Interview With An Artist

Eeek! Guess what?

I got to interview the beautiful woman who did the illustrations for my books: Of Mice and Fairies and Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons. I could talk about her forever, but she talked a lot about herself, so I’ll let you hear it from her. 

What’s it like working for an author? (Specifically . . . me.)

It’s like making Christmas presents for people, but with more serious deadlines. It’s definitely more stressful because you can get it wrong. The lead up to showing them the illustrations is fun and exciting, but then they might not like everything you do. You’re essentially taking the world in their head and putting it onto paper, without being able to see what exactly is in their head in the first place. It’s tricky to capture the magic.

What were you the most nervous about when you started this job?

Probably the deadlines. I had a lot to do in a very short amount of time. Reading the book took a while, then rereading it over and over again to choose which illustrations I wanted to do and where to put them. Finding something in each chapter to represent the feel of it was really tricky because there wasn’t always a physical object that would fit the feel and the style. 

What was the most difficult character to draw in the books?

Probably Lumpkin, because he was one of the ones I did with a full face and figure. I’ve seen so many other illustrations in books where they’ve done too much detail and left no room for imagination. I really tried to avoid that with all of the illustrations I did for these books. I chose to do mostly animals or an indirect view of the characters so as to leave more room for imagination.

Which character do you relate to the most in ‘Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons’?

Oh, that would definitely be Lester Winklestep. Hedgehogs are very homey individuals. They like peace and quiet, and they are very laid-back. But, they are also curious and interested in life, despite doing life in a very relaxed way. Also, I just want to be a hedgehog. They are the cutest.

Which character do you most want as a companion?

Oh, Eve. She’s super spunky and tons of fun and I feel like she would bring a lot of energy to whatever environment she was in. Also, she would fit in my pockets. Which I find enjoyable. She would be quite easy to carry around. And she’s not as sassy and obnoxious as Belinda. (But don’t tell her I said that.)

What other work do you do outside of illustrating my books? Brag on yourself a little.

I am a pyrography artist. For people who don’t know, pyrography is defined as ‘writing with fire’, which I find super cool. I mostly do animal portraits. I’ve been commissioned to do people’s pets before, but my more enjoyable projects are of more exotic animals—tigers and moose and ducks because ducks are the best animals in the world. I am obsessed with detail. I cannot do sketches, because I do it way too detailed and it ends up not being a sketch any longer.

What made you want to be an artist?

I first started liking the idea of doing artwork when I was probably about six. One of my older sisters would draw horses for me to color, and she inspired me to start drawing animals of my own. But my career really began when I started creating board games with my brother. Together, we would draw fantasy animals and name them and create worlds for them. I still have those animals. They had weird names.

Where can people find other drawings you’ve done?

In Wayne Thomas Batson’s book, The Sword in Stars, for one. The design for the Stormgarden coat of arms was done by me. Also, my pyrography work can be found in my Etsy shop, ENoelBurnings. And I have plenty of pictures on my Instagram. I also post progress shots, because I love progress shots.

And, last and more importantly, because I personally want to know . . . if you owned an elephant, where would you keep it?

Probably in my library. Sitting on an elephant while reading would open up a lot of space for imagination. That would be grand. Also, my library is going to be huge, so there will be plenty of room. A library is the most important room in the house, so if you had something as special as an elephant, that would be the place to keep it.

Isn’t she wonderful? I love her so much. Go check out her artwork at ENoelBurnings, and get your copy of Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons on Amazon!

Supporting Young Authors

This week’s story does not belong to me.

That’s right. I am unashamedly posting another author’s work on my blog. Not sharing a post, not passing on a link, but posting her story on my blog.

Let me explain.

As artists, creators, and authors, we all began somewhere. We began with handwritten stories that we hid beneath the bed, dreams of books and characters that were too big and too complicated for our limited abilities, and embarrassment whenever anyone saw our work.

We all needed a place to start, and we all needed a little boost to get going.

So today, we are giving Elli a boost.

Elli is twelve. She is my little sister, a brilliant, shining example of a young woman who is learning to stretch her wings and discover just who she would like to be. This story belongs to her. I gave her advice and encouragement and corrected her grammar where necessary. But the writing and the story belong solely to her. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


I pull my small cart full of fish to the market. This is the first time I’ve sold them alone. I set my stand up once I get there. I lay my blanket down, then place my bucket of fish on it. When I open the lid of the bucket my lungs fill with the smell of fish. When I was little I had to plug my nose or I would feel sick, but I don’t mind now.

People are starting to arrive. I recognize some of their faces from last time. One of the faces I recognize is a cat, a skinny tabby with one bald leg, but he disappears around a corner. The stand beside me is selling chickens and ducks. They are very loud. The market is always loud.

I see the cat again. He’s closer now, but he dodges under a cart, and I lose sight of him. It’s getting really hot. I can hear cows and goats being sold for sacrifices. I see the cat again. He’s three or four feet away from me, he’s eyeing my fish. In the blink of an eye, he snatches a fish and disappears into the crowd. I would have chased him, but there were too many thieves in the market. Last time he stole from me, I lost all my fish because I chased him.

So I let him go. This time.

As the sun gets higher, the heat burns my skin. The air smells deeply of spices. The bells start to chime for prayer time, and people are starting to leave. I pack up my fish and go to prayer.

The cat is creeping back. He’s peeking out of the stand beside me. 

I jump and screech at him, and he runs away. I chuckle as he disappears around a corner.

What to Do with your Edited Manuscript

Wordbender Editing

Receiving your manuscript back from your editor can be a harrowing experience. So much blood and tears were shed over it. What if your editor hates it?

It starts out with you checking your email like a madman about a week before your editor said she’d have it ready for you, until you’ve exceeded your friend’s email-checking obsession by checking yours over 50 times per day.

And then it appears in your inbox two days early. You think “Oh God, why is it early?! I’m not ready for this!”

At this point, the subject might as well read “WARNING: HEART ATTACK ENCLOSED.” You wonder if anyone around you knows CPR. Didn’t Julius Caesar die of a heart attack? Oh. No, he was stabbed. Like a bunch of times. That’s probably a better fate.

You run to the bathroom and throw up.

Then you come back and stare at it. What…

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Ozark Native

Ozark Native

“It was one of those perfect Ozark mornings—clean, fresh, and green. I closed my eyes, puffed out my chest, and sucked my lungs full of that fresh-scented air. I could feel the tingling sensations clear down to my toes. It made me feel like I had just been born and had my whole life to live again.”

As a Missouri native, I grew up exploring the Ozark foothills and have always appreciated author Wilson Rawls for his simple, but lovely descriptions through the eyes of young boys as they tromp through forests similar to my own. Rawls’s books Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys contain such heart and beauty that it’s hard to put them down, no matter the age of the reader.

I’m excited for the opportunity to write a guest blog for A. R. Geiger! I’ve known Abigail for a number of years. She’s a lovely soul, and I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have her as a friend. If you haven’t checked out her book of short stories, The Birdwoman, you’re really missing out. Her short stories are very short and engaging, thought-provoking, with gorgeous imagery and energy. Again, they’re stories you won’t be able to put down. And when you finish it, you’ll be thirsty for even more.

Now, for my review of one of my all-time favorite books.

Wilson Rawls, author of Summer of the Monkeys, gives his raw, but humorous perspective of his native country in the Ozark mountains of Oklahoma through the eyes of 14-year-old Jay Berry Lee.

Jay Berry and his dog Rowdy are running through the woods one day, when Jay Berry sees something that stops him short. A monkey. In the river bottoms.

This adventure explores Jay Berry’s life one summer as he tries to catch the monkeys for a reward being offered by a circus. Like any young Ozark boy growing up in the early 1900s, he desperately wants his own .22 and pony, and this is just the way to make enough money for both.

Comical scenes of monkeys attacking Jay Berry and Rowdy, heart-rending scenes between Jay Berry and Daisy, and daily life with the Lee family will draw you from page to page. Rawls never shies away from emotional scope and incredible, selfless sacrifice.

I can’t say much more about this book without avoiding spoilers because of how cohesive the story is. However, I would like to share imagery of the Ozark hills through Jay Berry’s eyes:

A little farther along, just as Rowdy and I rounded a bend in the road, I stopped and stared in wonderment at the sight directly ahead. Here and there on the long sloping hillside, milky white splotches stood out like spilt buckets of milk in the deep green. The Ozarks’ most beautiful flowers, the dogwoods were in full bloom. Mixed in with the green and white, the deep glare of redbuds gleamed like railroad flares in the dewy morning.

As I stood there drinking in all of that beauty, I said, ‘Rowdy, Daisy says that the Old Man of the Mountains is taking care of everything in the hills. If he is, he must have worked a long time painting that picture.’

This description is near and dear to my heart because every spring, as I’m driving though our hill country, I drink in all of this beauty, too. It makes my heart sing with gratefulness.

Summer of the Monkeys contains wonderful lessons of life and of the heart, adventure, love, and laughter. You will laugh until you can’t laugh any more. By the end, your heart will be so full you’ll think it will burst. I wish that every kid should grow up reading this book.

About the author

profilepic Hi, my name is Bethany Swoboda of Wordbender Editing. I’d be honored if you would take a moment to visit my site, which I’m just starting up. I love reading, reading, reading, exploring the woods on horseback, and fully submerging myself in any adventure (book or real life) that I can.

Book Reviews: “The Birdwoman” and “Evocation”

An awesome review for my short story book. Thank you!

Kristin Houlihan, Writer

I don’t usually read short stories, though not really for any particular reason, but the two collections I’m reviewing here today make me wonder whether I should more actively seek them out. When I was brand new to Twitter a few short months ago I went on a book-accumulating spree (translation: I followed lots of authors, and every time an author advertised a book as free to download from Amazon I clicked the link and downloaded the book), and these are two of the books I happened to “buy for free,” as Amazon puts it. In any case, they are both worth actually buying.

The Birdwoman: . . . and other short storiesThe Birdwoman and Other Short Stories by A.R. Geiger

This collection of stories is phenomenal. I was captivated from the very beginning, commenting on my Kindle after the first story, Stowaway, “I want more!” The stories are truly short–several pages, on average–but they pack in…

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