Friday, October 14, 2011

Texas Book Festival

I was lucky enough to be invited to Austin as one of the festival's featured authors this year. It is held in downtown Austin on October 22-23. Stop by and see my presentation on Saturday or Sunday. The schedule is online at this site. Texas Book Festival. Lots of fun and intelligent talk as long as you stay away from the Texas senators and congressmen. I will be presenting The Green Mother Goose with my co-author, Jan Peck, and signing my other books including Fandango Stew and The Twelve Days of Christmas-In Texas That Is. A good time will be had by all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tricks, Tactics, and Techniques from Published Authors: Thoughts on Traditional vs. E-book Publishing

 (Jan Peck and I spent lots of time putting this little book together after we had so many requests for it. It is based on a talk we gave at an SCBWI meeting in Arlington, Texas.)

Book details:
Secrets to getting published and surviving the trials and tribulations of the writing life from authors with 50 years of experience between them. They've published art and writing with: About You! Books, Back Porch magazine, Boys' Life Magazine, Celebration, Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul, Christianity Today, Comic Buyers Guide, Dallas Morning News, Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin/Putnam), Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty magazine, Madison County Journal, Pelican Publishing Company, Simon & Schuster BFYR, Sojourners Magazine, Sterling Publishing Company, Turtle Magazine, The Winnsboro News, e-books, and many other assorted publications. Real answers to your real questions about the realities of the publishing world! How we were broke, broke-in, how we stayed with it through struggles, got published--and you can too!

Ms. Lightfoot has written a book that rivals "The Elements of Style" in its simplicity, clarity and helpful information. There's no literary double talk here. Just page after page of editing insight. The tips on how to use your computer to best editing advantage are especially welcome.  Every writer should have this book in their creative quiver.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Tales They Told Me by Jim Lewis

I was looking for my Chicago Manual of Style this morning (I probably should look for it more often) and came across my copy of The Tales They Told Me: Short Stories About Mississippi, by Jim Lewis. I met Mr. Lewis one day not too long after this book came out. I was in a Mississippi Credit Union trying to figure out how to get a loan for a vehicle as I recall. He was standing by the door working as a guard. Mr. Lewis was a powerful looking older man, and his gun belt, uniform and stetson made him look even more so. Somehow he knew I was a writer, and we struck up a conversation. It surprised me when he told me he'd written a book. He looked more like a cattle drive trail boss than a writer. We shot the breeze a few minutes and parted friends.

The next time I was in the place he pulled me aside. "I want to give you one of my books," he said. We went to the trunk of his vehicle and he handed me a paperback. It was short. Only about a hundred pages. I thanked him and drove home, occasionally glancing at the cover and not expecting much. That evening I picked the book up, grabbed a glass of iced tea, and settled down on the back patio next to my springer spaniel. I put on my specs and began to read.

I was mesmerized from the first paragraph.

The Tales They Told Me is one of the best books I've ever read--and I mean including ALL the books I have ever read. These short stories grab you by the lapels just like any writing by Faulkner, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, and John Steinbeck. Some are funny. Some rip your heart out like "Ray Myer's Story." I'm not ashamed to say I cried a tear or two reading that one. If that had been the only tale in the book, it would have been worth the read, but all of the tales are great.Some of the stories would make a fine movie in the vein of "To Kill a Mockingbid," or "My Dog Skip."

People make fun of Mississippi. I lived there for nearly ten years, and there is a lot to make fun of. But I'll tell you one thing. There are more fine writers per square foot than anywhere else in the country. Look 'em up. Jim Lewis was one of them. I think Jim has passed on by now. I looked on line for him and his book and just saw a few used copies for sale. Take my advice. Get one before they are gone. I bought several for friends and each one treasures their copy. If you don't purchase one, you will miss a real treat. Rest in Peace, Jim, and thanks for the stories. I hope someone will have the wisdom to get this book back in print. It would make a fine ebook, come to think of it. I plan on reading it again tonight.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Laundromat Lizard

The Mount McKinley of laundry I struggled with intensely today.
First, let me say that I HATE doing the laundry. Not because I mind loading the machine, but because I have an undying aversion to visiting the Laundromat. It seems that I always time it just right to get there when the little kids laundry basket races are happening while indifferent parents look on. While they push each other around the place there is a half-hearted, "stop that" as they make the 30th lap around the place. Then the parent snaps his/her fingers and go's back to texting on a cell phone. The kids never even take notice. I'm not mad at the kids. It's just that I need one of the baskets to load my wash. And of course I don't want them to get hurt. There is a huge sign at the place I go that tells parents not to allow kids to race around in the baskets. Nobody pays attention. I've seen a couple of kids get hurt, and of course the parents threaten to sue as they are loading the kids into their vehicles for a trip to get stitches.

I have quite a history with laundry. I'm old enough to remember seeing laundry boiled in pots over a fire in deep East Texas at my Grandpaw's farm. Also, I remember both my Grandmothers washing things in a dishpan with P&G soap. (I got washed with it a time or two myself.) The clothes were  then hung on the lines behind the house with the old wooden clothespins--the kind without the wire springs. And no clothes ever smelled fresher than the ones dried in the sun.

The first washing machine I remember was a small table model that mom used when we lived in an apartment on South Presa in San Antonio. It wasn't much bigger than I big bean pot and looked sort of like a pressure cooker. (You youngsters look that up.) She plugged it into the socket on the overhead light bulb. Later when we lived on Commercial off Military Drive, down from an early ice house called the "Ize Box," (That was the way it was spelled and like its descendents, its big selling item was beer.Thirsty Kelly workers and airmen stopped in every evening for brew.) Mom had an old wringer washer in a wash house in the back yard. The clothes agitated in the tub and then you fed them through the wringer. I feared the thing, because Mom told me about all the folks who had lost arms, hands, and fingers by getting them caught in the electric wringers.
My college dorm was the scene of petty laundry larceny. Some guys found out that you could cut dime shaped pieces of plastic from deodorant can lids (Right Guard was the favorite.) and they would work as good as real dimes. (This was a tip passed on from the seniors to the incoming freshmen.) Guys used to go up and down the hall begging the lids you had 'cause they wanted to wash clothes. There used to get togethers where they cut out a big supply of the fake dimes. I was in the laundry room one day and the guy came to empty the change box. Suddenly I heard a stream of profanity. He emptied the box on the table and t
There were about eight dimes and forty plastic plugs.
In California I witnessed an interesting scene in a small neighborhood laundromat in Sacramento. I was washing my clothes and a hitch-hiking couple walked in. They emptied their packs of the few clothes they had. They threw them into the washer, and then proceeded to strip down to just their jean cut-offs. The girl calmly peeled off her top and put it in too. While the clothes washed and dried we carried on a friendly conversation while the well endowed girl jiggled. Then they put their shirts on, packed the rest of their clothes into their duffel, and hooked 'em. The wild and wooly sixties were something.

So, I spent the afternoon destroying the mound of dirty clothes. They are now neatly put away. It wasn't a complete loss. I got a blog post out of it. It may be of questionable value, but it is one. And I won't have to go back for a long time. I have plenty of T-shirts and I must have fifty pairs of underwear briefs. That way I can minimize my laundromat travail. I kid you not.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Early Freelance Stress" or "How I Rolled the Dice to Change My Life"

Drawing I did many years ago as I worried about money, family, and vocation.

I was 38. I had a wonderful wife. I had two little children that I loved dearly. I had a good job working at a bank as the computer operator. I had a house that was paid for. I lived in a little town where everyone claimed to be a Christian, and where the big event was the high school football game every autumn Friday night. I had a Norman Rockwell life straight out of the Saturday Evening Post--and I was miserable.

My understanding wife and I talked it over, and instead of me freaking out, I decided to roll the dice. She said, “You know, if you don’t try to sell your writing and drawing, you will always wonder if you could have done it.”

If I had been better informed, or not quite so desperate, I probably never would have attempted what I did. I quit my job at the bank. No more ties and kissing up to the rich, but no more steady check. I started an eleven year struggle that finally channeled me into writing picture books.

Someone once said, “It’s easier to turn a moving ship.” Well, my life didn’t become easy, but eventually I did turn to what I needed to do. I started out trying to sell my pen and ink drawings. This in an East Texas town of 14,000. I bought a 35mm camera. (This was in the days before computers, cell phones etc.) I took pictures of old home places and drew them in pen and ink for $35.00 a pop. I picked up my kids in an old 66 Ford pickup that I bought for a little of nothing. My kids were embarrassed to be seen in it. It loved gas stations. When I stepped on the accelerator, it sounded like I was flushing the toilet.

People around town thought I was crazy. I had given up one of the best jobs in the place to sit at home drawing all day while my wife worked at nursing. I was the town’s amiable ne’er do well. I had people actually knock on my door and tell me I was nuts. I had men crowing and saying that “I wish I had a wife that would work while I sat at home.” An old lady came by and told me that I was going to fail. I didn’t even know who she was. She lived somewhere up the street.

I fought depression. (See Prozac.) I went to counselors. One told me, “You are an artist. If you don’t create, you will do damage to your psyche.” I also did all kinds of jobs to earn exta money in the early years. One thing I did was to make plantation shutters. Another thing I did for a while was to work in a milk plant. But whatever I did, my eye was on creativity. I like a Bob Dylan quote: “I didn’t know where it was that I belonged, but I knew it wasn’t there.” (Watch No Direction Home.)

I’ve got to be honest. My depression and lack of steady income put severe stress on my long suffering and more conventional wife. She wanted to climb the corporate ladder, and I wanted nothing more than to get away from that scene. I had trouble at corporate parties. I found it hard to be nice to people I didn’t like. One time at a Christmas party, a doctor was introduced to me and the first thing he said to me was “I just invested 50 thousand dollars in the stock market.”

Unable to maintain, I said, “So what? Why are you telling me?”

Eventually I got a job doing political cartoons for a small paper. My daughter bugged me until I wrote a satire called Redneck Night Before Christmas. Pelican publishing saw it in a magazine and made it part of their Night Before Christmas series. It sold well, and the rest is history so they say. I’ve written 14 books, but at great cost.
These days I live alone in a modest apartment and draw and write. I live close to the vest. As a midlist writer, you have to be frugal. I love doing school visits. The kids keep me young, and my greatest pleasure is writing for them. I’ve looked back over my life, and you know what? I’d do it all again. Let me repeat that. I’d do it all again. As Will Eisner once wrote me, “We are doing what we do regardless”

Well said, Will. I draw and write whether I’m paid or not. I guess we’re going to be what we’re going to be. The journey IS the destination. So what do you do with good old boys like me?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Fountain Pen O.C.D.

I confess. I have fountain pen O.C.D. I’ve always loved drawing and I’ve loved drawing with a pen best of all. When I was a kid, I picked up some very old dip pens from somewhere—I don’t remember where. Perhaps they were from an elderly relative. I got a bottle of Skrip black ink and went to town drawing on any paper surface I could find.

The last day of school at Highland Hills Elementary was always one of my favorite days. I liked the idea of summer vacation, but more than that, I liked all the paper, pencils, and pens I’d collect. Some kids just threw their paper away along with their writing implements. I got as much of it as I could. Every pencil that hit the floor or ground was a mark for me. I filled shoe boxes with them. I was always looking for a good soft number two pencil—and I collected any pens I could. I especially liked old fashioned fountain pens or cartridge pens. A bottle of ink only cost twenty cents in those days. I even used cartridge pens for dip pens if I had nothing else to draw comics. My addiction to comic art continued through Roger's Junior School, Highlands High School, and beyond. Now, I'm and old fart, and I STILL love comic art.

The ink I loved best for writing was Sheaffer's Skrip Peacock Blue. (This link is your chance to buy one of the old bottles if I don't get it first.) They don’t make it anymore, but I’m sure somebody could make a fortune if they figured out the formula and put it out again. I see people searching for it all over the internet. I have not seen a replacement for its rich color yet—but I keep looking.

I used to draw my political cartoons with a dip pen or a Winsor\Newton Series 7, number 2 brush. (I still have about a hundred different nibs of all kinds, assorted pen stocks, and some Winsor\Newton brushes. I thought they were expensive then, but they REALLY cost a fortune now.) I loved using the old fashioned pens and brushes to draw, but I lettered with a Waterman pen. When I bought my first one, it was quite a stretch. I had two little children, and shekels were hard to come by. I tried Rapidograph pens, but nothing worked for me like that Waterman.

I have Corel Draw etc. and do some digital work, but lately I’ve returned to the old fashioned pen and ink work to relax. Maybe I’m just an old guy, but something human is missing for me in digital creation. I still work in that medium, but nothing soothes me like putting ink on paper with brush, or dip pen. I still have my Waterman plus a couple of new Noodler Pens that I’m experimenting with. Finally, I’m trying Noodler’s Turquoise Ink to see if it can approach Skrip Peacock Blue. I may be disappointed—but hope springs eternal.

I’ve even begun to write a few letters again. The old way. Fountain pen and paper. Peace.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Basil and Robert

I am a cartoonist of sorts. I did political cartoons for a couple of papers in years past. I still enjoy cartoon art and I got two different takes on the Bible from two of my comic heroes. Basil Woolverton first crossed my eyeballs in Mad Magazine when I was a kid. I copied his grotesque faces and loved them because grownups didn' I was surprised to learn that Basil was a high ranking member of the"cult like" Herbert Armstrong church that was popular in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Basil did part of the Bible in comic book form for the church and the result is stunning. His eccentric style is a beauty to behold whether you believe or not. I found this hardback copy on ebay for a very good price.

Robert Crumb is an artist I discovered during the wild and wooly sixties. His style of comic art is one you can spot the first time you see a drawing. He's done everything from underground comics to greeting cards. Fans of his other work may be surprised to find that he does the book of Genesis "straight." He just tells the complete story start to finish--and does a very good job. The most fundamentalist believer will find nothing to object to in this book--and the comic art lover will find page after page of artistic delights. Not to be missed. These two comic artists were two of my heroes when I was learning to draw. They are finally getting the respect for their art and their craftsmanship they deserve. If you love black and white penwork don't miss these two masters. Now, If I can just find a good book of the work of Jack Davis...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What? I'm Still Here?!?

This post will be short, because I'm worn out from kissing the ground this morning. I'm SO GLAD I'm still here, and there was no rapture of the "good" folks. After all, if there had been, the only folks left on earth would be the entire Fox News organization, lawyers, used car salesmen, literary agents, publishers, book critics--and me. Not a pretty thought.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Southern Child's Garden of Verses and Poetry Month

This is poetry month. I hope you will consider picking up a copy of A Southern Child's Garden of Verses for your little ones. This project is one of my favorites. We intentionally went for the old fashioned picture book look instead of the modern "computer generated" look. The book is a mix of funny and nostalgic poems for children. Herb Leonhard is a master artist and the book makes a good coffee table book for adults too. The art by itself is worth the price of the book.

Lots of my picture books are based on the books I loved as a child. A Child's Garden of Verses was one of them. I played around doing funny Mad Magazine type parodies of poems and songs as a kid. The first time I really remember trying to write something "serious" was in the 8th grade for Mrs. Cobb at Roger's Junior School. You could get out of some sort of work if you wrote your poem instead of just reciting one. Being basically lazy, I opted for that route. The poem earned me a good grade and got my mind thinking along poetic lines--especially stuff like Ogden Nash. He was my favorite. I loved his humorous pieces.

I always had a knack for satire and parody. It got me in trouble at Highlands High School. Especially that day in Mrs. Sun's class. She introduced us to Walt Whitman's poem, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking. She asked us to try to write a poem using Walt's style. My poem was titled "Out of the Sewer Endlessly Spewing."

She was not amused.

I think I got three days in detention hall for that one.

The truth is that I DID love Leaves of Grass and lots of other poetry, but in those days a love of poetry could get you beat up on the school yard. As the years went by I appreciated poetry more and more. I write some "serious" poems, but I still love parody,. My mind runs that way. What's a guy to do?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Fashioned Cartooning

I did the cartoon above over twenty years ago for Comics Buyer’s Guide. It went with one of my short humorous articles. I think I made something like 2 cents a word for the writing. (As you can imagine, in that situation, I did as little cutting as possible.) The pieces were surprisingly funny considering the desperation that dogged me in those days. I lived in the small town of Sulphur Springs, Texas, and most everyone thought I was lazy, crazy, and stupid for quitting my job in my late thirties to pursue my twin dreams of drawing and writing.

I had no computer in those days. If the paper I freelanced for needed a political cartoon the next day, I had to stay up late and get it drawn—and drive twenty miles to the newspaper’s physical location to meet the deadline. I did the cartoons at ten dollars a pop. Not much even twenty years ago--and I loved every minute of it! Not everyone liked my political cartoons. My life was spiced with anonymous late night calls by cranks threatening to kick my butt if they caught me.

 The Editor was a retired AP reporter, and he taught me a lot. He told me that when I was drawing my cartoons I could draw anything I wanted, but I should “make ‘em mad or make ‘em glad.) No lukewarm dilly-dallying. It was hard for me to find two quarters to rub together, but the education was priceless. Not to mention the fact that I got to gig politicians. The late Texas politician, Bob Bullock, even bought the original of a negative cartoon I did about him. His aide told me that he collected any cartoons about him, positive or negative. You know, that hombre was smart. It made it a hell of a lot harder the next time I needed to skewer him with my pen.

I went broke buying Winsor-Newton Series 7 brushes for inking. They cost too much, but I could never find any other brushes that rivaled them. I used every sort of pen tip and pen for lettering. Supplies were hard to find in that town, so I got most of my stuff mail order from the Dick Blick catalog. Good old India ink was the media of choice.

There was no electronic re-do. If you screwed up the drawing or lettering it meant a brush and the Pro White bottle—or the circular file. I generally drew the cartoons in “non-repro” blue pencil and then inked the pencils. I also worked with assorted airbrushes—including a left-hand version of the Paasche rotary AB airbrush that set me back BIG BUCKS. I don’t think they even make them anymore. I did huge drawings of people, and I can’t tell you the times the thing clogged and spit right at the end ruining the whole work.

I remember the first day I got a computer. It was an early desktop model ordered from DAK mail order. The entire hard drive was only 20 megs! The amber and black screen was small and the dot matrix printer was loud and slow. And I thought I was in hog heaven. No internet. No email. No sending your work to the office electronically. The one thing that was the big innovation for me is that I could save my writing on a floppy disk. And in those days they WERE floppy.

That’s when I first started transcribing the notes, stories, and events that eventually became my memoir Travels With Grandpaw from my spiral notebooks. I’d scribbled notes in assorted notebooks before that and I entered them in the computer for the first time. I put out a small self-published booklet that I called New Summerfield Sketchbook. I sold them through the old Factsheet Five zine magazine. And all this time I was a “house husband” with two little kids helping me. Old times. Good Times. The best of times. The worst of times.

Thank God for graphics programs, and laser printers, but I still miss the days of India ink under my fingernails. I’m in the process of creating some cartoons in the old way. This may not pass your “So what?” test, but I’m getting jacked about it.

Purchase Travels with Grandpaw at Amazon

Purchase Travels With Grandpaw at Barnes and Noble

Purchase Travels With Grandpaw at

Standing Knee Deep in Literary Hoopla


I had a great time at the Texas Library Association--except that the powers that be had laid off so many librarians and cut the state education budget so much that fear was just under the surface of the fellowship. Those wonderful Texas librarians are afraid for their jobs. Fandango Stew and Green Mother Goose were well received. I'm thankful, but I found myself missing something I want to recapture from my youth.

Nothing approaches the pure joy I had way back when creating "underground" comics in the sixties at college. Not risque like Crumb, but satires about little things on campus. The quality of the  food in the cafeteria, the war between the cowboys and hippies, dorm life etc. I'd work for hours on a pen and ink cartoon and sneak over and post it on a cafeteria door or dorm wall early in the morning. The cartoons weren't officially sanctioned, so they were torn down after a while. But how I enjoyed "sticking it to the man" for those few hours. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing very important--but fun.

Now that I have some published books through traditional publishing houses, there are new pressures. Things are changing fast. The word for today's writer is promote-promote-promote. Everybody is blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, Linked in, sandbagging and pumping up resumes. Making literary mountains out of literary mole hills. But suddenly I find myself wading knee deep in literary hoopla all the time and not having enough creative fun. The reason I quit my bank job to draw and write full time was not to become an internet marketer. I realized I needed to get a little balance back in my life.

I've decided to fix the problem. I'm going back to the future.

I'm going to follow my old time bliss more. Do more of the things that attracted me to the creative fields in the first place. I still LOVE doing school visits, but I plan on feeding my comic soul a bit more. I'm going to do this blog for fun. And if it quits being fun, I'll quit doing it. I'm going to do more "hobby" writing. The work on picture books etc. will still be there, but I'm also going to do some experimental writing and get back into comic art. My first venture into this area is my memoir Travels With Grandpaw that I've just published as an ebook. I really had fun doing this project about growing up with my grandfather. I may sell a few, but the joy I got by doing it was the main reward.

I've looked at the bestsellers and if I was market savy, I should have titled it, "Midnight Zombie Travels With a Vampire Grandpaw in a Texas Twilight," or perhaps I should follow the trend and write a book about a werewolf writer with one of the one word titles so popular right now. Maybe "Unpublished" or "Unpromoted." lolol. Don't get me wrong. I respect all those skilled writers who write that sort of thing. It's just that my "inner Mad Magazine child" needs some attention. So, I've unpacked my dip pens, India ink, and old fashioned drawing paper.

And of course, I'm not pure. Here's a bit of shameless promotion. You can find Travels With Grandpaw for download at the Amazon Kindle Store, the Barnes and Noble Nook store, and at Smashwords. No werewolves, no zombies, no wizards, no vampires (other than Texas politicians). Now, if some movie producer will see it and  buy the rights to it for a million bucks, I can retire to my hermit's abode and kick back. One more thing. The only person to play Grandpaw Lacy is Robert Duval. Okay, enough fantasy.

Now, after writing this, I realize I am STILL standing knee deep in my own literary hoopla, and it's rising fast--at least I hope that's what I'm knee deep in...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I've got politics covered with The Green Mother Goose!

The local Barnes and Noble gave former First Lady, Laura Bush, a copy of "The Green Mother Goose" and I sent a copy to former Vice President Gore, because I appreciate what he did to get us talking about the environment. So, I guess you could say I have the whole political landscape covered. Of course the lunatics may want to see my birth certificate

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Doing a Fandango Because the First Printing of Fandango Stew Has Sold Out!

Okay, so this is shameless promotion. Well, actually, it isn't. It is unbridled joy! The Sterling Publishing  folks informed me yesterday that the first printing of my picture book Fandango Stew has sold out. There are still some in stores but the Sterling warehouse cupboards are bare according to my source.  It is my first book with them, and they have been a class act all the way through the process. My editor guided the creation in a masterful way. Ben Galbraith did a remarkable job on the illustrations. The production values were second to none. The promotion was great. (And that's saying something these days.) All and all, it has been a blessing from beginning to end. Now, I hope The Green Mother Goose, a book I co-wrote with Jan Peck, does as well. It looks like it will. Earth Day should help tell the tale. Life is good and I'm thankful.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Teaching an Old Dog Old Tricks

The Young Underground Comicist

     I read about the young writer Amanda Hocking scoring a million bucks with her ebook the other day. It got me all juiced up about them. I've been reading everything I can find on the topic and experimenting with the new format. I don't write fantasy like that young lady., but I decided to publish my memoir "Travels With Grandpaw" on my own. I figure I'm old enough to have enough memories for a memoir. (I'm closer to the end than to the beginning.) And if it passes the "so what?" test, perhaps some folks will download it.

     It has been quite a learning curve for me. What with Kindle, Nook, i phone, Sony, and all that jazz. And the directions for uploading this sort of file to make it that sort of file can give a baby boomer quite a headache. I wasn't born with a computer chip in my mouth, so I have to use the trial and error method. I'm one of those guys that can read the directions and still not know what in blazes they are talking about.

     The bright spot in all this is that ebooks have revived a wonderful feeling I have not had for years. The sheer joy of creating and publishing on my own.

     Let me explain.

     When I was a kid I loved writing and drawing comics for my friends. There were no copiers then, so you had to hand draw up to six copies of each comic to pass around. That meant drawing them with pencil, and then inking them with india ink. (It was a real drag when the teacher confiscated all of them before anyone got to read them.) I was never a pro at comic books, but the unbridled joy of creation warmed my heart. When I was older I still self-published comics. I used to sell them through "Factsheet Five" etc. I got more fun out of doing that then all the paid cartoon jobs I had.

     I've been lucky enough to have lots of picture books published. I really enjoy doing it, but nothing approaches the bliss I have with self-publishing cartoons and old family tales online. So, ebooks are going to become sort of a hobby of mine now. I sure won't make a million like Ms. Hocking, but it is a gas writing these little tomes for my own pleasure. It feels like the old days again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Texas Library Association Convention

I had a great time at TLA in Austin. My picture books Fandango Stew and Green Mother Goose (written with Jan Peck) sold out, but it was sort of bittersweet for me. I talked to so many Texas librarians who are afraid for their jobs. Already many have been laid off. The state gives tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations--so then there is not enough revenue. (The middle and lower classes can't bankroll everything all by themselves.) Then, the powers that be scream crisis and cut the school budget. We are on a lunatic race to the bottom. Locally, statewide, and nationally. God bless our librarians...and God help our state and country if this continues.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Never Trust Anyone Under Sixty

An eighth grade girl is caught in the culture war between her old hippie grandmother and her wing-tipped banker dad with hilarious results.Visit the pink house with ten pink flamingos, fifty wind chimes, no TV, and an ancient cooking stove called "The Iron Maiden." Peace brother!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Travels With Grandpaw" an ebook memoir by David Davis

Travels With Grandpaw is Tuesdays With Morrie--in Boots. I'm ususally known for my picture books, but now I have an ebook memoir for grownups. This is a coming of age story with Texas in the last century as a backdrop. I traveled with my beloved "Grandpaw" Rayond Lacy (1905-97) all across Texas in a relationship that spanned forty-nine years. Grandpaw Lacy taught me about hunting, fishing, and life. We had many adventures-- and you can share them, too. Hear about a Texas Hill Country Christmas in the 1880's as told by an old farmer born in 1869. Corner a wild tomcat in the outhouse with Raymond and his brother, Alton. Visit early 1900's East Texas for a Christmas with a buckboard full of roman candles, a new Barlow pocket knife, music firewater, and a kind old Cherokee named Joe. Watch a marathon skeet shooting contest between Grandpaw and an arrogant big time skeet shooter with a golden Beretta shotgun. Go with us to Indianola, Texas as we encounter a dancing duck thief. Attend my father's country wake in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Ride along with Grandpaw and his band in 1920 when they play a rural dance--and have to fend off a gang of troublemakers and a vicious pit bull. Stand beside Grandpaw as he battles four young hoodlums--when he's in his eighties! This book is about growing up, growing old, and the wheel of life, but mostly it is about laughter--and Raymond Lacy, an unbribed soul.

Blog I Must

My friends say I ought to blog, so here goes. I make no pretense of sharing wisdom, but I hope some of what I say and do will help you enjoy the ride. I'll talk about whatever is on my mind-not just about writing.I'll post a bit of shameless promotion. (I have to earn my frijoles.) I'll post on a "when I want to" basis. As far as setting up who I'm following, or who is following me, I can use any help I can get. I don't really understand how all that works. Now, I'm off to get some more coffee. Over and out.