Friday Friends: Jenny Burke

Happy Friday, Friends!  It is my honor to host authors, readers, and book lovers on Fridays. Today I am delighted to introduce you to author Jenny Burke! Jenny writes fascinating fiction AND creates beautiful jewelry.  I am ordering some earrings and I can’t wait to read her books!


Welcome, Jenny!
1.So, what have you written?

First, thank you for inviting me to be on your marvelous blog!

I’ve written two stand-alone books in the Dragon Dreamer series. There are two books in the Crystal Science educational series (used in school systems). I’ve nearly completed an adult coloring book with the fantasy snowflakes that my dragons grow in the winter clouds.

The Dragon Dreamer books have clean science fantasy adventure. They’re layered for readers age 9 to 99. This series of stand-alone books can be read on many levels. One reviewer wrote that the Dragon Dreamer story has a “profound human message.” Another mentions a 2-yr-old obsessed with the octopus heroine Scree. He’s made a Healer bag like Scree’s and wants to be an octopus for Halloween. Several reviews recommend these books for all ages.


2.What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

I love art, science, math, writing, music, history. I work to protect the environment and I support “being” rights. We’re “human beings”, an octopus is an “ocean being”, dogs and cats are “furry beings”. All beings deserve to be treated with consideration.

3.Are you a Pantser or a Planner?

I do some planning, but I’m more of a pantster. My characters tell me their stories and I write them.

4.Tell us about your love of marine biology.

The sea is vast, beautiful, exotic, and much remains unexplored. I decided when I was eight years old to become a marine biologist, so I studied science and math. When my science funding fell through, I supported myself as an artist to get my degrees.

I love marine biology! I’ve conducted research onboard ships and while diving; my research papers are published in science journals. This career is a good fit for anyone with many interests!

The Dragon Dreamer books share my love of the sea and allow me to be more creative. Arak, a misfit golden dragon, loves “the smell and taste of sea spray, the rhythmic sound of the waves, and the remarkable colors. Sunrise waves were purple and rose. Sometimes the sea sparkled like a field strewn with cut diamonds.”

5.What is one unusual thing about you?

Art is my first love. I drew illustrations for my research papers and cartoons for my Crystal education books. I painted the covers for my Dragon Dreamer books and drew a fantasy flake or illustration for each chapter. I’ve made a line of jewelry based on the Dragon Dreamer books. So, I must like Art as much as Science. Both are based on patterns.

6.What music inspires you?

I love Pachelbel’s Canon played on the harp! This is tied to many memories.

7.How many books did you read last year?

I read about 20 books; not as many as I’d like to read! I also read perhaps 100 articles to learn more.

9.What are you working on right now?

I’m drawing more fantasy snowflakes for my coloring book and writing Book III of the Dragon Dreamer series. It’s fun to see the world through the eyes of a dragon or an octopus!

10.What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

I watch “Dr. Who” and re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory.” I like things a bit off-beat and with humor, when possible.

11.Do you have a theme song?

Perhaps “Octopus’ Garden” by the Beatles. J

12.What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

Start writing sooner!

13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Thank you Denise and everyone who stops by and reads this!

J. S. Burke is an author, artist, chemist, teacher, and marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. Her stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences. She lives in Georgia with her family and rescue companions.

The Dragon Dreamer series grew from her years at sea, a fascination with the alien, intelligent octopuses, and a love of dragons. This science fantasy series has flying dragons, an undersea world, and unexpected friendships.

Crystal Geometry has hands-on activities that use the angles of beautiful crystals to explore chemistry and geometry. Crystal Colors has math and science activities with shells, crystals, and a huge fossil shark’s tooth. The sea finds a way to enter.




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Friday Friends: Introducing Sarah Leonard & A Cat-like Curiosity

Happy Friday, my Friends!  It is my honor and pleasure to introduce you to my friend Sarah Leonard, illustrator.  Sarah created the cover art of the heart labyrinth for my book A Maze in Grace.  I was so delighted with her work, I ordered a custom cartoon for myself and a lucky winner.  Without further ado, please welcome Sarah Leonard!

I love creating custom art works for people – from family trees, to portraits, to pet portraits to memory canvasses. One of my favourite things though is to create illustrated cartoons for people. It’s so much fun, being so whimsical and free and people seem to love what I create for them! Today I wanted to share with you two gorgeous custom illustrations I created for the lovely Denise. The first was for Liz (one of the prize winners from the A Maze in Grace book launch).

Liz had great ideas for how she wanted to appear. She wanted leggings, a cream sweater and knee high boots. I always ask for a photograph of the people I draw obviously. Sometimes though, people have ideas they want to have included – often things they haven’t really thought of out loud. So, it always pays to ask a few questions before I get started on the sketch. Favourite colours or other accessories can really make all the difference!

Once I have the sketch ready, I use a unipin pen to firm up the lines more precisely. Then I can go back in and rub out the pencil lines I have used. It makes for a very clean look and a much easier start to the colouring journey.

I use alcohol markers for my cartoon illustrations. I love the effect they give, and the colours are just right. I actually work on ordinary copier paper for these, as I like the bright white the paper gives me when it is scanned. I always have a stack of paper underneath though, as the markers do bleed through.

Once she is scanned in, I do a little bit of tweaking in Photoshop (and sometimes Illustrator too, depending) before emailing out the finished design. Here is Liz in all her finished glory!

Now, onto lovely Denise and her avatar!

Here you can see my original pencil marks (working from the photo she sent to me). I have already gone over those with the unipin pen, ready to rub out the old lines. In this case, Denise wanted just a head and shoulders picture with her looking from the side (based on the photo she sent me). I took the colours directly from the photograph.

I love the clean look once the pencil lines have gone. I can’t wait to get colouring! This illustration was a little more challenging, as it was a face from the side angle. I think I got a good likeness of Denise here though. The illustrations are a cartoon version of the person in the photo – not a super realistic photo likeness. I think that makes them super cute though and perfect for using on social media, blogs and other branding areas.

I always begin by colouring the face for some reason, even in my mixed media art. I guess old habits die hard. I like to get the face all right to begin with I guess. Once the eyes are “in” the whole piece comes to life that bit more 🙂

And here she is in all her raven haired beauty! I really enjoyed working on both of these commissions for Denise and Liz. These little custom cartoons are so sweet and really affordable – you can find out more about them right here.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my process – I have definitely enjoyed getting to share it with you here.

Have a great day lovelies!

Sarah Leonard is an artist, curiosity seeker and all round magic sprinkler. You can find her (and her many offerings over on her website, A Cat-Like Curiosity. She is also the founder of  The Curiously Gorgeous Sisterhood an online community for creative souls. There is a special offer on instalments at the moment, so as many gorgeous creative souls can join us as possible. Hurry though – the instalments offer runs out on October 21st.