Friday, July 03, 2015

Poetry Friday: Grave for a One-Week-Old Chick

My daughters have been house/dog/chicken sitting for the past week. It has been a fun experience for them overall, I think. They've had a chance to spend a few nights on their own, away from mom and dad, having to fend for themselves for food, and being responsible for the care of two dogs and a few dozen chickens!

All has gone well overall, except for the tragic, untimely death of one baby chick. My daughter wrote a poem about that experience and gave me permission to post it here on my blog for Poetry Friday.

Enjoy! And then head on over to Mainely Write for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Grave for a One-Week-Old Chick

With my hands I returned him to the soft earth,
a snug (if somewhat stifling) bed
of packed dirt,
topped with a twine-and-twig cross
and a bouquet of wildflowers.

I know it seems
but it was the least I could do
to make a decent grave.
I mean,
a plastic bag is such an ugly thing,
meant for holding the refuse
of an unfinished meal,
not the delicate, still-warm remains
of a wee baby chick.

He was shrunken in death,
feathers on one side matted
from the inconsiderate bustlings
of his loud and pushy wash bin-mates.
They must have sensed his frailty,
his exhaustion,
long ago,
and resigned him to his fate.
No mourning on their part,
no weeping
or gnashing of beaks.

The realism of the natural world is cruel,
but efficient.
And hope
is an inconvenience with which,
it appears,
only humans have been burdened.

(c) 2015 Samantha Gomez

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Moose's First Public Appearance (a.k.a. my first signing)

Saturday was a big day. Moose and friends and I made our first public appearance at The Bookworm in Omaha, Nebraska!

I was nervous at first, but the Bookworm staff was awesome, and lots of people came, and everyone seemed to enjoy the reading of the book. My favorite moment was when I asked a little boy what he thought of the book and he answered simply, "Great!" How's that for a one-line review?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Visit to a Tree House

A few days ago my family visited the Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I wonder what Moose and his friends would have thought of the tree houses we saw there?

It's called the Canopy Tree House because, once you get to the
 top, all you can see is the forest canopy!
The little house is a mini-museum with tons of information
about trees and forests.
The view from one of the platforms.
This tree house is part of an outdoor learning classroom. Here
kids (and adults) can rearrange the draping fabric to make "the
tree house of their dreams." 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Launch Party Photos! (and announcing the WINNER)

Tuesday was a wonderful day filled with lots of book love, a celebratory lunch out with my hubby and kids, and a small gathering of friends and family who helped celebrate the launch of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?!

Here are just a few photos highlighting my little event.

Sugar cookies featuring the many faces of Moose! We had
party punch too!

We had coloring pages for the kids; pre-press proofs and an F&G
to show off; and an old-fashioned drawing for a free book. When
the kids heard they could win a copy of the book, they were eager
to put their names in the hard hat! Adults too! My nephew Brandon
was the lucky winner.

Of course there were books on display. They got a lot of

Coloring pages and a hard hat -- who could resist?

Reading and coloring.

I did two readings of the book. Adults and kids all seemed to
enjoy the story. There were plenty of giggles. 

This group is seeing the WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? trailer
for the first time.

Most of the evening was spent visiting with friends and family,
talking about the book, the publishing process, and other projects
and books to come. It was a wonderful night!

And now, the moment you have been waiting for. The winner of the signed copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? is...

Mrs. K Lewis!

Congratulations, Mrs. K! Check your inbox for an email from me!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


They say not to start out writing a picture book with a lesson in mind. Write the story, they say, and let the lesson work itself out as you go.

Generally, I agree with that rule. But when Corey and I wrote WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? that's not what happened.

It started when Corey was...inspired? her bossy-pants daughter. "Let's write a story about bossiness," she said to me one day.

We just so happened to have the perfect group of characters to work with; they were from the very first manuscript we ever wrote together. From there we had to decide what this group of friends would be doing, and which friend was the most likely to get carried away with bossiness.

To be honest, the details are a little fuzzy now, but it wasn't too hard to decide that the friends should build something and that Moose would get a little megaphone happy!

That was NINE years and many drafts ago.

And now, WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? is here!

So if you have a bossy little moose in your house, or if you just enjoy reading fun, rhyming stories with your kids, I hope you'll check out WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?!

P.S. Also, the Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? ends tonight!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Moosey Monday: Interview with Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi

It is officially launch week for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, and to add to the fun, I interviewed the
book's talented illustrator Keika Yamaguchi.

Keika is the illustrator of the picture books SICK OF BEING SICK, PUDDLE PUG, and now WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?! She lives in Los Angeles, CA. You can find more about her and her art by visiting her website, Keika's House.

And now, on to the interview!

The characters in What About Moose? are all so adorable. I especially love Toad, with his little goggles. Do you have a favorite? 

I must say, my favorite is the Moose. He's has a interesting personality, and has a squishy bottom!

Aw, Moose is so happy that he is your favorite!

What was the most challenging part of illustrating Moose's story? 

Some of the most challenging part of illustrating this story was to find a step by step instruction of how to make an actual treehouse or playhouse. I tried to find one that has similar instruction to the way the manuscript was written. All the terms for construction, I was not familiar too so I had to look them up as well.

That was a challenge in the writing of the story too, Keika!

I love that you added your own vision to the illustrations, such as including characters that aren't mentioned in the text, but still become part of the overall story. How do you decide what kinds of extra touches to add? 

Thank you! I decided to add the side characters to help emphasize that Moose's behavior are rude. It is disruptive to not only the opinions of his friends but also from perspective of others. I usually look to add extra touches like these to help get the sense of the world/setting that the characters live in as well.

What do you look for in a story when deciding whether to pursue an illustration project? 

So far, I had been pursuing a project that I get a vivid vision when I read the manuscript or when I am drawn to the main character in the story. When I picked up the manuscript for Moose, I couldn't help but giggle!

What is your illustration process like? 

 First, as I read the manuscript, next to each page break, I jot down as many visions that naturally come to me with pencil in as rough thumbnails. Then I slowly narrow it down to number of pages there are suppose to be in the book. Once I have the compositions I want, I then scan them into my computer, expand the size of each spreads to actual size of the book and print them out and draw on top of them, and staple it together into a book format, and flip through them. Making sure that the pages flow well together. Once I like how it looks, then I clean them up and send the images in for approval. Upon getting the confirmation, I paint. For Moose, I used Photoshop. 

Have you always pursued art? What made you decide to become an illustrator?

 No. I decided to pursue art within my last few months of senior year in high school. Until then, I was pursuing music. I was trying biology as well, but I learned that I was horrible at memorizing all the terms, I decided to back out of it. I knew I wanted to do something with art during college, but I didn't decide to pursue as an illustrator until I had the opportunity to work on Sick of Being Sick, where I rediscovered my passion for children's books.

Do you have a favorite picture book? A favorite illustrator? 

One of the books that is most close to my heart is called MISS NELSON IS MISSING by Harry Allurd and James Marshall. When I was about 7 years old, I was very behind with my use and understanding in English because it was my second language, and it had been only few years since I came to the U.S. I usually stayed away from reading, but this book, I really wanted to understand what was written in it. During the story time at the school library, my classmates looked so focused and laughed so hard as the librarian read out loud. I was determined to read it, and with the help of easy to read text, and the size of the text helped me finally read and understand an English language book all by myself. I was quite proud and very happy with myself. As far as your question about a favorite illustrator, right now I can't get enough of Michael Sowa.

What else can we expect to see from you in the future? 

 My next book, TEENY TINY TOADY, written by Jill Esbaum, is coming out next Spring. I'm also working on writing my own stories as well.

Awesome! Considering how much I love Toad in WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, I can't wait to see what you do with this toad! And how neat that you are pursuing writing too.

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Keika. Here is to the success of our little bossy Moose and all of his friends!

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? releases TOMORROW, June 9th! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a
chance to win a signed copy.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

One More Week Until Launch! And a GIVEAWAY!


I can't believe it.

In one week, my first ever picture book will be hitting the shelves!

To celebrate, and to reward all of you who have stuck with me through this long journey, I am giving you a chance to win a copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, signed by both Corey and me!

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below. Easy cheesy!

The contest begins today and goes until 12:00 a.m. (central time) on June 10. The winner will be announced before noon that day.

Good luck, and thank you for all of your support!

a Rafflecopter giveaway