Information to help others become better readers, writers, designers, and illustrators
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Writing tips - Subjects and Verbs Stop Fighting: Subject-Verb Agreement
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Bringing Inspiration to Life - By: Stephanie Burkhart
As a writer, a good story idea often comes from inspiration. Once we find that inspiration, it's often our muse, which fans that inspirational spark into a flame. I never thought of myself as a children's/young adult author until I found the inspiration working in my church's Sunday preschool program. We call our program "Little Church" and I help to each the 3's with two other wonderful women, Maureen & Shirley.
For Easter 2009, the ladies wanted to do an Easter play for the children. With a spark and a twinkle in their eyes, they said, "Steph, you're the author. Can you write us a play?"
My first gut reaction: panic! Me, write for children? Then Juliet, my muse, whispered in my ear. I found my courage and bantered ideas around with the ladies.
Children love nature. Nothing amazes them more watering plants and watching them grow. They love picking fruit. A sunny day brings a smile to their faces. While the story of Jesus' resurrection may be hard for them to grasp, a caterpillar's growth and change into a butterfly is one young children understand.
Out of that, my book, "The Giving Meadow" was born. Caterpillar hatches out of his egg and tumbles through a meadow. Along the way he meets a frog, ladybug, bee, and a snake who all help him along his journey. When we presented the play to the children that year it was a big hit.
Then I showed it to Vivian at 4RV. I value her opinion when it comes to writing children's stories and she offered me a contract. It was a wonderful surprise that warmed my heart.
The heart of my blog today is this:
Inspiration is all around us so don't be like me and panic. Smell the roses. Soak up the sunshine. Plant a flower and watch it grow. Don't be afraid to follow your muse.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Create Multiples of any object you can paint in Painter by Corel
Digital PAINTING programs, such as Painter by Corel offer another solution. Yes you still have to paint the object you want to duplicate in masses, but the steps from getting from one leaf to a forest full are not that hard.
Next select that leaf with the pointer arrow and with your finger on the option key, click once and drag the copy of that leaf to a new layer. Now you have two layers with the same leaf on each. Continue this until you have about 10 layers of the leaf.
Now go back to each separate layer and change the size or direction of the leaf by using the scale and rotate options from the Edit menu or the Effects menu. (this will depend upon the version of Painter you are using)
Once you have a collection of various leaves in differing sizes and orientation you need to GROUP the whole set of layers into one GROUP.
Now... from the Image Hose palette choose MAKE NOZZLE FROM GROUP and then name the file that contains the group and leave the file on your desktop so you can find it for the next step. It should be saved simply with a name in the RIFF format.
Once it is named go back to the Image Hose palette and choose LOAD NOZZLE. Navigate to the desktop and choose the new nozzle you have named. Next open a new canvas, choose the image hose brush from the brushes palette and spray your canvas with the new nozzle.
The last step is to save it in the Nozzle library. Open the Image hose palette once more and choose,
ADD NOZZLE To LIBRARY. Now you will see your nozzle in the list of nozzles you can use at any time.
A word of caution... overuse of any nozzle or effect can ruin an otherwise fantastic piece of work, so use them sparingly and only when you don't want of cannot paint in dozens of the same object.
To take the process one step further you can also adjust the GRAIN feature in the menu to lessen the
value of the object and you can also change the exact hue of the object by choosing the alternate color space from the color palette. Once the grain is lessened the new color you choose will show up instead of the original.
Friday, May 20, 2011
"How do I get into the business?"
I get asked this a lot. Artists see that I am a cover artist, and a book illustrator, with over 100 books in print with my work on or in them, and inevitably ask me how I got started.
- 1. READ!
- 2. For the artist who wants to be a cover artist or illustrator, you also need to study the covers on your favorite books (even on your not so favorite books). Haunt the library and bookstore.
How does the composition differ for a book rather than for a stand alone piece?
|This is a stand alone original recently done just for my portfolio. Could this double as a book cover? Why or why not?|
- 3. Remember that word 'network'?
- You read everyday.
- You work on your art everyday.
- Now you must mingle everyday.
- 4. You need to think of it like a business. Who is my customer?
- Art Directors.
- Join author groups that welcome outsiders (many do not - so pay attention).
- Befriend writers, publishers, etc. on Facebook.
- Follow authors and publishing pros on Twitter.
- Get TweetDeck, and keep search colomns up of keywords publishing pros use when putting out calls for artists.
- Lastly ... PUT YOU WORK EVERYWHERE.
- 5. Oh yeah ... and READ!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Writing tips - Showing action in writing
Showing through dialogue and action:
Showing through action:
Does that mean that a writer never "tells" anything? No, but we need to be sure we don't have "information dumps," where information is "told" in large doses, slowing or halting the flow of the story we want to bring to life. Small bits and pieces of information should be scattered throughout our writing in a way that keeps the reader's interest and allows the plot to continue to more forward, adding to the reader's understanding and enjoyment.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Emotions Are Universal
Emotions Are Universal by Joan Y. Edwards
Put emotions in your story. It makes your characters come alive. One way to make your story have universal appeal is to add the tension of opposing emotions inside your character. We all feel mixed emotions every day. Should we do this? We shouldn’t do that. It’s smart to do this. How could I be so stupid? How could he be so naive? What’s the wisest choice? Do I get a choice? When a character has two or three choices and none of them seem very good, it adds tension. It makes the reader want to turn the page.
You ask me, “What are the main emotions?” Here are three lists of emotions:
Paul Ekman’s Big Six Emotions
Ekman’s Eleven Other Basic Emotions
Pride in achievement
Robert Plutchik's Two Added Emotions (Wikipedia)
Nine Emotions of The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin
All people experience emotions. Put believable emotions into your story. It will help your story reach out and hook more readers. You want your readers emotionally involved with the characters in the story. If they are emotionally involved, they’ll want to find out what happens to them.
Read this sentence: Jake was disgusted.
You might say the writer put the emotion into the sentence. The word, “disgusted,” is there, but we don’t feel the emotion. Add action, setting, and description of face and body to make the emotion come alive.
Below is dialogue I made up right here on the spot, just for you. See if it showed emotions through the dialogue, action, setting, and description of face and body.
Jake thought as he looked at the men pawing the waitress. “How can they do that?” His heart pounded inside his chest. He remembered his sister talking to him about the man who raped her. She said, “No one tried to stop him.”
Jake immediately left the bar stool. He stood in front of Preston Richards. “Take your two men and leave. Don’t ever come back.”
“You and whose army is going to make me leave,” Preston said as he blew smoke from his cigar into Jake’s face.
Jake’s three bouncers approached. They were six foot five and weighed 300 pounds. Their muscles were larger than Preston’s whole face.
Preston said, “Okay. We’re leaving. But, we’ll be back to get her later. You can count on it.”
Did I show any emotions without actually using the words for the emotions? I think I did. I hope you think I did, too.
If you find you’re using the word for the emotion: he was sad, she was angry, etc. It’s time for a rewrite. What you wrote isn’t wrong. It’s just not complete. It is a hint that you need to show the emotion with other words, similar to what you would do with your body if you were playing charades. You can’t use words in charades, but you can use your body and nearby props. Do that with your writing.
Use the search and find in your word-processing program. Find any plain emotion words and replace them with appropriate action, setting, dialogue, and description.
Keep a journal observing yourself or other people experiencing six emotions from the lists above. As an experiment, put down each emotion and write down visible signs or invisible signs (what’s going on inside the body) of this emotion. Keep this close to your computer so that when you are writing your next scene, you can use these ideas as spring boards to heighten the showing part of your writing.
Here are website links with information about emotions:
1. Swati Chopra Ancient Indian Emotions Nine States of Emotional Empowerment
2. Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions
3. Great gives text descriptions of body when feeling 6 basic emotions
4. Pamela Berry. Clip Art Guide Great pictures matched with emotions – Free to look, pay to use on websites and in print.
5. Feeling Faces Cards.com and icons
6. Emotion puts expression on faces on Face and Emotion.com
7. Words Describing Feelings on Eqi.org
8. Words Describing Common Negative Feelings on Eqi.org
9. Aristotle’s and Robert Plutchik’s List of Emotions from Wikipedia
Thanks for reading this blog post. Good luck with your writing.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Joan’s Elder Care Guide 4RV Publishing Release Date: June 2015
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Promotion - Blog (Virtual) Book Tours
Four Weeks Before the Tour
• Buy or print a monthly calendar with big squares and enough writing space to help coordinate tour stops. (This was very
helpful in helping see the whole tour from above.)
• Made a list of possible hosts—authors/bloggers you know, bloggers you admire, reviewers who are also bloggers,
bloggers who keep blogs related to my book’s theme/content, etc.
• Made a list of groups/forums where you could announce your tour and ask for hosts, such as Yahoo lists you are a
member of, Facebook, etc.
• Write a ‘template’ message to use for contacting hosts. (This should includ a short intro, info about the book with links to
the cover and blurb, a request to be hosted on their blogs, etc).
Note: You should request not only interviews, but also guest posts and reviews. Reviews are great tools of book promotion, and you can always use them later. Keep in mind not all reviewers will agree to read e-books, and you may have to send them print copies. When you contact the hosts, make sure to tell them you would be delighted to return their favor in the future (You better keep your promise, too! This is all about helping each other, after all). Also, let them know you’ll be aggressively promoting the tour, thus bringing traffic to their blogs.
Three Weeks Before the Tour
• Need to receive responses from bloggers, agreeing on dates, and recording the information on the calendar. The
information included needs to include the name of the blog, the host’s name, and whether or not it was for an interview,
guest post, or review.
• Begin completing interviews.
• Send review copies to reviewers
• Start looking for possible material to be used as guest posts. For one host, maybe use an old article. For another, perhaps
write a new one.
Two Weeks Before the Tour
• Continue answering interview questions and sending them to the hosts (These interviews can be very time consuming, so
don’t leave them for the last minute!)
• Continue preparing/writing guest posts.
A note about interviews: Try to keep the interviews fresh, offering links and information. After a few interviews, they tend to sound boring and repetitive because the hosts’ questions are often similar. Adapt interview questions to make you and your book sound interesting and different. Make sure your answers aren’t too long either. People have busy lives and will not spend hours reading an interview. On the other hand, make sure most of your interview answers aren’t one-liners. My favorite combination for interviews is a mixture of short, witty answers with longer, more thoughtful ones.
One Week Before the Tour
• Continue to answer and send off interviews.
• Double check the calendar to make sure all is in order—especially dates.
• Post the complete tour schedule on the main page of your website and blog.
folder and to e-mail them together when needed).
The First Day of the Tour
• Announce the tour to everybody you know—friends, relatives, colleagues, groups, and forums—inviting them to take a
look and follow you around the blogosphere by providing a link to the complete schedule and mentioning the prize
giveaway at the end.
• Make sure the links to the blogs on the tour schedule were hyperlinked correctly.
During the Tour
• On the day of each stop, announce the new post to all your contacts— including all the groups mentioned before.
• Visited each tour stop to read the comments and interact with the people who wrote them, which means writing
Interacting with the public is fun and, in fact, will result in overwhelming response sometimes. Having a prize to announce on the last the day creates interest, and the prize can be most anything. However, giving a copy of the book keeps most people from ordering a copy. Once the winner is chosen, announce the winner’s name on your blog.
• One week before the tour starts, send a press release to your local newspapers/stations and online directories. Also post
on Facebook, Twitter, email lists, etc.
• If possible, tie your VBT with a holiday. November and December are great months for Christmas books; October for
scary/paranormal books, and so on.
• Don’t just think ‘kid lit blogs,' or one dimensional type blogs. Think of your niche audience.
• Offer a gift on the last day of your tour to motivate people to follow you around the blogosphere and leave comments on
• Visit your own tour stops on a daily basis in order to interact with the visitors and answer their questions, if any.
• Always thank your hosts. After the tour, thank them again and offer to return their favor in the future.
• It’s human to forget. Two or three days before a tour stop, send a polite reminder to the host.
• Be prepared to be flexible. Some times the tour stops may not take place as planned and dates must be changed at the last
minute. Have a couple of backup blogs waiting in the wings.
• Don’t think just interviews. Keep your tour varied—interviews (may be audio, too!), guest posts, reviews.
• Keep the complete VBT schedule on your site and/or blog and update it on a daily basis, adding links and/or hyperlinks
My blog posts will usually go up on Wednesday of the scheduled week and will remain the rest of the week. My scheduled guests are as follows:
Week 1: starting May 23 - Anne K. Albert
Week 2: starting May 29 - Beth Anderson
Week 3: starting June 6 - Pat Browning
Week 4: starting June 13 - Sharon Ervin
Week 5: starting June 20 - Jackie King
Week 6: starting June 27 - Mary Martinez
Week 7: starting July 4 - Marja McGraw
Week 8: starting July 11 - Jean Henry Mead
Week 9: starting July 18 - Marilyn Meredith
Week 10: starting July 25 - Carol Shenold
Week 11: starting Aug 1 - Regan Taylor
Week 12: starting Aug 8 - Jennifer DiCamillo (aka Carys Weldon)