I Failed Many Times before I Succeeded– New Children’s Book Illustrator Shares Personal Journey

I’ve made some mistakes in my lifetime, but I don’t consider them failures. After all, some of the best learning comes through mess ups. I put in long hours on this little girl before noticing that I had drawn and painted her lips lopsided. How’d I do that? It’s complicated.


My illustration had other issues, too. Through multiple layers of colored pencil, wax built up until her face wouldn’t receive additional color. Peach skin tone was desperately needed. I applied the color in tiny circles, just as I learned to do on  a “How to” video. The artist on the video made it look so easy. But my work wasn’t anything like his and my efforts to create real looking skin were as successful as trying to water color on waxed paper, an impossible feat.

Crooked lips and blotchy skin were not my first major mistakes. This was my third failed attempt to paint the little girl in an illustration with Xander, the blind pug. The other two painted drawings show her with protruding eyes that nearly pop off the page and skin with a creepy, plastic appearance.

Making mistakes helped me learn how to use Prismacolor pencils and eventually led to an illustration that communicates the value that I want in my new book.


This is my fourth attempt with the illustration of the little girl and Xander. I think I’ll keep her. Finally! She’s everything I’d hoped that she would be.

Failure can be a great tutor when we’re willing to learn from it. I’m learning a lot as I continue on my journey with Xander the Wonder Dog, #1 Pug. It has been difficult getting to where I currently am, but the goal isn’t to do something that’s easy, it’s to complete a book that I hope will touch the hearts of children.

Currently, I’m working on an illustration of Xander visiting the same little girl while she’s hospitalized following an accident. This is exactly the sort of work that Xander does. He has a God given gift of comforting children and adults during some of their toughest days.

©Pamela Koefoed, 2018



Darling Blind Pug, a Therapy Dog, Featured in New Children’s Book

In childhood, I spent hours drawing. I drew while glued to a wooden bench, waiting for my mother to finish her last cigarette, her last beer, her last conversation with the people straddled on the tall stools beside her. Sometimes I waited all day and late into the night.

Those all day beer marathons gave me the opportunity to create trees and animals with a pencil and whatever blank paper I could find.

God gave me the ability to draw and the grace to totally forgive my mother and to demonstrate His unconditional, steadfast love to her. She’s no longer here and I sincerely miss her.

Now more than 30 years later, I’ve picked up my pencils again to create a book that I believe can help young children. Here’s one of the first sketches for Xander the Wonder Pug, a children’s book featuring Xander, a therapy dog who lives and works in Klamath Falls, Oregon.


Next steps…begin painting with Prismacolors.

Prismacolors! Yikes.

My number one challenge so far is learning how to use Prismacolors. Prismacolors are wax based pencils with a high color saturation, meaning they are blendable and the colors are rich.


The video tutorials that I’ve watched make it look easy peasy. So far, I’ve watched several of the pros whip out realistic paintings like it’s a walk in the park. Per their instructions, I’ve followed along and quickly learned that painting with pencils is not without challenges. Trust me, my practice color pencil drawings (also called paintings) barely resemble the ones in the “How to” videos.

Failure is a part of learning. I’m discovering what works for me and what doesn’t work for Prismacolors. They chip, I learned. And smear. And they have no idea of the concept of grace. There’s no forgiveness. One wrongly applied color can ruin twenty hours of work.

Speaking from experience, failures have been a big part of making progress with my drawings and paintings. I’ll share a failure along with the painting that I completely redid as an example in my next post.

Why don’t you follow along? I’ll share the project in various stages and maybe my process will inspire you to launch into your own creativity.


Sketch #1 of Xander and a little girl he visited in the hospital who is now well.

God. Wants. You.


Photo by P. Koefoed, Lakeview, Oregon

I don’t want to be like the world on the fast lane of life who take no time to sit at the Lord’s feet, or feast on His Word, or enjoy being with Him. I don’t want to be like menial Christians who have lost their hunger for Him.

God desires a close relationship with all of us. It’s surprising to some, but in the Bible it’s clear that God wants you and me, like a Father longs for his sons.

He desires a closer relationship with you than you currently have. In fact, He wants you to be with Him, where you are and as you are.

His longing for you to be with Him is greater than you realize. He wants you to know Him.

Perhaps one of the most incredible truths about the God who created us all is that He wants a personal relationship with every person. This includes you.

Let’s talk about life for a moment. I’ll share from my own as a way of encouraging you in your life.

Sometimes life gets in the way of knowing God. I totally know how it is. I get so busy doing, so busy with many responsibilities and with many dreams that I do, do, do when I yearn to just…simply…be.

So, I reach out to Him for help. “Lord, keep my heart sensitive to Your Presence. You are always with me. Help me to reach out often to You. Show me the secret place that You’ve carved for me, that place where You and I can meet face to face at this very moment.”

When most people think about a relationship with the Lord, prayer is automatically what comes to mind. But there’s a whole lot more to relationships, in general, than just talking, right?

My prayer life isn’t scheduled. It’s fluid and informal. I love to pray, because I love to be with the Lord. Some days, I pray first thing in the morning. Other days I wait until I’m wide awake and then I go into the secret place to meet with the Lord. My favorite part of the day is being with Him in a very real and vibrant way.

But there have been days when I began with a short prayer and some Scripture reading. Then it’s off to the races, as I go from one project to another. Even though I’ve prayed and read the Word, a longing is in my heart, calling me to come aside and be in complete stillness with God. Do you understand what I mean?

I’ve discovered that petitioning the Lord for help and reading the Bible aren’t equal to deep communion with Him. Deep communion is one of the most amazing aspects of knowing God and getting to know Him. He is so wonderfully complex that I imagine learning about Him can go on for more years than I care to count.

Sometimes, I’m befuddled by my unscheduled life. It’s entirely possible, I’ve found, to get so absorbed in projects, house work, and doing good, that I forget to be in a very real place of deep fellowship with Him.

But He is always available and doesn’t hold my self perceived flaw against me. He. Wants. Me.

Beloved, the most essential part of life is knowing the Lord in a greater and greater way. A meaningful relationship with Him is possible. He wants this for you.

He. Wants. You.

He doesn’t want you so that you will work for Him, or for what you will give to Him. He’s interested in you as a person, interested in your well being. He’s always available for you to come to Him, where you’re at and as you are today. He. Wants. You.

Being with Him sets you apart from the millions of people on the race track of life who live as though God doesn’t exist, as though He doesn’t care about them. Meet with God. Be with Him.

You have an innate desire to know your purpose and to have a life of meaning. What you really want is found in knowing the Lord. I encourage you to seek Him while He can be found. In doing so, you’ll discover your purpose and life’s meaning.

You. Want. Him.

In a deep place of your heart, you want to know for certain that God is present in your life, that He knows you intimately, and that He loves you personally.

There is a way to discovering for yourself a deeper walk with God. Some people have difficulty believing that God is good. If this is you, pray and ask Him to open your understanding so that you recognize His involvement in your life. And if you’re wanting to dive into His love, ask Him to reveal how He feels about you, and seek Him for the simple purpose of being with Him.

In closing, here are some Scripture for reflection:

God is ever present…Psalms 46:1

He identifies Himself as Emmanuel, which means “God with us,” Matt 1:23; Isaiah 7:14

The LORD of hosts is with us, Ps. 46:7

I will be with you always, even until the end of the age, Matt. 28:20

He will never leave you. He will never forsake you, Heb. 13:5

It was a joy to share this word with you. I hope that you were encouraged and helped in some way through it. Now that I’ve written about being with the Lord, I’m eager to go to the place where I often meet with Him. I pray that this same eagerness is in your heart.

You are dearly loved,



My Journey to Becoming a Children’s Book Author

My dog Max and I attended dog training classes in Klamath Falls, Oregon. During one of the sessions, our trainer learned the I’m an author and asked if I would write a children’s book all about his therapy pug, Xander. He explained that it would be a book that would be distributed to the 500 children who Xander visits each year.


Max and Some of the Neighbors

Xander has his own Facebook page with over 9,000 fans and hundreds of photos are in his photo collection. That is super impressive! Apparently, pugs are popular and this pug is extraordinary, so that equals a lot of fans.

I saved photos of Xander at special events, such as the annual Humane Society gala fundraiser, and I copied photos of Xander with children. I edited them into paintings, wrote the text, and completed a sample for Xander’s owners to review. If you’re wanting to write and illustrate a children’s book, this method is one way to do so.

One evening, I met Rodney, Marcia, Penny the pig and their nine pugs (all but one of the pugs is a rescue) in their comfortable, suburban home in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They reviewed the sample book and, pleased with it, invited me to write a children’s book that could be published and sold. Part of the profits will go to the work of a local non-profit organization that teaches kindness.

I said yes, of course. How could I say no? Rodney and Marcia’s dream is to put an end to bullying and violence in their county. The work that they and Xander do is part of the solution. I like their vision. It’s good and noble and possible. My heart for kids is like their own. I would also love to help children learn kindness.

Over a year ago, I began working on the book about Xander. As you can see in the photo below, he has no eyes, a characteristic that makes him an unusually special therapy dog. The book features him and the remarkable work that he does alleviating anxiety in children, showing that kindness is cool, and bringing comfort to children and adults around the Klamath Basin.


Xander (Yes, that’s a pig behind him. Her name is Penny.)

Since that evening with my new friends, their nine pugs and Penny the pig, the vision for this new project has come alive in my heart. So far, I’ve completed phase one of the text. And currently, I’m drawing freehand and painting the drawings with Prismacolor wax pencils.

Okay, so, if you’ve used Prismacolor pencils to “paint” your artwork, then you know that the process from drawing to completed artwork is laborious and not without challenges. Learning as I go, I’ve made several irreparable mistakes. But I’m like the little train climbing a precariously steep grade. Just like the Little Train that Could, my motto is, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I can. I can. I can!”

Each page of Xander the Wonder Pug will have colorful illustrations that children young and old will enjoy, and simple text. If needed, I can reach out to artist friends to give me a helping hand. If I start sliding downhill, I may resort to photoshopping photos from Xander’s Facebook album. At this moment in time, however, my little engine is chugging uphill…slowly.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…

I need to keep the coal in the hopper so that I don’t lose momentum as I keep chugging up hill. To do this, I’m journaling the process, and will share with you personal journal entries along with some of the illustrations.

To follow along with me, visit the website you’re currently on, http://www.pamelakoefoed.com and look for the page, The Journey to Becoming a Children’s Book Author, Xander the Wonder Pug. It can be found on the left hand side of this website.

My next entry will be the first completed illustration. It’s of Xander and his friend Penny Pig. I’ll include with it my journey and process from the idea for the illustration to the completed artwork.

If you have encouragement, tips or ideas, send them my way. If you’re working on your own creative project, I’d love to hear about it. And if you have a few minutes, please say a prayer for this first time children’s book author and for the book that I hope will touch thousands of hearts around the world.

Xander teaches us about the power of kindness and this is the message that his owners and I hope to instill through Xander the Wonder Pug, a book for children. 

Pamela Koefoed, Author

Don’t Fall into the Disappointment Trap

I had just learned the news and I let out a little moan. My friends lost their entire investment, money that was supposed to be for their retirement years. Their hearts were flooded with a whirlwind of emotions, deep disappointment was chief among them.

Have you ever known someone who held onto bitterness, or anger for years? Most likely their negative attitude and mood is linked to something in their lives that didn’t go as they had hoped it would. Their disappointment might’ve begun with a broken relationship, a broken promise, a failed opportunity, or prayers that weren’t answered as expected.

People who hold onto disappointment are allowing the past to decide their present and shape their future. Most, of course, have no idea that this is what’s going on. I have good news. God has provided a way to move forward and a way to stay out of the disappointment trap.

We’ve all experienced the let down that happens when plans don’t turn out as hoped.
Many have been deeply disappointed through broken relationships and broken dreams.


Video: How to Stay Out of the Disappointment Trap

In this video, I talk about how to not let disappointing circumstances shape your future and I share with you a principle for personal breakthrough that I’ve applied to my own life, a principle that my friends (the ones who lost their investment) have walked in for years. 

Several years have passed since my friends lost their retirement money and, in that time, their lives have been dressed in wonderful opportunities that’ve brought them satisfaction and joy.

How did they go from total loss to enjoying God’s blessings?

They stayed out of the disappointment trap and they responded in a way that helped them move forward into the purpose for their lives.

There’s a way to respond when your plans don’t go as planned that will empower you to see what God has brought into your life, so that you don’t miss the blessings that He has for you. See Jeremiah 29:11.

God has only the best in His heart for you. It will take some effort on your part to live in the fullness of all that He has. It’s my prayer and confident belief that this video message will be a blessing to you and to those you love.

You are dearly loved,

Pamela Koefoed