Still learning

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 09:50 pm
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
The Vancouver Public Library hosted a panel last night on the topic of "Getting Started in Children's Books" and I actually managed to get over my anxiety long enough to attend! There was an illustrator there, along with a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, middle grade and YA writers, including one who shared her experience with independently publishing a second edition of her out-of-print book. Each panelist spoke briefly about her work and how she got started in the industry, and then they started taking questions from the audience.

I've done a fair amount of research on my own, so much of the information presented was not new to me, but I did appreciate the personal accounts of working with editors and agents. I was interested to learn that most canadian publishers are more willing than their US counterparts to accept manuscripts directly from authors without going through an agent. It was good to meet some local people with similar interests to mine, and —if you'll permit me a moment of blatant self-praise— rather gratifying to see that I can create a professional looking product, and that the design work I've done for mikaspace and EDST is really not bad. Thank you, J, for training me to be picky!

What is somewhat less encouraging, is that I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I will have to find a way to outsource marketing/sales/promotional tasks if I'm to continue as an illustrator. I'm searching for a more stable source of income while I try to develop my portfolio and put together a new promotional mailer, and I hope that some day I'll be able to afford it :P
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
So, [ profile] ego_sideways, aka Toast was in Seattle for a few days, and we took advantage of his proximity to Vancouver to exchange some puppets and books! He'd originally planned to come up here to deliver them on Monday, but some of his travel companions thought the Memorial Day lineups at the US border would make a day trip unfeasible. Since it was easier to find overnight accommodations for a single person than for a family travelling with a young child, I got to go on a mini-vacation/business trip instead. :)

There's a shuttle bus that runs between downtown Vancouver and SeaTac airport with a few stops in between, so I took one of those, and was pleased to discover that the coach was equipped with wi-fi! That let me keep in touch via Facebook and e-mail without the usual roaming charges on the other side of the border, which was good, because it did turn out to be an unusually busy day, and I got to Seattle nearly an hour after the scheduled arrival time.

Toast and I had never actually met IRL, but I had my kitty hat on for maximum recognizability and he's tall enough not to disappear in a crowd, so we had no trouble finding each other at the bus stop. We walked a little under a mile from there to get to the hotel, and I think I laughed most of the way there. Those of you who have encountered Toast online will understand when I say he talks just like he types. Really. He says that stuff out loud. I found it both awesome and hilarious. XD

At the hotel, I was introduced to Mrs. Toast, and a happy, giggling Crouton before going to dinner. During which we actually spoke to each other — partly because lurking in an IRL conversation can be surprisingly difficult. :P It was getting late in Toastie's home timezone by the time we finished eating and got my sleeping arrangements sorted (which may or may not have involved some childish squeeing over the novelty of using a debit card with Elder Days Story Time written on it), so we settled in with our respective laptops...and chatted on Skype. The chatroom did have other people in it, but, yeah, we're geeks. :D

I was a bit worried about my ability to fall asleep and wake up at reasonable hours in an unfamiliar environment, but between the long day I'd had, my weighted blanket, and the sunlight streaming through the window the next morning, it fortunately wasn't a problem.

I met Mrs. Toast's parents at breakfast, and the whole family turned out to be mercifully weird. Weird is good; I prefer weird people. It's the ones that consider themselves normal and think everyone else should be too that are frightening. We went out all together to play tourist, and we got on better than I usually do with people I've just met. It may have helped that they were predisposed to like me after I presented them with this ;):

I may colour this and turn it into a promotional poster or if I didn't have enough of a backlog to work on. :P

This couldn't decently be called a business trip unless I actually did some 'work', so Toast and I returned to the hotel after lunch to sort and sign the books for our Kickstarter backers. I had two other reward commissions that I gave to him along with the puppets, and he gave me a box of books to bring back to Canada.

A really big box of books.

The box took up considerably more space than the puppets had, and was a whole lot less squishy, so there was some concern over whether I'd be able to fit it into my suitcase, but thanks to the amazing space-bending abilities of Mrs. Toast, we got it in, blanket and all. :)

I took the monorail to the bus stop with Toast and the now much heavier suitcase, and arrived with a few minutes to spare. The return trip was uneventful, and the Canadian border guards barely glanced at my suitcase (as opposed to their US counterparts, who scanned every piece of luggage, and opened a few to examine the contents.) About the most exciting thing that happened on the way back was passing a field with llamas grazing in it a little after the border. We were moving too fast for me to get a picture of them, though.

In any case, I made it back intact, and more or less on time. And now I have books!

A pile of puppets

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 04:21 pm
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)


Monday, February 20th, 2012 12:41 am
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
I managed to assemble an .epub file that I think will display properly in iBooks, and I'm fiddling with my .mobi file to see if I can use the Kindle Fire's region magnification feature. The Nook version is proving to be even more difficult than I anticipated because B&N apparently won't even let me download a sample Nook Kids book if I don't have anything to read it on >.< Why do they even put a download button on the website if it doesn't work? The annoying thing is that I don't even need to read the book...I just want to take a look at the files in a text editor so I know what special markup they've added to the .epub file. Grr.

Meanwhile, I've sent the big PDF file to [ profile] ego_sideways to be given to the printer, and I'm trying very hard to stop worrying about it. This may be a good time to take a break and work on some art stuff...
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
Okay, now that I've typed that, I think that someone totally needs to make "Teal Deer" into a book imprint. XD

Anyway, I've been trying to write a post for about three days now, but I woke up horribly congested on Wednesday and ended up spending most of it curled in a blanket watching cartoons and drinking tea. Yesterday was spent recovering and trying to get rehydrated, though I did manage to get an icon done!

I've been pretty busy with publishing tasks over the past week; mostly working on book formatting, but also refreshing my knowledge of ISBNs, reading about EAN barcodes, comparing puppet prices and the like. A Kindle Fire edition is out for testing, I should have an iBooks version in a few days, and then I have to see if I can put together a file that will work on a nook color. B&N seems to have restricted access to their nook kids formatting info, so that last one will be a challenge. The printer file just needs a barcode for the back cover before I send it out.

I worked in a print shop for a couple of years, and I've spent a lot of time around designers (and one very picky designer in particular), so this is far from the first file that I've sent to press, but I admit that I'm a bit nervous. I know I'm not entirely clueless, but it also means that I'm aware that there are a lot of tiny things I might have missed, and it is the first time I've had to format an entire book (not to mention the first one with my name on the cover!) so I guess it's understandable. I keep wanting to fiddle with the kerning, and am fighting the urge to rework the illustrations. And I pray to Titivillus that no typos have made it through.

We don't have the budget for a hardbound first edition, and the book apparently doesn't have enough pages for a secure perfect binding, so we're going to try a saddle stitch with 18 sheets of somewhat heavy paper. There should be enough of a bleed around each page to compensate for the creep, and this type of binding does have the advantage of being able to open flat without breaking the spine. I'm worried that it will disappear on bookstore and library shelves, but there isn't much we can do about that. Hopefully a few places will face it out, so potential readers will be able to see it.

In...I was going to type "other news", but it's actually kind of related :P — I upgraded to OS X Lion about a week ago so I could play around with iBooks Author, thinking it would save me the trouble of hand-coding that version of the book. The app is everything it's advertised to's well designed, easy to use...and won't let me make a square book. The page size is locked to the size of the iPad screen, and there's no way to change it. A small part of my brain thinks I should find this frustrating, but it just makes so much sense that I felt like I ought to have predicted it, and couldn't help but laugh. The app will also not export body copy in anything but a dozen or so appealing and very readable typefaces. I don't know if it's because I'm so used to taking orders from a designer, or if it's because I've seen so many eye-searingly horrible results of clueless people with too many options, but I actually appreciate Apple's efforts to prevent ordinary people from unintentionally making unreadably ugly books. (The Lion upgrade, btw, was worth it, with or without iBA. I love the new and the MailTags upgrade that the folks at Indev made to go with it, and a display glitch in ArtRage's canvas settings has now been fixed! Yay!)
meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
It's been quite an eventful day. When last I posted, Lorelei's kickstarter project was halfway through the allotted time, and just 36% of the way to its goal. It didn't go up by much yesterday, and [ profile] ego_sideways and I were getting just a teensy bit nervous.

Well, last night, a patron who chooses to remain anonymous contacted us with a generous offer: they will match all pledges and increases in pledges made in the next week, up to a total of $3000. The announcement this morning prompted a flurry of activity, and I'm happy to say that we're back on track, with $4859 pledged! That's over $1600 dollars in one day.

That also means we need just a little over one thousand dollars in new pledges over the rest of this week to make it to our goal. If you know anyone who has been considering backing this project, but has not yet done so, please encourage them to do so now!

In related news, Lorelei's friend Tanuki Jiro (seen in my previous post wearing a dragon mask for new year) now has his own Facebook page! Lorelei herself also has a page, in case you haven't seen it. :)

And finally, as tempting as it was to spend the day mashing the refresh button to see if the kickstarter total had gone up, I did manage to finish and upload a second painting to EMG Portrait Adoption. Ellen says that her goal of 12 new portraits this month has already been met (and far surpassed!) so I think I'll put the third one I'm planning on hold for a few days to do some long overdue Story Sketch updates.

meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
We're two weeks into the kickstarter campaign for Lorelei has a Dream, with two weeks to go, and $3247 pledged so far! Activity on the project has slowed somewhat since the excitement of the initial launch. I'm told that most kickstarter projects have a bit of a dead period in the middle, but that doesn't make it any less nerve-wracking! On the plus side, it's encouraging to note that we haven't passed a single day without gaining any new backers.

I did get this finished up, so I bring you (somewhat belated :P) Lunar New Year greetings from Elder Days Story time!

"We hope that the new year treats all of you well,
And that it gives you great stories to tell."*

Happy Year of the Dragon!

*couplet by [ profile] ego_sideways
meeks: (happy lorelei)
The Kickstarter project for Lorelei has a Dream has now raised $2931, from 62 backers. Sincere thanks to everyone who has pledged so far, and to everyone who has helped spread the word! We still have $6069 to go, and 19 days to do it in so please keep sharing the link!

meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
This scene features the Tanuki brothers, Ichiro (balancing a water bucket on top of a doorway) and Jiro (placing another bucket on the ladder behind him) who will be introduced in Lorelei Makes a Friend, which will (I hope) be available in some form later this year.

Ichiro very carefully balancing a bucket on a door . . . while Jiro's behind him balancing one on the bottom step of Ichiro's stepladder
This picture is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, and may be freely used under the terms of that license with a link back to Please see terms of use for details.
Creative Commons License

This is a rough concept sketch - this particular scene may not appear in the book itself, so rather than work on it further, any tips received will be counted as support for the book as a whole. The author, [ profile] ego_sideways, and I do not have a publisher giving us royalty advances, so tips of any amount are, as usual, greatly appreciated :)

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