My Life As A Cartoonist

In my new book, MY LIFE AS A CARTOONIST, the main character, Derek, draws a comic strip where his pet monkey transforms into a hero called SUPER FRANK. This made me wonder what kind of super powers I’D like to have – not to vanquish bad guys and evildoers – but to help me with my writing. Like Derek, it didn’t take long for me to get into super-hero mode – here are some features I’d love to have on my tool belt of gadgets:


THE CRANIUM SHIELD – this protective covering stops all new and fabulous ideas in their tracks as they try to interrupt me while I finish another project. Every You-Have-To-Work-On-This-Immediately scheme will be overpowered by this deluxe shield, not to appear again until the original project is completely, 100% done. So the next time a tiny part of my brain asks, “Are you SURE you don’t want to hear this amazing idea for the Next Giant Bestseller?” I know the Cranium Shield has me covered. Unless the idea is REALLY astonishing….NO! There, it just stopped another one. Whew!

NINJA SHINY STARS – unlike the throwing stars Ninjas use, my throwing stars only target Kirkus, Booklist, Horn Book, and School Library Journal – turning an everyday positive review into a sparkly, glittery Starred Review. (When they’re not being used to accessorize reviews, these stars make great earrings.)


CONVERSION RAY GUN – its powerful rays convert an entire book from any language around the world to English so I can see for myself how accurate the translations of my novels are. MY LIFE AS A…PODIATRIST? No! It’s CARTOONIST! CARTOONIST!

TELEKINETIC FLIPPING – this amazing super power automatically flips my books 45 degrees on a bookstore shelf as soon as I enter the store so the books go from spine out (boo!) to cover out (yay!) The telekinesis is thwarted, however, if any of my books are placed on the same shelf as Stephen King’s CARRIE.


PONCHO OF PATIENCE – this magical cloak guards me during the interminable time that I wait for my editor to read one of my manuscripts. The poncho is safe and comforting, fighting off self-doubt and what-if’s during this vulnerable period. An optional feature lets the security of the poncho extend through the entire rewriting process.

TECHNO THWARTER – this is actually a sidekick of the CRANIUM SHIELD, but instead of obstructing my own ideas, the TECHNO THWARTER zaps my laptop so it can’t access the Internet during my writing time. This handy feature also blocks all tweets, phone calls, and emails as I work. Oh wait, there are REAL techno thwarters to block ALL of these things. Maybe it’s time to stop making up super powers and just get back to work….


Posted on July 14, 2013
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Janet Tashjian
c/o Christy Ottaviano Books
Henry Holt and Company
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New York, NY 10010