Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tweeting from TLA

Well it's that time of year. Time to mix it up with Texas librarians, authors, illustrators, editors, publishers at the Texas Library Association conference in Houston.

I will be traveling with author Chris "Day-Glow" Barton. We, along with author Brian "Proton" Anderson, will divide up hotel accommodations, and as long as they don't mind my very loud snoring and possible sleep screaming, it will all be good.

On Wednesday evening, we are planning to have dinner with author Marc Tyler Nobleman. Then on Thursday I will sign Ron's Big Mission at the Penguin booth (1405) from 2:30 to 3:30, and then at Follet from 3:30 to 4:30.

Later that evening, I'm looking forward to attending the publishers reception, and then having dinner with my editor at August House.

On Friday I will sign books with my friends at Texas Overlooked Books.

I plan to post tweets while there, if possible, though I haven't been able to figure out how to post pictures from my cell phone. You can follow me here at Twitter.

If you will be there, be sure to holler!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Breaking for basketball

I am not a basketball person at all. But K is. So I took a break from painting today, to get in a quick game. We ended up playing all afternoon. Huh!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Caricatures; doodling

I created this caricature of a coworker. Yesterday was her last day at work, so I wanted to do something special.

I had a tough time with this. It's much easier to do a caricature when the subject is, well, funny looking. But my coworker isn't a bad looking lady, so I wasn't sure what facial featured to exploit.

The first thing I did was to create a sketch of her from memory. The mind tends to remember and identify with certain facial features. Her smile is what I remembered most, and how she squints her eyes. My initial sketch was way off, but I used the sketch along with a 10-year-old photo I'd found of her, and this is what I came up with.

She's from England and has a very strong English accent, which explains the royal Queenly theme.

I colored this in Photoshop.

This is a doodle of Duke Ellington, I created one day while talking on the phone. While talking, I didn't even realize I was doodling from the screen saver on my computer. I tend to doodle so much, I don't even think about it. I liked how this one turned out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Following mom's example made calling my dad much easier

Last week my dad was admitted to the hospital. As it turned out, he'd basically drunk and smoked himself to near death. He now has congestive heart failure, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and alcohol induced dementia. He doesn't fully understand what's going on; his brain has atrophied after decades of alcohol abuse.

When I first heard the news, I wasn't sure how to feel or what to think. How does one feel when something bad happens to an almost total stranger? My parents separated when I was 15 years old. They divorced two years later. When my dad moved out, he cut himself off from his family, divorcing himself from his four boys, too. Since then, my relationship with my dad has consisted of, maybe, four brief conversations in 27 years.

Following my parent’s divorce, my dad moved in with his longtime girlfriend. Soon they married and started a family. My brothers and I watched our mom suffer through a depression that lasted for years.

There were race issues, too. My dad's new wife, the woman who broke up our family, was white. I won't go into the complexities this added to the situation, but I thought my dad finally had what he wanted — light-skinned children with straight hair. But when that marriage failed, too, he cut himself off from those children.

Today I don't hate my dad. The reason? My mom.

My mom was the ultimate model of Christian reconciliation and forgiveness. She forgave my dad. She forgave the other woman. It took a few years, but in time, she treated them both not with resentment, but with love. There were many times when my mom did things that made no sense to me. I didn't understand the many acts of kindness she bestowed on my dad and that other woman — blessings she continues to give even today.

Then, I thought my mom's actions revealed an awful weakness that made me feel ashamed. Today I view my mom's actions with honor and pride. Her example of strength, courage, forgiveness, selflessness, her unwavering faith in God provides a path that I want to follow to becoming a better person.

Last week, I contacted my dad at the hospital, as did two of my three brothers (the other will call, too, I'm confident). Calling him wasn't hard to do. I just thought about my mom, and I did what I thought she would do.

So, what was she doing? She was at the hospital, visiting my dad. He called her first, the one person in this world he could depend on in his greatest hour of need.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm so technologically (is that a word?) out of date

This kind of thing keeps happening to me: My mom sends pictures for me to view at an online photo album, but I can't view them because I don't have the current Flash player installed. I can't install the current Flash player because I don't have the current version of Firefox installed. I can't install the current version of Firefox because I don't have the current operating system installed. I don't have the current operating system installed because my computer is too old. I don't have an up-to-date computer because, well, who can afford a new computer in an economy like this?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kudos to Ron

JLG Monthly, April/May 2009 issue: Although the segregated South might seem distant to many young readers, this story makes history feel personal.

From author Corinne J. Naden: "Rose Blue and I were talking to the library staff in Lake City, South Carolina which is Ronald McNair's hometown. One of them mentioned that Ron was well known there, not just because he was an astronaut and had died tragically in the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986, but because he had opened the library system in that small town. The tale sounded intriguing. I think even beyond the delightful pictures, the book is special because—with a few embellishments perhaps—it's true."

From Don Tate: "My seven-year-old son served as the model for many of the facial expressions . . . I took hundreds of pictures of him, to the point that I finally got on his nerves. But he loved the final product."

I will attend TLA (Texas Library Association) on April 2nd, signing Ron's Big Mission at the Penguin booth, #1405 from 2:30pm – 3:30pm, and then again at the Follett booth from 3:30 p.m – 4:30 p.m.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Interview with NPR's Rodney Lear

Check me out chatting with NPR Cincinatti's Rodney Lear. This was extremely difficult for me to listen to; I don't like hearing my own voice. But the end result turned out better than what I anticipated.