Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

So, no news yet on those proof copies of The Angel's Name, but I wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas.  The picture above was actually taken at a Halloween party back in 2008, but I thought it'd be fun to post it anyway--it's not likely that I'll be able to talk my husband into putting on a Santa suit a second time, so I'd better make the most of the first time, right? Actually, we were just buddies back then, and my sister was the first choice for Santa but ended up going to a different party instead. Obviously I was Mrs. Claus. I've smudged out everyone else's faces because I haven't asked their permission to post their picture, though I suppose if I get permission later I can always repost. I'm rather proud of my costume organization that year--I happened to have bought a Santa suit on sale for five dollars after Christmas the year before, and when I needed a costume for a Halloween party I decided to make it the base for a whole group of costumes. I bought a can of white hairspray to turn myself into Mrs. Claus, and that was the most expensive thing I bought after the Santa suit (at about three dollars). The two elves on the right provided their own hats, but the two elves on the left are each wearing a cheap piece of felt rolled and glued into a cone with a tiny jingle bell stitched on top of it. Rudolph's nose is made of pipe cleaners, and so was the holly berries decoration in my hair. There was a matching holly berries thing on my apron (made out of an unused sheet), which unfortunately doesn't show in the picture. Rudolph's antlers were pipe cleaners with a pencil stuck in each one as a base and some jingle bells. The rest of it was just a matter of hunting through our closets for red and green clothes--I think my Mrs. Claus dress might have actually been meant for Minnie Mouse, but I got it at a second-hand store a long time before, so I can't be sure. Anyway, it's a fun memory, even though it isn't really a Christmas one.

And here are a couple of real Christmas memories, because I just couldn't end the post on Santa and Halloween. First, there's the time we were Mary and Joseph for a church program; this was actually the day before we were engaged (the baby is a doll).

And there's also the time that I was Joseph. The live Nativity was missing Joseph, so I volunteered, since I was already dressed up to be a shepherd and I was the only shepherd with a beard. I took this picture of myself by using the mirror in the church bathroom; I'm not that talented at self-photography otherwise.  I didn't make the beard, but I know that the people who did make it used cotton balls and coffee.... I just nabbed it from a swap table after someone else used it in a skit, then resurrected it several months later as part of this costume.  It also helped keep my face warm.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Angel's Name--Complete!

The Angel's Name is officially completed and I've purchased a "custom ISBN" ($10 and gets Elizabeth's Inventions listed as the publishing imprint instead of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) from CreateSpace and had the files approved for printing. I just ordered proof copies, but the estimated delivery date is unfortunately New Year's Eve. I must say that I had a bit more difficulty than I expected getting my files into a PDF that met CreateSpace's printing specifications, and that's what caused some of the delay. I used a template to format my pages, so the layout was never an issue, but I tried to save as PDF from Microsoft Word on a borrowed computer because my Word 2003 won't do it, and that was rather a disaster--I never did figure out how to do it without it trying to "compress" my images and making the file unfit for printing. I eventually solved the problem by downloading Open Office and using that to export as PDF, which was very easy and had the added benefit of making it possible to use my own computer.  Here's hoping the book looks as good in print as it does on my computer screen! And now I've got see if I can figure out how to format an ebook, which I hear is particularly difficult for picture books. Wish me luck!

Also, I would like to thank David, Cordelia, Rebekkah, Natalie, and Kelly for beta reading an electronic draft for me. It was very helpful to have a few pairs of extra eyes to look at it before I submitted the files.

Keep watching for news that The Angel's Name is officially available or has been successfully converted to a readable ebook format. It won't be long now!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Angel's Name--Front Cover

I'm still roughly on schedule and expect to finish this project in time for Christmas. Here's what I've got for the front cover at the moment--I may tweak it a bit later, but for now I'm going to begin work on the inside formatting. The text and illustrations for all but the very last page are pretty much finished now. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Angel's Name--First Page Excerpt


"Once upon a time there was a glass angel.  She sat on top of a Christmas tree for a few weeks every year, but the rest of the time she lived in a box.  She was not happy in the box.  It was dark, dusty, and sometimes hot, but the worst part was that she had no name.  A lot of other ornaments lived in the box, too.  The other ornaments had no names, either, but they didn’t care."   

And there you have the opening of my Christmas picture book. There are still three or four illustrations to finish and a little tweaking to the end of the text needed, plus formatting and cover design, but it's coming along quite nicely.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Picture Book Experiment Post 10--Weather

It actually took me about five very short trips outside to photograph Neon and Jewel in one pose on Friday. Obviously, we finally have snow. And my gloves were making it impossible to create the tiny snowman, so I had to take them off. That made my hands too cold to stay out long, but I eventually got this scene by popping in and out (that tree is very close to my front door). This probably isn't the exact view I'll use in the finished story, and in any case I'll have to do a bit of photo editing, but it'll give you the general idea. I'm switching up the scene settings a bit by taking advantage of the weather changes! Then again, both Neon and Jewel look a bit ridiculous dressed like that in the snow, don't they?

The other project that I mentioned in the last post is going along fine, except that the tablet that I was using for the first step in the illustrations is having battery problems now. Thankfully, I've got that step mostly finished by now, though it's going to be difficult to finish the small amount I have left to do. I've got maybe half the illustrations for that finished and am still working on rewriting the ending. Expect more news on that soon and probably an example illustration, but my internet is out at home and I've got to blog from somewhere else at the moment.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November and Then Christmas

Well, I've certainly been off the radar for a bit, haven't I?  But I've completed another successful National Novel Writing Month (go to if you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo) and am ready to go back to picture book land. It being the Christmas season, however, I'm taking a bit of a break from the photography and am experimenting with what I tend to think of as digital finger painting. That pretty much means using an app on a tablet computer with a touchscreen to "paint" elements for a picture, then Photoshopping those elements together.  The picture above is a bit of an example. I just threw together a few graphics without bothering to resize anything, but I actually kind of like the result; it's bright and quirky, and what better way to describe any of my projects than bright and quirky? If this experiment turns out well, I might actually have a proof copy ready before Christmas, since I already have the text of a children's Christmas story that's been waiting at least three years to have something done with it. I still need to paint and trim a few more elements before I start on the actual finished illustrations, but it's going very quickly at the moment. Expect a few more posts on this project before I go back to doing much with the pipe cleaners, though I am still working on that project also, slowly but surely.