Celebrating my new book launch!

bookLast year during November, I participated and succeeded in the Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) challenge, coming up with a handful of ideas I liked and a couple ideas I LOVED. This book is one of those concepts originally scribbled down a year ago!

The Very, Very, Very Bad/Good Day is a FLIP-BOOK about attitude.

It was very important to me to create this as a flip-book because I wanted the reader to experience physically flipping the book upside down in order to change the perspective of the day. WHY? To drive the message further to the reader that changing one’s attitude takes ACTION. You shouldn’t just sit and wait for something to happen to change your mood around. Don’t depend on people or circumstances. You must make the effort to change your own attitude!

This book shows the reader exactly how attitude affects not only how you view the world around you, but how others may react to you (or NOT react to you).

I guess part of my inspiration was the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray lives the same day over and over until he finally gets it right. The book takes a boy, Danny, through the exact same day twice, to show what happens when he lives the same day with two completely different attitudes!

I had so much fun making this little book trailer, below:

I’ll be having an official Book Launch Party on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) website starting December 1, which will also launch a special giveaway contest where you can win original art from the book (I created all art with marker on paper, which I then scanned and manipulated in Photoshop)!

The Very, Very, Very Bad/Good Day is already available for sale on Lulu.com, and I’ll be getting my own samples soon to sell autographed copies.

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Hope is a GOOD Thing!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about HOPE lately, and my past and present feelings about it.

I used to be quite a tentative “hoper.” I would hear all the time AND say to myself frequently:

“Don’t get your hopes up!”

But I have a new attitude about HOPE recently.

My thought is that life is scattered with hopeless moments. There are times when you wish you had even a fragment of something to look forward to. Those are depressing times. I’ve lived those times… OFTEN, and far too recently.

I’ve decided that when I finally have something to actually hope for, DANG IT – I’m going to get my hopes UP! I want to stand on the rooftops and shout it out! “I HOPE!!” I LOVE how I feel when I am HOPE-FILLED.

It feels SO GOOD!!

Sure, what I’m hoping for might not actually happen.

Often I end up being disappointed, and that’s my forever excuse for not being hopeful in the first place. But isn’t it worth it to just allow yourself to feel joyful with HOPE? At least for the precious time to wonder and imagine that maybe something GOOD is about to happen? It is in our moments of hope when our imaginations soar. We see life as an endless sea of possibilities! It’s such a wonderful place to be… even if only for a fleeting moment.

At least you HAD that moment. You felt it. You held it. A moment to raise your face to the sun and smile, grateful for the feeling… because for so long you have felt such void of hope.

And because you allowed yourself to feel that hope, maybe you’ll allow yourself the treat of feeling it again.

I know I will.

It’s a wonderful place to be.

“Hope is a good thing,” Stephen King writes in Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. “Maybe the best of good things.”

I totally agree.

 

Emergency Business Card Creativity for My Afternoon at Author Alley!

IMG_3506This past weekend I was excited to be a part of the Author Alley event at Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio – as part of the annual Larchmere Festival! Unfortunately I couldn’t find my business cards for the event, so I was forced to improvise and create some promo materials to act as business cards instead.

I was there to promote the books I’ve published this past year, Wearing My Weird (the 3-book series), and a book I illustrated by Sally Deems, Pretty Betty Butterfly.

I returned to an old technique and dressed it up with adding ribbons to make tasseled bookmarks as my freebie giveaways (to double as business cards).

Materials (to make 1.5″ x 4″ 200 bookmarks/business cards):

STEP ONE: Have FUN, painting on your watercolor paper – be abstract or not, and involve the kids!!! Let them paint whatever they want, because these large painting will be chopped up into pieces 1.5″ x 4″.

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STEP TWO: Let the paintings dry, of course, and then start slicing each page into 5 long 4″ strips (using the Exacto knife and cutting mat – or large paper cutter).

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STEP THREE: Take the 4″ x 15″ strips and use the small paper cutter to chop them into 1.5″ strips.

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STEP FOUR: Start stamping! I used a 3.5″ personalized stamp for the backside of my cards with my website/promo information, and on the decorative side I used a variety of Rubbermoon Art Stamps!

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STEP FIVE: Punch holes in the top ends of the cards to create tasseled bookmarks out of your cards – turning your business card into a fun promotional giftie/freebie!

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These were very fun giveaways, because each bookmark was unique, creating a fun synchronicity for the person choosing it. I received some comments regarding the messages on the bookmarks. People really responded to them positively! I could have easily sold them if I wanted to!

Sending Love and Happiness – with Rubbermoon Stamps and Betty Butterfly!

IMG_3146A recent post on Facebook by Kristen Powers, owner of Rubbermoon Art Stamps, inspired me to brainstorm some different ideas for my “Open Arms” Rubbermoon Stamp design. I designed a whole group of stamps to work nicely as a set to promote “Sending Love” with the art of rubber stamping, but I thought it would be fun to brainstorm ” What else could this little girl be sending out into the world?”

I decided to have fun and chop up some pages from my watercolor sketchbook to use as canvas for some mini paintings that will work well as little gifties to send with books I sell, or as some Mother’s Day gifties to family and friends!

Here are the steps I went through to brainstorm and create a variety of ideas from a single rubber stamp!

IMG_3147MATERIALS:

1. Cut the watercolor paper out of the spiral book with scissors and left the rough edge as a decorative element for the top of my bookmarks.

2. Chopped the paper into strips using the scrapbook paper/photo cutter.

3. Start stamping! I used the same stamp on each bookmark piece, adding other stamps to some, and on some I simply embellished using the PITT artist pen (I used the brush tip which I regret – too bold for my taste – I prefer using the fine tip from now on).

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4. Add handwriting if you like, as a special custom touch of your own. Again, I used the PITT artist pen for this as well, fine tip this time!

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IMG_31455. Paint your creations, using Gouache (I like Gouache because the colors are so bright and happy!).

I chose to use the butterfly sample for this particular post because this morning I was on the phone with my creative cohort, Sally Deems. We created the book, Pretty Betty Butterfly, together – Sally wrote it and I illustrated it. We were talking about what a HAPPY little book it is. Sally was telling me that she has received such a positive reaction to the Butterfly book – the overall reaction is that simply flipping through the book makes people feel HAPPY.

So along with this little “open arms” girl I created, it made me feel good to imagine her releasing Betty Butterfly out into the s722216732801892793_p1_i3_w320world to spread happiness!

I think I’ll create more of these butterfly ones as a promotional giftie for those who buy Pretty Betty from me when I receive my own first shipment of copies!

Overall I realize I want my art to make people feel HAPPY – and I’m so glad that these rubber stamps I created for Rubbermoon AND Betty Butterfly are both doing that!

I invite you to come to the new website I set up for Pretty Betty Butterfly and see what Sally and I have been up to! Sally and I are SO happy to put this colorful, delightful book out into the world, and we look forward to making more!

That’s what art is all about for me… spreading love and happiness!

 

My Art Licensed on Rubbermoon Art Stamps!

IMG_2660For the first time I’ve learned what it feels like to license your artwork on product. I’ve designed products for other companies, but this is the first time I get to see something produced using a piece of my ART on it. Not just an illustration, but something that came out of my heart and soul.

These little gems express how I feel about sending my art and books out into the world. By sending out my heart’s expressions through art and writing, I am sharing my humanity with the world. This includes  sharing my imperfections, making me vulnerable.

What’s cool about having your art on rubber stamps is that it teaches you not to be too much of a perfectionist. Each time you use a rubber stamp, it will look slightly different each time. You might think the whole purpose of a rubber stamp is to create something exact every time you use it – as if it’s your own personal printing plate. Not the case. I you WERE using a printing press, maybe that would be the case, but you are using your own human hand to apply the stamp to paper – and that allows for human error (pressing just a little harder sometimes, or not enough at other times).

Therefore, it’s important to use rubber stamps as a way to challenge your creativity. How creative can you be with the stamps? How many uses can you find for a single rubber stamp? And how can you mix and match different stamp design sets? I’ve been thinking about this as I play with all my Rubbermoon Art Stamps.

I’ve only begun to play with my own set, and I have to admit I haven’t been too creative yet because I’m so close to the designs – I see them as little art pieces themselves, so I want to highlight them to make my own notecards and use to decorate parcels I send out.

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Here’s a little tutorial on how to customize notecards at home:

MATERIALS: Paper of your choice, patterned or solid-colored notecard from your stash at home, Scotch double-stick tape, oil-based paint marker or gel pen, and of course a Rubbermoon stamp of your choice (I chose my new creation, the “tree hugger”, which you can find in my Etsy shop).

1. Stamp on paper of your choosing (I just found some loose notecard material I found at home). I really love my “tree hugger” stamp and wanted to highlight it as art on a notecard.

2. Grab a patterned or solid-colored notecard at home (I have plenty that I feel I can recycle because I simply don’t use them enough).

NOTE: I happened to feel like using these notecards with a golden sheen to them – so I decided to use an oil-based paint marker to create shiny gold accents/embellishments to the stamp art. This was fun to play with. I suggest doing this BEFORE attaching your image to the card, in case you don’t like how it looks, to allow yourself some time to experiment.

3. Attach the stamp art paper onto your notecard. I like to use double-stick tape (I know – not too artsy, but it works). I trust Scotch double-stick tape. It just works well. No buckling or peeling to worry about. Simple. If you’re more picky about using an archival quality tape, feel free to use the kind found in scrapbooking aisles in the craft store.

And VOILA! You’ve transformed some store-bought notecards into your own personalized pieces of art to send through the mail with love! This particular set of stamps I designed would work out well to use as valentines (rubber stamping works very well to use for your kids’ valentines to had out at school… that will be my next project!  🙂

Self Publishing Your Book is The EASY Part!! (HOW TO)

Book1cover.newI was writing a message to a friend tonight and my thoughts wandered (as they often do when I write letters), into motivational speech mode. I ended up writing the following:

It is so freakin’ easy to self publish now that it is kind of embarrassing.

All you really need to self publish is a computer, Word, and internet access.

You don’t even need money!!! (that’s the awesome part)

Writing the book is really the hardest part. Not because it’s hard to write something (although that is a motivational obstacle as well – writing a GOOD book is far from “easy”) – but mostly because it’s the hardest thing in the world just to motivate yourself JUST TO WRITE.

I KNOW. I REALLY KNOW.

I’m a little nervous because now I have Book Two out, with a promise to have Book Three published by Spring, and I still have a lot of writing to do for Book Three. I’m PRAYING that I meet that deadline. I don’t know what my future holds this year. I might be insanely busy with freelance next month or two months from now, or get a new full time job soon – who knows – but regardless I know NOW is the time for me to get these books out, because NOW is the only time I KNOW I have.

Some people have been asking me how I’ve published my books, and I figure right here is a good place to write my “HOW TO” list!

1) Write your book. Don’t worry about the cover yet. Don’t even worry about how to publish it yet. Just write your book, and don’t let anything stop you from writing your book!

2) Create a free account with CreateSpace.com (I only advise it because I used it, because it was referred to me – it feels like a good place because it is so well connected with Amazon and Kindle – one stop publishing!). So far I am very satisfied with my results and experience there – and I’m not being paid at all to say that (not an affiliate).

3) When you’re ready to start, choose “ADD NEW TITLE” and go through the “GUIDED” steps.

4) You will first be asked to set up your title, etc. Don’t worry – you can change the title up until you approve the project to be printed, so don’t let that be an obstacle to move forward right off the bat. Then you’ll be asked to set up your book SIZE, which is important. Choose a size that you feel works best for you. I chose a size slightly smaller than what CreateSpace advised, and I’m happy. After you’ve chosen your book size, grab the TEMPLATE (I used the formatted template) to plop your story into. The hard part is finding where the templates are, so here’s a handy linky-doo: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp – just scroll down to find the size you chose for your book. Easy-piece-y!

5) After you finally have the interior of your book proofed to a point you are satisfied, then you move on to the cover design. And here’s the good news to people who are afraid of this part… If you don’t want to pay someone to make a cover for you, and you are not a Graphic Designer/Illustrator yourself (or if you don’t have a friend named Wendy who would be happy to help you out – hint hint), you can simply choose from a gallery of PRE-designed cover templates right there on CreateSpace.com. Yep. Just add the written info on the template, customize (for some templates, if you want) with your own image/photo and VOILA! You have a cover for your book without any stress or cost. OKAY… granted. As a designer, I am well aware of the fact that the cover is a very important part of the book… but I am also a huge advocate of JUST GETTING THE JOB DONE. If you choose the route of creating a cover yourself, there is a template for that as well. Again, the hardest thing was FINDING OUT where to get that template. So, HERE: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

6) After you’ve either filled out your cover information on the template or uploaded your own custom cover, next is the proofing stage. It takes 24 hours for CreateSpace.com to review your files and check for print-problem areas. You’ll receive an email notification when it’s ready for your final proofing.

7) At this point, when your proof is ready for your final approval, you can review a digital proof, or order a printed copy to proof. The digital proof has worked for me so far, because I like the convenience of it, but it’s up to your personal preference.

8) Once you’ve approved your final proof, you’ll be asked to fill in the final information about your book which will appear on your CreateSpace.com sales page for your book. You will also have an option to create a Kindle version for your book (easy too).

9) CONGRATULATIONS! Your book is ready – time to promote the heck out of it! 🙂

If you are interested in independent publishing and still feel a little daunted by this process, I want to reach out here! Please comment to connect with me and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it. I’m no expert yet, but I’m happy that now I can say I’ve actually gone through the process and have been getting started with the last part which is marketing/promoting my books! I have a feeling that is truly the hardest part. And don’t let people tell you that when you traditionally publish you don’t have to be involved with marketing/promoting. The more involved you are in promoting your own book, the better your book will do in the marketplace!

So I’m off to contact a few bookstores today. See ya later!

The Publishing Dream of a 12-Year-Old Girl FINALLY Comes True!

1499473_10202539900319288_2051712005_nLet me tell you a story.

This is a story about a book that took 28 years (YES… YEARS) to become a glossy-covered reality!

In 1986-87 I hand wrote my book in two blank books when I was thirteen years old. Then I typed it up (104 pages typed – with a typewriter) to send out to publishers. I don’t remember how many manuscripts I sent out, but I received 3-4 rejection letters back. The first letter was a Canadian publisher and was quite a nice, supportive letter. The last one was merely a postcard form letter with my name written in the blank.

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Young author, Wendy, in Monroe, NC (that’s me in the flowered skirt in front) – sister Laura behind me, and Daddy at the grill!

I quickly lost hope of getting my book published and plummeted into a pit of self loathing for even trying. I burned several pages of my book (the ones I KNEW were horrible), and I cannot thank my younger self enough for NOT burning the whole thing.

In the year 2000 I took a Creative Writing course at my community which turned my writing life around. I needed material to bring in every week for eight weeks of the course, and with a lack of inspiration to write something brand new, I turned to my old manuscript to see if it was worth saving. There were bits of it that I still thought were good, and one chapter that even won an award when I was in high school. I decided to use the course to see if I could turn the book into something I could be proud of.

The course, taught by Debi Bucci, was the best writing course I’ve ever taken – not only because of Debi, but because of all the amazing and gifted writing friends I made through the class. I took this 8-10 week course TWELVE times during a 5-year span, and by the end I had two out of the three books COMPLETED, and learned more about editing my own material than I’d ever learned before – and I say this having graduated with a Minor in Creative Writing from CASE Western Reserve!

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CAWG writing group turkey fry gathering (around 2005-ish). Left to right: Craig, Christy, Christine, Alan, and me. Craig’s dog, Tucker, in front wearing the cone of shame.

When our teacher, Debi, decided to move on, I was fortunate enough to be included in a writing group formed by my writing workshop classmates. I continue to meet with most of these people and we call our group CAWG (Cleveland Area Writers Group). Our group still meets monthly at The Coffee House in Cleveland’s University Circle, and I try to make it as often as I can (which has been seldom these past couple years, but not giving up).

Finally in 2012 I discovered NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo as convenient and cost-free resources to motivate me to add to my collection of chapters and to revisit them once more to fine tune and explore how I should actually complete the book(s). I decided I wanted to include illustration and ultimately decided to use loose doodle art in the book to make it look like something I would have scribbled down in my journal when I was twelve.

All along I’ve kept the original humorous and adolescent tone as was originally scribed. That was important to me, to keep it authentic to what the story was originally – a collection of thought-provoking memories by a 12-year-old girl. I was just as thoughtful at age twelve as I am now – I just know a lot more about writing, thank goodness!

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My finished cover!

I’ve known for years that self publishing was the way to go for this book. Really, I have to admit… What publisher would say yes to an autobiographical story about a 12-year-old girl who moves from Canada to the States? I’m not interested in trying to morph my story into something a publisher would say yes to.

No.

What I am interested in (and this brings tears to my eyes) is to make Little Wendy’s dream come true. To publish her intimate stories of struggle, and to tell her she doesn’t need a busy editor behind a desk to give her validation that her story deserves to be printed and shared around the world. I love this little girl, Wendy, and I admire her for her courage and gusto to never give up on her dream.

So what was the final “boot in the rear” to getting this book OUT?

Perhaps it is because I’m turning forty soon.

Perhaps it is because I look at my own daughter, age eight, as she also exhibits an interest in writing and passion for books.

Or perhaps it’s because I have a huge pileup of book ideas that I need to get moving on, and this series just HAS to get out the door before I can move forward with the other projects.

Regardless, I’m glad the “boot in the rear” finally came.

Please check out my book website – the platform I set up for the book series. You can order an autographed copy directly from me, a print-on-demand copy from CreateSpace.com, or a Kindle version – links are all on the book website!

If you are a writer who is interested in self publishing your book, feel free to contact me. I am happy to share more about my experience with you! We writers need to stick together!  🙂 We need to CREATE-A-WAY!!!!

Blessings and YESsings to you!

My Movie Review on the Toastmasters Documentary: “Speak.”

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Me and my favorite trophy.

I felt motivated this morning to make my own little video testimony and movie review inspired by the Toastmasters Documentary, “Speak.”

Toastmasters was a personal life changer for me and watching this film really brewed up my Toastmasters passions again.

I’m currently not a member, but I was a member from 2000-2008, and went from a total Social Anxiety case to winning Toastmaster of the Year TWICE in my club, and being elected Club President. Toastmasters isn’t over for me at all. Even though I am currently not a member, I feel I will ALWAYS be a toastmaster, and I know I will rejoin the organization again someday, possibly even launch my own club in an area that needs it, and an ultimate dream I have is to launch a Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program in my own community.

To read my original Toastmasters Testimony, visit my testimonial page.

If you are interested in visiting a Toastmasters club to see what a meeting is like, please visit the Toastmasters International website to search for a club in your area. I guarantee you’ll find one.

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My Toastmasters trophy collection.

Journey With Me ~ Divine Guidance Coaching! ~ with a focus on Signs and Wonders

I am SOOOO excited!

I am offering a BRAND NEW, UNIQUE coaching program that helps you practically apply and strengthen your intuition AND explore your intuition. AND I’m offering it at almost obscene LOW introductory prices AS WELL AS a “pay what you can” option (for a VERY limited time).

I call it Divine Guidance Coaching.

With CAW Divine Guidance Coaching, you get to work with BOTH your creative muse AND your angels to find direction in your life, dreams, relationship, anything!

The idea behind this new coaching is to Create-A-Way while holding God’s hand (who better to journey with?).

When you create art (through writing, paint, collage or crayons), God speaks to your heart. When we are in “creating mode” we are open to God’s direction and voice. That is the purpose of the ARTsignment™ – to bring you into that creative state where you can hear God’s voice more clearly.

Another part of this Coaching is to teach you how to recognize daily messages from God in your own life. Get ready to pray/meditate, get ready to knock out the gunk that is clogging your communication line with God, and get ready to be jostled and joyed by what God reveals to you in the end.

Throughout it all, we will be exploring Signs and Wonders – you will learn how to follow God’s lead and keep track of the various signs you receive from the Divine

What’s also cool about this coaching is that you get to receive custom art from me, created to help you in a practical way along your journey (my gift to you). I’m excited about this offering.

So go ahead and check out my new Coaching page on Create-A-Way and see if this is something that is right for you. We all need some Divine Guidance in our lives. I’m looking forward to journeying with  you!

I’m in this book…help me CELEBRATE!

When something really intriguing and exciting comes my way, I feel compelled to share it. And this is one of those cases. I’m totally inspired by The Creating Time Mega Event…three FREE weeks of inspiration as people all over the world will come together and welcome the ending of time as we know it…and the beginning of an exhilarating new life!

The Creating Time Mega Event celebrates the release of the new book, Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life by ArtellaLand.com founder Marney K. Makridakis, and I am so excited and proud to be a contributor to this book!

The piece I created for this book represented the Kairos, which for me has to do with one of my favorite subjects, “Divine Timing.” I decided to do a mixed media piece that included a painting I did of an angel a while back and finally found a home for this angel! I plan to write more about this piece later.

The Creating Time Mega Event starts April 2, and features 25 amazing luminaries inviting us to “time travel” as a collective community to create a new paradigm of time.

Have you noticed that time is moving faster than ever these days? That it’s virtually impossible to engage in or observe any conversation that doesn’t somehow bring up “time” in a negative context? That “time” is the one thing that seems to hold most of us back from living the lives we were born to live? I see this all the time in my work, and I imagine that you do, too!

Now is the time for a new time! The Creating Time Mega Event and this exciting movement canchange the way we see and experience time forever.

The Creating Time Mega Event is FREE and it all starts April 2, 2012 and runs for three amazing, life-changing weeks. You’ll get inspiring live webinars, daily email inspiration, dynamic time-shifting games and challenges, a lively interactive community of fellow time-travelers, and so much more.

I am excited for the ways that this ongoing flow of innovative tools, techniques and ideas explored in this event will shift our experience of time forever. And on a personal level, I’m really excited to be part of this book and I appreciate your support of my contribution.

Learn more and sign up here!