Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Water Under the Bridge

It has been over eight years since my last post and I won't even attempt to fill in what has happened during that time. My reason for starting this blog was to establish an online profile to create interest in my books, and nothing has changed in that regard. I apparently dropped the ball on figuring out social media and continued doing what I love; illustrating children's books. I finished the collection of the Wantstobe books (10 total) with the collaboration of a very talented writer; Valerie Harmon. You can find all the links to check out the Kindle, paperback, and enhanced versions (animated with sound effects, music and dramatized narration) on our website wantstobe.com.

My husband was tired of being an illustrator's widow so he pulled me into house remodeling projects for the next seven years. We could have had an HGTV series called Midlife Makeover with all that we did during that time; including the drama. We finally finished our "last" big project this year. I'm not sure our kids believe that we are done, but now we're helping them with their fixer uppers. The title of the series is now more accurately called Retired Renos.

Between house projects I jumped on the computer to begin the next phase of my dream; making animated picture books. The name Tapdoodle came to mind as I thought about young viewers tapping on the screen to operate large equipment in my first book called Construction Works. My grandson requested I make a book about cooking and 5 months later Cooking Works was added to the list. Since my first blog, 10 more grandchildren have come into the world and I love to see their reactions when I share with them my latest book. I can imagine thousands of children's eyes growing large when they tap on the screen and a helicopter scoops water out of a lake to put out a raging forest fire (see the animated page in the attached video). In order for this to happen I have to put out the word that my books exist! You can find links to all my books by clicking on the "shop" tab at the top of the Tapdoodle Facebook page here.

In future blogs I plan on sharing about the process of creating animated picture books so I'll be in touch (before 8 more years have passed).



Monday, November 17, 2014

Cleaning Out the Closet

When my family combined two households into one five years ago we rented a large storage unit. We weren't ready to part with our "prized" possessions. As the years passed our trips to the storage unit became more infrequent and this summer I got an idea to change a spider infested room under our backyard deck into a usable storage space.

Finally I was ready to tackle what seemed like an impossible task. I dragged out 2 dusty truckloads of lumber, wire, tubing, old inner tubes, rusted camping gear, re-bar, etc. before I could see the room's potential. Luckily I have a hardworking husband and 3 strong sons who did the next phase--removing the stored coal and spreading an inch of gravel on the floor before a cement floor was poured. After spending a few afternoons sweeping cobwebs from the rafters I was ready for the cement contractor. Our little job was not a priority so the weeks turned into months before the cement truck arrived. 

In the mean time I had plenty to do at the storage unit. Every other day I would load up the back of our pickup truck with boxes and take them home to sort through. Since I hadn't seen most of the contents of each box in five years, it wasn't hard to throw or give most of them away. When the last boxes were place in our new storage space and there was room to spare, I felt a sense of accomplishment. No more monthly bill and everything I own at my fingertips. My only regret was wondering why I hadn't done it sooner! Hopefully I have learned from this and won't put off getting rid of the "stuff" in my personal closet. Change isn't easy--but it is worth it!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Doing What I Love and Being a Grandparent is the Best!

Since September I have been working on animations for the WantsToBe apps which are now available in the iTunes app store. It has been a very enjoyable project as I get to bring life to my illustrations. My husband describes it as an obsession but I prefer it to be the result of finding something I love to do. However, it pales in comparison to the joy that comes from watching my new grandson as he sleeps in my arms. First he tricks me into picking him up when he fusses during a nap so that I'll hold him while he sleeps for 2 more hours. If you have ever watched a newborn baby sleep you will understand what I mean when I say that it is fascinating. His list of facial animations include; half smiles, sighs, eyes half open, crinkled nose, pursed lips, etc. And that is just in the first 5 minutes. Usually he starts waking up about the time his mom and dad return so I get to give him back before the real fussing starts. Being a grandparent is the best!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Anticipation

I am at a stage in life where a month without a major event is not the norm. December was no exception. My son chose that month to be married. Both he and his fiance were working and going to school so it was a crazy time. We decided to switch responsibilities for a variety of reasons and I was in charge of the reception. With the wedding a week before, I figured I had time to pull it together at the last minute.

After a beautiful ceremony and as soon as they left for their honeymoon, I was scrambling to get ready. One morning I woke up at 4 am to start making 600 cookies and by evening that was checked off my list. When the ingredients for our hot chocolate bar were not available, I was saved by the in-laws who had the foresight to purchase the needed supplies before the holidays. All my time, between work and doing things with the family, was taken up with getting through the list.

What really made it possible was the people around me who pitched in and helped. My sister came to the rescue as usual. On the day of the reception she showed up early and we started hauling stuff to the cultural hall to pull it all together. Not long afterwards my friend and her husband came and started decorating the ceiling. Another friend provided trees and lights. My husband was in charge of the sound system and a variety of other duties. My daughter put together an amazing video and she and her husband did the centerpieces. My sons moved tables and chairs and helped where needed. At the start of this process my friend (who once had a wedding business) asked me what my vision was and since I didn't have a clue, she directed the transformation. The result was magical.

As we waited for people to arrive I had a feeling of anticipation, wondering if anyone would show up during the busy holiday season. Would all our work be rewarded with others to share it with? That answer turned out to be YES--the evening was full of many joyful moments with family and friends. As we took down everything, that just hours before we had put up, I was grateful for the memories of that day.

It is now another month with another major event. Valerie Harmon and I have just published our sixth Kindle book, The T-Rex Who Wanted to Be a Long Neck. And as with other milestones, we couldn't have done it without the help of others. I am once again in that moment of anticipation--hopeful that our work will be shared with many. It is about a T-Rex with a terrible temper who realizes that he needs to change. We have a free promotion on Amazon this Saturday, so take the opportunity to get the book and share it with your child. As always, we love to get reviews!

My next big event in February--the coming of my first grandchild!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Lot to be Thankful For

I have a lot to be thankful for this weekend and much has happened since my last post! Most importantly my family is growing with the joining of a new daughter-in-law the end of December and my first grandchild will arrive in February! I am also thankful for the example of my sweet mom who passed away in October. Life is always changing with the coming and going of loved ones. The kids are on Thanksgiving break and we are able to enjoy dinners, games, decorating the tree, movies and all the stuff that goes with the holidays. With the wedding in one month, life is full of small decisions and busier than usual.

On the professional side I am having a blast. Last June I finished illustrating my 10th book and when I said I was finally finished, my husband laughed at me and of course he was right. I was actually disappointed that the work appeared to be done. The process of creating a children's book series had consumed all my spare time for almost 7 months. As Valerie Harmon and I went through the process, we tried to have the animals overcome problems that children can relate to. I think we accomplished that and I am very excited about the last five books we will be publishing next year.

About a month and a half after I was "finished" I discovered a way for me to turn our books into interactive apps. To animate each page and search for ways to make children laugh has been a joy and the exceptional voice talents of Valerie bring the stories to life. We are still working on the sound effects (it was pretty funny to record Valerie snoring like a bear) but our first five stories will soon be available to everyone who has an Ipad! It has been a rewarding year for me in every way and I hope the same goes for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The moral to the story is...




Since the books Valerie and I have published have an unusual ending we have had a variety of reactions in the form of reviews. Most of them are overwhelmingly positive but we appreciate everyone's opinion and are excited that such a simple concept can generate such diverse conversations. Before we published our first book we had our family and friends review and offer suggestions which were greatly appreciated. After making many changes, we had a story we could feel good about.

When I first had the thought that the stories I told my son would be fun in a children's book format, I did not realize that every book has a moral. My aunt who taught children's literature at a university informed me that the best books present a moral without hitting the reader over the head with it with a 2 x 4 (metaphorically speaking). Our early readers helped us to accomplish that and for those that are confused with what message we want to covey, I hope to clarify that. As I stated before, my first thought in illustrating this series was to recreate the experience I had with my son as we imagined what a snake would have to do that horses do so he could become one in the end. It was a silly and imaginative game that we played. Each night as he chose another two animals I had to stretch my imagination to come up with a different bedtime story. Animals are amazing subjects and their many characteristics made for unlimited storylines.

Illustrating them is just as wonderful as telling stories about them because they are so unique and each species is designed perfectly. Unique to humans is our ability to imagine and a sense of humor to go along with it. Part of the human experience is to confront a problem and if we can't find a solution to it, there are others we can go to who can help us. Some readers are unsettled by the stories because the animals change. The physical change is just for fun and is not meant to be critical of God's creations or suggest that humans or animals can change themselves in the way it happens in our books. Rather I hope that our stories foster discussions about how with perseverance and reliance on those who have been there for help and advice, we can accomplish more than we can imagine.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Vacation

It seems like Spring Vacation comes more frequently as I get older. There was a time when I had five children at home during the break but now I am just down to one. I find it interesting that for me this time of year means twice the work. I am not complaining, just amused that "vacations" are never that for parents. For the first time I don't have to worry about keeping my youngest occupied. He has a purchasing goal in mind so he is looking for every way possible to earn a buck.

It has been a great week so far. Or latest book The Alligator Who Wanted to Be a Dog was a #1 Bestseller in it's category yesterday! Tomorrow we are going to Washington to celebrate my Mother-in-Law's 85th birthday. It was supposed to be a surprise visit but apparently the word is out. The trip will be memorable as always with six in a van, bags of Doritos and road games to play. My husband is usually the only one awake after we pass through Salt Lake City. I guess these spring breaks come quickly because we usually end up doing the same thing; visiting family and friends. We do it year after year because the relationships we have are the spice of life. And there sure is a variety of spices in the cabinet!