Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Model Author

Battling your inner fears.
What makes a successful author? Is it the number of books sold? Is it the charismatic interviews? Or, is it the author's ability to peddle his wares at schools, book fairs, libraries, etc. (His wares will include book markers, coloring pages, trinkets, free copies of his book, etc.)

Aside from the basics of morality (e.g., don't plagiarize), there are no set rules in the field of writing. An author is his own boss. He is offering his craft. If he is a new writer, it would do him well to follow the traditional route until he feels he has established himself as a writer. Would it? There is no set line to cross that dictates the point at which one becomes an established writer. So, should he follow the traditional route?

 I've often heard:

"It takes seven years to master a craft. Don't give up. Keep at it. You will hit that magic mark."
"Make sure you get involved in critique groups. Doing this will help you improve your writing."
"Start your career by sending stories and articles to magazines."
"Work at perfecting your pitch and query letter then, send them to the right editors and/or agents."

I've also heard, "Whether you go the traditional route to publishing or self-publishing, you must promote your books. The best ways to promote your books are through blog reviews, creating trailers, and visiting schools."

 Are these helpful hints? Are they rumors, gossip, or the wisdom of writers derived through years of hard work?

Recently, Writer Beware Blog! (May 26, 2012) wrote a post briefly detailing a survey done on self-publishing authors (about 1,000 survey participants). One of the things the canvassers discovered is that "The most financially successful  self-publishers write more than their peers, and spend less time marketing. In fact, those self-publishers who marketed the most earned the least."

Repeat: "The most financially successful self-publishers write more than their peers." Really? Does this statement make sense to you? It does to me. Why? Because the more you write, the better you write. The less you worry about promoting, the less likely you'll develop writer's block, and the more freedom you'll have to experiment with your writing skills.

Think of it.  The natural writer can't help, but write. They have been writing for years and will continue to do so whether their writing style is popular or not. I bet most natural writers have piles of story drafts stashed around their homes.  Those who don't, due to some circumstance or another, need not dismay.  Just start.

So, if you are wishing to become an author, don't allow yourself to despair. Don't surround yourself with naysayers. Take note of what you hear from those in the publishing field, but don't allow it to derail you. Invest your time in your craft. Have faith in your God given talent. Fear not and write, write, write.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Illustrators and Artists

Natasha Newton on Etsy Blog discusses her unexpected career into the field of illustration.  She tells of how Random House came knocking.  Newton also gives illustrators pointers on how to succeed in the illustration market.  Her work is haunting in its simplicity, and yet, complex in it's textural patterns.  It is beautiful.  Modern.
Check out her post: "My Big Break: Intro to the World of Illustration and Book Cover Design" on Etsy.

Nick Morley is also an artist/illustrator.  His work particularly involves linocuts; it is bold and edgy.  His use of pattern and sketching complements his art.  I'm fond of his Hungry Fish.  Morley's work can be seen in Magazines. He has also worked for Penguin publishing.  He blogs about linocuts and features other artists, too.  If you are interested in learning how to linocut and what's happening in his world, checkout his blog: Linocut Boy .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Cover Illustration

After an intense couple of months of working with my art portfolio and a couple of months doing a hodge podge of things, I decided to get back to my picture book illustrations.  Here's the first cover.  I say this knowing full well, I'll keep adding and taking away from the drawing until the book is published.

Medium: pencil and digital art

When I finished illustration #1, I asked the writers and illustrators of my 12x12 in 2012 group what they thought would need fixing.  They came up with a lot of great ideas.  Draft #2 has incorporated some of those.

Can you see the slight changes?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What is NaPiBoWriWee?

NaPiBoWriWee is the acronym for National Picture Book Writing Week.  Paula Yoo began this event in 2009.  She had been promoting her book SHINING STAR - THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY and was procrastinating the start of a new story draft. 

If we think back on any big event in our lives, we know that the human mind and body need to rest.  (Perhaps, this is what occurred to Paula.)  To get back to writing again, she decided to set a fun, short challenge for herself.   Her challenge: to write seven picture book drafts in 7 days.  After announcing her challenge, people from all over the world thought it was a great idea and decided to join her challenge. 

Now, 3 years later, NaPiBoWriWee is here again.  Paula Yoo's (ever increasing) community of writers join her every May 1 - 7 for this event.  This year I am one of them.  The rules are: writers must post a comment each day letting Yoo know how they did on their draft for the day.  While on her site, participants can read her writing advice, interviews with guest authors, and her personal encouragement.

The trick to making this a stress free event is to have a basic idea for each of your seven drafts before the event begins.  Some writers make an outline for each of their stories, but I decided to jot down as many one sentence story ideas as I could.  I ended up with nine; I felt some were duds.

My drafts for days one through three, took less than an hour to complete. I like them; I'm excited about their possibilities.  Giddy at my success with these drafts, I turned to draft four and changed my approach.

For draft four, I decided to skip my pre-formed ideas and came up with a new one.  This one was personal.  Bugs that had been plaguing my tomatoes all week.  I did some bug research and decided that I would write a story about my battle with them.  This was a bad idea.  Instead of a picture book draft, my story stretched into a graphic novel.  I have not finished it, yet!  So today, I decided to move on to draft number five.  I finished it in about 30 minutes.  (I think I've learned my lesson.)  Now, I'm  going back to finish draft number four. (The bug battle scenes in my head are getting pretty graphic.) 

If your interested in reading more about Paula You and NaPiBoWriWee, go to  .  It's too late to join this year, but challenge yourself anyway and be ready for next year's event.

Happy Writing!