate world immediately afterward were not the greatest. Here's a one-page summary.

Now, though, I find that I can look back at that time with greater objectivity and am better able to remember the good bits...and there were many good bits.

None of the entities named on the award exist any longer. Mecklermedia was acquired by Penton Media which became Jupitermedia which became WebMediaBrands which evolved into Mediabistro, whose publishing assets were acquired by Prometheus. Hm, according to Wikipedia, Mecklermedia still represents the company's trade show operations. Interesting.

Internet World used to be a popular magazine back in Inkspot's days. You can browse an old issue online, if you want.

Inkspot is now shut down and the domain sold as traffic funnel into You can read Inkspot's Epilogue here.

Anyway, I'm sooooo much happier with my career now than I was back then. As much as I enjoyed running Inkspot in the beginning, I'm having SO MUCH MORE FUN NOW.


Concrete doodles and thoughts on happiness

Came back from a great evening with Cathy Rutland to find the new basement concrete has hardened, or at least is too hard to play with anymore. Ah well, probably for the best. And at least I got some fun art out of all the jackhammering and other (expensive) basement repair chaos.

Anyway, you can tell the cement is drying in the photo at the top, which is also one of the last cement doodles I did before leaving the house. The "dmo" and "jwr" are the sets of initials that we went by in our University of Toronto days, and still use with our friends from those days as well as with each other (in signed notes, cards, etc.).

As I did the quickie portraits and added today's date, I found myself being struck by an odd mix of emotions. I've lived long enough and have had my life turned upside down in both good and not-so-good ways in the past that I know how quickly everything can change.

As I did the quickie portraits and added today's date, I found myself being struck by an odd mix of emotions. I've lived long enough and have had my life turned upside down in both good and not-so-good ways in the past that I know how quickly everything can change.


#BookADay: PARASITE by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire

I'm posting most of my Book-A-Day posts over on, but decided to post this one here since it's not kidlit. 

Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.


Look Again: Selection Of My Found Object Doodles

Thanks to everyone for the kind words about my found object doodles. Last night, I created a slidehow of some for the doodles I've created over the past six months. There is potential art EVERYWHERE. You just need to look. I'm hoping that my doodles encourage some people to look at the world a little differently, to not take so much for granted.


My Found Object Art Process: How I Created The Lily-Of-The-Valley Parachutist Doodle

Some people have been asking how I create my found object doodles, so here's an example of how I did the lily-of-the-valley parachutists. 

First thing in the morning, I go out into the garden:

When it was winter, I usually looked in my fridge instead. This is the first spring that I've been actively seeking out found objects for doodles, and I am SO EXCITED by all the potential art material out there.

Like these:

I love lilies-of-the-valley. These have been creeping in from our next door neighbour's yard, and I've been encouraging the spread. Some people hate them because they tend to pop up in places they aren't welcome, but I'm all for the ground cover as well as the flowers.

I'm pretty sure that my lily-of-the-valley obsession stems partly from the fact that they have such a brief season. 

But I digress.

After I decide on lilies-of-the-valley for a found object doodle, I pick a bunch. Most are for a small vase in the kitchen so I can just enjoy the fragrance but I also take a few stems down to my office cave, then pick off the blossoms.

Have you ever looked at lily-of-the-valley blossoms up close before. I mean, REALY up close? They are amazing. I love the purity of the white, the delicate curve of each perfect blossom, and each is SOOOO TINY. They also roll around a lot, so I ended up using a dab of rubber cement to keep them in place on the paper:

My favourite sketching tool, the Pentel Pocket Pen Brush, would produce a line that was too big for the doodle that I envisioned, so I opted for my 0.38 Muji Pen instead:

I decided on a Post-It Note instead of my usual sketchbook because I knew the doodle was going to be small, and I didn't want to waste paper. Plus I wanted a coloured background, else the white blossoms might get lost.

I drew the ink bits first, stopping every so often to make sure the blossoms would fit properly. When I was sure I had the right size of doodle for each figure, I dabbed a bit of rubber cement on the back of the blossoms and stuck them on. I had to work very carefully to avoid destroying the delicate petals.

Really need to get a pair of tweezers for smaller found object doodles like this. Anyway, here's the final doodle:

Here's my found object doodle photography studio:

I love these adjustable lights because they soften any shadows. Thanks to Jeff for getting this set-up for me, specifically for my found object doodles!

In case you're curious, here's what the doodle looked like one day later:

The blossoms actually started shrivelling only minutes after I took the original photo, which is one of the reasons I always need to work quickly. 

But that's one of the reasons I was drawn to found object doodles in the first place. They're ephemeral and fun, leaving little room for detail-obsessing or angst over mistakes.

I love creating found object doodles and post them on Instagram"Found Object Art" gallery on Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr  and in my Found Object Art portfolio.