How’s My Drawing?: Caricaturing and Driving in Central Illinois

Two-minutes Per Person Caricatures

Here are a few photos of some two-minute per person caricatures from an afterprom this weekend. Saturday night and early Sunday morning, I caricatured at an afterprom in Louisville, IL, for about four and a half hours. I have a rough idea of how many kids I drew. I was drawing timed two-minute caricatures; I set a cookie timer at the four-minute mark before drawing each couple, and then I raced the timer. I’m getting faster, and often I finish the drawings a minute or so before the time is up. Last night, I used up one 40-sheet pad of paper and started the second. That’s easily 50+ sheets of paper. With each sheet featuring two people, I estimate I drew around 90 kids and volunteers, and I spent three hours driving to do it. It was exhausting, particularly the driving, but it was a lot of fun.

Being a professional event caricaturist in the midwest involves a lot of driving. You need to go where the parties are, and here in the cornfields, the parties are few and far between. A typical weekend for me juxtaposes lonely nighttime drives through the country with isolated bubbles of music, laughter, and a blur of shuffling faces. For events like these afterproms that stretch into the early AM hours, as the night progresses, everything starts seeming slightly surreal and driving home in the early morning through the empty countryside feels like traveling through space. The half-moon, partially obscured by clouds, looms overhead. The fields in all directions are as dark as the night sky. The odd geometry of harvesters in the fields look like landlocked space stations, distant blinking lights look like meteors or UFOs, and city lights scattered along the horizon look like small landlocked galaxies.

I got home around five in the morning and collapsed into bed. I remember pulling up the covers and then waking up six hours later to a room bright with morning light. I lay there a bit, thinking about the night before. These events, and the long drives, wear me out physically and, I guess, psychologically too. I’ve been caricaturing at events for over twenty years, and I have to acknowledge that these late late nights have gotten harder. Laying in bed, my body felt heavy, and my drawing hand ached.

Still, I eventually got up, made strong coffee, ate a big breakfast, and slowly started my day. One of the first things I did was pull my canvas caricaturing bag out from under my desk, where I’d placed it the night before, to clean and restock it. I always do this the morning after events, right after breakfast.

I put my empty aluminum water bottle in the sink and the uneaten snacks (a clementine and granola bar) into the fridge and cupboard. I found a torn-off crumpled sketchbook cover in the bottom of the bag, and I threw it away. I put in a few new 40-page pads of drawing paper–all stamped with my logo. I sharpened all the dull pencils in my pencil case. I inserted my “artistic license” business cards into 80 new plastic ziplock bags and added them to my larger caricaturing bag. Then I returned the bag, now swollen and heavy with supplies, to its spot under my desk.

It seems both perfectly natural yet strange that the morning after drawing, I’m already preparing for and looking forward to the next week’s events. There will be four of them, two in town during the week, and next Saturday, a wedding reception followed by another late night afterprom. Next Saturday will involve two hours of driving through the country at night and six hours of caricaturing. I’m sure it’ll be equally exhausting. But I can’t wait. I may get tired, but I never get tired of this.

New Fiction Collection Explores the Realm of the Imagination: Stories For Imaginary Friends: 50 Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi Stories, And Essays by Daniel Charles Wild.

Stories For Imaginary Friends by Daniel Charles Wild

Check out the press release I just sent out to a few local media outlets. Also, swing by The Literary on Oct 22 at 7 pm, where I’ll be talking about, and reading excerpts from the book.

What do imaginary friends want from us? What does a time traveler regret? What happens when beloved heroes become tarnished? Daniel Charles Wild, an artist and author in Champaign, IL, answers these questions and more in “Stories For Imaginary Friends: 50 Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi Stories, And Essays,” a collection spanning fantasy, horror, science fiction, and beyond.

These stories are all over the place – literally. First appearing online under a pseudonym, many of these stories were recorded by voiceover artists and online narrators, and a few were translated into other languages. Now readers can enjoy them in this new collection, compiled for the first time in book form, as the author’s dark gift to you.

This book is a true grab-bag – one that grabs back. It’s a delicious salad, and on top is a bloody finger wearing a diamond ring – which is to say, it’s gross, it’s beautiful, and it’s pointed right at you. So take a chance and dig in. If you do, you‘ll be horrified, delighted, and touched.

Here are quotes from some Amazon reviews:
Christopher Herron (five-star review): Excellent Stuff!
Dan Charles Wild has a writing style that screams “High Concept!” The writing is solid, the stories are entertaining, but it’s his ability to come up with a wild premise that really sells this in my mind. These are not your everyday plot lines! Anyone who enjoys short form fiction, or even wants to write short form fiction, should definitely check this out.

Anonymous review (five-star review) Great read especially if you’re looking for something different and excellent.
I love this author! So creative! So different than anything else I read and I love it.

Mark McLaughlin (five-star review):
A Cornucopia of Horror & Whimsy
The minute you see the charming, darkly whimsical cover of this extraordinary book, you’ll know you’re in for a special treat. Most of the stories are very short, but they all pack a punch. There are mixed elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy throughout the book, all mixed with poignant insights into the human condition. Everything here is well-written and thought-provoking, so when you buy this book, buy his other books, too. You won’t want to stop reading!

Daniel Charles Wild is also the author of Little People: A Fantasy Story About Fathers, Sons, And Monsters, and Horrible Writing: 10 Horror Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Read. His fiction has been shared widely online, translated into multiple languages, and made into over 60 multimedia productions which can be found on YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

On Oct 22nd at 7 pm, he’ll be reading from, and talking about, the book at Champaign’s new bookstore and bar, The Literary. Here’s a link to the Facebook event.

For more information, visit these pages:
The Amazon author page of Daniel Charles Wild.

The Amazon page for the book, Stories For Imaginary Friends: 50 Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi Stories, And Essays.

I Made An Ad For My Book Stories For Imaginary Friends

Ad for Stories For Imaginary Friends by Daniel Charles Wild

Hey real friends, I owe you an apology for subjecting you to this ad for my new book, Stories For Imaginary Friends, because you’re not my target audience—your imaginary friend is. Remember your imaginary friend, and how much fun the two of you had together? News flash: they didn’t disappear when you stopped paying attention to them; they’re still around, they miss you, and they’re who I wrote this book for. They want you to buy a copy so the two of you can have fun reading it together.

It’s available as an ebook, paperback, and hardback if you’re classy like that. To get a copy, click here.

You can also loudly demand a copy wherever books are sold. Make sure to tell the bookseller it’s for your imaginary friend. I’m sure the clerk will accommodate you as quickly as possible.

A Second Mile Marker On My Writing Journey

I spent a little time making this new header graphic for my Daniel Charles Wild Facebook author page. Check it out. It features the titles of the three books I have on Amazon; two printed books and an ebook.

Driving to a caricaturing event in Dwight, IL, yesterday, I called my friend and mentor, the Bram Stoker award-winning author Mark McLaughlin, to catch up. When I’m taking long drives is typically when I call my family and friends. It helps pass the time because these drives, while beautiful, can get a little long and lonely.

It was an unfamiliar route, a single-lane road that wound through small, slightly creepy empty towns, vast rolling cornfields, and beneath the occasional shadows of wind turbines. While I drove, Mark and I talked about writing, publishing, and my newest book, Stories For Imaginary Friends. I sent him the first draft of the author proofs, and he’d made helpful suggestions. When I called to thank him for his help, he half-jokingly said that writing two books separates a writer from an author. “It shows the first book wasn’t a fluke!” He said, “This is something you’re going to be doing a lot more of!”

Stories For Imaginary Friends
by Daniel Charles Wild

Today, I’m thinking about what he said. It feels true! I (probably) became an “author” when I published my dark fantasy novella, Little People. Before that, I just had tons of stories floating around the internet, most of which I’ve collected in Stories For Imaginary Friends. I’ve also published a little ebook, Horrible Writing, containing the ten most popular Internet stories. On my hard drive and in my phone’s Notes app, I’ve got manuscripts I can spend years turning into something more. But, at this point, I have two printed books available. They are two solid chunks of words, thoughts, and dreams that I’ve written, published, and that now occupy physical space in people’s hands, on bookshelves and coffee tables.

Little People
by Daniel Charls Wild
Horrible Writing
by Daniel Charles Wild

It feels like the beginning of a journey. It’s an unfamiliar and winding road. One sprinkled with strange towns, vast horizons, and towering shapes and shadows. But I am enjoying the drive because I get to talk to you, my readers, along the way.

View all my books on my Amazon author page

Stories For Imaginary Friends: 50 Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi Stories, And Essays by Daniel Charles Wild

Hey friends, I’m excited (and nervous) to announce that I have a new short story collection available. It’s called Stories For Imaginary Friends. It’s a collection of 50 fantasy, horror, and sci-fi stories and essays written over the last five years. I originally posted most of these online, where readers and narrators shared them far and wide. Currently, there are 60 fan-made multimedia productions of the most popular on YouTube, SoundCloud, and Apple Podcasts, with more in the works.

I’ve collected the stories, improved them, added new material, organized them by genre, and had the collection professionally edited. I created the cover art too! I’m pretty proud of it. The audience members you see are all characters from the stories—including me on the stage and my cartoon mascot giving me a thumbs-up.

This collection is book-ended by two essays about my experiences as a fledgling author. The forward is about the best movie in the world, and why it resonates so deeply with my creative journey. The afterword is about a personal loss, and the two discoveries that helped me rediscover the joy of writing after a 10-year hiatus.

In addition to the stories and essays, I’ve really put my heart into this book. It’s squished between the pages. If you read it, I think you’ll be able to tell. My cartoon mascot thinks so too. If you enjoy the book, please let both of us know by leaving a review on Amazon. While you’re there, check out my other books too! If you’d like to join my mailing list to get updates on future projects, drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you.

I caricatured at a bee farm

Yesterday I caricatured for around 7 hours at Wild Harvest Honey Farm. Occasionally, while I was drawing, small bees flew around me. I only saw a few, and they seemed gentle, calm, and almost curious about what I was doing. One of them nearly flew into one of my caricaturing bags as I bagged up a drawing.

I’ve read that bees go exploring for sources of pollen to make their honey. Sometimes individual bees will fly up to six miles! Then they come back to the hive and dance for the others to communicate what they’ve seen. Each bee is a part of a larger whole, almost a mind—one that talks to itself through dancing. How crazy is that? I wonder if the hives were curious about all the activity around the farm, and if they sent out scouts to see what the commotion was about.

I imagine the little bees flying back to their hive and dancing for each other, trying to describe the lumbering humans, the tents, and the food trucks. Maybe one of the bees I saw described me to its fellows as it danced its interpretive little bee dance.

After the event, I drove home, had a very late lunch, and slept for hours. Caricaturing is my favorite thing to do, and I’m happy to wear myself out doing it. Like a bee searching for pollen, I roam far and wide for opportunities: a party here, a reception there, a festival at Wild Harvest Honey yesterday. In going to these places, I explore my world and meet others. They sit in front of me, and my hands dance across the page. I show them what I see. I am doing the thing that makes me happy and making something for them.

Yesterday, I met three little bees. I felt like I was in good company. They, like me, are explorers roaming for miles, searching, learning, and dancing—all in the pursuit of creating something that sustains them, and in the process making something sweet for others too.

Live a little! Download “Little People” for only .99 cents till May 29.

Typically priced at 2.99, it’s on sale for 99 cents till May 29.

Little People: A Fantasy Story About Fathers, Sons, and Monsters is a 20,000 word YA fantasy adventure story that will appeal to readers of all ages. It deals with some pretty large (and small) themes, and just a heads up—it‘s a little dark. In it, a town is terrorized, an adult makes a terrible choice, and a child is badly hurt—and that’s just the first chapter. Things get even wilder after that.

Below is the title and plot description.

Little People: A Fantasy Story About Fathers, Sons, and Monsters by Daniel Charles Wild

Five days after his estranged father’s funeral, a young man is visited in his apartment by two tiny figurines from the father’s basement model train diorama.

They are desperate for help and claim that their world is in terrible danger. Their sun has been out for a week, the train has stopped running, and an unstoppable monster from the outside world has gotten into the basement.

This is a wild adventure that may or may not be true about a son’s discovery of and quest to save the hidden world his mysterious father left behind.

Here’s what early reviewers have to say about Little People:

“Swept away. Powerful and lovely tangle of imagery and emotion.”

“…a deeper story about memory, braveness, and forgiveness.”

“Found myself unable to put it down.”

“…it embodies all of the aspects that make a story worth reading.”

“A story of misunderstanding and hurt followed by forgiveness and redemption.”

“Gulliver meets Through the Looking Glass, but with more blood!”

If you like fantasy that has a heart and deeper message, you might enjoy “Little People.” On one level it’s a adventure story about a family, hidden worlds, and monsters. On another, it’s about how memories mislead, courage comes in all sizes, and how seeking to understand and forgive can be the greatest quest of all.

Most of the first chapter is free on Amazon. Let me know what you think! If you enjoy the story, please consider leaving a review. Reviews help increase the book’s visibly in the Kindle store, and let other readers know if it’s worth checking out.

The Prompt and Circumstance Podcast dedicated an episode to my short story collection Horrible Writing: 10 Horror Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Read


My writing was featured on a podcast! The Prompt and Circumstance podcast, a humor podcast about Reddit writing prompts, dedicated an episode to some of my prompts that became stories in my collection Horrible Writing: 10 Horror Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Read.

horrorable writing cover 1_kindle cover

Check out the podcast here.

Hosts Joe and CJ usually talk about three prompts each week, and conversations go in the weirdest and wildest directions. They also feature great guests, and a regularly appearing super-guest—Joe’s wife Kyrie, who is hilarious.

They mentioned a writing prompt of mine in their 19th episode, so when I published Horrible Writing, I gave them a heads-up. They dedicated their 48th episode, titled “Top Choice Meat,” to three of the prompts that inspired stories in my book.

If you’re a writer or reader and think you’d enjoy smart, creative, and funny conversations about the rWritingPrompts subreddit, and sometimes r/ShowerThoughts and r/AskReddit too—check out Prompt and Circumstance.

I’m thankful for this Goodreads review of Little People: A Fantasy Story about Fathers, Sons, and Monsters

I’m thankful for this thoughtful and insightful Goodreads review of my novella Little People: A Fantasy Story About Fathers, Sons, and Monsters by Daniel Charles Wild.

Read the Goodreads review here.

I particularly love the below passage:

“… an interesting mix of Gulliver’s Travels and Stand By Me, with an environment particularly seeped in childhood memory. It’s first person narrative gives a particularly intimate connection with the narrator and provides a fair amount of secondhand catharsis for anyone who has ever been estranged from someone they were close too.”

See the novella here.

It might make a great Christmas gift for someone you are or were close to!😉

Horrible Writing: 10 Horror Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Read by Daniel Charles Wild

I’ve been posting fiction on Reddit for a few years. Some of the stories have been shared pretty far and wide, made into narrations and movies, and translated into multiple languages. I’ve collected 10 of the most popular of the horror stories into a little 10,000 word e-book. It’ll be the first of four short collections of equal size, the other three will be fantasy, sci-fi and creative non-fiction that I’ve written. Once all three collections are completed, I’ll eventually combine the four of them into a printed book with illustrations drawn by me.

Below is the cover, title, and book description:

Horrible Writing: 10 Horror Stories You Probably Shouldn’t Read by Daniel Charles Wild

These 10 horror stories were originally posted online under a pseudonym. Some of them have taken on a life of their own. Cumulatively the stories written under this name have been read by tens—possibly hundreds—of thousands. Some have been translated into other languages, and many have been featured on podcasts, SoundCloud, and YouTube channels. A few have even been made into short movies.

I’ve edited and collected the most horrible of the stories here. You probably shouldn’t read these; they aren’t good for you. Still, I enjoyed writing them, and lots of people enjoyed reading them. You might too.

They are about horrible things that happened and might yet happen. Upsetting things like rewatching movies we’ve all seen, what happens when we’re sleeping, and the horror of unconditional love. Creepy stories about trying to go home, things that happen at coffee shops, a strange flu, and a dog that wants so badly to be good. Disturbing things like appreciating art, the choices we make, and to end it all—a caricaturist’s love note to you, and you, and you. All awful, unbearable things. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Here’s a link to the ebook.