Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Heart Art Challenge: Finito!

Day 28: It's the last day of February, and I have to admit that I'm sorta happy about it. While the Heart Art Challenge has been eye opening--helping me to look for the positive, share it, and have fun--it's also been a distraction from some good writing time. I've been off my game for months...worrying about all kinds of things. But I'm ready to move forward and get back to it.

Here's my last project for the Valentine's month:

My Heart

"I forgot to add a bunch of stuff to my heart, but thankfully there's always room for more." ~ Stacia Leigh, quoting herself.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Heart Art Challenge: Day 27

Day 27: Earlier this week, I was at the library and right away Mindy Kaling's book drew me in. It's my favorite color and she's funny and cute, so I thought the book might follow suit. When I saw the big heart on the back cover, I grabbed it since that's what I'm about this month. I made it to page 80 before turning in for the night, but I couldn't find a bookmark. I guess I've started so many good reads that my stash was depleted. Snap! Great idea...

So this morning, I struggled through my Heart Art Challenge by trying to fold a heart using this Origami project from Pinterest. But I couldn't figure out what step 4 was telling m. I tried another version and it, too, had me scratching my head. Huh?

Origami Fail

Back at the drawing board, I used my old bookmark pattern and reworked the square into a heart shape. For a great tutorial, check out Tally's Treasury blog on how to make the corner bookmark along with creating the pattern. Here's how it went:

New heart pattern next to original.

Fold one triangle to the side.

Put glue on top of one folded triangle,
then fold second triangle over and stick down.

A heart with a triangle pocket.
Flip over and decorate!


It works!
A BIG bookmark reminding me of my favorite things:
books, love, hearts, and coffee.

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, 
I go into the other room and read a book." ~ Groucho Marx

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Heart Art Challenge, Week 4

Day 20: Ready for some horrible haiku poetry? How about something inspired by Valentine's Day gimcrack, the Heart Art Challenge, and what we've been watching lately...good old Cap'n Kirk and Spock. Here goes:

Don't be a stressball.
Healthy and happy hearts mean:
"Live long and prosper."

Day 21: I distracted myself this morning with a celtic heart knot tutorial, something I found on Pinterest *shakes fist at computer* but I did it! Took a couple tries, though. Now, I can get back to writing.

A celtic heart tied
with "Sugar Rush" paracord
makes for a sweet knot.

Day 22: Last night I baked my favorite cookie, chocolate chip, and this morning I modified Anne Taintor illustrations. Hyuk-hyuk. Just having some fun.

Day 23: Our caring neighbor asked us to fish-sit for her while she's on vacation and hinted that if we became attached to him, that would be fine, too. Of course, with the seed planted, we immediately jumped on the internet to see how to care for a veiltail betta, then off to the pet shop to buy the necessary supplies. We named him Benny, and he went from a plain ol' bowl to a colorful filtered tank and some company, a tiger snail. We named her Margaret. Love my new pets :)

New Writing Buddies

Day 24: Remember when I cut a heart into my slice of swiss cheese and said, "Sometimes you have to make the magic happen?" Well, in this case, I pushed the water around to make a heart shape, and it looked really cool, reflecting the sky and trees above. But I couldn't capture it with my camera the way it looked in nature. I'm going with it because not everything has to be perfect, right? Good advice for writing the first draft of book #3. 

Imperfect Asphalt Heart

A drop of water,
Sitting on the hard asphalt
Reflecting the sky.

Day 25: Time for some boob tube; therefor time for some blackout poetry. I don't watch a lot of TV (the news is negative and Hollywood is crazy), so to get ready for the big event, I pulled out my proof book pages because I can't sit and do nothing. I like to have options around me just in case I need to check out. So I made my nest with my things within reach: laptop, book, markers, dogs for snuggling, and a mug of tea. We watched an actual Netflix DVD (The Infiltrator with Cranston and Leguizamo) and then some Youtube (PewDiePie's, "How About That").

Day 26: I've been inspired to write haiku after we got an Alexa from Amazon. "Alexa, tell me a haiku." One night in January while visiting a family member in the hospital post open heart surgery, I got the idea to write some healthy haiku. The nurses and hospital staff were phenomenal, so friendly and good-natured, too. Anyway, after a funny conversation with one of them, I came up with this:

Green hospital pants...
Tight crotch and a baggy butt.
One size fits no one

It sort of reminds me of Dr. Suess' story, What Was I Scared Of? about the pair of stalking empty pants. It comes from the book The Sneeches and Other Stories. 

Here is another #healthyhaiku that I came up with from those bittersweet hospital days:

Helium balloon...
One happy face floating by.
Don't forget to smile.

I say "bittersweet" because we chose to do the surgery, knowing there were risks versus no surgery and waiting for a possible heart attack. It brings tears to my eyes even now, thinking how we'd clung to each other, wondering if we'd see each other on the other side. Thank God we did, and it all turned out wonderfully. I loved seeing the faces of family and true friends...so much positive energy, so much life. This is why I've made January 6 the new Heart Day and February is a month of rejoicing love and hearts and health and... Well, you get the picture. One for the road:

My advice to you
Eat right, exercise, and love.
Keep your heart healthy

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Book Cover Quick Fix

"A great cover image makes a promise to the reader.
A poor cover image chases potential readers away." ~ Derek Murphy

Readership has been low for this book, so I took a step back for a moment of quiet review. Is something wrong with the cover? Yes, it's blocky, dark, static, and there's nothing eye-catching. 

RHOH, version 1

For some help on where to go from here, I watched a video by Derek Murphy called 7 Must Have Qualities For a Book Cover That Sells. I have a graphic design and illustration background, so things like contrasting colors, negative space, and balance aren't *necessarily* where I have problems, it's the marketing side I find très difficult. After watching the video, I made some notes:
1.) Did I choose the correct font? Does it speak to the genre I'm writing, which is teen romance? [No.]
2.) Is there enough interesting elements here to catch the readers eye? Derek Murphy says orange and teals make a rocking combination. Is the shirt color against the brass zipper enough? [Probably not.]
3.) Is there a humanizing element? [No face, but there is a hint of someone behind the clothes...right?]
4.) If I were to strip away the words, does the image convey what the story is about? [leather jacket means bikers, gangsters, something sinister perhaps. White-ish tee means clean, good... so together it could show a conflicted person, which is half the story...but it certainly doesn't say "teen love."] 
5.) Does it mesh with the other teen romances in the same genre? [No, there isn't a girl on the cover and the font choice is off.]

I'm an indie author in exploratory mode, learning as I go, and since I enjoy creating my own covers for the time being, I'm gonna stick with it. I'm not ready to give up on my image just yet, so I aimed at quicker fixes like color and font.

RHOH, New and Improved

Here's what I did to help seed the cover and story into the Young Adult (YA) genre:

1.) I over-layed the dark part of the cover--the black leather and the asphalt road--with an autumn brown. Instead of feeling cold, it took on a warm tone. The brass zipper stands out a bit more, which helps identify it more as clothing. 
2.) I changed the font to match Dealing with Blue since Will Sullivan is in both books. A sidekick in the first and now the main character in Riding with the Hides of Hell*. Plus the font looks young and fun. 
3.) I tilted the title to create a feeling of action and speed. It's an adventure romance; the kids are going places on their motorcycles. They're feeling a bit off-kilter with the danger surrounding them and with their growing love. 
4.) I swapped the gritty, squat-looking heart with one that is clean, but not perfectly shaped. It's sort of stretched like it's about to turn into action lines, riding into the distance. It also matches the new font, young, energetic, and fun.

What do you think? I'm open to hearing how I can improve. Does the font work? Should I look for a different cover image? Does it say, "teen romance and road trip adventure" to you? Let me know in the comments! Thank you.

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Heart Art Challenge: Week 3

Day 13: The thing I like about this blackout poetry business, is that it's one big doodle. I find the words, create an image to go with them, and overwork it to the point the paper looks exhausted, but it's fun! I let my pens and pencils walk all over, and it gets messy, and I'm okay with it. Very freeing.

"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." ~ Pablo Picasso

Heart Doodle

Day 14: Happy Valentine's Day! It's a day that some people detest and some people await with open arms. I've been on both sides, so I get it. Friends all around getting love notes and I get zip. Or the time of red roses, a night on the town, and a heart bursting with love. Now? Where's the time? I'm thinking about lunches for kids, traffic, lines of people, homework, what's due tomorrow...that type of thing. But doing this Heart Art Challenge has been fun...everyday has been about love. Sometimes, I see it all around, and when I don't...I have to create it. 

I carved the heart in my swiss cheese.
Sometimes you have to make the magic happen.

Day 15: Don't forget about the little things, like a favorite pair of jeans or a silver heart or its reflection...

Tilly Bean!

Day 16: Fourteen words of romance for Goodread's Romance Week: "He was lost. It was true. His soul had been touched, heated and altered." ~ Dealing with Blue

Blackout Poem

Day 17: What an intense day of writing. Today, 6 pm, was the deadline for entering the PNWA Literary Contest. I admitted my YA romance earlier, but then tried to brush up my Middle Grade story at the last possible moment. I worked steady up until 5:30 pm when my husband drove like a bat out of hell (#meatloaf) to get me to the Writer's Cottage on time. Boom! Five minutes to spare. Sweet relief!

Who cares about dirty windows when you've got
sunshine, Christmas lights, and hearts?

Day 18: Many moons ago, I wanted to be an illustrator. Paper, scissors, glue...collage is my specialty. I love all the textures and trying to cut little scraps for details. I haven't created anything new in a long time since I've been writing. Not enough hours in the day. But the King of Hearts is out again, worried about the Queen eating his cookie heart. Poor fellah.

King of Hearts

Day 19: What's a king without a queen? 

Queen of Tarts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Heart Art Challenge, Week 2

Day 7: I'm writing blackout poetry from an old proof copy of Dealing with Blue. I was about to shred it, but why toss it when I could upcycle the pages into a new way to look at words? It's like those adult coloring books...totally relaxing.

Day 8: Then...to make my heart feel good, I went shopping with my best gal pal, who wanted to stop in at a specialty chocolate shop. Who am I to say no? Hearts galore!

"Alas! there is no instinct like the heart..." ~Lord Byron

You won't find this in a survival handbook. Lol.

Alas! Chocolates filled with booze.

Day 9: Our diets have changed at my house, so I've been looking for new heart healthy recipes, like how to turn quinoa from bland to amazing. Found one! Try this quinoa salad. Wow! So easy: throw in some spinach, avocado, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and what-have-you, then drizzle with some honey, mustard, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. Flexible and de-lish, even for the quinoa curious.

Show the Love!

Day 10: While writing book #3, I perused my workspace for a heart sign and found on my favorite pencil (yes, I have one) the words "I [heart] Australia," a gift from a friend. Then, it was back to blackout poetry time, scouting out the right word...

I Heart Hearts

Day 11: A found object! When I was in high school, I made this with my dad's jigsaw. Let's just say that was a l-o-n-g time ago and leave it at that. I've always kept it but it ends up tucked in strange places...like why was it in the medicine cabinet? Who knows? But now it's on my desk as a  nice reminder.

I Heart U

Day 12: I was collecting fortunes from cookies as "research" for my current writing project and this one seemed apropos. A good message for starting another week:

Have no doubt.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Fabulous Five: Another Round of Blackout Poems

A little bird,
Black, precious, and quiet
Hatched where a hole was.

Fly in the rainbows.
Explore, hug yourself, and laugh,
Unless you want time to put you away.

The dark tree looked back
and her heart buzzed.
I live in a thicket
of salmonberries.

What you say? What?
There seem to be
holes in this conversation.

The real answer was
She was right.

Monday, February 06, 2017

February 2017: Heart Art Reading Challenge

It's the start of week two of the Heart Art Challenge, and I'm on a roll. Ready for a reading list? I went on a scavenger hunt for books on my shelf that either said "heart" in the title or had hearts on the cover. Here's what I found:

February's TBR Pile
A Short Stack

1. One Pink Line by Dina Silver* (already read and loved it!)

2.) The Trouble with Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson(already read: a cute, small town romance!)

3.) The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance* (Currently reading: Middle Grade)

Tango and Tilly Bean
Anticipating a Good Read

4.) InkHeart by Cornelia Funke (On my TBR: Middle Grade)

5.) The Husband List by Janet Evanovich (Romance) to add to my TBR pile for February.

6.) Bonus! Riding with the Hides of Hell* is an adventurous YA story about grief, survival, and love. It has a heart on the cover, too.

* A recommended read!


"A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair." ~ Katrina Mayer

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!