What is Inkygirl about?

Hi there! I’m Debbie Ridpath Ohi, a children’s book author and illustrator. In Inkygirl, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about the craft and business of writing and illustrating books for young people, plus bibliophile comics and doodled life updates. I’ve only just started on Substack, but my goal is to post my newsletter weekly. More frequently, I post short-form content in my Notes. [Update June 3, 2023: Huge thanks to

for including Inkygirl in their recommendations!]

Why subscribe?

Over the past decade, my illustrations have appeared in books by Judy Blume, Michael Ian Black, Linda Sue Park, and others. My home publisher is Simon & Schuster, and I’ve also worked with Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, and other traditional publishing houses. I’ve been learning a lot about the craft and the business that I wish I could tell my younger self.

Before my first children’s book contract, I was a freelance writer who was earning income from my short-form writing (mainly non-fiction and some poetry) while I worked on writing and sending out my middle grade novels through my agent. None of my novels sold, and I stopped sending them out when my picture book career took off, but I plan to start sending them out again because I haven’t given up. All this is to say: I also have a great deal of experience dealing with rejection, perseverance, and learning how to stay sane through the ups and downs of a creative career.

Once upon a time, I was a computer programmer and systems analyst for a multinational banking and financial services corporation. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.Sc. and have no formal art training. However, I’ve always loved to doodle, draw comics, and write. Since becoming a professional writer and illustrator, I’ve learned the importance of making time to PLAY and maintaining joy in one’s work.

I’ve been blogging and using social media since before the terms existed, and I created one of the first personal homepages on the Web.

After leaving my computer job, I wore many hats. I was a page for the Toronto Public Library, a bookseller at Toronto indie children’s bookstore Lindsay’s Books For Children, and a publishing industry news columnist for Writersmarket.com. I wrote a nonfiction book for Writer’s Digest Books.

I also helped create one of the first online communities for writers via an email newsletter with nearly 50,000 subscribers and 200,000 unique site visitors. It won many awards, got a lot of press, and I ended up selling my website to a company that eventually shut it down. You can see a summary of my experience here. During this time, I learned much more about how to build online communities, what does and doesn’t work, and why there are often vast chasms of misunderstanding between corporate and creative.

And most of all, I learned the importance of finding ways to enjoy and learn from one’s journey and of avoiding basing one’s feelings of self-worth on others.

I hope to share some of what I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) in Substack in hopes that it might help some creatives out there in their own journeys. I hope you’ll join me!

I also post on Notes, Twitter and Instagram.

I’m intrigued by the potential of Notes to help build community through recommendations, tagging, replying and sharing.

You can learn more about me and my work at DebbieOhi.com, on Twitter at @inkyelbows, and on Instagram at @inkygirl (my Bookstagram is at @inkyelbows).

Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website. If you like my newsletter, I’d also appreciate it if you could help spread the word. Thank you so much for your support of me and my work! I welcome any feedback you’d like to send, especially any suggestions for topics you’d like me to cover in future newsletters.

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people in Toronto, Canada. Behind-the-scenes process, bibliophile comics, nuts & bolts tips about the craft and biz, doodled life updates.


Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Children's book author & illustrator. Illustrations appear in books by Judy Blume, Michael Ian Black, others. Picture books, middle grade novels, comics. Rep: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. My Inkygirl newsletter was recommended by Substack Reads!