The Writting Process: Author Blog Tour!

Oh Hello. So a couple of weeks ago, new picture book ace, Fred Koehler, asked me if I'd be willing to participate in an Author Blog Tour. ONLY because we met once in NYC at a SCBWI conference AND because it turns out he's super swell, did I say "yes".

Fred's debut picture book "How to Cheer Up Dad" has been collecting STARRED reviews like a pro! I predict there will be a LOT more of Mr. Koehler books filling up bookshelves in the future.

So carrying on with the "tour" here we go:

What are you currently working on?

Well, it's been a busy year so far. I finished illustrating a book for Bloomsbury, by the wonderfully talented Brianna Caplan Sayres called "Tiara Saurus Rex". Drawing dinosaurs for a picture book was a dream! Drawing them in fancy dresses was a challenge. Thankfully my girls and wife came to my rescue. I also sent in the finishing touches on another book for Doubleday, by the hilarious Dev Petty called "I don't want to be a Frog". That book is exactly as awesome as it sounds - which is awesome. I have another book in the sketch stage with Scholastic Canada, and some prep work for the release of my follow up to 123 versus ABC in late August called Colors versus Shapes. That and of course I'm always rolling more of my ideas out of my head and onto some paper.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose my work normally has my own name on it and other folk's books don't have my name on it, so that separates me from them in one sense. In another way, I really try to combine ideas and tell stories from the accidents that they have in my head. 123 versus ABC was born from the thought that Counting and ABCs couldn't be in the same book because the two ideas would fight - there would be conflict for reader's attention. As soon as I thought that, I knew that was a book. Many of my ideas happen in such a way. Wonderful collisions in my imagination.

Why do I write what I write?

I have enjoyed writing, drawing, and creating since I was young. I don't know where my ideas or love of this comes from, but doing this for a career has been my dream.
More specifically, I often share with students I visit, to write what they enjoy in life. I hope that you'll be able to recognize what I enjoy in life from my books, and enjoy a bit of those things along with me.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

I already talked a bit about the imagination collisions that happen, but that's really how it happens whether I'm writing or illustrating. The collisions happen in my head or on paper or with my agent and a few close friends who I bounce ideas off of. I have sticky notes all over my desk with scribbles and jotted down notes of ideas that I jot down so I don't forget them.

A good idea creates more and more good ideas, and when I've managed to find one of those in front of me, I place those in a special place where I continue to develop them. Sometimes a book is there, and sometimes not. But I don't know until I keep trying to work out the kinks which can take an hour or a few years so far!

Since I also illustrated, once I have the MS (or if it's my own - often when it's still an idea) I start drawing the characters and try to get comfortable with them. Developing personalities that add to the story, not distract. If I didn't write it, I want to make sure that I compliment the story as much as possible and see what creative ways I can do that.

Once all my roughs and designs are approved, there's little else to do than get down to finishing it up.

Next up on the tour:

I'm really looking forward to hearing a bit more of the process from:

Dev Petty, who I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from in the years to come.


Thanks again for the read!

Take care,

-Mike

 

lil' Red

A while back I did a picture for a new book idea I'm working on to get a feel for the characters. I was happy with the way it turned out. Then someone asked me if they could purchase a copy of it as a print. I thought it was a little plain, so I spruced it up a bit. Here are the results:

And the new version which I now have as a print.

Take care,

-Mike

An Unexpected Party

The Hobbit may be my favorite book. I say "may" because I'm pretty sure, but I do have a LOT of favorites. It is probably the book I've read the most. There is wonder and excitment and I'll never forget gazing upon the cover by Ted Nasmith and wondering what part of the story this amazing image took place. The images of the dwarves and Gandalf, Bard and Beorn, the eagles and of course Smaug, were burned into my mind with much joy. Recently, the movies were released and I was a bit disappointed with a few things (because what movie ever lives up to the book - except maybe Fantastic Mr Fox), but mostly Thorin Oakenshield, and his lack of beard.

Anyway, enough of that. I still love the Hobbit and Middle Earth and have been wanting to do something with it for a long time. Then one day this just flowed out, and I went with it.

I had so much fun creating this. Most of my work is typically character focused. But I wanted to make the surrounding background as characterful as I could. I also added a number of things and little treats I liked from the book: That Fili and Kili had the keenest eyesight; Oin and Gloin were the fire makers (with axe); the contract agreement, the map; various instruments that they all played; and that Galdalf had a silver scarf, tall blue hat and huge black boots.
I'm hoping to have prints of this available soon, though they may be limited. My first run will hopefully be here and released at the Calgary Comic Expo at the end of the month!

You can click on the enlargements below to see cycle all the closeups of the lucky party of 14 (or 15 with Gandalf):

Here's the final:

Now it's back to work. More books to finish!

Thanks,

-Mike

Merry Christmas

Hello and Merry Christmas to everyone! I've had such a wonderful 2013 and cannot wait for 2014.

 

I have a sort of tradition of drawing a Santa every year around this time. Here's this years:

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And here's a sort of process of it: (click for the gallery process)

For your very own "Better to Give" Santa 2.0  desktop background 1920x1200, here's a link!

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-Mike

Winter is here

Busy. Busy busy busy, actually. That's what I've been. I'm extremely grateful for the work and opportunities, but it has left me missing, or more accurately neglecting, my blog and other things. So this is just a quick one.

 

Fall is past and now we have Winter. I say we have winter as soon as we have snow, but this year we've been having some odd snowflakes dropping in this area.

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Fancy that eh?

 

Thankfully before it melted I traced one and made a template. You can download it here and make your own! 123vsABCsnowflaketemplate

 

Happy Thanksgiving and Winter everyone!

-Mike

**** PAPER DOLL CHAIN / GARLAND UPDATE ****

I had one person mention that these guys would look nice as a garland on a Christmas Tree. So I made a 123 vs ABC paper doll chain / Garland template.

NOW if you click either of these links you'll get the two page pdf with both templates to download! Click here: 123 VS ABC SNOWFLAKE/PAPER DOLL GARLAND

 

 

 

Summer 2013

The Summer of 2013 has been a fantastic and amazing adventure so far. We recently moved and renovated a good portion of the new home. I've discovered that takes a fair amount of time. That coupled with a wedding, and a few deadlines has meant I've completely neglected my website and blog. I have not even blogged about the biggest moment of my career so far in the launch of my first book with a major publisher, 123 verusus ABC! It makes me a bit sad, but at the same time I don't regret anything.

Photo on 2013-08-28 at 08.43 copy.jpg

The support and reviews so far for 123 versus ABC have been so encouraging! I cannot wait to read it to students as the school year starts up. The best part is these two new friends of mine (created by the amazing Melissa @ Soul Fibre Studios)  get to accompany me!

 

I am extremely grateful these days for the support that I have gotten from my family, parents, friends, retailers, book reviews, librarians, schools, and strangers. If that's you, even for reading this blog, I thank you. I don't ever want to take my career or what I do for granted. I know how hard others work for the opportunities I've been given and how much my family has sacrificed so that I can follow my dreams. I feel blessed beyond words and am having the time of my life!

Now it's back to work for me! Can't wait to share more with you soon. 

Best, 

-Mike