How to un-block…

Writers often share stories of being blocked. They sit down to write and the white screen mocks them or their characters are in a pickle without a clear exit plan. Twitter, especially, is filled with stories about being blocked.

So I ask you…how do YOU get un-blocked? What are the techniques or events that have lead you to your breakthroughs?

Behind the Scenes

Here’s one of the photos taken for my recent work in progress, Bee Wars.

This will be the third of my children’s books which are illustrated by pictures I take and then translate into comic style images using the app Clip2Comic.

The books take a great deal of time to put together even after the story is written. Models have to pretend a great deal, not always easy with a camera in their faces. I take between 150-200 photos to get the 25-30 I need for the book.

As a reminder (wink, wink) my first two children’s books with the wonderful models who helped bring the story to life:

Thanks for the Feedback

While I was pleased with finally putting my 150 cartoon collection together in a paperback form, I was shocked with the price of having it on KDP (or Imgram Sparks, which I also checked). This is what happens when you print a book in all color. Yikes.

Armed with the results from the survey, I decided to find a better way of sharing my Goldfish Diaries collection. Would some be interested in a straightforward digital collection? I hope so.

I was pleased as punch to get the price down to $5.99. Introducing Goldfish Diaries for Kindle. Thank you for your feedback.

When being a writer has nothing to do with writing!

I’ve self-published four books since May. Let that soak in. MAY!

Sure, they were mostly written by March. I simply needed a great editor and for me to learn how to format. EASY! Once I finally learned how to format, the process went faster. Really, it was more like work-work-work-work-wait, work-work-work-work-wait. But it was an exciting time. Last week I announced Goldfish Diaries as “live” on KDP/Amazon because I had received and approved my proof copy for the collection of goldfish comics.

The hard stuff was behind me, I thought. Silly me.

This week has been full of wrestling with kdp and my bank, both saying they have the right data and not able or willing to communicate with each other. Then a box arrived from kdp with eight copies of Goldfish Diaries – printed so poorly they are going back.

I apologize for being negative, but I bet all the money I made in royalties last month (okay it’s not much) that self-publishing authors will be nodding their collective heads as they read this. As hard as writing is…and it is quite a challenge, it pales compared all the work it takes to self-publish.

The attitude is becoming less prevalent, but when people learn that you publish the book yourself, there is some kind of judgement made about your work. Truth be told, when someone hears you self-publish, the response should be…WOW! You’re not only a writer, but a cover designer, a publicist, an accountant, a format specialist, a business and mail office worker as well as your own cheerleader.

I can’t wait to get back to writing. But until then, I have a few dozen phone calls to make as a self-publishing writer.

Goldfish Diaries

How it all began…

                After knocking around Twitter for a time, I fell into a wild crowd. I became part of a global community using hashtags like #FP (Friday Phrases), #Iamwriting, and #writingcommunity. At first I stayed in the shadows. One Friday a tweet formed in my mind. I don’t even know where it came from. I checked my word count, and hit “tweet.”  The earth didn’t shatter. No one replied, “Get off, this is for writers.” 

                So I challenged myself to post at least one tweet each Friday. I noticed that keeping my words under 140 characters helped my wordsmithing skills. I kept coming back. The participants were encouraging and during the week would often speak of their “works in progress.” Some were published authors, others just loved words and sharing thoughts.

                After a few months participation, and meeting some of the most lovely people around the globe, the oddest question popped into my mind. What if I was a goldfish? Of course I knew about “fish out of water” themes in movies and books. But, what about a real fish? What would she have to say? And just like that, Goldfish Diaries was born.

                For over two years she would come to the surface each Friday and play the #FP game. With the encouragement of those on twitter, I started drawing this precious being with a big heart and so much to learn from the world. And now she has her own book, which I share with you.

Click on Goldfish Diaries

Clip2Comic – An app that made all the difference.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to write children’s books.  There were stories I wanted to share. However, the artist in me wanted to illustrate these stories as well.

Along came these magical apps that could change pictures into comic-style or watercolor pictures.  It was not until I tried Clip2Comic created by Digital Masterpieces that felt I had struck gold.  This easy-to-use app allowed me to input pictures from my iphone and then use a variety of styles to change them into comics.

I loved the results, so I went to work.  First, I wrote the story, then created a type of story board where I connected pictures with a particular sentence or paragraph.  Once done, I needed models willing to act out the story while I took pictures using my iphone.  I mean MANY pictures. For example, in my first book, A Gift at the Door, I took over 200 photos in order to get about 30 to use. If you wish to do this, make sure you have willing and patient models.

The picture above of my granddaughter and my husband were taken with an iphone and have 72 dpi (dots per inch).  It’s important to state that because Kindle’s print on demand (KDP) requires 300 dpi.  Something I had to figure out.

The live shot was then, using the Clip2Comic app, translated into the style “Cartoon.”  This was one of the fourteen different styles offered in this app.  I made sure all my pictures used the same style.  I loved the look, but the picture was still 72 dpi and would not be accepted by Kindle. So, I still had a ways to go.

Here was my work-around.  I printed out all thirty of my chosen pictures (not the 200)  on good quality photo paper.  I then scanned each picture with a dpi of 400. I used my Epson ET-4750 for both printing and scanning. I had to do a bit more color editing to make sure it looked as good as the original. Once that was done, I had my illustrations.

I’m hoping that if folks out there want to be their own illustrator, my process may help them accomplish their dream.