Survivor: Parent Style

With camp having ended and school not starting until September 6th, I’m feeling a bit like Albert Brooks in this scene.*

Needless to say, my writing has pretty much come to a halt.  But I guess that can be a good thing.  Since writing is one of those tasks where you’re constantly working on something, whether you’re actually sitting at a computer or not, I figure some time away is an opportunity to get new ideas and a fresh perspective before starting full steam ahead come September.

So, over the last few weeks, my son has helped me recharge my writing batteries at mini golf, the water park, and an indoor play space.  At mini golf, the mosquitoes took one look at me, and I’m pretty sure I heard them squeal with delight, bat their wings, and point:  ”Charge! Dinner! Target Acquired!”  At the water park, one single ride washed away my Keratin hair treatment.  (But I suppose it was worth it to see the smile on my son’s face when I got dunked. Again and again.)

By our fifth or sixth trip to the indoor play space (it all blurs after a while), I figured if I give my son $20 for tokens that should keep him busy for a bit, and maybe I could work on my laptop.  NOT!   In 5 minutes, he blew through $20, and then he was nice enough to nag for more.  It goes without saying, even I could take the hint.  Robin, put the computer down, and slowly walk away.

Ten more days to go.  But who’s counting?

p.s. I also forgot to mention that my son was kind enough to fly his remote control helicopter into my mess of hair earlier today.  Good times.  There must be a picture book in all of this somewhere.

*Source: Defending Your Life (1991).

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By rnewman504

Do You Know What Today Is?

Calendar

Random Fictional Reader:  Yes, it’s August 27, 2013.

Me:  Besides that.

Random Fictional Reader:  It’s the day the Guinness Book of World Records was first published in 1955.

Me:  True.  But what else?  Think BIG.

Random Fictional Reader:  It’s the day the first hydrogen balloon flight reached 900 meters in altitude in 1783.

Me:  True.  True.  Think BIGGER.  Think MONKEYS!

Random Fictional Reader:  MONKEYS?  As in OOH OOH, EEE EEE, AAH AAH, I eat bananas kind-of-monkeys?

Me:  One in the same.  🙂

Random Fictional Reader:  You have me stumped.

Me:  It’s . . . It’s . . . Drum roll please . . .

It’s the day anxious kidlit fans have been waiting for since forever.  (All right, maybe not forever, but at least a few months, almost a year.)  It’s the day you can go out and finally buy Warning: Do Not Open this Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe.

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It’s available on:

Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Warning-Not-Open-This-Book/dp/1442435828/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377393954&sr=8-1&keywords=warning+do+not+open+this+book

Barnes and Noble, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/warning-adam-lehrhaupt/1114315869?ean=9781442435827

and at a bunch of supercool independent bookstores.

And wait!  If you haven’t already checked out the trailer for this awesome book, please take a peek below.  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  🙂

Happy Birthday Blog!


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Today marks my blog’s one-year anniversary.  And what an amazing year it’s been!

Originally, I didn’t want the blog.  What to put on it was a big concern.  If you have one, you have to put something on it—even if it’s the word “something.”  And I seriously wondered how many times I could do that.

But the great Kathy Temean, who designed my amazing website and blog, convinced me it was important.  I’m so glad she did.

The blog’s taken me out of my comfort zone.  And as a writer, it’s good to get out once in a while.

Some highlights from the past year include:

  • Interviews with The Rockdoves, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Jill Davis, Tara Lazar, Corey Rosen Schwartz, Doreen Cronin, Summer J. Hart, Rosanne Kurstedt, Becca Zerkin, Tori Corn, Monica Wellington, Ame Dyckman, and Adam Lehrhaupt;
  • Meeting Mara Rockliff and William Low at their book signing for Me and Momma and Big John at the Bank Street Bookstore;
  • Tori Corn and Danielle Ceccolini’s book launch for What Will It Be, Penelope?;
  • The 2013 NJ SCBWI annual conference; and best of all,
  • Learning that my two hard-nosed mouse detectives, Wilcox & Griswold, were heading to Creston Book for their first adventure, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake (release date, TBD).  Woo-hoo!

After all of this, I just want to shout out a very big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me through this adventure.

thankyou

Please stay tuned . . . there’s more to come!

Warning: Adam Lehrhaupt’s Debut Picture Book Is Going to Make You Laugh

I am thrilled to interview the super funny and wildly creative, Adam Lehrhaupt, today.

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Adam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm.  He firmly believes that opening a book is a good thing, even if there are monkeys in it.  Adam lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife, two sons, and two of the most bizarre little dogs that you will ever meet.  In his spare time, Adam does a bit of writing.  His writing spans multiple styles, from poetry to fiction to nonfiction, and is primarily geared towards children.  Adam’s first book, Warning: Do Not Open This Book! (illustrated by Matthew Forsythe, Simon & Schuster), is coming out on August 27, 2013.

Adam, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview.

My pleasure, Robin.  Happy to be here.  For some reason I feel like that should be read in a pompous newscaster voice.  Can we do that?

Absolutely! 🙂

*Pompous newscaster voice*  “My pleasure, Robin.  Happy to be here.”  Ah, much better.  Thanks.

Holy Smokey, Batman!  You’ve had a lot of really interesting jobs—from artist, to working for a lighting company that lead you to tour with The Allman Brothers, Dave Mathews Band, Boys II Men, to working with Dave Copperfield on Broadway, to working on a kibbutz, and to becoming a Senior Art Director for a gigantic international corporation. How did ALL of this lead you to writing children’s books?

I’ve had an affinity for writing since high school.  I wrote snippets of stories or ideas in the margins of all my books.  When I was on tour and traveling, I kept a journal.  Eventually, I sat down to write my great American novel.  It was going to be full of war and politics and deep thinking, but what came out was a goofy little poem about a puppy.  Instead of struggling to write my novel, I continued to write what came out.  At first, it was just a lot of simple rhyme, but eventually I started writing some manuscripts.  Not good manuscripts mind you, that came later.  But it was something with a beginning, middle, and end.

On your blog, you write about the “fine art of failing to succeed.”  What does that mean to you?

It means that you shouldn’t be afraid of failure.  A lot of great success stories start with colossal failures.  Henry Ford had to fail numerous times before he found success with the Model T.  Einstein followed some wayward paths before coming up with his theory.  There are mounds of great failures that produced something great.  I failed to write the novel that I wanted, but succeeded at writing a great picture book.  Failing successfully is an art that few people practice.  You have to be open to change.  You need to be willing to try new things. And, you need to embrace your failures.  I fail spectacularly.  It’s really something to see.

I have a six-year old with selective hearing.  If I yell, “Free iPads!” he will be at my feet in a heartbeat.  If I holler, “Bedtime,” I’ll get a response akin to: “Que? No hablo Ingles.” And if I tell him NOT to touch something, you can be 100% sure that he will have his hands on it in no time.  (To his credit, selective hearing has fine-tuned his lawyering skills. :))

So, when I heard the title of your book: Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, I knew this book was written for impatient, non-listening tykes like my little angel.  How did the book come about?  And how did you come up with that awesome title?

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In spring of 2010, my family and I took a trip to Roatan, Honduras.  The resort we stayed at had a troupe of monkeys.  By the early afternoon, these monkeys would be running around the beach stealing drinks, sunglasses, suntan lotion, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.  Every time we saw them, my kids would yell, “Naughty monkeys!” It became a mantra.  I started wondering what would happen if I put these monkeys in a book.  What would they do?  What trouble could they cause? Thus, my manuscript was born.  Yes, I did just find a way to squeeze ‘thus’ into a sentence.  Doing a happy dance now.

The title came from my publisher.  I think it’s great because it invites kids to behave like the Naughty Monkeys that the story is about.

The book trailer is beyond adorable!  And I love the music.

Did you get to work on the trailer, as well?

I did.  It was a lot of fun.  I storyboarded the whole thing myself and a friend helped put it together.  The music is from Conan the Barbarian, the original Arnold version, not that no-Arnold-having remake.  It’s actually the song my wife walked down the aisle to.  I’m told our wedding was quite the spectacle.

I know writers and illustrators don’t generally collaborate.  Has this been your experience?

Yep.  I didn’t even speak to Matt until this past December when everything was all finished up. He’s an awesome illustrator.  I couldn’t be happier with what he did on this book.  I sometimes wonder what would be different if we had talked before he started drawing, but the illustrations are so cool.  All things considered, I’m glad it worked the way it did.

Since you are an artist, have you also thought about illustrating?

I go back and forth on this.  Some day I might illustrate something, but right now I’m enjoying the collaborative process.  There is something awesome about seeing your ideas through someone else’s filter.  If done the right way, they become better than they could have been if you had done it all yourself.  That said, we’ll see.  Especially if I write something with lots of skulls and roses in it.  I’m awesome at 1980’s hair metal album art.

Can you give your fans the scoop on some of your current projects?

I have a few finished manuscripts, I’m adding to my poetry collection, and I’m writing, writing, writing.  Hopefully the monkeys will have some more adventures.  If they can behave themselves.  You know how monkeys can be.

How can your fans get a hold of you if they’d like you to do a school visit?

The best ways to reach me are through email me@adamlehrhaupt.com, on Twitter (@Lehrhaupt) or my facebook page (facebook.com/adamlehrhaupt).  I also show up if you shine the Adam logo into the night sky.  Or I would.  If there was a big light with an Adam logo on it.

And how can they buy your book?

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! will be available via Indie and chain booksellers worldwide, starting August 27, 2013.

Madeleine, my faithful, over-worked, ever-hungry, ill-mannered four-legged companion (and as you can see a trained killer!), would like to know if your bizarre little dogs have an opinion on the best Philly cheesesteaks?

madeleine2

The 19 year old Chihuahua, Hui, would say Mike’s, on South Street, is the best.  They chop up the meat real well and he’s not doing so well in the tooth department anymore.  These things are important to him.

Doggles

The new guy, Thor, is a Chinese Crested.  He doesn’t eat people food. Not because he doesn’t like it, but because it doesn’t agree with him.  If he did, I imagine he’d go with Pat’s or Gino’s. He’s trendy like that.  With him, it’s all about how cool he looks.

Thor-chinesecrestie

And by the way, what makes your bizarre little dogs so bizarre?

Chihuahuas are just odd little animals.  They shake for no apparent reason.  They bark when they should be quiet and hide when they should bark.  Hui’s no different.  He’s all mixed up. Thor is a whole different story.  Chinese Crested dogs are one of the hairless breeds.  He just has hair on his head, paws and tail.  It’s very bewildering.  Neither animal will go outside in the cold or rain.  They’re just strange.  To me, a dog should be larger and mostly weather ambivalent.  Needless to say, I didn’t have much say in our dog choices.

Lastly, do you have any advice for new authors?

Write.  Then write some more.  If you’re writing for kids, join SCBWI.  Go to some conferences or events.  Join a critique group, or find someone who will give you an honest critique of your work.  Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.

Adam, thanks again for doing this interview. All the best and much success.

Thank YOU Robin.  This was a lot of fun.  Keep your eyes peeled for Naughty Monkeys.  They can cause quite the ruckus.