National Mood


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Let’s get back to other matters…

The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Have you ordered your 15 copies yet? It’s not too late! Read it with your grandkids and kids. Forget about the troubles of the world. And when you find out how let me know.

Barnes & Noble



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“May you live in interesting times.”

No one ever said this would be easy. The whole of history says it will not be.

And I have no answers and am as interested in how this will work as the next person.

There was no promise that our generation would be free of confusion, strife and missteps. Or that Democracy always produces the best result. Only that we are all responsible for it. And it would be childish to believe that every few steps forward there might not be a step back.

Since the end of WWII which left this country as the sole intact industrial nation we have benefited from a wealth of natural resources and prosperity. That at this moment many feel we are at a low demonstrates not only the romanticized notion of what used to be but also an ungraciousness that borders on sickness.

But rain will fall again tomorrow. Decisions will have to be made and decisions have consequences some of which are not what we plan for or wish.

Perhaps this is a gift – to watch a true Shakespearean drama play out in our time. Personalities displaying their worst and perhaps, in time, their best.

I still trust good science to guide us. I think women are not just merchandise. I believe adults should be free to love who they wish and the country is strongest when people can choose or not, to believe in the God of their choice.

But these are not magical ideals handed down from high. They are fought for and sometimes lost when they are taken for granted.

There is only one way forward and that is the history of mankind. From fear and misunderstanding at lightning to harnessing the power of the atom for good and bad. From slavery and Monarchy to Parliaments and elections. From no rights, to natural rights to equal rights the direction is clear. Along the way we might backslide but still there is only one way forward. You just need to look backwards to see it clearly.

“May you live in interesting times.”

Posted in Blatherings, politics | 3 Comments

Another year of picture books…Yay or Nay?

Picture books are often amazingly exciting forms of fiction. But picture books are also odd beasts, as those of us involved in their creation know too well. Part poetry, part meditation, part joke, part cultural artifact and usually filled with emotion.

I’ve been paying special attention to them for 8-10 years now. Taking monthly strolls through bookstores, reading the stacks of them at my house, going to the library and looking at the new arrivals.

I’ve seen fads that fill shelves until it’s hard to breath when you walk through the bookstore – and just as quickly dissipate like breath on a freezing morning.

I’ve watched as kid’s TV shows storm their way into every publishing market possible (because we all know it’s so hard to get kids to watch TV) with add-ons and novelizations and repurposed animation art and I always ask myself, is there really enough money in that to make it worthwhile? Isn’t the TV show enough? But in this age, in this culture, we are taught that enough is never enough when there’s more. So be it.

And video game characters too…and let’s appreciate that for a moment. Licensing video game characters into the literary realm because again, we all know it’ so tough to get kids to pay attention to video games (I have a ten year old, I’m being sarcastic!)

And the response is always the same to these happenings, “At least it’s getting kids to read.”

I’ve seen trends they defy logic and surprises so grand they leave me thrilled to be a reader, even of books meant for 8 years olds.

Right now we have had a big run of books with jokes on last pages and of course ‘diaries’.

The ‘soap opera’ reimagined and reformed has found it’s audience!

At the Barnes & Noble recently they had 5-7 tables dedicated to Harry Potter merchandise in the kid’s book section.

They had dismantled the usual picture book table to hold various versions of the Harry Potter books that I didn’t know existed. Coloring books, graphic novel adaptations (!?), napkins…And I’m not complaining. More power to them that they have something to sell. I don’t let my love or hate of Harry Potter color my amazement at how many ways they have found to sell stuff with that branding. It’s almost like the books were crafted for this modern marketplace, again nothing wrong with that.

So as we enter 2017 I ask myself what’s next? I look through my picture book manuscripts in progress with eyes colored by more and more experience in the market and it’s more difficult than ever to find something new to talk about. The genres are established: ‘I want a pet’, ‘bath time’, ‘first day of school’, ‘two oddly paired animal friends’, ‘the I just want the election to be over with’ books…well that last one is more an internal issue for me right now…

I hope the new year finds me in higher spirits and provides opportunity to spend time listening to those things that can’t hardly be heard. The elements that haven’t formed together yet to create these monsters of genre and cliche. Something new, something exciting.



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It’s November. Time for a new website.

There is a NEW kid on the block. A shiny new website. Fancy mobile versions can be automatically generated and I can add to the portfolio as easily as I upload a picture of my breakfast to Facebook.

new_home will have a blog format in addition to the various sections. Most of my old website is there…How to Make A Graphic Novelmy books, a greatly expanded Portfolio section (as well as a link to my Behance portfolio, sort of the mothership of all my work available online) and information about having me appear (like magic!) at schools and libraries is also present.

Give the site a visit. There is a good chance that this blog may well go away in time and all my info will live on over at the website. But I’m not sure of that yet.


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Thanksgiving Shameless Self Promotion…

SSP (Shameless Self Promotion)…I’m on deadline but hey, here’s a reminder of a book that every American should buy. And maybe they should consider buying 2 copies each. Just in case one gets water damaged or the dog eats it.

The Great Thanksgiving Escape will, once again, be featured at story time in every Barnes & Noble in the USA on November 19th. Now I’m pretty sure that means they will also have copies of it for sale.  (Unless they removed all books other than various versions of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and James Patterson books)

And since one can never be sure if they will have the books in the store you can order from Barnes & Noble online or from some start-up I’ve never heard of called Amazon.

And no, this book isn’t about turkeys trying to get away. Well, I guess it kind of is…


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School Visits to Kennewick, WA

I spent a week visiting the schools in Kennewick Washington and the Tri-Cities area.

By the end of the week I had spoken to at least 1,800 students. Plus I did 6 workshops. It was a lot of fun but it was also exhausting. It’s a good thing I’m only 22 years old…

Janet Stevens, Daniel Kirk and Jeff Mack were also visiting schools so every primary and quite a few of the middle schools got a day long visit from an author/illustrator.

Of course I got to see a lot of great drawings in addition to meeting a lot of wonderful kids.

I scanned a few in and posted them below. There were so many wonderful drawings I could have picked any 5 to share. These were obviously inspired by aliensrobots, superheroesdilly dallying,  bad green beans and of course a very bad book!

Now I just need to catch up on my sleep!




Posted in Oregon, Portland Oregon, school visits | 3 Comments