Making mix CDs isn’t the only way outside my writing that I get my creative kicks. I also enjoy making the occasional piece of visual art, but I don’t think to do it nearly often enough. So, I’d like to thank author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot, among other books) for giving me the prompt I needed by inviting me to contribute a piece of art for International Dot Day.

Every year on September 15, innovative educators around the world celebrate International Dot Day by making time to encourage their students’ creativity. After the last International Dot Day, we were overwhelmed by wonderful stories about the “outside-the-box” activities educators invented for their students. September 15th will be here before you know it — this year, we encourage even more kids and grown-up kids to “make their mark” in new and exciting ways!

You can see what I made here. As for how I made it: I found magazine pictures that made me think of heat and light (the sun setting over the University of Texas tower, a grilled-cheese sandwich in a skillet, a farmer inspecting his crops during a drought, a kid coming down a water slide, etc.), cut them into strips, then wove those strips together and overlaid them with a sheet of paper with a circle ripped out of the center. I had no idea what I was going to make when I started, but I had a lot of fun, found the whole thing both challenging and relaxing, and I could not have enjoyed the process more.

I’d even go so far as to say that making art is more fun than cleaning out my stash of “author stuff,” but that has its benefits, too — such as coming across random items that I thought would be fun to give away to teachers and school librarians getting ready to return to school.

What sort of stuff? Well, there are these:

Shark Vs. Train bookplates

These are three dozen signed Shark Vs. Train bookplates. Book fairs have been known to sell a copy or two of Shark Vs. Train — being able to affix the author’s signature inside the book might make that purchase all the more special.

And then there are these:

Paint pens

When I sign copies of The Day-Glo Brothers, I like to use daylight-fluorescent paint pens — orange and green, specifically. The thing is, they come in three-packs that include a yellow pen, and brilliant as those yellow ones are, I just don’t think that signatures made with them would be quite as dazzling as those made with orange or green. So, I’ve accumulated 10 of them, and I’m going to give the whole bunch of them away.

These giveaways will be to teachers and school librarians who are signed up for my Bartography Express newsletter through the “Win a Book!” section on my home page. As that wording on my site suggests, I give away books, too, and next week’s giveaway of these extra goodies will be in addition to the regular giveaway open to all Bartography Express subscribers.

And if that’s not enticement enough, in September and October, I’ll also be giving away copies of Marc Tyler Nobleman’s Bill the Boy Wonder and Gary Golio’s upcoming John Coltrane picture book biography.

So, get in the running by signing up on my home page, get that out of the way, and then go make yourself some art. If my recent experience is any indication, you’ll be glad you did.