What the heck has been going on?

Ok, this is ridiculous. This is only my 3rd blog post this year. Since April things have been different for everybody. Although I lost most of my regular work I’ve ended up being busier than I’ve been in a long time.

A parent tagged me in a picture of their daughter watching me read “They’re Coming!”

Since I was not visiting the schools I was scheduled to visit I decided to do live readings online. For a while I did 3 days a week. The readings were fun to do and I ended up reaching a pretty wide-ranging audience. I had viewers from many countries and I even ended up being interviewed on South African cable news.

My wife’s cousin lives in South Africa and he helped spread the word. I ended up being interviewed on eNCA TV news.

Since I thought I would have a lot of extra time and I would be stuck at home I would get to some home and landscaping projects. I rebuilt our downstairs bathroom, finished the front porch that a contractor abandoned, rented a backhoe to remove some trees and move 10 tones of topsoil and replace a ceiling fan.

Another thing that kept me busy for a while, I had the opportunity to present some toy concepts to a couple of manufacturers. I can’t go into any details about them yet but I have 2 toys out for consideration so I’m waiting with bated breath to hear if they go to contract.

I began to realize that school visits were not going to happen any time this Spring and probably not in the Autumn either. I wanted to be able to offer my presentations virtually so I began figuring out how to do it. I use Keynote, the Mac version of PowerPoint, when I do my in-person visits. The problem is mine is non-linear and it’s hard to navigate when you are sharing your screen. The program lets you export the file as html but it ended up being buggy. Since it was designed more like a website I realized I could just rebuild it as an actual html site and share it through a browser window. It took more than a month to finish it. I will be advertising to schools over the summer, hoping to do a bunch of virtual visits this fall.

This is an animated gif I made for my website, to advertise my “vitual” author visits.

I wanted my Facebook reading videos to look more professional. I did some research and discovered OBS Studio, a live-streaming software. I was able to add graphics and change scenes and cameras. Little did I realize how this would come in handy in June.

Spring book festivals were also being cancelled. The Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival was scheduled for June 13th. The Talbot County Free Library said they would wait until April 15th to decide whether to cancel or not. When we had our meeting to decide it looked like we would have to but someone on the committee said it was a shame that we could not do it online.

My response was “Why not?” Since I had learned to use OBS I suggested that we could do it on the library’s Facebook page. I worked out that I could have the authors Zoom in with me and I could be the engineer and get them online. It took a lot of work but it came off pretty well. We had 1400 viewers over the weekend of the 13th. For copyright reasons we could only leave the recording up for a few days.

The poster for the Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival.

Oh, the only major glitch happened a few weeks before the festival. My 2014 iMac’s screen began to go black intermittently. I didn’t have time to get it repaired so I had to buy a brand new one. With Apple stores closed it took some doing but I found one on Best Buy’s website that I could get delivered in just 4 days.

Now that Summer is officially here I can sit back and relax a bit except that I hate sitting back and relaxing. Now, with my brand new computer I’m looking forward to working on a few new books, some nw toy concepts and some client work. I’m also going to post more here and on Instagram which I have also been neglecting. I’m reading live on my Facebook page once a week, Wednesday mornings at 9:30 Eastern. If you comment on my videos from this month before June 30th and you can win one of 10 signed books I’m giving away.

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