Here’s why:

“The Mona Lisa has a huge social media presence. Her picture is everywhere. But she doesn’t tweet. She’s big on social media because she’s an icon, but she’s not an icon because she’s big on social media.”

(from this entry from Seth Godin’s blog)

I keep coming back to a piece of advice I saw for selling markets ages ago: make cool stuff and tell everyone about it! the end.

Creativity Lessons from 2018: Quit Worrying About Your Social Media Presence

Art, Writing

It’s not perfect, but it does what I want.

I came across this quote on my Mastodon.art feed many months ago, attached to what I thought was a very cool picture. I boosted it, but also had the presence of mind to write it down on a Post-It note that I stuck above my computer*.

As far as I’m concerned, it deserves to be listed alongside the greatest art quotes of all time.

I come back to frequently. Because as a perfectionist-in-recovery it’s so easy to want to noodle and noodle (or sometimes NOT EVEN START) on a piece until you feel it is “perfect.”

But “perfect” isn’t the point, not to the viewer. The point is to evoke something.

Lots of things I enjoy evoke joy or laughter or awe or mystery without being absolutely flawless. (And sometimes, the flaws even add to my reaction!).

This quote’s helped me say, “You know what? I could noodle/add/whatever a ton more on this, but at this point, IT’S DOING WHAT I WANT. So even though it’s not technically perfect, I can be satisfied with it.”

And then I get to move on to the next thing!

*I didn’t write down the original speaker, though! If you’re the originator of this quote, I’d be delighted to credit you!

 

 

 

 

Creativity Lessons from 2018: The best quote for artists and creators suffering from perfectionism

Art, Writing

New short story collection! MIDWINTER MAGIC

Art, New from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

Cover for MIDWINTER MAGIC: A stylized glowing reindeer leaps against the blue Northern Lights

Once upon a time, magic left the world for a night. It sighed back in through the scullery door in the morning with the cat, but by then, the Queen of the Northern Elves had fallen into a deep sleep, and, greatly diminished, the returned magic could not wake her.

From the author who brought you The Purrfect Christmas and A Gingersnap Cat Christmas comes an enchanting collection of three original yuletide fairy tales, written in the tradition of Jane Yolen and Ursula Vernon.


A little Christmas present from me to you. If you like reindeer, Santa Claus, elves, and mythic origin stories, you’re probably gonna dig this.

Buy from your favorite eBook retailer here (includes Amazon)

More info and excerpt here on MIDWINTER MAGIC’s Pixelvania Publishing page.

Scribus Success Story: A Gingersnap Cat Christmas (paperback print novel)

Indie Publishing Friends, Writing

 

Scribus Success Story - book interior with epigraphs and illustrated title page

Epigraph and Title page for A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS. Scribus actually had an option to cameo the image like that!

Indie authors, paperbacks can be done in Scribus, and they can be done beautifully!

A Gingersnap Cat Christmas is a holiday fantasy I wrote for middle-schoolers. The POD paperback (whose interior I formatted in Scribus) is available through Amazon.com.

About the project: Having just missed my Christmas 2017 publishing deadline for the Gingersnap Cat ebook, I vowed to use the extra time in 2018 to teach myself Scribus, with the goal of having Gingersnap ready for print before Christmas 2018.

Before this project, the last time I’d touched the Big Name desktop publishing program was back in college for a single assignment in a single class…so I really felt like I was starting from scratch! I learned the basics using the Getting Started with Scribus tutorial, and also by working on a single-page newsletter for my church.

I used Scribus 1.5.3 on Windows 7, and chose 5.5.x8.5” for the trim(overall book) size.

  • Completed Size: 199 pages
  • Initial Margins: Inside = 0.875in, Outside=0.625in, Top =.625in, Bottom =.75in. (Note! While these are the settings I used at the beginning of the project, they had to be readjusted after the author proof showed the body text getting sucked into the gutter, see “Challenges” below).
  • Typefaces (fonts): the interior body text was done in Fanwood Text Regular 13 with a fixed 19.5pt line spacing. The interior heading typefaces are Firefly 11 (title), and the Classiq Regular Italic Choix 11 (author).
  • Cover: Designed in the open source vector program Inkscape, but Scribus took care of converting the exported PNG to print-ready PDF. (The kitties were painted in the open source raster art program Krita)

This project was completed just before Amazon migrated all Createspace projects over to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and was so created according to Createspace specifications.

Scribus Success Story - book interior with a running header and a chapter heading

A sample of the novel’s interior.

Challenges: Though I thought I had automatic hyphenation turned on, but I don’t think I ever saw automatic hyphenation function work, so when needed, I inserted the hyphenation manually.

After setting up my left and right Master pages, I started by making each chapter its own file, applying paragraph and italicized styles (my italics weren’t transferred from MS Word), then adjusting the tracking (spacing between words), widows, orphans, etc. Once finished, I added each chapter to the main book body file.

This worked well initially, but since this was my first typography job, I wound up tweaking the tracking inside the much larger main file, which meant I had to deal with a slowdown in program speed. But if I had completed all my tracking 100% to my satisfaction in the individual chapter files, then added them to the main file without touching them afterwards, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Scribus was still usable during this time—it just required a little patience.

My biggest technical hurdle was shifting text blocks—first when my corrective tracking caused pages to switch from left-side to right-side pages (and vice versa), then shifting the text blocks away from the gutter and down from the top after I got my first author proof back. (I recommend all authors set their inside margin wider than you think you’ll need!) Luckily Gregory Pittman came to my rescue with his very helpful shifting script! (He was also kind enough to modify the script to include vertical shifting after an email exchange. Mr. Pittman is a gentleman and a scholar!)

I found Clif Graves’ previous Scribus Success Story invaluable as both guide and inspiration, along with John Osterhout’s Scribus templates and DJ Mills’ “Creating Print-on-Demand Interiors and Covers Using Scribus” tutorial.

I’ve had numerous compliments on the look of the Gingersnap Cat Christmas paperback—and now that I’ve done it once, I look forward to using Scribus to publish print versions of my other short stories and novels.

 

New Horror Story: THE GIRLFRIEND WHO WASN’T FROM DELAWARE

Art, News from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

Cover for THE GIRLFRIEND WHO WASN'T FROM DELAWARE - A giant hand made of blue static reaches down to pluck an apartment out of a building like a Jenga blockApartment walls are thin.

Reality may be thinner.

Ray Belga lives in the ugliest apartment building in town—but at least it’s quiet. Until a mystery neighbor’s fridge starts acting up.

At least…Ray thinks it’s a fridge. But he’ll soon learn you can’t trust everything you hear through apartment walls…


I hope you enjoy this (slightly twisted?) story about a guy with noisy neighbors. Just in time for Halloween!

Buy from your favorite eBook retailer here (includes Amazon)

More info and excerpt here on THE GIRLFRIEND’s Pixelvania Publishing page.

10K words reached on Girlfriend story!

Writing

…and you’re all, what Girlfriend story?

It’s a horror short I started last September, but it got put on the backburner when I started working on Gingersnap Cat. I was feeling a little fatigue on the Nosferatu Novel and thought I’d pick it up again. I can feel I’m nearing the end, so I’m really trying to put in my time on it. (It’d be great to have it out before Halloween!)

And now you know…the rest of the backstory. Good day!

PS If you’re looking for a nice uneasy read, you gotta read the original novella for THE BIRDS, it’s unnerving in a lovely way.

New! A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS – my first paperback release!

Art, News from Pixelvania Publishing, Writing

A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS Book Cover: A ginger cat with a halo smiles at a terrified black and grey kitten hiding behind him.

Gingersnap Cat is an orange tabby feeling blue. Heaven’s paradise, but it’s just not home without his human family by his side. Not even Christmas with his feline friends can cheer him up.

But when Heaven needs an extra paw, Gingersnap answers the call. Sent back to Earth, Gingersnap must help a little kitten fulfill a big destiny!

Announcing my latest Christmas novel (and first paperback release!), A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.

If you’re like me, you love Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Disney’s Prep and Landing, and A Garfield Christmas Special. But while all of these shows are great at talking about Christmas spirit, it’s hard to find a kid-friendly story (with exception of A Charlie Brown Christmas) that even mentions Jesus Christ, the actual reason for the season. And it’s doubly hard to find a Christian Christmas story that’s not too…well…preachy.

That’s why I wrote A GINGERSNAP CAT CHRISTMAS–to meld all the festive fun of a classic Christmas special without leaving the Savior out of his own celebration.

(I also wanted to write a story where the cats are the heroes, instead of selfish jerks.)

Anyway, if you ever wondered what Highway to Heaven would’ve been like with feline stars, you’ll love A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.

At 200 pages long, it’s a great novel for voracious young readers, but with 25 chapters, families can read a chapter a night in December for a new Christmas tradition.

You can…

Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope this book can help you whittle down your Christmas list early. 😉

A little about branding book spines for DIY Indie Authors

Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

As an indie author on a shoestring budget, you may be wondering how you can make your print books look like they belong on your readers’ shelves next to the “big boy” books published with gobs of money and professional art departments behind them.

Using my Visual Arts BA powers and some slightly blurry photos of our booka nd DVD shelves, I thought I’d try to explain some of the elements of good spine branding. Spinal branding? Ouch. Sounds painful.

Let’s get started.

Spines of the AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER DVD boxed sets

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (Asian-influenced animated series)

Here’s the three-volume set of the marvelous fantasy cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

At the very top we have the logotype for the series itself, which any fan recognizes from the show’s intro sequence. But even if you’ve never seen the show, there’s a lotta info packed into that itty bitty logo: first, the Nickelodeon logo (in its signature orange) lets you know the station its from…and all that that implies (animation, kid-friendly, playful, positive energy).