Meet Freelance Illustrator Nicole Tealdeal

Bookish Interview, Interview

Meet Nicole Tealdeal

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I am a 26 year old teacher,  book-loving fangirl, and now a freelance illustrator. I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and digitally painting since I was a tween.  I use photoshop and a Wacom intuos to paint images from my favorite books and creators. I live in the country, and am astray cat a person. Meaning I snuck into my fair share of pastures to read and eat home-made buttermilk biscuits. I have two dog and a cat and spend what free time I have volunteering/fostering for my local Humane Society.

Social media links


The Interview

What was your very first illustration? Share with us about the illustrator part of you.

My first illustration, that I can recall, was a graphite drawing of a young  girl with a head-sized pearl leading a giant koi from the Sea.  I had just read the Old Man and the Sea.  I have always had a deep fear of catfish and carp. Giant things that lay in the mud ready to swallow up a young girl with her toes in the slime. (My love of monsters and jewelry has only grown.)


What was your first fandom illustration? Share with us about the fangirl part of you.

Oh lord, it was probably Sailor Moon? But, in as far as me spending any real time- I believe it was ACOTAR related. I’d never been a part of a book fandom before that and it was so active. I made it to thank a fanfic writer. I do that often.  I enjoy showering writers I appreciate with fanart ranging from doodles to full on illustrations. I deeply believe in thanking creatives, and in return I always find myself friends with at least a few writers.


When did you open your shop? How did you handle the nerves + business side of things?

My first shop was opened January of this year. At the urging of one of those fanfic writers who I had been plying with gifts.  Before then I hadn’t even considered taking commissions let alone selling anything. I’m quite new to all of this.  But, after I made a significant amount of sales at my society 6 shop, I decided to move to Inprnt because the profit margins on prints was significantly better.

I’m still figuring out the freelance business and initially charged far too little. Which is a mistake many artists make starting out. Joining with an online artist/book community helped me navigate how to approach commissions, rights, licensing, etc.

Most importantly to me, is that I have other sources of income that help me keep the freelance pursuit less pressured and more able to be directed my decision instead of desperation. Variety is the spice of my life.


Tell us about what an average (or maybe not so average) day of being a freelancer is like.

First thing is walking dogs and answering emails with a strong bit of tea and my cellphone. Then I go to teach.  Something that brings me endless joy. When I get home, I play with the pups again and tidy the house. This helps me clean my head and get some physical activity in before freelance work.  I get some lunch and settle in for paintings and answering emails. I usually have an audiobook playing. This is usually a 3 hours working/ 1 hour walking the dogs/ taking a visual break schedule.  I find that Breaks let your brain do some back-burner processing. Plus my dogs are tempting as sin, and never fell to encourage me into our sunny yard.  I like keeping busy, but I need a turntable of things to rotate through, so I don’t stagnate.

I fangirl over your illustrations ever since I came across your Twitter! Any WIPs that you are able to share?

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What has been your favorite and least favorite experience so far since starting your freelancing and illustrating journeys?

Early on I was commissioned by one of my favorite authors, Rosamund Hodge, to do character portraits for one of her novels. That was hands-down one of the most surreal freelancing moments. One of my worst experiences was brought about by my own inexperience. I did not ask for payment up front and ended up working 8 hours on something that was never paid for. In those moments you feel quite foolish.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

Creative community is essential. I talk about pricing, hours/ work schedule, critique and books with my art friends. It’s very relieving and eye-opening.  Please find those in your orbit and unite.  By that I mean, don’t always be looking up at artists further in their careers.  Instead Pull your face down and lift your mutuals up who may very well be wrestling with the same problems as you.

Cori McCarthy – The Writer vs. The Adult Interview

Author Interview

CM Headshot2.jpgMeet Cori McCarthy

Cori McCarthy is the author of the science fiction thrillers The Color of Rain and Breaking Sky, as well as the contemporary mixed media novel, You Were Here, and the forthcoming feminist rom com, Now A Major Motion Picture. Cori started writing at the age of thirteen, and studied poetry, memoir writing, and screenwriting before falling in love with YA at Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program. Cori spends most of their time at home in Vermont with their partner, fellow YA author Amy Rose Capetta, and their small son—and they are excitedly looking to get a puppy! On the horizon for 2019, Cori and their partner coauthored a duology entitled, Once & Future, a space fantasy about a girl King Arthur with an inclusive cast of the new knights of the round spaceship.

Find out more at or tweet your favorite nerd .gif @CoriMcCarthy. You can also find me on Instagram. My account is locked to keep out the riff-raff, but if you’re a reader just request and send a note, and I will approve you 🙂



The Interview


The writer vs. the adult. What do you struggle with in terms of balancing your writing live with your personal life?

On most days, I have three full-time jobs. I am a writer, an editor, and a parent. This is tricky at best…and like living in a swamp at worst. To help me stay balanced, I make small to-do lists and try to clear the deck of life’s etc. so that I can spend as much time as possible playing LEGOs with my son and writing as many books as possible.


What inspires you as a writer?

My mistakes and National Geographic. Not a lot of people know this about me, but I love to research. When I worked on Breaking Sky, I got to research the military, the Cold War, our global history of militarized youth, as well as amazing firsthand accounts of fighter jet pilots. When I worked on You Were Here, I devoured the NatGEo show Secrets of the Underground for urbexer inspiration—as well as going to the urbex locations in that story firsthand.
I draw heavily from history, culture, travel, and adventure when I write, but I also delve pretty deeply into the mistakes I’ve made and the problems I’ve faced. My writing thus becomes a kind of catharsis—a way to understand why things happen the way they do. I’ve always found that fiction is a balm for the aching places in the soul. For example, I wrote You Were Here as a way to understand my friend’s death many years ago. I never thought I’d be able to process what happened—and why the adults in my life were so ill-equipped to help us deal with the loss. But then along came Mik, Jaycee, Natalie, Zach, and Bishop…and they helped me out.


I see you freelance edit and are a writing coach. Does your editor brain clash with your writer brain when you are working on your own projects?

Nope! My editor brain and my writing brain don’t seem to be friends, let alone acquaintances. There are so many times when I’m advising a writing client, and I realize that the mistake they’ve been making is something I also need to work on in my own manuscript. I tend to write loose and fast, making all the mistakes as I go—only to smooth them out later. While I don’t necessarily tell other writers to do the same, I do encourage writers to be more willing to write badly. After all, you can never write a perfect book from the get-go. So go ahead and write it badly first! It’s faster to revise a draft than to wait for the perfect (imaginary) pages.


From to memoirs to poetry to screenwriting to YA to picture books… you’ve dabbled in it all! Tell us about you and how it influenced your decisions to branch out into different genres shaped your writing.

I find that they’re all related! When I write picture books or novels in verse, my poetry background leaps forward. When I’m plotting novels, my screenwriting education takes the wheel and makes sure I don’t get lost in the land of over-plotting nonsense. When I worked on You Were Here, I had to write scripts for the graphic novel sections, and poems for Bishop’s poetry, and then I needed all my education to make Zach, Jaycee, and Natalie’s prose voices sound unique. It was the best kind of juggling.


Are there any stereotypes or stigmas that you really want to tackle in upcoming projects? I have to point out here I am anxiously awaiting for everything you have in the works and continue to read You Were Here whenever I need the facts (but hope!) during rough times.

This is such a great question!
My upcoming book Now A Major Motion Picture is lighter than my other books—well, it is a rom com! That being said, I’d love for readers to look at what’s woven into the sweetheart romance and the ridiculous fantasy nerd shenanigans. Iris, the main character, is waking up to how women are blatantly mistreated in Hollywood—and the world and in her own family. This kind of awakening is tough to write about, and I’m hoping that it sneakily reaches everyone out there who needs a boost in fighting back against the most recent surge of patriarchal nonsense.

I’m also starting to write more about the LGBTQ+ community, and my experiences being a nonbinary, pansexual, mixed race Arab American. I have been afraid to write openly about these things in the past because publishing hasn’t had the best track record with uplifting marginalized identity stories and the writers who are brave enough to write them. But things are changing. And I’m done being afraid. Right now I’m working on a story that is similar to You Were Here in tone and depth, only this time it’s about my experiences growing up in a rural conservative community that abhorred difference. We’ll see how it goes…and if I can convince anyone to publish it!


Do you have a go-to author, book, or activity that helps you destress from writers block? If not, how do you tackle writers block? (Feel free to answer both if time permits or inspiration strikes!)

Keep in mind that if you are a writer, you should always be writing. Every day. But if you’ve hit a wall, maybe you should be writing something else? I once heard Philip Pullman say, “Don’t write when you’re not inspired. That’s like looking for a shadow with a flashlight.”
If there’s something you’ve burned out on, move along to a different project. When I was worn down from the heaviness of You Were Here, I ended up writing a rom com and a picture book biography about Kahlil Gibran—both of which surprised me. So yes, always write, but don’t make yourself write one book at a time. This business is tough enough, and you might as well have fun while you’re doing it 😉


Fangirling aside, is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?

I think this is it! Great questions! Thank you for reaching out, and I’m really hoping to meet you one day!



Thank you Cori for stopping by! Had a blast 🙂

Now A Motion Picture is out now!


Jordandené’s Rocking Your Fandom With Style Guest Post

Guest Post

Meet the lovely ladies of Jordandené


Jordandené is a Brooklyn-based, woman-owned, small business. Our casually geeky apparel and home goods are subtle enough to actually be used in everyday life. Our design team uses traditional ink and brush techniques to create unique, hand-lettered designs. We choose messages that both strike a chord with hardcore fans and promote positive messages to everyone who sees them.


Rocking Your Fandom With Style

By: Tristan George, Jordandené


Before I discovered, then insisted on working for, the perfectly geek chic brand Jordandené, my knowledge of the nerd world of fashion didn’t extend past fangirl empire Her Universe. But, as the world of fandoms expands, so do the way/s of representing them with pride.


Gone are the days where geeks of all calibers are tied down to stiff, crewneck tees with big logos in primary colors. Wearing your fandom nowadays can be as stylish as ever, and it’s much easier than you think. You can quietly rock your fandom for just about any occasion. Here’s how you do it.


  1. Cosmetics

We’ll start small but mighty. Pop culture collaborating with the world of make-up has been around for long enough for even the biggest companies to get on board. Remember the MAC Betty & Veronica line? How about the Covergirl x Star Wars collection? Holika Holika even has products based on my favorite lazy Sanrio character. There’s something out there for everyone.

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This Game of Thrones-inspired eyeshadow trio by Strobe Cosmetics is one of my personal favorites. Pigment and a promise of cruelty-free products are the two most important things when it comes to my makeup, and Strobe passes both with flying colors, pun absolutely intended. The Bay of Dragons set comes with three gorgeous shades with coppery finishes that are perfect for fall, each with a name inspired by everyone’s favorite dragons.


Wearing these shadows aren’t as obvious as walking around in your House Targaryen shirt, but there’s still something incredibly satisfying about telling someone, “Oh, this color? It’s called Drogon.”


More recommendations: Nerdy nail wraps by Espionage Cosmetics, Fandom fragrances by Geekssentials on Etsy


  1. Accessories


One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received falls under this category. A few years back, my best friend gave me this Hobbit Door Necklace for Christmas. I remember tearing up when I unwrapped it, and even more so when the tiny door popped open to reveal it was a locket in disguised. Not only could I wear my favorite story wherever I went, but I could take a piece of home with me, too. Cue the waterworks.


Nerdy accessories are great for a multitude of reasons— they can be the centerpiece of an outfit or hide in plain sight, you can wear them as often as you’d like, and they always make fantastic gifts, in case you want to try and make your friends cry, too.

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My most recent obsession? Enamel pins. Yes, they’re everywhere, and yes, I mean that in the best way possible. Think of anything, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous, and I can guarantee you that someone out there makes a pin for it. These adorable Ghibli creatures from Blushsprout are a personal favorite. Look at that glitter!


The best part about accessorizing with pins? You can never have too many, and you’ll more than likely never run out of room. So, go ahead and fill up your backpack, your lapels, your favorite denim jacket and hop in on the “pinsanity” trend.


More recommendations: Clutches by Sent From Mars, Officially licensed goodies by Rocklove Jewelry


  1. Apparel


Tiny trinkets not quite enough for you? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Cute and slightly nerdy apparel is as accessible as it is adorable nowadays, so you can hold off on that Star Wars tee from Target that’s been stuffed in the bottom of your drawer on days you’re feeling a little more stylish.


I’ve never bought something from Elhoffer Design that I didn’t immediately fall in love with. From amazingly soft cardigans to flattering scuba knit dresses, it’s impossible to find something you won’t love. The nerd in all of us will appreciate the crazy attention to detail in each piece— check out the well-thought-out references on The Duel Sweater, or how the Hogwarts house-inspired maxi dresses have wand pockets. When I say Elhoffer thought of everything when designing these, they really, truly thought of everything.

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I’ve been waiting all season to finally break out some of these galactic fall goodies, especially the Galactic General Longline Cardigan, modeled after Carrie Fisher’s cover of Vanity Fair. It comes in two colors and surpasses the geek chic level— it is as high fashion as nerdy clothing can get. Take a walk in this on a crisp, fall day, caped sleeves blowing in the wind, and try and tell me you don’t feel as badass as General Organa herself. I dare you.
More recommendations: Marvel New York Collection by BlackMilk, Geeky retro skirts and more by 1138 Clothing