If you’re considering writing a children’s book, then remember to include quality illustrations. Today, a large part of the market includes tablets and ignoring this group may cut off part of your audience. For those who self publish, don’t come up short when it comes to your formatting and visuals. Why spend months and years sweating over every line of your novel only to cheat yourself on a quality cover or illustrations? When it comes to tablet owners or those with short attention spans your book may be judged by it’s cover. This is key for children genres. I witnessed it first hand at book readings and events. They all want to look at the pictures and then hear the story. The visuals also help engage your audience. I use my illustrations to ask if they understand the story or if they can explain what it’s about. This way I know if they connecting to plot. Make your work stand out with quality of writing and artwork. I know I pause when I see an interesting book cover online. I know some of the publishers have a friend/foe view with online giants but here is one example of a popular illustrated children’s book publisher online http://www.fatmoonbooks.com. Their children’s books have tons of positive reviews on Amazon and they give formatting help with the Kindle KDP for ebooks.
This week I decided not to give advice but share an old story retold. Recently, a frustrated Mr. Hare wrote to me because of a story time visit at his child’s school. Someone read the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare” and couldn’t believe his long furry ears. My how stories passed down from generation to generation change. He set the record straight and told how carrot energizer drink wasn’t enough. One sugar crash later he found himself tripping and falling on the running path. One of his long time rivals picked him up and became a true friend. He said there was no one else he would rather meet during the race. Some of his own fellow hare’s would have passed him to win the race but his life changed when a rival and stranger stopped. One hard shell turtle picked him up and strapped him to his back. He said this was true friendship. Let’s all think about this lesson today and forget about the numbers.
I was just browsing online for information about artists and writers when I came across these beautiful landscapes in Ireland. I don’t know who took them I immediately thought, “I need a vacation”. Sometimes we get lost in our own studios and forget about the scenery around us. Show deadlines and goals we set for ourselves can put pressure on our creative process. As I try to create new pieces as an artist, I forget about the beautiful landscapes just around the corner. It’s easy to get lost in our deadlines and bury ourselves in work but I think it’s time to take a look around and breathe. I don’t know about you but it’s hard to keep my mind off the goals I set for myself. Often, I get lost in my fictional world and characters that I find it hard to break away from them. Then, when I do look up I find scenery like the above landscapes. So, take a look around you and create a short story about what you see in your backyard or during your morning run. Build the stories in your life as you would create a new or imaginary landscape. Let it ink run off the page so that you are building your life the same way. Then your life will be filled with inspiration instead of thoughts of escape. (Sometimes, we just need a reminder).
For those still dreaming about getting away take a look a writer’s or artists retreat. This way you can get the time away you need and still accomplish some work at the same time. I know I’ll keep thinking about the pictures of Anam Cara, Ireland as I work into the night. Where did the fairy godmother go now? I’ll be dreaming of going to the Anam Cara writer’s and artist retreat at http://anamcararetreat.com. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If Ireland doesn’t call to you, search online for the place that will give you the quiet you need.
I feel like a failure. Recently a few new things appeared in my cage. I think my master is displeased by something I did. I climbed inside this shiny new contraption and it began to move. I was trapped in the shiny round thing for hours as it spun and spun. If that wasn’t enough my delicious nibbles were changed into bland pellets that smell like hay. Is my master trying to punish me? Where did my flavorful nibblets go? The worst part is I am so so curious about the shiny round thing I can’t stop myself from climbing in. I run and run for hours. What am I to do? Is this some kind of animal abuse? Please help.
One Tired Hamster
Dear One Tired Hamster,
Do not try to worry your running legs so. We domestic pets have been experiencing this for years. For some reason when our human owners go on a health kick they feel the need to make their pets suffer along with them. I think it’s because they don’t want to suffer alone. Let’s all hope this is another one of their trends that will go out of style, or we may have to skew the data at the test labs. The shiny new round thing in your cage is called a hamster wheel. Yes, I agree it looks like a torture device but with practice you can keep yourself fit. I think it’s like the exercise machine the humans call the treadmill. As for the change of food, those are probably diet pellets. I know they can’t replace your tastier nibblets but don’t worry I’m sure your master means well. Think of it this way they are trying to extend your life with these changes. They seem to think exercise and a healthier diet will make them live longer. So your master truly has good intentions by thinking the same changes in your life will have the same effect.
A few years ago, I never thought I would be thinking about writing content for a comic series or graphic novel. In the past, I always thought of my artwork and writing as two separate entities. Since most publishers insist on using their illustrator for the cover or inside pages, I never gave it another thought. Then, I started joining different groups and going to local book festivals and art shows. I learned something. For those who love and appreciate comics and graphic novels a whole new world can open up. Those creators are always looking for writers who can pull together a good plot. They look for writers who love their industry and who can string together a story using a few lines at a time. You would be amazed at how much editing can go into a few lines, especially when they hold so much meaning and you have to get to the point in a few sentences. Try this with your own work. This may add expression and meaning to your dialogues. Focusing the point of what you want to say to your audience when you only have a few conversation bubbles could improve your own skills. It forces you to stop the rambling in your head and get to the heart of what your characters should be saying. So as you sit and stare at your blank screen or blank page do what they do in the comic and graphic novel world, draw out your storyboard. Break your writers block by visualizing the story to get your mind moving. Draw your conversation bubbles and stick them on the wall in front of you. Most of all, keep your mind open when your at social events or browsing images. The art world does have a place for writers and storytellers.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to join other shows and bring my characters with me. Our studio traveled to outdoor festivals for art, music, and literature. Sometimes I was the guest and sometimes was the audience. I learned events for artists and authors can ebb and flow just like a growing business. Yes, you need passion but long term patience is key for a new author, especially when you choose a non- traditional route. You will experience the same ups and downs of any craft or business. Most of us aren’t going to wake up in the number one spot overnight. It takes time to build an audience, so keep going. Attend different events this fall and see what you can take away from the experience. Some shows, book readings, etc. are better for networking and asking questions. Other shows are great or hauling in our stacks of books. Maximize your time and figure out which shows, workshops, and events would be best for you. Plan and pay to attend those classes and events to keel yourself motivated during the year. In other words keep your pen up or fingers moving across the keyboard. A writer needs to sharpen their mind just like the end of a pencil. – Mahieu
This week I would like to hear back from all of you. If you could meet anybody, who would it be? What if you met them in their pajamas? I had to ask. Imagine waiting for the elevator one morning on the last day of a convention and around the corners enters a Hollywood celebrity. To top things off their hair is ruffled because they just rolled out of bed and they are walking past you their striped pajamas. Well, it happened to me at my last show. I was just telling someone how I wanted to meet Eric Roberts at one of the speaker’s panels but I had to sit at my table with the other dedicated authors and artists all weekend. He was there to speak about The Dark Knight movie and I was’t going to be able to see him. Boy did I get a super surprise that morning! I caught him walking down the hallway half awake in his t-shirt and blue-striped PJ’s. All my nerd self could blurt out was, “You’re Eric Roberts!” His gentlemanly southern voice answered, “That’s right.” At least my nerd self didn’t chase him down the hallway for an autograph. No, the dedicated writer and artist in me thought about for a second, and then worried about being late to my table. Business and work as usual. Oh well, maybe I’ll chase down the next celebrity I meet but only if they’re in their PJs. So, I’ll ask again. Who would you like to meet and what would you do if they were in their pajamas? Send me you thoughts!