Monday, June 27, 2011

COUNTDOWN to Holly Wild!

 So after three years in the making (even more if you count character development and research) HOLLY WILD:  Bamboozled on Beaver Island (a mid grade fiction) will become a reality. Rejected by Michigan publishers who I am certain only one even looked at, we are going INDY...as only Holly would like. After all, she is a do-it-yourself, explorer kind of girl. That's right. Indy (independent publisher-of self-pub). BTP, (Bear Track Press) who put out Lissy-Lost! (L2) in 2011 after she went OP (out of print) in 2010, is going at it again.

Each week I will blog on the progress of Holly Wild, the characters, the setting, the plot and how this indy book will be put together. So after twenty plus revisions, my editorial team decided to go with the new ms. (manuscript). And let me tell you how many gazillions of illustrations that girl HW (Holly Wild) has me doing.

Who is Holly Wild? Well, if you haven't heard or seen hints of her by now, she is a feisty, earthy (muddy, dirty, scraped-up), ten-year old, in hiking boots and auburn hair (she hates being called a red-head or maybe she hates it when her ultimate enemy, Ivy Buckthorn calls her that).

HOLLY H. WILD:  Curious, mischievous and always at my side. Did I mention annoying? (But, only to me.)
Holly's outlook and thoughts on life: "Just poke it with a stick and see what happens." Holy creeps, everyone knows that. This could also be the reason why she gets into jams and trouble so often.
HOLLY H. WILD:  Brave, creative, inventive and knows no danger--or at least doesn't recognize it.
Holly keeps me up at night, pesters me during the day and is more loud and needy than any BTP pet running around here. She wants kids (and parents) to know about herps, poop (scat is the polite term), and bones and gross nature stuff. She wants someone to hear her. She wants company--kids to GET UP, GET OUT and GET DIRTY--especially in Michigan's wild places with her.

HOLLY H. WILD:  Determined and focused (for maybe ten seconds)
Me. I can't wait until she gets what she wants and get this first book out. But, then I will have to start on book two, because she is already hinting at book three and wants to know where we are going for book four. Hold on Holly--one indy at a time. Speaking of indy if you the reader has ANY comments on ANYthing (the cover, design, or illustrations) please feel free to let me hear about them. I'm open to suggestions and criticism (although I'm not so sure how Holly will take it.)

Look out Michigan--this is one kid to watch for this September in HOLLY WILD:  Bamboozled on Beaver Island. She just might have your kids getting dirty, poking things with a stick and searching for "herps"and asking, "What does the H. in Holly H. Wild, stand for?)"

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Book an eBook

So after eleven years in the making, Lissy-Lost!, my first book written and illustrated by moi, has taken the digital leap to an eBook. 

"L2" (Lissy-Lost!) as my daughter so lovingly calls this book, is now available from Barnes & Noble for the mere price of $3.99. (And you can even download free eBook reader apps at BN for your PC, Android, iPad and Pod and more!)

When I purchased my Nook color I never really thought about having L2 go digital. But after getting the book reprinted I thought why the heck not jump on the bitmap bandwagon.

It started off as an experiment to see how it would go. I download books on my Nook every so often--OK all the time--but only to see how other books look:  illustrations, layout, overall feel. (OK, I love story.) But the L2 paperback book is glossy, colorful and can be flipped to pictures and passages. Pages can be dog-eared, bent and even colored in if you are six (my first book altering art pieces had coloring and signatures in them--Marie still laughs at me as I still sign my name in my books--in a family of six as a kid you had to claim your things).

So now that L2 is out there floating on the waves of electronica, how do I market it?  Any suggestions?  I have read a few blogs and such going over the same problem or challenge. Blog about it, tell folks on FB...umm I ran out of ideas. Why? Because my brain is usually in CREATE mode NOT market mode and moves on to the next shiny thing. 

I have a book signing at our Pinckney Library next week and will have books there to sign and do a small program for kids and I will mention the new "eL2". But how do you sign an eBook? Collect signatures in a drawing program? I did download a kid's coloring program on my Nook and actually thought about having Ruth McNally Barshaw of Ellie McDoodle fame sign her name with her finger and draw her Ellie at the Comic Jam in Chelsea last week.

Will my next book be an eBook? Perhaps not. I like the paper. Heck, L2 is a 30% post-consumer waste and the printer supports the Plant a Billion Trees Program. But with Holly Wild, or HW, you will be able to stick it in a pocket, it will need no batteries or charging and can get it wet in a tent on a dark and spooky, stormy night. And I want kids to draw in it, fold it, color it--interact with it. Make it personal and sign their own name in it. Afterall, reading a book is a personal experience.

Like we writers, illustrators and editors said when we met over a month ago over dinner, we (the public) won't be handing down eBooks to Grandma's grandkids when she dies or saying fondly, "Oh, that was Grandma's favorite app! Who gets it?" There will be no wear and tear and aging of these eBooks. My daughter and I collect old, old kids books and run and fight over who saw what first when we shop for them. I can't see this happening with eBooks. (AND the names and coloring of pictures in those books make them more so endearing.)

Sign my Nook drawing program?

I love my Nook because I do love books. I still use our local library (mostly for a pickup point for MEL books) and even request books from them on my Nook. I'm not right, I know. But my Nook is handy--a portfolio, email and FB at a WiFi touch and I can pull it out and jump into a book at any time--and the kid drawing program occasionally soothes my artist ADD--but give me paper or a paper book anytime for pure fun.

I still love the creating process of sketching and drawing and try to stress this to folks young and old that I meet. After I sold a book to a family last weekend at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market I showed them the sketches I did while doodling and how they became the final illustrations for the book.

I'll always like the primitive feel and smell of pen and pencil on paper. And to draw with a Nook finger is a bit like an Etch-a-Sketch. So I can't see doing any eBook signings anytime soon.




But if you purchase a copy of L2 online at Barnes and Noble, I'll email you a bookmark!


But if you want the old-fashioned paperback it is available for purchase at many fine stores listed on my website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

People Watching at the Market

What does an artist/illustrator do when they can't hit the woods to study wildlife? They study and sketch "People Life" while sitting in a booth at an art show or artist market. People watching.

It's a fun change of pace from birdwatching. And people can be just as entertaining and colorful too, as they go about their nesting, food gathering and flocking activities!

And sometimes illustrators need illustrations of "extras" for backgrounds.  An interesting array of characters, footwear, hats, clothes and characters are set before you.
(Music making, talking, looking and watching specimens)
Varied body types, ages, cultures are all on parade. Enjoy. Get in on their fun. What are all of these people talking about? Pick up snippets of conversation. What is happening? From these sketches you can see that it is summer. Just like "field notes" in the wild, date your sketch.
(Food and art gathering activities and specimens on the move.)
What was the weather like? This was a hot Sunday. Sunglasses, shorts and sandals? Even the day of the week can tell alot about how people dress. How people carry things goes beyond paper or plastic. Backpack, belly pack or bag? How do they move. Are they coming home from church, shopping, going fishing...
(Get front, side and back shots before the flock senses danger and scatters.)
(Flashy male specimen with plumage)
...or selling their art?!

Whatever the occasion take time to take notes. As you People Watch, you may get people watching you watching others. It's a great conversation starter. People are fascinated by someone putting pen to paper.

Go to the beach, go to a fair, go to a farmer's market. Get out and people watch and draw them before they know it.