Sunday, December 21, 2008

Catching up

When you sign up for a Face Book account, you have to enter your birthday. When your birthday rolls around, they announce it to all your "friends," who in turn send happy birthday well-wishes. Today on Face Book, I think I received more happy birthday wishes than at any point in my life! It's kinda cool.

But here's the funny thing: My mom, who religiously calls on my birthday to sing the song (yes, I'm 45, and she still sings the song to me), didn't call today. Not that she forgot. Let me reassure you, she didn't. She just has her days mixed up. She is gonna call me first thing tomorrow morning to "surprise" me, but the surprise will be on her. . . he-he-he-he! I'm so bad.


I haven't blogged in awhile, so here's what else is going on in my world:

I've finally become a Twitter-er. I've been posting tweets several times throughout the day. It's a little strange, though, I must admit. Tweeting is like talking to yourself, except "followers" might be listening. I'm not sure how long this muse will last. I'm getting bored with it already.

We took a family vote and decided not to get on the road to Iowa for the holidays. It's just too dangerous. Wind chills in Iowa are at record-breaking, below-zero temperatures. But my wife and I are from Iowa. We know how to do cold. The larger problem would be blowing snow, which can cause total behind-the-wheel white-outs. We've had some pretty scary experiences along the I-35 corridor during the winter — being forced off the highway to spend the night in an army barracks, having a semi truck skid off the highway, inches from smashing my then Nissan into a pancake. I'm just not up for dying this Christmas.

At the Brown Bookshelf, we've made our 28 Days Later selections for Black History Month. 28 Days Later highlights an African American children's book author or illustrator each day during the month of February. We will announce the selections and make a 2009 poster available for download soon. We'd greatly appreciate your helping us spread the word once the announcements are made.

It's been almost a full year that I downgraded my full-time position at the newspaper and went part-time. I did this so that I could devote more time to my freelance children's book illustration business. But overall, I have mixed feelings about my decision.

On the one hand, I am much happier. This new arrangement offers a balance in my life that I couldn't achieve before. I'm at home more often, so I can be a dad and a husband, and not the guy who wakes up here in the morning. I can help out more around the house — I actually do dishes! I can participate in church related activities, that were out of the question before. I actually get to enjoy things about Austin that I'd always heard about but could never participate in because I was always at work in the evening — things like running groups with my wife in the middle of the afternoon. The other night, the wife and I took in an Anthony Hamilton concert . . . on a weeknight! That's a big deal for us, ya'll!

But on the other hand, when the economy crashed earlier this year, so did my freelance work. The problem is industry wide, at least my art agent says so. This has presented a huge financial strain on my family. Surviving from month to month has been a juggling act. Bills are going unpaid. Things are now sinking so fast, if they don't change soon, I'll be forced to do something different — get second part-time job or, maybe, find another full-time job.

On the up-note, I have two trade picture books in the works — one with Charlesbridge, another with HarperCollins. And another I've just accepted! All three are excellent quality manuscripts with above average advances. So far as my children's book career goes, things couldn't be better (well, things could always be better, but I am happily content).


Miller Illustration said...

Happy B-day, Don. It's an amazing thing to have the balance that you speak about in your life. Hang in there, and congrats on the trade books.

shadrieka said...

Congrats on all the great new projects. Should be an exciting kid's books year! As far as the economy goes, I just hope we can all hang in there until everything starts to get cleaned up. Again, congrats. Best wishes to you and your family.

Don Tate II said...

Thanks Nancy, Shadra! You both have a great new year.


Roberta said...

Congrats, Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas Don from a fellow 63er!

For what it's worth I have a new twitter account and I just don't get it....Hmmm...the third person thing feels funny too..

indigene said...

Oh, I'm sorry to have missed your birthday! Alas, another winter baby! Happy belated birthday! I'm hoping on the economy changing, too! Working two jobs have been murder on this almost 50 year old body! lol! Well that and good food! :) Hang in there, believe me you have plenty of company!