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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Living in my Illustrations

img004.jpg

Being an illustrator is great fun.  Why?  Because you can use your imagination to go places you’ve never been and do things you’ve never done. For instance, I have always wanted a log cabin up in the mountains.  As a teen, I used to imagine having a studio up a flight of wooden steps to a big room. It would have rafter ceilings and a window seat for me to look out of.  It would be warm and cozy and I could sit and do my art all day long near a roaring fire in the wood stove.

When I began thinking of places for my character Burl the bear to live in, I made it just like “I” wanted it!  Warm and inviting!  When you walk through the doorway of my story, you will find a home that lives in my imagination. It will be a place that I love and I will revisit it many times as the story progresses. I must be passionate about what I draw or it becomes listless and boring. This process is what makes a story believable.

My experience tells me that children notice the tiniest of details.  I did a school visit after Peepsqueak was published by Harper Collins Publisher.  I read the book to the children and then we talked.  Through out the story there was another story going on in the book. It was a little tiny mouse who appeared on many of the pages.  The children did not miss it. They even commented on the mouse as I read to them.  I let them in on a little secret.  I named the mouse Elliot.  When I told them his name they all squealed with delight and pointed to the cutest little boy in their classroom who was named Elliot!   He was beaming.  Suddenly he became part of the story. He was so happy!

These are the things that make a story magical in the eyes of children and adults alike.  Its also why I continue creating images.  I love seeing characters develop.   I love finding their voices. .. what they are like… what they like to do.  It does not stop when I leave the studio.  I think about them all the time, until I finally know how they would react in any given situation. That way they become very believable creations and loved by all.

Stay posted,  Burl and Briley are growing on my heart daily.  I can hardly wait to illustrate the books that are in my mind!


Filed under: how to write, My Characters

6 Comments on Living in my Illustrations, last added: 11/21/2014
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2. Rules of BRAINSTORM

I love the posts over at Tara Lazar's site every November during PiBoIdMo! Some inspire me by presenting a new way to look at creativity, and some are reminders of things that I already knew, but seem to forget about when trying to create!

The last few on not censoring yourself inspired me to write this post. Back in the days when I was a graphic designer in the advertising/communications field, we would have brainstorming sessions for new projects. We would have to repeat the rules about 10 times each session because someone would say, "that's stupid," or "don't write that one down!" That breaks the first rule – anything goes – no censoring! You gotta get the bad ideas out somehow!

Here's a quote from the great Chuck Jones about creating art:

 

Switch out ‘drawings’ with ‘ideas’, or any creative endeavor.

Here is my list of Brainstorming Rules written in deference to the Movie Fight Club, and the Rules of Fight Club:

Rules of BRAINSTORM
  • 1st RULE:  You do not censor ANY ideas in BRAINSTORM.
  • 2nd RULE: EVERY IDEA gets written down in BRAINSTORM.
  • 3rd RULE: No Judgey Judgersons! If someone says 'that's stupid' or 'don't write that down' BRAINSTORM is over for them, and escort them out of the room. (This includes your inner voices!)
  • 4th RULE: Only 15 minutes for each BRAINSTORM. (If nothing comes out of it, take and break and come back to it.)
  • 5th RULE: In BRAINSTORM, quantity trumps quality. The more ideas, the better.
  • 6th RULE: Build upon other ideas. Take an idea you wrote down and add to it.
  • 7th RULE: Sketch you ideas out. If you just thought 'but I can't draw' please leave the BRAINSTORM. (Back to 3rd RULE of BRAINSTORM!)
  • 8th RULE: Wild ideas are welcome. This is the time to think of the wildest ideas you can imagine! Having toys and puzzles around may help get your juices flowing.

Good luck with your ideas!

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3. Sweet thoughts

DSC_1672Little bee, no swerving from your line when you deliver the goods back home.

A busy place with no door but when you enter you still use your buzzer.

Then back again from flower to flower, collecting the pollen that gives you power.

It’s home again, little bundles carried to feed the Queen


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4. Justice

Justice is a matter of belief that fairness has won the day, that truth and honesty has prevailed …

But alas, Justice is only a perception that many times is corrupted by greed …JDMartRedRoadJustice11520142


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5. Another Way Of Thinking About Attention Deficit Disorder

02COVER-master675-v2

“From the standpoint of teachers, parents and the world at large, the problem with people with A.D.H.D. looks like a lack of focus and attention and impulsive behavior. But if you have the “illness,” the real problem is that, to your brain, the world that you live in essentially feels not very interesting.”

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6. Notes On The Exotic

Exotic

“Sometimes one can recapture that fleeting sensation with names – place-names. If I am hiking up a familiar path near my house in Turin and I think, ‘I am climbing a hill in Italy,’ there is a brief whiff of foreign glamour. And, when I arrived in Uzbekistan and was disappointed to find that city people took buses and trams as they do everywhere else, I could revive a touch of fantasy by silently repeating, ‘Streetcars in Samarkand’.”

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7. The Strange History Of The Ouija Board

ouija

It started with a pair of spiritualists in post-Civil-War New York; became a ubiquitous family pastime that was considered good, clean fun (and great for a date); and had its reputation ruined by The Exorcist. (It also told its first manufacturers what it wanted to be called.) (includes podcast)

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8. How Do We Revive A Language When There Are No Native Speakers Left?

tongva

“It’s hard to find information on Tongva. There are no audio recordings of people speaking the language, just a few scratchy wax cylinder recordings of Tongva songs. There are additional word lists from scholars, explorers, and others dating from 1838 to 1903.”

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9. Are Some People Hard-Wired For Bravery And Others For Cowardice?

cowardice

“Which trait increases my chances of survival or my chances to reproduce? What would be most adaptive is switching from one response to the other, depending the situation, but our underlying biology cannot switch back and forth that quickly”

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10. Mindfulness, Shmindfulness – Zoning Out Is Good For You (Within Reason)

Mindfulness Shmindfulness

“One of the biggest misconceptions people have about mindfulness is that you can train yourself to stay in this mindful state all of the time. … Even if you spent 20 years in a Tibetan monastery, you would not be able to stay in a mindful state. We are not, evolutionarily, designed to stay in this blissful, present-moment awareness state.”

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11. Will A Former Courthouse Become An Arts Center In L.A.’s Culver City?

la-et-cm-mark-ridleythomas-culver-city-lacma-a-001

“The specific uses haven’t been determined yet, she said, but ‘we’re working with LACMA and Sony and other arts organizations to come up with a final program’ before starting design work on renovations.”

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12. We Think Quantum Mechanics Is About Schrödinger’s Cat, But All Of Life Depends On It

Photosynthesis-quantum-levels

“A quantum theory of smell sounds outlandish, perhaps, but evidence has recently emerged to support it: it was found that fruit flies can distinguish odorants with exactly the same shape but different isotopes of the same elements, something that is hard to explain without quantum mechanics.”

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13. Positive Thinking Isn’t Always So Powerful – It Might Even Hold You Back

positive thinking

“As a German citizen who came to the United States relatively late in life, I was initially struck by how much more positive thinking was valued in the United States than back in Europe.” Research psychologist Gabriele Oettingen had presumed this was a good thing – until she started doing some studies. It seems that some kinds of positive thinking are a lot less helpful than others.

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14. Paris Has Been A Capital Of The Arts For Centuries – And Now It Has To Change

28paris-master675

“France’s leadership is struggling to pay for the government it provides. While the capital remains a global magnet of culture, it increasingly risks becoming a playground for the world’s elite, detached from its midsize cities, villages and countryside, where rising hardships stoke resentments and widen the opening for far-right parties.”

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15. Trying To Fool Facebook – And All Of The Advertisers – Online

big data

“Janet Vertesi tried hide her pregnancy from the Internet. She detailed her efforts to mask any behavior that suggested the coming change in her life, using everything from Tor to mask her browsing history to paying cash for gift cards to avoid using her credit cards.”

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16. We Are All Confident Idiots

confident-idiot

“In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.” (And every one of us is incompetent at something.)

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17. “Illegal” movement of populations

What’s on my mind?
Indigenous peoples and their worry about being over run by other populations I guess could sum it up.
I suppose if cougars, wolves, elephants and such learned to shoot guns or band together better they would kick out the human populations who have transgressed on their land but as people go I believe we need to understand the reason for others unlawfully entering areas already overpopulated.
Overpopulation where they come from, economic despair, greed, the making of money into a God and the lust for power over others seem to be good places to start .
Seems to me that as people from a planet with finite resources we need to try to make all places a good place to live so people want to stay where they are. Make everywhere a good place to be.
Sharing with others does not have to mean give away my happiness but it could mean helping you gain yours. I hope I can do that with more than one other and if we all did it for just two other people it would cure the problem in my mind at least.
Bee6720081_copy


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18. All’s Well That Ends Well

CalendarBB

 

Do you ever have those days when nothing goes right?  When everything you try does not work? That was my day today, accompanied by a doozer of a headache.  Photoshop just quit on me. I could not open CS5 or CS6.  Finally at the end of the day the Adobe Twitter Support came through!  Hooray! It works!!

While I was waiting for support to write me back I was able to begin writing my stories for Burt ad Briley, my new characters.  Their conversations made me smile.  All’s well that ends well.  I will post another picture soon.

 

 


Filed under: My Characters

4 Comments on All’s Well That Ends Well, last added: 9/30/2014
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19. I v. We


So Amy wrote this. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Then I wrote this.

Then Amy extended the conversation with this. Again, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

My post was chewing around the edges of something else that isn't quite as linear but is a huge piece of crediting people who create and citing them.

When I wrote about management perspective I was not referring to "management privilege". I detest anyone who poaches and claims credit or by omission leaves out the people who do the true heavy lifting. It's not how I try to run my shop or thankfully been managed by others - or most importantly  -been treated by all my many colleagues around the state and country.

And I think that there is a great deal of professional pain that youth librarians feel from work they have not been credited for, celebrated for and appreciated for. I am definitely not arguing the great teamwork-kumbaya (we're all in this together, la-la).

I am coming at the discussion from one place as a long-time manager, a long-time active association member and a long-time consultant/presenter. And from the other place, I am coming as a newly energized researcher and teacher who demands citations and digging down to the original roots of work - most especially from myself! It is this perspective that I want to pursue.

As I have been studying the history of children's programming in public libraries, it is increasingly clear that youth librarians have been pushing the envelope of service since the beginning of the profession. Over the last century, children's librarians were at the forefront of developing SLPs, outreach, use of technology (radio, TV, films, filmstrips, record players), programming to parents (my mom was in the parent group while I was in storytime!), and many many of the practices that some in the profession are currently "inventing." Everything old IS new again.

There is a huge scaffold of practice upon which each and every one of us builds our own scaffold of service and innovative ideas. My concern is for some in the profession that don't want to recognize that foundation. Our foremothers and current colleagues have done work that we all build on - whether its oppositional building or complementary. When we don't acknowledge that debt - and appreciate where our own work is coming from, we do a huge disservice.

My point in my original post about how collaborative we are comes from that place. It is the "we" I am trying to get at.

So how do we acknowledge the "I" while being true to the "we" - and visa versa?

As Amy writes: cite!
Seek permission from those whose work your work is based on to share.
Communicate and don't steal.
Never false claim.
Know that your support of someone else's work enhances your own.
Acknowledge that the brainstorming power of coworkers, tweeps, Facebookers, a conference hallway conversation informed that idea that you brought to full fruition.

You cannot be harmed by acknowledging and citing. Rather you can be the power that raises up those around you. And that is a powerful "I" and a powerful "we".


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20. Let’s Make Your Article Ideas Not Suck — Right Now

Finger face having an ideaIn the Premium version of my Write for Magazines e-course, I critique three article ideas from each student.

I’ll take an idea that’s almost-but-not-quite there (which is almost every idea) and show the student how to play with it, how to experiment with different angles until it’s just right to pitch.

And you know the response I often get?

“Since you didn’t like that idea, here’s another one.”

No, no, no!

Article ideas rarely pop out of a writer’s head fully-formed and ready to pitch. Even someone with 17 years’ experience (ahem) comes out with what I call SEEDS of ideas. A seed is the most basic form of an idea before you nurture it into a fully grown, salable article idea.

When you brainstorm, generate as many ideas as you can without judging them. Then, go through them one by one and start playing with the topics, angles, and markets to turn seeds into fully realized ideas. Like so:

If your idea isn’t newsy enough:


Here are three tactics you can try:

  1. See if you can find a recently-released book on the topic, or one that will be coming out around the same time you’re aiming your article for. (Search on Amazon.com and sort results by Date Published instead of Relevance.)
  2. Search for stats showing that what you’re pitching is a trend, or is becoming a trend.
  3. Figure out if there’s some way you can attach your idea to something that IS going on in the news. Maybe a celebrity just announced that she has some rare disease you wanted to write about, or you want to write on a marketing topic and a big business made the news with a major marketing fail.

If your idea is too narrow:


Consider finding three or more similar things and pitching them as a roundup. For example, instead of pitching an article on an historic attraction in your area, find four cool historic attractions and offer a roundup to a regional magazine.

Or, bring in other, similar but distinct topics. Instead of writing a pet health article only for ferret owners, expand it to include cats and dogs and pitch it to a general pets magazine or one of the women’s or health magazines that have pet departments.

If your idea is too broad:


Take one thin slice of the idea and blow it up to feature-size. For example, every health writer is pitching about the GMO issue, and frankly, this idea is big enough to fill a book. Is there some small aspect of the topic that hasn’t gotten much press, that readers may not already know about?

If your idea isn’t relevant to enough of your target market’s audience:


Is there a magazine or online publication that caters to an audience to whom your idea WOULD be relevant? For example, if a certain autoimmune disease affects only 2% of women, it won’t be of interest to a women’s magazine. But it WOULD be of interest to a magazine that targets people with autoimmune disorders. (And you’d be surprised at the publications you can find out there.)

If your idea is too vague:


Ask yourself, “What ABOUT topic X?” For instance, you want to write about job hunting for seniors. That’s pretty nebulous. What ABOUT job hunting for seniors? How to make your resume relevant for modern jobs, the top 10 best work-at-home jobs for seniors, how to volunteer your way into a paid job?

If your idea is just plain boring:


Consider: What’s the opposite of your idea? Editors love surprising, counterintuitive ideas that surprise readers and make them think.

Years ago I noticed that peanuts were getting a bad rap due to allergies (they had been recently kicked off of airplanes), so I pitched and sold an article called “In Defense of the Peanut” to Oxygen, about the health benefits of the beleaguered nut.

If your idea is about how to save money on groceries (been there, done that), you turn that into an idea on when it makes sense to spend more on food. (I did this for Fitness magazine, in an article called “Splurge or Save.”)

If your idea is on how to market your small business (snooooze), turn that into an article on how to attract customers without marketing.

So from now on, when your brainstorming session produces ideas you fear are stale, overdone, too narrow, or too big, don’t give up in despair. Remember, these are seeds of ideas, and you can nurture them until they grow into perfect pitches.

How about you: Did you recently come up with an idea you thought stunk? Can you apply some of the tips above to make it, well, not stink? Let’s play with your article ideas right here in the comments!

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21. What Do You Do With An Idea? By Kobi Yamada | Book Review

What Do You Do With An Idea? is about a boy who has an idea, illustrated as a golden crowned egg with legs. The boy wonders about the peculiar golden biped; its origins, its purpose, its place in the world.

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22. The Polite Writer

                                                                        Artwork by Melva Medina
                                                            found on the blog The Education Labyrinth

In the wake of a conversation about, well, just about everything, a son flagged up an article to me called "How to be Polite".  It was excellent and funny and true.  As I read, I thought "Yes!  This is such good advice!" and then also "Yes!  Politeness is the writer's friend!"

Listen, if you will, to this -

My ability to go to a party and speak to anyone about anything, to natter and ask questions, to turn the conversation relentlessly towards the speaker, meant that I was gathering huge amounts of information about other people.

Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn’t reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, “I like you!” She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, “wow, that sounds hard” to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.

A friend and I came up with a game called Raconteur. You pair up with another Raconteur at a party and talk to everyone you can. You score points by getting people to disclose something about their lives. If you dominate the conversation, you lose a point. 

And you lose a chance.  As a person and as a writer.

The next time you're asked where you get your ideas, try answering, "By being polite."  

P.S.  Please don't jump on me because you think I'm implying politeness is nothing more than a cynical tool for doing your job.  I'm not.  And really, I'd much rather hear about you ...

Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.


                                                                                                

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23. Here’s Why Your Cool Article Ideas Aren’t Selling

idealightbulbYou come up with a mind-blowingly awesome article idea: You’ve discovered some really cool thing, and you want to write about it.

For example, you’ve found out something fascinating about how train schedules are developed, or how makeup is made, or a unique museum, or a new business that’s just opened its doors.

So you have this amazing idea — why is everyone rejecting it?

This kind of idea is what I like to call an “Isn’t This Cool?” idea. You’ve found something neat, and you want to share it with the world.

But sadly, most publications don’t want to just share random interesting things with their readers. Each magazine has its own slant, and the product, fact, business or person you found needs to fit in with their mission.

For example, let’s take the idea of some weird aspect of how makeup is made. You want to send it to a women’s magazine, of course. What woman wouldn’t be interested in finding out this cool fact about how her mascara is made?

But women’s magazines are service publications, meaning most of their articles offer some kind of advice. So the editors wouldn’t be interested in this fact about makeup unless their readers can actually do something with it.

So if you have an idea where you think, “Isn’t this cool?” — ask yourself, “So what?” Why would readers care? How can you make them care? What can they do with it, or how can they apply the knowledge right now? For most publications, your ideas need to be useful and actionable.

For example, maybe women need to avoid makeup products that are made with this method, and you can round up the types of products this applies to so readers know which ones to look out for. That’s an idea you could pitch to a health magazine.

Or, let’s take the article you want to pitch on the Burnt Food Museum, and yes, this is real. (“Hey, this museum exists. Isn’t it cool?”) Rare is the magazine that would want you to just write about what a weird museum you found. It would do better as, say, a round-up of weird museums in New England readers can visit, complete with info on location, price, and hours. Now, readers can do something with that information.

Some magazines do run “Isn’t This Cool?” articles. For example, magazines for hobbyists love to run interesting facts about their hobby — how it developed, who’s doing interesting things with it, and why some aspects of the hobby are the way they are. Maybe a magazine for train enthusiasts would want to run an interesting fact on how train schedules are developed. And I once wrote an article about the world’s largest marble collection for a collectors’ magazine.

But for most markets, you’ll want to go beyond a cool fact. Dig until you figure out what makes this fact relevant to the readers of the pubs you want to pitch.

Sometimes, this means the idea you pitch will barely resemble the one you first thought of. And that’s okay! That’s how the idea process works. You get what I call the “seed” of an idea, and when you nurture it, it grows into something useful and beautiful that doesn’t look anything like the original seed.

How about you…do you have an “Isn’t That Cool?” idea you’ve tried to pitch? How do you think you can reslant it to be more salable? Let us know in the Comments below!

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24. “Rose colored glasses”

JDM_G_Flower9720141

 

I was just thinking that it’s not the perfect flower I look for in my photography, it’s the perfect feeling, same with my friends, they all have little flaws just like me but when I close my eyes and think of them I only know the sweet essence of their perfection and see how wonderful life is to let me see them … Love you all !


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25. Sing like nothing else matters !

When you are feeling all alone, if you just sing out loud you may be surprised how many others will join in with you …JDMn6Birds62920141


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