Boo.

it's the great pumpkin charlie brown 18 - I got a rock #1

I have never liked Halloween. Even as a kid, I found the act of going door to door begging for candy to be unseemly.

I disliked the itchy discomfort of the costume. I disliked being stared at. (When you wear a costume, you are, pretty much, giving people permission to stare.) I disliked running all over the neighborhood like a dodo when, at home, a perfectly good TV was going unwatched.

And, at the end of the evening, all I had to show for my efforts was a sack full of itty bitty candy bars that I would’ve never picked out for myself at a store. (Seriously, is Krackle anyone’s favorite candy bar? Answer: No.)

Long story short, I gave up on Halloween as soon as it was socially acceptable. The ominous power of peer pressure kept me going until the fourth grade (and, yes, I’m still holding that grudge, Carl Johnson).

But Halloween isn’t all bad. It is also when Susanna Leonard Hill’s kicks off her Halloweensie Contest!

Now that’s a Halloween tradition I can get behind. Woo!

Here are the rules: Entrants have to write a Halloween-themed story no longer than 100 words. (In Halloween parlance that means the story is “Fun Size.”) This story also must contain the words “broomstick,” “creak,” and “pumpkin.”

So here is my humble submission. Enjoy!

***

SNACK-O’-LANTERN

“Nibbles,” sighed Chester Cat. “You’re supposed to carve a pumpkin.”

“They’re too big,” the guinea pig replied. “So I am carving a Halloween-o Jalapeño. Scary, huh? Does it make you want to run away?”

“No,” Chester sniffed. “That wouldn’t make anyone run away.”

They heard the creak of floorboards and the clatter of the broomstick Buster used for fetch.

“I bet it’ll make Buster run.”

“No way.”

“Let’s see,” Nibbles challenged. Then he shouted. “BUSTER! SNAAACK!”

Buster galloped in. He gobbled the jalapeño.

His eyes sprang open.

Yelping, he dashed to his water dish.

“Told you he’d run,” Nibbles giggled.

 

A Blog Break

Last year I took a summer vacation from the blog. As much as I missed the activity – and I missed it a lot – the break did allow me to recharge my batteries and redouble my other writing efforts.

I think I need to do it again.

I’ll be back in September. In gratitude for your understanding, I present you with a doodle of a Film Noir duck detective.

Duckie PI!

Duckie PI!

And Here is the Winning Doodle!

Last week, the lovely and talented Kid Lit Reviews won my second Win a Doodle Contest. So she gets a doodle on the subject of her choice.

Kid Lit, who, it turns out, is a devoted animal rights activist, gave me her request:

How about a Great Dane standing guard over a few dogs that are behind him? The Dane is the rescuer and has rescued these other dogs from the mean streets and bad homes and now refuses to let anyone else harm them.

Okee doke, Kid Lit; your wish is my command.

great dane the protector

And the Original, Custom Made Mike Allegra Doodle Winner Is…

for YOU

Yowza! The response to last week’s contest was incredible! Dozens and dozens of you (including a couple of honest-to-God illustrators) sent me Words of Wisdom for a chance to win one of my doodles.

I don’t understand all this Doodle Mania, but I am flattered by it.

But now it is time to get down to the business of drawing the winning name!

Unfortunately, my son thought differently. He insisted that I “practice my doodling” first.

I sighed. Then I asked him what he wanted me to doodle.

He wanted a LEGO man wearing a 1980s astronaut shirt. This LEGO man, he explained, should also sport a medieval helmet and a battle axe.

“Anything else?” I asked?

There was. He also wanted the LEGO guy to be Benny, the youngest child in The Boxcar Children.

So I “practiced my doodling.”

It's not easy being this kid's father.

It’s not easy being this kid’s father. It’s also not easy to enjoy The Boxcar Children.

Now that my son was duly bribed, he got to work.

***

In the months since the last contest, The Drawing Hat was given away to charity. So this drawing will mark the auspicious debut the Drawing Penguin Ice Bucket.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Beautiful, isn’t it?

So! Let’s get started.

My son mixed the ballots…

Drawing 2

And mixed them…

Drawing 3

He mixed them very well.

Drawing 4

You really have to admire his professionalism.

Drawing 5

OK. Knock it off, boy.

And the winner is…

Drawing 6

Drawing 8

KID LIT REVIEWS!

Congratulations, Kid Lit! You win a personalized doodle on the subject of your choice!

All you have to do is go up to the menu item that says “Write Me a Note” and, well, write me a note.

***

Thanks to everyone who entered! You folks are awesome!

 

Win a Doodle! Win a Doodle! Win a Doodle!

Who will be the lucky winner?

Who will be the lucky winner?

In March, I hosted a contest. The grand (and only) prize was an official, original, custom-made Mike Allegra doodle.

Despite my doodling ability, the number of people who entered this contest was pretty large. This surprised me.

What also surprised me was that some of you reeeeally wanted that ding-dang doodle. In fact, a few people threatened to sic their cats on me if I didn’t do another doodle contest post haste.

To these people I say settle down because here’s another chance to win a doodle!

IF YOU WIN, I WILL DRAW WHATEVER YOU WANT!

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

Jenion (the winner of the March contest) wanted a drawing of a bicycle racer. So I drew her a bicycle racer.

Ta daa!

Ta daa!

But here is real proof: I am not fond of cats. (I am horribly allergic and keep rodents as pets.) But, once upon a time, Jilanne Hoffmann’s punk kid asked for a drawing of a cat. So I drew him a cat.
Sigh.

Sigh.

Then Jilanne Hoffmann’s punk kid asked for a drawing of a kitten. So I drew him a kitten.

Double sigh.

Double sigh.

Did I mention that Jilanne Hoffmann’s kid is a punk? Well, he is.

So, yes, I will doodle whatever you want.

Well there is one caveat: I will not draw whatever you want if your wanted whatever is perverted. I am a children’s book author; behave yourself!

HOW TO WIN

The winning name will be drawn from a hat. The fellow drawing the name will be this guy.

The sober judge.

The sober judge.

He is fair, impartial, and looks like a 19th century bare-knuckled pugilist.

HOW TO ENTER

To get your name in the hat, all you need to do is leave a comment with some Words of Wisdom.

To get the ball rolling, here are some actual Words of Wisdom from my parents:

Mom: “Don’t be a candy ass.”

Dad: “The ox is slow but the Earth is patient.”

Mom’s wisdom usually came in the form of vague threats.

Dad’s wisdom usually sounded like its was written by a Confucius in need of a designated driver.

You can do better than this. I know you can. I’m counting on you.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING

I’ll add two more ballots to the hat if you announce this contest on your blog and link back to this page. So, yes, you can get three chances to win!

Don’t have a blog? OK, then you can get one extra ballot if you announce this contest (and link back to this page) on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

DEADLINES, ETC.

Your Words of Wisdom are due on or before Monday, July 21.

The winner of the drawing will be announced on July 22.

The completed doodle will be posted on my blog. The original drawing (suitable for framing) will be mailed to the winner.

Also, cheaters will be stabbed.

Grrr!

Grrr!

So get going! I need all the Words of Wisdom I can get!

GOOD LUCK!

A Purposeful Post: Part Two

They grow up so fast!

Sniff! They grow up so fast!

A couple weeks back, my blog pal, Harula, posted a writing exercise. The theme was “Purpose” and the idea was to complete the following four prompts with whatever spontaneous musings sprung to mind.

* When I was a child, I believed I was here to…

* As a teenager, I believed I was here to…

* As an adult, I believe I am here to…

* The most important thing life has taught me is…

The answers to the first two prompts can be found here. In this post, I get the last two:

***

As an adult, I believe I am here to…

…write. It’s trite for a writer to say this, but I do believe it. I hope that one of my books outlives me. I hope that it might be handed down to the next generation, the same way I gave my old children’s books to my son.

But my son is the big reason why I’m here – to raise him the best way I know how, which is almost certainly not as good as it should be.

Parenting doesn’t come naturally to me, for I’m too solitary and regimented. Now that I’m a dad, I am in a sort of war with myself to resist these natural inclinations.

Fortunately, Ellen is better at this sort of thing. Not a moment goes by when I am not grateful for her presence, for it is she who shoves me back on the right parenting path on the occasions I become too hermit-ish.

I have one child. When people ask me why Ellen and I don’t have more, I have a stock answer: “My boy got all of our best traits,” I say. “A second child would get all the the genetic diarrhea.”

I’ve been told that this is not how science works, but I still choose to believe it.

Another reason I have only one child is because one child works for me. I don’t like messing with what works.

“Once you have two kids, three is easy,” a dad leading a parade of screeching moppets once told me.

“But you have four,” I pointed out.

“And once you have three, four is even easier,” he replied, his smile wide and condescending. It was the smile that got me. The smile said, “You don’t have what it takes, Buddy Boy,” and it stung because I knew he was right.

But I was also thinking, “Well, at least I’ll be able to pay for college, Mr. Smug Guy.”

That’s another reason why I’m here. I believe that, if possible, kids should graduate college no worse than flat broke. It troubles me that college debt is The New Normal. I will do whatever it takes to keep that from happening to my son. It’s hard enough to build up from nothing without having to begin one’s adulthood deep in the red.

The most important thing life has taught me is…

…that failure is not a big deal. I’ve spent much of my adult life screaming this fact from the rooftops. I’ve seen way too many people more talented than I give up on their dreams way too soon because the idea of failing is just way too terrifying.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! Jealous?

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! Jealous?

I believe that almost every success I had is based on the fact that I’ve simply refused to stop trying. I love to repeat my old chestnut, “I got 114 rejections before my first book contract,” because I’m proud of it. I think that my many rejections say more about me than my one book does. It says that I will never give up.

Granted, it also says that I’m a little tweaked. But, hey, for a writer, that’s just par for the course.

So! What’s the most important thing that’s life has taught you? Tell me in the comments!