Dilly Dally Daisy


I’ve just updated my website with info on my newest picture book – Dilly Dally Daisy. It will be released on July 28th by Dial Books for Young Readers.

Now you might ask, ‘Mark, where do you get your ideas?’ With this book there is no doubt where I received my inspiration. My 8 year old daughter.

One of my weekly duties is to take my daughter and her friend to swim team practice. That’s why the book is dedicated to them.

But I also know who she inherited her dilly dallying from. It can take me an entire morning to get my wash done and entire days pass while I run from one distraction to another.

Dilly Dally Mark should be the title of my next book. But there’s so many other things I need to do first!


Self promotion

It’s summer so my blogging is paying the price and that’s alright. But these days one is supposed to never miss an opportunity to ‘engage’ your ‘readers’ or ‘fans’ or just people walking down the sidewalk that you can corner. (Such a Minnesota style snark.)

And this brings us to the topic of self promotion as it applies to kids book authors and illustrators. We all know a few stories on this subject that make our toes curl. This industry is certainly not as bad compared to the world of TV and music. But it seems some people are pushing us there.

And while I understand this is an insane, media saturated world – I’m not convinced that adding to that cacophony is a meaningful goal even while admitting that personal ego gratification is a ‘good high’.

Every published author or illustrator knows that publishers love you to stay busy in the social media. And while I certainly do promote myself on this blog, I had no such expectation that was the point of it when I started it many years ago.

The blog gives me a place to meander. And talk to myself. And yes, occasionally talk about what I am doing and experiencing. But I still feel no desire to be involved 24 hours a day. And I am loathe to publish too much about my life. But I feel guilty feeling this way. Thanks modern world!

I think I’m too old to enjoy telling everyone about my birthday or even announce a new book contract. I think the time to talk about books is when they are coming out, though I know this is not acceptable to many publishers as they want to build knowledge of your work as it progresses. But as my work progresses I’m actually pretty busy with the work. Which is, I think, the way it should be.

Well, summer is here in all it’s vampire killing glory. I thought I moved away from So Cal. We’re hotter here in Oregon than Pasadena for a week!

Happy summer!

The lions still impress me each time I visit the New York Public Library. For some odd reason they make me remember the giant Paul Bunyan statue in northern Minnesota when I was a child. You could sit on the statue and it would know your name and talk to you. This appearent miracle was actually a result of my folks paying a buck or two and spilling some life facts about me to the people ‘behind the curtain’. 

The Lions have never greeted me personally using my middle name. But I’m still holding out hope.



“I want to know what’s your favorite book that you have made?”


I get this question often. And it’s not easy to answer. I have a short answer, “When I work on a book, it usually takes quite a long time to finish it, so I become attached no matter how it does or what people think of it. I like all the books I’v done.”

But my real answer is that I do have favorites – but they are favorites for different reasons.

While Earthling! was a ton of work and I’m not likely to pursue a 260 page graphic novel again, it was a big story that I wrote and illustrated. It gave me the opportunity to take my characters on a very long adventure.

The Book That Eats People was the first ‘real’ picture book I illustrated and it is so zany that I still enjoy paging through it. I wish more picture books had this weird, subversive but innocent joy to them.

And a book like The Great Thanksgiving Escape means a lot to me because it was the first picture book I wrote and drew. It was great fun working with an editor who helped craft the story so my intentions were clear.

Each of the books have some aspect that keeps them near-and-dear to me. Some books are more work, because of revisions requested or perhaps I had a hard time figuring out how to solve the narrative issues. Sometimes an editor leaves in the middle of the process or the publisher decides to to take the book in an entirely new direction. This can cause frustration and insecurity, but you have to work through it. In the long run the negatives seem to fall away and I look on each book fondly because some aspect of making it involved a new challenge for me and the book is a physical reminder of the time I spent learning to overcome difficulties and execute my ideas as best I could.

I love writing and drawing. I feel very lucky to be doing it. I spent many years of my life in offices and cubicles. I didn’t dislike them and I very much enjoyed the people I worked with, many of whom became good friends, but the jobs didn’t engage me to the degree my job does now.

But most days I still have to pull myself into my office because I want to spend all day outside working on my yard, working in the garden. I just walked out to the front porch and immediately ran back inside because I knew if I spent one more moment out there I would start a project. I’d get my ‘outside’ boots on and find plenty of things to do on this beautifully day.

I think it best if I stay in pajamas and slippers thus making outdoor activities less socially hospitable in the neighborhood.

I am talking myself into sitting down and working. Keep the computer on. The cup of tea nearby. I learned a long time ago that in the commercial arts one can’t wait for INSPIRATION. Or a long wait you might have. Work gets done by sitting and doing it. And doing it agin.

So here I sit, willing myself to work.

I have 2 or 3 projects on my desk that need my time. Some new illustrations I’m very excited to start. Book revisions that need attention and no doubt – further revisions.

Maybe if I open my blinds and the window I will feel a better balance between my inside work that needs doing and my desire to be outside. Or will I let the computer sleep and reach for my outside shoes?

I am fascinated by the world of quantum physics and I love a good science fiction story so when my friend sent this article to me today I was thrilled to find out that, yeah, reality ain’t nothing until we observe/measure it.

The article looks at an experiment that seems to confirm some of the more unselling aspects of the universe.

From Deep Stuff’s since news: “The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.”

After reading the article I thought about how humans seem to have known this and have expressed it in art and literature for a long time. In fact, perhaps art is a human undertaking that acknowledges this fact in subtle and not so subtle ways.


Sample page from online illustrated short story.

I illustrated a favorite Franz Kafka short story a few years back. It’s called, A Common Experience Resulting in A Common Confusion. Have a look. It’ll only take a minute to read.


Look what I found! A bunch of 26 x 18 posters on my doorstep. It’s a fine message – but in the photo of the poster above you can hardly make out the little figure in the upper left who is busy reading (see close-up below).closeup.

Ahhhh, no it makes sense!

It’s a painting of mine I had started a long while ago, then I had an opportunity to design a poster – quickly. And I thought this worked.


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