Writing Crap!

This isn’t actual crap. It’s a root beer-flavored marshmallow Peep that only looks and tastes like crap–a small-yet-significant difference!

“Writing Crap” is the title of my guest post for The Writer’s Circle’s blog. Fear not; the post isn’t actually crappy. In fact, I kinda like it! I hope you do too.

Click here and give it a read!

Downtime Doodles

What is this thing, you ask? I do not know.

In addition to doing the children’s book thing, I teach creative writing classes for kids via Zoom. I love the work. The students are fun and enthusiastic; the commute is fantastic (just one flight of stairs!); and, most importantly, I can do my happy, jokey, dog ‘n’ pony show while wearing jammies.

Every job is better in jammies.

The goal of these classes is not to teach the regimented mechanics of writing, it’s to build confidence and generate enthusiasm for storytelling. One way I do this is to assign in-class writing prompts. These prompts are designed to push each student’s brain in interesting and unexpected directions.

For example:

1. Your efforts to speak to the dead go badly.

2. You’re running for president in an alternate dimension. Write and deliver your campaign speech.

3. How did that giraffe get in the Hudson River?

You get the idea.

The prompts are a hit, usually. The kids have a good time discovering new stories. And I, in turn, love to hear the twisted tales they share.

The regularity of these prompts results in chunks of class time where I don’t teach much. I’m a fellow who likes to keep his brain busy, so I tried to use this time to work on my own stuff. I had no intention of sharing the work, of course—these classes weren’t about me—I just thought it would be a fun way to pass the time while everyone else was silently scribbling away.

It didn’t work. Almost instantly I recognized that I couldn’t simultaneously concentrate on a story and keep an eye on the class.

Doodling on the other hand…

I’m assuming the dog on the left is Snoopy’s nearsighted satanic younger brother.

Doodling, for me, requires no focus at all. I can look up from my “work” at a moment’s notice to fulfill my teacherly responsibilities—answering questions, addressing concerns, and, once in a while, sending an urgent message to a student via private Zoom chat (“I can see you picking your nose, Martin!”).

So now I have legal pads stuffed with drawings—half-baked ideas and unfocused weirdness that will never see the light of day.

Until now. Because, hey, why not?

Monster and Muppet,

So! Do you like to free your mind with a few doodles? Or something else? Lemme know in the comments!

Sleepy Happy Capy Cover!

Once in a great while I write a picture book that I just love.

And once in an even greater while—a much greater while—a publisher loves the story, too.

So I am absolutely delighted to reveal the cover of my next picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles!

Yay!

It is the story of a capybara whose advanced cuddling skills calms the horrible hubbub of a rainforest rumpus.

And the story is sort of true to life! Capybaras, the worlds largest (and most chill) rodent, are often willing to cuddle most anything. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof!

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles is published by Page Street Kids, a company just about as committed to capy awareness as I am. In fact, immediately after buying the manuscript, the publisher laid out a donation to sponsor a capybara through the World Wildlife Fund. Isn’t that awesome?

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles won’t be out until October—and, needless to say, I will have plenty more to say about the book before the release date—but, hey, if you wanna preorder it, I’m totally not gonna stop you.

So, until next time, viva la capybara!