Talk to DP Forum

Mark French

Thanks for Publishing Advice

September 21, 2021

Daniel,

Some time back, we conversed by email as I asked about how to get a children’s book published.  You gave me some valuable, though not especially encouraging advice.  I eventually found a different route to becoming an author and now have an ongoing relationship with Springer, the academic publisher.  My fourth book is now being typeset and should be out in January.  This one is on acoustic guitar design.  I’m hoping that Jeff Goldblum will portray me in the movie version.

My sincerest thanks for taking time to talk with me back then.  It really did help.

Mark

Daniel replies:

What? I gave you advice and it was any good? This feels like a prank, or maybe a setup. I have demonstrated time and again that I don't know anything about publishing. Also, I have no money to invest or loan. In case your post is legitimate, congratulations and good luck with the guitar book.



Steven Lamonea

Reading your stories increases my happiness

September 8, 2021

Dear Daniel,

I’m reading “Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories,” and loving it.  Your stories are wonderful and getting to know a little something about you is a treat.  I love dogs too and am speeding back to Brooklyn to see my Sam as I write (I’m on a train).

 

Thank you for writing and sharing stories with me (and lots of others).  I will never be able to read enough of your books.  Please don’t take that as permission to slack off from writing, I’d prefer you didn’t.

A big fan of yours,     Steven Lamonea, 

PS: I’m not sure if my message/question is going through because I tried submitting it on my phone and the screen blinked/flashed but I’m not sure if that proved I’m not a spambot.  I’m using a proper desktop now and saw a Captcha thing so I’m more optimistic now than ever before.  My apologies if you’ve been inundated with multiple messages.

Daniel replies:

Steven, I never really gave any thought to people being made happy, or happier, because of things I write. I never thought very many...or any...people would read my stuff. But, here you are. You read it, you like it. This makes me wish I had learned more and become a better writer. It's not too late! I will try to improve. If you should read something of mine, and think, "Look at this! He finally broke out of being mediocre." If this should happen, some of the credit will be yours. So, thanks for the encouragement and help.


J. Murray Onofrio

E-Mail in 1977?

August 15, 2021

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am 7 years old and about to start 2nd Grade.  My dad and I have been stuck in the house for 518 days.  We have read some of your books.  My favorite is “Lizard Music.”  We are reading “The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.”  My dad is confused.  He says that you wrote it in 1977, so how could you have written an e-mail address for Anthony DePalma, Chicken Hunter, 20 years before people used e-mail?  He says e-mail might have existed in 1977, but only like 3 people would have known about it.  How did you know about it and how would Anthony DePalma have been able to use it?

Splendiferously yours,

Murray

Daniel replies:

That's interesting. Is it possible I invented e-mail? I don't remember inventing it, but that doesn't prove I didn't. I have always been forgetful, and now I am old, and can hardly remember anything. I will ask my wife...oops, she is old too, so we can't trust her memory. I know I invented the pastrami sandwich on rye bread with a pickle on the side, but that is hardly the same thing.


Keith Upson

Thank you.

July 17, 2021

I am 51 one and I adult reasonably well and have read hundreds of books and written a few myself

 but two of the best I have ever read are Lizard Music and Hoboken Chicken Emergency and thank you.

I’m a few thousand words into writing one right now that is just for fun and it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday that it wouldn’t be happening without Lizard Music and then I’ve spent the last 24 hours thinking about how many other nice things in my life that applies to as well, and I figure who doesn’t like to hear thank you.

Thank you.

Keith

Daniel replies:

I keep receiving thanks and credit, probably by default. I have the best readers in the world, (you among them), who deserved a better author but got me. This is not to say your gratitude is misplaced...and it is appreciated all the more for being such a near thing.


Zev Bordowitz

So, 2012 was a year, huh?

July 13, 2021

Hi there,

I have been a big fan of yours since the 2012 eighth grade New York State Test. Thank you.

Daniel replies:

If I were allowed to create the entire eighth grade test, (and I would not charge a dollar for doing so), culture in New York State would leap forward to an incredible level, and there would be a blooming of civilization all over the world. Please check whether I am still alive when you become Chancellor of Education.


Carla

The Power of Blue Moose

May 1, 2021

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

I hope this finds you and yours well.

I first read Blue Moose in 1985 when I was still adjusting to
moving to the US and being a 6 year old. I didn’t know what clam chowder or
gingerbread was and had had only the vaguest notions of what a moose was, but
reading the book always gave me a feeling of bone-deep contentment and comfort.
I liked the idea of gingerbread for years and years before I ever tasted it and
found that it is a wonderful as I imagined.

Fast forward to pandemic times when we are all going through
hard times and are operating at our less-than-best. Early in the pandemic, at a
loss for how to support a friend going through crisis, I spotted Blue Moose on
my shelf and offered to read her a chapter. The effect on her was magic. I
doled out another chapter any time she needed it and we were both gutted when
the book ended. Since then, I have read Blue Moose to 5 other friends going
through tough times and infected them with my love of this book. At the end of
each reading I know I am guaranteed to feel better than I did before I started.
Thank you for this priceless gift.

Best wishes,

Carla

Daniel replies:

What an email for an author to receive! You may be describing something about my book, and you may be describing something about yourself as a person, maybe a combination of the two. I am going to assume that there's something like the quality of gingerbread in my book, and when I have a collaborator like you, it can be better than gingerbread. Thanks for putting Blue Moose to such good use.


How can we support your genius?

April 21, 2021

Greetings Mr. Pinkwater!

You, my dear sir, are a literary (and maybe otherwise as well) genius!

Our family has read or listened to every book you have published. Some more times than the FDA or OSHA would deem healthy. We have reached the unanimous conclusion that you are brilliant.

Stuck on a desert island, we would hope to have a box of your books and an mp3 playing devise wash ashore with us.

Your website kindly shares your otherwise unobtainable audiobooks for free and the library carries many of your books that are no longer in print. We’ve purchased the books we can to support you, but we feel like freeloaders on a buffet of wonders. How can we support you in the manner to which you have no doubt become accustomed? Can we donate to support the Pinkwater Archives or perhaps mail you a 3 foot salami?

Sincerely,

Nick (not our real name, a nickname)

Daniel replies:

My genius is its own reward, although recently someone had a pound of Nova (that's a variety of smoked salmon, not a piece of a discontinued Chevrolet, or some soil from a Maritime province), shipped to me from a certified lox-shipper, properly iced and not dangerous, and that was a pretty good reward. If there were a way to get Montreal bagels to me before they became rock-solid stale, that would be another good reward. A 3-foot salami is the sort of reward one comes to regret.  I had a wheel of New York State Extra-sharp Cheddar cheese sent to me, a fairly decent reward. But, you are aware, are you not, that publishing houses have been rewarding me with money all along, after fiddling with the accounting in their own favor, of course, so it's really uncalled-for for readers to individually reward me?


Corey Brockman Merrill

Would you like to visit our classroom over Zoom?

February 13, 2021

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

My name is Corey Merrill and I am a 3rd grade teacher in Somerville, Massachusetts.  Earlier this year I read The Hoboken Chicken Emergency to my class as a read aloud.  My class LOVED it, as did I.  It’s hilarious.

I have been remote teaching all year, and honestly we could really use some excitement.  Would you like to Zoom into our classroom for a short visit?  It could be a Q and A.  My kids would absolutely lose their minds with excitement, and so would I.  It would be a thrill to have you.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Thank you!

Corey Merrill 

Daniel replies:

Well, here's the thing. I started using a computer as a writing machine in 1981. I worked with my TRS80 and Scripsit (the word processor) all day, and didn't feel too much like playing with it at night. Email was useful, of course. I did it in DOS. A computer magazine sent me a computer that was supposed to be easy to set up so I could write an article about whether it was easy. It was. This computer came with Windows, which was sort of new at the time, and it had colors. However, I already owned a television, so the only time I looked at Windows was when I set the machine up so I could write about it. The next time I looked at Windows, was the first time I ever looked at a website...and it was this one! Anyway the primitive ancestor of this one. Webmaster Ed had sent me an email, which I read in DOS, white letters on a black background, asking me if it was alright if he created a Pinkwater website. I think he may have been 15 at the time. I said sure. Later he emailed me again to say the website was created, so I invoked Windows and had a look at it. It was already a good website, though I just assumed, having no basis for comparison. I found some other uses for the computer, but not many, and I went from using a cassette recorder to those big floppy disks made of vinyl and paper, and I had to install the drives myself, which meant opening up the case of the computer, which looked like a Hong Kong radio inside, with my feet on a slightly damp towel, to discourage static electricity, and a ground wire attaching me to a heating pipe by the ankle. Good times. What is Zoom?


Randal Hunting

video on Hoboken I think you might like

January 31, 2021

I think this is from just about the era you moved to Hoboken (from one who lived there also): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm3kDLCFCFU&fbclid=IwAR1zCTPV8-HQolZYnE_4vie2ceTpY8Vf-0otXbklRYImwKbQ38cTRXu0T7E

Daniel replies:

Depressing.


Lydia Hadfield

Do you ever get credit for inventing/prophesizing Crocs in Slave of Spiegel?

December 11, 2020

 

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

In your Five Novels, published in 1997, there are several mentions in “Slaves of Spiegel” of plastic perforated shoes. This alliterative, visionary image haunted me like bright blue Spiegelian garlic. When Crocs, the plastic perforated shoe, appeared on the market in 2002, I was certain Earth’s takeover by interstellar Fat Men was nigh. Who’s to say we are not currently in thrall?

Have you, sir, been given your due for this great and terrible vision? Fame, fortune or free footwear? It is not the vindication you deserve, but it is true nonetheless: I think about “Slaves of Spiegel” every single time I see a Croc or a Crocapair.

In fact, I was listening to a vapid podcast this morning when plastic perforated loafers were invoked. Corpulent thoughts entered my orbit. Find Daniel Pinkwater’s contact information, these thoughts said. Let him know you acknowledge his genius. Ask him if, urge him to, receive his due. Ordinarily, I’d bat these thoughts away with their rejoinders: You will not reach him. Mr. Pinkwater is happy, living his undoubtedly bohemian best life, and how dare you plant this penny of thought in his contented cake?! Yet today…this morning…I became soluble to those cognitive globules.

My will was not my own, it seemed, as I opened my laptop. I had become subservient to a louder, fatter, more righteous need…Scrawny, divorced, deeply unsuccessful ex-lunchlady no more…I have become Slave to Spiegel. Hail Pinkwater! Cassandra of the Croc! May you reign 100 years without degredation, like plastic perforated shoes.

Humbly submitted,

Lydia Hadfield

Daniel replies:

Well, you see, it's not generally known, not that I make a secret of it, that I usually write, or dictate, in a state of trance, while curled up on the top shelf in the hall closet. My wife, a trusted friend, or really anybody available who has time, sits on a folding chair in the open closet door with a clipboard and a yellow legal pad, and takes down what I say. (People are always interested in a writer's method or process, so I hope this will satisfy you and possibly some others.) Anyway, very often my trance narration includes prophecies, unusual cures for illnesses, (such as an all-gherkin diet for knee injuries), locations of lost treasures, and all manner of surprising things. I never remember what I said, and since I also never read my books, your news about shoes is news to me.


Lisa Forbes

Play and Status Quos

December 6, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

Happy belated birthday! Hmmm, I’m not sure where to start. Your book, The Big Orange Splot, was my all-time favorite book as a child. I know you wrote it and drew it up quickly but it holds some of my core values, which I think is why I was so drawn to it as a child. But, to be honest, I had totally forgotten about the book for many years. Life has a way of pulling you away from your true self, childish self, and internal values. Because society wants you to fit their mold (to live on a “neat street”). That, or the book was just packed away in a box as I grew up. 🙂

I recently found my old childhood copy which is tattered from so many reads. As I was re-reading it now as an adult, I was blown away by the message (or the one I take from it). My whole life, I’ve always hated status quos or having to do something in a certain way just because that’s how everyone else does it. To me, that’s a huge message in your book – follow your passions, your values, your dreams no matter what all the other deadpans say. (This seems like a long-winded way to get to my question but I thought context was important – questions coming, I promise!)

Currently, I teach at a university in Colorado. My research tends to challenge various status quos in our culture. A project I am working on is challenging the traditional lecture-based approaches to teaching higher ed and instead using more of a playful pedagogy even with adults. (check out professorsatplay.org). In order to do this, instructors must bust outside of the long-standing status quo of higher education that tells you to be the hierarchical expert that spews knowledge and empty vessel students. I think to teach differently, you have to have courage like Mr. Plumbean did to stand out and be different. I think it’s blasphemy that to be playful and value play, especially in professional spaces, you have to have courage to be different. To be ready to be looked at sideways because it’s not neat – it’s not ‘what we’ve always done.’ 

So, phew…that was a lot to ask: from The Big Orange Splot, I get the sense that you dislike status quos. I’d love to hear your opinion about that. Also, what is your take on play and being playful in adulthood? Are you a playful fella? And what connection (if any) do you see between play and “professionalism” (as we tend to think of it – rigid professionalism in my opinion). 

Okay. Done now. Thanks for sharing your beautiful mind with us over these years!

Lisa Forbes

Daniel replies:

I imagine you'll encounter more resistance from the students than your colleagues. But what do I know? My own most important educational experience was a 3-year apprenticeship, from the beginning of which comes this quote: "I believe it is impossible to teach Art, so I will teach you me, and leave it up to you what to make of it."


Alejandra

The Big Orange Splot

December 3, 2020

Hello!,

My name is Alejandra Crismai, I live in Argentina and I work as an English teacher with 2nd formers in Bayard School.

We are about to read this book of yours and it would be amazing if we could have  news from you to share with the kids. It could be some words or a Google Meet . Sorry, I´m being too enthusiastic about the idea.

We would be very greatful if you could consider any kind of contact.

Reagards,

P.S Happy birthday!!

Ms. Alejandra Crismai

Daniel replies:

Hello 2nd formers! I hope you like my book, The Big Orange Splot. It is a true story....almost. Well, all the things that happen in the story are made-up, but the rest is true. I wrote that book when I was living away from my home for a short time, and I was staying on a "neat street." I had not brought my professional artist's drawing things with me, so I went to the pharmacy and bought some cheap markers, and a cheap drawing pad. I sent the story and the drawings to a publisher. I hoped they would make it into a book, but I expected they would ask me to draw the pictures again with better art supplies. Instead, they published the drawings I had sent, the ones with the cheap markers on cheap paper. More than a million copies have been sold! I have written other books, some illustrated with better markers.


Uriel Carpenter

Lizard Music

December 3, 2020

I’m pushing 50 now, and I have few fonder memories than picking your books out from the shelves at my public library, and reading them many times through while hidden away in my bedroom. So, listening to my wife read Lizard Music (probably my #1 book as a kid) to our 5 year old son, and hearing them both laugh, and getting their gold seal of approval with a request for more of your books, has made my life just about perfect. Thank you. Bless you. What a fortunate and miraculous world to have you in it.

With love,

Daniel replies:

Well, your telling me this hasn't done my life any harm perfection-wise.


The Van Sant Family

The Blue Moose

December 3, 2020

Hello!

The Blue Moose has been a favorite story of my husband’s since he was a little boy. When we had children we read it to them, and it quickly became a family favorite. The past few years, every December 1st, we have a “Blue Moose” dinner complete with clam chowder and real gingerbread (not cookies). We just finished our feast and our bellies are warm and full. Luckily my children and husband say more than “yup” when asked how they like the clam chowder! We chuckle at the story  and really enjoy the pictures too. Now on  to sit down with a cup of coffee. Thanks for writing a book that has become part of one of our family’s favorite traditions.

Much love,

The Van Sant family

Daniel replies:

Were you thinking of inviting me on December first next year?


Max

pickle preferences?

December 3, 2020

Hi Mister Pinkwater!

I am 16 years old, and have been a fan of yours for awhile now. I didn’t really know what to ask you, so I thought I might as well ask you about your pickle preferences. Do you like pickles? If so, how do ya like ’em? I like mine crunchy, crisp, and very sour. To my knowledge you can also get them sweet too, although I have never tried those ones in particular.

Apart from that, I don’t really know what else to ask, so I might as well say that you are probably my favorite author, and I’ve read webster’s english dictionary! Or should I say Clarence Yojimbo’s  japanese-english dictionary? Ha Ha. Ha ha ha. Jokes aside you really are one of my favorite authors, and you’re probably pretty cool. Also no, my name is not really Max Meteor, that’s just my stage name (I am in a glam-punk band with me and a few friends called Darth Walter and the Thunderkids)

Here is a poster I made for said band. I think I look pretty cool.

This is a band poster for said band. yeah, that's me. 

your friend-

Max Military boots Meteor

Daniel replies:

Half-sour, definitely half-sour, those are the crunchiest, if you can get them from a really good picklewright, or a deli supplied by one. The ones that come in a jar and are marketed as half-sour kosher dills are ok if you live in some wilderness. When they go all the way sour they lose some of their snap. Pickles are good for your body and eating them will raise your IQ. Also a knowledge and understanding of pickles is a mark of education and taste. I don't know if you're into classical studies and mythology, but the gods ate half-sour pickles on Olympus.


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