Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to give a successful school visit and survive to tell about it

My first blog post, How to give a successful school visit and survive to tell about it, is up at Crowe's Nest today. If you get a minute, go check it out.

Here's an excerpt: Be yourself -- One time I presented to a large group of kids at a Career Day event. My presentation followed a dog and pony act, literally. The children hooted and hollered and doubled over in stitches as a guy dressed as a cowboy played a guitar and sang to a horse. Dogs howled and jumped through hoops and walked on their hind legs. How was I supposed to follow that act?

I considered changing my program. Maybe I’d sing or dance, or gyrate a hula hoop while balancing books on my head. Nope, that ain’t me. I just presented my program as I always do — with high energy and enthusiasm. I'm excited about children's literature so that energy shined through. Believe it or not, the kids liked my presentation just as well as the cowboy and pony act. So be yourself.

Monday, September 29, 2008

2nd Annual 28 Days Later is now open for submissions

The Brown Bookshelf is now accepting submissions for its 2nd Annual 28 DAYS LATER!

During the twenty-eight days of Black History Month, we’ll profile a different children’s or young adult author and children’s illustrator. On February 28th, we’ll announce the winner of our grand prize–a gift basket featuring every book profiled during the month, donated to the library of your choice!

We need your help. We’re looking for the best new and unnoticed works by African-American authors. From picture books to novels, books fresh off the presses to treasured classics–whatever books you like, we want to know. We’re specifically looking for new books and books that have “flown under the radar,” but you can nominate any book, as long as it’s a children’s or YA book written by an African-American author published by a traditional publisher for the trade market.

Nominations accepted from September 29th to November 1st. Just post a comment here at the website, or email us at email@thebrownbookshelf.com. You can nominate as many books as you like. And be sure to leave your email address, as each nominator is automatically entered for the grand prize. You could be your library’s new favorite patron if you’re selected to choose which library receives our basket of books.

So what are you waiting for? Nominate an author! And spread the word!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A new book about Honest Abe

I received two very cool books in the mail today, Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. And We Are The Ship, written and illustrated by Kadir (I already have this book, but shhh!). So what's up with the Kadir books? I've been granted the honor of introducing or moderating his session at this year's Texas Book Festival, so Jump At The Sun sent me his most recent books.

Both books, of course, are nothing less than gorgeous. My favorite is a scene from Abe's Honest Words that depict Black Union soldiers standing side by side, those who joined the army following the Emancipation Proclamation.

The design of Abe's Honest Words matches that of others in the series written by Doreen Rappaport — Martin's Big Words and John's Big Dreams (both illustrated by Bryan Collier). The covers have no text and feature large, close-up images of the subjects. The titles are on the back covers. The designer was a genious.

Some have described Kadir as a modern-day Norman Rockwell. That may be true. But I think Kadir's art and accomplishments stands on it's own.

(cross-posted at the Brown Bookshelf)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What a Saturday, what a Saturday

Thursday was my son's birthday, but tomorrow (Sunday) we are having his party. This year, we are doing a Mad Science theme here in our home, which means we had to do some serious cleaning (we never really got around to cleaning for our out of town guest).

The wife and I have two very different ideas about what and how to clean. She's more of a surface cleaner, so she picked up dirty socks, swept the floors, emptied trash cans and ran the dishes through the dishwasher. I'm more of a profound kind of a cleaner; I washed the walls and floorboards, shampooed the carpet and upholstery, scraped the brown caulk from around the kitchen sink and laid down fresh beads of white. I even hired a yard crew to spruce up our flowerless flower bed, and then I pruned the trees. Somewhere in between all the cleaning, I finished and shipped a painting and worked a full shift at my newspaper gig.

So what does all this mean? Means I'm tired. Real tired. I'm going to bed now.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crowe's Nest launches

Be sure to check out the blog of literary agent Sara Crowe, Crowe's Nest: An agent and her list discuss children's books, publishing and beyond.

I'm honored to be represented by Sara and I'm humbled to have my name alongside such talented writers.

Occasionally, I'll will blog there, too. But with a blog at Tugeau 2, The Brown Bookshelf, my anonymous blog, FaceBook, MySpace and now Twitter, I probably won't post much. But I will read there often!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Go away, Ike!

Hurricane Ike is not only responsible for the cancellation of our SCBWI Editor's Day event this Saturday, but it's also washing each and every one of our friends who live in Houston our way. Looks like we're gonna have a house full of people this weekend.

Of course, I don't mind. But my house ain't clean and the wife ain't here to clean it, which means I'm gonna have to trade in my brushes and paints for brooms and mops. And vacuums. And carpet shampoo and Comet and Windex. And dish washing liquid, and. . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My school visit video promotion

This past weekend, I spoke to children at the grand re-opening on the Neyland Branch Public Library in Corpus Christi. It was a very nice, well attended event. While there, I had my wife shoot video, and then I used iMovie to edit together a little video presentation that I can use to promote my school visit program.

It's a little rough — my wife's first time shooting video and my first time with iMovie — but I think it gets my message across.

Corpus Christi was beautiful. In the morning before the event, my wife and son and I rented bikes and rode up and down the ocean front, and we watched jelly fish gather below a pier. I hope hurricane Ike will show my friends back in Corpus some mercy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Congratulations Cynsations!

Congratulations to Cynthia Leitich Smith on the ten year anniversary of her website and blog, www.cynthialeitichsmith.com!

Before Cynthia had a blog, I read the updates page on her website. I mean, I just lived there, day after day after day, knowing it was updated monthly. So much industry information there, I couldn't get enough. Then all of a sudden, it just stopped. Months went by before I somehow discovered she'd moved it to her blog. And then! Ha! I was back on track and reading again every day.

Congratulations also go out to Austin children's and YA authors Varian Johnson, Philip Yates, Margo Rabb, Jennifer Ziegler and Christopher S. Jennings (sorry if I missed anyone). Each will be featured authors at this fall's Texas Book Festival. Click for the full line up.

Friday, September 05, 2008

No knives in my arm pits, thank you

A recent MRI revealed that I have a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum. It's possible that both shoulders are dislocated since they both hurt, but I only had the MRI on the right side.

This has been going on now for years, but I'm just now finding out the cause of the problem. I've seen nerve doctors, bone doctors, heart doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists. I've been poked and prodded and massaged and manipulated.

One doctor made me go an entire (stanky) summer without wearing antiperspirant because he said the problem was a clogged sweat gland. Another doctor prescribed an antidepressant because he said the side effects would trick my brain into not feeling pain. They were all wrong.

Finally I went to another doctor last week and asked, "Why can't somebody just stick an x-ray or something up there and see what the problem is?" Well that's what they did. My doctor says it's probably an old sports injury, something that normally happens to high school football players or baseball pitchers, though I've never done any of that. I am a gym rat, though, and I practice kick boxing which involves a lot of punching. I think the punching has caused the problem; I punch pretty hard and sometimes with weights.

Next week I'll find out if physical therapy will help (though I've already done physical therapy, twice). Doctor says I might need surgery to repair the tears. In the meantime, he said I could continue to work out if it seems to help, which it does, at least psychologically.

Surgery though? I don't want nobody sticking knives in my arm pits and I've got too many books lined up to take a break.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Guess who?

Okay, I hope this cartoon won't land me in trouble. I'm not making a political statement. Nor am I revealing here my support for either campaign. I'm simply demonstrating my ability to create a likeness. Can you guess who?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fan mail

I received the cutest fan mail this weekend in regards to my My Peepz calendar and characters:

hi Don Tate. i am one of your fans.i love your drawing of My Peepz. My favorite character in My Peepz is Maria. I'am a tomboy too. i love basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other stuff. i play rough like the guys.
I hope you right me back. oh and keep drawing for the calenders!