I'm thinking about upgrading Beep for his next adventure with a new look. Less lines and a bit more painterly. What do you think?
This interview originally appeared on the Writing on the Sidewalk blog. I thought I'd repost it here for those of you who might have missed it. Beep and Bah is my second book published by Carolrhoda and available here for purchase. It's the story of a goat (Bah) and a robot (Beep) who go on a cross country adventure to find the match to a missing sock. It's a fun book that kids and parents will both enjoy.
I'm happy to announce that I'm going to be doing a picture book workshop with Dan Santat and Dan Krall on January 20 at the Nucleus Gallery. If you've always wanted to create your own picture book but weren't sure how to do it then this is the perfect place to learn. We will be answering questions, talking about how each of us broke into picture books and walking you through the process of making and publishing them. Hope to see you there.
Here's the details:
CONVERSATIONS WITH CREATORS: WRITING & ILLUSTRATING YOUR OWN CHILDREN'S BOOK
January 20, 2013 1:00PM - 6:00PM
Attend a five-hour workshop lead by three prolific children's book illustrators who have now also become authors. This valuable session will offer one-on-one interaction providing insight for those aspiring to illustrate and even write their own children's book.
The event will be held at:
(1pm - 2:30pm) Panel with Creators
(2:30pm - 3pm) Q & A
(3pm - 6pm) Workshop Seminar
• Layout & Design Tips
• The Best Way to Write Your Book
• Pitching Your Project and Publishing
Bring note-taking materials!
ADMISSION TICKET FOR CONVERSATIONS W/ CREATORS (WRITING & ILLUSTRATING YOUR OWN CHILDREN'S BOOK)
You can purchase tickets on the Nucleus Gallery Website.
The following post was written for Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month. For those of you not familiar with PiBoIdMo, it's a month long event where you're encouraged to come up with a picture book idea for each day of November (30 in all). Every day during the month long event different authors, illustrators, and other publishing greats write posts to inspire and motivate you on your quest. You can read this years posts at taralazar.com. My post, Just Keep Running originally appeared on day 5. Without further ado, here it is:
Just Keep Running by James Burks
About two and a half months ago I decided I was going to start running. I had a few reasons for this decision;
1. I was getting fat.
2. I didn’t feel great about the way I looked.
3. I had seen one too many pictures of myself at various author events from weird angles with more than one chin.
So I bought some cheap running shoes and decided to start running when my kids went back to school after summer break. Keep in mind that I’ve never been a runner. Not when I was a kid, not in high school, not ever. I’d see people running down the street and think that they were crazy. Running was never something that I wanted to do but I was determined to give it a try.
My kids started school on August 14th and as planned I started running. I use the term “running” very loosely here as I was doing more walking than running. I would run as far as I could until my lungs were screaming and my legs were burning and then walk. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. Rinse and repeat. On and on until I had completed thirty minutes. (Around two miles.) At the end of my first run/walk I was pretty sure that I was going to die. My legs were sore and throbbing but I had taken the first step towards a leaner, happier me.
The next day I woke up with sore legs but I still went out running. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. At this point I had no idea that I was supposed to take days off between runs (This was all new to me). I was determined to stick to my new goal regardless of the pain. So I hobbled along running and walking for two weeks straight with only the weekends off to rest.
After two weeks of running I reached a point where my legs were super sore. I could barely sleep at night. I knew I needed to take some time off to let my muscles recover. The funny thing is that I didn’t want to take a break. Even with my legs screaming for relief I loved running. I loved being outside listening to the music on my iPod and I felt really great emotionally. I had a deep sense of accomplishment and I was starting to see some results when I got on the scale. But I knew if I wanted to keep running I’d have to take some time off and let my legs recover.
Lucky for my legs I had a six day book tour of San Francisco the following week. It would be the perfect time for a break.
When I returned from San Francisco I jumped right back into running. My legs felt better but it wasn’t long before they began to hurt again. After some online research and talking to friends who run I came to the conclusion that maybe it was my shoes. So I went to my local running store and twenty minutes later I left with the most expensive pair of shoes that I’d ever bought in my life. The salesman said that they would help absorb some of the impact and give my legs more support. The next day I took the shoes out for a test run and they worked. My legs weren’t near as sore as they had been previously. Success!
At this point I’d been at it for about a month. My legs weren’t hurting quite as bad as before but they were still a little sore. I did a little more research and discovered that it’s a good idea to do some cross training between running workouts. So I dusted the cobwebs off my ten year old mountain bike and hit the bike trail. Riding my bike between running workouts made a huge deference. It gave my legs a day between runs to recover and I was still able to get in a good workout every day.
I really had no idea what I was doing when I started this whole running thing. I just figured it out as I went. The important thing for me was to just keep at it. To make myself get out of bed every day and either run or bike. It didn’t matter how fast I went, it only mattered that I was doing it everyday or almost every day. I would after all take the occasional day off to rest or to sleep in. I hadn’t completely lost my mind.
The funny thing is that the more I worked out, the better I felt, and the better I felt the further I pushed myself to go. I went from running short spurts and walking, to running three to five miles at a time without stopping. I started biking 18 miles on my bike and I felt amazing. Now, every day I go out and I challenge myself to go a little further or a little faster. I go to bed at night looking forward to getting up the next morning and running or biking. It’s crazy. It’s been two and half months since I started and I feel happier and less stressed than ever before. Oh, and I’ve lost twelve pounds and counting. No more extra chins.
Some of you reading this may be asking yourself at this point, “What does this have to do with writing picture books?” Good question. Here’s the thing, no matter what you want to do in life it all starts by taking a step. A single step. That step may be taking a class or starting to draw, or in my case starting to run. It can be anything. You just have to take the step. The more steps you take the easier it will get. Along the way you may step in a puddle or two, or get injured (rejected) and that’s okay. Just take some time off to clean yourself up and recoup. Then when you’re ready, take another step, and another. After a while your steps will get faster and a lot easier, and before you know it you’ll be running. You’ll be pushing yourself to go further and you will be feeling better. You’ll be happier. Who knows maybe some day you’ll even run a marathon or two. All you have to do is just keep running.
It's now been just over four months since I wrote this post. I've continued to run each and every week and I've lost a total of 25 pounds (I'm about 7 pounds away from reaching my goal). I usually run about 3 to 4 times a week. My longest run has been 13.1 miles in just under two hours. Although, tomorrow I'm going to try and see if I can run 15 miles. I've signed up for my first official half marathon race in February in Pasadena. After that I'm going to set my sights on a full marathon (26.2 miles). I just have to work my way up to the point where I can run 20 miles without stopping. They say adrenaline and inspiration will carry you through the last 6.2 miles during the actual marathon. I'll let you know if that's true.
Here's a step by step guide on how to draw Bird. Feel free to print it out. Just do me one favor and make sure you have fun!
I was recently asked if there was somewhere that one could buy/order signed editions of my books. Well, there is. I've partnered up with a local indy bookstore called Once Upon A Time located in Montrose, CA. They've agreed to handle all the orders and I'll be doing all the signing. To order a signed copy of one or all of my books just give them a call at 818-248-9668. I will sign the books as well as do a little sketch inside and they will ship them to you. Here's their website too. www.shoponceuponatime.com
Not only will you be getting some great signed books you'll also be supporting a fabulous indy bookstore.
Here's a sketch that I drew on my iPad using Sketchbook Pro and a Wacom Bamboo stylus. Then I brought it into Photoshop on my desktop and finished it up.
Here's a printable Bird and Squirrel coloring sheet. Print it out, color it, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Mark your calendars, load up your cars with kids and head out to the Pasadena Barnes and Noble next Wednesday night November 14th at 6:30.
I'll be signing copies of Bird and Squirrel on the Run and Beep and Bah. I'll be drawing. I'll be reading. I'll be dancing and singing. There's very little I won't do to sell a book. So come on out and experience the spectacle that is ME.
Pasadena Barnes and Noble:
111 W Colorado Blvd