Featuring colorist Ronda Francis

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fun Easter Book and a Page to Color

Spring is in the air, and Easter is right around the corner. Time to wonder, is the Easter bunny a robot? 

You can color your way to the truth and find out in the book Francine and the Super Spy Bunny.

You will find many surprises in the book, including a six foot tall chocolate bunny!


Kindle version on Amazon available for $.99, but order the coloring book if you if you have crayons and are ready to use them.

When you (or your kids ;) )have a beautiful picture colored, send it to me! I will post it on the Amazon page along with some previous pix from last year.

Have fun--and watch out for bunnies with glowing red eyes.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kid Coddling--Even in BOOKS--Just STOP IT!

Most of us think our children are wonderful, and most of them are. When we become parents for the first time we are transported and transformed--a new dimension is added to our lives and we will never be the same.

But some of us go off the deep end. 

We get postpartum depression, anxiety, and we are simply tired from an endless lack of sleep.
Sometimes these states lead us to worry for our kids, too. Are they cold, hot, hungry, tired, sick, or scared? Not all of our worries are excessive, but some are.

Some parents want to protect their children from TOO much--they don't want them to experience sadness or fear because they are afraid that it will be too much for their delicate son or daughter. They are not allowed to play outside because they might get hurt, they can't sign up for swimming because chlorine is bad for them, and no cooking classes because they might cut off a finger. 

Sure, you can hover around them and make sure they don't hit their heads when they are young, or not let them go outside when it is raining so they don't catch a cold, but at what cost?

Kids are ferocious--they can be mean and savvy and are born with instincts just like any other wild animal. Of course we teach them to be polite and to have manners, but I think we may also "nice" a lot of their natural urges away. We teach them to share to a point where they give up their own wants and needs because some other kid wants the same thing they do. They are not bad little people because they have opinions and desires, but for some reason our society has made it seem so. 

Books like Where the Wild Things Are speak to that in a child. They are told they are allowed to be fierce and to speak out, and someone will still love them if they do.

Maurice Sendak "refuses to lie to children", and says he will not "cater to the bullshit of innocence". He feels we all, to some extent, lead desperate lives, and no one escapes completely unscathed. 

More and more is expected from our children and at increasingly younger ages. Hiding them from what the real world is and what it will expect from them does not do them any good. 

I am not saying we need to inform them of the atrocities of war or include them in our money woes, but allowing them to experience a full rainbow of feelings, and letting them know that all these feelings are valid, expected, and OK can only help them.

Here is a list of books that lets kids be fierce, sad, angry, curious, and bad, and show them they are not alone.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak--http://www.amazon.com/Where-Wild-Things-Maurice-Sendak/dp/0064431789/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top  

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling--http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Sorcerers-Stone-Book-ebook/dp/B00728DYRO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425751626&sr=1-1&keywords=harry+potter+and+the+sorcerer%27s+stone

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney--http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Wimpy-Kid-Book-ebook/dp/B005CRQ4OW/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425751772&sr=1-2&keywords=diary+of+a+wimpy+kid

Coraline by Neil Gaiman--http://www.amazon.com/Coraline-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0380977788/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Curse of 1000 Directions

We are given free reign in this country to be whatever we want. We are told from the time we are born that our choices are endless, and we can do it all

We are so lucky in so many ways!

We have freedom of religion and speech, our choice of career, spouse, and where to live, and the luxury of having spare time and the ability to choose what to do with it.

But there is a bit of a dark side to all this freedom. 

If we think we don't like one of our choices, we easily hop to something else. For example, I used to be a makeup artist. I not only did weddings and events, but I eventually worked for Sony Studios and several very well-known photographers in NYC. The money was great and I could choose the jobs I wanted--or did not want. 

The I got bored--or I thought I did.

I decided I wanted to try something else. To be honest--I can't remember what I hopped to that time--but for a few minutes I'm sure it was just as exciting as it was the first time I walked into a glamorous photo shoot in Manhattan. And I'm also pretty sure that I thought I got bored with that too.

Although I was unaware of it at the time, I had a bit of an addiction. The Next New Thing was my version of cigarettes and heroin. No one was there to stop me, and I took full advantage. I also like money--and the idea that the next thing might make me even MORE money than the thing I was already doing was very seductive. 

But in reality it was not about the money--it was about my own inability to take things to the next level. To get through the inevitable doldrums that happen as you become proficient at something, and your natural talent develops beyond what you are born with.

I was not trying to avoid work, but I was unconsciously trying to avoid becoming an expert at anything. Being an eternal novice has its advantages.

Keeping my "new guy" status gave me the ability to shirk true responsibility--in the field and to myself. How could I be expected to know what to do when I just started? Of course I can't help you...I don't know what I'm doing yet!


Not easy to admit, but when I realized what I was doing, (with the help of a friend and endless conversations), I thought long and hard and put the breaks on.

I thought about the things I wanted to accomplish, and what I really had to be doing to get them done. 

I could no longer twitch my nose and start over. I had to work my tail off at ONE THING--whether it was fun, or I was tired, or I had a headache, or (one of my favorite personal excuses), someone was knocking on the door. There were no longer 1000 directions to choose from. In fact, the path became incredibly narrow. I suddenly had to use laser focus and not allow distractions.

Funny--this was always my worst fear. To be "stuck" doing one thing--no choices, no freedom, no fun. I would be missing everything going on in the world around me. What I failed to admit was that I was missing out on plenty. Missing out on developing something and seeing it through to fruition, becoming very successful at something I loved, and having the satisfaction of becoming an expert at something.

I have been writing and illustrating exclusively for five years now. I have a routine--GASP--I never thought I would utter that sentence. I am "stuck" every day going into my studio and getting down to work. I do the same thing day in and day out--and I have never felt more liberated.

I do not have to wonder what I will do next or what I am missing. I realize there is an interesting freedom to sticking to something and becoming truly good at it. I am allowed a different view--the experiences of the next level. The deeper insights and conversations that come with knowing more than entry level information, and the satisfaction of finishing work that is MINE.

Maybe I am a late bloomer, but there is something to be said for the experience of life too--better late than never. But maybe this is just my time.