Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From the Art Docent: Analogous Color

Analogous Color Assignment

Third graders don't want a lecture; they want to get to the good stuff, and so do I. So I keep the front end of art class pithy, leaving plenty of time to delve into the project. Since this was my first class of the year, I shared my expectations with the kids:

1.) We're exploring the medium; it's an individual journey.
2.) Mistakes are part of the process and a lot of times can be called "happy mistakes." Go with it, and see what happens. This is a first draft, not a master piece.
3.) It's your work, and if you want to use green paint for shadow instead of black, go for it. Own it.
4.) Everyone's piece will look different, and that's okay.
5.) Have fun!

On the Rack

Here are two videos that inspired this assignment for analogous colors:

13 Watercolor Techniques by Mr. Otter Art Studio
Watercolor Winter Landscape by Mr. Otter Art Studio

The lesson included:
1.) The definition of analogous colors on the color wheel: three colors that sit next to each other.
2.) Examples by a master artist. My pick was Vincent Van Gogh's Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky
3.) Examples by a current artist, like comic book artist Kazu Kibuishi's Explorer.
4.) The masking/blocking concept with tape to resist the watercolor paint.
5.) Making a gradient wash using the analogous color scheme of blue and purple and the variations in between.
6.) Using a smaller, pointed paint brush for details.
7.) Paying attention to the direction of light for shadows.
8.) How salt crystals look when applied to wet watercolor paint.

B's Aspens in the Snow

R's Details Include Swirls and Smiley Faces

Art Class Presentation

"I dream my painting and I paint my dream." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway Winners!

Cooking Up Some Good Reads

Go, go, Great Britain! The three winners of Riding with the Hides of Hell Goodreads Giveaway are:

Jamie from Hampshire
Clare from Shropshire
Janet from Swansea

Each will receive a copy via Jamie, if you're reading this, your address didn't mesh with what Amazon thought it should be, and I've sent an email to Goodreads regarding this. I hope they contact you in a timely fashion so I can get a book shipped off to you.

Clare and Janet, your books have been ordered and are on their way. You should receive your copy by Monday, according to the powers that be.

I hope you enjoy it!

Tilly Bean Feeling Kick@ssy in Her New Skull & Bones Hoodie

"You can have anything you want if you dress for it." ~ Edith Head

Monday, November 07, 2016

A Goodreads Giveaway Coming Right Up!

Will and Miki's story is called Riding with the Hides of Hell. It's a young adult romance filled with adventure, danger, tough luck and tough love. This was a finalist in the YA category for the 2016 PNWA Literary Contest and was last year's NaNoWriMo project. It's finally come to life, and I'm celebrating by giving away three free copies through Goodreads. Whoot!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Riding with the Hides of Hell by Stacia Leigh

Riding with the Hides of Hell

by Stacia Leigh

Giveaway ends November 16, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us, so get ready. It runs the month of November and starts on All Saints Day, right after Halloween. The goal: Write 50,000 words toward a novel.

Sure, go trick-or-treating and have some fun the night before, but then throw out the junk candy (okay, pick out the good stuff), and clean the coffee maker. Sharpen your pencils even if its simply to tuck behind your ear. Set your alarm...hit snooze. Whatever. Just put your butt in the chair and clickety clack every day for thirty days. Create a habit. Cry. Try. Do it. Be proud.

If not for you, do it for the dogs. Do it for Tilly Bean. I mean, really...look at that face!

Wonder Underbite
Tilly Bean

But for some reason, the official NaNoWriMo web banner wasn't doing it for me. I put it up on Facebook, but my portrait covers the 2016. Poor design, peeps. The Dudess can't abide ;)

NanoWrimo 2016 Participant Web Banner
Sorry, but no.

So I made my own Facebook banner. I pulled up my Destination Moon illustration from long, long ago, the one inspired by the song of the same name, sung by the awesome Dinah Washington.

My Version: Destination Moon
Feel free to share!
Hell, Yeah!

My November Facebook Portrait
Moon Faced

YA Romance #3 in the Works

I'm in between a pantser--some one who writes by the seat of their pants, guided by inspiration and caffeine--and someone whose a planner, one who writes an outline, character sheets, knows their plot points and when the starter pistol goes off, they've got a stack of notes to boost their confidence. So does that make me a plantser?

Yes, I like it :)

So my temporary cover is done. I've researched my character portraits on Pinterest. I've written up some bullet points on character development sheets, and this time, I even wrote a synopsis. I'm sort of ready. I'll sit in the basement with my computer, my cup of coffee, my dogs, and my space heater...stare at the screen...and wish I'd planned a little bit more.

Fun! Join me! My username is EspialDesign.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Currently: Celebrating Formatting Success!

With my personal tech guru, Gosho, by my side, I downloaded my Riding with the Hides of Hell files from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in HTML format. We reviewed the KDP supported formats section and got to work.

Gosho downloaded HTML Tidy (Google says: "HTML Tidy is a web browser application whose purpose is to fix invalid web code, beautify the layout and formatting of the incorrect markup. The user interface is composed of two main editors where you can edit your content in a visual and a source editor.") and "we" got busy eliminating unnecessary code as per KDP's HTML guidelines. Basically, I watched while Gosho did all the heavy lifting (and swearing, etc)...

...and my loyal companions were equally helpful, offering up their morale support...

Tilly Bean and Tango "The Rug"
Heat-Bathing and Dreaming of Mexico

"How could I be so blind? He's in love--with a machine!"

"Let's plan a weekend getaway in the basement on our computers."

"Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant." ~ Mitchell Kapor

"Tech Support Made Easy"
Hello? Can you hear me now?

Gosho...are we done yet?


After getting KDP confirmation (after a 5-hour wait) Gosho and I eagerly checked the "Look Inside The Book" previewer and nearly cried. The spacing was off just like before and where the hell did my image go? Well...after another hour of research, Gosho found this on the KDP site: "That's it -- the new file will overwrite the old file within 24-48 hours. The 'Look Inside' sample will update within a week."

Maybe all this fuss was for nothing? More wait-and-see? I think Gosho needs a drink. a week, I hope it all turns out so readers will have confidence in the ebooks they're buying.

Still in Formatting Hell

I posted a big ol' whine fest earlier about my formatting woes with regards to the Holy Mess Fest that is Amazon's "Look Inside The Book" feature. My .mobi files look pristine in the Kindle Previewer and on Calibre. So without taking hours, days, weeks of my time to shoot in the dark, I chose to start over.

I took my formatted text and exported it into TextEdit. Then I copied and pasted this "cleansed" version back into a brand new Pages document and went about reformatting the whole damn (pardon my swearing) thing again...with italics, bold, indents, justification, table of contents, and inserting my image.

Here's what I got after the eight hour turn around from the time I uploaded the new file onto KDP to the time it's published and visible to the public and moi (ahem - it was actually four hours of waiting this time):

"What's with the spacing, yo?"
"Look Inside The Book" (LITB) on Amazon

Now, I'm wondering if the image could be causing the problem? It's my next attempt at fixing this dismal rendering of my ebook! When I published Dealing with Blue, I did not have these problems (tired of me grumbling yet?)--I set up the manuscripts in the same way, so I'm confused at what the problem could be. Is it me? Or is it Mac Pages? Or is it Amazon?

Friday, October 28, 2016

In Formatting Hell

I was so excited to push that button! Voila! Everything looked perfect when I converted my .ePub file for Riding with the Hides of Hell to a .mobi one via the Kindle Previewer ("Kindle Previewer is a graphical user interface tool that emulates how books display across Kindle devices and apps,"~ says Google).


A Thing of Beauty
View on Kindle Previewer
Riding with the Hides of Hell - first page

So I hastily blogged about my new book release, shared the news with my friends on Facebook and then immediately regretted it when I checked the "Look Inside The Book" (LITB) on Amazon. What the hell?

What a hot mess!

Apparently, even though the .mobi file looks good in the Kindle Previewer, the LITB is another ball of wax...reading HTML and Cascading Style Sheets and all that mumbo-jumbo that I can't see using Mac Pages. How to fix it, if it's fine everywhere else?

An Unholy Mess
"Look Inside The Book" on Amazon
Riding with the Hides of Hell - first page

So I did a little search and found this program called Calibre. Writers use this to reveal the code in their .ePub files, and they can manually fix it. I opened it and was immediately overwhelmed by the interface. I poked around, but realized very quickly, I had no idea what I was doing, and it would take me forever to figure it out. I don't want to code, I want to write. I don't want to learn a new program. I want to hit the publish button and have everything work. Is that too much to ask?

Back to a Thing of Beauty
Calibre eBook Management
Riding with the Hides of Hell - first page

Plus, when I opened my .mobi file in Calibre, it shows up all formatted and pretty like it's supposed to look. How can I fix something if it's correct?

The turn around from uploading my file on Kindle Direct Press (KDP) and it going live to the public is about eight hours, making it very difficult to trouble shoot and keep the "Look Inside The Book" problems under the veil of magic. Anyone who opens Amazon's LITB feature will have been turned off immediately, thinking...assuming that the ebook will look just as dismal.

C'mon Amazon! Get with the program and fix the "Look Inside The Book" feature so its user-friendly to indie authors like me. I like doing things myself, but the next stop is paying someone to do my formatting. I found these three suggested formatters in the KDP forum:
Polgarus Studio
Ebook Pioneers

I'll keep you posted, but right now I'm waiting for my eight hours to go byto see if my complete manuscript overhaul worked. If not, it's eeney-meeney-miney-moe from the list above.

However, if Kindle Previewer and Calibre are worth their salt, then the ebook is in working order. Forget the "Look Inside The Book" preview for now and just sit back and enjoy the read :) I'll get it handled, don't you worry.

"Technology makes it possible for people to gain control
over everything, except over technology."~ John Tudor

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Currently: Enjoying a New Book Release!

Bouncing Book Baby #2

An ebook was born today! I woke up and said, "What the hell. Why not?" and I hit the publish button. It's available on Amazon as I write this, and it's up for grabs on Kindle Unlimited, too. And... as if it's kismet, the paperback proof arrived today. Thank you, Mr. Mailman! I've only been waiting for FOREVER.

Squeee! I'm so excited to share this with the world. It was a fun one to write. What you say? You don't like adventure? You don't like a kickass heroine? Then this might not be your cup of tea.

For everyone else...enjoy!

Danger up ahead.