Friday, December 16, 2016

Hug More

With all the craziness going on in the world and with an uncertain future looming in America with a President Elect who is woefully unprepared and unable to govern himself, let alone a country, I have painted. We need love. We need diversity. We need understanding and empathy.

We need hugs.

Hug a Day Traci Van Wagoner ArtHug a Day Traci Van Wagoner Art

Hug a day Traci Van Wagoner ArtTVW Monster Hug

TVW Hug a Day
Hug a Day

Please hug someone today and bring a smile, a spark of hope, or a moment of peace and understanding. It is a small world after all and love makes it go around.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Brown Paper Packages

Traci Van Wagoner illustration

Every year for many, many years now, my husband and I wrap our Christmas gifts in plain brown paper. We started with using green string as the only decoration with a simple gift tag. It has evolved into a fun Christmas tradition of drawing on the packages, at first with simple pen, then some color marker and then full blown art with color pencils. At some point in this process, I started to pick a theme for each holiday. One year was all about snowmen, another Santa and his elves, another reindeer.... And a new tradition was born.

This was something I did for fun and for the enjoyment of the receivers. I didn't take pictures most of the years, because I didn't really care, and as an artist of many years, I'm not that attached to every piece of art I do, so I let it go out into the world to suffer the fate of being ripped open, or whatever. Not until later when it became more of a thing that people always mentioned and loved about getting gifts from us, that my husband decided to start photographing the packages. I've shared a few of those with you. Enjoy!

Traci Van Wagoner illustration

Traci Van Wagoner
Traci Van Wagoner
Traci Van Wagoner art

Traci Van Wagoner art
 Traci Van Wagoner art
Traci Van Wagoner art

I love creating these packages. Besides helping get into the festive mood, it's non-stress artwork, where I can draw whatever I want without any expectations of having to be perfect.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Feel free to share in the comments what family traditions you enjoy.

Happy holidays!

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Poison Arrow

I am saddened and heartbroken this week. The results of the election was like a gut punch from which I haven't been able to catch my breath. Seeking solace in like minded people through social media has not helped. Seeking answers to WHY to those who helped bring this about has definitely not helped. So I write. I've dived into NanoWrimo with a shiny new idea. My characters have been leading me on a merry adventure. But then I return to reality, and once again I find it hard to breath and darkness invades. So I write this in hopes of helping push the darkness away.

A poison arrow has been shot into the heart of America. You all know the archer.

I am battling the poison as it darkens my thoughts, emotions, and days, striving to turn my heart from love, joy, and laughter to anger, pain, sorrow, hatred, and fear. I mourn not only for the wrong person winning in a "quirky" electoral system, but for the people who have sided with him and let his poison do its work to darken their hearts, to bring out hatred toward others who are different from them, to feel free to express that hatred so openly with no compassion or empathy, fueled by the blowings of a giant wind bag.

The poison is spreading and America is on the brink. I fear we are no longer a land of tolerance, a place of peace, solace against the storm, a bright light in the dark night, a haven for the downtrodden and weary and oppressed. And don't forget on Veteran's Day that many soldiers have fought and died  in many wars for our sanctuary of freedom. We are supposed to be a land of hope. A melting pot. A land of opportunity. The Mother of Exiles is weeping. I am weeping.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
A poem by Emma Lazarus, graven on a tablet

within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands.

Traci Van Wagoner, Statue of LIberty art
© Traci Van Wagoner

Many of us are suffering, barely able to buy groceries and pay rent. We all need jobs. We all need health care. We need our children to be educated, to learn not just math, science, English, but art, music, and tolerance. Empathy for one another. For all.


Empathy is the antidote to the poison. Empathy, my friends, my enemies, my fellow human beings. Fight the poison coursing through our veins. Purge the hate, the anger, the ignorance. Laugh. Share a smile with another. Play a game with a stranger. Get to know someone who is different from you. Try to understand someone else who comes from a different culture and background. Walk in their shoes, my mom always told me. We all need love, to feel welcome, to be happy, to have a home.

We are all human beings living on a small blue marble amidst a mighty large Universe. We are but small beings who should be celebrating life, love, and happiness. We should be laughing side by side at the wonders that lay around us, and we should be striving to keep our beautiful blue marble safe for us all to continue living and laughing and loving for generations.

Fight the poison coursing through our veins. Purge the hate. Let go of the anger. Laugh and love a little every day. It will get easier with practice, I promise.

I drag myself out of the depths, and I have pulled the arrow from my heart. Now, I seek to purge the poison, to learn, to get involved, to help people open their eyes. Please join me in the sharing of what is truly important. Do not close the golden door. Open your hearts, your minds, your arms. Purge the poison.

Live, laugh, love and learn.

As I finish writing this, my heart has filled with hope for a brighter future for human beings across the globe.



All these reasons and more is why I have signed several letters and petitions to join the fight against the archer of the poison arrow. Here are a couple links to get involved:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Once Upon a Crepé Paper Ball

crepe paper ball art by Traci Van Wagoner
'Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house, Dad is busy hiding a gift for each one of us in the green thing, closets, corners, cubbies, nooks and crannies.

Sleigh Riding Digital Art by Traci Van Wagoner
The sun begins to set and our breath turns frosty, it's time to head for home. We gather together from our activities of the day -- ice skating, sleigh riding, tubing, and last minute shopping -- all out of the house so Dad can do his thing.

Christmas lights on, turkey in the oven, and a crackling fire in the wooden stove, we sit in a circle all ten of us, Mom, Dad, three older brothers, one older sister, and three younger sisters. Excitement hangs heavy in the air. Sitting in front of Dad is a colorful crepé paper ball that holds, oh, so many possibilities.

We settle down into an excited silence, and with a twinkle in his eye, Dad begins. We start with a prayer, helping us all to remember that Christmas is about more than just gifts and shopping and decorations. The evening's party is a birthday celebration for Christ after all. And the rolling begins!

Traci Van Wagoner illustration
Dad gives the ball a nudge to his right and the evening festivities are on! Interspersed in the wound crepé paper are notes with Dad's silly rhymes. As each person rolls the ball in front of them, they hold their breath hoping to see a note fall out. If you get a note when the ball is in front of you, you get to read Dad's silly rhyme.

Each person gets two notes that apply to them.

Traci Van Wagoner illustrationTraci Van Wagoner illustration

One note instructs one of us to show off our talents with singing, playing the guitar, playing the piano, telling a story, or reading a story. The other note, we need to figure out what Dad's rhyming clues mean and search the house for our hidden present. With gusto we each get our turn to open the first present of the holiday. Who cares that it's always pajamas? Our Christmas pjs. Everything is right with the world. With a silly rhyme and a twinkle in his eye Dad turns the evening into a magical adventure.
Art by Traci Van Wagoner
Family Christmas Sing Along while Waiting for Papa to Come Home

Traci Van Wagoner illustration 
The last note of the evening is for Mom. We settle into a comfortable family snuggle with Christmas lights sparkling and our hearts filled with the joy of family and the Christmas spirit, and Mom takes us back. Back to Bethlehem on a cold winter night when there was no room at the inn. She reads the Christmas Story from the Bible and brings a tear or two around the room with her tender reading. My dear Mom who embodies everything that is good in this world.

Santa Mug Color Pencil Art by Traci Van WagonerOnce the ball has been unwound, a pile of crepe´ paper lay in front of us, and a paper maché ball is revealed. All the notes have been read, presents opened, songs sang, stories told,
thanks given, now we get to bust open the paper maché ball filled with little toys and candies. Yeah!

Then we move to the kitchen for snacks and eggnog mixed in a the big punch bowl with 7-up which we drink in our own personalized Santa mugs. Cheers!

Before it's too late and before Santa can come, we put on our new jammies and Mom tucks us into bed while Dad is off doing, who knows what? ;)

As our tired eyes close, we listen to a record with a reading of The Night Before Christmas and fall asleep to sugar plum fairies dancing in our heads.


The Santa Mug illustration leads me to another Christmas tradition -- drawing on brown paper packages. That will be the next in my series of posts about Christmas traditions. Come back next week for more holiday fun.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your holiday traditions. Do you have something special you do for yourself or do with family or friends every year for the holidays? It's a great time to reconnect, even with a traditional Christmas card.

Thanks ever so much for stopping by. I would love to learn about your holiday traditions. Please feel free to share in the comments below.


A special thanks goes out to Paperless Post who offered some inspiration and a nudge for me to create this post and helped me to dive into the spirit of Christmas with their Christmas cards.


Some of my favorite Christmas books (okay I'm biased because I illustrated them) but as it turns out, they are both about Christmas traditions. Check them out and let me know what you think. I hope both will become traditional Christmas reads in your home.

Art by Traci Van WagonerArt by Traci Van Wagoner 

You can get cards and much more with my Christmas Sing Along art and other fun holiday art in my Zazzle Holiday Store. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Booker T. Bear Adventures

Coming Soon!
Booker T. Bear, Let's Go Series Books 1-4
Presented by The Library Store
Written by Jen "Jellyfish"M.M.
Illustrated by Kurt Keller and Traci Van Wagoner

My partner and I have had a wonderful time this year adventuring around the world with Booker T. Bear and his dragonfly friend Dahlya, seeing new places, learning new big words, and trying fun new snacks. We illustrated four books in the series as well as the images for the website which will be live soon. The first book will be available in December. I'll post more details when I get them as to where and when you can buy these fun books. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 24, 2016

JD's Writers Blog: An Interview with Illustrator Traci Van Wagoner

It's official. I've been interviewed. The questions have been asked, and I have responded. To find the answers to the tough questions of life, drawing and my universe, check it out. Thanks JD! It was fun!

JD's Writers Blog: An Interview with Illustrator Traci Van Wagoner

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dani Duck: Artist Obscure: Dragon Rider Traci Van Wagoner

Dani Duck: Artist Obscure: Dragon Rider Traci Van Wagoner -- Plus a Prize: Traci Van Wagoner is absolutely wonderful. This is Traci's second year contributing to Smart Dummies. Last year Traci talked about the c...

Friday, September 30, 2016

Illustration Friday - Weapon

One of the best weapons I can think of to get through this merry-go-round we call life is to be Fear Less; to do things, accomplish goals, follow dreams, live, laugh, and learn without letting fear stop us. Be fearless. Go out and conquer the world.

children's illustration by Traci Van Wagoner
Fear Less by Traci Van Wagoner
Illustration Friday: Weapon

Sunday, September 25, 2016

One Small Voice

One Small Voice
Traci Van Wagoner
Election Season 2016

What can I do to make this world a better place?
To stem the dark tide?
What can I do?
I’m just little insignificant me, a voiceless peon standing against wealth and power and hypocrisy.
A small voice.
But not alone.
No, I am not alone in the struggle against vanity, hatred, villainy.
I cannot hide in my cave, quiet, hidden. . . .
Not. Safe.
Not while the world is coming undone at the seams.
When walls rise between us.
When truth, the way of peace, happiness is wavering,
Lost in a sea of chaos, storms, rantings, ravings.
One mad man.
Come out of hiding.
Each small voice can join with others.
Come out from hiding.
Learn from our bloody past.
Stand up. Stop the tide.
Small voices together grow louder.
Stand our ground. Black. White. Red. Yellow. Green. Purple. Or Blue!
Speak the truth. Speak our hearts. Join together around the world.
A multitude of small voices. ROAR!
Look to the future. Join hands and stand against ignorance. Listen. Care.
The future will be.
We can make it shine with hope.
Hope binds us.
Together as humans.
We CAN make this world a better place.
We can.

©Van Wagoner, 2016 All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Illustration Friday: Rain

Illustration jobs have kept me busy for a while (yay!), so I haven't had a chance to create anything new for Illustration Friday for a while. It was fun to snatch a few minutes here and there to finish off this one for the topic, Rain.

I'm having a bunch of fun playing with my special made textures in a simplified style. I'd love to hear what you think of it. Love? Hate? Eh?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to Cody!

Today is the official release day for Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition written by Gary Metivier, illustrated by me and published by Pelican Publishing Company. Yay! Click on my Books link for links to purchase the book on Amazon, B&, and Pelican.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hiring an Illustrator

Artist at work
Over the last year I have had a large increase in the number of people asking me to illustrate their children's books. To help save me some time in responding to so many requests (most of which  I never hear another peep about), I'm posting some basic things to think about and what to expect from an illustrator.

I hope this will be helpful to both the authors seeking to hire an illustrator and illustrators working with self-published authors. It is a finely tuned dance between the two and in order to create the best book possible it requires a lot of work on both sides. Hiring an illustrator is a BIG step and there are many things you need to consider and have in mind before approaching an illustrator.

Things to consider when looking for an outstanding illustrator

Questions, Queries, Posers:
Before an illustrator can quote a price and gauge their interest in your project, there are several questions I have found most needed and helpful to get the project started:

• How did you find me or my company, Imagine That! Design? (This can help me to know what work you have seen and what style of art with which you might be most interested.)

• Is this your first children’s book?

• Do you have a complete manuscript? Or are you still writing?

• Has your manuscript been professionally edited?

• How many pages will your book be? (Please include the cover, back cover, copyright page and title page in that number).

• What age range is your book intended for?

• Do you have a budget in mind for this artwork? Keep in mind that it takes several months to a year to complete the illustrations for a full book, and illustrators need to be reasonably compensated for that time.

• What rights are you interested in purchasing from me?

• Are you publishing traditional print or ebooks? Or are you going to try to sell your books to a publisher? (If you are looking for a publisher, you do not need to hire an illustrator. If your manuscript is acquired by a traditional publisher, they will choose the illustrator.)

• Do you have an estimated date that you would want the artwork completed by?
• Do you have a printer?

• What outlets will you be using to sell the book?

• How do you plan on publishing and marketing the book?

• Will you be hiring a designer as well, or will it be necessary for me to perform those duties? My partner is a designer and has designed several books. This would be a separate fee from the illustrations.

Remember, publishing is a business

Before we can agree to take on any project, we would need to review the manuscript of your story to gauge our interest in working on the book. You can send an NDA if you feel you need to. After years of working with clients in the publishing industry, these are the things we found most important to mention:

What we need to begin:
The final size, a template from your printer, how it will be printed, what kind of cover it has, and what text will be on each page or spread. All these things determine the price and the design of the text and art for an optimum reading experience.

Timing :
It will will take from four to eight months to complete the illustrations for a full book depending on the total amount of illustrations needed, the number of pages, the complexity and number of characters for each spread as well as our current work load.

Payments :
We break the payments into thirds: one third up front to get started with character development, one third upon delivery of final sketches, and the final third at delivery of the final art.
Kill fee: We also have a kill fee of 25%  in case the project is cancelled after we have invested much or our time.

Revision Limit:
We will provide one or two rounds of revisions on sketches and light revisions on finals. Any further revisions needed, we will an additional charge.

It is unlikely that you will need or ever use all rights to the art we create for your book. We will grant you the appropriate usage and terms needed to use the illustrations for 1st North American Print rights for an agreed upon timeframe. If you still wish to buy all copyrights, be prepared to pay an appropriate amount for them. This can add up.

Contracts...Yes :
There will be one. We use a simple contract outlining rights. We can use one of our own or you can provide one, but keep in mind that what we have outlined above must be clear.

Thank you for your interest.

If after reading this, you are still a go for bringing your story to life, please contact me with as much information as possible and we'll get the process started. I have not given any pricing here since there is so many variables. I will be happy to provide an estimate once we have as many as possible of the above questions answered and have established an interest in taking on the project.

I hope you have found this helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions, or share your experiences as an author or an illustrator in the comments below.


Live. Laugh. Learn.

Some helpful links from a few other illustrators who have posted on this subject:

Self-Published Authors: 10 Tips on How to Email an Illustrator 

by Kelley McMorris


10 Things to Know When Working With an Illustrator

Marlo Garnsworthy, Wordy Bird Studio


Illustrating Self-Published Books 

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba 

(As seen in the Nov./Dec. 2009 SCBWI Bulletin) 


For the self-publisher

by Wendy Martin


Exposure vs. Exploitation

Muddy Colors, A Fantasy Art Collective

 -By Greg Ruth


The Kindness of Strangers


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Special Guest: Gary Metivier

In honor of Grandparents Day, I thought it appropriate to do a guest blog post Q&A featuring the author of the picture book I illustrated, Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition, Gary Metivier.

Cody's Grandpa shares his memories of his experience on Christmas Eve in Vietnam when a bright star appeared through the clouds, giving the soldiers hope. All of the men promised to look for the star every year and remember each other and those who didn’t come home. Cody makes a new tradition with whole family joining Grandpa to look for the star. 

This is a touching inter-generational story we hope will become a Christmas tradition in homes all over the world. And now to the Q&A.

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: I was speaking at a wonderful veteran's day school event three years ago in small community. The school had asked the children all to invite a veteran in their life. At the end of the program, a Vietnam veteran came up to meet me to thank me for writing my last book Until Daddy Comes Home and Saluting Grandpa to highlight children's relationships with their grandparents. He wanted to tell me about the Christmas that he spent away from home and how they all thought "at least if we looked at the stars--we could be closer to our families who were under the same stars that night." His story stuck with me and inspired Cody's story.

Q:  Did you serve in the military or have a family member who did?

A: I am from a family of twelve children. My father served during Korea--although he was stateside. One brother and one sister served. I like to say I am at least serving to some extent by sharing our veterans story on the page and through my work in local news.

Q: What are your family Christmas Traditions? Veteran Day traditions?

A: The meat pie in this story was a big time tradition in my house growing up--as was the family gathering at Christmas eve. We would go to midnight mass--then come to eat meat pie and open presents. I obviously covered my meat pie in ketchup!

 Q:  Do you have a special memory with one of your grandparents you'd like to share?

A: Unfortunately I was raised far away from my grandparents and when I did see them there were so many people around. A month before my pepere died (French for Grandpa) I did get to spend some incredible one on one time. I was a bit burned out by work and school--and spent a month with him in Massachusetts. We started our own mini traditions watching the tonight show and the news every night before bed.

Q: This is a Christmas tradition brought back from Vietnam. We now have soldiers coming back from current conflicts, what sort of traditions do you see coming from that?

A: Many of my family's traditions pre-date the current generation. In fact, the meat pie goes back several generations. I think maintaining some of the long-standing traditions comforts both the old and young in ways we can never understand. I think, regardless of the conflict, today's service members will try to keep that going--and like I am doing with my family (and Cody with his) adding a few twists and new traditions along the way.

Gary Metivier is an award-winning author and journalist. A television-news anchor, he enjoys covering a variety of subjects. The author of Saluting Grandpa: Celebrating Veterans and Honor Flight, Metivier lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and one pot-bellied pig. 
Connect with Gary Metivier
Thank you so much, Gary, for taking the time to answer a few questions and sharing a little behind he scenes of the creation of this wonderful story celebrating Christmas traditions as well as helping us to remember our veterans.

And thank you, readers, for joining me here. I hope you've enjoyed today's post, and I hope you will buy our book which will be available online at Amazon, B&, Pelican's website and hopefully in a store near you September 15th. Buy the book to see the meat pie Gary talks about. Cody and Charlie are not huge fans of that tradition.

Please feel free to share any of your family traditions with us in the comments, and don't forget to hug a grandparent today and let them know how much they mean to you. Happy Grandparent's Day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon! Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition

I am very excited to announce that Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition is coming out just in time for Christmas and Veteran's Day with a release date of September 15, 2016. Keep an eye out for it in book stores near you and online.

Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition can become your family tradition as well. It's a wonderful story to be shared especially around Veteran's Day and the Christmas holiday.

Check out the Book tab above for links to where you can buy my book! I would love to hear what you and your family think about it.

 Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition can become your family tradition as well. It's a wonderful story to be shared especially around Veteran's Day and the Christmas holiday.
Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition by Gary Metivier, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Agent Round for #PBParty

I am thrilled that my picture book query for Don't Fret, Fred, has been chosen with 24 out of over 200 submissions for the Agent Round in the contest #PBParty hosted by Michelle Hauck. Check it out here:

Michelle4Laughs- It's In The Details: PBParty 7: Don't Fret, Fred, Humorous PB: Title: DON’T FRET, FRED Genre: A humorous picture book Word Count: 800 words

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tameka's New Dress Cover Reveal!

Ta da! I'm happy to be able to share with you all the final cover for Tameka's New Dress written by Ronnie Sidney II, illustrated by me, Traci Van Wagoner, and designed by my husband and partner, Kurt Keller. This is a touching story and has been a very interesting book to illustrate. I wanted capture the mood and progression of Tameka's self-confidence growing throughout the book with my colors, leading up to her getting her beautiful new and colorful dress as you see on the cover.
Tameka's New Dress by Ronnie Sidney II, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner

Book Summary

When you’re the new girl in school it can be a little scary. It’s even tougher when your parents aren’t there to help. Some of the kids might be friendly but what about that mean girl who’s always picking on you? The author brings up the subjects of childhood trauma, parental substance abuse, kinship care and bullying with a gentle touch suitable for even the youngest children. Tameka's New Dress shines a light on these tough things and lays them out on the table to talk about. He also presents us with a strong girl in Tameka, who not only finds adults who can and do support her, but also finds a way to confront her bullies without becoming a bully herself. Real tips for real life situations are presented here – just what real little children need - a great addition to the library shelves.

Tameka's New Dress is the second graphic novel in the Nelson Beats the Odds series.

To preorder your copy visit

About the Author

Ronnie Nelson Sidney, II, MSW was raised in Tappahannock, VA, and attended Essex County Public Schools (ECPS). While attending ECPS, he spent several years in special education after being diagnosed with a learning disability. The stigmatization of special education created a lack of interest in school. Nevertheless, he graduated from Essex High School in 2001, but with a 1.8 GPA. With limited options regarding four-year colleges, he enrolled at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. The following year, he transferred to and completed studies at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, VA. After several years of hard work, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services in 2006.

Ronnie's early academic challenges ignited a passion within him to pursue social justice and to work with youth. He has spent over eight years in the mental health and academic counseling fields and currently works as an outpatient therapist at the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board (MP-NNCSB). Ronnie is an active member of the Richmond Association of Black Social Workers (RABSW). He founded Creative Medicine: Healing Through Words, an expressive writing program for offenders. He implemented the program at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia for six months before expanding the program into an LLC. The company's mission is to improve participants' social, emotional, and physical health through therapeutic writing and dialogue. For more information, visit the author's website at 

Behind the Scenes
And now, some of my illustration process for creating the cover art.
pencil sketching

Two sketch versions

Final sketch
Final cover art

To see more of my artwork and some sneak peeks of interior illustrations for this book, follow me on Facebook and visit my website to see more of my art and more books I've illustrated.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have enjoyed my creative journey with creating Tameka's cover, and I hope you will buy the book and share in her journey as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about the book, about my process, or about your experiences that are similar to Tameka's.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition Cover Reveal!

I am excited to be able to share the cover for the picture book I illustrated, Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition by Gary Metivier. I love Christmas and all the family traditions that come with it. I have many fond memories of my family's Christmas traditions, so when I first read Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition, I was thrilled to be considered to illustrate the touching tale. It was particularly fun to have been painting this cover and the interior spreads during the Christmas season last year. This is a very touching tale that tugged at my heartstrings. I hope my illustrations stir fond memories in you too.

Coming September 1, 2016
Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition by Gary Metivier, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (September 1, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1455621706
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455621705
  • Release Date: September 2016 
  • Pre-order at Amazon here

Book Summary
A boy and his grandfather remember those who served.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Cody’s family has all gathered for their traditional Christmas party—all except Grandpa, who is sitting quietly in his room, looking out his window at the cloudy sky. Grandpa tells Cody about his time in Vietnam and the Christmas Eve when a bright star appeared through the clouds, giving the soldiers hope. All of the men promised to look for the star every year and remember each other and those who didn’t come home. Cody makes a new tradition: now the whole family will join Grandpa in looking for the star. This touching family story, accompanied by rich illustrations, tells the importance of traditions and honoring those who served their country.
“Those who survived Vietnam came home with a wisdom that only war can teach but a wisdom whose truth must be shared and passed on to our children and their children. Unfortunately, many of us returned from war unable to find the way nor the words to share what we had learned. Gary Metivier has found a way . . . has found the words to share some of those lessons about life.”
—Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient
Sergeant, Ret. 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces

“Christmas in a combat zone is a time to reflect and look back. It was a pause in the chaos . . . a time of peace. After reading Cody and Grandpa’s Christmas Tradition, I was filled with the memories of my brothers.”
—Capt. William “Hawk” Albracht (Ret.)
US Army Special Forces, Recipient of 3 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts

About the Author:
Gary Metivier is an award-winning author and journalist. A television-news anchor, he enjoys covering a variety of subjects. The author of Saluting Grandpa: Celebrating Veterans and Honor Flight, Metivier lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and one pot-bellied pig. 
Connect with Gary Metivier

About the Illustrator:
 Traci Van Wagoner earned bachelor of fine arts degrees in illustration and advertising design from Utah State University and in toy design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In addition to book illustration, Van Wagoner writes, designs toys and characters, and paints portraits. She is a long-standing member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Van Wagoner lives in New York City, where she and her husband run their product development company, Imagine That! Design.
Connect with Traci Van Wagoner
Your thoughts:
And there you have a taste of what is to come. I hope you are as excited as I am to see the book in print. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are you looking forward to reading this book when released? Do you have Christmas family traditions close to your heart? Do you have a relative who served in the Vietnam war? Feel free to share in the comments.