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Inspiration to Start

Some people say that the best thing to do when you want to learn – is copy someone you like or inspires you. This will help you start doing things, and start learning, while simultaneously discovering your voice. My interests are wide, varied, and occasionally unrelated. I struggle most with deciding what to focus on at any given point. I find it better to decide that I’m going to dedicate one month to doing ____ and then change topics. With the start of my web-series KieryGeek, I have a schedule for the first half of the week but once that’s over, I get confused and need to figure out something else.

The inspiration for creating my own web show and the courage to start doing all of the things that I’ve been doing – web design, acting, art, traveling, etc… stemmed from a few people. First, Alex – because I live with him and if he weren’t constantly cool with or “pushing” me to do the things I want to, I would never have the gumption to do anything in the first place. Secondly, Chris Hardwick and Felicia Day – because they do the things I want to do (mostly) and they started by just doing things.

It took me a long time before I understood the advice (and, dare I say, value) of imitating to learn. Mostly because I was applying it only to painting, and I physically find copying difficult – I haven’t figured out why.

After reading The Nerdist Way, reminding myself often of the words of Ira Glass, and this phrase I decided to just start.

She decided to start living the life she imagined. She believed she could, so she did. She replaced her fear of the unknown with curiosity. She looked around, and life was pretty amazing. – author unknown?

I started believing (or, like Neil Gaiman pointed out – pretending) that I could learn and do all the things that I wanted to, and do them well. Maybe not at first, but eventually.

So, “I did”. I started creating. Tomorrow is the 7th episode of my web-show, and on the 10th episode (June 15th) I’ll be selecting a winner for the giveaway that will be fully announced the week before.

I’m a harsh critic of my work, and I always wonder in the back of my head if I’m just really lame and people are just being polite. But I’ve realized that slowly progress is being made. Tomorrow’s episode has an amazing introduction. The first episode with an introduction actually, and I plan on taking a hiatus in July to work on making improvements.

The gap in my artistry is slowly starting to become bridged. I realized this a few days ago while art journaling, yesterday while drawing, and Monday night while writing. Slowly I’m getting to the point where what I’m creating is closer to what I envision. The feeling is intoxicatingly horrifying, yet immeasurably exhilarating.

It took one fearless moment paired with one unusual decision: just start

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Self Publishing tips I learned the hard way

I’ve spent the last year and a half/two years stumbling around with self publishing and illustrating. I read a lot of things online, but most of what I learned came from making mistakes and trying to fix them. So with the re-release of the Balloon Lady well underway, I thought I’d compile a list of helpful things that took me longer than they should have to figure out.

  •  if you’re illustrating: scanning your images in at 600dpi gives you more room to work with than the standard 300dpi

The first batch of illustrations I did, I had no clear layout, I used an unfamiliar medium, and I only scanned them in at 300dpi. Which, after having to maneuver and stretch the images to fit inside the book format ended up looking…less than what I’d hoped. When I tried to use the same images again on the fatter createspace version of the book, they looked so bad that I decided to remake them because I could not bring myself to print those that way. I could have scanned them in again at 600dpi, but there was no rhyme, reason, or consistency to them anyway.

  •  if you’re illustrating: work with a medium you’re familiar with.

For the second round, I used acrylics on watercolor paper and because I’m good at acrylics and know how they work, the process was much smoother than the first time when I tried watercolors and pen. I generally lay as much paint on things to correct mistakes as possible (and with acrylics, that works smashingly) but if you’re using watercolor, you get mud. Which happened a bit with the first round.

  •  Decide on a format and size beforehand

With the first edition I wrote and illustrated everything without having anything remotely resembling a layout. So I went with the one that I thought would be able to fit the images. Turns out that one didn’t even have an ISBN for that size and I spent a long time trying to make everything fit reasonably. The second time around, I knew what size I wanted, so after I ordered the proof, everything I painted I made the size of the cover, and I left room for text on some of them (not that I used that much, but it was there).

  • Decide who you want to publish with and think about how you’d like to distribute

I recommend lulu and createspace for two reasons. 1) lulu can get you into the ibookstore – although, when I tried it, it was really difficult, and with the new iBooks Author, I’m not sure entirely how that works, but they offer it for free. 2) createspace is sort of amazon and partners with them which means, it’s easier for people to find and access your work. It’s also very easy, they have online tools and proof capabilities, so if you’re like me and you got your proof and made a few margin tweaks but don’t really want to order another one (even though it’s *really* cheap at $7 – versus, somewhere near $20 on lulu, but I got faster shipping so it could be cheaper) you can view it there and make sure all of your text is out of the gutter and approve it without having to buy another copy just to see how it looks.

  • tweak, tweak, and more tweaking!

I’ve gone through I-don’t-know-how-many uploads and saves and re-exports over the last week finding things that I missed. It gets really really frustrating, but the end result is worth it. Just today, I was about to hit “I approve!” but I decided to re-read the proof just one more time to make sure there weren’t any spelling errors after I fixed all the margins, and I found a rogue “t”, a “d” instead of an “r” at the end of a word, and a “she’d” instead of “she”. So I fixed those (with a few app crashes because my laptop is getting old) in the iBook Author version and the createspace version. I’m reasonably satisfied that I’ve now fixed everything – but it’s taken me countless times to the point of sort of hating it to get there.

  • iBooks Author is harder than it looks

iBooks Author just came out a few months ago, and I hit a couple snags; You have to have an ISBN. One sells for $150. This is the biggest and only reason I would suggest using a company like lulu to get on there, because they give you free ISBNs (createspace doesn’t support ibooks, just kindle, naturally) for it. But if you have one, or have one that you can use, then use IBA to make it and launch it. There are some really irritating problems with IBA. It’s great until you’ve spent 12 hours trying to move a picture without moving text and then you have the brilliant idea to use text boxes. 1) The pages don’t turn, they slide. It’s not something you can change either. 2) There’s a really annoying Table of Contents page and you have to either do everything in a chapter or section – which isn’t ideal for illustrated children’s books.

So when you’re using it, my advice to you is fill in everything, make sure you name your file in the chapter section, otherwise the TOC will come up as “untitled”. Fiddle with the TOC page, and test it on your ipad before submitting. I made the mistake of doing none of those things, so I’m still waiting to hear a rejection so I can upload the new file that I’ve been tweaking as I’ve found errors in the createspace proof.

  • Use text boxes!

If you’re making a book with pictures – children’s or otherwise, the best way to get text and pictures on the page without messing up the order of either too much is to use text boxes. In pages and ibooks it’s a little T with a square around it. You just write or paste the desired text inside of the box, select it all to change the font and size and then move it where-ever. I try to set the layout of the images to “none”, so it doesn’t move the text.

  • Keep Text out of the gutter!

I discovered something recently I should have discovered a really long time ago.

I should have turned on “show layout”. Because that shows you exactly where the margins are, and if you try to keep your text in between them, like magic, your text is out of the gutter.

 

  • Use a two-page (or two-up) view if possible

It’s so much easier to see what you’re doing if you can see both pages. It takes me forever to find this button. In pages, it’s where the zoom is located. 

  • For easy navigation, use a thumbnail view

I found this by accident while trying to find the two-up view. But thumbnails make it easy to find specific pages – especially when you know where a misspelled word is and don’t want to scroll through the whole document to fix one letter. In the screenshot, I obviously already have thumbnails turned on – but if you’re using pages, that’s where you’ll find it.

  • Other things to consider

ISBN’s – if you want to do any type of real-world distributing at all, you’ll need an ISBN. Libraries need ISBN’s, professional reviewers need copies with ISBN’s, iBooks needs ISBN’s – so make sure that if you want to make a book for more than friends and family, you select a format that is ISBN supported.

Formatting suuucks, and by the end you’ll probably hate your computer, your software, and you’ll be utterly sick of your story, but it’s worth it.

I didn’t talk about it much, but editing (before you tweak) is crucial. I sent my manuscript (without pictures) off to some friends who are grammar nazis, editors, and have really good outside eyes for story bits that I might have missed. I used InkWork Services as my professional editor – she’s great!

Above all, hang in there and push through. It’s hard, but it’s worth it – if for no other reason than an author’s profile on goodreads.

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Because I love Pinterest

I finished going over the last two fitness books from the library and came to the conclusion that I actually like using pinterest for finding exercises. Some of the exercises in The Perfect Body Diet I actually have pinned on my fitness tips board.

The Mayo Clinic book was very nice though, and I’m glad I skimmed it. I like their approach and if I hadn’t figured out more of what I was doing last week I think I would have gotten more from it. They were very gentle which I liked and took a lot of care in talking about things like self-image in and how your self-esteem/mood/body image relates to getting healthy. They suggest things besides just exercising – like writing notes to yourself and confidence boosting activities, which I do occasionally (write notes to myself) when I’m feeling particularly happy with humanity for those moments that I know I’m going to need it (like today).

Pinterest Motivation
from pinterest
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Aletheia

The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making

I saw this book at work after the fundraiser, and knew I just had to buy it. The title alone completely grabbed my attention and I can’t wait to delve into September’s world.

But the title.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  Just resonates.

I don’t know why, but it just feels empowering, I feel braver, stronger and capable somehow just looking at the name.

Maybe it’s because inside I yearn to be that, and I have occasional moments of feeling it. Lately, for instance, I’ve been feeling a bit more confident and glancing over the last year, I’ve become more brave, more myself, at least on the inside even if I haven’t shown it much publicly. But I want to.

In 2012 I’m going to continue my journey to me. I’m going to try to be more of the person I am and want to be inside myself. I want to reinvent, to be new and real. I want to continue to remove the layers of masks that have been my image and my persona in the past and get to the truth of who I am, the me that I once knew and abandoned . A friend of mine has been writing about words for the  year, and how she wants to be unafraid. I’ve sort of stumbled upon mine…Aletheia.

An anonymous card I received recently was signed as that. Which, according to wikipedia

Aletheia (ἀλήθεια) is a Greek word variously translated as “unclosedness”, “unconcealedness”, “disclosure” or “truth“. The literal meaning of the word λήθεια is “the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident” and it also implies sincerity, as well as factuality or reality.

I’ve been thinking about that lately, and how it uncannily describes me right now, what I crave to discover and to become. A journey I’ve started and continue to travel. So in 2012, the year I turn 21 (and no one can make fun of me for not being 21 anymore – score!) I want to become aletheia bravely, and unashamedly me.

I want to be the girl who circumnavigated her world in a ship of her own making, and I think I’m closer to that than I ever have been.

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Thanks Mr. Marketing Book

Yesterday I spent the afternoon reading the most boring (and it’s not that boring) of the books from my most recent library trip. Low Budget Marketing For Small Businesses which talked a lot about websites and the internet (obviously). The book is a little old (2003) but I figured some ideas would probably help. Although, I kind of smiled to the Generation Y references because well, that’s my generation, haha (as I was like, 12 at the time the book was published). #notveryold. Still it has ben helpful and even though I won’t be buying words and can tweak my website by myself for the most part (and what I can’t do, I can ask my husband or other friends to help with, because we’re all a bunch of geeks) it helped with some ideas on how to fix my current website.

Every so often I go on this completely re-do everything spree, and over the last 2 years I think I’ve alternated between blog-front and static pages multiple times (at the moment, I’m back to static page, but with blog posts featured). I’ve also wanted it to look a little bit more…me. I like clean websites but I also like artsy ones. I think the design I came up with last night works pretty well for the present and seems to balance the two. Light shades of polkadots with my balloon logo. I thought about adding a fairy, because that’s my etsy logo, but it looked too crowded.

This is all just a work in progress, so please stay patient, as I’ll probably be changing things more later. O:)

Anyway, the most helpful tidbit I’ve gotten so far from the book was the who’s-your-target-worksheet. And I haven’t filled it out yet, but I’ve been thinking on it, and launched an experiment yesterday also, which, you would have seen if you follow me on twitter (free shipping code). However, I conveniently added my twitter accounts (and other things) to my sidebar, if you’d like to follow and find the code and use it in my etsy store.

Anyway, this latest round of changes goes to the marketing book. Thanks, Mr. Book! I’ll go back to reading now.

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Crash Course Challenge day 9

I realize that this should have been posted last week, and we should have moved on further by now, but I ended up spending most of last week tired and internalizing rather than reading. I finished The Everyday Work of Art and Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain yesterday, and went to the library to find more books. They didn’t have any of the other books I was looking for, so I decided to immerse myself in fairy tales and explore fantasy more.

I was surprised at how well The Everyday Work of Art and Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain went together. Admittedly, the ideas in the Everyday Work of Art were more helpful to me as I found new ways of looking at the world, and in a way better understanding my process. I’m going to do a longer post on this in the future, but let me just say that neither of these books are written solely for “artists” in fact, they’re actually probably better suited for people who don’t think of themselves as artists. Because both of them explain differences in thinking, and allowing yourself to be creative and explore even if you don’t think you are or could ever be.

I’ve found, that when I applied the ideas in real life – even in mundane ways (like noticing the shape of tree branches, or the way the water flows in the sink, or the different feel you get when you hear something without seeing it, and then seeing it) I’ve enjoyed the day much more. Just by being able to take time out to allow myself to experience and immerse myself in the life around me (even if it’s boring, or just watching a movie).

So, I went to the library with the intention of bringing home some art theory or technique books and didn’t really find anything that called me, so I went to the Young Adult section and picked out three books that encompass worlds I want to explore – The Night Fairy, The Last Unicorn, and Faerie Wars. The first two were recommended to my be friends, and the last I saw at a bookstore and was practically calling me, so when I found it at the library I decided it was probably calling me for a reason….

Spatial Awareness

The other thing I did yesterday was switch the room our bedroom was in and move the studio into it. It took a long time, but I actually like it better, and now the studio is sort of becoming taken over with film equipment, or it will be before the day is over. I slept so much better in the other room. I think having only *one* window facing West as opposed to two facing North and East might have something to do with it. So in trying to keep the studio as empty as possible, I moved the furniture that previously occupied it into other places – the bookshelf looks nice in the hall, and my art supply chest is holding the fat-tv in our bedroom (instead of the night stand, yay!) – so I guess actually, that didn’t really move. I also had the clever idea of putting the dresser in one half of the closet, and hanging the clothes and housing the clean laundry basket on the other side – it looks really cool, and surprisingly Alex likes it too. I cleaned out/re-organized the closet in the living-room also, and now all that’s left is to recycle the boxes I was using as nightstands and do something with our old iMac box.

Maybe it’s weird, but I do a lot of creative thinking when I’m trying to re-arrange stuff. I like the challenge of figuring out the best place to put things and which way it would look better. I put a lot of thought into it, and end up using the spatial-awareness part of my (right) brain which is sort of fun for me. I also don’t re-arrange extensively on a regular basis, so when I do it’s actually enjoyable. Honestly, the last month or two have been the most that I’ve re-arranged since we moved into our apartment over two years ago. I like it better this way.

Etsy News

Yesterday I started a Thing-A-Week deal for my shop. I’m listing or featuring one item a week for a discounted price with free (or very cheap for international) shipping. Alex actually came up with the idea and I thought it was sort of brilliant and would be fun to try. So I decided I’d start off with my watercolors that I’ve been working on and listed the portrait of The Doctor I made last month. The deal only lasts a week (and then there’s a different one) so check it out.

Also, I sold my Sexy Tardis ACEO to someone in *Australia*, which was very cool. I’ve never shipped internationally before. I had two Forever stamps and one ten-cent stamp.

 

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