Another day…

election

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Stream of conscious quick sketch

Stuck on revising a manuscript. Opened Photoshop and drew this. Now back to the real work.

 

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WITmonth pick #3: Svetlana Alexievich — A year of reading the world

When Swedish chemist, engineer and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel left money in his will for the establishment of an annual literary prize at the end of the 19th century, he stipulated that the award should recognise an author who has produced ‘the most outstanding work in an ideal direction’. Since the Nobel prize in Literature […]

via WITmonth pick #3: Svetlana Alexievich — A year of reading the world

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Wild Slug!

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Greta our dog was showing off her tracking and hunting skills on this morning’s walk and discovered this slug.

A fine example of the dangerous animals we face here in Oregon. Unlike some other Oregon folks I know (Robin in the Wilds I call her) we don’t face a lot of wildlife issues where we live. We’re more likely to encounter a Safeway grocery delivery truck that’s behind schedule and gunning it than a grizzly bear.

Sure there is a pesky raccoon in the backyard some evenings or a lost deer that quickly discovers they made a wrong turn. Normally Greta’s most exciting animal adventures is with a squirrel who takes great joy antagonizing her as he jumps about in a particular pine tree on our walks. And of course the occasional ‘domestic’ mouse or rat.

But the slugs were out this morning. I’m just glad I didn’t run into The Colonel!

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And yeah, that’s the cover from a free short iBook on the Apple iBookstore you can download.

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Focus in multiple dimensions.

Lately a number of people have talked (or technically communicated with me via email…do we all refer to email communications as talking now?) to me about the challenges and difficulties of working from home.

It’s important to remember that I don’t just work at home, I don’t have a boss either. So it’s different than being a Regional Sales Rep. At the end of the day and the end of the month, I answer to me (I sometimes drive me crazy!)

I have deadlines with editors and art directors which I try very hard to keep but that’s not the same as having daily duties from a full time employer. For instance I don’t need to be at my desk until 6 just to show what a hard worker I am – even though I finished what I needed to get done at 4.

The most difficult aspect of working at home is maintaining focus. Ideally the day is spent in solitude allowing one to focus on the project at hand and have a playful sense of diligence. But time is rarely more available just because your desk is in your house. Often I start digging into work, maybe I get up extra early to start when it’s dark and quiet and then – I need to feed the dog, walk the dog, feed my daughter and shortly get her on the bus and to school. Or we miss the bus and I start up the car and drive her. Then it’s grocery shopping, house jobs and chores.

Each interruption takes something from you. It’s like a month passing. When I sit back down and look at the painting or the manuscript I was working on it’s like a foreign artifact. What was I thinking? Why was I enjoying this? Look how much more I still have to do!

It’s a fight to reclaim the energy, the focus and the fun. And while not every moment of work can be expected to be FUN!, you need to keep some sense of wonder and fun or the work becomes a drag. Literally, I feel like I have to drag the pencil across the paper or carve the right word from stone in my manuscript. With any commercial art project a great deal of your work gets changed, revised, altered and edited, so you need to attack the task again and again and again before it’s done. If you lose the sense of fun that comes from doing the creative work I don’t think you will stay working at it.

So now I will quit all this blogging stuff and hit the manuscript. Although the dog does have a vet appointment in 3 hours.

 

Posted in Blatherings, Photoshop Painting, picture books, school visits, writing fiction | 1 Comment

Three Little Prints

I recently had three requests for prints and one of them was for the book The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot.

So I went through 300 back-up DVD’s and CD’s and found the art.

I just thought I’d post this spread in low res as the original is like 26 inches wide at 600dpi.

I hadn’t looked at it in years and it was nice to discover that I still like it. That doesn’t always happen with old work!

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Posted in 3 Little Aliens, Blatherings, picture books, Schwartz and Wade Books, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot | 3 Comments

So I want to write a kids book.

I’ve decided to write a book for children, what should it be about, I mean, what kind story and how many swear words can I get away with?

As for the swear words, best not have any unless it’s a parody of a kids book. But anyway, the general question when turned to Picture Books is not easy to answer.

Should it have a message? Maybe.

Can it just be funny? Sure, if it’s really funny.

Can I write a fairytale? Not if you want to sell any books.

Speaking of selling books, how many books do I have to sell to be considered successful? Not an easy question to answer except to say ‘lots’ nor as many as possible. But how many is ‘lots’ depends on issues like the advances involved and expectations. Another example of how keeping expectations low benefits one in life…

But how many is ‘a lot’? Pick a number.

I’m an actual Doctor so I should sell more books than Dr. Seuss. I doubt it.

No, really, I have a great message about kids place in a changing world and technology and the value of a pet in a lonely kids life. Isn’t that a good book? Maybe. But don’t forget to make it entertaining first and foremost.

I loved the Picture Books I grew up reading. Can I write one like that?

It would be better to write something new. Try and figure out what it is you enjoyed about those books when you were a child and find a new way to approach it. Be aware that nostalgia may be driving your love of a book you had when you were 8. Not that the book was actually that affecting. I can say from experience that several books I ‘loved’ as a kid are better forgotten. Not that I didn’t LOVE them at the time. But my love for them is tied to my life at that time. The book had become a surrogate for the innocence and naiveté of being 8.

Times change. People want new books for a reason. Try watching only 1950’s television. Some of it is entertaining and you can appreciate the directing/acting/writing or see it as a cultural museum tour but culture keeps moving and you need to make some effort to define yourself and your interests in current terms. That doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired and appreciate what came before us, but trying to repeat it for superficial reasons doesn’t work. Think of it this way, the big themes in literature haven’t changed tremendously since 500BC. It’s how we talk about them that changes. For me, relevance is a difficult to define term that is of top importance when it comes to having a successful Picture Book. And it comes from the author and/or illustrator finding a way to talk about issues in a way that feels refreshed and informed by our current world.

Speaking of the current world I have deadlines. I wish writing a good book was as fast as talking about them!

Posted in Blatherings, picture books, Work in progress, writing fiction | 4 Comments