TWO Months until TOO MUCH!

1. Countdown to TOO MUCH! And just like that, a book I had an idea for about a decade ago will be in stores in two months! TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH! has been getting some excellent press. You can read reviews on Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, University of Manitoba (I really loved their review), and Story Monsters Ink. I was also recently interviewed on Boston Voyager where I talk about my winding journey to become an author/illustrator. I'll be blogging quite a bit more in the next two months - sharing sketches and videos about the making of TOO MUCH! Stay tuned!

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2. In today's mail I've been squirreling away swag for just this moment. I'm finally sending out these boxes to independent bookstores across the US. If you are a bookstore owner, send me an email and I'll make one up just for you! Some of you will get a Moe box, some will get a Peanut box, and just one of you will get a Moe AND Peanut box! But who!

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3. My To-Be-Read Mountain I've been incredibly busy at this time of year for the past few years. Which inevitably leads to a huge pile of books I desperately WANT to read but have no time for. I dream of a book vacation and until then will humbly share most of these books with the kids who are burning through books at a fierce rate. Also, there are a dozen books I want to add to this pile but I am barely restraining myself (Mary's Monster by Lita Judge will land there soon, I know it.)

4. Father's Day Shopping If you follow me on social media, you'll notice I've shared IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD quite a bit in advance of Father's Day. I had so much fun creating the illustrations for this book, and it's a little uncomfortable for me to hawk books aggressively but I really think more families need this book! You still have time to order from uh, that place with prime shipping and have something for Dad to cuddle up with on Sunday morning while you finish making breakfast (or getting dressed to go out!) ***But if you live near Exeter, Water Street Bookstore has a few copies left AND a million other awesome books - I dare you to leave with just one. I know I can't do it.

5. But I'm listening! Don't feel too sad for my lack of reading time. I am plowing through a lot through my ears while I work. Recent audiobooks I've enjoyed: Wild, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, and have just started Genuine Fraud. For podcasts I've burned through a ton of Hollywood Crime Scene (my new fav!) peppered with weekly listens to Westworld with Jay, Jack & Mike, Wait, Wait, and How I Built This.

Giveaway and NESCBWI recap

With Father's Day around the corner, I thought it was a great time to have a book giveaway. I'm giving away one copy of IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD by Dan Bar-el, illustrated by me. The giveaway ends May 30th and I will notify the winner promptly. Open to anyone 18+ years of age in US or Canada.

I promised a little NESCBWI Conference recap, so here are my top five takeaways:

1. Oh, hello! Taking a few years off of this conference was exactly what I needed in order to reboot my perspective. I really enjoyed meeting lots of new people and listening to where they are on their journey. We all know we are part of a tribe, but this tribe comes from a million unique and interesting places - and it was a blast getting to soak it all up. And I had the special privilege of meeting (IRL!) some of my newest tribe - Picture The Books 2017 We are a group of debut children's book authors and illustrators. Their collective talent is only surpassed by their kindness.

From left to right: Mike Malbrough, Emma Otheguy, Alison Goldberg, Heather Pruesser, Gina Perry, Vivian Kirkfield

2. Always take Sudipta's workshops. I've said this before on my blog. If you want to walk away from a writing workshop with tools to improve, look no further than Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Also, you will NEVER fall asleep in her presence. Even after you stayed up way too late both nights before...

3. Mr Schu is in the house. Pass the tissues. I was literally tearing up within 2 minutes of Mr. Schu's presentation. In a good way, of course. I am SO thankful to NESCBWI for snagging him for a moment of his busy year to remind us WHY we write for kids. I am so thrilled for all the kids around the country that will be infected with his sheer joy and love for books. His presentation wasn't all inspiration - I walked away with some really good tips about presenting my work online (BIG, clean book cover jpegs, ready for sharing!) and finding a larger tribe of librarian and teacher advocates. 

4. And the award goes to... Christina Rodriguez! Honestly, that was the most polished, entertaining presentation... not including all the illustrator antics on stage. Or the fabulous prizes! I hope Sketch Battle returns at every possible opportunity. Or you trademark it and make it a prime time show. Thanks for bringing the fun (and the chocolates), Christina!

5. Vita Lane: ready for takeoff! Is there nothing better than seeing a good friend succeed? Keep an eye on my very dear friend, Vita Lane. She has always inspired me in all her creative accomplishments. But her latest work is just blowing me away. It's so good I have to share... Go read her post about her latest project and drool over her beautiful watercolors. 

Be sure to enter the giveaway, it ends on May 30th (Psst. Starting on May 22nd, I'm also hosting a separate giveaway over on GoodReads)