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Scrapping with Disrespect and Trouble to Make a New Picture Book

Once again, in the making of one of my Dojo Kun Character Books, my life imitated my art. If I had to fight against any of the antagonists in my picture book series, Disrespect and Trouble would probably be the last ones I’d choose. But you don’t always get your way. Disrespect and Trouble struck while I was making “The Nice, New Karate Kid.” Coincidence or not, this is a picture book to help kids fight against those negative character traits (Disrespect and Trouble).

First, the Disrespect monster reared his ugly head to interfere with the making of my picture book. I started a paying gig shortly after finishing the manuscript for this, my fourth book. It was difficult finding time to work on my book as I adjusted to my new schedule. The Disrespect monster must have sensed that and made sure to interrupt every time I found time to work on my book. Every time, there was a call or a text. And they weren’t all for work. Calls, texts and in-person interruptions of other necessary tasks got in the way. 

This happened daily. Disrespect happily used all of his root-maggot-power to apply Murphy’s Law. In case you haven’t heard it, Murphy’s Law is “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” (I associate Murphy’s Law with humor and jokes. Let’s not give it power in our own thoughts and lives. [Here’s a little humor to prevent that!])

Positivity Over Disrespect and Trouble

On a more positive note, there were many good and happy things that got in the way of my picture book. I took the opportunity to travel and attend karate seminars, with my first three books in tow. I also volunteered at the Payson Book Festival, getting out of the valley’s summer heat. And in the whole time of making my new book, we had a lot of beautiful weather. Sometimes you have to get out and walk the dogs. Plus, gardening is a priority in my life. I can’t blame those delays on Disrespect and Trouble.

Illustrating this book took me longer than any of my other books. I drew a lot of cute Little Dragons (preschool karate kids) in group classes. I’m glad I took on this challenge to my illustration skill, which is improving (as it should).

When I finally got to the point of scanning my illustrations, Trouble reared her ugly housefly larva head. The scanner wasn’t working. But it didn’t flat-out just refuse to work. It acted like it was working. It would slowly scan a picture or two. Then, it suddenly took forever, stalling, in order for me to finally realize that it had quit in the middle of a scan. I had to “boot, boot and re-boot” many times over. I made it work. (Take that, Trouble monster!)

The Final Rounds Against Disrespect and Trouble

As I was ready to start on the final stages of scanning, layout and cover design, Disrespect and Trouble reared their ugly heads with a vengeance. My youngest child came down with what seemed a cold. Of course I wanted to do all that I could to help with home remedies and healing. So the book got pushed to the back burner. Then the whole family came down with COVID. Thank God and the universe, we all got over it with relatively mild symptoms.

But Disrespect and Trouble were quite happy, I’m sure, to sit back and laugh at the delay in a book that would help kids to identify them and fight them.

Finally, healed up and with a new lease on life, I jumped back into finishing the scans for my book. As I scanned in the last three illustrations – the tail end of a big step – I suddenly heard crazed chattering out in the yard. It sounded like a dozen birds were going crazy, squawking in a tree outside. I had to check and make sure we didn’t have any destructive starlings wreaking havoc out there.

When I checked, I only saw finches, but they were frenzied and loud. I’m sure Disrespect and Trouble had stirred them up as a last effort to interfere with my book. After finishing those scans, I only had a few normal, regular delays in completing “The Nice, New Karate Kid.” That included the message “due to COVID, this business has delays in turnaround time.” But that has become the norm at this time. I look forward to a future time when that phrase has faded out. (Take that, Disrespect and Trouble!)

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Jenifer Tull-Gauger Kyoshi

Children's picture book author/illustrator. Traditional karate teacher and practitioner. Loves drawing and all kinds of art. Also into animals, plants and Mother Nature.

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