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NEW blog: Lights without Sirens

lightswithoutsirens

Followers of this blog—and my real life friends—will know that for the time being, I have stopped making children’s books. It sort of stopped being fun. I wish I could explain it.

Instead, for the last year I have been riding ambulance both for fun and profit. The pay is terrible but every day is an adventure!

In the event readers want to keep up with me, I have started a blog about this new chapter, called: Lights without Sirens. Click the link and join me.

P.S. In order to keep that blog anonymous—you know, patient privacy and all that—this announcement will be deleted in a few days time.  If you wish to ride along, there is a “follow” button on the blog for your convenience). 

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Older than Elvis!

A friend just reminded me that my birthday is this week. I really forgot. I guess that’s what happens at this stage of life. Yep, this week I turn 44… so that makes me older than Elvis.

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The King died in 1977 at the ripe old age of 43. It seems like just yesterday. Here we are on the set of Viva Las Vegas. Man, how time flies.

If you’ve got no money, well, that’s all right …

(or What I learned from Woody Guthrie).

When I first got into publishing kids books, there were two things I vowed I’d never do: I would never publish a Christmas (or Hanukkah) book, and I would never illustrate a “celebrity book”.

But a funny thing happened on the way to my drawing table:

Honeyky Hanukah Jacket

But first a quick back story: About a year and a half ago I was having creative differences with my long time publisher on a book they had asked me to do. Not being dumb enough to talk out of school on the internet, I’ll just say the differences were irreconcilable, and leave it at that. We tore up our contract and I decided I was done with publishing.

Heading into winter, with money running out, I got busy looking for other ways to earn a living. Kind of tough in this economy, especially with the limited skill set of an author/illustrator.

Things were looking bleak. Drywall finishing and house painting were my most likely options. And as it was late fall, even this was a stretch.

So, as you can imagine, I was very happy to come home from a day of hanging up “will-paint/drywall-for-food” flyers, to find an eMail in my inbox from Random House, with the subject line: Potential Picture Book Project.

I opened the eMail and I was a little bummed out to read that they were talking about a “hanukkah book”.

Ugh. Just because my name is Horowitz—and I wrote a book about Gefilte Fish—why do publishers keep pitching me “Jewish books”? (I don’t consider myself a Jewish artist any more than I consider myself a bald artist). You won’t believe how many times I’ve turned down illustrating Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. (It was four times).

But I digress.

I read the rest of the eMail and the project starting looking better and better. The book was to be an illustrated version of a long, lost Woody Guthrie tune, written in the late 1940s, for his Mother-in-law, who was a famous Yiddish poet at the time.

Not a student of folk music I did a little research on Mr. Guthrie. I knew he wrote This Land is Your Land and I knew that his son was Arlo Guthrie, who wrote that interminable Alice’s Restaurant, but other than that I knew nothing.

My first Google-search found this picture:

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What does that read on his guitar?: “This Machine Kills Fascists”. Instantly he had my attention. Here’s a guy I can work with.

Then I read the song’s lyrics. They were actually good. No, better than that, they truly spoke to me. Check out this chorus:

It’s Honeyky Hanukah, huggy me tight,
It’s Hanukah day, and it’s Hanukah night,
If you’ve got no money, well, that’s all right.
It’s Honeyky Hanukah time.

“If you’ve got no money, well, that’s all right”? Wow…. “I have a little dreidel” this isn’t.

A little more googling found a recording of the song by the Klezmatics—which it turned out would be included with the book on a CD—and I was hooked! On first listen I knew I had to illustrate this book. And I’m so grateful I did …

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 … because in the process I learned something valuable. But I’ll let you find the book for yourself and see if you can’t figure out what it is. Here’s a little hint: it has to do with joy!

Happy Hanukah!

’tis the Season


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Ugly Pumpkin season, that is!

As Michael Corleone saidjust when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I keep saying I’ve quit publishing, but I keep getting requests for school and library visits. How can I say, no? I guess people just love to hear the Ugly Pumpkin this time of year.

Guess I do, too. But its much more fun to hear you read it.

Here are some of my favorite readings from across the internet:

This one is my hands down favorite. A full re-enactment:


And here it is in sign-language (sort of):

This kid reads it better than me:

A fine interpretation. And, Oh my Gosh! that is a high note (wait for it).

This is my other favorite one. Oh the feels:

So if you’re feeling “ugly” this season, go ahead and record your own version today, or visit my online shop and represent!:

mughoodHappy Halloween Thanksgiving!

Paying it forward …

When you make kids’ books you will often hear: Oh, I have a great idea for a children’s book, or my sister has a great idea for one, or my anesthesiologist has a terrific idea… can you send it to your agent/publisher?

The truth of the matter is, sending a book or an artist, to an agent or publisher rarely does much. (Now more than ever publishers are looking for known quantities).

But, every once in a while I hear from someone with enough ambition of their own, to just go for it. (It was the reason I made this HOW TO eBOOK guide/blog after all).

51nyyEn86XL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_One such artist is Drake Aschliman. When he finished his book, he thanked me in the comment section of my guide/blog and asked for nothing else but a critique. Not only that but he also made his eBook FREE from today until Sunday the 28th.

How could I say no to a man with a great story and some initiative? And how can you say no to a free eBook. I hope you will check out CREATURE CLARK today, and give it a bunch of stars on Amazon.

And if you publish a great (free) eBook let me know. I may not be able to pass you on to a interested publisher—but I can get the word out to my readers!

the Gunks all year

A short film of pictures from the last year:

I love this place.

What I did this summer.

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Readers of this blog will know that I don’t generally post my life story online. I don’t even Facebook (is that still a thing?).

But, I just received my EMT-B card in the mail last week and I feel it at least deserves a post. Going back to school was way harder than I thought it would be, and the state tests were no cakewalk. Luckily, I had a lot of help from some very able colleagues.

Now that I’m a tech, I just hope they still let me drive the truck, sometimes. After all that is the fun part.

Be safe out there… I still don’t really know what I’m doing!

Fire Truck Siren

 

Fire Truck Siren was recorded last year by me and the boys. The video is made up of archival footage from the Boston FD from the early 1930s. We may have outdone ourselves with this jam. 

And speaking of jam…

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Looks like today’s the day. YUM!

The Big Red/Blue Truck

Readers of my other blog will know that I just got back from New Hampshire. While there, I shot a bunch of B-roll and put together the following video:

The song was recorded by my band, the Working Man’s Trio, back in 1993, when we were called the Slip

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The truck in the video is the very truck we used as our band vehicle in Oregon, back in the day. Back then though it was blue. Hauled a lot of gear that old Chevy did. Thing must have a million and a half miles on it.

Rock on, big red/blue truck!

Oh, Dang… Dam!

 

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The buoy above the dang dam in High Falls: