When I started working on TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH! with Tundra editor Samantha Swenson, she had so many wonderful ideas to make the story bigger and more chaotic. My dummy was 32 pages, and the final book is 40. Sam tossed out a few ideas to make their rainy day chaos even MORE chaotic. One of them was playing with dinky cars. Now, I naively thought Sam meant little cars and that dinky was just a cute descriptor. No! She was actually referring to Dinky cars - a line of English metal toy cars and trucks made from the late 1930s to 1970s. And in a strange coincidence, I actually had been collecting metal matchbox cars and trucks from England in the 1970s. Not Dinky, but close! I loved playing with toy cars as a kid, but one little red truck was my favorite, and very much a symbol of my dad, who drove an 18-wheeler when I was a kid. It was also made the year I was born, extra special! I had been picking up similar trucks at antique stores the past few years. I loved how they were styled and hoped to use them as inspiration for another picture book idea I've been picking away at.
So of course I was excited to add toy cars to Peanut and Moe's play landscape. But when I started working on them, I realized it would be way more fun if I could make OTHER kids special toy cars and trucks part of the book, too. I reached out on instagram and several friends sent pictures. My son was also busy making his first Pinewood Derby car so that was an great source of ideas, too.
Please enjoy this time-lapse process video of me, drawing Peanut & Moe. I created all the final art for this book on a Wacom Cintiq monitor using photoshop. The drawing part is sped up, but I believe it took me about 4 hours to paint from a fairly tight sketch to finish. Look for TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH! in stores in just two weeks!!!
As a side note - many (many many) years ago, I worked as a compositor at several different animation studios. I worked with 2D, 3D, and stop motion animation - taking all the elements and blending them into final frames for TV, motion ride films, and video games. I loved my work. I was pretty good at it, too. But I knew I wasn't in the right field. I wanted to make MY ideas and stories come to life - and being a compositor is just about following direction. I've been too chicken to jump into making videos (or...book trailers!) because I thought I wouldn't remember how to do any of this. And isn't it a terrible feeling to no longer be good at something? But I surprised myself by picking it up quickly and having fun. Something old became new again, and it's lovely!
2. Up in the Loft I finally made it to an event at The Writers Loft in Sherborn, Massachusetts. I attended an excellent panel presentation titled "Behind the Bookshelves: A Panel on Building Relationships with Bookstores. It was a packed room, and the content was so helpful and relevant. Book promotion has been overwhelming, and I learned some new and valuable gems. Thanks to everyone on the panel and the moderator: Sarah Berman (of Concord Bookshop), Carter Hasegawa, Josh Funk, Peter Sherman (Wellesley Books), and Alison Pottern Hoch. If you live near the Writers Loft it is absolutely worth checking out. Jannie Ho will be presenting on Tuesday: The Illustrator Who Writes
3. Double-Dad Giveaway! I really enjoyed interviewing Chana Stiefel about Daddy Depot. It's a sweet and funny picture book about exchanging your not-so-perfect Dad at a very unique store. Chana and I are each giving away a copy of our Dad-themed books to one lucky winner. There are 6 days left in the giveaway!
4. I'll Meet You at the Library I will be reading SMALL at the Weymouth Public Library on October 7th at 2pm. This is my childhood hometown library and I'm really looking forward to stepping into that magical place after so many years. I hope any friends and family nearby can make it - we'll make it a fun time for all the kids - reading, drawing, talking about being an author/illustrator.
5. Working on the Go I've been talking about getting an iPad Pro and pencil all year. I have an awesome work setup at home between my Mac and my Cintiq. But I have long hoped for a way to write and draw while I'm away from home - whether it's during kid activities, or on vacation, or just escaping to the coffee shop to work. I've also known that I need a device to start doing school presentations. I can be a real slow-poke to make big purchases, but my husband thought this was the perfect birthday gift and I think he was right. He's always been very supportive (and knows how cheap, erm, practical I can be with equipment). I've only had it a few days, but I loved bringing it to the Writer's Loft event and TYPING my notes on my lap. I'm playing with Procreate and trying to find the brushes and settings that feel just right. If anyone has recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
P.S. I'm so thankful for all the kidlit friends, new and old, who have supported me this year.
P.P.S Check out this cool SMALL review on Missy's Product Reviews - thanks, Missy!
In 12 days, IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD will be released - can you believe it??? You can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookseller. I'm super excited about the above launch party at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, NH. It's just kismet to have National Unicorn Day fall days after the book release. Come join me for unicorn fun, a reading, drawing, and goodies!
If you JUST can't wait or can't make this local event, you can download and print a fortune teller yourself. It's part of the activity kit for the book. It was so fun to think of all the activities that could make this fun story into a library event, celebrating all the imagination and positivity in Dan's story.