Morning

Sitting here cuddled with the puppies (*grown dogs, but shh, we don’t acknowledge that) drinking my first cup of coffee, contemplating the month of chaos before me. I had asked some fellow bloggers and writers to put together some posts to share with you during this period of chaos. Thankfully some have obliged.

We are trekking this Spring and Summer.

If you aren’t aware of the Passport program (https://www.eparks.com/product/22515/Passport-To-Your-National-Parks®/) of the National Parks, I highly suggest you look it up.

So far I have filled up one section of my passport in a region. Several places I forgot my passport and had to get the stamp on a separate piece of paper! Which is fine, those are added pages! I am collecting visits to National Parks. That’s become my “thing.”

I am even buying T-shirts and spending enough on doodads to get the free shopping tote bag, too. It is all in support of the National Parks, so I don’t feel a bit guilty at all.

Besides the inked hand stamp, there are postage stamps as well. That was news to me, but then, I am not a stamp collector. I mention this for those who have always thought about collecting stamps, but never got started, this might be a place to begin.

My Summer hope is that I finish writing a story I am determined to publish this year, dabble a little on another picture book I want to publish next year, and yes, the big adventure, too.

I putting together a Patreon account. Patreon lets you pay to support a creative talent and get some stuff in return. The honest truth is that I am losing money doing this writing thing. While there are sales, there is still more expense than income. So, in order to keep doing this, I started looking at ways to try to break even.

Breaking out of my shell of “what if fear” and getting on the train that already left the station – being a business. That is to include learning a few magic tricks while working on my own stage fright to become my husband’s assistant.

Call 2018 the year of adventure. It sure it turning out that way!

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Being Off The Net

It was very nice, and created chaos as well.

We had an epic internet outage and with inability to get a fulfilled service call, we called it quits and went hunting a new ISP. Found and set up, all good.

But.

The plans we had made for the spring created a bit more chaos as well. Remodeling and painting was the plan. No, that isn’t new eye shadow, that is the living room contrast color.

Some rooms went way ahead of schedule, others have dragged on and took up the days we were ahead of schedule. Just phase two of the making life more joy full. Over Christmas, I went through the house storage areas, pulled everything out and sorted according to need and want. Then put back in that order to the point that space was filled but not cluttered.

At that point I started checking each left over item versus what was already in a place. Did it out value something I thought I wanted to keep? Was it more important? Which was easily replaceable? One by one, every left over checked against what was being kept. Where did it rank in being ready to go to a new home, or did something that I thought was important need to move on.

Downsized? No, it learning to stage my own home that I live in. One thing about those remodel and renovate shows on television. They do all this structure work, but it is still the team that comes in to stage the place that make all that work look really good. So, why can’t I or anyone else do that? Can’t think of a reason, can you?

So, that has distracted me from drawing, writing and work working. Instead I am remodel, redecorating work, and watching a lot of those house shows. I mean A LOT.

Artist

I am not an artist. I attempt to be an artist. Like the old commercial about not being a doctor but portraying one on a tv show, that is how I feel about drawing, sketching.

My frustration at creating a picture book last year burned me out. That is why I switched back to writing stories that I actually intended to write when I started blogging. Only now, I have hit a snag. My current ‘work-in-progress’ (aka ‘WIP’) is requiring some research and auxiliary writing that again, my knowledge level requires more reading and leg work style research.

Leg work research means you go to locations or have interviews with experts who can answer questions. It is time not sitting behind the computer or with pen and paper. It means not progressing on the writing part of the story much at all.

In a way it is kind of a block, not unlike writer’s block. It can be just as frustrating, but also inspiring — which writer’s block never is. I have been keeping my fingers nimble on the keyboard by posting daily on the pen name that the particular WIP will be published under. (This will not be a children’s story.)

I still have another children’s picture book with several pages started. The concept and a very rough outline are completed. Last night, rather than search for a copyright free illustration for the other blog, I sketched a very basic image and took a picture and used it. Doing so, reminded me of this other picture book that I could be dabbling in. Forward progress with one story.

My hope is that following the grownup story being published later this year, this  WIP picture book will be making its appearance in 2019. There are still several children stories waiting in the wings for their turn at being the work in progress. The struggle with the last one, and my own disappointment in it aside, I am not done writing for children, yet.

When they said writing for children is difficult, they weren’t kidding. Illustrating isn’t either. Why again am I trying to do this? Oh, yeah, I promised my grandchildren. Motivation found.

Sunday

This week pictures previously drawn on a tentative picture book about dragons were in my hands twice. Nothing more than moving them from one place to another, but they were ‘active’ for brief moments twice. That is far better than the last six months.

It occurred to me that my places to work on illustrations as well as writing have diminished over the years. I have tried desperately to make this passion a business. Set myself up with work hours and spaces that really have confined my creativity instead of blossoming it.

This has got to stop. Now! We made some changes, for now and in the future about that critical ingredient to creativity – environment. Something as simple as the chair you sit in, the ability to move, have all your accruements within easy reach. One aspect we haven’t quite gotten right is sound.

When I wrote Snowball, it was on my computer, sitting at a wooden student desk crammed in the utility room, “ala Stephen King.” Bad Dream was written and drawn all over the place. No room in the house or even state in the union was off limits. It was written, rewritten, revised, even sketched in doctor’s waiting rooms and some ideas came to me laying in the hospital recovering from repair surgery on my arm.

Both took two years of work to get from written to published. This next tale is dragging along just like the first two, only I have set my own date of October this year to publish. Whether or not that will happen is solely put to me.

While some my say my work ethic has a play meeting that release date, truth is so much goes into that. For years my husband has been determined to return to performing illusions, magic – but he didn’t seem to be making as much headway and was so frustrated. We shared that. In the last few months we had taken to discussing why neither of us was making headway with our plans for making our passions our business. His enlightened observation was he missed a key piece of equipment that would make not only practice but performing easy. A traveling box/table combo that had eluded him. Not something one wants to buy sight unseen, yet the supply stores we visited from Virginia to California and Texas to Illinois had non to be seen- until Maryland.

A big thank you from my heart to yours Denny Haney. Denny & Lee’s Magic Studio had just what he had been searching for so long. Since the apparatus had arrived (had to be shipped – too large for our travel plans) Friday and once the hubby was home from his paying gig, the man has been piddling and practicing.

Now, if I can just set myself up to do the same for my side of things, this might be a happily ever after story.

 

Happy March?

Hello, my faithful followers!

I have sad news.

I could not verify either of the comments that Aksmet caught as spam, so maybe it really was spam, or they live in a country other than the U. S. (A stipulation in the rules on the about page at the bottom)

Since I couldn’t give away those five audiobook links, I have started another run at it and placed the post as a sticky so that any newbies to the site will see the information about the Snowball giveaway.

It has been a busy year thus far. I have started work on a more grown up project, and am still doodling on another picture book – I learned a lot about putting together a picture book with BAD DREAM, so I hope the second one is much better than the first.

One thing in particular, I started learning to drawn digitally! It is really different from using pencil and paper, but my understanding is that the images will be much sharper and brighter than a digital photographed images, and possibly easier to work with print on demand software. There is always something new to learn, which is really neat!

Bad Dream still holds a special place in my heart because the struggle to complete it was pretty daunting sometimes. I debated over holding off the publication, sometimes don’t we all need to turn something in and move on? You struggle, do the best you can but it still isn’t perfect. That for me was Bad Dream. I needed to finish it and put it out there regardless of how it compares to how I imagined it would look and read. Given all that was going on, it means just as much as Snowball to me.

Just getting started writing is hard, but doing a second book after all the emotional ups and downs and frustrations of the first – the second was harder than the first in some ways. I haven’t given up on this writing thing yet! Now I am working on the third children’s – another picture book and a first grownup (my fourth book) at the same time.

Boy at the first of 2018, I thought about what an adventure the year will be. Here we are starting the third month and it already has been for me! More will come on that later in the month. Until next post –

Thanks for reading!

Julie

Reading is a Rule

So, this is the second giveaway I am promoting. I have written and posted the policy on the about page, and I clarified the rules to enter. Already there are some post likes, but unfortunately that does not constitute an entry. Why? Because that doesn’t necessarily give me a good email address to send the download code to. I have in the past had reason to email a blog, resulting either in an undeliverable message back to me, or no response at all because the person doesn’t check their email.

There is no signing in requirement, just an email to comment. (I checked that for those WORDPRESSers who know what I am talking about.) I didn’t want to force anyone to signing to WordPress in order to enter.

So how have giveaways worked for you? I am just wondering. My first went – ok, but the entrants didn’t really follow directions.  And I am cautiously optimistic that about this one. From my own experience, if all I have to do is “like” something I don’t really engage with what I am entering for – it’s just a free thing. BUT if it is something that is of interest to me, yeah, I am going to read and follow directions.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Wanting the entries to be people who are actually interested in what I am giving away versus just wanting something for free?  Or am I just being elitist?

Opinions?

 

Thanks –

Julie

The Season Immersed

Happy Christmas to you and a Merry New Year!

There has been a possible change to my agenda for 2018, and it is heading me in a direction that wasn’t quite on my radar. It isn’t a bad thing, rather one that I am not quite sure what to make of it. The worst outcome may be that I enjoy it and not worry about using it to my advantage.

My most overwhelming stumbling block concerning my writing is others expectations. (*Others meaning anyone besides me.) My immediate consultants (hubs and children) have reminded me often and sometimes loudly that I plan too much. True, and that comes from a life lived shaded by negativity and warning. Even when one chooses to trim up those overhanging branches that blocked the light, it is a hard perspective to let go. Sometimes, with out realizing it, you pull back closer to the trunk, to the base so that familiar shaded view of yourself and the world is recreated. Letting those outside judgements of you whether real or imagined stay far too much on your mind.

I hope that is cryptic enough to fit anyone else’s life besides mine. It’s hard to write personal and broad at the same. Sharing perspectives and feelings is tough. It puts us in a vulnerable position, and most of us don’t like that. Me, neither! However, when I set out to write, personal wasn’t a priority and then for a short while it was. It briefly reverted back to a broader view, but then I was diverted to writing for children bringing me back to a personal slant.

Communication is both difficult and easy, and sometimes it is both with the same person – depending on perspective, subject matters, personal view points, and the dynamic of the relationship. When I write, these things take some priority in my work regardless of whether it is intimate to me from imaginings of what that character or situation must feel or seem like. Making the children stories broad based enough that they appeal and approach relevant issues as I see them and choosing ones personal to any child, no matter their age is motivation- universalness. I research things like fonts for those with reading and vision issues, double check the reading level of my writing, leaving enough room for a readers own imagination to fill in blank descriptions to their own liking, and some more small, possibly insignificant details of a story.

Yes, it sometimes feels like I am trying to do too much with too little skill. I am reminded of a phrase that I think often applies to my writing as well as to me – “educated beyond level of intelligence.” Otherwise known as a useful idiot. Which, if we are all truthful, we all have those moments. I like to think somewhere in the past we were kinder, gentler and more tolerant of one another, but maybe that is just wishful thinking.

Regardless, I hope that we become a bit more tolerant of each other and our moments. That we all, especially me, stop knee-jerk reacting. Take time to examine those initial reactions and feelings, discern what choices available to us about that particular “thing” – be it issue, opinion, event, or whatever. Since I started publishing my stories, I myself am struggling to do, especially since my skill and what I want to do aren’t exactly in alignment with each other. I had to choose whether or not to wait for the day, in hopes it would come, or forge ahead practicing and learning all I could about writing and publishing as I was doing it. For me, the later was my choice, and it suits me.

Sure, I made and make mistakes along the way. But doesn’t everyone. Am I the only flawed person in the world? I don’t thing so. I do my best and continue to practice that I get better -so my best may become better. I will try to approach next year with this same perspective- try not to plan too much, keep practicing, and do my best regardless of unforeseen developments.

And that is my wish for you this holiday season, that we all do our best, and we keep trying to be better, so that our best gets better.

Julie

Being Brave

So, this morning I got a little more brave.

First I received an email about the audio version of Snowball that is in production. (The release of the audio should be in 5-10 days.)

If you want to check out the Instagram post by the producter/narrator Anna Grace Conover I am putting the link in here._MG_3939.CR2-2

But that isn’t all.

I came across a contest by Boho Berry.  A blogger/artist/entrepreneur that is paying forward. Some way I would like to do the same and hope at the very least by sharing my path of practice and development as a writer – mistakes and all, I do that, too.

Kara, aka Boho Berry,  has a contest on for small businesses. The first place winners (3 first place), second and third place (That is a total of 5 winners!) will receive cash prizes to use for their business.

To vote for me –  Julie Kolb’s Boho Berry Small Business Contest Entry Click Here! 

BOHOBERRY CONTEST

What would I do with if I won?

Buy some software that would allow me to create better files for uploading my stories as well as be able to edit my artwork to use it on the web and for book covers.

I could also use some more courses to improve my ability to use software, improve my written storytelling and advertising. Word of mouth, as much as I want it to do the job, isn’t going very far.

For one, I haven’t been good about being brave and asking for help. But, I have been writing publicly in one form or the other since 2011. I wrote content for Yahoo way back when it was.

I am not going to quit, and to my friends and family they have known that fact for a longer time back.

Thanks for your support!

Love you for reading!

Julie