Monday, May 16, 2016

My first book and life in the new apartment!

This is going to be one hell of an opening sentence, but here it is: Last week one of my wildest dreams came true!

A book of my comic 'Breaking Cat News' was published by Andrew McMeel Publishing, who is easily the best comics strip publisher around. I'm not bragging; frankly, I'm still in shock. Their comic collections include 'Calvin & Hobbes', 'Far Side', 'Garfield'--and now I can squeeze my little book in between all those great, heavy, incredible tomes, while calling to an echoing library "OH, HELLO ALL MY COMIC HEROES. FANCY SEEING YOUR BOOKS HERE, TOO! WILL YOU BE MY BEST FRIENDS?...NO? OKAY! BYE! I LOVE YOU!" And casually step backwards into a towering stack of bookshelves, knocking them over in a flurry of loose pages and old book dust. Watching in horror as the library stacks collapse one after another like giant dominoes, while I grip my face in both hands mouthing, "OH NO, OH NO, OH NO, OH NO..."

That's about as close as I'll get to my heroes, but I'm still walking around looking for excuses to introduce myself to total strangers as, "Georgia Dunn, published cartoonist."

"Is that my mocha latte? Did you say that's for 'Georgia?' ...'Dunn, published cartoonist?' WHAT? NOTHING."

If you can't tell by my giddy jokes and feverish anxiety fantasies, I'm incredibly excited. Mostly I wish I could go whisper this news in the ear of my 8 year old self and watch her start screaming. Probably things like, "WOW, REALLY? I PUBLISH A BOOK OF COMICS IN 2016?!" And "WHO ARE YOU?!" And "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!"

My first book, (I say "first" with finger quotes and an optimistic grimace) is 'Breaking Cat News: Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats.' It's in bookstores right now, and you can order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound!

If you've known me a long time or followed this blog for a few years, you know this is something I have worked toward since I was a kid. I'm extremely grateful to the folks at GoComics who have given me some pretty amazing opportunities since syndicating the comic. They're like angels who get all my 1980s Garfield Halloween special references.

That's my news on the comic! In our home life, I have good news too: We have a new apartment, and it is lovely.

This year I promised to blog more than I did last year, and I did it! In 2015 I blogged once, and this is my second post since January!


Okay, I might make my goal to try and blog at least once a month! Then work my way to once a week. If I blogged more, is that something folks would like? Let me know in the comments!

As I was saying, since my last post, we have found an apartment in California! If you don't know, my husband Ryan (the Man in 'Breaking Cat News') got a new job this January, and we relocated from Rhode Island to Southern California. 2016 hit the ground running and we've only just begun to look around and take a breath.

Or if you rather, a sniff....
(The boys checking out a new window).

We managed to find a nice apartment with big windows and sunny patios. It is quite the change from our little apartment in the Big Pink House. That apartment was beautiful and will always have a special place in our hearts, but I have to admit--with a toddler, a baby, and three cats, it is a relief to have a bit more space. Ryan and I can watch television at night without worrying about waking the kids. Our son and I can have mini-dance parties while we make dinner. Our daughter can practice crawling in wide laps around the living room. Puck can watch the birds undisturbed. Elvis has new patrols to carry out and spaces to check. Lupin can race up and down the stairs to his psychotic heart's content. We can breathe and spread out a little. It's still not quite the same as when we had our home in Covington, WA, but there are welcome similarities.

For instance, we have a mantle (and a fireplace) again!

The above photo is a collection of the odds and ends we placed on the mantle while unpacking. I glanced at them during a chaotic walk through of our box-and-moving-supplies filled living room and thought they looked charming together. The trees and the star stayed! In the above left of the photo, you can see a picture of us with our son taken in the Covington home we had to sell. The star originally hung above the fireplace there. In the Big Pink House apartment, Ryan and I hung it over our bed. Somehow when we'd lost so much, it felt comforting to have it near. It's really nice to hang it in our new living room. I think it's a good sign.

Below is a photo of our new kitchen!

I call this spot "Pancake Central."

The past couple of months we have taken on the challenge of settling into our new surroundings.

Checking out the local diners.

Unpacking our belongings.

Unpacking the cats.
(JK, Elvis just can't resist a cardboard box in the sun.
Who can?)

The kids and the boys adjusted to the move better than I even hoped. Our daughter took it all in stride. We pretty much just put her down on the new floor and she crawled away into a box of toys. Our son was given a big boy bed, and this seemed to make the transition much more natural somehow. Maybe so much changed that it just sort of made sense he'd be in a new space too. I'm not sure, but he was terrific.

The cats took to the new apartment wonderfully. They spent one afternoon hiding out in our bedroom, and then Elvis emerged with a mental check list of places to investigate for whatever it is he checks spots for. (Snakes, I always imagine). Puck loved the new windows. Lupin could live anywhere from a moving train to a house boat to a shuttle on the Moon, I swear. He is ridiculously adaptable, it's wild! He's just happy to be wherever he is. What a great guy!

The boys eating breakfast.

Gwen's side of the nursery.

The nursery, 75% cleaner than it will never be, ever again.

Luke's new "big boy bed." The frame is from the 1940s, super sturdy
and in beautiful condition. We found it at a secondhand shop. They just
don't make furniture like this anymore!

Luke's crew, featuring his fuzzy penguin, "Pengo," who
occasionally makes appearances in the comic.

Gwen carefully examining a graham cracker.

Me: "Now close your eyes and take a nap."
Luke: "Okay, Mommy."
Makes this face.

Luke asked if we could make the cats one of the cardboard
houses in the game "Neko Atsume." And so, we did! Here's
Lupin checking it out.

Pucky soaking in the sun.

Tea party time!

I temporarily dyed my hair green around St. Patrick's Day!
It's already washed out, alas, but it was stayed for Easter!
Ryan took this Easter Sunday.

Gwen and Ryan. Some bunny loves her Daddy!

We had just about finished unpacking and setting the apartment up, when April dawned. April is a little intense for us, but in a really fun way. Our children are both born in April, almost exactly two years apart (within two weeks, give or take). I'm determined to give them each their own birthday party. I don't know if you've ever had to share birthday parties with a loved one, but I have, and it's the worst. No matter how many paper straws I have to buy in April, these kids are each getting their own day! THIS, I SWEAR!

Gwen's first birthday!
This year FLEW by!
(I really need to finish that blog post
on her birth story!)

Gwen's birthday party theme was "fairy tales."

Table with woodland creature sandwiches! (We used cookie cutters).
Cannot take credit for the cake, our local Whole Foods made it.

Luke patiently waiting for lemonade.
He is wild for lemonade right now!

Auntie Gray came down from Seattle for Gwen's first birthday!
(For 'Breaking Cat News' readers, this is the real 'Intruder!')

Uncle Preston came down too! If you've followed this blog for a while,
Grace and Preston are dating! How cool is that?!

Grace and Pucky sharing a moment.

Luke's third birthday! He had a "Dragons Love Tacos" themed party,
based on the book by Adam Rubin. Luke LOVES that book! 

Our aunt Joanie flew in from RI for Luke's birthday! This is
the cake she brought, with little dragon candles.
 She took this photo, I love it so much! 

Luke wanted everyone to have a party hat, including Buzzy Mouse.

I can't believe Luke and Gwen are three and one already! This past year has gone by so fast. I feel like we just brought Gwen home from the hospital, and she's already practicing standing and starting to talk!

At the end of April we visited Seattle for the North West Majors, and that should probably be another post in the future. Our friends pooled together to surprise us with plane tickets, two more friends let us stay in their condo in exchange to care for their adorable dog and cat (and you know how I feel about cats!) and it was just an excellent time. It was the first time we'd returned to Washington since we had to leave. When Ryan and I walked into the airport we were each hit with the feeling that we'd come home after a long, weird vacation. I'll try to write another post soon, explaining the feelings more. This post as already run long, and I need a reason to write again before I let another month pass. Let's hit the pause button on the Seattle trip!

Now we're back, and life in California is still very new and really nice. It's a beautiful place and we like where we're living. Ryan loves his new job. He's back in his field and at night he works on animating a video game that he's making from scratch with two of our friends back in Seattle. I take care of Luke and Gwen during the day and write and paint 'Breaking Cat News' in the evening.

Recently, some nights when we've both finished our work, Ryan and I make popcorn and tea and watch one episode from the last season of 'Poirot.' We've been saving it, knowing it's the last, and it's been a lot of fun watching them together curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket. And it's a sign of settling in; nothing to pack or unpack, nothing to put away, nothing to set up or organize. Just a few quiet moments at the end of the day to cuddle and try to solve a mystery. The cats eventually drift over, and soon we're covered in cats, sipping tea, and it's the best. I love it so much.

I'll leave you with a few more photos from the new apartment.

Our earthquake kit, complete with a helpful cat!

The owl and the pussycat! Pucky lounging on our bed.

Setting up our beloved couch, "Big Red!" This couch was in
storage the entire time we lived in RI and we missed it SO much!
It is the most comfortable couch in the world.

And the cat's couch....

My Mom sent us a dark blue fuzzy blanket covered in foxes, and
we changed up the couch a little to honor it. Without waking Lupin.

And last but not least, a photo the new book!!! A whole pile of them!


Thank you again to everyone who has ordered this book! The first print sold out in pre-orders, and the book went into a second printing mid-April--before it even hit stores! That is amazing and makes me so happy, thank you! Please, if you can, leave a review for the book wherever you can. And if you're on Goodreads, they just gave me an author profile! You can follow me here!

It is still strange and surreal and entirely wonderful to write things like that. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement! I hope this will be the first of many books!

And I'll be writing another blog post soon, within thirty days. That's my *new* blog goal for 2016.

I hope everyone is having a great night!