My scary kitty story What the Cat Brought Back is now available in a bundle with 8 other stories for just $2.99! Click the image to find out more.
Did you know I wrote a feel-good Valentine’s Day book? Don’t worry, it’s not too mushy. It’s called LOVE POTION COMMOTION and it’s got talking French Bulldogs. If you’re still jonesin’ for Hallmark movies, you’ll probably get a kick out of this. It’s normally $4.99 but it’s on discount for $1.99 ’til the 19th. Get it at: http://books2read.com/frenchies1
Sale price is active at Amazon right now, but the other stores are soon to follow!
Johanna Reinhardt is alone at the outpost when it happens. The Machines have shut down, her husband is gone, and—imperceptibly, but surely—sound is disappearing from the world.
What might disappear next?
A dreamlike tale from the post-apocalypse.
An oldie-but-goodie short story to celebrate the new year.
I didn’t come to this conclusion instantly.
First, I watched this great video about quitting the internet for a month.
Two ideas hit me hard from this video: 1) you never run out of content on the internet. Compare this to reading a newspaper. That activity has a definite endpoint. The internet…just keeps going. There is always something there to consume. 2) A lot of what we consume as “news” isn’t news but peoples’ opinions of the news.
Some of the sites I was on were like that–it’d take me 3 minutes to read the article, then 20 minutes to read the comments for that article. And I’d want to read a dozen articles from a site.
That added up.
But one day, just being sick and tired of feeling sore and stiff after too much tablet reading, I decided to get an app blocker for my Android tablet.
I chose StayFocused, for Android.
WOW it opened my eyes. Even though I didn’t have a lot of apps (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.) on some days, I spent hours on one or two of my little games. And many, MANY hours were spent just reading sites on my browser. Pointless! And here I am wondering why I can’t get my art and scanning done!
So I used the app to restrict the amount of time I spend on certain apps on certain days. And like the Firefox/PaleMoon add-on Leechblock, it can also ban an app during certain hours of the day. Pretty flexible!
The free version of StayFocused only lets you block 4 or 5 apps, but since only 4 or 5 apps plague me, it works just perfect for me.
PS using an app like Habitica or TaskHero can help you start building systems that will help you use your time doing things YOU value. Leechblock is great for desktop to block time-sucker sites during certain hours, and Neil Cicierega’s WORK! program keeps you accountable in the programs you need to be working in!
And here are two highly relevant Mormonads to use for your lock screen:
Author Dean Wesley Smith was talking about Heinlein’s Rules on his blog last year. I can’t recall the exact post, but the more I read this quote, the more I realize it’s not just great creativity advice, but great LIFE advice:
“You won’t be able to stay on [Heinlein’s Rules] for too long, but just keep climbing back on when you realize you have fallen off and you will make it.”
Of course, you can substitute “Heinlein’s Rules” with any practice you’re trying to grow in. The Gospel of Christ, healthy eating, exercise…the list is endless! I love this quote.
Never give up!
Writer Dean Wesley Smith wrote a post in late 2018 called Critical Voice Kills Everything. Apparently some people get so critical that they read to pick a book apart, even if it’s from an author who’s mega successful in their writing.
He recommended the following practice instead:
“Second, on a book you LOVED, ask yourself how an author did something in the book that you admire. A craft bit, a pacing, a dialogue scene, whatever. […]
If you liked the plot, outline the book to take that in more. […] You never tear apart someone else’s work, you study it for what they did right. A HUGE DIFFERENCE.”
I chewed on this for a while and later formed this reply:
Thinking back on [the above] part of your post this morning I realized this part fits in really well with how I try to improve as a visual artist. Find work/artists you love, study what they did and how they did it, and adopt the things you like into your own work through practice. You’d ***never*** study a master artist to nitpick him/her!
(And if artist X does feature Y really well or often, but not Z…then you find another artist who does Z well and adopt them, too! Choose from the whole buffet of artists!)
In related news, a fellow Mastodonner posted this great quote from the legendary Phil Tippet (pardon the language at the end)
My increased writing output of the last couple of years is the result of by heeding advice like the above: don’t noodle something to death! Better to do the best you can at the time, get it out there, and start on the next fun project.
Sketches are a really important part of my process. Until you’ve done an actual sketch, there’s almost no way to tell if an idea is worth pursuing.
So sketches are a low-investment way to trial an idea. If one turns out particularly well, I can spend the 20-30 hours to finish it up.
I’m glad he posted this, because my reply helped me articulate a lesson I’d learned earlier in the year:
I’m finally waking up to this idea (esp in thumbnailing towards a specific end). Often I have a great idea in my head. While it’s up there, the ideal image is too amazing for me to even try and tackle. But if I start thumbnailing and playing, suddenly the abstract is concrete, and when it’s concrete, I can see what needs to be done to get the piece going where I want it. Thanks for your terrific reminder.
Absolutely. It’s so easy to stay stuck in your own head and get so wrapped up in thinking an idea is perfect without actually making it.
“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.
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!
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.
More info and excerpt here on MIDWINTER MAGIC’s Pixelvania Publishing page.