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!

Shameful Self-Promotion (AND FREEBIES!)

Like many writers, I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the self-promotional end of the biz. I just have a hard time repeatedly and relentlessly saying:

LOOK AT ME! I HAVE BOOKS! BUY MY BOOKS! BUY BUY BUY!

If left to my own devices, I would just write and doodle and do laundry.

But sometimes a writer has to do these things.

*sigh*

So look at me, okay? I have books. And, well, you should very much consider buying them. That is, if you want to. 

My picture book, Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist, has won a few awards, most recently the top prize from Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teachers Choice Awards. So that’s cool.

It was also a finalist for the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, received a 2019 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (STEM category), and got a 2019 Creative Child Magazine’s Preferred Choice Award. So that’s cool, too!

My other picture book, Everybody’s Favorite Book, didn’t win anything, but that’s because the world is jealous of its super-awesomeishness. After all, EFB is the only book on Earth that features a mastodon-sized guinea pig.

Peek-a-boo!

So both books are worth buying.

***

If you already did buy these books, thank you! But, um, could you also please write up a review on Amazon? Because that would help out this writer/doodler/laundry master a heckuva lot.

Now, as most readers of this blog know, I don’t usually ask anything of you unless I’m also willing to give something in return. So…

HERE’S SOME FREE STUFF!

If you buy, review, and/or otherwise do something groovy and helpful on behalf of Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist and/or Everybody’s Favorite Book, I will mail you

An Official Yer Awesome Promo Par-T Pak!

Each Par-T Pak will include:

  1. An Official Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist Bookmark (while supplies last)
  2. An Official Everybody’s Favorite Book Bookmark (while supplies last)
  3. And An Official Mike Allegra Three-Minute Doodle

What is a Mike Allegra Three-Minute Doodle? Well, I take three minutes to doodle something of my own choosing. Then I send that doodle to you!

Will this doodle be suitable for framing? Sure, if you don’t discriminate much when it comes to framing things. The point is, it’ll be yours.

I drew the above frog in two minutes—so your doodle would be about 50% percent better than this. (I originally thought it would be only 33% better than this, but my math teacher spouse set me straight. This is why I draw silly pictures instead of handling the household finances.)

And here are the bookmarks! Aren’t they nice? They have stuff written on the other sides, too!

How to claim your Official Yer Awesome Promo Par-T Pak

Just leave a comment below telling me what you’ve done to support Everybody’s Favorite Book and/or Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist!

That’s it! I’ll be in touch!

Thank you in advance for whatever you’re willing to do to generate some interest in my humble picture books! I am very grateful.

I look forward to sending some freebies to YOU!