The magic of tracking your rejections

On the one hand, you keep all the negativity in one place. On the other, seeing a whole list of “DENIED!” is kind of a bummer. Maybe I need to work on my phrasing. (See, you can put a positive spin on it! In any case, it seems poetry is a tough sell in general, mine especially so.)

list of rejections

DENIED!

Happy Poetry Month!

I’m going to have some exciting poetry news to share later in April, but for now, just get into it. Here’s my favorite William Carlos Williams poem to help you get started.

 

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right
forefoot

carefully
then the hind
stepped down
into the pit of
the empty
flowerpot

 

Somebody say jamcloset?

Somebody say jamcloset?

My new comic is live!

Cats In The Alley (written by my friend Nicolle, and drawn by me) debuted last night during the Superbowl. If you were too busy looking at the power outage, you can still read it, because the internet is forever. You can also like us on Facebook, or follow us on Tumblr.

Here is a panel from the first one that we are going to make into bookplates. Instead of “this book belongs to” they will say “this book was not thrown away by _______”). Just try to act like you don’t want these!

 

Screen shot 2013-02-04 at 9.15.36 AMNew episode Sundays and Thursdays. You can add them to your RSS reader if you’d like to keep up.

 

16 facts about me

I recently got an email from a student who needed to know 16 facts about me for a school project. He said the facts could be anything, so here is what I gave him, in case you find yourself faced with a similar project.

Erik P. Kraft . . .

1. Has 6 pet chickens (named Boss Chicken, Suzy Creamcheese, Henny Penny, and The Mandrell Sisters)

2. Has eaten a whole pie on his own on more than one occasion

3. Has been writing ever since he could hold a pencil

4. Is vegetarian

5. Has a son who thinks he is a weirdo (but who thinks being a weirdo is funny)

6. Once had gigantic Elvis sideburns

7. Often performs comedy (or what he thinks is comedy)

8. Can drive a stick shift

9. Went to UMass Amherst

10. Started writing children’s books after taking a class taught by Jack Gantos

11. Started illustrating his stories after having Chris Raschka as an advisor in grad school, who suggested he do it

12. Once convinced a friend in school that Impressionist art was when you carve pictures into potatoes and stamp them in ink

13. Is not superstitious about the number 13

14. Had a picture of Mr. Rogers in his high school locker

15. Was not himself called Miracle Wimp in school (they went more for the cheese names rather than mayonnaise) but knew someone who was.

16. Is colorblind and his outfits reflect his.

A teaching success story!

One of my former students recently published a book about raising chickens, and it’s really cool. I helped her with it in class, and I’m very impressed with the end result. Her story was even what pushed me from “should I get chickens?” into “I should get chickens!” Here’s what she has to say about it:

I still remember the moment I knew that I had to raise chickens. My two year old was feeding corn to some curious hens at a local pumpkin patch. I watched him giggle with delight as several beaks pecked corn from his hand, and I just knew that backyard chicken farming was in our future.

I had always been a city chic, and knew I had a lot to learn before I could bring home a batch of baby chicks. While my husband and my two little boys built a chicken coop in our garage, I purchased 5 different books about how to raise chickens, and conducted extensive research online. If you’ve ever looked for a “how to” guide for children, you know that my search for a resource to get my kids ready ended in frustration. I knew something had to be done about this void the day I found my six year old pretending to read my two-inch thick Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.

With the help of my family, I published Young Chicken Farmers: Tips for Kids Raising Backyard Chickens. It’s a 32-page hard cover book full of color photographs, educational tips, and egg-citing facts on every page. It’s designed for children ages 3-8 years old. The book has already received positive feedback from editors of Hobby Farms and Backyard Poultry magazines. And if you like what Erik likes, he has provided an outstanding review as well!

You can order a book from www.beaverspondbooks.com (you can search by author or title). For a 20% discount, use Coupon Code: chicken. If you’d like to follow our chicken adventures, visit my blog at www.mychickenadventure.com.

 

Click here to go right to the book page.

Character development

My friend Nicolle and I are working on a graphic novel/webcomic type thing. We have finally decided on how the characters should look. So, presenting Tabs and Dizzy.


 

We’re not quite there yet, but when we are, the comics will be posted at The Cats In The Alley Tumblr.

On being a colorblind illustrator

The other night I was at a get-together for writers and illustrators, and there was a discussion of illustrating digitally vs. illustrating on paper. I am still working on getting proficient with the tablet (see my bad bunny drawing post), but I mentioned that since I am colorblind, I have been known to scan a drawing in and color it digitally using various web sites that give you swatches of various colors. This way I can go to the browns and pick one that I like, enter the values into Photoshop, and then know that I’ve at least gotten a brown where I need a brown. (Whether or not it’s still hideous is another story). This seemed interesting to people, so here I am telling you, the internet, about it.

Amazingly, I have been colorblind my whole life. Once in college, someone came up to me and said, “You know what’s awesome about you? Your clothes NEVER MATCH!” So it’s been a struggle. In spite of it, I have worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. But I have found ways to cope in one way or another, aside from that time when my mother let me got to school on St. Patrick’s Day dressed in all brown instead of green.

Lately what I do is draw a picture in pencil, redo the lines with a Micron pen, and then scan it in. Then I’ll add the colors in Photoshop, either using the Fill tool or a brush. A site I use for pictures that are just going on the web is The Other RGB Color Chart. There’s a decent selection, but not a ton, which makes it easier to choose. Too many options will probably just confuse me. It’s divided into color groups, so I look for what I like, and then add the values into the Color Picker, and I’m off.

 

Before and after

 

There is a recent exception to this process.

For my “big plate of pancreas” drawing, I knew I wanted it to look like an old food ad, so I searched for old food ads until I found one that had gross enough colors for what I was after. I brought it into Photoshop, and sampled the ones I wanted, and worked as usual. I was especially interested in the weird background color, which a lot of old ads seem to have. Makes me extra queasy. I’m pretty sure this is the ad I used: