Things I’m Thankful For

With Thanksgiving just past it’s a welcome relief to think of things that I am thankful for, especially after the recent election and barrage of negative ads. I’m thankful the election is over and President Barack Obama has four more years to continue moving this country in the right direction. I’ve worked in cubicles, I’ve worked in offices, I’ve done data entry, I’ve piped frosting on Easter eggs, I’ve colored maps, and I’ve clean rooms at Knight’s Inn. I’m thankful that now I write, illustrate, and design children’s books and apps. Can I just say—I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. And, in case you weren’t sure, I love my job. I’m thankful I have Bo who makes me laugh everyday. A day without laughter is a very long day. I’m thankful for good books, good movies, and good TV that lets me escape into my imagination. I’m thankful for good friends. I’m thankful for technology that lets me do in minutes what used to take me hours. I’m thankful I’m a better editor now that I don’t have to type my manuscripts on a typewriter with carbon paper. I’m thankful for many wonderful memories of new experiences, and of times shared with family and friends. I’m thankful for things that make me think—that kick me out of my complacency and shake up my world. I’m thankful for sunsets. What are you thankful for?...

Conference Boost

I went to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators fall conference this weekend. As always they put on a fabulous weekend with top notch speakers. However, like a lot of writing conferences, the talks tend to be for first time writers anxious to find out about the industry because they always make up the majority of the audience. Nowadays I go mainly to connect with friends and possibly do some networking. Maybe I’ll pick up some industry information, but generally it’s more social than anything else. I do get an adrenaline boost from being around so many creative people and that can help me through the dark winter months of rejection letters and looking for illustration/design work in this economy. But this past weekend I went with high expectations because Will Terry was one of the speakers. I’ve enjoyed his blog and I admire his work so I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say about digital illustration, and the ebook and app market. My expectations were met and then some. Will Terry is a really funny guy, and a wonderful teacher. I wish I lived in Utah so I could take his classes—and believe me, that’s the only reason I would want to live in Utah for I’m at home in Colorado—it feeds my spirit with its crystal blue sky and snow-capped mountaintops. But back to Will. Like all good teachers he makes you look at your world and work in a different, more exciting way. He also reminded me of some basic things that I’ve become too...

Character

A good plot is not enough. Readers stay with a story because of the characters. They care about what happens to them. Good characters make a story memorable. Conflict reveals character. How a character reacts to a situation shows the type of person they are. Using character charts Some authors create an entire family history and backstory for each character. Do as much as you need to write confidently about your character, but leave a little room for flexibility. Even if you outline your plot, you’ll think of new ideas and may want to change things as the story develops. What you need to know before you start writing The most important thing to know about your character is not the color of their hair or the name of their grandmother, but rather their personality and what motivates them. The rest is just information and arbitrary facts that will probably never come up in the story. But if you know the type of person your character is, then you will know how they will react and the decisions they will make when presented with conflict. What makes a good character? Create a character that will work the best in your plot. One that will be affected by the action of the story and will give you the most opportunities to create conflict and growth. Understand your character and what motivates him/her before you start writing your story. Understanding your character will allow you to write convincingly in their voice and experience. You must put yourself into the character’s shoes in order to know how they will act and react....