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Archive for July, 2009

I’ll return to regular programming in a day or so…or after comic-con. The Health Care ‘debate’ really confuses me, as it seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors to defend particular players in an industry that is ripe for profit growth. Here’s some thoughts on the issue, I don’t know the answers, I don’t have a PHD in Health Economics and Societal Impact of Medical Industry Profits and Free Market Nirvana after all. Click on the images to see them larger and actually legible.

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Comic Con 2009

It’s almost the zero-hour. Time to dash for the open doors of Comic-Con. Nothing else quite like it. 3 days of wall-to-wall, kiosk-to-drawing board humanity. And dozens of wildly different height Star Wars Stormtroopers. I have a few surprises and I can’t wait to catch up with friends and see all the amazing work that usually leaves me grasping for extra dollars…also grasping for breath and a place to sit down and eat lunch.

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Look, I’m a sucker for slightly odd bottled drinks. Honest Tea, Numi teas, grape soda, blackberry soda, mango-banana-pineapple-tea, the infamous all cane sugar ‘Mexican’ Coke, the Kosher Coke and Pepsi.

I try to stay away from soda, but with a 3 year old, two dogs, a cat and freelance deadlines, and the fact I don’t like coffee – caffeine has to come into the picture from somewhere. So When I was walking the aisles of Market of Choice here in Portland and finally saw the Pepsi Natural I had read about. I picked up a 4 pack. A little more expensive then ‘regular’ soda but not as much as the premium ice teas.

I had the first one last night and I have to say, I was amazed at the difference. I literally had a flashback to my childhood. I didn’t get to drink soda often, usually on summer nights, but drinking this really  brought back memories of drinking Pepsi in these tall colored, plastic glasses (with a pebble-textured body – I can’t find an image online)  in the 197o’s and eating Old Dutch potato chips (which were the only brand of potato chips I knew about when I was a kid) . I had no idea that the taste of the soda I drink had changed that much through the years. And I am equally amazed at the vivid recall the drink had for me. I looked it up online and several other people report having very strong memory floods. I could even picture the color of the glasses, and the fact I always wanted the purple one. Something I haven’t thought about in years, or decades even.

I’m not saying go out and drink soda. It’s done a good job of helping ship my income to various dentists through the years. But I was amazed at the recall I had because of tasting soda that had the old fashioned unhealthy ingredients instead of the newfangled unhealthy ingredients.

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How many words SHOULD a picture book have? Obviously there is no RIGHT answer. Editorial and educational trends have sway as does the changing culture, for good and for bad.

I used to believe that the downsizing on the number of words in a children’s picture book is an unhealthy trend. Perhaps due to declining attention spans of children and lowered expectations from young readers. I moderated my thoughts appreciating that the visual culture we live in exudes ever greater power on children and many of the low word count books are destined for what I call VERY young readers. In past decades kids weren’t reading at the young ages they do now. It makes sense for 18 month olds to experience something different from what we expect to engage a 3 year old.

But I have developed new appreciation of low word count books, and perhaps it is because of parental low attention span. In my case a disorder  I have named- Too Tired To Read 4,000 Words (or TTTR4W).

With a daughter entering prime picture book age and weekly trips to the library scheduled for the next 4 years already, I have started to base book picks on the fact that the book doesn’t seem overwhelming to read at 8:00 every night when you put so much energy (a precious commodity by a Thursday night!) into getting your child ready to sleep and recharge (do kids really need to recharge?). The thought of a 4,000 word picture book is frightening!

Maybe it won’t be so scary to contemplate big word count books as my daughter gets older and reads on her own more and starts to pick literary directions that interest her. But I have developed a great love for picture books that have about 20 words on a page.

I love the bigger stories I grew up with (Except maybe Pokey Little Puppy…is that not the oddest story ever?!) and hope that as my daughter ages she will like longer Fairy tales and adventure stories. But that means I better build up my energy. It’s far easier to find where you were when you fall asleep reading a 32 page picture book then a 128 page adventure story.

I am crafting most of my new manuscripts to fall in the 300 – 800 word range. It’s a challenge. It’s frustrating as a writer to take on yet another editing goal. But the books appeal to me, they keep my daughters attention, and as an illustrator tend to offer even great freedom.

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Summer. It’s here. Work. Not getting done. Jobs. Piling up. Sun can be seen in the skies above Portland Oregon. (!!) Studio on third floor -VERY- hot. It’s tough to get through everything that needs to be done when summer hits.  Yard work, house work, picnics, trips to the Oregon coast, seeing family and friends, preparing for travel (Comic Con!) and freelance. The blog takes a back seat.

Here’s an image that will be part of a new shirt line I hope to announce shortly. I always thought aliens would be after the good stuff. Bakery! I will post soon about the other shirts and how you can find them, buy them. Use them. Abuse them. Cherish them. Love them. Wash them. Fold them. Shirt stuff.

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