Sunday, October 17, 2010

"A Haunting We Will Go!"

There is something magical about an eerie autumns night...

The air is crisp and cold, ghostly cold! The moon shines it's silvery light on the world below, casting strange shadows across the October landscape. You pause to listen, hearing only the sound of the autumn leaves as the tumble to the ground. Out of the corner of your eye something moves, your heart quickens..."What was that?!!"

 Such is the magic of Halloween, that mystical time of year when the ghouls and goblins of your imagination can run free. It's a holiday rooted in ancient pagan rituals, transformed into a celebration of childhood and imagination, a time for everyone to be childlike again.

For me, I've always had strong memories of Halloween from my childhood. The vibrant and slightly sinister decorations that would adorn our home at that time always sparked my imagination. One was a large, jointed, cardboard skeleton that would grace our living room wall, we also had a cardboard witch with the most sinister smile! We had various cut outs of Jack-o-lanterns that we would tape up on the windows, the graphics were so sharp and detailed, stark images in black and orange. I remember the joy of creating Halloween decorations in school, bright orange pumpkin headed creatures with crinkly black arms and legs...oh the joys of construction paper, safety scissors and paste!!
The carving of the jack-o-lantern is a yearly ritual that cannot be neglected!! I dare say I haven't missed a carving for as long as I can remember. Even as a young eligible bachelor, carving a pumpkin for my own enjoyment was a secret indulgence of mine. You can't celebrate Halloween without a jack-o-lantern!!! The smell of the freshly cut pumpkin, the feel of it's inner's the stuff of memory! You would then simply light the candle, turn off all the lights, and bask in it's hallowed, orange glow. 

There are so many fond memories of this ghostly season, memories of watching your children go trick or treating for the first time, of seeing through them what having a real excitement for life is all about. 

I created the characters pictured above as decorations for the outside of our home, some of them are over twelve years old, but they are still going strong today. My wife told me I should write a story about them way back then, and so I did, it was called "The Scarecrows Halloween".   The story centers around a forgotten scarecrow who, now get this...comes to life on Halloween night!! Okay, not real original, but it's a time honored story line in children's literature and by God I was a gonna use it! The main focus of the story though was that the scarecrow and all the decorations of Halloween who came to life on that magical night, realized that they needed to live for that moment, because by morning the magic would be over and they would go back to being lifeless again. "The time is quickly fleeting! The time to live is now!"   That was their battle cry, their mantra so to speak, so they partied like nobodies business until dawn. That's when the Halloween spirits left them and they returned to their lifeless forms, but for that one shining moment, they were truly alive.

I guess that was the message I tried to convey in this story, that the time to live is now. And that's the beauty of this Halloween season, to run with your imagination and experience the wonderment of life as a child again...

"For the time is quickly fleeting!!! The time to live is now!!!"

Happy Halloween everybody...and don't try to steal my idea, I've already copyrighted it!!!! hee hee hee!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Tree Out Front"

The maple out in front of our house has sat there, rooted firmly in the soil, for over twenty years I'm sure. We've lived here for almost seventeen, and the tree was barely a step above a twig when we moved in.

As time went by, the tree grew and thrived, it kept a most agreeable form and proportional was in fact a truly magnificent sight!! The trunk is straight and smooth, the branches reach skyward with an almost flawless poetic grace, it's foliage is thick and robust. It is a tree for the ages!!

But when the waning light and cooling temperatures of September begin to work their magic, it becomes a thing of legend! By the first week of October, our maple had reached the perfection of autumn gold. Granted some maples scream with the most stunning of scarlet, a maybe far more adventurous, or dare I say sexier shade of leaf. But I have only the deepest of respect for our dear maple, resplendent in it's shawl of pure autumnal gold.

Framed against the autumn sky, the clearest and purest blue you will ever find in nature, it almost vibrates....nay radiates a beauty that cannot be captured by mere words or by paint upon the canvas!! It must be witnessed in person. You need to stand beneath it's cathedral like canopy of gold and breath in it's rich and intoxicating aura, for there is nothing as sweet, or as life affirming, as the smell of autumn leaves.

So as I sit at the dinning room table, the vision of this most sacred tree framed neatly by the window at the front of our house, I ponder it's beauty. I think about how much value it's added to my daily life these past few weeks, how it has inspired me to write and create, how it has lifted my spirit to soar with the eagles!!! And then I ponder yet another thought..."When are those kids ever gonna rake that mess up!!"

Happy autumn everybody!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My secret identity as a...."Regional Author"

Last Winter I received an e-mail from the Northern Lights Library Network to invite me as a "regional author" to their "Spotlight On Books" conference at Sugar Lakes Lodge near Grand Rapids, MN.

As a "regional author", I would have my conference registration and my meals paid for, they would order a number of my books that they would sell for me to sign, and I would get to network with a number of media specialists from northern Minnesota....all at the beautiful Ruttgers Sugar Lake Lodge! I thought they had me mistaken for somebody else, I went anyway, and had the time of my life!

So that was my introduction to the wonderful world of library conferences and my role, or should I say my secret identity, as a "regional author". "So I get to go to neat places, visit with neat people, get free food and sign my books....sweet!!!" I could get used to doing that!

Imagine my joy when I received an e-mail invitation from the Minnesota Educational Media Organization inviting me, "regional author Greg Budig", to attend their 2010 conference at the St. Cloud Civic Center on October 1st. I wondered if I could start doing this for a living? Sure beats the hell out of working in a warehouse!!

I arrived early Friday morning and picked up my name tag and conference packet, found the author signing table and then went to breakfast. My cousin Nancy, who is the media specialist at Becker High School in Becker, MN, was able to show me around and help me get situated. Always nice to know people in high places!! I was glad to see some of the other "regional authors" who appeared with me at the Spotlight On Books conference in attendance at this conference, at least I wouldn't be totally on my own. Later on that day we would participate in the Author Spotlight sessions where we would have a few minutes to talk about ourselves, our books and how we get started in creating children's books...something I need to work on, I think I tend to ramble.

All in all it was a wonderful time! I think I may have gotten a few school visits lined up, I signed quite a few books and got to talk shop with some of my fellow author and illustrators.

My next appearance as "regional author" will be on November 6th at the Women's Expo in New Ulm, MN. I will supply more information on this event when I receive it.

So if anybody out there needs a bonafide "regional author"'ve got your man!!!