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1. Writer Wednesday: A Tip For Tenses


Today's topic comes from Lidy, who asked:

"The trouble comes with which tense to use. Simple past or past progressive? But then I end up mixing and switching tenses. Is there a trick or tip to keep your tenses straight/consistent?"

First, for anyone not familiar with the term past progressive, let me explain it. Past progressive can indicate a continuing action or an action that was interrupted or happening when something else occurred. You write this tense by using a form of "to be" and a verb ending in -ing. Here are some examples with the past progressive in italics:

Continuing action:
Tom was being a bad friend.
I was writing all afternoon.

Interrupted/happening when something else occurred:
I was sleeping when my dog suddenly started to bark.
I was leaving the house when the phone rang.

Okay, so here's my advice. Avoid "to be" (helping verbs) at all costs. This is something I learned when I took writing courses. "To be" (in all its forms: is, am, was, were, are) is a sign of weak writing. Let me rewrite the examples above to remove the use of "to be" verbs.

Tom's actions made him a bad friend.
I drafted my book all afternoon.
As I walked out the front door, the phone rang.
My dog's loud bark woke me from a deep sleep.

Now I could've constructed better sentences, but this is just to give you an idea of how to do this so I kept my examples simple. Basically, avoiding "to be" will result in stronger sentences. However, if you are mixing past and past progressive, don't assume you're incorrect in doing so. There is a time and place for past progressive. The real question is, do you want to use past progressive when "to be" verbs are stereotyped as weak writing and can be avoided?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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2. Writer Wednesday: Description in First Person POV


Today's topic comes curtesy of Fiona Phillips, who asked:

"In your opinion, does writing from first person perspective limit the amount of description you can use (of surroundings, characters, etc.)?"

First, that's a great question, so thank you for posing it, Fi. If you're comparing first person to third person, then the answer is yes. Unless you have a main character who is extremely perceptive, you're not going to get the same level of description in first person as you would in third person. However, that doesn't mean you can't have a good level of description in first person POV. It just means you have to tackle it in a different way. 

In third person POV, you can easily set the scene, describing as much as you want. But with first person POV, you have to make sure the description is coming across in a more natural way. If the character is entering a scene that's unfamiliar to him/her, it's natural to take in the scene, thus describing it for the reader. However, a character wouldn't naturally walk into the house they've lived in for the past ten years and comment on all the details of the layout. What you would need to do is describe that layout in terms of where the MC is and what the MC is doing. The MC might toss his/her keys on the mahogany table against the wall as he/she walks in the front door. He/she might trip over the runner in the hallway on his/her way to the living room, where he/she flops down on the brown, leather couch and puts his/her feet up on the glass coffee table. See what I did there? I'm giving details to describe the scene as it pertains to the MC.

So, yes, you can have that description, but you need to tie it to the MC and present it as it makes sense. It's different from third person POV, but it can be done. I hope that answers your question, Fi!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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3. Writer Wednesday: The Line Between MG and YA


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay, who asked how to keep the line between your MG and YA works separate, especially when it comes to knowing to what extent you can go with MG vs. YA.

Okay, so we all know the age difference for MG vs. YA. YA is targeted at teens and the characters tend to be fifteen to eighteen. MG is targeted at the nine to twelve age group with the characters typically around the age of eleven to fourteen. (Keep in mind there are exceptions to every rule, but this is a good rule of thumb to go by.) Voice and content are the other two big distinctions.

One of the biggest differences I see is that middle grade is typically more hopeful with happy endings while young adult tends to have a lot of angst. While it's true that many middle grade readers might be cursing and doing things we ourselves didn't do at that age, you don't typically see that in MG books. The stories focus more on the adventures and the character's immediate surroundings—their relationships with family and friends. YA is more about finding your place in the world. There's a lot more self-reflection by the characters, and profanity and even sex can have a place in the story.

I like to think of middle grade as more innocent. A time when you believe the world consists of you, your friends, and your family. YA, on the other hand, is more realistic. You know there's this big world out there and you are struggling to fit into it.

Sheena-Kay, I hope that answers your question. If anyone has any tips for distinguishing between MG and YA, please feel free to leave them in the comments.  


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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4. Writer Wednesday: So You Think You Can Edit?

Yeah, I'm cringing at that post title too. ;) You all know I like to amuse myself though, and that's what my brain concocted for the question submitted for today's Writer Wednesday. What is that question? Check it out:

"How does someone go about becoming an editor and how you know how good you are at editing?"

Okay, well answers for this are going to vary, so let me share my journey. First, I went to college to become an English teacher, which is exactly what I was for seven years before switching careers. So, I have a degree in English. While I loved literature, some of my favorite classes were actually grammar courses. Call me crazy but I love grammar rules. Yes, I'm the girl who corrects people's grammar on a regular basis. No, I'm not sorry about it. I love grammar.

From teaching, I moved into proofreading (for a school district actually). That's when I discovered I love to edit. So I set up a page on my website to offer my services, and then I blogged about it with a very special offer. I'd edit up to 10 pages for free so people could try me out. I offered that for one month, and I picked up my first clients. Luckily for me, they were happy with my work and I still work with many of them today, years later.

Once I'd been editing for a while, I started working for several small presses, which looked good on my resume and landed me more freelance clients. That pretty much brings us to today, where I'm in the fortunate situation to have a healthy list of regular clients. I'm busier than ever and even have to turn people away at times because I tend to book months in advance.

As far as how to know how good you are at editing, your clients will tell you. Repeats are happy customers. I can say that in order to be a good editor, you must live on Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. I check everything against those sites.

That's my journey. A love of the English language, a degree, some free trials, and now more editing jobs than I could ever fulfill. :) 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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5. Writer Wednesday: Didn't You Just Say That?

April has been a crazy month for me with more edits than I've ever had in a single month. It also made me notice a trend. Writers tend to repeat themselves.

I found myself using the delete key quite often and commenting that something had already been stated, usually in the same paragraph or on the same page. As writers, we don't want to do this because it's insulting to the reader. Readers are smart. They'll remember things and even pick up on things the writer might not have realized. Trust me. I taught 8th grade language arts and saw it happen all the time.

Another error that goes in the same category is saying something in the narration that gets repeated in the dialogue that follows it. When this happens, it's usually is a case of Tell then Show. Just show. Let the dialogue speak for itself and use your narration for better things, like setting the scene or witty internal thoughts. 

So without repeating myself—See what I did there? ;) —trust your readers to be intelligent enough to remember what you've already told them. 

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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6. Writing Tips

A writer shares what she wishes she had known when first starting out.

http://picturebookden.blogspot.com/2016/01/my-top-ten-writing-tips-lynne-garner.html

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7. 3 reasons why making art is good for you!

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“Art washes away from the soul the dusts of everyday life” – Pablo Picasso

 

Believe it or not making art for your own enjoyment actually has its benefits to both your mind and body. We often spend our weeks rushing around focusing on our everyday commitments whether its your job, looking after kids, school or ticking off daily errands, that we never really get the chance to relax.

When you’re overwhelmed with the stresses of a busy lifestyle, actually embracing your creativity can actually reduce anxieties and stresses to clear your mind making you feel better. So art itself is extremely theraputic and to fill you in abit more as to why doodling, colouring or painting should become apart of your weekly schedule here’s 3 reasons why art is good for you!

1. Helps you to slow down - During the week we’re all on the go and so being a little creative whether it’s drawing, colouring, painting or snapping a photo with your camera actually helps you to physically and mentally slow down. Rushing around doesn’t do our bodies internally any good and so making time to do something artistic that you enjoy is healthy to both your body and mind.

2. You embrace a side of yourself you might not usually - Not all of us work a creative job but this doesn’t mean if you’re an accountant for example you can get inky and doodle away! You may even surprise yourself with the things you create and through that feel a sense of achievement in the things you make which builds up your positivity in mind.

3. Self expression and letting out your emotions – Much like music and drama making art in whichever form, helps you to express a side of yourself you might find hard to do otherwise. Like musicians who infuse emotion into the music they write, you can place emotions into the art pieces you make. In turn this helps you to acknowledge your inner feelings and let out things you might not find the words to say which you are can through a brush or ink for example.

Featured illustration is by Oana Befort and you can find out more about her work here.

0 Comments on 3 reasons why making art is good for you! as of 3/29/2015 4:21:00 PM
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8. Friday Feature: Prodigal/Raven Blog Tour


Please welcome Tyler Jolley and Sherry Ficklin to the blog today! Tyler and Sherry are amazing people as well as amazing writers, and they have a video for you all today. But first, check out their books.


Two journeys. One inescapable outcome. No time to lose.


What should be a routine mission leaves Ethan with a serious problem. He's fractured—a break between mind and body that leaves him at the mercy of his Rifter abilities, which are quickly tearing him apart. He will have to trust the only person who might know how to fix him, a mysterious Rifter named Stewart Stills, who seems to have a special connection with the time stream.

Forced to face his dark past and a decision he may never forgive himself for, he will be trained unlike any of the others, to become a true guardian for time. If he accepts, it will mean leaving everyone he loves behind. If he refuses, time itself could unravel. After a glimpse of the dark future awaiting them all, he will have to choose between destiny and desire. Will he rise up and take his place as a defender of the natural order, or will he watch as all of time burns at the hands of the girl he loves?
Welcome to the time war.

Stein has been with the Hollows for as long as she can remember. Taken as a child, she has no memories of her past—and that's always been fine by her. Until the day she stumbles across a hidden journal containing the devastating truth about her paternity. Now everything she thought she knew—and everyone she thought she could trust—has changed. The truth about who she is and where she came from is a secret so deep, it will rock the Hollows and the Tesla Institute alike.
During a test to verify her bloodlines, Stein makes a terrible discovery. She is carrying a rare genetic mutation that is slowly killing her. Unsure who to turn to and running out of time, she has no choice but to turn to Tesla—her most hated enemy—for help. But can she trust the man who she's been fighting against her whole life, or will she end up another piece in his deadly game of cat and mouse with the people who betrayed her so long ago?

Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer and internet radio show host with more mouth then good sense. She has a serious book addiction, but continually refuses treatment, much to her husband’s chagrin.
Tyler and Sherry met one fateful day and bonded over their love for books, science fiction, and donuts. Their first co-written novel came shortly after. Now, they still do all those other things, but also go to various steampunk conventions and events under the guise of ‘research’. They can often be found lurking on the Lost Imperials Facebook page or over on the official website, www.thelostimperials.com.

Preorder link B&N exclusive FLIPBOOK: http://bit.ly/1ICxcCI

Tyler and Sherry have some GREAT tips for you about what to bring to writing conferences. Seriously, this is a great list. Check it out:

Thanks Tyler and Sherry! For those of you who have attended conferences, is there anything you'd add to Tyler and Sherry's list?

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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9. Mother Daughter Relationships

Mother Daughter relationships… ग्यारहवीं  क्लास मे पढने वाली दीपा सुबह सो कर उठी और हमेशा की तरह अपना फेसबुक चैक किया . उसे देखते ही उसका पारा सातवें आसमान पर चढ गया. असल में, उसके दसवीं क्लास में मार्क्स  बहुत कम आए थे. इस वजह से तनाव मे चल रही थी और  उसकी face book wall पर मम्मी ने कमेंट कर दिया कि कोई बात नही कम ज्यादा तो होते रहते हैं इस बार ज्यादा मेहनत करना. इसी के साथ साथ उसका घर का नाम भी लिख दिया. चिल्लाते हुए दीपा कमरे से बाहर आई और बहुत बुरी तरह अपनी मम्मी से बात करने लगी. पहले पहल तो मम्मी चुपचाप सुनती रही . फिर उन्होनें भी चिल्लाना शुरु किया कि तुम भी तो सारा दिन फेसबुक पर लगी रहती हो अगर मैने लिख  दिया तो क्या पाप कर दिया..थोडी ही देर में बात मरने मराने तक पहुंच गई.

मेरे विचार से जहां किशोर या युवा बच्चे रहते हैं वहां ऐसी बाते आमतौर पर होती रहती हैं. आज के बच्चे बहुत तनाव में रहने लगे हैं हर घर की अपनी अपनी  वजह है. अगर हम सारी गलती मम्मी पर डालेंगें तो भी सही नही होगा और सारी गलती बच्चों पर डालेग़ें तो भी अन्याय होगा तो क्या करनां चाहिए. जी बिल्कुल सही … क्या करना चाहिए… बात का हल निकालना चाहिए . बच्चो के साथ बच्चा बन कर भी झगडा शुरु नही कर देना चाहिए. समझादारी से काम लेना चाहिए आखिर आप मम्मी है मम्मी !!!

कुछ ऐसी ही परेशानी मेरी सहेली मृदुला और उसकी बेटी गौतमी के साथ थी. गौतमी अभी 16 साल की हुई है. दोनों को कौंसलिंग की जरुरत थी. मैने एक दिन मृदुला को घर बुलाया और उसकी सारी बाते ध्यान से सुनी. सुनकर लगा कि बात इतनी ज्यादा नही है जितना बनाया जा रहा है. उसे समझाया कि सबसे पहले तो एक अच्छी मां होने के नाते अपने गुस्से पर काबू करना सीखों. उसकी जगह खुद को रख कर बात करो कि अगर तुम उसकी जगह होती तो कैसा बर्ताव करती. बच्चों को टोका टाकी पसंद नही होती इसलिए बजाय बात बात पर टोकने के बच्चों को विश्वास में लेकर उनसे बात करनी चाहिए. उनकी पसंद ना पसंद का भी ध्यान रखना चाहिए  और अगर बच्चे का पहनावा पसंद नही आया तो कुछ इस तरह से बोले कि आप अपनी बात भी कह दें और बुरा भी न लगे. उसकी बातों में  मुझे दो कारण और मिले. पहला तो ये कि जब भी उसका आफिस मॆं किसी बात पर तनाव होता है या फिर जब भी पति से किसी बात पर लडाई होती है तो माध्यम बच्चे बन जाते हैं उन पर सारा गुस्सा उतारा जाता है जबकि बच्चों  क्या दोष है इसमें.  एक कमी और भी मैने मृदुला में महसूस की कि वो अपने बच्चे की बुराई अपने रिश्तेदार या सहेलियों से अक्सर  करती रहती . जबकि ये सही बात नही है और खास तौर पर बच्चों को यह पसंद नही होता.  घर परिवार की बाते घर परिवार मे ही निबटाई जाए तो ही बेहतर होता है.

बच्चों को प्रोत्साहित करके  उनके कार्य की कद्र करनी चाहिए और शापिंग के बहाने ही सही उनके साथ समय बीतना चाहिए इससे आत्मीयता बढती है और आपसी बातो से विचारों का आदान प्रदान होता है. मृदुला मेरी बाते सुनकर बहुत कुछ सोच रही थी शायद उसे लग रहा था कि कि कही न कही वो भी गलत है. उसने वायदा लिया कि वो कोशिश करेगी कि अपने गुस्से पर कंट्रोल करने का और बच्चों से बेवजह बहस न करने का. और रही बात मोबाईल और नेट पर रोक लगाने की तो वो इस विषय में भी ज्यादा नही टोकेगी …

मैने बस इतना कहा कि हफ्तें दस दिन यह करके तो देखो और  वही उसको कहा कि गौतमी को भेजना पर इस बारे मे कोई बात नही बतानी कि हमारी क्या बात हुई है इस पर वो हंस कर बोली ” कौन सी बात ” ???

अगले दिन चावलों की खीर लेकर उनकी  बेटी गौतमी घर आई. हमारे यहां वाई फाई है इसलिए वो कुछ देर बैठ कर नेट पर कुछ करने लगी. अब अगर मे उससे सीधा बात करती तो शायद उसे अच्छा नही लगता मैने अपनी कजिन का उदाहरण देख कर बात शुरु की  कि वो भी उसकी उम्र की है  और उसके विचार जानती रही. उसे मैने दिखाया कि मैने नेट से बहुत काम की वेबसाईट सेव की है ये उसे भेजने वाली हूं ताकि वो कुछ सीखे  और उसे दिखाने  लगी …

 

 

maggi

How to Be a Good Daughter – 14 Easy Steps (with Pictures)

How to Strengthen the Bond Between You and Your Mom See more…

उसे पढ कर बहुत अच्छा लगा. उसने कहा कि ये लिंक तो उसे भी मेल कर दो ताकि वो भी इसे पढ सके. फिर बातो ही बातों मे बोली कि कई बार वो मम्मी के सामने गुस्सा हो जाती है तेज बोल जाती है वो भी इसे सुधारने की कोशिश करेगी … बस मैं भी यही चाह्ती थी मैने उसे समझाया कि ऐसी कोई बात लगती तो नही  पर अगर है अगर  तुम ऐसा सोच रही हो तो ये तो और भी अच्छी बात है …मम्मी बेटी के रिश्ते मॆ सबसे बडा होता है विश्वास … बस दोनों को ईमानदार रहना चाहिए और एक दूसरे पर सहेली की तरह विश्वास करके सच बताना चाहिए.

अपने समय का सही इस्तेमाल करना चाहिए. हमे क्या  बनना है हमारी भीतर क्या potential है उसे खोज निकलाना चाहिए और पढाई के साथ साथ  extra curricular activity मे भी  ध्यान  लगाना चाहिए क्योकि उससे हम स्मार्ट बनते हैं  खुद को challenge करना चाहिए और हमेशा  be positive वाली सोच हो तो क्या कहने…

मैने उसे एक दो लिंक और दिखाए …

उसकी बातों से लग रहा था कि वो खुद को सुधारने की कोशिश करेगी और ये लिंक वो मम्मी के साथ भी शेयर करेगी. record break by monica gupta

15 Insights on Improving Mother-Daughter Relationships |

Mother-daughter relationships are complex and diverse. Some mothers and daughters are best friends. Others talk once a week. Some see each other weekly; others live in different states or countries. Some spar regularly. Some avoid conflict. Others talk through everything. And undoubtedly, there’s a hint of all these things in most relationships. See more…

 

How to Improve Your Mother Daughter Relationship: 15 Steps

Face it. You don’t always bond with your daughter. She might be busy on the computer, the phone, with her friends, or schoolwork. When you try to talk to her, she doesn’t listen, or just leaves the room. She thinks that you are embarrassing, and you don’t know how to change that.

You may be busy as well, with work, family, money, and so much more. Do either of these situations sound like you? If so, you need to improve your mother-daughter relationship and overall bond. See more…

वैसे आप अपने बच्चों के साथ तो झगडा नही करते होंगें अगर करते हैं तो आप भी इसे जरुर पढिएगा … और अपने विचार मुझसे  सांझा करना नही भूलिएगा … हो सकता है आपके पास भी कोई बहुत अच्छा आईडिया हो …

The post Mother Daughter Relationships appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Writer Wednesday: Time Management Tricks and Tips for Summer

June is an editing month for me. I have four client edits scheduled. Yes, I'm a crazy woman. On top of that I have critiquing for Rate Your Story and editing for Leap Books. I also know I'm getting edits on my 2016 title with Spencer Hill Press, Fading Into the Shadows soon. So how do I fit it all in, especially when Thursday is my daughter's last day of school before she's home with me for the summer?

I thought I'd share some of my tips and tricks for making extra time in the day. Here's a few ways I try to carve out extra writing and/or editing time:
  • Get Up Early  There's so much to be said for being the only one awake. It's quiet and there are no distractions.
  • Even Ten Stolen Minutes Can Be Devoted to Working  If my daughter decides to play on the iPad for ten minutes, I get my laptop and get as much done as I can in that time. Ten minutes might not seem worth it, but trust me, if you take ten minutes here and there, it adds up.
  • Work During Commercials  At night, I like to watch TV before bed, because I'm usually busy working all day. So I kick my feet up and relax. But…I hate commercials. So, I bring my laptop to the couch and I work during commercial breaks.
  • Work Outside  My daughter loves to be outside, but the second the neighbors come out, I'm old news. She ditches me to play with them. I bring my laptop on my deck so I can keep an eye on her and get my work done.
  • Only Use Social Media for a Few Minutes at a Time and Only on My Phone  We all know that social media is part of what we do. You can't avoid it if you want to build a platform. But…you can make sure you limit your time on it. I use my phone with the speech to text feature, which is quicker than typing responses on blog posts. I can also steal time, like when my daughter is showering, to post to FB and Twitter, which I have linked so posting to one posts to the other. It's a definite time saver.
  • Designate Daily Work Time  I told my daughter that right after we have breakfast, I need to work in my office for about two hours. That will be her time to play in her room, either with her Monster High dolls or on her laptop. Designating specific time like this establishes a routine for my entire household, which helps me a lot.
Do you have tricks for carving out more time in your day when summer rolls around?

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11. Dreaming

Dreaming
सैर सपनों की दुनिया की …. आईए !! आज आपको सपनो की दुनिया की सैर करवाते हैं. सपनों की दुनिया का यह शहर किसी अजूबे से कम नही है. यहाँ आकर कभी हम बच्चे बन जाते हैं तो कभी बूढे. कभी नेता बन जाते हैं तो कभी हीरो बन कर जनता को ओटोग्राफ दे रहे होते है. कुल मिलाकर इस दुनिया मे आने पर हम कोई भी रुप धारण कर सकते हैं या कुछ भी अनहोनी होते देख सकते हैं.
सपनो की इस लाजवाब दुनिया के सफर मे सबसे पहले हमे अनु मिली. 40 साल की अनु सर्विस करती हैं और दिन भर बहुत व्यस्त रहती है. जाहिर है कि घर पहुंच कर बिस्तर पर जाते ही नींद की आगोश मे चली जाती होगी. अनु ने भी मुस्कुराते हुए बताया कि यकीनन उन्हें लेटते ही नींद आ जाती है और फिर Dreaming…

वैसे तो ज्यादातर सपने उठने के साथ ही भूल जाते हैं पर एक सपना है जो उसे अभी भी अक्सर दिखाई देता है. सपना है कि वो स्कूल की परीक्षा देने जा रही है और देर हो गई है. पेपर शुरु हो चुका है और वो घबराहट के मारे रोने लगती है तो उन्हे परीक्षा मे बैठने की इजाजत मिल जाती है पर समय कम होने की वजह से घबराहट मे उनकी स्याही की दवात गिर जाती है और सारी उत्तर पुस्तिका खराब हो जाती है. जब उनकी नींद खुलती है तो पसीने पसीने होती है. खुद को संयत करने मे उन्हे थोडा समय लग जाता है पर फिर खुद पर हंसी आती आती है कि इस उम्र मे ऐसे सपने कैसे आ जाते है.
सपनो की ही दुनिया मे एक और पति पत्नी कुसुम और विनोद का जोडा मिला. जोकि दस साल से विवाहित हैं. सपने की बात सुन कर दोनो मुस्कुराने लगे. कुसुम ने बताया कि पिछ्ले दो चार बार से उनकी आखं खुलती है रात को पति के चिल्लाने की वजह से. वो सोते सोते हाय, हाय बचाओ, बोल रहे होते हैं. कई बार तो उन्होने ध्यान ही नही दिया क्योकि वो खुद भी नींद मे होती थी सुबह उठ कर जब इस बारे मे बात करते तब विनोद को याद भी नही रहता कि वो किस वजह से चिल्लाए थे. खैर, एक रात विनोद के चिल्लाते समय कुसुम की आखं खुल गई. उन्होने तुरंत अपने पति को उठाया पहले तो वो गहरी नींद मे थे पर कुछ पल बाद उन्होने नींद मे ही बताया कि वो एक सूनसान रास्ते मे जा रहे थे और अचानक कोई बुढिया आकर उनका बैग खिंचने लगी. इसलिए वो डर के मारे चिल्ला रहे हैं. बताते बताते वो फिर से सो गए. बात बता कर कुसुम हंसने लगी तो पति महोदय ने कहा कि अपनी बात भी तो बताओ जब एक बार तुम भी चीखी थी. इस पर कुसुम ने तुनक के कहा कि शायद वही बुढिया उनके सपने मे भी आ गई थी.
इससे पहले की उनकी नोक झोंक और आगे बढती. हमने ही आगे बढने मे अपनी भलाई समझी. सपनो की दुनिया मे आगे हमे मिली 10 साल की मणि. मणि ने बताया कि बहुत सपने आते है. सपने मे कभी वो स्टेज पर गाना गा रही होती है तो कभी क्लास मे फर्स्ट आती है तो कभी दोस्तो के साथ जंगल मे खेल रही होती है. पर एक सपना भुलाए नही भूलता वो है कि एक रात वो सो रही है. कमरे मे घना अंधेरा है. अचानक दो तीन चोर आ गए. उसकी आंख खुल गई और वो डर के मारे पलंग के नीचे छिप गई. चोर वही घूम रहे हैं. वो चिल्लाना चाह रही है पर उसकी आवाज ही नही निकल रही. वो पूरे जोर के साथ मम्मी, पापा…!! चोर आए हैं चिल्लाए जा रही है पर मानो वो गूंगी हो चुकी है. उफ!! और जब आखं खुली तो इतनी राहत मिली कि बस!! बहुत डरावना सपना था वो. यह सपना शायद जिंदगी भर नही भूलेगा.
सपनो की दुनिया मे और आगे बढे तो 20 वर्ष की नाव्या मिली. उनसे पूछा तो एकदम से खुश होकर बोली कि सपने मे वो मिस इंडिया चुनी गई और अमिताभ बच्चन जी ने उन्हे क्राउन पहनाया. इतना ही नही रणबीर कपूर के साथ उन्होने फिल्म भी साईन की. शूटिंग भी शुरु हो गई थी. सब कुछ इतना अच्छा चल रहा था सब लोग उसके काम की उसकी खूबसूरती की इतनी तारीफ कर रहे थे कि उसी समय अलार्म बजा और वो गहरी नींद से जाग गई. बताते बताते वो उदास हो गई.
उनको शुभकामनाए देते हुए हम आगे बढे तो सामने से 30 वर्ष की दर्शना चली आ रही थी. उन्होने बताया कि बचपन मे एक सपना बहुत आता था. उनके घर के ड्राईंग रुम मे शो केस मे बहुत बडी गुडिया थी. कई बार उन्हे रात को सपना आता अब पता नही कि वो सपना था या सच्चाई थी कि वो गुडिया शो केस से बाहर निकलती और पूरे घर का चक्कर लगाकर वापिस शो केस मे चली जाती. सुबह उठ कर जब वो उस शो केस वाली गुडिया को देखती तो उन्हे लगता कि वो उन्हे देखकर मुस्कुरा रही है. यह सब देख कर उन्हे बहुत डर लगता पर उन्होने अपनी मम्मी को यह बात कभी नही बताई कि कभी उनका मजाक की ना बन जाए. अरे बाप रे! उनका सपना या हकीकत जो भी थी सुनकर तो हम भी डर गए और वहां से खिसकने मे ही भलाई समझी.
Dreaming ….  45 वर्ष की सुनीता मिली. सुनीता ने जो बताया वो भी काफी हैरान कर देने वाला था. उन्होने बताया कि करीब 4-5 साल पहले की बाता है. रात को जब वो सो रही थे तो सपने मे उनके स्वर्गवासी पिता नजर आए. वो गेट के बाहर हाथ मे कोई तोहफा लिए खडे थे.सुनीता ने बताया कि उन्हे देख कर वो बाहर आई उनसे वो तोफहा लिया और गले मिल कर बहुत रोई. फिर अचानक आखं खुल गई. अगले दिन उन्हे खबर मिली कि जो जायदाद का जो काम इतने सालो से अटक रहा था. वो फैसला उनके हक मे रहा और वो जीत गए. बताते बताते सुनीता भावुक हो गई.

Dreaming
सपने की दुनिया मे ऐसे और भी बहुत लोगो से मिले और उन्होने बहुत बाते शेयर की.कोई कहता सुबह का सपना सच होता है तो कोई कहता कि किसी मरे हुए इंसान को देख लो तो उसकी उम्र बढती है.किसी ने बताया कि सपने मे मोटी गाय को देखो तो फायदा और पतली गाय को देखो तो नुकसान होता है. सपने मे कोई बडी इमारत देख लो तो भाग्य उदय होता है इत्यादि इत्यादि!!सच, सपनो की दुनिया ही निराली है.
वैसे इस बात मे भी कोई दो राय नही कि सपने में सपने जैसा कुछ लगता ही नही. बिलकुल ऐसा महसूस होता है जैसे यह सचमुच में घटित हो रहा है. कोई हमेशा हमेशा के लिए इसी दुनिया मे रहना चाह्ता है तो कोई इससे तुरंत बाहर निकलना चाह्ता है. दुनिया भर के अनेकों मनोवैज्ञानिको ने भी सपने की इस दुनिया में झाँकने की कोशिश की, लेकिन इस रहस्यमयी दुनिया को जितना भी समझने की कोशिश की उतनी ही यह उलझाती रही.
इसी बारे मे जब हमने जाने माने मनोचिकित्सक से बात की तो उन्होने बताया कि सपने आना एक सहज प्रक्रिया है. अब सपने किस तरह के आते हैं ये हमारे मन पर निर्भर करता है. असल मे, कोई ना कोई बात हमारे दिलो दिमाग मे कही दब कर बैठी होती है जिसका हमे पता भी नही चलता और देर सवेर कभी ना कभी हमे सपने के रुप मे दिखाई दे जाती है.
जाने माने मनोविश्लेषक सिग्मंड फ्रायड के अनुसार हम अपनी अतृप्त एवं अधूरी इच्छाओं की पूर्ति सपनो के माध्यम से करते है. कोई जो भी कहे पर सपनों का संसार वाकई मे अनूठा, अदभुत और आश्चर्यजनक है … :)

Dreaming

dreaming photo 5 Astro tips to overcome bad, horrible dreams-5

अक्सर हमें नींद में सपने आते हैं। कई बार ये सपने इतने डरावने होते हैं कि आंखें खुल जाती हैं और हम डर से पसीने-पसीने हो जाते हैं। इन सपनों में कई बार हम परेशान बच्चे, भटकती आत्माएं, जंगली जानवर, अंधेरे रास्ते या किसी खतरनाक संकट को देखते हैं जिससे हमें भयंकर डर लगने लगता है। ज्योतिष के कुछ साधारण से उपाय करके आप इन डरावने सपनों से बच सकते हैं।

प्रतिदिन रात को सोते समय हनुमान चालीसा का एक बार पाठ करके सोएं, आपको बुरे सपने आना बंद हो जाएंगे।

यदि रात में किसी भी तरह का डर लगता हो तो अपने सिरहाने के नीचे एक पीपल की जड़ तथा उसकी टहनी का छोटा सा टुकड़ा रखें। ये दोनों ही सूर्यास्त से पहले तोड़े, सूर्यास्त होने की स्थिति में अगले दिन ही पेड़ की जड़ और टहनी तोड़े।

कभी भी उत्तर तथा पश्चिम दिशा में सिर करके नहीं सोना चाहिए। ऎसा करने से शरीर के मैग्नेटिक करंट में बाधा पहुंचती है और दिमाग बैचेन हो जाता है। अक्सर इन दिशाओं में सिर करके सोने वाले चौंक कर उठ जाते हैं। पूर्व को सोने के लिए सबसे अच्छी दिशा माना जाता है। इस दिशा में सिर तथा पश्चिम में पैर करके सोने से अच्छी नींद आती है और बुरे सपनों से भी निजात मिलती है।

सपने में यदि बार-बार नदी, झरना या पानी दिखाई दे तो यह पितृ दोष की वजह से हो सकता है। इसके लिए अमावस्या के दिन सफेद चावल, शक्कर और घी मिला कर पीपल के पेड़ पर सूर्यास्त के बाद चढ़ाने से आराम मिलता है। See more…

Dreaming

The post Dreaming appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. Two creative cures for when you feel your art isn’t good enough.

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We all have down days as creative’s, when whatever we draw just doesn’t turn out how we envisage in our heads. We screw up countless balls of paper to add it to the emerging mountain of sketchbook remains behind us and we just feel our art isn’t good enough.  Now believe it or not despite the fact that feeling despondent with our art is a natural thing that every creative goes through from time to time. It can be used to push us into being more brave and exploring new avenues we hadn’t before. It’s when we produce creative work with a closed mind that things can become to narrowed down and you’re just not sure what to do to make art you’re confident in.

So here’d a few ways to boost that creative confidence, regain that part of yourself that knows you’re good enough and how to present that artwork with pride!

 

  •  Draw things you get excited to draw : Although creative trends do help in our industry to produce work of interest to different markets, it can over time wear you down drawing things that don’t inspire you. This is why drawing things that make you smile, get your head reeling with ideas and heart filled with enthusiasm that you will be more happy with what you draw.  You’ll be less likely to second guess yourself and people will connect with your joy and enthusiasm for the art you make.

 

  • Think outside the box  : Taking a little inspiration from people around you can really refuel your creative energy and give you a boost to take your art in a new direction. For example you might take inspiration from a creative whose just launched a new project and think ” Wow if I tweaked this with my artwork in my own way then maybe the outcome would be better”. This is can also be used when you’re looking to expand your creative reach or  acquire that dream client. Don’t copy others but take a little inspiration and make it your own.

Illustration featured in this post was created by illustrator Jessica Richardson, you can find out more about her work here

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13. Writer Wednesday: Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style Are Your Friends

If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you'll remember that last month I mentioned being mindful of different spellings of words depending on how they are being used. Yes, I'm talking about the same word being spelled differently if it's used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Crazy, right? That's the English language for you. ;)

Grammar geeks like me, thrive on this stuff, but the typical writer does not. My suggestion is to make Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style your best friends. I always have a tab open to Merriam-Webster to make sure I'm using the proper spelling for words. I also refer to Chicago manual of Style's hyphenation table quite frequently. As an editor, I have to do this because I don't want errors in my clients' books. But all authors should do this. Here's an example of what I mean:

speed dial — This is the noun form. I hit four on my speed dial.
speed-dial — This is the verb form. I speed-dial Trish.

Spell check (Ugh, don't get me started on spell check!) won't catch these mistakes. (Spell check is stupid. It often suggests changes that are incorrect! Oops, there I go again.)

So, if you're unsure of a word—whether to hyphenate it, write it as one word, or write it as two—check Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. (Seriously, bookmark both of those pages!) Your editor will love you for it. ;)

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14. How to Get More Children’s Book Illustration Commissions

 

72653 Illustration by Jennie Bradley

[The following is a guest post by Edward Burns, CEO of Advocate Art illustration agency.]

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.23.32Advocate Art, a leading children’s illustration agency is celebrating 20 years this year, Edward Burns CEO of Advocate Art gives some folio tips to illustrators wanting to win more children’s book commissions.
 
Look To The Movies For Guidance
It’s a fundamental fact that stories contain characters – just like a movie contains stars, supporting cast and extras. If you think of the story like a movie and the characters in your folio like a casting director would their roster of actors, it will help you develop them for… well, that next blockbuster!
 
Characters
So no big film is devoid of characters.  There are no films with just scenes and narrative – that would be pretty boring.  The same goes for children’s books. Ok, there may be a religious title with inspirational scenes and verse, but that is pretty much it. If you don’t have characters in your folio, there is nothing for an editor to pick –simple! Now be honest, can you imagine your characters working as stars in storybooks? Or are they really only going to make it as an extra? Unlike a casting director, you have power to create this cast, rather than rely on the acting skills of your clientele – lets do that!
 
Cast
In short you have to create a selection of characters that can be chosen for a variety of stories.  Main actors, sidekicks, the mum & dad and animals (both anthropomorphic and stylized).  The more genres you cover, the bigger your rostra of potential actors, the more films (stories) your folio will work for.  You may have seen that classic 80’s film called the Goonies? For me, that sets the benchmark for characters covered in most children stories. You have the computer geek; the hero; the overweight funny guy; the older sister; her friend; the sensible older boy plus good guys and bad guys mixed as all ethnicities. You see all the same stereotypes in kids films and cartoons from Madagascar to Power Rangers and repeated in animations of cats, dogs, zoo animals – you name it! The same goes for children’s books, let’s see that bad guy lion or the geeky koala for example or hey, draw them as people!

Cover the bases
Remember, you have to supply the whole cast.  A publisher won’t just pick you for the lead character. Your cast needs to encompass all the main characters. A quick trick is to do sheets of doodles, some finished, some just pencil outlines – say a page of monkeys. Another tip is to do a character line up – like a police identity parade.
 
If you want to do a book about “xyz” have it in your folio
Your cast can be stereotypes for sure, just like actors end up playing the same rolls or get typecast.  So if your dream is to do a fairy story, have some fairies on your cast, play to your drawing strengths. Build a cast for roles you want to illustrate or are good at.
We have illustrators who get work because they are simply good at illustrating Hispanic-looking kids, for example. Don’t forget though that each actor needs to be right on the money, there is a lot of competition! And please don’t kid yourself that having a princess in your folio will mean you get a fairy book, it has to be spot on. As an agent, I wait for the Art Director to say, “that’s the girl in my book” as he/she points at maybe the smallest doodle in the corner of a page of your folio.
I recently had an artist comment that it was odd that she was always being selected for period work like fables.  I said “Your joking right? Every person in your folio is wearing pantaloons!” I had a similar situation with an artist saying she was fed up with illustrating bible stories, we had to remove all biblical work from her folio and replace them with characters she wanted to do next.
 
Understand the other side
By understanding what an Art Director is going through to get an artist selected, you will understand why maybe your folio is not working for them. The typical selection process goes like this:-
The Art Director has a publishing meeting where sales marketing and the author are present; they want to see the suggestions for their new cute bear book, for example.
The editor will go in with maybe 6 illustrator suggestions.  Examples of their bears (not giraffes or pigs or fairies) – BEARS! And the right bear for the story.  It may sound a bit narrow minded creatively that they have to show a bear, perhaps sales don’t have the creative vision to imagine what your bear will look like from looking at a giraffe?!  Maybe there are too many bear samples out there for the Art Editor not to need to compromise. Most likely, they really want to nail it at the meeting.  The point of the meeting will be to definitively select the artist, that won’t be possible until the author says “That’s my bear in the story!”
 
“I’m very versatile, just ask me to do what you need”
It’s a classic line I hear from illustrators who don’t have the goods in their folio.  Ok it’s not their fault, often they don’t know what the “goods” are. When an Art Director is browsing your work on the web a) you are not there to say the line and b) why should they go to the effort and ask you? C) If you were perfect for the story, or liked bears, you would have drawn one by now!
Please don’t kid yourself that they will call you and ask you for a sample before the meeting of your bear, based on the strength of your giraffe.  They won’t have the budget for this so it will be a free sample and they don’t want you to terrorize them for weeks phoning them asking how you got on.  Only if they have prior experience with you will they ask you to sample. Folios have become a bit like menus in a restaurant, that’s your choice – the chief won’t do specials.

Characterization. Oscar winners
Ok, the characters have to be good at their craft, good actors, expressive facially and physically animated. They carry narrative from page to page even with dots for eyes and a half moon mouth, for example. It’s all the about the subtleties e.g. the tilt of the head, the turning in of a foot. I’ve seen the best illustrators work with films on in the background, even in the corner of their mac to guide them- Nicholas Cage transferred to a bubbly-headed boy. Show you can do it in your folio by setting yourself a narrative. For example, draw:
-girl is happy walking her puppy,
-girl looses puppy,
-girl thinks she knows where it is
-girl is happy she finds it.
 
Candid – natural well observed poses
Great illustrators are great actors; they understand human movement and poses. You may have a great eye for colour, a great technique and be quick but if your characters are all wooden, like they have been jig-sawed from thick plywood and the arms are moved using pins, they won’t be able to carry the narrative. It’s like the difference between wedding photos when all the relatives are lined up and the candid shots taken by an 8 year old on her iPod.
A tip is to click away on your phone at your family and friends maybe one Sunday. Draw a giraffe as your grandmother looking surprised or laughing; or your young sister as she concentrates on a magazine, or your mum when she is thoughtful
 
Colour
This is a huge subject so I will bullet point the basics that are relevant for children’s publishing:-
    •    Production printing processes wash out colours.  Softness and subtleties are often lost. Bright colours are best, especially when pitching younger.
    •    Spend some time understanding colour theory.  Warm colours to cold colours evoke moods that will help bring out the narrative.
    •    Co-ordinate and complement colours. Again use the colour wheel to make sure they are in the same pallet.  Keep continuity between colours throughout a page to demonstrate that, but don’t have your whole folio using the same green – vary it.
    •    Limit your pallet on a folio page of samples to show you have a supreme grasp of colours. Muted colours can add a mood, especially in limited light, or if a scene is set with limited colour choices, like a green frog in a green pond in a green jungle, or a brown rabbit in a dessert etc. Besides, it can be very trendy to limit colours!
    •    Use fashion magazines to understand what colours are in.  Check out popular online fashion/shopping websites and even drop the pallet into your own pallet.  Art directors and then the Mums who buy the books for their kids, understand fashion and will make purchases based on what looks right or modern.
    •    Mix it up.  Why can’t a night sky be purple or grass be yellow?  By introducing different lighting into your work – vary the obvious.
 
My favorite website for colour us is https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/ check it out, it will help you through this theoretical science!
 
Continuity of Character
It basically means- can the same characters be re-drawn? You have to prove you can do it with samples in your folio.  It’s one of the most basic and yet often the toughest skills of an illustrator, especially if you have a very naive style. If this is the case, then often there are only subtle differences between the characters. You don’t want the same character pulling the same expression but you also don’t want all the characters to either start looking the same or start drifting into each other.
My best advice is doodle with your character and then set in stone how your character performs, use this as the benchmark before you even start. Sometimes a publisher will want to do this with you – it’s called character development. And don’t be tempted to make changes as you work through the project – you are asking for a re-do!

Child friendly
Are your characters suitable for kids? There is a big difference between Disney or CBBC characters and actors in 18 plus movies. The same goes for Children’s books, don’t have them dressed in sexy clothes, or well developed physically, or too violent, or too scary. In short, no guns, thongs, big breasts, cigarettes or spurting blood. It sounds obvious but it’s so common for illustrators to have in-appropriate characters in a children’s folio. Sure, have them for other markets but not in this folio.
Some illustrators have a different site all together for adult illustration or think of a sure fire way of separating them on your site. There is nothing wrong with having young characters with attitude, hey kids hate “lame” stuff e.g. how the Brats are to Barbie. Having it in your main folio demonstrates that you are not right for this role, it is a big home goal.
 
How old should your characters be?
There is a rule that generally pretty much everyone is interested in themes that are aspirational to them, but not too aspirational – just the next step. This means you can put yourself into the main role ‘with a little bit of imagination.’  You could be the hero in Die Hard or James Bond or the girls in Sex in the City.  Now consider the target age for these stories, they are always just below the age of the characters.
When you are growing up, ‘aspiration’ can be simplified to just a few years older than the target reader, their big sister or brother (because they get to do more).  So a 3 year old likes to read about 5 year olds, 5 year olds to 7, 7 year olds to early teens and so on. Don’t go too far, being much older is scary and often un-cool. There are exceptions of course but on the whole it works, so bear in mind this when designing your characters, even animal ones.
The Children’s Book market is broken into board books (think pages that little fingers can turn), picture books for mums to read to children at bedtime, early reading, reluctant reading and chapter books with simple illustrations, plus graphic novels and reference books. In general, illustrated books occupy the much younger market.  So as a rule, keep your characters young, say 3-8 and you will be in the range.
 
Cute.  Are they are appealing?
Thinking like a casting agent again, your characters need to be attractive on the whole. Let’s see your Brad Pitt’s and Julia Roberts. The supporting characters can have more interesting faces and the bad guys…well, need to look bad!  Stupid guys stupid, clever guys clever and so on. But the most important thing is that the lead guys are attractive/appealing, even if they’re not human characters.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules!
 
Cool- up-to-date
If you are not an ‘A-lister’ you at least need to know who is and why. Stories are being re-illustrated all the time, just like films are re-made, so you have to have a style which was illustrated this year or why would you be chosen to refresh a book? It is a trend led-world and no one is more on top of trends than the target buyer of kid’s stories – young Mums!
You need to know what type of eyes are in, what type of outline (key line) textures, of register colours etc. Check out the new releases in your local bookshop – absorb but don’t copy.
 
Style
Your style is what makes you, you.  But it can be adapted and nudged to a degree, can’t it?  It has to have empathy with the reader’s age.  But also be on trend and decorative – maybe even have some sophistication for the Mum!  You need to get down to the child’s level at least and create work that they will enjoy.  Too trendy or arty and you can patronize the buyer and the kids won’t get it. (Sure some art directors will love it but I doubt it will sell so there won’t be a second!).  Naive characters work best when they are artistically aspirational to kids i.e. you could imagine that the most artistic child in the school could draw this way – i.e. within their reach aspirationally.
 
Compositions.  Set the scene
It’s the location or the scene that will literally form the backdrop for your characters.  Don’t have them all on white and avoid too many cliff-edge compositions (i.e. a foreground but no background to the scene, like they are on a cliff-edge.) Include scenes that can help carry a narrative, as in the girl in the park example above. Do take on popular themes e.g. fairies, trucks even classic tales. This is your chance to be the director of the film so adopt their techniques-
Interesting camera angles can really help set the scene.  Say the story asks for 3 rabbits cowering from a tractor; have the angle perhaps as if you are in the ditch looking up at the rabbits, with the huge tractor filling the page behind them. It will help the reader empathize with the rabbits, as if they are going to be crushed under the wheels. A bird’s-eye view can also emphasize when characters are all together in a circle or one character is on its own.
Silhouettes.  Use these for supporting characters when you want to emphasize a conversation in a busy scene.  The main conversation does not need to be in the centre – just sketching the other characters can work as well.
Split scene.  Use these if you have over-lapping narrative.  It may be too complicated for young children, but really exciting if the text (and Art Director) calls for it.
 
And finally
Look in bookshops regularly, don’t rely on just looking at other artists or agents web sites.  They can throw you a curve ball because you may be looking at a folio of an unsuccessful artist! Check out what is out there on the High Street, especially really classic evergreen work. But hey, it’s all in the movies as well – go for the Oscar!
 
Ed.
CEO & Founder
Advocate Art
– See more at: advocate-art.com/community

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15. Writer Wednesday: Do Editors Google Authors?


Today's topic comes courtesy of Miss Leandra Wallace. Leandra wants to know if editors check out an author's site if they are interested in their work.

Why, yes. Yes, we do. :) If I really love a submission, I definitely get curious about the author. So I look them up. What am I looking for? Well, I want to see that you are active on social media. That could mean a lot of things though. Some authors like to have websites that include any books published, a bio, and little more. Some are all over social media: Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, you name it. Others just blog and leave it at that. Basically what I'm looking for is that you are willing to interact with readers and you have a place for readers to find you and contact you.

So don't feel you need to join every social media site out there. Actually, don't. I'd rather see a writer join a few and be interactive than be on a ton of sites and never post. So choose what works for you and do that well.

Now if I can't find an author, this would prompt me to ask him/her about his/her online presence. It doesn't mean a definite pass on a manuscript, but I'd need to know that the author is willing to build an online platform—and well before the book's potential release date.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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16. Writing Tips

Top editors giving writing advice to new children's book authors.

http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/jul/09/the-best-writing-advice-for-new-childrens-authors-from-top-editors

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17. Writer Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Tips

Even though I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, I do love to fast draft so I figured I'd share some tips for anyone who needs a little push to get over that middle slump that sometimes creeps up when we're drafting.
  • Keep momentum  I'm going to start with this one because we all know that the excitement of NaNo drives you in the beginning, but it's tough to keep that excitement up mid-month. The key is to keep going. Don't slack on those word count goals. Keep up the pace you've been maintaining.
  • Don't be afraid to jump around  If you get stuck on a scene, skip it and go back to it later. Keep pushing ahead. Sometimes when the middle starts to get to me, I jump ahead to the climax because it's exciting and fast paced. That gets me into the groove again and keeps the words flowing.
  • Set small goals  Daily word count goals can sometimes be overwhelming. Break them up into what you want to write in a twenty-minute span. Setting short goals, means you'll feel a sense of accomplishment sooner, and that can motivate you to keep going and write more.
  • Reward yourself  You know that cookie you're dying to eat. How about after you reach 1,000 words? Give yourself a reason to want to get those words down and then reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Share your goals and progress  When I ran competitively, one of the things I did before a race was tell everyone what time I wanted to run. If they knew my target time, I'd feel accountable because I knew they'd ask me if I met it. Tell people your goals and then check in with your progress. Don't let writing be a solitary experience.
  • Feed off the energy of others and inspire others just the same  Feeling like you're in a slump? Don't post about that. Encourage others to keep going and let them do the same for you. Think positively. Cheering on others just may spark some creativity in yourself.

Good luck NaNoWriMo participants! You can do this. Keep those fingers flying across the keys.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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18. Writing Tips from Stephen King

Learn from the master himself.

http://thewhynot100.blogspot.com/2014/04/36-killer-writing-tips-from-stephen-king.html?m=1

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19. Critiquing Secrets

Interested in writing a Chapter Book? Don’t miss this FREE WEBINAR with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg on Friday January 2nd 2015 at 5.30pm PST! They are also going to give some late holiday presents for some lucky folks that include a free critique with Hillary or Mira and some free signed books. Wahoo! See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html#sthash.aEum3YJW.dpuf

Mira_pic2Mira is my Guest blogger for today’s post. Here’s Mira:

Critiquing Secrets by Mira Reisberg

First of all, thank you Kathy for having me on your fabulous blog. This site has been such a great resource for our community for a long time and I feel honored to be here. As we come to the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what we did to better our craft and improve our skills as people who create children’s books. Personally, I think it comes down to three things: take courses (i.e. study and improve your craft and keep revising), join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and join and participate in a critique group. For this post, I’d like to talk a little about critiquing and then share some critiquing secrets.

Over the past 26 years as an illustrator, author, editor, art director and former literary agent, I’ve learned that although your work is uniquely your own, you can’t exist in a vacuum. Receiving criticism from fellow writers or illustrators, and peers is a must have regular part of your creative process.
So let’s talk about the secrets of critiquing for plot-driven books.

After struggling with a piece, if you can, let it percolate for a while and then come back not only with a fresh eye, but with fresh sets of eyes. Other eyes may see what you have missed, offer a different perspective, and question what you have taken for granted.

While you may be tempted to have your mother, your significant other, or best friend critique your work, they should not be your only ‘eyes’. They’re not trained to critique, may not understand your work, and may try to protect your feelings, regardless of their true opinion.

So what are some great critique techniques? For plot-driven writers the main things you need to look for are:
• How enticing is the hook or beginning?
• Do we care or are we intrigued by the character(s) enough to want to find out more about them and their journey?
• Does the tension build as the main character faces challenges and obstacles along the way?
• Do they solve the problem themselves?
• Is the climax and resolution satisfying with a twist at the end?
• Is each character different with their own distinct voice?
• What makes this particular story memorable?
• Does it have any underlying universal themes that are meaningful for kids?
• How can the drama, humor, pathos, or whatever key feeling the story has, be amplified?
• Does the pacing move at a good speed or does it slow down anywhere? Is there redundancy or excess?
• And finally does the language sparkle with techniques like alliteration and assonance, rhythm and repetition where appropriate?

All of these suggestions will help you in the critiquing process to get to the core and heart of your story to make it stronger, sweeter, funnier, or whatever its essence more appealing and thus more marketable.

Finally, for tender newer critique groups or critiquing partners who are vulnerable, remember to use the hamburger technique of starting and ending with something positive and getting to the meat of what needs help in the middle. As creatives, we tend to be a little thin skinned and starting with something positive will make it easier for the person being critiqued to hear the more challenging suggestions.

BIO: Mira Reisberg Ph.D. has worn many hats in the industry including being a university professor teaching children’s literature and now as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Mira has taught and mentored many successful authors and illustrators.

Her next interactive e-course, for beginners to award winners, the Chapter Book Alchemist, co-taught by former comedian and award-winning chapter book author Hillary Homzie, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits starts January 12th!

Click here to find out more: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-chapter-book-alchemist.html

The course includes optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, and the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary among other goodies!

Mira, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with all of us. Good luck with the webinar!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, chapter books, list, opportunity, Tips Tagged: Critiquing Secrets, Free Chapter Book Webinar, Free critique, Hillary Homzie, Mira Reisberg

3 Comments on Critiquing Secrets, last added: 12/22/2014
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20. The Best of 2014 Writing and Illustrating

penguins

Kendra Shedenhelm sent this illustration in for us to enjoy. It makes me think of the song that was out a year ago titled, “What does the Fox say.” Must be Tee Hee Hee. The fourth book she has illustrated, “You, the Magician,” was released in November 2014, and can be viewed at http://www.youthemagician.com. http://www.kendrashedenhelm.com/

HERE ARE THE LINKS TO HELPFUL ARTICLES POSTED IN 2014

WORLD BUILDING TIPS
TIPS ON WRITING ENDINGS 
THE MANUSCRIPT IN THE DRAWER 
SELF PUBLIHING – GETTING YOUR BOOK READY 
REVISIONS
TRACKING SUBMISSIONS
PRICING STRATEGIES FOR ILLUSTRATING
MORE SHOWING LESS TELLING 
AGENT/AUTHOR REVISION TIPS 
RESEARCHING AGENTS 
PUTTING WORDS ON PAPER
CREATING SYMPATHIC CHARACTERS
AMAZON RANKING vs. DAILY BOOK SALES
WORKING OUT THE DETAILS
TEN DREADED MANUSCRIPT ERRORS
PITCH IS CONCEPT 
STATE OF THE CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING MARKET
STATE OF THE MARKET PART TWO
STATE OF THE MARKET PART THREE
ATTACKING A CONFERENCE 
WHEN DO WRITERS STOPW WRITING 
MATCHMAKING FOR WRITERS CRITIQUE PARTNERS 
SEVEN WAYS TO MAKE YOURSELF AN EASY AUTHORS TO WORK WITH 
AMAZON SALES STRATEGIES
AMAZON STATEGIES – LOOK INSIDE
AMAZON STRATEGIES – SALES PAGE 
LITERARY vs. COMMERCIAL FICTION
RIGHT TO WRITEPICTURE BOOK CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT 
90 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER 
HOW TO SPOT A GREAT PICTURE BOOK
RESEARCHING FICTION
BEFORE STARTING A THRILLER NOVEL 
ROMANTIC BODY LANGUAGE 
NEVER SAY HE THOUGHT/SHE THOUGHT
CRITIQUING SECRETS 
MASTERING KID SPEAK
LETS TALK POV 
RIGHT TO WRITE 
GRAMMAR NAZI
FIVE WAYS TO FOLLOW UP WITH AN EDITOR OR AGENTS 
OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL 
BEFORE THE SALE – BOOK APPEAL 
FORMAT YOUR BOOK FOR CREATESPACE 
THREE TRICKS FOR SHOWING RATHER THAN TELLING
DEALING WITH REJECTION 
CRITIQUING SECRETS 
WRITING WORKSHEETS 
7 POINT STOR STRUCTURE SYSTEM

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, inspiration, list, Process, reference, Tips Tagged: Best of Writing and Illustrating 2014, Kendra Shedenhelm

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21. 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom

Alikpeople_starsbigger

I thought the above illustration was a good fit with today’s post. Since I feel that this post will help you stir up you manuscript to keep your readers reading, just like illustrator Alik Arzoumanian did letting her cute lady stir up the sky.  (Note: I am looking for artwork to show off)

Alik received her BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston in 2004.   The first children’s book “Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! A Palestinian Folktale” by Margaret Read MacDonald received an ALA Notable Book Award in 2007. She was also featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Hope these tips help you stir up your manuscript:

1. Keep solving problems and adding new ones. Mix up the problems by using physical, logistical, and ones with other people.

2. Make your MC be in a worse place than before the last problem.

3. Beware of the “one Darn Thing After Another” Syndrome. You don’t want your MC to always be stuck dealing with things that don’t change their circumstances.

4. Deliberately shorten your sentences in tense scenes.

5. If you keep your chapters short, you will lore the reader into reading a little more before taking a break.

6. Stun your protagonist with a negative surprise that comes out of the blue. Shock your hero and you will shock your reader into reading more by ramping up the tension.

7. Delay revealing important information to ratchet up the tension. Let your readers worry about unanswered questions.

8. Contract you protagonists universe by making sure their are consequences for each choice. Lost opportunities add tension. When he chooses one option, he will no longer be able to purse the other good things he might have bee able to do.

9. Make an ally into an oppositional character with a conflicting goal.

10. Use dialogue to imply thing that are not directly said. Add in ironic statements to keep the reader wondering.

11. Make sure all the actions are built upon, leading to something. Look for places in your story that are dead ends.

12. Each scene must have a purpose – pointless events – excessive explanations – backstory. You might want to note the purpose after the first draft to remind you why you included it. This will make it easier to see if you need to eliminate it in later revision.

Do you have any other things you do to avoid reader boredom?

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, demystify, How to, inspiration, list, Process, revisions, Tips Tagged: 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom, Alik Arzoumanian

1 Comments on 12 Tips to Help Prevent Reader Boredom, last added: 1/7/2015
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22. Critiquing Secrets

Interested in writing a Chapter Book? Don’t miss this FREE WEBINAR with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg on Friday January 2nd 2015 at 5.30pm PST! They are also going to give some late holiday presents for some lucky folks that include a free critique with Hillary or Mira and some free signed books. Wahoo! See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html#sthash.aEum3YJW.dpuf

Mira_pic2Mira is my Guest blogger for today’s post. Here’s Mira:

Critiquing Secrets by Mira Reisberg

First of all, thank you Kathy for having me on your fabulous blog. This site has been such a great resource for our community for a long time and I feel honored to be here. As we come to the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what we did to better our craft and improve our skills as people who create children’s books. Personally, I think it comes down to three things: take courses (i.e. study and improve your craft and keep revising), join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and join and participate in a critique group. For this post, I’d like to talk a little about critiquing and then share some critiquing secrets.

Over the past 26 years as an illustrator, author, editor, art director and former literary agent, I’ve learned that although your work is uniquely your own, you can’t exist in a vacuum. Receiving criticism from fellow writers or illustrators, and peers is a must have regular part of your creative process.
So let’s talk about the secrets of critiquing for plot-driven books.

After struggling with a piece, if you can, let it percolate for a while and then come back not only with a fresh eye, but with fresh sets of eyes. Other eyes may see what you have missed, offer a different perspective, and question what you have taken for granted.

While you may be tempted to have your mother, your significant other, or best friend critique your work, they should not be your only ‘eyes’. They’re not trained to critique, may not understand your work, and may try to protect your feelings, regardless of their true opinion.

So what are some great critique techniques? For plot-driven writers the main things you need to look for are:
• How enticing is the hook or beginning?
• Do we care or are we intrigued by the character(s) enough to want to find out more about them and their journey?
• Does the tension build as the main character faces challenges and obstacles along the way?
• Do they solve the problem themselves?
• Is the climax and resolution satisfying with a twist at the end?
• Is each character different with their own distinct voice?
• What makes this particular story memorable?
• Does it have any underlying universal themes that are meaningful for kids?
• How can the drama, humor, pathos, or whatever key feeling the story has, be amplified?
• Does the pacing move at a good speed or does it slow down anywhere? Is there redundancy or excess?
• And finally does the language sparkle with techniques like alliteration and assonance, rhythm and repetition where appropriate?

All of these suggestions will help you in the critiquing process to get to the core and heart of your story to make it stronger, sweeter, funnier, or whatever its essence more appealing and thus more marketable.

Finally, for tender newer critique groups or critiquing partners who are vulnerable, remember to use the hamburger technique of starting and ending with something positive and getting to the meat of what needs help in the middle. As creatives, we tend to be a little thin skinned and starting with something positive will make it easier for the person being critiqued to hear the more challenging suggestions.

BIO: Mira Reisberg Ph.D. has worn many hats in the industry including being a university professor teaching children’s literature and now as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Mira has taught and mentored many successful authors and illustrators.

Her next interactive e-course, for beginners to award winners, the Chapter Book Alchemist, co-taught by former comedian and award-winning chapter book author Hillary Homzie, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits starts January 12th!

Click here to find out more: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-chapter-book-alchemist.html

The course includes optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, and the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary among other goodies!

Mira, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with all of us. Good luck with the webinar!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, chapter books, list, opportunity, Tips Tagged: Critiquing Secrets, Free Chapter Book Webinar, Free critique, Hillary Homzie, Mira Reisberg

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23. Believing You Can Make an Amazing Creative Portfolio

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Just another day at the art desk I hear you say, starting your sunday with a chipper smile and creative heart filled with enthusiasm, you believe everything will be absolutely fine. That is however until you sit down to start working on that creative portfolio you aspire to make.Suddenly you’re faced with an extremely sweaty brow and a blank canvas that’s been sitting there for the best part of an hour.

You may start to hear a small voice quoting in the back of your head how you can do this! However this then propels into a downward swirl beating yourself up over your lack of progress, whilst creating a rather larger  pile of screwed up sketchbook pages behind you. In all you just don’t know where to start and have an idea of a project’s “end” with no “beginning”.

Generating ideas for portfolio pieces can be tough if you don’t plan and prepare in advance what you aim to create.  Every creative person I believe though has the potential to create some amazing self-initiated projects to really blow the socks off those creative directors.  If that’s what you wanna do then here’s a few ways to help reel back your line to the beginning , generate ideas and get started creating portfolio pieces that will help promote what you can do!

1.  Understand what kind of work you want to be doing : Think about the kind of work you want to produce whether children’s book illustration , portrait photography , commercial design and more. By knowing where you want to go creatively this will help you understand the type of work you need to create.

2. Generate project ideas around your chosen work: Now that you’ve chosen your type of work the next step is to generate your own project idea. For example this could be illustrating a page from your favourite children’s book if your aim is a children’s illustration. Create a pattern design collection if your aim is to work within commercial product, licensing and more.

3. Hone your skills and think outside the box : No doubt you’ll have your collection of favoured art materials that you turn to when you create a piece. However be sure to hone your skills will other materials , softwares and processes to as this will help show how versatile you can create pieces and how diverse they can be. Last but not least though think outside the box, take inspiration from other creative is one thing but then take a little inspiration from it and create something unique to you.

Image by Matt Adrian you can find out more about his work here.

 

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24. 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far, by Eric Smith

Inked by Eric SmithThis is a recurring column called “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their careers can talk about writing advice and instruction — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journeys that they wish they knew at the beginning. This is installment is from Eric Smith, author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and the young adult novel, Inked.


1. Editing? Cut the Parts You Find Yourself Skipping. When I’m finished writing something, and it doesn’t matter what it is, a chapter in a book, a new essay, a blog post, whatever… I like reading and re-reading it, often times, reading out loud. And almost always the same thing happens. I find myself skipping over parts because I’m a.) way too excited to get to the next paragraph or b.) find that I’m tired of that particular section.

Usually, that means it’s time to make some cuts.

If you can’t even get excited about a bit of writing you’re working on, if you’re tired of that passage already… there’s a solid chance your reader will be too. You should be excited about everything you’re hammering down on the page. Leave no room for skipping. Unless, of course, it’s a victory skip in your backyard. Then, by all means, go forth and frolic. You earned it.

2. It’s Okay to Take a Break. When I wrapped up the rough manuscript of Inked, I immediately dove into working on a sequel idea while researching agents. Immediately. I got lucky, signed with a fantastic agent (hi Dawn!), and shortly after, the opportunity to work on The Geek’s Guide to Dating came up at my publisher. I worked on that book, and when that was done, went back to the sequel concept, worked on some essays, and started adfjdfgdfgsdfkl CRASH.
Burned. The. Hell. Out.

With one manuscript being shopped around and another on its way to publication, I took a breath. I went on a vacation. Not any place special. A little place called Tamriel. Lush wilderness, rushing streams, and tons of dragons. Oh, Tamriel is a place in a video game called Skyrim. I was on my couch. It was great.

Listen: It’s okay to take a break. Whether you’ve got something on submission, a book on its way to publication, or you’re just working on a bunch of fun ideas and drafts. Don’t burn yourself out. You’re no good for anyone like that. Plus, you need your energy for all that dragon slaying, Dovohkiin.

3. Save Your Darlings. I say this a lot, but when you’re busy editing and cutting, whether you’re making cuts on your own, with your peers, with your editor… save those darlings. Avoid that “kill your darlings” cliché, and open up a Word .doc, and stash those little gems off to the side.
Look, you might never use them. They might be the bits you cut out because they were boring you (remember #1?). Those couple of pages you sliced out of that manuscript, you probably cut them out for a good reason. Your agent, your editor, your writer friends… they’re a smart bunch, otherwise you wouldn’t be working with them, right? But down the line, when you’re working on a new story or idea, click on over. See what’s in the scraps. You might find something that sparks an idea, which you might have otherwise deleted.

And if not, whatever. How much space does a Word document take up? Like, a gig? Maybe? Who cares how many gigs? You have lots of gigs.

4. If You Must Read the Reviews, Learn From Them. I have a sign on my desk at work and at home that says “Don’t Read the Comments” in big bold letters. I bought it on Etsy in a fancy frame, because in my mind, an artisanal frame made out of reclaimed wood would make it work.

I never listen to it. No one does.

Look, if you’re going to read the reviews (you’re gonna), don’t lash out, don’t get upset, don’t get angry. Instead, see what you can learn from them. I love book bloggers. Love them. I follow tons of them on Twitter, read a lot of their blogs, and go out of my way to say hi to my favorites at conventions at BEA.

Because they are book lovers. They are my people.

And yes, when they write about my books, I read their reviews, the good and the bad. Why? Because these are the smartest consumers of books out there, and you can actually read what they think about your book! Your book! And if they care enough about your book to talk about it, that’s freaking awesome.

Reading reviews isn’t for everyone. Even I’m aware that I shouldn’t do it. I KNOW I shouldn’t do it. But I do. And when I do, I see what there is to learn. And I’m grateful that someone took the time to actually read my wild button mashing in the first place.

5. Find Your Soundtrack. I have a lot of friends who go running and hit the gym, and when they are busy doing this thing called exercising, they often rock out to music that gets them in the mood. Pumps them up. Gets them excited for the work they are about to do. Because hey, working out? That’s work. And so is writing. It’s just a different kind of work, with an equal amount of tears.

Writing at home? Find your soundtrack. For me, it depends on the kind of work I’m doing. Fussing over a Young Adult novel idea? I turn on the music of my youth, lots of pop-punk, power chords, and acoustic guitars, music by New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, Punchline, Something Corporate, Saves the Day. An essay? Something that’ll calm me down. The Fray, Dashboard Confessional, Sherwood, Gin Blossoms.

Please note, I listen to my pop punk and emo on a regular basis too. Sing it, Motion City Soundtrack!

6. Find Your Peers Online As Well As Off. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I’ve met more authors I admire and adore than… well I’m not quite sure how to finish that sentence. I’ve met so many. And the great thing about the online literary community (or “bookernet”), is that everyone supports one another. Be genuine, be kind, be excited. Find the authors who write books you deeply care for, find the writers you yourself admire. Connect with them on Twitter. Celebrate their success. You’ll learn so much from them. I absolutely have, and wish I’d been more active in seeking out writerly peers earlier on.

7. Surround Yourself With Supportive Friends. Team! Team, team, team, team, team. I even love saying the word, “team.” Having an awesome team backing you up is so very important, and I’m not just talking about professionally. Close friends that can network you, will blast your message out there… those friends are awesome, don’t get me wrong. But friends that will give that crappy rough manuscript a looks over, who will join you for coffee and listen to you ramble about an idea you haven’t quite thought out yet, friends that will look over your under-construction author website full of Geocities era animated .gifs… those are the supportive friends you need around you at all times.

Real friends. The friends that will give you a kick in the pants when you’re down and troll you a little bit when you’re doing too well. Who will keep you level. Surround yourself with those kind of friends, and it’ll certainly help your writing career.

Good luck!


Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating (December 2013), which was an Amazon Best Book of the Year in Humor and has sold into five languages. His debut young adult novel, Inked, comes out January 2015 with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark. He is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. He can be found blogging for BookRiot and The Huffington Post, and when he isn’t busy writing, he can be found tweeting and marketing at Quirk Books. Visit Eric’s website to learn more, and follow him on Twitter (@ericsmithrocks).

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25. How to chose and use your art materials wisely

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If you’re anything like the thousands of creatives out there, you’ll no doubt have something called “GotToHaveEveryArtSupply-itis”and its incurable. We get so excited and enthusiastic when the glorious sound of the art supply shop opens like an unknown force pulling us in against our will (not really), to when there’s a sale online we just have to get them all.Although with this vast growing collection of art supplies, in which we think deep down will bestow upon us great creative talent, comes being practical and responsible to.

 Each art material has its advantages and disadvantages, however its actually how you use them that will help you to produce great work.So here’s a few tips to really help  you choose your creative weapons of choice wisely and wield them like a true creative warrior!

1.  Combine materials that compliment each other – Just because you have an artbox filled with yummy supplies, doesn’t mean you have to throw everything into the mix to make the perfect receipe. Experimenting is key to know what works for you and your style to build your creative process. Look closely at the textures, contrasts and effects each material gives you and which would compliment each other nicely to create the perfect creative dish.  For example watercolours and coloured pencil work great together to create colour washes with beautiful tone work.

2. He’s got it so I need to have it to - No doubt you’ve done this to where your inspirational creative idol uses a specific art supply and  you feel the urge to possess it to achieve greatness. Although this isn’t to say its not the quality of product that gives them great results, bear in mind they’ve been honing their skills and processes with it for countless hours through “practice“. Not every art supply works the same with every creatives style and process, but experiment with different materials to see if introducing it to your creative making steps will benefit the pieces you create.

3. Invest within your budget- Last but not least investing and budgeting, understandably art supplies often aren’t cheap as they come in so many different brands, qualities and quantities at different prices. There’s also artist and student grade materials, however the key is be wise and stick to your budget. Test materials out and if you feel they have a permanent place in how you make your art then this gives you the option to invest in them further.

Good luck creatives and have fun wielding those art supplies!

Featured image by Amy Van Luijk  you can find out more about her work here.

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