Sunday, June 2, 2013

The "Marry" Month of May

Hello June, where did May go? I blinked and it was over. It was a crazy month filled with what seemed like non-stop action. The biggest event was our lovely daughter, Alissa, getting married. We are excited to welcome Andrew Aho to our family. It was a beautiful day for a wedding. The ceremony was held outdoors in Lancaster County Park in area along a river. I had the honor of walking her down the aisle, er, road. We shared a good cry before the walk, but that quickly turned into many laughs as we arrived to the altar. The ceremony with off without a hitch, well, almost, I forgot to give her away but quickly recovered. Freudian slip perhaps? Everyone went to the pavilion afterwards for the reception. Lots of food, fun, and laughter were enjoyed by all. The newlyweds we not planning on a honeymoon but everyone pitched in and gave them a trip to Atlanta for few days. Andrew's boss has a home there so he provided them with keys to the house and airline tickets. They will be living in the Lancaster area until October when the two of them will be heading to San Diego. Andrew is enlisting into the Navy with his sights set on becoming a Navy Seal. Alissa will go back to school for veterinary medicine. As they begin their new life together, Lynn and I are looking forward to seeing the new chapter unfold for the two of them.

Earlier in the month was the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. I look forward to this conference every year as it is a chance to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and learn from the various guest speakers. This year I focused on the writing side of the book creation process. The various workshops helped me gain a better understanding on how to write, especially for children. Some of the standout sessions were "Writing for Boys", "Writing in Verse", and "Creative Meditation". I also attended some workshops on school and library visits, another area I need help in. It is something I want, and need, to do more of so I can find a comfort level with doing a presentation. Many of my friends won awards or placed in the poster contest so there was some celebrating later in the evenings. This year I volunteered again as it is an excellent way to meet people and get your face out there. The goal for next year is to present a workshop or two.

Besides the marriage of our daughter, the other exciting news is that Major Manners won a Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Children's Book Interior (design and illustration). The book also received a silver for the Children's Book Audio category. The publisher, Outhouse Ink, had me come to New York fir the ceremony. I had a great time hanging out with Beth and Mike Hofer. They are wonderful people and I am so happy for them getting the awards. We are already talking about the sequel so stay tuned!

While in New York, I attended BEA (Book Expo of America). It was an opportunity to see all of the publishers in one place and meet a few folks. I also got a chance to say "hi" to folks I've only chatted with through emails. I may try to attend again next year with an additional trip to the ALA.

As far as my projects, I am in the midst of reworking my picture book. Before heading out on my break, I sent the latest version to my agent. We chatted about some additional tweaks but we are getting closer. I also began work on a new story which could be a combination of an early chapter book with a graphic novel. The first draft is done so it is soon time to really write the story. In the meantime, I am working on two new picture book ideas. We would like to have a couple of the stories ready in case there is some interest from publishers. With all if this, I am working on a picture book for Islandport Press plus an app and several other illustration projects. Busy times here in the studio.

That should get us caught up for the time being. I am looking forward to what June may bring but it will tough, almost impossible, to top May.

"I don't think of myself as an illustrator. I think of myself as a cartoonist. I write the story with pictures - I don't illustrate the story with the pictures." ~ Chris Ware

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