Friday, September 29, 2006

212 phone caller

Earlier this week, on my cell phone, I received a call with a 212 area code. 212 is an area code from a New York caller. I don’t have any bill collectors — that I know of — who’d be calling me from New York, so it has to be book business. Problem is, I didn’t get the call in time because my phone was buried deep inside my brief case and, whoever called didn’t leave a message. This is gonna drive me crazy.

First, I looked up my editor’s phone number at Lee and Low. Maybe she called with the good news that they’re going to acquire my manuscript! Nope, wasn’t her.

Then I check the phone numbers of two other publishers I am currently working with, Dial Books for Children and Harper Collins. Nope, not them either. What about XYZ publisher who ain’t sent a check for an illustration I created and billed for back in April. Nope, not them either.

Desperation pushes me to call the number. Pride and common sense tell me to wait. I mean, if it was that important, wouldn’t they have called me back by now?

I have enough things to do so, I guess, I’ll try to forget about that 212 area code number. But, for the sake of getting through a boring afternoon of making maps and pie charts for my full-time gig, and for getting some sleep later tonight, I hope they call me back, today.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

An old treasure

This morning, while searching through the garage for a piece of art to use in a presentation, I found this drawing. I drew this picture in high school.

When I was in high school, I wasn't into after school sports. Instead, I worked at a fast food joint. When I wasn't working, I drew pictures. Endlessly.

I love cats. They possess a grace unlike any other animal. They often show up in my art work. Our cat would jump up into the windowsill and stare out, curious, as though questioning the goings on in the world outside. I was especially intrigued by the details in his eyes and fur, and the way his whiskers streamed off into every direction. One day, while he sat in the window looking out, I sketched him.

I drew this picture with a very sharp, hard pencil, etching each stroke into the paper. The details are lost in this scan.

Wish I could draw like this, again. Back then, time wasn't an issue. I had the time and patience to sketch every detail. I like detail, I've never been much to painting or drawing impressionistically. Though, I admire those who do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clean-up break!

My studio is a freaking mess, so I give up. I need to stop what I’m doing, and clean this joint before I go crazy.

I’m trying to prepare a slide presentation with art and books and various things to keep it visual. But my studio is covered with cartoon strips that need to be filed; picture books that need to be re-shelved; CDs that haven’t been used since I discovered iTunes; reference books used for the pop-up book I’ve been illustrating; computer wires and cables and — Oh I found my flash drive! Scattered around every inch of this place are note pads, tax receipts and cards from people I’ve met at various conferences. What a mess this place is, and I won’t…well, can’t even identify the stuff found on a plate under my drawing board. Add to the fact that my fro-hawk is uncombed, and you have one scruffy-looking, probably fowl smelling illustrator sitting in the middle of a pigsty. Change is gonna come.

Too much information?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

My iPod's helps me talk

Ok, shoot— this is gonna be a cinch! I have two weeks to prepare my 15-minute opening statements for the SCBWI conference in Dallas, and I almost have it memorized. Well, not quite, but I'm well on my way. Actually, I'm not trying to memorize the the whole thing, but to be so familiar that, should I get a brain freeze, I could continue seamlessly once my brain thawed.

Now, here's something that's gonna sound completely whack-o. When I give a presentation, or speech, I've found it helps to step outside of myself — you know, kind of like an actor does. Because my name has been so closely linked to the words 'shy', 'quiet', 'nervous' — heck, one author friend even describes me as 'sweet.' Me, sweet? For that reason, I have to leave Donny behind, and enlist an alter ego. My alter ego is confident, bold, funny, interesting, and...well, nervous too. But you can't win em all.

Again, I have 15 minutes to speak to the entire group — small potatoes, thankfully, compared to the hour that author, Libba Bray, and editor, Nancy Mercado, will be speaking. And, I've discovered a way that my iPod can help me. In addition to storing my entire library of music, it also has a timer. I've timed myself several times, and so far, my opening statement takes about 13 minutes. This is perfect, leaves me two minutes to babble on about my drive to the conference, or my experience eating breakfast at the hotel, you know how they do.

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In other news: My son isn't so game about the thought of bike riding without training wheels. I've spent the last day trying to sell him on it, but in his world, training wheels are to bicycles as are basketballs are to hoops, only difference, he ain't gonna hurt himself if the hoop is missing a basketball.

I'm in for an interesting evening.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bike riding, tomorrow!

I'm looking forward to giving my son his first bike riding lesson, tomorrow. For his 5th Birthday, the wife and I got him a new bicycle. Since I'm off work tomorrow and Tuesday, I’ll pack up his new bike—training wheels removed—and we’ll head over to Waterloo Park, downtown. This park has wide, open spaces with low hills, so it'll make a great place to begin our training.

I'm keeping my expectations low, so I won't disappoint and frustrate myself. My son–unlike my daughter, who unthinkingly jumps head-first into any precarious situation—is very cautious. I mean, when I warned him that too much sugar might put his health at risk, he swore off cookies and donuts and candy for weeks, until I told him that sugar was OK, just, not to be overindulged.

If there's any indication of danger, or the possibility of hurting himself, he won't be game to riding a bike. If he falls—even one time—he'll be ready to give up, and go home. And, should he fall and draw blood, bike riding will be out in this lifetime.

Earlier this summer, while attending an event in the park, my son was given a free helmet by the Austin Cycling Association. These folks take bike safety and children wearing helmets seriously. Not that I don't, but I when I grew up, we didn't wear helmets. And we rode our bikes all over central and north Des Moines, and somehow lived to tell about it. But, kids in our neighborhood wear bike helmets, knee pads, shin guards, safety goggles, and leather gloves! Oh my gosh! Now, I'm a contemporary daddy, so I'll get with it and gear my kid up. He will wear a helmet. Not because I make him, but because, again, he's overly circumspect.

*************

On the book writing front, things have slowed quite a bit. This year, I set my goals high, and I think I've burned myself out. I took an online writing course. I've stepped up my reading. I wrote six picture book manuscripts, revising one several times with an editor. I've never worked so hard for so little. I’m not giving up, but right now, the idea of pursuing a lit agent, or mailing out manuscripts to endless rejections just isn't so attractive. We'll see how I'm feeling later this year.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Throwing money at the internet

I just realized how much money I waste on the internet. Ten years ago, I was fine just having AOL, but now I have internet accounts coming out my ears:

Website hosting: $19 per month.

America Online (I thought AOL was supposed to be free now, and the only reason I keep it is because I've had this screen name for over 10 years): $9 per month

Yahoo web hosting for my cartoon site that isn't functional yet: $13.00 per month

Roadrunner for broadband connection: $49.00 per month, aprox.

Flickr Pro to host my cartoons and images for my website and blogs: $24 per year

That doesn't include the additional fee I pay so the wife's wireless internet connection can piggyback from mine, or the yearly fee I'll start to pay for my .mac account when it expires in December. I won't even mention iTunes. Did you realize you could download audio books? Yesterday, I downloaded 'The Road Less Travelled.' Talks a lot about discipline, something I probably need to employ in my internet practices.

Hmm, maybe I need to rethink things.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I found a new blog

I just discovered a new blog through Fuse #8's blog. She referred to it as Alvina's blog. Would this be Alvina Ling of Little, Brown & Company, who spoke at SCBWI's 2006 summer conference? I'm not saying it is because I really have no idea. But I'm wondering. I think it's cool that more editors are offering blogs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Preparing for my talk

Today, I spent some time preparing for my talk in Dallas. That afternoon, I'm to give a breakout session with the illustrators. Aside from nerves, that talk will be the easier one. I've typed up an outline, and I'll follow it through bullet by bullet, sharing my experiences and stories, and offering advice.

It's the first talk, the one I'm to give in the morning that needs work. I've been asked to speak to the entire conference for 15 minutes. The topic: What I will be talking about in the afternoon. Thing is, I don't need 15 minutes to do that; I can take care of that inside a minute-and-a-half, maybe quicker. In fact, because I tend to talk really fast anyway, I could present my entire afternoon workshop in fifteen minutes, and give the illustrators an extra long coffee break in the afternoon.

That idea probably isn't so good, especially since my fast talk ain't always so well understood. Mix in a lot of stuttering and stammering and hyperventilating, and I'll probably need that additional half-an-hour anyway.

So, I'm beefing up my morning talk to include more of an introduction of myself. I mean, most of these folks probably have never heard of Don Tate in the first place, so I'll use that fifteen minutes to give them some background, and, hopefully, a reason to come hear me speak.

I've procrastinated on this talk for some time. By now, I had planned to have it all written out, and ready to practice in front of a mirror. But, every time I think about getting up there, my acid indigestion starts acting up and my only relief is to not think about speaking to 150-plus people.

Many years ago, I bought a book on public speaking. It suggested that a speaker imagine the audience isn't wearing any clothes. You've heard that suggestion before, I'm sure. I've tried it; it doesn't work. If anything, it made me more nervous. Can you think of anything more unnerving than 150 nekkid children's writers and illustrators all bunched up inside one auditorium? Even a well ventilated one?

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I spent some time reading and rereading the manuscript I'm preparing to illustrate. I also spent some time studying other picture books with long texts. The book I'm preparing to illustrate is almost 3000 words. Yes, I said 3000, that ain't no typo. So, my initial challenge is in finding some space for illustrations.

First, I proposed going to 36 pages or maybe 40. That would give the book some breathing room, but that didn't go over so well because a book with more than 32 pages is more expensive to produce. I found two books that I really like that are heavy on text and still work well: Miss Ida's Front Porch, and Osceola Mays: A Sharecropper's Daughter, though both of these books are more than 32 pages. My solution is to illustrate sparsely — some pages will be fully illustrated, others will have smaller spot illustrations. Some spreads will have no illustrations at all, but maybe a complimentary illustrated icon or graphic.

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I'm only on chapter five of David LaRochelle's YA novel, Absolutely Positively Not..., and already, I found myself laughing out loud in several places. What I'm enjoying most is the humor and the way the story was written. It's like the character is having a perpetual conversation inside his head, and the reader is getting a look-see inside. I do that all the time; good thing you can't see.

Well, that's my day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I won the hearts of three mermaids


We'll, I'm honored to have won an autographed copy of The Disco Mermaid's The dePaola Code (see also, interactive), signed by the mermaids themselves (Robin - Jay - Eve), as well as artist extraordinaire Tommie dePaola.

Here's what the mermaids had to say about my entry:

"We love how the caricatures Don created resemble each of us perfectly. If you look closely, Jay has five chest hairs (how did he know!?), Eve has big, beautiful teeth, and Robin has big…well…let’s just say they’re big!"

As far as creating the characters, first I sketched them out from memory. I met Robin, Eve and Jay at SCBWI Los Angeles, and, let's say, they left an impression on me I won't forget anytime soon. Then, I looked at a few images of them found on their website, as well as images posted at Rita's LJ (scroll down), and photo album from the summer conference.

And, as far as Jay's five chest hairs go, I figured they had to be there. I mean, not every guy snips theirs off, like I used to do, but don't do anymore since leaving competitive bodybuilding behind - uh-huh!

Also, congrats to author/illustrator Paige Keiser, whose joke was also a winner.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Abridged Sunday post

I can't believe this; I just lost the post I spent an hour typing up. It was a pretty good one, too. I double checked my grammar. All of my subjects were either separated with a conjunction, or a comma, and everything was accurate. But I wasn't sure how to spell the word "ancestory." I think I've spelled it wrong here, too, but I'm not looking it up again because when I went to the dictionary.com website, it crashed my computer, and I lost my post and the file I had typed it in.

So, here's an abridged, un-spell checked, un-comma checked version of the original: Tomorrow, I start illustrating a new book.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I'm dizzy

My head is spinning. I just spent the last hour studying grammar websites. I'm trying to understand when to use, or not to use, a comma. <-----did I punctuate that wrong? Gosh, I really don't know. I blog fairly frequently, and I've known for quite some time about my issues with grammar and punctuation. But I decided not to let it keep me from writing. I mean, fears of getting it all wrong, making myself look stupid, is what kept me from writing for so long in the first place. So, rather than quit writing, I'm gonna work on correcting my grammar and punctuation. Lemme see. Use a comma to separate two complete sentences separated by a conjunction. What's a conjunction? A conjunction joins words, phrases or independent clauses. What the heck's an independent clause? Boy, I miss the Electric Company.

Chillin' on Saturday

When I woke up today, all I really wanted to do was chill—lie around the house, watch CNN's talking heads, eat cashews, and check my blogs. That's what I consider chillin’ out, relaxing on a Saturday morning when I'm not working. The wife has a different idea about chillin’.

This weekend, downtown was busy with bustling people in town for Austin City Limits, a music festival; a weekly farmer's market; a school district parade; and a viewing of Gov. Ann Richards' body, which lies in state at the capitol building. Downtown wasn't a good place to be, but guess where the wife wanted to go. So, yes, we braved downtown.

Our first stop was at RunTex. They analyzed our feet for running shoes. At first, I thought this was silly. I mean, do I really need someone to watch me walk across a room and look at my shoes, only to tell me I need new ones? I know when I need new shoes. Besides that, I don't want some salesperson's face near my feet when I remove them — it might be lethal. But, the experience turned out nice. They offered us goodies — bagels, coffee cake, pastries — so it was all worth the time. Sure, they recommended some expensive running shoes, but they were the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I didn't purchase them today, but I plan to return.

Following the foot thing, we headed over to UT Mike Myers Track & Field Stadium. They hosted the Marathon Kids kick-off. I had figured we would gather information, but I soon found myself running a marathon, in 90-degree heat. Good thing the wife and I had wore our running shoes!

The place was mobbed with kids and parents — you'd have thought the Longhorns were playing a championship game or something. The theme for the day was blasted liberally over a loud speaker: Get in shape, get fit and stomp out obesity. An MC offered facts and statistics about childhood obesity, which blew me away. I had wanted to post some of these numbers on my blog, but I didn't have my writing pen with me. One thing I do remember, they said, is that 1 in 4 children are obese by the age of 16. Those children will slice 27 years from their lives due to diabetes and other weight related diseases. Sad.

After an hour of baking under the sun, we buried ourselves inside a batch of runners, probably about 300 or so, and ran one-and-a-half laps around the track. Although I run at least twice a week, and the wife trains with RunTex several times per week, neither of us could keep up with my son. He ran like a cheetah. Problem is, he tired after one lap and I had to literally push him from his head the last half lap. I told him he was running like a girl — that helped a bit.

All went well until it was time to leave. But, somewhere in the crowd of people, I lost my glasses. They must have popped out of my pocket as I ran. I remember thinking as I slipped them into my pocket just before the race started, boy, I need a new pair of glasses. I must have jinxed myself.

While my future track star received a full-body massage — princely kid he is — I checked the lost and found and walked the track again, but never found my glasses. I'm blind without them. The wife had to drive us home.

My budget doesn't allow for a new pair of glasses until the next royalty season (not book royalty season, but licensing), so I'll have to wait and wear my old glasses for awhile. So, please excuse the tape and loose wire.

K will need to run several times per week in order to make his 26-mile goal by February.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What I learned about Lincoln

A few weeks ago, we took a family vacation in Washington D.C. While there, we visited the Lincoln Memorial, and I picked up a copy of LINCOLN: A PHOTO BIOGRAPHY by Russell Freedman. When I purchased it, I had no idea that the book was a Newbery winner. I selected it based upon the cover design. It was the best looking book compared to the others. Anyway, it turned out to be a great read. I wish I'd read it before going on vacation, the monument would have meant so much more for me.

Here are a few tidbits that I took me by surprise:

Lincoln, who began his career as a lawyer, had little education. He didn't attend law school, but learned the profession on his own, reading books and studying cases. And, like me, he was often self conscience about his meager education. I'm a self-trained artist with an associates degree. I'm inspired by people who do great things with little formal education.

Lincoln was referred to as the "black Republican" because of his ideas about black liberation.

In the south, Lincoln wasn't even on the ballot, but he won the Presidency anyway. Today, a candidate couldn't win election to the presidency without the support of the south, so they say.

The Emancipation Proclamation could have been revoked — as many demanded so — had Lincoln not urged congress to pass a constitutional amendment. The 13 Amendment did pass, outlawing slavery in this country. I didn't know that. Well, I mean, I knew, but I didn't know it took a special amendment to make it stick.

More than 50-thousand people died at Gettysburg, 54-thousand in the Battle of the Wilderness. Almost six-hundred thousand people total lost their lives in the Civil War, and that doesn't include the about 100,000 civilians who were also killed. To date, 2673 soldiers have died in Iraq.

General Robert E. Lee, a general of the Confederate army, was one bad mammajamma. Good thing he finally lost. I might not be typing this.

My next read: My unsighed because-my-plane-left-before-the-SCBWI-book-signing copy of David LaRochelle's Absolutely Positively Not

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In other news: As I type this, I'm reading an online chat from the Institute of Children's Literature. Author Cynthia Leitich Smith is discussing "The Pre-side of Writing." It's all very cool! There's many things I could comment about, but the thing that sticks with me: Do you know this woman reads one novel per day?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What was I doing during 911?

I'm a day late in posting this, I know. But I'm up against a deadline and probably shouldn't be blogging at all. Yesterday, as I worked, I revisited 9-11. I thought about what I was doing when the news broke.

Actually, that day, I had slept in late for the first time in several months. The day before, I had finished the final paintings for SUMMER SUN RISIN', and had express mailed them to Lee & Low Books. My wife was due to have our baby son any day, so I was feeling good about having finished this project before she went into labor.

When I woke up, I discovered the horrible news right along with the rest of the country. A plane had hit one of the World Trade towers, and it was burning. My first thought was, what hell those people must be going through. At the time, the fire seemed small relative to the entire building. I couldn't have imagined what would happen next.

I sat down at my computer and Googled 'World Trade Center'. I'm sorry to admit, my only recollection of the buildings were from the 1970s movie, King Kong, when the ape climbed the twin towers. I found a very cool website that offered a 360-degree view of downtown New York City from a restaurant atop one of the towers. I imagined what a nightmare it must have been for a diner at that restaurant, that morning. That's when the news media started showing people jumping from windows. And thats when the second tower was hit by a plane. Soon, both towers fell. Viewing the scene from television, it seemed that all of New York City was under attack.

Oh my gosh, where is my artwork?! Considering the massive loss of life that was taking place, that was probably selfish of me to question. But I had spent all summer painting this book, and my imagination began to take over. I thought, maybe, my artwork was abandoned in the middle of a street by a FedEx driver running for his life. I had no idea where Lee & Low was in relationship to the twin towers, so I quickly shot off an email to Louise May, my editor. Louise quickly returned a response, stating that the situation was very scary, that she was working from home that day, but that Lee & Low's offices were some distance away.

My art, of course, was fine. And my son was born exactly a week later.

Anyway, I could go on, my thoughts are many. But I'd probably better get back to this book.

How was your work affected by the day, if at all?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Nix the mohawk?

Ok, I'm not liking this mohawk anymore. It was nice for one evening, Friday. But Saturday, I wore a hat. And today, I'm likely to cut it off.

Thing is, I think the wife likes it. "You're going to mess it up," she said, as I further experimented with it this morning. Vain? Yes, but if you've read this blog for any amount of time, you already know that.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Toastmasters at SCBWI

Today, at our monthly SCBWI meeting, Toastmaster graduate, Randy Lamb, shared tips on public speaking. This meeting was helpful since I will be speaking at two SCWBI fall conferences (No, I haven't began to prepare).

Randy gave great advice; his best point, I thought, was to use storytelling. In the past, I've made the mistake of trying to memorize my talks word-for-word, and when I do that, they don't turn out very well. My nerves cause me to forget what I’ve practiced, which makes me even more nervous, which makes me forget what I’ve practiced, and the cycle continues. The last time I spoke to our local illustrators, that happened to me. This time, I will share my personal experiences in the form of stories. As illustrators — and authors, hopefully — they will relate better to personal stories, than to my babbling on point-by-point.

Toastmasters is a great way to improve your public speaking skills. Groups meet frequently, and members take turns presenting speeches, or discussing impromptu topics. Each required speech focuses on a different tool for making a presentation. Then members offer feedback.

I've been meaning to join Toastmasters for quite some time. The wife and I were going to join together years ago, back home in Des Moines, but I chickened out. It’s not so much the prepared speeches that freak me out, it’s the impromptu discussions. If I were asked to stand up in front of a group, and spontaneously speak on the subject of, say, the war in Afghanistan, I’d just die.

When we moved to Austin, we discussed joining Toastmasters again. She joined, I didn't. Now, she's given her required 10 speeches, and is an official Toastmaster. And I still cringe at the thought.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Profile picture update!

It's been at least a year-and-half since I updated my profile picture, so you'll notice I've posted a new one. It was time for a new hair cut, too. I decided upon that new faux-hawk look, or as black folk would say, "fro-hawk." Think P. Diddy. Yes, I'm 42-years-old, and wearing a mohawk, and, yes, the wife is gonna be shocked when she returns from San Antonio tomorrow to discover my new look. But she already knows I walk to the beat of a different drummer. Heck, when she met me, I had a braided rat tail hanging down my back. And I followed that up with dreadlocks.

Now, my problem will be in finding a barber who can replicate this. Yes, I cut my own hair, too. In the seven years since I moved to Austin, I haven't been able to find a barber who can cut my hair the way I like it, so I've learned to do it myself. But this cut will need to be maintained at least once every couple weeks, and I just don't have the time to spare (took me two hours).

I don't know, I may have to revert to my old pic. Not that my new cut doesn't work for me, I like it. It's the aged face that doesn't.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Charming

One of my manuscripts, keyword "DOOG," has been described by everyone who's read it as "charming." I think everyone except Chris, who'd never use such a word, has described it that way. Should I be...charmed? I don't know. Although I think the word was meant to be complimentary, for some reason, I interpret it as "cute." Chiwawas are cute, and I usually want to kick them.

Charming?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Let the rejections begin



Ok, the rejections are finally starting to flow in, the first of my writing career. Note to self: don't take it personally. This will be a journey, one with bumps and hard curves. It may take years of writing more manuscripts, and many more rejection letters. The lump in my throat is probably acid reflux, and not hurt feelings.

So, I'll stiffen my upper lip, poke out my chest, and resist the urge to give up. Only after I do a couple, two or three, sets of extra heavy deadlifts. That always helps.

**Edit to original post**
A follow up email lifted my spirits: "...I'm happy to work with you on revisions...I really would like to work with you..."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Disco Mermaids: Boogie-Oogie-Oogie!



My answer to the dePaola coda: The Disco Mermaids! This is my entry into the contest given by children's writers, Jay, Robin and Eve. Because I've been warned that my humor is too dark, I decided not to enter a joke. Didn't want to step on anyone's...fins?

In other news: At this very second, in addition to blogging, I'm watching Behind the Camera: the Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes, written by fellow blogger comrade, Gregory K. This guy gets around. First fibs all over the net, then the New York Times article which led to a 2-book deal. Now he's in prime-time!

Labor Day roadblocks

So far, I'm not having a good Labor Day Monday. At daybreak, I was woke up by the rumble of a garbage truck outside my window. It wasn't the noise that sent me running outside in my bed clothes (or lack thereof), it was the fact that my garbage was still sitting on the side of the house. I'd forgotten it was trash day. With temperatures over 100-degrees, I couldn't let the garbage bake under the sun for another week.

After greeting the garbage truck crew curbside, I couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up to answer some emails. But I found a roadblock. Everyone I need to communicate with is celebrating Labor Day at home, off from work, sleeping in, or watching Jerry Lewis. No business emails today, so I decided to answer some interview questions received from a pretty cool review journal. But I found, yet, another roadblock. Over the weekend, I deleted spam from my email box, and, apparently, deleted the interview questions. I don't have the person's name, and don't remember the name of the review journal, so I have no way to contact them to request a new email (If you are from the children's book review journal, and are reading this, please resend the interview questions – I'm not dissin' you, I'm just having a bad day).

Oh well, maybe I'll do some overdue invoicing.

I hate paperwork, but it is necessary for getting paid. Problem is, of course, I've received paperwork from an editor and the art director, and neither of them jive. I've also received a contract from the publisher, and from KW, and all three pieces of paper need to be signed and send to three different places, and being a holiday, I won't get any questions answered. Sigh. No paperwork today.

I've got at least a zillion other little things that need to be addressed — rewrite one manuscript, send to editor at AH; rasterize illustrations from ZOOM!; type up a cover letter, but each item presents a roadblock. So, I decided to take this Labor Day off, and went to have pancakes at IHOP. Later, I'll join the folks from SCBWI over at the School for the Deaf, the venu where our fall conference will be held.

Happy Labor Day

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On a productive note: I did finish mocking up a dummy illustration to send along with one of my manuscripts. Yes! Certainly brings my character to life. Also finished my entry into the Disco Mermaids contest, which I would post more details about, but, another roadblock. Blogger is acting up, and I can't get to their site. Sigh.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday hats:



Illustrator's hat
I'm in the final stages of creating illustrations for ZOOM!, a pop-up novelty book. The art is being done completely on the computer, using Adobe Illustrator. Above is a sneak peek at one of the characters from the book.

Writer's hat
I'm spending some time this weekend polishing off two manuscripts, and creating a dummy cover for one. An editor at AH has set some time aside next week to read new manuscripts, and has enthusiastically agreed to read mine if I could get them to her early next week, right after Labor Day. One of them is ready to be shown, the other needs some work, but I'm going to submit it anyway. Two of the manuscripts I rececived from this publisher, for illustration consideration, were at the sketchy stage when presented to me for consideration, so I'm assuming it's ok to do so.

Cartoonist's hat
Printed off about 30 of my cartoon strips. After typing up a cover letter, I'm going to send them to King Features Syndicate. My stuff might be a bit too racy, I don't know, but I need to start somewhere.

Coach's hat
We've added a new addition to our home. It's a self standing basketball hoop and pole. After putting my son into soccer, t-ball, karate, gymnastics, and art, he has taken a special liking to basketball. The wife and I kinda disagreed about putting him into so many sports at such a young age, but now I'm glad we did because he is really good at basketbal, and loves playing it. I was surprised that such a little guy could shoot a ball so far into the sky, but he does. He loves to practice shooting, and actually makes the hoops, some 44-inches into the air.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Cliches, children's books and poker


This is one of several illustrations I created that ran in the Sports section of the newspaper, the other day. The story was about sports clichés. The illustrations were meant to be humorous, literal interpretations. This one above, I think (I can't remember) represented the cliché 'Making a circus catch.' Some of the others: 'They are icing the kicker' and 'There's no I in TEAM'.

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In other news:

Yesterday, I was asked to model for a photograph to run in the Sports section. I don't know what the story is about, but I had to sit in a dark room, at a poker table pretending to play with three other Sports reporters. It all was kind of awkward, at least for me, because I'm not a sports guy. Not at all, and I always feel inadequate in situations where I know sports will be discussed. After shooting for about twenty minutes, the photographer — the only other artsy-fartsy qualifier in the room — leaves.

So, we've got four guys — three sports reporters, and an artist — sitting in the dark around a poker table. What do we talk about, of course? Children's books! I'd have never volunteered the information, but someone asked. And you know I can't resist talking about my favorite subject.

After awhile, the photographer still hadn't returned...so, of course, we made use of our props and played a couple rounds of poker. Something else I don't know how to do.