Friday, January 29, 2010

Making the list

I admit it- I've been known to Google my own name. It's fun sometimes to see where it pops up. And not fun other times. I've found my name on an "aliens-are-coming-and-we-welcome-them" club membership list and others of that ilk, but I've also found some fun sites and information through these searches too.

This week, two spots of note (It's all about me again so turn away if you're feeling queasy):

I made TVO's Recommended Reading Lists for Family Literacy Day with When Pigs Fly, and according to their calendar it looks like When Pigs Fly will be featured in June of this year in Gisele's Big Backyard Book Club. Yay! Love Gisele's Big Backyard Book Club!

Secondly, I found a neat site called Once Upon A Storyville. There are some great reviews, some books I'd like to check out after seeing them there and other interesting tidbits. Where do I come in? Here.

What do you learn when you look for you? You might want to try it before the alien's show up.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Threadbare souls

I saw this quote today that got the mental wheels turning:

"Often behind silken apparel lies a threadbare soul." (unknown)

How would that play out in a character in a novel? In their relationships? Can you think of a character, either in film or literature, that this would sum up? If you're looking for something to get your gears turning today, give this one a shot.

I remember reading (some time ago) Forever Amber, a novel written in 1944 but set in the luxurious courts of 17th century England. (It also had the distinction of being banned as pornography in 14 states when it was published so let that be your guide about whether you want to invest the time to read it or not.) My lasting impression of the heroine as I closed the back cover on the book was "Wow, she still doesn't get it." Gone With the Wind, similar. Some sense of this too, in Vanity Fair. Why do you suppose the first characters I think of are women? Is it that they are more likely to guild the lily to hide the soul? What male characters display the same traits?

Really, my question is this - can you be satisfied with a character that has a threadbare soul?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Times are bad

I saw this quote in a fellow writer's tag line and it gave me quite a chuckle:

"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is
writing a book."
~Cicero, 106-43 BC

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet my muse

I'd mentioned before that I had a project that just hasn't been moving along as fast as I'd like. Well, as part of my determination to complete it (and sooner rather than later), I've done two things:

First, I asked another picture book writer/illustrator if he'd be interested in keeping tabs on each other progress. It always helps me to have a deadline. He very graciously said yes, and hasn't really heard from me since. (But I am working on it, Rick, honest.)

Secondly, I found my muse.

Not for inspiration but for motivation - someone that will be looking me in the eye everyday and waiting for me to get back to my drawing board. Now, I must mention that my husband has been filling this role for some time. And while I appreciate it, he doesn't wait beside my work for me every day (sorry, hon).

So here's my muse.

Isn't he something?

The story I'm working on has a line of ants constantly wandering through the illustrations so this little guy is perfect. Plus he has such an expectant and welcoming look on his little face, it's just fun to sit down beside him and feel like we're partnering in the progress of this story. When I look at him, I'm instantly transported to my make believe world. Even the tilt of his little head keeps me going.

And the itty-bitty snail at his feet has his own story too. Last year, a friend and I had been talking about a lack of progress and the frustration that comes with that and came across a little snail. (We were unloading rocks for a display and had inadvertently brought him with us.) But here's what we learned from that snail - as long as you're moving forward, you're making progress. The speed doesn't necessarily matter. My editors may not always agree but in general it's a pretty good policy.

So, between my muse and I, we're going to make progress. I'll keep you posted.

What does it take to keep you moving forward?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

IMO - Derwent Graphitint pencils (set of 24)

I've been trying out a new type of art pencil (at least new to me) over the last month or so, and while I'll admit the jury is only about half in, here's what I've found so far:

The pencils are Derwent Graphitint Pencils- Set of 24 - graphite pencils with a hint of color. Of course, being water soluble they can be used in wet or dry techniques. I decided to start with a "dry" drawing because I wanted to see just how subtle the color tint was. The picture is not quite finished but here's how it has developed so far:

Over all, I've enjoyed them. It's possible to lay down some very subtle and easily blended layers. But I found the color range to be very limited. Obviously, with only a set of 24 colors available, there will be limitations but I found the shortage of yellow hues and lighter hues to be somewhat problematic, particularly as I enjoy working on colored grounds. Possibly with wet techniques this would be easier to compensate for - using more watercolor techniques instead of colored pencil techniques.

I also found there was a distinct "saturation" moment - an abrupt point where you simply could not lay down more pencil on the drawing any more. Again, this may be the fact that I was working on Strathmore paper (which I find to be notoriously short on tooth) and will have to try it on some other papers to get used to the depth of layers possible. Only one color was a little gritty and that seemed to get better as I sharpened the pencil.

They're worth a try but overall, I'd give them 3 stars out of 5.

*I was not compensated in any way for this review and did not do so by request of Derwent. This is just my opinion based on my experience with this product.

All images and artwork (c) vjcoulman.

Added 1-14-10: If you're interested, the final original artwork is available for purchase at ValsImagination.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New goals

So last week I was thinking about goals that I had/hadn't reached yet. And was thinking that it's a new year, it's time to get the new list together. And found a great list at this blog. And generally have dragged my toes for 9 whole hours of the new year about goal setting.

But in sorting through some notes today, I found this quote scrawled on a scrap of paper:

"Most of us learn to write well by writing badly for a long, long time."
(Sue Grafton in Snoopy's Guide to Writing)

I like that. I think I have a goal now. :)

Happy New Year everyone, and
all the best to you as you write

- good OR bad!