Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Day #325: Doomed to Fail? Write It Anyway

One of my big mistakes as a young writer was conservatism. I held back a lot. I would have a book idea, but if I didn't think it was marketable, I would not write it. I was worried that I would write 100,000 words that would end up hidden in a drawer. When I wrote short stories and essays for my college classes, I kept the metaphors to a minimum. I didn't bother with eloquence. I got straight to the point, as I do with most of these blog posts. And I used lame verbs like "GOT" (See previous sentence.)

I must have believed that my creative energies were finite. That if I wrote brilliantly in an essay, I would run out of brilliance when it came time to write a novel.

Because of this flawed strategy, my writing style became sparse, more like Hemingway than Charles Dickens. More William Carlos Williams rather than William Shakespeare. My words are economic, which is good, but they are rarely poetry.

If I went back to relive those college years, I would have put passion into every paragraph. Yes, I would have written many more failures than I already have... But I would have taught myself so many more lessons.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day #324: Book Dream (Number Two)

I have had back-to-back vivid dreams. That's rare, and weird, and fun.

In last night's dream, I was reading a picture book written by Stephen King.

Day #323: Book Dream (Number One)

We are visiting family in Washington state. Since I am on winter break, I am actually sleeping in, unlike my normal work schedule which gets me up at the crack of dawn.

For some reason, I dream more often when I sleep late. So, on Sunday morning, whilst I slept until 9 am, I had a strange dream, one that seemed like something that could become a picture book.

Have you ever seen the show Raising Hope? Well, I dreamt I was watching the final episode of Raising Hope, and the family of quirky characters discovered that they were living in the middle of a conformist dystopian society. And since they were so quirky, the society decided that it needed to capture and brainwash the all American family. However, these characters were too resilient. The brainwashing didn't work, and so to return to their "normal" lives, they had to lie to the brainwashers.

Right now, you are probably thinking, this does not sound like a children's book. True. But something about the dialogue in the dream inspired me. In the dream, the mother character (played by Martha Plimpton) looked directly at the camera (or perhaps I should say directly at my mind's eye) and said, "The eighth lie is Shelia." Then she pointed to a woman who was apparently nothing
 but a living lie. 

For some reason, I really like this idea of The 8th Lie... Or, more to the point, I like the notion that 
there are a series of lies and each one has been ranked. 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this idea, but perhaps it's the seed of an idea. 

Day #322: Reflecting on Resolutions

I didn't have an elaborate lost of New Years Resolutions for 2015. I wanted to take more photos; record more of my family's life. (I failed at this, so I will be putting it on my list mext year.)

I also hoped to publish Camp Omigosh (which I did -- however, my marketing on that project has been incredibly lackluster.)  I also wanted to create something new (which I did, though it's not finished yet, quack quack.)

My other goal was to increase my online presense, and I chalk that up as another failure. Sure, I've been blogging... But it's rather personal, and probably very boring to anyone besides me and my mom. (Hi Mom!)

For 2016, I am trying to decide whether or not I should bother trying to gain popularity on the internet. Writers like John Green have an incredible influence on their readers with their use of social media. But those are mainly teen authors. I am writing for younger readers, so I'm not sure about the best ways to use the internet to develop my brand.

Also, and this may just be me making excuses, I'm not sure how much time I should commit to marketing when I barely seem to have enough time to write.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day #312 - #321: Favorite Things of 2015

As I reflect upon the year before 2015 comes to a close, I want to make a list of the creative works that have influenced me during these twelve months. (So, keep in mind when I say Favorite Things, I won't be listing family or friends -- it goes without saying that those folks are what make my life some kind of wonderful.)

So the following list is a bunch of creative works which have been inspiring me in a variety of ways. Some of them are brand spanking new; others are quite old -- but I'm experiencing them for the first time, or rediscovering them.

10) The Blacklist
I've binge watched several shows this year, but for some reason this has been the most satisfying of the new shows. I think because it taps into something primal. We want evil to be eradicated from the world, but with civilized laws justice if often unfulfilled. However, if another bad guy goes after the villains, revenge seems much more doable. Such was the case during the first three seasons of Dexter, and such is the case with Blacklist. In some ways it's a typical crime TV show, but James Spader takes things to the next level. He makes the show.

9) M*A*S*H
We have been watching every episode of MASH as a family... Well, Emily is usually on FunSubstance... But the rest of us have been exploring the exploits of Hawk Eye Pierce and the doctors and nurses of the 4077. Alan Alda's moral compass is the polar opposite of Blacklist's sensibilities. As a child, I watched reruns of this show, every now and then. But watching it in chronological order and in its entirity is a dramatically different experience. You really sense the fatigue that these characters experience, and you understand how humor becomes their main defense mechanism.

8) Stephen King's 11/22/63

I loved the way Stephen King describes time traveling into the 1950s and early 1960s. He really gets back into his groove as a storyteller with this vivid novel about a man who attempts alter history by saving the life of JFK. One of my favorite moments was when King reintroduces Bev and Richie, two characters from IT. That was so awesome.

7) The Complete Peanuts - 1953 & 1954

Much of my year has been consumed by my obsession with my graphic novel, Duck Town.
I have loved drawing since the second grade, and my greatest inspiration in those early days was Charles Shultz. Peanuts was my first experience as an active reader (meaning the Charlie Brown books were the first books that I actually wanted to read, unlike the assigned readings in elementary school). My art never matched the professionalism of Shultz, but he remains my benchmark, my artistic polaris.

6) Inside Out

I love any creative work that can evoke tears. Pixar's Inside Out did just that. Damn you, Bing Bong!

5) Mad Max: Fury Road

This was a dusty wild ride, and a fitting continuation of the Mad Max world. It's really just a long car chase, but it's incredibly entertaining, filled with lots of action sequences that made me gasp and a 
few sequences that made me cringe. A great big screen experience.

4) Star Trek: The Next Generation

If you know me at all, then you know that I am a joyful nerd. I may not be the biggest Trekkie, but I do love me some Star Trek. This year I decided to rewatch all of the Next Generation episodes, usually during my office hours. I was surprised at how many episodes I had missed durng the original series' run. I missed a whole bunch during the second and third season. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Weasley Crusher isn't as annoying as I remember. I love the world view (or should I say galactic view) established by Roddenberry. It's his version of heaven -- and I agree with his version of paradise (minus the Borg).

3) Bloom County
One of the most wonderful and unexpected surprises of 2015 is the return of Berkley Brethed's beloved comic, Bloom County. I have loved reading the further adventures of Milo, Opus, and the gang. However, I must say that I have been most pleased to be reunited with Steven Dallas.
2) Hamilton
I fell in love with In The Heights, and then this musical came along. Take my admiration for Lin Manuel Miranda's first musical and multiply it by three, and you'll calculate just how strongly I feel about this hip hop historical masterpiece.
1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- Nuff said.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day #311: New Star Wars = New Levels of Awesome

Okay, I have now seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice. I'm still processing my feelings.

I know it's just a movie (and it's not a perfect movie), but at the same time, it's a fulfillment of my childhood dreams. The prequels were very important to me because they visually depicted so many boyhood debated hosted by my friends and me. I speculated endlessly about what happened between Anakin and Kenobi. How did Vader become a cyborg? What were the Clone Wars? What misadventures did the droids entangle themselves in?

I've said before, and I'll say again -- I love the prequels, flawed as they are; the films further explored an imaginary universe that has fascinated me for decades.

I have spent the last two years doing my best to avoid trailers, images, spoilers of any kind. (Although I did know that Han, Luke, and Leia would be in this.) The result: a whole lot of surprises. I won't give much away except this.... Because this was the only aspect of the film that disappointed me: There's a Death Star knock off... I don't know why they decided to do yet another spherical planet blaster as a pivotal plot point. There are MANY parallels to the original STAR WARS (Episode IV) and most of them work, many are pleasing, but the Star Killer weapon seemed lazy in comparison to so many other aspects that were fresh yet fitting.

That caveat is minor in contrast to the sheer joy it has been to see Han Solo and Chewbacca together again.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day #310: Don't Be a Stranger to my New Play

A few months ago, Heuer Publishing release my latest bittersweet comedy: "Strangers."

Here's the pitch:

Strangers is a touching one-act comedy about two people who interact or encounter each other every few years, throughout their entire lives. But they never really meet... until the end.

So far, no one has produced this play... It's waiting for it's world premiere -- but perhaps no school or theater is daring enough? Or maybe the play is a stinker -- but I did put my heart and soul into this one. So, if you'd like to check it out, you can read a free preview at:

Heuer Plays...

Thanks for reading!

Day #309: Creative Year in Review

I've been reflecting back over the months...  trying to recall what I have accomplished in 2015...

All in all, it's been a very good year -- even though I constantly whine about not being productive enough. Here's my top five creative accomplishments for this year...

#5) With the help of Sky Rocket Press, we published CAMP OMIGOSH

#4) Began developing and drawing DUCK TOWN -- my very first graphic novel!

#3) Wrote / Directed THE PRE-MUSKETEERS (and sent the manuscript to Eldridge)

#2) I worked with my editors to finalize drafts of AROUND THE WORLD IN A BATHTUB (Charlesbridge) as well as THERE'S A DINOSAUR ON THE 13th FLOOR (Candlewick).

#1) My agent sold a new picture book: MR. COMPLAIN TAKES THE TRAIN

Friday, December 18, 2015

Day #308: Back to the Drawing Board

Love spending time in Duck Town...

Can't wait to see how this comic book ends...

Day #307: Parody is Hard Work!

When I'm not working on Duck Town, or grading Final exams, or studying my lines from Bullshot Crummond, I've been distracting myself with a little project.

I've been trying to create a parody of the opening rap from my favorite musical of the decade: Hamilton.

I've been trying to retell the story of Rudolph in the style of Lin-Manuel Miranda, but man it's been a challenge! (The guy's such a genius, I'm having a hard time just coming up with a silly satire!)

Here's what I have so far...

How does a runt of a reindeer
Son of a doe and a dumb buck get stuck
in the middle of a magical lil’ spot in the Arctic region
by providence is punished with a red nose
Grow up to be the hero of the North Pole?

The stop motion, little puppet w/no puppet master
got a lot faster by flying in skies vaster
floating like a jedi master,
nose glowin like a laser blaster
It’s so lame – they kept him out of every reindeer game.

Hoping to add more soon before Christmas is over!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day #306: Christmas is Coming (Way Too Fast)

I love the holiday season. We often complain that consumerism compels stores to start celebrating way too early (like before Halloween), but maybe that's okay since Christmas time flies by faster than Santa's reindeer.

Starting on December 1st, Cheri began her twelve days of Xmas, which is really twelve days of spoiling Wade. Each day, she puts a little gift in the box, such as Candy, lottery tickets, or Star Wars t-shirts. When Dec. 12th arrived, I began Cheri's version of the 12 days. I am giving her a book each day, along with a lottery ticket as a book mark. Oh, and I'm making Duck Town characters too.

Day #305: Refining Camp Omigosh

Well, as you may or may not know, I enormous part of 2015 was spent developing my middle grade novel: Camp Omigosh. It's been one of my life long dreams to write a successful novel. (By successful, I mean that a bonafide publishing house picks it up, promotes it, and it doesn't fail miserably.)

I was hoping that Camp Omigosh would be that novel. I put my heart and soul into it.... But my agent wasn't sure how to sell it, or who to sell it to... (and I completely understood, since Omigosh is a very quirky mash-up of several genres).

The good news, I didn't give up, and my amazing fellow author and friend, Laurisa White Reyes, helped me produce the book through her independent publishing operation: Skyrocket Press.

We raised funds with Indigogo, and invested a bit of my own money, and we created a really good looking product.

Unfortunately, the first edition of Camp Omigosh had a few typos (did I say a few, I meant about fifty of them!) I didn't have enough money to get a professional proofreader, so that's what happens! But thanks to my Mom, she painstakingly read through the novel several times and caught the typos. (There might be a couple still lurking, but I t most of them have been weeded out.)

So, even though I've sold less than a hundred copies and e-books, I'm prouder than ever of my summer camp - ghost - mystery - sci fi - adventure story.

Order a copy of Camp Omigosh today!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day #304: Presenting "The Pre Musketeers!"

At long last, I revised "The Pre-Musketeers," my comedic tribute to Dumas' swashbuckling adventure and I sent it to my good editors at Eldridge Publishing.

I'm not sure how they will feel about this one. There are a few jokes regarding Athos and alcohol. The other problem: there are a lot of male characters, and my plays tend to be a lot more successful if there are a lot of female cast members.

So, it's a fifty fifty chance of getting published. But I think it's a fun, fast paced show, and it deserves to be seen beyond the Canyon Theatre Guild. Hopefully it will get out into the world, if only for my favorite line: "Pirates, ninjas, and musketeers. This is the greatest day of my life."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Day #303: The Sound of Deadlines Whooshing Past

My newly revised goal for Duck Town involves a pushback of the original deadline.

Once upon a time, I thought I could finish my graphic novel before December 17th (the day Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres!) However, I underestimated that creativity-draining power of work. Those essays, those classes, those meetings, and those commutes absorbed my time and energy. I don't get much written during the school year. I gotta fix that!

Anyway, my new deadline is Jan 10th, the day before spring semester begins. If I don't finish this project by then, it may not get completed until Summer 2016!

Keep your feathers crossed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day #302: First Day of Rehearsal

We just finished up our first day of rehearsal (not counting our initial read-through) for Bullshot Crummond. I had my doubts when I first read the script, but now that we're bringing this wacky plot to life, I have a feeling it's going to be a LOT of fun.

The cast features several alumi from The 39 Steps: Tyler Joy, Chris Flowers, and yours truly -- not to mention it's directed by Randy Aronson, who is always an absolute pleasure to work with... And I get to work with a couple folks I haven't had the honor of sharing the stage: Barry Agin and Sanya Arnold.

The not-so-good news... I have hardly looked at the script. I was far too immersed in Duck Town to think about learning my lines. But that's gotta change starting today. Oh, did I mention I am playing six different roles, each accent more atrocious than the next!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Day #301: Back to Duck Town

Next week I get a whole bunch of research papers shoved my way. But this weekend, my desk is clear and so I've made the most of my time by sketching and inking as many drawing as possible. I think I completed ten new pages in the past three days.

I think I've passed the halfway point. The end isn't exactly in sight, but I've built up enough steam I know that I'm going to make it past that proverbial finish line.

Several folks at the Canyon Theatre Guild glanced at some of my rough sketches, and they seemed genuinely impressed and encouraging. Of course, grown ups aren't the target audience, but it's nice knowing the graphic novel appeals to lots of different ages.

My original goal was to finish Duck Town by December 17th. That's not going to happen. However, I have a feeling that it might get done before my spring semester begins.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day #300: A Geo-Political Side Note

Let's stop giving them power by calling them Terrorists. They fill me with anger not terror.

Let's take off the "T" and call them Errorists because once they get to the afterlife they will realize they have made a serious error.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day #299: Let's Stop Killing Each Other, Shall We?

Dear Extremists,

You don't scare me. Whether you are an overly/underly medicated mentally ill lone wolf, an government-hating/abortion clinic attacking murderer, or a radicalized Islamic terrorist who is not only taking lives but inspiring more prejudice against peaceful Muslims -- you might fire a lot of bullets -- but you will not thwart our love for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are millions of Americans and billions of like-minded world citizens who value justice, compassion, and community.

We will persevere.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Day #298: Inking While Binge Watching

Sometimes my work on Duck Town is rather mindless. Once I have done the preliminary penciling, then it's time for the inking process, not to mention a whole lotta lettering.

That's when I need something to listen to. Sometimes that's music, and sometimes that's having Netflix on in the background.

This semester I finished watching the entire series of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Then I moved onto the latest (available) season of The Walking Dead...

and now, the family and I are hooked on MASH reruns.

We broke away from regular cable about two years ago, and we've been loving Netflix ever since!

What have you been Binge Watching lately?  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Day #297: Bullshot Crummond

Oh, did I mention I auditioned for a play?

It's called Bullshot Crummond and I happily landed a role in which I play seven different characters.

This will be my first play since last year's The 39 Steps, and my fellow cast members Tyler Joy and Chris Flowers will be returning with me.

I'm so excited -- yet nervous -- especially since I've already misplaced my script! So much for learning my lines ahead of schedule!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Day #278 - #296: Finishing Strong

Well, I guess November was my time to take a break away from blogging. As I indicated in the previous post (from over two weeks ago) I've been putting my nose to the grindstone at work, so there's been very little time to focus on creative projects.

However, I'll do my best to articulate what I've been up to this month.

  • Hamilton - the original Broadway Cast Recording. Musically, this double album has consumed my life since my birthday. 
  • I finished the big stack of argument essays. Now I'm waiting for final exams.
  • Family time... we have been enjoying the holiday season. (Oh, and my mom visited!)
  • Friendship time... we've been reconnecting with our friends in Orange County. Joel bought us tickets to an Escape Room! And Joshua and I are getting very excited about the new Star Wars.
  • Walking time... Since the beginning of November, we have been walking the dogs around the neighborhood. It's a four mile hike (ruffly), and the dogs are constantly annoying me in new ways, but Cheri and I still have a good time.
  • Drawing time... Yes, I have managed to carve out some creative time... I'm not going to meet my self-imposed deadline (to finish by Dec 18th) but I might be able to finish before the spring semester begins. 

Oh, and we had a lovely Thanksgiving at Joel and Elysia's home. The Eklund's stopped by in time for desert. Fun and food was had by all.

As the title of this blog post suggests, I am planning on finishing strong -- meaning that this December I will double my effort, posting everyday, and pushing one last time to reach my extra income goal. I'm probably not going to make it, but I've been having fun trying.

Hope your holidays are joyous, and that 2015 is finishing strong for you as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day #276 - #277: The Semester Home Stretch

Ten days have emerged and faded since last I posted a blog. This lapse is partly due to my slacker ways -- and partly due to the fact that I'm in the trenches of essay-land. I've almost dug my way out of the pile. (Sorry to mix metaphors.)

November finds me focusing on the job of being an English teacher and a productive faculty member who dutifully attends curriculum meetings (in which I do my best to pretend I am a grown up).

Very little creative work has been accomplished in the last ten days. Every once in a while, I sketch some of the Duck Town characters, just so I stay in practice.

A few interesting details in my personal life (which I am writing down more for me than for you, dear reader...)

  • my daughter Emily turned 14
  • my mother visited us during Halloween (and now she's visiting us this weekend as well)
  • I hurt my wife's feelings, sincerely apologized, and I still feel quite guilty
  • I've been reading Don Quixote for World Literature
  • my daughter Mackenzie went to work with me on Wednesday
  • her visit made me reminded me that I am an untidy slob (mostly my car, but partly my office.)
  • I finished watching the complete series of Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • I might be working on a holiday themed radio play
  • I went to the dentist for a cleaning, and I'll need to return for a crown prep
  • I graded a ton of poetry essays
  • my daughter Mackenzie turns 17 tomorrow
Oh, I received a royalty check from Amazon Publishing for $104... so that means we get to slightly raise the challenge total! 

Challenge Total Update: $9861.70

With a little luck, we'll reach $10,000 by Jan 1st. (That's only the halfway point -- but that's a lot more than farther than I ever imagined I would get!) 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day #266: Only 99 Days Left! (Challenge Update!)

Well, I haven't created a blog entry for every single day, in fact, October has been a slacker month, but I have managed to continually think about my $20,000 goal.

At the beginning of this personal challenge to increase my income and pay off those pesky credit cards, I had originally imagined that I would be creating or building something to sell online, or perhaps get into buying and selling things on Ebay or Etsy. Those ideas quickly devolved into failed attempts followed by inaction... However, I did redouble my efforts to write some good stories for my agent to sell, so I've made progress in that arena.

I don't know if I'll be able to complete the goal, but I've managed to get nearly halfway there. During the last couple weeks some more royalty checks have come trickling in. I earned $40 for a new article for Pioneer Drama Service. I also received a royalty check from Brooklyn Plays -- most of which goes into the checking account -- but $34 goes toward my goal.

Here are the updated challenge total results:

Last Week: $9,683.70

Updated Challenge Total: $9757.70

Day #265: Happy Halloween!!!

I've always loved Halloween... (What kid doesn't love wearing costumes and getting free candy?)

But for over a decade now, this holiday means even more to me because it's the birthday of my second child, Emily.

She's fourteen years old today! But here's a photograph of when she was my little pumpkin...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day #264: The Joy of Half Baked Ideas

So I've been waiting for the next BRIGHT IDEA to hit me... As I may have mentioned before, writing a picture book is not as easy as you would think. When I first started writing them, I thought to myself, "I could write one a day! After all, they are only 500 to 1500 words. How hard could it be to come up with a dozen each month."

Turns out, it's really hard... For me at least. That is to say, it's not hard to generate a lame picture book, and sometimes it's easy to come up with a mediocre picture book, but writing a GREAT PICTURE BOOK is the opposite of easy.

When I do stumble upon a bright idea, I have to let it settle in my brain for a while. The story idea marinates in my mind. That's what happened with my dinosaur book. I developed an early draft in 2013... I knew that I like the beginning and the end, but the middle was all mushy and messed up. The form wasn't right (at the time the only character who spoke was the bellhop). The draft was half-baked. So I let it cook for a while... And I was never sure that I was ever going to revisit the idea. But about six months later, while attending Eugene Yelchin's lecture at the 2014 SCBWI conference, he said something that made everything click. I suddenly realized the right form, the right structure for the story, and then all of the missing elements soon appeared. The writing process from that point was easy... But only after all of those months of head scratching and paper crumpling.

So, I keep track of my half-baked ideas... Today, I made a list to organize the half-bakers. I thought I just had a few floating around, it turns out I have a total of ten... And, as if by magic, the tenth half baked idea on the list started to rise... It's now fully baked, and it's ready for me to devour. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day #263: Enjoying the Calm Before the Storm

This week has felt so good because I dug myself out from the avalanche of essays. The respite will not last forever. This coming Tuesday, I'll receive a bunch of World Lit essays, and by November 11th I'll be wading through a ton of Poetry and Argument essays. But for now I have spare time, and I've been making the most of it... Spending time with my family, and spending time in
Duck Town, both lovely places to be. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day #262: Original Artwork!

Cheri and I purchased an original painting by our friend (and Canyon Theatre Guide superstar) John Alexopoulos.

It's his re-imagining of Disney's
Haunted Mansion -- one of the rides Cheri once worked on, way back in our Disneyland days.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day #261: A New Spielberg Movie!

It feels so good to be alive in the Age of Spielberg. In just a matter of days, a new film by the world's greatest director will be in theaters, and I plan to watch it opening night.

It's called
Bridge of Spies. So far, all I know about it is that it stars Tom Hanks, and that it deals with the U2 fiasco (the airplane, not the band!) And that's a part of history I don't know very much about, so I'm excited to watch and learn. (I know -- learning about the past by watching movies isn't the best way to educate oneself -- but it's entertaining!) 

Update: I didn't watch Bridge of Spies on opening night, because I decided to wait for the rest of my family. (Wasn't that hospitable of me?) In short, it's a great film... for some reason it feels like a really good companion piece to Catch Me If You Can. 

If you haven't seen Tom Hank and Jimmy Fallon performing scenes written by elementary school children, then please, by all means, check this out... 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day #246 - #260: A Serious Lapse in Blog Posts

Strange, in my last blog post -- two weeks ago -- I reported very good news. So, one would think that it would rejuvenate my efforts and that I would easily post at least one blog a day.

However, that has not been the case. Although I am beyond excited to report that my fourth picture books, MR. COMPLAIN TAKES THE TRAIN, has been sold that doesn't mean I get to quit my day job...

And this time of year my day job is pretty darn busy. I've had stacks and stacks of essays to grade... so pretty much my routine has been to wake up, drive to work, teach class, attend various meetings, drive home, dine with the family, transport the girls to karate (or academic activities), grade papers, go to sleep.

During the last three weekends, it's pretty much been a combination of quality time with the family interrupted by a bunch of midterms.

So, that's it -- my lame excuse for why I haven't been blogging on a daily basis. The good news is that I finally waded through a wave of essays, and there won't be any more papers to grade until November 10th... so I've got about two weeks in which my schedule won't be as hectic.

Here's what I've been working on this weekend:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day #245: Challenge Total Update - Big News!!!

Contracts have not been signed yet, nor have checks been sent... But I am going to unofficially announce that I have gained some serious ground on my one-year goal to generate an extra $20,000 of additional income.

I cannot divulge all of the details at this time, but I can say that my agent sold my fourth picture book. That's right... Picture Book #4!!!

That means that I've sold the following...

  • "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? Or, a History of Messy Rooms" (2011 - Tricycle / Random House)
  • "Around the World in a Bathtub" (2016? - Charlesbridge)
  • "There's a Dinosaur on the 13th Floor" (2016? or 2017? - Candlewick)
  • Mystery Book #4 (Title and info to be disclosed at a later date)

Because my agent procured a generous advance from the publishing house, I am able to bump up my challenge total more than tenfold. Are you ready?

The new challenge total is: $9,683.70

Hooray! Here's to setting goals...

Of course, I'm a little less than halfway there... and I've got about 100 days left. Can I do it?

Day #244: "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast" - Behind the Scenes

Normally my plays are performed and produced by middle schools and high school drama departments. Often this results in a low budget production, mainly because we don't spend enough money funding the arts in public education! (Okay, I'll get off my soap box now.)

Every so often, a community or regional theater will select one of my plays. This is always exciting because these groups typically have a little more funds and I'm always anxious to see what they'll create.

About five years ago, the San Carlos Children's Theatre put on a production of my comedy, "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast." They didn't film the show (that's against copyright laws) but they did film a lot of behind the scenes material. The result is a glimpse at a lot of young performers having a great time....

Whether it's regional, professional, community, or educational... I am honored when any group chooses one of my plays. It's great and humbling knowing that at any given moment, someone is working on one of my plays.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day #243: The Library of Babel (Mind-Blown Part Two)

So, after learning about this website called the Library of Babel, I immediately raced for the internet and began examining the site.

It doesn't claim to have an infinite amount of books. But it does apparently run on an algorithm that has the potential to generate billions (maybe trillions???) of randomly assembled pages.

One might think this would be a novelty, but for me I spent the first ten minutes mesmerized and then soon become overwhelmed with an unspeakable, existential dread. (I hate it when that happens.) I mean, how weird is it to believe that a labyrinthian web page is hiding every possible page within its codes. That means there are limitless versions of Harry Potter Book 8. There's the inaugural speech of Abraham Lincoln, as well as some president in the future who has yet to be born. It's all in there (so the webmaster would have us believe), but finding it is like finding a needle in a billion haystacks.

Fortunately, the next day I decided to listen to the original short story that started this delirium. "The Library of Babel" is written by Jorge Louis Borges... and it's the sort of awe-inspiring sci-fi magic realism that I should read much more often.

Here's a nice reading if you've got 20 minutes to spare...

The story soothed my soul because it was filled with hapless librarian who felt even more crestfallen than little old me. Their fictional struggle with hope and futility eased my uneasiness. Knowing that they are somewhere in an imaginary universe endlessly wandering through an eternal library of mostly nonsensical books allowed me to quickly end my quest and leave the Babel website behind.

(The last thing I need is another obsession!)

Day #242: Mind Blown -- Thanks V-Sauce

My daughters have influenced me in many ways, not the least of which has been their taste (and subsequently my taste) in YouTube videos. They watch a lot of really cool people. Including the teams of energetic and ingenious film makers who create a show called V-Sauce.

Mackenzie was talking about a particular episode in which a particular website is described. She claimed that the website contained every book ever written, and every book that could ever be written. I basically said, "Nuh-uh," and she replied "Yuh-huh!"

Here's the video in question, and it discussed that certain amazing website...

Watch it and we'll have more to discuss...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day #241: Ugh... This Book...

I pointed this book out to my wife when we were at Barnes and Noble. I told her, "Oh, stay away from this book -- it's got some of my writer friends obsessed with turning their homes upside down and getting rid of lots of stuff."


My wife and I are sitting on the living room floor, going through our DVD collection. Now I must justify why I want to keep my VHS copy of Gremlins 2.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Day #240: I Miss "Time Trippers"

Emily and I have been talking nostalgically about an old project of ours: Time Trippers. Well, it's not just ours. Emily was one of the stars and I was the writer, but the cast and crew was pretty huge, including the director co-creator John Medlen.

Mr. Medlen is not only a fellow home school dad and lover of the Canyon Theatre Guild (we met during the show A Little Princess) he's also a stunk coordinator. He's worked on tons of shows and movies. In fact, that's why we had to stop making Time Trippers. Vampire Academy hired him, so he moved to Atlanta for a couple years.

Never heard of Time Trippers? Well then check it out now:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day #239: Multi-Party Day

This Saturday the family and I spent most of our time driving from one festivity to the next. Some of them were friendly gathering involving the whole family, and a couple of them were birthday parties in which Mackenzie and Emily were invited.

All in all, it was a festive, care-free day. I like these kind of days. And I love lazy days with my family.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Day #238: Return of the Cankersores!!!

I did a quick search on my blog, and back in May 2015, I was blogging about the painfulness of cankersores on my tongue.

Fortunately I think I was canker-free throughout the summer. However, this week they've come back. One was on the top of my tongue, and that wasn't too annoying... but a new one formed underneath my tongue, close to the tip... and it's a little patch of hell in my mouth.

Why hasn't anyone found a cure for these darn things?

(Note: I just looked online, and apparently a study in Saudi Arabia suggests that honey will alleviate the pain. Sounds too good to be true, but guess what I'm trying when I get home?!)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day #237: Good News, Bad News

The good news is... the semester is flying by and I'm grading lots of papers -- somewhat painlessly -- which means that in no time December 18th (Star Wars 7 Day!) will be here.

The bad news: production on Duck Town has moved to a snail's pace. Very little drawing is being done during the week. During the weekend, I produce about one or two pages a day. That's not enough to meet my deadline!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day #235: A Lot of Maybes

As you may or may not know, my agent recently submitted my fourth picture book to fifteen different editors. After a couple weeks, one editor has fallen in love with it (hooray!) and at least three editors have said "thanks but no thanks."

But we've also received several in between responses. A couple definite maybes. What do I mean? Well, I used to think that if an editor liked your book then they would offer you a contract. Unfortunately, things aren't that simple in the world of publishing. The editor must LOVE the project, first and foremost, and then must decide if the book is the right fit. (Maybe there's something too similar... Or maybe the topic isn't marketable enough...)

If an editor loves it and believes the book is a good match for their house, then it usually goes to an editorial board -- sometimes it's passed along to marketing, publicity, lawyers, etc... And then finally it gets approved by the head honcho, using the companies publisher, vice president and/or president. 

It reminds me of this guy: 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day #234: I Hate Plagiarism

I was grading narrative essays today, and I came across an essay that incorporated a whole bunch of research without any citations. That's right, it was supposed to be a a personal narrative, but the student decided to copy and paste sentences from other sources and claiming it as her own. 

I catch at least one plagiarist every year. Not a semester has gone by without someone cheating. Oh well, maybe 2016 will be a plagiarism free year?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day #233: New Monologue Videos

I'm always flattered when people choose my monologues... and even more gratified when they post a video to help spread the word about my plays.

Here's one of my recent favorites:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Day #232: Star Wars Dreams

I keep having dreams with a recurring theme... I am at the theater getting ready to watch the new Star Wars movie. The events in the dream vary, but what remains the same is that I am having a disappointing / frustrating experience. Sometimes the movie won't play. Sometimes I don't even make it to the theater (the hallway is like a labyrinth that leads back to the lobby).

I'm still in shock that George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney. There's a lot that could go wrong with the new movies, but because I didn't expect any more films after the prequels, I look at the approach of episode seven as an unexpected gift.... At the very least, the title is awesome!

At least I try to look at it that way. I guess I'm a little worried that something will happen that will somehow ruin the way we look at the original trilogy (sort of how the Phantom sequel tampers with my enjoyment of the original musical). 

Oh, sorry, I started talking about Phantom of the Opera, please don't confuse my reference to the Phantom Menace. 

Is that enough nerdiness for now? I thought so. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day #231: The Tao of Picture Books

In my World Lit class, we've been reading the Tao Te Ching by Laozi. I told my students, we will be learning about the Tao by not learning about the Tao. Instead of a typical lecture, we went outside and wrote Renga (collaborative poems).

The Tao (or the Way) asks one to empty his mind. I find that very difficult to do. I've noticed that I spend much of my day looking for my next idea. The problem is, I'm too busy searching to make a discovery.

I'm going to spend this weekend letting go of the desire to come up with the next big idea... I might even try to meditate. (Do naps count as meditation?)

Hey, speaking of picture books and Taoism, have you ever read this? 

It's awesome!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day #230: The Work Cycle

During the summer, I had a certain schedule that I developed in order to be as productive as possible.

But now that I'm back to work, there's a new schedule that's developing:

1) Wake up too darn early

2) Drive to work

3) Teach

4) Attend meetings and/or office hours

5) Drive home

6) Grade papers

7) Drive children to and from karate

8) Watch an episode of MASH on netflix

9) Try to draw ducks

10) Go to sleep

Repeat Monday through Thursday... (until Christmas!)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Day #229: A Haze of Papers

Once again, the semester is underway, and I'm buried beneath a slew of essays. They are narrative essays, so at least they are more enjoyable than a batch of research papers.

I have not been working on Duck Town as much as I would like to... Starting to fall behind on my schedule!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day #228: Wade 1, Rejection 3

Today we heard back from two more places. They passed on the book, but wished us well in finding a home.

The cool thing is, no matter how many rejections we get from this point on, it doesn't matter because we received that one glorious "yes."

Still, it's exciting to know that more responses will be coming in tomorrow. When Abi sold Book #3 last year, we had two offers -- so there was a little bit of bidding back and forth... Maybe it will happen again? If not, that's fine by me. I don't like being fought over!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Day #227: Wade 1, Rejection 1

Big, huge, enormous, fantastic news!

You may recall that last week I mentioned that Picture Book #4 had been sent out into the world -- specifically to 15 different editors-- guided by my incredibly talented and intelligent agent, Abigail. About ten days passed by in virtual silence, and then Book #4 finally received its first rejection (which I also blogged about). That wasn't surprising or disappointing since rejection is all part of the writing business. However, the rejection did make me steel myself for an onslaught of more rejections.

That's why I was so surprised when Abi told me that Book #4 has an offer. The second response is a big fat wonderful YES.

It's funny. When I am waiting for a response, I become addicted to email -- I'm like Gollum pawing over his ring, except instead of a piece of Mordorian jewelry, I'm hovering over my keyboard constantly refreshing the screen. And when my agent's email actually arrived -- even though it's exactly what I had been hoping for -- it was hard to accept the good news as reality.

You might be thinking, "Gosh, Wade... This isn't your first book sale. Why so much euphoria?" My explanation would be that each book is its own challenge. So far, writing picture books doesn't get easier -- the ideas don't magically appear on the page. It takes a lot of work, a lot of creativity, and a lot of failures and revision sessions. So, yes, I'm euphoric... And nervous and excited and curious to see what my next book will be... because I haven't a clue as to what is in store for Book #5... but I can't wait to find out.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day #226: My Thumbelina Play

So excited that a children's theatre troupe in Boca Raton had a great two week run with my children's play, Thumbelina. This show for actors of all ages was originally performed by the Canyon Theatre Guild, and I'm so glad it continues to grow.

Based upon the photos on their website, it looks like Sol Children's Theatre has produced the best version yet!

Little known fact about the rodent with the hat... His name is Jack, and he is inspired by Jack Bauer from the tv series 24. In that show, Jack Bauer is a field agent. In my show, Jack is a field mouse.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Day #225: "Camp Omigosh" Featured in Middle Shelf Magazine

I am thankful and proud to be a friend of author/editor Laurisa White Reyes. She not only helped bring Camp Omigosh to life, she has featured it in Middle Shelf magazine, along with a wonderful interview with Matt Easterbrook, the illustrator of the book's cover.

Follow think link to read the magazine -- it's free!

Middle Shelf Magazine 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day #224: Duck Town & Instagram

I've been keeping track of my producktivity... (see what I did there?)

I started making the list on August 23rd. Since that time I have illustrated and inked, 23.5 pages. That means I'm illustrating an average of one and a half pages per day. I'd like to bump that up to two pages a day. However, this coming week the student essays will be flodding my desk. It will be a challenge to get anything creative done!

By the way, I'm on Instagram now. I don't post as often as I'd like... but I do put up some artwork now and then. Here's a glimpse:

If you want to follow my on instagram, my username is: 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Day #223: Thank You, Van Wert CivicTheater!

I recently discovered that Van Wert Civic Theater, the group who produced and directed the world premeiere of the stage play version of Camp Omigosh, has chosen another one of my scripts.

This months they mounted a production of my one act comedy: "The Actor Games."

It's an honor whenever anyone decides to take on one of my plays... But when they actually choose to return to my work once again, it's one of the greatest feelings a playwright can experience.

Thank you!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Day #222: Rejection 1, Wade 0

All right, the first response to my latest picture book submission has arrived.

And it's a "no thank you." The response was friendly, but the editor explained that the book was too similar to another project (theirs takes place on a bus, mine takes place on a train). She did say something positive: she likes stories with curmudgeon characters.

Fourteen more responses to go. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Day #221: Pushing Myself

So, I have completed the second week of the semester. During the first week, I did not find the time to ink a single picture of "Duck Town." I was disappointed in myself. After all, awesome authors such as Ellen Hopkins are able to raise children, run a household, travel to book signings, and yet they still manage to write everyday.

So during the second week, I've been pushing myself. I'm trying to get two pages illustrated each day. I'm keeping track of my progress with an artistic chore list which I have posted on my office door. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day #220: Teaching World Literature

I am teaching five classes this semester. The most unusual one of the bunch is my Tuesday / Thursday class: Masterpieces of World Literature. 

So far, it's wonderfully refreshing. Students in a typical English 1A class are often unsure of their writing abilities and critical thinking skills. But my World Lit class is full of confident, productive students who (so far at least) love to read deeply.

I set up a Facebook page to post lots of cool links. If you want to learn about a wide variety of ancient texts, come and visit us on Facebook! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Day #219: One Picture Book VS. 15 Editors

So, my fourth picture book is in the hands of fifteen different publishing houses. The last time I had a book so widely solicited it resulted in a small bidding battle between two publishers... And that book was ultimately sold to Candlewick!!! Needless to say, I'm very interested in seeing what will happen with Book #4.

Keep your fingers crossed and soon as I get a response from one of the fifteen, I'll post information on the blog. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Day #218: Little Writing Projects

It's funny how little writing projects can turn into a big detour. Right now, I'm trying to focus on two things: work and Duck Town. (And you can guess which of the two is my favorite.)

However, not long ago I said that I'd write a little article about children's theater... Should be easy... But I keep getting writer's block! 

Then, one of my play publishing companies asked me to write a pair of monologues... I keep meaning to do it, but every time I sit down to write it, the words don't come. I really just want to develop the graphic novel -- but then I think about these little commitments I've made, and I just get stuck. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Day #217: Camp Omigosh Needs Campers

Right now, my book
Camp Omigosh isn't selling very many copies. It's my own fault. When the book was first released, lots of friends, family, and a few fans bought hard covers. But a month later I was doing zero publicity, and now it's been out a whole summer and I'm still not doing anything to generate momentum.

The thing is, I've moved onto other projects, mainly my graphic novel "
Duck Town." The semester has begun, I've got five classes, and very little free time. I've chosen to use my free time focusing on "Duck Town." I hope this isn't a mistake. Camp Omigosh still needs love. It needs to have more proofreading to weed out the last of the typos. And it needs to have an audience, which means I need to invest time and maybe some money so that the book can gain more attention.

On the plus side, Laurisa White Reyes has featured the cover on Middle Shelf, so that's cool! 

Day #209 - 216: Work and Loneliness

Let's do another flash forward to catch things up.

If I was more ambitious, I would try to tediously go through each day during my first week of school, but instead allow me to summarize:

My family went to Hawaii for a one week vacation. I stayed home in the sweltering heat and taught my first week of fall semester.

I did not work on Duck Town. I spent most of my time at home prepping for classes, finalizing schedules, and proofreading curriculum.

Yeah, I was lonely, but time went by quickly. The dogs kept me company. The worst thing has been the heat. Our house is way too hot. Blah!

Fortunately, after my family returned from their tropical paradise, I managed to return to my creative life, so Duck Town is in production once again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day #208: Big News! Illustrator for "Around the World in a Bathtub"

Yes, it's official... Charlesbridge has asked the incredible artist Micha Archer to illustrate my picture book, Around the World in a Bathtub, and she has accepted!

Based upon her previous work, she seems like the perfect choice. Check out some of her images:

I'm not sure what the release date of the "Bathtub" book is... but as soon as I find out, I'll let you know! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Day #207: Back to School - Fall 2015

I just finished teaching my second day of classes, meaning that I have officially met each of my students, and so the semester is underway.

I love teaching, but it's going to be a challenge to be a full-time instructor and remain on task creatively. For the second day in a row, I haven't produced any new pages of Duck Town!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Day #206: Book #4 Begins Its Journey

I believe I've mentioned a little bit about my most recent picture book... I'm calling it Book #4 (for now) and hopefully more will be revealed about the title in the near future. I am hoping that it will follow in the footsteps of its siblings (Why Do I Have to Make My Bed, Around the World in a Bathtub, and There's A Dinosaur on the 14th Floor) and become a real live book -- you know, the way Pinocchio becomes a real live boy.

My wonderful agent sent the book to 15 different publishers on Friday, and so now I play the waiting game... And as we all know, according to Homer Simpson...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day #205: Strangers - A New One Act Play

Just sent the final draft of "Strangers" to Heuer Plays. This is one of my more personal stories, which is ironic since it's about two people who don't connect.

I'm very interested to see how schools and theater groups respond to my latest work. It should be available at www.hitplays very soon... I'll post think link as soon as it's available.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day #204: Saying Goodbye to Summer 2015

Ah, summer vacation... how did you go by so quickly? I tried to make those days of freedom last... But they flew on by. Fortunately, I had a lot of fun, and I accomplished quite a few things.

The whole family helped make West Side Story a hit show. Cheri won a Goldie for with direction, along with her partner Patti Finley. Mackenzie won for lighting design -- partnered with John Morris -- and Emily did a bang up job as the spotlight operator... And then she stepped in during the last weekend to become a Shark girl!!!

We put installed new flooring in Mackenzie's room, and we ordered new carpet for the stairs and second floor hallway. (Lucky for me, we had professionals do the install on that project!)

The girls and the Perry children went on an incredible spy adventure, that involved creepy villains and a drone attack.

We spent three weeks in
Washington state, including a surprisingly relaxing camping trip at Lake Chelan State park... Oh, did I mention I rode a wave runner for the first time?

When we returned to
California, I attended back to back conferences. The first was VidCon with the girls. The second was the SCBWI conference, which I'll probably spend the rest of the year blogging about, bit by bit.

All in all, an awesome summer that flew by way too fast. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Day #203: Countdown to Star Wars: Episode Seven

It's hard for me to explain how much I love Star Wars. I'll try. First let me say, that I may not be the number one fan in comparison to people who stand in line for months or dress up in an authentically designed Stormtrooper uniform. At the same time, I feel like a huge fan because the movies bring me so much joy. When I was a little kid they made me feel like a Jedi Knight, and now that I'm an adult the movies make me feel even better than a Jedi Knight, they make me feel like a kid again.

I even liked the prequels. Actually, although they aren't nearly as awesome as the original trilogy, I loved the prequels. I think the reason there were so many haters is that many of those so called fanboys became cynical and overly-critical as they got older... And whatever child-like wonder they had for the original wasn't dwelling within them by the time The Phantom Menace came out.

Hopefully the new movies will be at least as good as the prequels. Part of me is worried that the movies will be slick, polished, nicely paced -- like an Avengers movie -- but will ultimately be empty and soulless, lacking the weighty mythical qualities of the first six movies. That's only a bit of the worry -- I fear that the movie will lack the things I admire, but that all of the FANBOYS will LOVE the J.J. Abrams version. (I'm not too pleased with what Abrams did to Star Trek... Those movies are fun to watch and then after they are done, there's nothing to think about. It's like McDonald's French Fries, they taste good if you consume them while their fresh and you don't think about what they're made of.)

Despite these fears (which are just part of the fun and anticipation), I am counting the days until Episode 7. I am so happy to have been born in the early 1970s, so that I have experienced the original as a child, the prequels as a young adult, and the upcoming sequels as a father.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Day #202: My New Daily Routine

I'm still processing the many lessons I've learned from this year's SCBWI conference. I plan to distill many of those lessons in future blog posts -- though to be perfectly honest I think I say that every year and have yet to deliver,

However, I did take away one clear message that was delivered again and again, one keynote speaker after the next. The message is simple:

Do the work.

Some of the authors and illustrators have been putting in the work for years, getting up early and staying up late, all the while constantly honing their craft. I've certainly put in my 10,000 hours, but that doesn't mean I'm a master. I've got to double my efforts, especially now since I have two projects in the works. I want to turn the two into four, eight, and beyond.

So, how do I plan to apply this lesson to my life? I'm dedicating my mornings and or evenings to
Duck Town. I am planning to draw and ink at least a page and a half everyday from now until December 18th, the day Star Wars: Episode Seven opens.

Wish me luck... Or should I say, wish me duck. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day #201: Dummy Completion!

After a long and productive day (in no small part due to my darling wife's support) I finished drawing and inking the second half of "Goats in Coats on Boats." I'm happy with the results. The art isn't great, but I think the story is pretty funny. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone important at the conference will read it and fall in love with it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Day #200: Developing a Picture Book Dummy

During the next few days I will be printing highlights from the first chapter of Duck Town. I went to Staples, but the color was a little bit wonky.

So, I'm headed to Office Depot... I've had better luck there when it comes to color printing. I am also trying to create a full length picture book dummy of my story: "Goats in Coats on Boats."

Here's a sneak preview:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day #199: Royalty Checks

Call me a Scrooge McDuck, but I love dollar signs -- especially when I see them in the mail attached to one or more royalty checks.

Three arrived on one day. One of them (the smallest at a modest $240) is from I no longer write articles for them, but I am thankful that I still receive residuals for the many blog entries, monologues, and essays I've written for them over the years.

The other checks were from my favorite play publishing companies: Heuer and Eldridge. The Heuer check was in the mid 2000s, which is about 1000 less than previous years. It seems the ten minute plays aren't selling as frequently as they used to.

The Eldridge check was above average, thanks mostly to The Actor Games, but also in part due to Camp Omigosh which received six productions in its first year.

For those of you keeping track of my $20,000 challenge, know that these royalty checks don't go toward that challenge. (Unfortunately!)

They are already calculated into our regular income. If I want to reach my goal, I need to do something besides writing plays!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Day #198: It's Too Darn Dry!

I miss the rain so much! Right now, the California drought continues. but we aren't the only ones who are hurting. When I was up in Washington it rained only once! (And that was in the middle of the night when we we in a tent and Emily had to throw up!) The grass in my mother's yard has tuned yellow. 

That just shouldn't happen in Washington state! (Go away, climate change!) At least Washington has cooler summers, though, and lots of lakes and rivers. 

The desert of Southern California really gets me down this time of year. It makes me daydream about moving back to the Pacific Northwest. It's hard to be creative when you're sticky from sweat.

Day #197: Getting an Awesome Illustrator

It looks like Charlesbridge may have selected an illustrator for my picture book, Around the World in a Bathtub. Nothing is definite, no contracts have been signed, but with a little luck my tale of bath time rituals around the globe will be illustrated by someone who creates beautiful art such as this...


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Day #196: Countdown to SCBWI Conference

We're back from VidCon. The girls didn't want it to end, and I totally understand. That's how I feel about the SCBWI conference.

This afternoon and evening I focused on coloring the remaining images of Duck Town -- Chapter One. It's now a race against the clock to see if I can produce enough polished material to warrant entering the portfolio showcase.

I think I'll be able to have the lettering down for all of the word bubbles, but I was also hoping to have one or two picture book dummies...

On top of the rush to finish, there's also the nagging feeling that I just don't belong in the showcase. My work is very amateurish in comparison to 99% of the entrants -- and I don't want to embarrass myself or my agent.

On the other hand, my experience with SCBWI over the years has been nothing but friendly and encouraging.

And, my goal isn't to show off my art but to show off my concept for Duck Town. Speaking of which, I better stop blogging and get back to the drawing board!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Day #195: Biting Off More Than I Can...


I couldn't even finish the title of this blog post.

That's how much work I've given to myself by signing up as an illustrator for the upcoming SCBWI conference. I actually believed that it would be feasible to create enough professional looking illustrations to put together a portfolio.


Day #194: Duck Town - World Building

A large portion of my trip to Washington involved me sitting around my Mom's house working on my graphic novel, Duck Town. I've been going through the painstakingly slow process of coloring the black and white images.

(Actually, I don't think this would be painstaking if it was done by a person more skilled than me.)

Here's a glimpse at Duck Town in color!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Day #193: Vacationing in my Home Town

Let me tell you about my trip to Washington state. The family and I (including two dogs and a bunny) drove up north, two days before the Fourth of July.

I guess the only thing I want to talk about today is how much I am in love with the natural surroundings of the Pacific Northwest.

The trees are hypnotically beautiful. I have loved the green of Washington ever since I was a child -- the golf course of my youth instilled the love of greenery.

But as a 43 year old, the peaceful, blissful realm of Camano Island replenishes my soul.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day #192: Back on the Board

I totally forgot to mention this. I'm once again a board member for the Canyon Theater Guild. I'm looking forward to another three years of service with this creative and communal organization. 

I'm happy to be back, but I did want to return later on in my career, when I was filthy rich. That way, whenever I'm sitting at the board and people are discussing problems I could just take out my checkbook and provide the solutions with a few dollar signs and a whole lotta zeros.

Day #191: Challenge Total Update

I wish that this update would end with a new improved total, however my dollar amount has sadly not increased this last month.

Back in January I gave myself a goal to earn an additional $20,000. I am pathetically far away from that goal. More to the point, I'm apathetic about that goal. Around Christmas time I was stressing about spending too much money, and I was thinking about the girls' upcoming college tuition...

But during the past couple months I've been telling myself, "Don't worry, Wade, it'll all work out." The source of the trouble is my happiness. I've been in a really good mood this summer...

And it's hard to keep your nose to the grindstone when you're just so happy. Maybe I will get feisty again when the semester begins.

Anyway, so far I have reached this measly amount: $683.70

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day #190: VidCon Overview

So, what did we do at VidCon? We met and listened to a whole bunch of Youtube icons, including -- but not limited to the following:

Hank Green (we not only watched him present the opening ceremonies with his brother, but we also watched him in concert with the Perfect Strangers.)

Glozell Green ( no relation to John and Hank) who announced that she'll soon be a mother.

Wheezy Waiter -- aka Craig Benzine, one of the wittiest/smartest Youtubers I've seen. The guys from VSauce (probably even smarter than Wheezy)

Josh Sunquist -- with whom I briefly mentioned SCBWI. I hope he joins our organization because he's an inspiring author and teens love his work.
JacksFilms -- I was worried that this guy would be snarky with his fans, but he was awesome. According to Emily, he's the "most energizing Youtuber I met at VidCon."

Mackenzie and Emily also met lots of people, many of whom I'm a bit clueless about -- but the girls have really good taste in what they watch, and I have a feeling this time next year I'll be watching new people on my computer via osmosis.