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!