Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Waking Up to Solve a Plot Problems in My Manuscripts

Whom, among the literary and creative folks, stay up all night to work on projects? Raise of hands? Me too.  I do it when I have a deadline, but when I don't have a deadline, I'll wake up in the middle of the night to solve a problem with the direction of my characters, or a new book concept or an image or dream that I had, a solution to a problem and I need to get it down on paper. Most of you have had that scenario happened too.

Wide awake, right? Can't fall back to sleep, so you get up and work on the book. Thank goodness free-lancing has flexible hours. Just this morning, around 5:00, I woke up, grabbed a glass of water and went to my studio to rework the legs of my characters. Earlier that day, I wasn't sure how they should have moved, since my character is bound by a wheelchair. She only has a little strength on the right side of her body. She always wanted to ride a horse, so I worked all day to figure out how she would go about do it. Nothing was working.

After dinner, I googled wheelchair-bound kids riding horses and I came across great articles, YouTube demos and instructions with wheel bound children and their instructors riding horses. It was a great treasure of information and it  helped a lot with my drawings. But I wonder how my character would do it without adult supervision?  All children have dreams of riding horses, motorcycles, cars and magical creatures without adults, so do children with disabilities; why not give them that opportunity?

I kept drawing, until the drawing kept getting closer to my vision, but not quite there. I was exhausted so I headed to bed and fell asleep.

5:15 in the morning, I woke up with the answer and before I forgot, I headed to the drafting table to draw it out. The solution was; have the horse kneel and lay on the ground, so my character can easily, or without too much struggle get on the horse.  It all seem to fall in place and it was a great solution.

When I finished, I went back to bed, as my husband was just getting up for work. He's use to me doing this routinue and he understood (since he does it sometimes for his electrical engineering jobs) I had a creative break through. We smiled and I went back to bed and fell sound asleep.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Learning to Play an Instrument, While Working on My Stories

I'm learning how to play the ukulele and it's been a lot of fun. It also inspires me to work on my manuscripts and story ideas. There has been studies shown, that music helps the brain develop new
neuron transmitters, increase retaining memory, healthy brain function and boost serotonin levels making a person happier.

Wailing away on my  ukulele, regardless of the mixed up cord changes, losing the beat while strumming up and down is all worth it, while I hammer away on my graphic novel. Especially that project that has left me at more dead ends with the characters. Playing an instrument, isn't just a fun thing to do, but has helped me find the path through my literary forest and the characters in my story are now on their way.

So if you have never played an instrument before or haven't picked up one in a while,  try it and see how well your creative side blossoms. Follow the music and watch your creative side sorrow even further.

Sunday Morning on CBS, I'm Going to Miss YOU.

I'm missing Charles Osgood already and he isn't leaving  Sunday Morning on CBS, until September. Granted he has every right to retire, but the thought of him leaving saddens me. A mainstay Sunday anchor hosting a delightful show on narrative stories for 20 years. It's show with heart. A show with soul. It's the stories and the storytellers that give it that, but it was Mr. Osgood that gave it the extra special touch when he hosted the show.

It was once hosted by the late Charles Kraulat, with his distinctive voice that had my dad and mom tuned in every Sunday morning, when my brothers and sisters were at church. Some times, my siblings and I watched it, when we didn't go to church. It wasn't often, but it was a special treat.

Sunday Morning on CBS went, hand and hand, with the Sunday New York Times, brunch with political and football shows to follow. It was a show that gently led us to think about the week and to leisurely partake in ordinary people's lives doing extraordinary things. Even some of the stories where of  quiet reflection about the wilderness or a feel good-story of a child passing out toy dinosaurs to make people smile or even a 93 year old Navy man jogging across the America to make people remember the cargo warships of WW II, that carried soldiers, supplies and tanks on foreign beaches.And at the end  each show, the host would leave you with a scene of nature, either a western prairie with antelope grazing or a babbling brook in a quiet forest.

That's Sunday Morning, for you. I hope the new host with take those things in mind, because Charles Osgood is a hard act to follow.

Stories on Vacations

It's been a scorcher this summer. More heat waves than I could remember. This gave me a chance to enjoy my air conditioning and work on my sketches, stories and artwork.

Working out concepts for new stories. One idea is a Brazilian Cockatoo and his human family going to a baseball game. The other one: a shelter dogs who wants to be a hero, but ends up in a job he doesn't like, but an old dog teaches him a new attitude.

Then I have the other projects piled up, not quite collecting dust, but each one I've work on, revised and redid to improve on it. There is one story, I've been having a hard time rewriting, based on several editorial critiques. It wasn't saleable, but everyone like the character and her sidekicks. It's a recipe picture book.

Recipe books for children don't sell anymore, as I've been told. The facts support it. as I studied what sells and what doesn't at B&N and Amazon.  So what do I do with an incredible character? Well, I shelved her for two and half years, until I had the "Eureka" moment.  It hasn't happened. Maybe it's time to take her out, brush the dust off her hat  and bring her on vacation with me. It's time.

When I bring book projects and ideas with me on vacation, the ideas flow. Change of scenery. Relaxing atmosphere and a tropical drink does the trick. This year, a vacation might not be possible, so I was thinking heading to the local Long Island Beaches. Beautiful, sandy with clams and little shells dotting the shoreline, and the breeze off the Atlantic is wonderful. The smell of salt air and burgers grilling takes me back to my childhood.

So if you have old stories in your files. Brush off the dust and take them with you on a day-cation or vacation and see what inspires you!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Prize

    With all that is going on in my life, the prize seems far off, but I'm still eager to get there. Life happens and I'm not making any excuses for it.  Why I haven't had more books published or selling more artwork? Tapping down the outside forces and battling my own problems to finish this graphic  novel is tough going. Truthfully, I am a procrastinator, an ADD person, but it's painful. It's painful, because it's a struggle for me.

   Sloshing and slugging through the muckity muck of character's, who are not working the way I want them to, or the endless research on this difficult project that seems insurmountable.  The interviews, I still have to do, to finish the research. That means a trip, hopefully a phone call. There are days, I don't work on it, maybe too may days that gives me angst and the days that I do, satisfies me, but not completely. Constantly revising, revising. Maddening. But I love this story. I love the concept of it.

    I love my main character, she is a remarkable 4th grader who is courageous and daring. She is the combination of two people that are in my family.  I wish, I was the mom in this story I'm creating.
Hard working mom who  works and getting her law degree in an on-line university and taking care of this remarkable kid, who from the outside seems like a fairly healthy and happy little girl. But she has no idea her daughter and her friends have found a secret that will change their lives forever.

  So, I have this agent waiting patiently for my graphic novel, but still doesn't want to sign me.  She loves the idea of my graphic novel too.  She's given me a bunch of advice. All good stuff.  I know it, I have to make myself more marketable and I agree with her on that. I have to update my on-line portfolio. Something, I use loved doing, but now it's different. It harder, I haven't updated my website or this blog, what seems ages, until now because I have a different prize, a different phase.  I've let everything slip. But I can fix it all. It's in my grasp. Does any other artist go through this? I'm sure, I'm not alone.

  I'm not giving up though. I'm in this for the long haul, no matter how hard and regardless what anyone tells me. No matter how long it takes. Here's to the winning spirit that drives me. Here is to those who work quietly in their studios without fanfare, without awards, yet are determined to make it, because like me, we want to create great books for children. Like me they are at  their drafting, lamps aglow or working way on their computers, their artwork to sustain them and knowing the goal is far off, but attainable.

  Cheers to us, my friends. Keep plugging away, no matter what anyone tells you or what is going on in your Life.  Fight for it!
Doodles, Sketches and Thoughts.

     During this year, I've been working on a graphic novel for the Middle Grade genre. Hopefully, I can finish most of the novel by the end of the year. It's been a long process.