Saturday, April 30, 2005

Festival ruminations

Here’s a few of the renowned guest that I shared the past two days with (below from the left): Illustrator Lamberto Alvarez; Author/singer/song writer Willy Welch; Illustrator/author Hector Lee; author Catherine Carrasco Lynch; author Joyce Carol Thomas; author/illustrator Loretta Lopez; author Irene Smalls; writer/illustrator Don Tate II (me); author/poet Tony Medina. Not pictured are authors Jan Peck, David Davis and Mary Brooke Casad.

















Just returned from a 2-day speaking/presentation event in Dallas. The 10th Dallas Children’s Book Fair and Festival was — let me see — how would I describe this? Interesting. Fun, but interesting. I’ve resolved to be positive, subliminally speaking:

Positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… unorganized… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… they forgot to order the author’s and illustrator’s books… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive... happy… positive… happy… each author/illustrator had a table for book autographing, but we had no books to autograph… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy…positive… happy… positive… my escort was late picking me up therefore I was 30-minutes late to my second presentation… happy… positive… happy... happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… there was a mistake in the schedule, so I was delivered 4-hours late for my third presentation... happy happy… positive… happy…positive… they post-dated my check for two weeks… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive… happy… positive.

Overall, it was a great time. *forcing a smile*

I did four presentations on Friday at three elementary schools. My talks included oratory storytelling; discussions on artwork and technique; the process of illustrating children’s books; caricature drawing and a question/answer session. I presented to more than eight hundred kids from second-grade through sixth. I love these kinds of events! It’s truly a privilege when I get to meet the kids, teachers and librarians who support my books. After each presentation I was literally mobbed by these autograph-seeking tots. Some actually wanted me to autograph their clothes. I wouldn't go there. Made a brotha feel kinda good. After the presentations, we hit downtown Dallas—authors, illustrators, TexMex and beer (except for author Tony Medina, who sipped on a martini—extra olives).

Observations: Author Tony Medina was very inspiring, encouraging me to get my MFA in art. That way I could teach art, specifically children’s book illustration, at the college level. He teaches creative writing at Howard University. Problem is, currently I have an AAA degree. But he feels that I would be able to get into a MFA program with my 22-year career credentials; having illustrated six children’s books and having written several articles that were published in the newspaper. Sounds too easy. We’ll see.

Author/singer/song writer Willie Welch wrote a book about me, but he did’t know it. The book is called Playing Right Field and he sang the words from the book as he played the guitar. Listening to his song was extremely painful. It brought back memories. It’s the story of a kid whose self esteem took a beating each summer when he played baseball. He was always the last one chosen for the teams and was relegated to play right field. From there, he daydreamed about making a great play, and prayed the ball never would come his way. Instead, he watched the dandelions grow, never really being a part of the game. Good thing is he did catch a fly ball at the end of the story. I never did.

Author Joyce Carole Thomas planted the idea of my teaming up with my aunt Eleanora E. Tate, an award-winning children’s author to do presentations together as a team. Although she surly does not need me to get work, together our value (and honorarium) could possibly be doubled. Together, an author and an illustrator; a mature generation author presenting along side a less mature generation artist; a male along side a female; even a liberal along side a conservative could make for an interesting combination. Hmmm, much to think about.















Fourteen of the 500 kids I presented to at school #1 on Friday. I can't remember the name of the school. I blurred the kids faces because they were very funny about publishing their kids photos. I don't blame them, actually.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Based upon a comment made by an author I met at this weekend's event: "Do you know how many black men have been killed, hanged or lynched, as the result of white women who have falsly exclaimed, 'a black man did it." In this case, she falsly exclaimed, "a hispanic man kidnapped me.

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Word of the day: rumination

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Introducing My Peepz ®
























Both of my daughter’s are now grown, but I know what it's like birthday shopping for a preteen girl. Scary. Scary enough to send this dad to the bank to make a cash withdrawal. I'd rather face a bank teller with a sorry bank balance than to face an Old Navy sales floor any day. This is where having a good wife comes in. But sometimes, the daughters stump her, too. When buying any product that feature images of people, we like to support those products that reflect diversity. Especially if the images are African American. I think its important for kids to see positive images that represent their racial heritage.

These kind of images can be hard to find. A couple Christmas' ago, the wife and I are shopping for last minute gifts. We checked out one of those calendar kiosks in the mall. Very cool stuff. There’s graphic images and photographs of unicorns and teddy bears; muscle cars and monster trucks; puppy dogs and kitty cats. There’s pinups, beefcakes, fairies and fruit. Images of people doing just about everything. Very few images featuring people of color. None featuring kids of color. "Where's the stuff for my peepz," I asked myself as I flipped through row after row of Dilbert, the Simpson’s and Barbie calendars.

So a few months later when I came across the Shades of Color website, a company that produces calendars of African American interest, I remembered that day and shot off an email proposal offering to create a tweener calendar. I had been developing some cartoon characters for product licensing purposes, I wanted something I could to market to tweeners, children 8-12 years of age. They liked the proposal.

Six months later, still in the nascent stage of design, I'd like to introduce the 2006 My Peepz® calendar(back shown above) featuring the My Peepz ®, Hoodwyncs ® and Lil' Peepz ® characters. The colors are bright, the characters are cute, and they are having fun as they ice skate in January, model swimwear on the runway in June, and shop till they drop in December. Mix the design with a little ghetto flava, and I have something that will be popular with your hip-hop tweener. Don't get mad, you know your kids got a little taste of ghetto in 'em. *smile* Mine certainly do and two of 'em served as models. The 2006 My Peepz ® calendar will be available for sale at major book chains, calendar stores and on the Shades of Color website this August.

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Unrelated thought for the day:Is it right? Probably not. But I'll bet that little girl won't be acting up in class no more...excuse me...anymore, and I hope her momma won’t set a bad example and make a financial killing off her daughter's disruptive behavior. Lesson learned: Do not provide your child with any dicipline, basic home training or manners. Then sue the pants off the first person who has to deal with your incorrigible brat.

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Word of the day: Nascent

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Undignified gloating

Excuse the capricious quality of my ramble here, but I'm excited. If you’re not a children’s book author or illustrator, this post won’t mean a thing to you. But come back on another day when I’m being the normal ignoramus that I can be.

If you are a children’s book author or illustrator, guess who I talked to today? Yes, on my very own cell phone, for almost 30 minutes! I’m not gonna use my phone or wash my right ear for at least a week! Not gonna delete the voice mails I collected during our week of playing phone tag! Today, I has a conversation with award-winning, author/editor/publisher-extraordinaire, Andrea Davis Pinkney! Andrea, the princess (Gloria Pinkney being the queen) of the Pinkney dynasty of children’s publishing for African American kids gave me feedback about publishing in general and offered some tips on how I can advance myself in this highly competitive field! And, no, I won’t share. Gonna save all that good information for myself. Competitive edge, and besides, I promised her I wouldn’t, so shhh. She ended the call by saying,(paraphrasing, I was a bit star struck) "Remember, there’s only one Don Tate. And there’s nobody better than you." *wiping the sweat from my brow*

You see, I'm not a sports guy, and I don't care about movie stars. I don't follow Kobe Bryant. My thoughts are not about Brad Pitt or Jennifer Anniston. And don't even mention Paris Hilton. But people who make quality literature for our children are my heros.

Also shared lunch with author Cynthia Smith, wife of author Greg Smith who are both themselves, true stars in the field of publishing.

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Word of the day: Capricious. In my continuing effort to improve my writing skills, I'm going to add a new (new to me) vocabulary word to each of my blog post.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ahhh-haaaaooooo-waaaa-eee-jahaaa!

I woke up in the middle of the night, hot and thirsty and needed a cold drink of water. As I walked down the stairs, I thought I saw something stir at the window of our front door. Made a mental note. I walk past the window glancing out at the blue-black dark night and head for the kitchen, feeling a bit uneasy. After drinking my water, I head back passing the front door again, this time clearly seeing a flicker outside of the window. I step back thinking I see a shadow glide past the window pane. I'm still half sleep, so maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. But there's clearly another movement, then the complete outline of a large human-ish figure. My mind wonders off, thinking of the abandoned cemetery on the other side of our subdivision. The latch moves slightly upward. Someone is trying to open my front door! I'm frozen in my tracks. Fear overtakes me. I see the alarm and reach for the panic button next to the door, but my arms just go limp. I open my mouth to yell. Maybe I'll scare them away. Maybe they'll be just as scared of me as I am of them. Maybe they'll turn and run. I look deeper out the window, trying to focus when I see his eyes looking back at me, glowing a subdued yellow in the darkness, not at all scared of my presence. I open my mouth, form my lips, attempt to yell but nothing comes out. I force it, feeling my words form in the back of my throat but not able to release them. The door unlatches and opens. My voice finally escapes. I yell at the top of my lungs, "Ahhh-haaaooooo-jahaaa-wwwaaaaa-eeeee!"

I wake in my bed to find myself screaming an absolutely awful noise that probably woke and scared the neighbors, too. Not to mention, the wife and she wasn't amused.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm kind of a weird brotha. "You're kinda different than other husbands," the wife always says. Why is it I’m too shy to chat with the folks in the cubicles around me, but I can announce to the whole internet that I talk—worse yet—scream in my sleep? Have you ever had that sensation of trying to yell, kick or run in your sleep, but your body is frozen? Your mind is telling your body to do something, and since your body is sleep, it ain't movin.’

According to my internet search, I either have some bizarre sleep disorder, some unexpressed thoughts or feelings from the previous day, separation anxiety from my mommy, or I'm experiencing a supernatural assault called witch-riding. The witch thing kinda makes my hairs stand on end just thinking about it, and according to this article, it's more common among people of African descent. Naa, I just think I'm kind of a wierd brotha.

If there are any psychiatric blurkers around, please speak up!

Ward over at the Ward-o-matic had the great idea of calling blurkers out. Blurkers; those who lurk on a persons blog, but never speak up or post a comment. He demanded the blurkers speak up. And they did. More than 30 of 'em. Don't make me go there. Speak up.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Am I a mean guy if I don't like ice cream trucks? Theres one passing my house right now, and it is so loud that it drowns out my creativity music. He comes through here everyday and drives in circles for at least an hour. And don't even think of trying to take a nap after Sunday church services. You'll be awakend to "She'll be commin round the mountain when she comes...She'll be commin round the mountain... . Oh, I could just throw a brick at the guy.

No more bloggin for awhile, at least a week. Thanks guys!

Friday, April 22, 2005

3 words















Although a picture is worth a thousand words, my son used only three in response to, "how'd that wallpaper border get torn off the wall?"

His answer: "God did it."

Smart kid. Who in this household is gonna argue with God? Or punish him.

In other news:
They're callin' it a SmackDown. A little—well not so little—office competition between my wife and her upper-middle-aged coworker. The wife was simply encouraging her coworkers to take advantage of the company health screenings. The insecure one took offense. "I'm in perfect health and, in fact, I could beat you in a race." he brags. The race is on. This 1.5-mile race to the death happens this afternoon. Who's my money on? Well, lets look at their stats:

The wife is a cross between:
Halle Berry
Angela Basset
Wilma Rudolph
Lauryn Hill

The coworker is a cross between:
Fred Flintstone
Ricky Ricardo (the latter part of his career)
A grown up Jerry Mathers (The Beaver)
George Lopez

Who's your money on? Here's wishing the brotha...excuse me...the amigo, good luck.

Compadre, if your reading this, I'm afraid you're gonna get your el butt-o beat by a mad black woman-el nino. (A little spanish lingo).

In other news:
The wife hates blogs. She thinks they're stupid, a waste of time. "Why would anyone want to put their business out on the internet?" she asks. Funny thing is, although she reads mine begrudgingly, reads my daughter's occasionally, now she's gotta read my momma's.

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Unrelated thought for the day: I'm gonna have to stop bloggin' with my Wacom pen. Looks like I just spontaneously burst all over the walls of Artist Greggy's comments section. One click of a Wacom pen can be the equivalent of fifty mouse clicks, if you're not careful. I'm embarrassed. Sorry, man. (looks like he edited my blunder, thank you)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Drawing with words





What has happened to me? I'm a visual artist. I draw pictures. But as of late, words are on my mind. They envelop my thoughts. What will I write in my book manuscript today? What will I blog about? What words go together just right? What words don't? So many questions concerning words. These weren't my thoughts a year ago when my mind was filled with visuals. Color; what is the right hue? Style; what technique will I use? Composition; how will I lay out shapes to create balance? Then, there were questions concerning visuals, thoughts about drawings that consumed my days, even my nights. Transfixed on visual storytelling.
When I first started writing just a few months ago, it came awkward. Words; they don't flow out of my mouth so well. Apprehensive; I can't share my writing, can't let anyone actually read them. Blocked; at a loss for what to write about each day. That's not a problem any longer. Now this blog seems to write itself. Writing a book, I was like a beginning swimmer, standing on the side of the pool, foot in water but not wanting to jump in. Satisfied to stand on the side, foot submerged, nothing more. Not confident enough to jump in. Now the pages flow like the water in that pool. The story is telling it self. Still transfixed on visual storytelling, but creating visuals in the readers mind using words. I didn't say the writing was good. I'm just more comfortable with it. And it really doesn't matter because I truly enjoy it. So much so, that if I never illustrate another children's book, I'll be ok. I'm cool with that. As long as I can someday write one. Isn't that crazy?

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Unrelated thought for the day: That is one scary-lookin' pope.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A brotha is...

...happy to be alive because A) while in his underwear — low rise briefs — he mopped the bathroom floor with a concoction of bleach and ammonia, which lead him to B) write a silly blog about it, that lead him to C) take his son to T-ball practice, thinking in the back of his mind that he might have to call in sick tomorrow because his throat is now severely burning and he thinks he's caught a cold, which lead him to D) return home to check his blog before finishing up an illustration. That lead him to E) Citrus' comment stating that ammonia and bleach are a SERIOUSLY lethal combination, which lead him to F) panic as he recalled his sore throat and earlier dizzy spell, which lead him to G) Google "ammonia and bleach on the internet, where he discovered that yes, he had created the poisonous and potent equivalent of the same kind of mustard gas used in WWI, which lead him to H) tell the wife, which lead her to I) get really mad and call poison control who told her that J) if indeed the brotha is still walking around and not breathing heavily, he's probably not gonna die. At least not today.

And the world would have thought I was just takin' an extra long break from bloggin'.

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Unrelated thought for the day: After having a really nice and overdue conversation last night with my brother, I've come to realize that people are really afraid to talk to me, a fear that the conversation may become the subject of one of my blogs. I'd never do that. ; )

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A brotha knows...

...he must be happily married, or simply out of his mind, when he looks up to find the reflection looking back at him in the bathroom mirror is that of a middle-aged black man, in his underwear — low-rise briefs — holding a mop, barefoot, dizzy and half conscious because the ammonia and bleach concoction he has mixed to clean the floor, has got him high on his last day off before starting a new work week.

Heaven help me. Or applaud me.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Black smoke may indicate a new Pope has not been selected. For me, it means I need to clean that eye on the stove from my Tuna Helper fiasco.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Time for a new Snerdly?

"No, no daddy! No! I don't want to eat him! Get him out!" he screams, fighting his way out of my hands and jumping to the floor. This was my son's reaction to a little joke I played on him last weekend. I didn't mean to scare him, thought we'd just have a laugh. I'm quite the practical joker with him, and he with me.
I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner. The wife is at Bible study or something, so it's just the son and I. My cooking hasn't evolved beyond boxed Tuna Helper and I have a big pan of it boiling, bubbling over the sides and down into the burners causing the kitchen to fill with smoke. I go to open the patio door to let some fresh air in, passing my son's fish tank that his older sister gave him for Christmas. Mr. Snerdly, as I so-call his beta fish, is barely visible swimming in the cloudy, pungent tank now overdue for cleaning. So while the tuna is cooking, I take the fish out of the bowl and put him into a cup of clean water. I rinse out the fish bowl, wash my hands and return to my cooking.
"Daddy, where's my fish!" the son's yelling as he stands in front of an empty, but now clean fish tank.
"He's in here, man," I tell him, pointing to my boiling and smoking Tuna Helper.
"I thought we'd eat him for dinner tonight." I tease, barely holding back my laugh. He wants to see, so I pick him up to check out the situation from a clearer vantage point.
"He'll be delicious, man, thank you for sharing him with us. Have a taste," I say as I spoon up a small piece of tuna, waving it past his nose. To my chagrin, after his reaction as mentioned above, we didn't have our laugh like we normally do. I apologize.

Fast forward to this morning

Mr. Snerdly is floating on his side at the top of the tank. I think he's dead. Or dying. There's a bubble or two that comes gurgling out his mouth, so he may be alive, but I don't think he'll make it through the day. Thought this might be a good — well not good — maybe appropriate opportunity for the son and I to discuss loss. Losing a pet or a loved one. But after he passed the tank this morning, stopping and staring in wonder at Mr. Snerdly who is now floating awkwardly on his side, I think maybe not. I'll visit a Petco and pick up a beta before he gets home later.

But alas, as I head down to take a photo of The Snerd-ster (I need visuals) he's back to swimming vertical, his nose above the water. I sprinkle in a few red worms, and he fiercely attacks them. Snerdly's not sick, HE'S HUNGRY! Just like a brotha, he just ain't right when he hasn't been fed.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Adobe acquiring Macromedia! Wow, I hope they demolish Freehand and simplify Flash.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Not bloggin', just an illustration























An illustration I recently created for my hometown newspaper which ran with a story about office cubicle etiquette. You all know those irritating "elephant in the cubicle-type" folks whose noisome tuna-diet is knocking you outta your seat. Or how about the pinhead who had uploaded some loud, obnoxious musical ringtone which rings excessively throughout the day? Then there's the people who bring their cuter-when-at-home kids or pets into the office. I'm guilty as charged in most of these offenses.

Bloggin'

So, am I back to bloggin? Nope. Taking another week off to write. I have at least 5 more pages of manuscripting before I can lift my ban. Have a great week all!

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Unrelated thought for the day: I gotta get this punctuation thing under control. Looks like I've had an explosion of commas, hyphens, dashes and quotation marks all over this blog. In all the wrong places.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sneakin' a blog

Received a DVD in the mail from children's author Angela Shelf Medearis. She has put together a new children's TV program called Angela's Notebook which has the feel of Lavar Burton's Reading Rainbow. For now Angela's Notebook airs locally on Austin's community television station, channel 16 on Tuesday evenings at 7:30. But her goal is to go national as soon as the financial backing is in order.
"So, Devas T.," you think to yourself sitting in your most uncomfortable, ergonomically-incorrect, computer chair. "We are a busy blogging community, get to the meat of the matter. What does all this got to do with you?"
Another good observation, my bloggin' brethren. I am one of her first guest to appear on the TV show. And although I am happy how it turned out, outstanding animation, thought-provoking narration, my speaking parts only worked because of their creative editing team. I was a nervous wreck. Sweating and stuttering.

This segment, which also starred Austin illustrator Tom Shefelman, discussed the history of illustration in children's books, the process of illustrating, how an illustrator and and editor work together at producing the final art, and offered some tips for aspiring illustrators. I only wish they would have sourced some of the tips and illustration process to me, since they used my words verbatim from my interview and website. But that's ok, Michael and Angela are on my cool list, so it's all just a thing. Here's a look at some of the footage:

A much balder me as I discuss the process of illustrating a children's book. Yes, I'm shiny from sweat after they shut me up in my studio, cut off my air conditioning for the sake of sound quality and closed my doors and windows in the middle of an Austin summer.



























Some of my illustrations from Black All Around! written by Patricia Hubbell, narrated by Angela Shelf Medearis.



...Crayons, crickets, the bottom of the sea, the empty place where a tooth should be. ...











...The cozy night, when there is no light,...













...Some chickens, some bunnies, some cows and goats...










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Unrelated thought for the day: Somehow, I don't think the idea of a date night between the wife and I consisted of me, the wife...and the son, with him in our bed because he has a cold and he's coughin'. Midlife. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Happy Birthday!

A Happy Birthday to my baby daughter who actually is no longer a baby at all. She's 18-years old today. But in case she reads this, I'm still the dad. No boys. No drinkin'. No smokin'. And your gift won't be there until Thursday. Payday synchronization thing. These are two of my favorite pictures of you:
1.) You, in my dorm-like, messy bedroom
2.) A much younger you and I together in front of grandma's house back home in Des Moines for what seems like many lifetimes ago. Wow, how time flies.

Blogging ban
I've spent way too much time blogging, checkin out other peoples blogs, blog rolling, enhancing my blog, and reveling in blogger comments. I need a break. Better yet, a ban. Not from writing, just from blogging. I wrote nine pages over the last eight days, two of those pages were my book manuscript. So until I finish at least eight pages of manuscript, I'm banning myself from blogging. Unless something crazy happens. And in the case of my life...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

What'd he say?



















The son and I are getting dressed. It's Friday and I have the day off. He was up most of the night sneezin' for some reason, so kept him at home with me, although I have much work to get done. I send him to the potty before getting him dressed. We're taking the wife to lunch, and there's nothing like getting on the road and having an emergency potty situation. He returns from the bathroom completely naked, a piece of toilet paper stuffed between his buns and a big smile on his face. " Look, dad! I'm a chicken."

The wife says, "Devas T, don't you go and post that story on the internet." But I figure, what's the big deal? I didn't photograph his toilet-paper-stuffed butt, although don't think it didn't cross my mind. It was hilarious! But I know in these post Michael Jackson-with-little-boys days, we can't go around posting our children's butts on the internet.

He sees my above sketch in progress. "Dad, that's funny. I'm gonna have to do that again."

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Unrelated thought for the day: Very cool. While waiting in line at Book People to get my copy of Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly autographed by the author Anne Bustard and illustrator Kurt Cyrus, I had the chance to pick the brain of Brian Yansky, an author of teen novels (My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital Of The World) who gave me some great advise on writing my young adult memoir. Offered some great insight!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday tidbits

















Licensing
I will be...Ok, let me get it right...my agent will be showing off my new designs this weekend at the Home Textile Show in New York! I'm hoping to find a manufacturer for a design which I am currently marketing as a bedroom set (one of two designs above; pillows, comforter, sheets, and bed skirts). I'm also in hot pursuit for a manufacturer to produce more pieces for the Kidz collection. Maybe bathroom stuff; shower curtains, toothpaste holders, soap dishes and trash cans. The designs are done. I just need a buyer. Keeping the fingers crossed. And the prayers flowing.

TLA
SCBWI's booth at TLA looked great! Thanks for whomever put together that very nice elevated tabletop display. We made a nice showing. I never get an opportunity to actually meet the people who publish my books, but today I met my folks at Houghton; met my folks at August House, and met a guy who just started a publishing company, Riverfront Books whose sister companies are Compass Point, Picture Window and Capstone. Great folks. Next month, I'm headed to San Antonio for IRA. I'll be signing books at the Lee & Low Books booth.

T-ball
If I can't be at home in the evenings practicing T-ball with the son. Well than—I say—bring the son to the newspaper. Yes, we looked like two fools out there on the lawn of the Austin American-Statesman, fielding balls and practicin' our swing. But we had a ball anyway. First game is Saturday, and we'll be ready.

Blog roll
Finally figured out how to blog-roll. I've added a few blogs I like to read. Most of 'em clean. But in case you run across something that ain't right — I write my stuff, and they write theirs. I'm not responsible.

Been a great week.

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Unrelated thought for the day: I'm headed to the vending machine. I'm height/weight proportionate, so I can do that sometime. This guy who makes his second home at the vending machines is slightly bent over, sweating, out of breath trying to reach down over his belly to grab probably his eighth Pepsi for that day (non-diet) out the machine. As I walk by, he asks me if I can reach down and hand him his soda. "Back problem's," he says. I grab his Pepsi for him, but I'm thinking, "Your back is relatively flat. It's your belly, your sides, your face, your butt and this Pepsi's the problem. Geez.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Welcome TLAers

The Texas Library Association is holding it's annual conference here in Austin over the next few days. Teachers; librarians; curriculum buyers; book sellers and makers — welcome to Austin! If you've found your way here, you've visited my website which I advertised at the conference. Thing is, instead of being here, on my blog, you should be partying down on sixth street, doing dinner in the warehouse district or enjoying the sites in the hill country. But since you're here, please take a look at my books and read more about my school visits. Notice my 2005 speaking engagement schedule is wide open. I'd love to visit your school library to discuss my books, the process of illustrating books for publishers and share some of my original artwork with your students. Ignore all this stuff on my blog about babies mamma's and kleptomania. I'm really a nice guy. Just ask my kids. Two-thirds of them will vouch for that.

A few of my books are on display at the Austin chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators) booth. I will have books for sale at a discount for TLAers. Black All Around, and Summer Sun Risin', both published by Lee & Low Books, both Children's Crown nominees, are books that I have illustrated and will be on hand. Sure As Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit, a 2005 recipient of the Aesop Accolade is available at Houghton Mifflin's booth #2123. I will be lurking around in and out of the conference throughout the next couple days if you'd like to get signed copies, I'd be honored to do so. Now get off the computer and get down to the convention center. See ya there. I'll be the lone guy in the corner. The dark one who dislikes crowds, biting his nails.

In other news: Yesterday, while at daycare my son swallowed a rock — through his nose. How — better yet — why he did it, I don't know. But the daycare workers warned us that should we later that evening find something suspicious in the...Ahem... toilet, he's not constipated.

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Unrelated thought for the day: There's some places on a brotha's body that should be lawfully off-limits to even his family physician.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Coffee klepto

I almost never blog twice in one day. And surely hadn't planned to today. I'm much too busy. Too many projects, too far behind and not enough time. But I just did something completely stupid. Makes me chuckle to myself — Ok, out loud — although it's probably not really funny.

You see, I'm a coffee drinker. Big-time coffee drinker. I easily put away the equivalent in dark-beaned coffee that most doctors recommend for a persons daily requirement of fresh water. Too much. So I've been cutting back. Now I drink tea. Healthier, so they say. I like tea, and the wife gets me the fancy kind with flavors you'd normally not think to put together. Pineapple-ginger, cinnamon-plum. But tea's not coffee and this morning I must have been craving some joe.

Me and the son are running late for daycare. Real late. If I don't have him there by 9, he can't go for the day. They won't let him, that's the rules. So we stop at the corner convenience store to pick him up a quick donut for breakfast on the way. Krispy Kerme is his favorite. Don't tell the mom. Anyway, there's this guy in the store mixing up a cup of coffee. He's preparing it just the way he likes it. Vanilla creamer, sweetener and cinnamon. He stirs slowly and as the steam rises off the top, it does a little dance which catches my eye. My mouth almost waters. My eyes do. Coffee! I should get a coffee. But I won't, I have willpower. I pay for the sons donut, get in the car, head off to daycare, drop him off just in time. They're headed out with the birdfeeders they made in class yesterday. They'll do some bird watching and I wish I had time to do some kids- watching-birds watching because they looked so cute.

I get home, but before starting my work for the day, I flip some quick eggs and make me some toast. Pop a cup of water into the microwave for my tea. Grab my tea, eggs, toast and coffee, then head upstairs to my studio. Wait! Coffee? I didn't make no coffee. I didn't buy no coffee. So where did this cup of joe with the vanilla cinnamon aroma come from?

Oh my gosh, and I can just imagine this poor guy standing there speechless as this rough-looking ( I don't comb my hair or do much grooming when taking the son to daycare), black guy, takes off with his copiously prepared morning brew. Oops.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Do we really care that the guy who normally gets to embalm the Pope didn't get called this time? And after embalming Pope John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul I, shouldn't he be dead, too?

Royalty season

Nothing humbles an artist's ego quite like receiving a mailbox full of royalty statements explaining how much money your books aren't making. One mailbox, six royalty statements, very little earnings, not one check. And I honestly thought 10 years ago, before getting my first contract, this book thing was gonna make a brotha rich. Or at least send the wife and I on a second honeymoon. Someday. NOT!

The bed and bath collection is another story completely. Nice royalty statement. Very nice! So although people aren't buying my books in large numbers, the numbers say they are decorating their kids bedrooms with my wallpaper, light switches and stickers. Not complaining. Decorate! Decorate! And decorate with my stuff, thank you! Visit Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse! Look for the Kidz line in the children's decor section! 'Cause I'm looking to send the son to private school. And take a second honeymoon.

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Unrelated thought for the day: I started this blog for the simple purpose of finding an excuse to write everyday. I'm not a word person, clumsy with words, spoken or written. But an unexpected blessing has come from this in the form of the great feedback I get from people who are actually reading this stuff. Thanks...
well I don't know your name
...but thanks so much to you and all those who have sent emails or posted nice comments.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Illustration Friday!

Illustrators from all over the country, maybe even the world for that matter, will participate today in Illustration Friday. They are given an illustration topic/challenge to think about and illustrate during the week, then they'll post their illustrations on their blogs or websites. Great idea, and wish I had time to participate. I don't. But since this is Friday, and I am an artist, and I rarely post any of my art on my blog, here's a look. Most of this is art that has been created for and has been printed in the newspaper. Also, visit my website for a look at my children's book art.

Whew, just took me almost 2 hours to create this simple less-than-100-word post. Gotta get a life.

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Unrelated thought for the day: What a more beautiful world this would be if everyone had a mom like mine.