Hello 2010

Hello everyone!  I hope the new year has treated you well so far.  I admit it's been extremely busy so far for me, but fantastic.  I am extremely excited about this next year, mostly because of the projects I'm working on but also because of some of the opportunities that are presenting themselves.  I am mostly working on getting some legs under the Gophers book and that eats up most of my hours these days.  I used to think that I was done with the book when I finished coloring the last page and putting it together, but now I realize that is only the first half of getting a book published.  Actually it's probably way less than half of it and a job that will probably carry on indefinitely.  That may sound a bit ominous, and I admit, doing sales was not a part of my dream when I started this, but it has brought me to an entirely new opportunity that I just love.  That being school visits and other public appearances of that sort. Last week I had my first school visit.  I cannot say enough how much fun it was.  Queen Elizabeth School in Lloydminster (the very same school who's entire 4th grade class participated in the Stacktastic contest in November) was the host, and they did an amazing job.  They invited me out for TWO FULL DAYS of presentations and readings to many of the different grades and classes!  Together we made around 7 books together that the students are going to finish off, as well as a number of hilarious Stacktastic stacks.  I cannot wait to see what these amazing kids come up with for their final books.  There was one about a Alien Cow that jumps the sun on a motorbike, one about an Orange Gorilla who wants to join a ballet, one about a Ninja Chicken named Mr. Chucky Cluckers who rode a flying banana, and a number of others!!!  What a privilege it was to meet them, and the staff was just as amazing.  Special thanks to my friend Andrea who went way above and beyond to set this up and made sure everything ran smoothly.

Here are a few pictures from the event!

Here we are getting ideas, drawing a storyboard of their ideas and showing them the process I use to create a book from beginning to end.

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Many of the kids also bought a copy of my book which I was more than happy to sign for them.  This was one of my favorite times, as I was able to meet with so many of these fantastic kids!  I also drew more gophers on binders, books, and scraps of paper than I could possibly remember!

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Massive THANK YOUs once again to Q.E. School, Andrea, and all the students for a fantastic experience.

This month also had me participate in another extremely awesome collaboration of talent that I was, and am, just floored and humbled to be asked to be a part of.  Vicki Saulls, of Blue Sky Studios sent me this invitation:

Two colleagues at Blue Sky Studios, David LaMattina and Chad Walker, have created a feature-length documentary about a pen pal program between a group of at-risk sixth graders living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and orphans from the war living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This Postcard Art project is an extension of the their film "Brownstones To Red Dirt" which features children from both schools. The kids in both places have inspired us all to want to do more and so we're putting together an art auction of original postcards based around the same central theme of the film in a fundraising effort to build a school for the orphans in Freetown, Sierra Leone and create a library for the youth at their school in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

The documentary referred to can be seen at this site: http://www.brownstonestoreddirt.com.  Please go see it.  Vicki has done an amazing job organizing all of this and the idea was so cool.  With a rough theme of "Pen Pals" or really anything else this idea or film may inspire, create some art on these really cool wooden postcards that will be auctioned off.  Here is my contribution that I hope can aid this incredibly worthy cause.  I called it "Far off Friends" and the characters are from my next book.

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Many many many of the other contributors of this project have been artists that I've looked up to, idolized and been inspired by for years.  This was such an honor.  Please to not pass this up, go see the other postcards for this Brownstones to Red Dirt Postcard Art Benefit. Not all the contributions have come in yet, but the names of the other artists involved are all on the side.  Big thank you to Vicki Saulls for not only opening my eyes to this and the invitation, but over all and getting everyone involved in this!  I cannot wait to see the end result!

So there are a few things of the main things that have been keeping me busy, but other than that I am still working hard on my second picture book and what I am going to do when I'm done that!  I also am busy planning for another couple days of school visits in February, a local teachers convention, and a graphic novel workshop for a young author's conference!  As well, I am planning some special for February that goes along with my next book.

So take care everyone, I'll have news and new stuff again soon!

-Mike