So I’m Writing a Picture Book

So I’m writing a picture book. I have no idea how to write a picture book, mind you, but I’m doing it. I sure have read a lot of picture books lately, though, as my kids are 1.5 and 4.5 years old. So I have that going for me, which is nice (said in my Bill Murray from Caddy Shack voice). The cool thing, though is how I came up with the idea.

We were sitting at the dinner table last night, tired from our trip to Philly area. I had just decided to skip my hockey game to help my wife with the kids (she looked exhausted) and was mentioning that my writing group meeting was next Monday. Here is some dialog between my daughter and I:

Daughter: Do you write at your writing group?
Me: (Pause) No, we talk about writing.
Daughter: Do you get to pick what you want to write about? (this is important to her, as she’s still miffed that my wife wasn’t able to choose what she painted on the community mural she worked on)
Me: Oh yeah, I can write about anything you want.
Daughter: What are some of your stories, Daddy?
Me: (another long pause trying to remember my stories. I haven’t written in a while): Well, there’s … and … and …
Daughter: Oh…

At this point I realized it really had been a while since I wrote anything. I also realized I was losing her. And so I started telling her a story, just off the top of my head. And you know what? The more I think about it, the more I think this would make a cute picture book.

Anyway, you never know where your writing ideas will come from or when. You just need to be ready to capture them when they do. This is the lesson for today. 🙂

Day in the Liff

Yesterday, I stayed home from work because my wife wasn’t feeling well. I have to say it was a pretty good, yet eventful, day.

The surprising part of the day was how long our daughter slept in. She finally awoke at 8:30, I believe, which is just shocking from the girl who I swear didn’t sleep through the night a single time for the first two years of her life. But there she was, walking down the stairs at 8:30 AM, her hair curly and cute, and a big smile on her face. Her locks even seemed a bit longer, somehow, as if even her follicles enjoyed the rest. Perhaps I should try that sometime.

I was sure she had slept long because she was sick, but thankfully she’s feeling great. So we did the whole breakfast thing, my wife and I got showers, we ate lunch, and then I drove my daughter to pre-school. I brought the son with me because he really wanted to tag along and also because he falls asleep in the car. That’s how we get him down for his daily nap (yep, I said daily – he only takes one nap a day).

After driving around for a bit, he finally fell asleep and I got him into his crib. Whew, I thought. Time for some me time. Time to play Donkey Kong Junior.

Well, the universe and the plug said no to me time. I put the plug in the wall and boom!, the thing sparked. Put a nice little smoke mark on my hand and on the side of the game (both easily washed off). I’m not sure what actually caused it, but I reinstalled the plug, just in case. Thank God for the circuit breaker in the basement.

As I was installing the plug, the son woke from his nap, of course, so I had to do the rest of that repair while he played with the keys to the coin door of the game. He loves keys. He could entertain himself with keys for hours.

After that it was off to pick her up at pre-school and then take her to dance. This little dance (he he he) that my wife does every Tuesday is much harder than what I had to do, as she does it with the two kids and no help. At least yesterday, one of us could watch the boy while the other got the girl ready in her dance outfit.

I had a good time waiting for her in the dance studio. Although us parents aren’t allowed to watch them practice, I was able to take in the music of the place, and also the encouragements the dancers received.

Not much else happened once we were home from dance, other than the usual struggles of nighttime baths and such. It should be mentioned that my wife made an awesome ratatouille dish for dinner. And wouldn’t you know that very night Disney was playing the movie Ratatouille. I swear we didn’t plan this. We’re parents, we don’t have time to plan.

Overall, it was a nice day. It was also nice to go to work today!

Original Work Of Art

Okay. By popular demand, here’s the “Run Turkey & Dinosaurs!” drawing my daughter made and I wrote about it my previous post.

A few things here. First, she’s 4 years old. I think she did a pretty good job with her letters. She needs to work on her ampersand, but I have trouble making those, so I think we’ll let her slide.

Second, I love the smile on the turkey’s face. Although it quite possibly is in mortal danger due to the tiny volcano, the turkey remains upbeat. I like that.

The dinosaurs look pretty happy too, even though real estate was obviously so expensive they had to live beside a tiny, yet live, volcano.

Anyhow, I love this picture she made. She’s obviously very creative and is already showing signs of being a pretty good artist (she drew a butterfly the other day that is better than something I could draw). I’m going to just keep feeding this creativity and just stay out of the way and enjoy what she produces.

Run Turkey and Dinosaurs!

We had a cute moment last night in our house. My daughter was having a bit of a meltdown because it was getting close to bedtime and also because she wasn’t allowed to get another sheet of paper (not my decision). Anyhow, I decided to sit at the little Penn State table in our kitchen and try to cheer her up.

She asked me to trace her hand and I did. Since it’s close to Thanksgiving she’s been making turkeys, and that’s what this one was. While she was working on that, my son decided to join in. He brought over his sticker book (this one had cars and dinosaurs) and had me take sticker off, which he then assembled on a page of his own. Being 1 1/2, his creation was definitely interesting.

Well, my daughter decided she wanted a few stickers too, so I gave her a cracked Pterodactyl one and one with an adult Pterodactyl. She put those on her page and then drew them a nest. Then she noticed the volcano sticker and asked for that. She put it outside the nest. We overlooked the fact that it was greatly out of scale.

Then, as usual, she asked me how to spell a few words and wrote them at the top of her page. Eventually she wrote the sentence “Run Turkey and Dinosaurs”. I didn’t get it at first, but then she put the exclamation point at the end. Then it made perfect, hilarious sense. What she wrote wasn’t a title. Rather it was a command!

Thankfully, no turkeys or dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this drawing.

Progress

This might not be of interest to any of you, but as this blog is about me, I figured I’d share something I’ve been working on and thinking about a lot lately.

I’ve been making some superficial, yet needed, improvements to the Donkey Kong Junior game that my wife has so graciously allowed me to have in our dining room. None of these cost very much money, but have made a pretty nice improvement to the game. Below are some pictures (the text explaining the pictures is above each image). Click a photo to make bigger.

  • This is a picture of the game as it is now. Notice the marquee is lit up and the stickers are new. Of course none of the bulbs used in the marquee are sold in stores, so I had to buy a couple $2 bulbs online ($9 shipping of course)
  • This is what the instruction card under the control panel used to look like. If you look closely you can see a sequin under there. I don’t know how it got there, but it annoyed the crap out of me. I’m glad it’s gone now.
  • This is the new instruction card I installed with the help of my wife. I was able to download it from Mike’s Arcade and print it on photo paper. I’m happy with how it turned out.
  • This is a picture of a sticker that rests just above the control panel. It was in terrible condition, but still clung to the wood with all its life. This was a bear to remove.
  • Another view of the beat up old sticker. I’m glad it’s gone.
  • This is the new sticker I printed on sticker-stock and installed. I’m not entirely happy with it, but it is much better than what used to be there.

So, things are going pretty well with that. Friday night, I did find a part inside the game that was failing (a sound transformer). Now, this part is no longer made. I can’t go down to Lowes or Radio Shack and pick a new one up. Luckily for me, the Internet exists, and a fellow arcade enthusiast has a spare one of these and is sending it to me for free (I offered to pay shipping, but he declined). Sometimes it pays to sign up on a message board of a hobby you have and ask for help. Most times, people are happy to help. Of course, I won’t forget this act of kindness and I hope to pay it forward someday.

Pixels

First, an animated short called Pixels. This is quite indicative of what’s going on in my brain most days. Also, did I mention I beat my high score in Donkey Kong Junior last night? No? Well, I did. I won’t tell you what it is, though, because it isn’t very high. Yet. Man, that’s a tough game.

Almost done with that little short story/flash fiction I’m writing. Would be done sooner, but most of my time was spent helping my wife get ready for an early Thanksgiving party my wife had for my daughter and her friends (we had popcorn and watched Peanuts Thanksgiving – remember Snoopy made toast and popcorn for Thanksgiving meal).

In preparation, we painted the living room and dining room of our house (and we painted the dining room twice because we didn’t like the first color). We also had a new door installed in our kitchen. The place is actually starting to look like a home. And we’ve only been there seven years!

So yeah, that’s things. Anyhow, hope you liked the video.

I’m Baaaack

I’ve hinted at it here, but I might as well come out and say it. I haven’t written much in a while. And by much, I pretty much mean I haven’t written anything in the past year, save for a short contest entry here and there.

Sure I have a young son in the house. But he’s 20 months old now. He goes to sleep at 8:30 each night. I have the time to write now. I just haven’t been using it. I think that about to change, though.

Last night I attended my local writer’s critique group. I haven’t been to a meeting in a year. Let’s just say it was inspiring. I cannot express how nice it was to sit in a room for a few hours and just talk about writing. It also helped to read my fellow writer’s works. They have some serious skills.

And so, I think I’m back in the game. I started work on a small piece of flash fiction last night. Baby steps, I say. I absolutely am attending my group’s meeting next month. Because, you see, I’m back. And it feels good.

Grr

My mood today is grr. It’s not you, it’s me. Well, it’s “the news” and “politics”, so I just need to get over it. It’s not so much that the Democrats lost the House yesterday. No, my disappointment is more local. As in we elected a Republican as Governor last night, at a time when Natural Gas companies are pouring into the state and drilling at will. If the Republicans have their way, these companies won’t be taxed AT ALL for the gas they extract from our lands. They talk about a balanced budget and yet reject a real source of revenue. This is not good news at all for our public schools, universities and libraries. Grr.

And yet, life is good. My wife just did an amazing job painting our living room. My daughter and son are getting smarter by the second. For me, I think I’ve finally gotten the writing bug again. I’m not sure what I want to write yet, but I do know I want to write. It’s been months since I’ve felt this way. Again, a very good thing.

What I think I’ll do is take a deep breath and just concentrate on the things I can control in my life. I find myself happier that way.

NaNoWriMo – No

Well, it is November 1st and I have officially decided against doing NaNoWriMo this year. It pains me to say this, but I think it is the right decision for me, even though I would love that 50% off Scrivener software for “winning” this year. Ah well.

The biggest reason I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year is that I don’t have an idea for a novel. Not one idea I feel strongly enough about that I’m willing to put in the time to write it. In years past, perhaps I would have done NaNoWriMo anyhow, just to prove I can do it. I’ve been there and done that, though, and the next novel I write I want to be THE ONE. Or at least, THE ONE I finish.

So anyway, I think I’ll miss most the community and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo. I’ve met many cool writers all over the world because of NaNoWriMo. I think I’ll miss the sleeplessness the least 🙂