Saturday, May 1, 2010

Houston: We have lift-off. After some final fluffing, Dan + I are ready to submit our story to the publisher. Are we excited? Are we terrified. Yes and Yes! [PS- I've just set up a account, so hopefully I'll be better at Blogging].

Friday, November 27, 2009

Building a bunny

One of my challenges in this book is to design and draw a bunny character. Especially challenging when there have been a few great bunnies in the past. Bugs Bunny could perhaps be the single most famous animal cartoon character, along with Mickey Mouse. So I've been trying to teach myself to draw Bugs for about 40 years or so, but never really pulling it off. Lo and behold today, on my fourth attempt on one page, I somehow managed to do a fairly convincing Bugs! (Cue trumpet victory sound).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Softened in paint

So I'm in love with illustration style of Camden, Maine illustrator Chris Van Dusen. This painting is my first attempt at trying out some gouache on illustration board. Looks like I've got a loooonnnnnngggg way to go to get to the quality as seen in Chris's new book The Circus Ship.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A "softer" face?

“Hi, yeah, less googely eyed”, Sherryll said as she passed me on the way into the daycare this morning. That was the sum of our interaction, amidst the tugging arms of kids and the swinging of the big blue doors of the daycare entrance.
It made me wonder what other parents and their little ones may think we are discussing, when over hearing snippets of some of our passing conversations?
I’ve been battling my own drawing style for weeks trying to come up with a character that we can be happy with forever. We decided yesterday that the main character of the story needed to be a little “softer” whatever that means is unclear but somehow it does accurately describe the challenge.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pimples And All

On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 10:56 AM, Sherryll wrote:

Hey Dan,

Here's a synopsis of my story: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [Sorry followers! No spoiler here. We ask for your understanding and patience until we get our book off the ground. In the meantime, please use your imaginations and see Dan’s response below].


Subject: Re: What a team!

Date: April 21, 2009 1:46:14 PM GMT-04:00

AWESOME!! So many opportunities for great comedic visuals! I really like the story, and I think it does have a lot of opportunity as a series.

[Without giving too much away, here are Dan’s thoughts around my story outline]:

Sherryll, I don't know if ‘x’ is such a plausible name (for the main character), I only ever met one in my life and he was about 104 years old! It is certainly a unique, unusual name, but it may be better to have a name that a greater majority of readers could relate to.

Dan: I like it because it’s different. Will let it simmer.

[Tone] I see this one as a bit more absurd than moralistic as I had put forth as an objective in earlier email. I love absurd, especially for the purpose of creating slapstick drawings, but ‘x’ doesn't really receive any overt retribution for his mean behavior, so I feel a little unresolved.

Great point, Dan! I totally agree. Will rework it.

[Age specific] I would think of this story for more of the 5-8 age group than the 3-6 (as you had suggested), I don't think my 3 year old could relate to a 10-12 year old adversary.

Hmmm. On the other hand, my 4-year-old sons LOVE being with/learning from/reading about older kids. Will think about it.

[Next up... He said, She said]

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Prequel

The other day I was thinking about how interesting it is to read correspondence between two people, especially when you are not one of the two.

With that in mind, I have cobbled together a prequel-of-sorts, a kind of 'real time' peek, via selected and sequential emails between Dan and me that cover the genesis of our picture book quest.

Beginning with my response after Dan first approached me:

On Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 1:22 PM, Sherryll wrote:

Hey Dan, The good news: I would LOVE to do a book with you. I've studied your mural at the daycare and it's fab, as is the very versatile work on your website. I have lots of story ideas (all different kinds), one of which is actually drafted out (very beginning of the process... as in I thought of something a couple of months ago and scribbled it on rough paper).

The bad news: I have no contacts in book publishing and have never written for children.

The good news: I feel like I have a sense of what preschoolers might be interested in reading (a protagonist they can relate to, and a story line with action, adventure and a dash of humour).

Thanks for reaching out.
~ Sherryll

On 9-Apr-09, at 9:44 AM, Dan wrote:

Hiya Sherryll, Great! I'm really glad to have met you! I've been looking for years for a writing partner and have met a few people but nothing has ever developed. At this time in my life my ideas and craft have developed to a point where I feel very confident about my ability to develop a really good product. Check out this painting I am working on:

Dan! Nice work, thanks for sharing. So, I’ve been thinking about ‘the big question,’ i.e. what are the publishing houses looking for? I'd like to bring something of value to the table before you and I go over story/illustration ideas. Any ideas for a starting point?

Sherryll, I'm a strong believer in a "do what you love and feel and it will transmit and others will love and feel it too" sort of philosophy when it comes to creating things. I would look at the biggest successes in the Canadian marketplace for starters and use their model as a rough guide, especially the favourites of your own kids. My kids will always read any Seuss, Franklin, Magic School Bus.

As a starting point I have kept note of the below ideas, some you've mentioned, so I think we're on the same page, (no pun intended!).

· Employ Absurdity/Humour PLUS an underlying moral message
· Funny situation - robot baby, monsters, monkeys, frogs, penguins
· Funny, complex, curious imagery - interesting to children.
· Funny words - as in Dr. Seuss


· Tolerance over Intolerance
· Patience over Impatience
· Sympathy over Disdain
· Kindness over Cruelty
· Love

Why practice these virtues (Main message of the story)? Because… practicing these virtues helps a person deal with life’s troubles = happier life hence self motivating!

Dan, I’m with you, to the point that the story gelling in my head covers many of the ideas you outlined. I've researched some organizations that may be of interest/help to our quest, check this out:

Organizations:,,, pwac,

Government grants (who knows!):

Books: Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, The Canadian Writers Market (publishers of kids books in the mix).

[Next up: Sherryll sends Dan a story outline and Dan's response - pimples and all!].

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Boston Cream Doughnut Theory

We can now add to the list of potential platforms another radio program, this one called The Story on APM (American Public Media). The format is similar to Outfront, This American Life, and Radio Diaries (see below), in that it's about "the ordinary us."

Wait a minute! What self-respecting program would use the word 'ordinary' when trying to hook an audience? We don't want 'ordinary,' right?! Sounds boring, doesn't it?!

I don't think so. And if you do, I'd like to suggest that you're missing the custard in the Boston Cream. What makes life interesting, after all, is not always visible on the surface. You need to dig for the gold (or in this case, the golden custard). The Story is a fab program, which can be downloaded onto your MP3 or iPod. Check it out at:

~ Sherryll