I’ve drafted a number of stories involving characters who live near a pond. The main characters are a lizard and a salamander, and I have not been able to get the drawing of the lizard right. That’s according to my agent (gently, elliptically), but I agree. I was hoping Tollbooth readers would be willing to help.

Below are a couple of scenes from the pond world. The first, just below, is Newton’s house. Newton is a newt and therefore an amphibian. He’s not a main character, nor is the snapping turtle knocking on his door. Nevertheless, they are neighbors of the main characters:

Newton's house

I call the next image “Manny Watering Liz’s Rock.” Manny is the salamander main character in my stories:

Manny watering

I recently sent a new illustration to my agent; it appears below. My agent suggests that this illustration isn’t “soft” like “Manny Watering Liz’s Rock.” After I pressed her, she seemed to agree that Manny is fine, but Liz is not right (not “soft”).


Permit me a slight digression for a salmander-to-salamander comparison to help you judge for yourself if Manny works in both illustrations:


Personally, I like that the right-hand Manny glistens the way the salamanders really do.

Back to my lizard, Liz. Unfortunately, she is not a cute character, and if I try to capture her not-cute personality visually, she ends up looking witchy or, rather, lizardy. I tried her in various ways, shown below, and would be grateful for any comments you’re willing to send. I’ve also labelled each, hoping that will help if you refer to them in your comments. BTW, I decided that “soft” might not mean cute but cartoony or, rather, a member of a imagined and simpler world. That thinking motivated drawings D and E. F also influenced D and E. F is a frontal, smiling version of Liz that I like. Perhaps F would look like D or E, if she were shown from the side and moaning. Maybe!

Thanks in advance for any comments you might send…

Many Lizes