This Saturday, December 19th, I’ll be doing the first public reading of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. Is this event for kids? Yes! What about adults? Absolutely! It will be at 7pm at Journey the Way – 147 S Hillside St, Wichita, Kansas 67211. I’ll read the book, complete with voices, and one Cooper Hanning will contribute sound effects. Why? Because it will add a lot. And it will make it more fun than it otherwise would be. And he’s very good at wolf howls. Cooper will also provide some introductory music – Christmas carols and perhaps an Ellen-inspired song! What??!! Yes, he just might do that.
There will also be hot chocolate, because everything is better with hot chocolate. And if you have questions about the book, I’ll be there to answer them. And if you want to buy a copy of the book, you can do that too. And I might just sign that book and personalize it as well, if you so desire, at no extra charge.
So why? Why carve out some time on a Saturday night right before Christmas to come and listen to me read? You’re busy, right? I get it. But here’s a chance for you to stop, to not run around like a decapitated chicken and to just sit, even for just a few moments, and listen. This is your chance to push back against the busyness, quiet your mind, and engage your imagination. I hope to see you there!
[This is the third post about the creation of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. You can read part i here and part ii here.]
I mentioned last time that I’m using Kickstarter to fund my picture book Ellen and the Winter Wolves, so over the past week or so I’ve been preparing the campaign. That means shooting a video and thinking through what rewards to offer folks for helping out. Determining what something is worth is a challenge, let me tell you. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s ready and is set to launch on Friday, September 18th.
[This is the second post about the creation of Ellen and the Winter Wolves. You can read part i here.]
After finishing the text for Ellen and the Winter Wolves, I thought I would simply crank out twelve to fourteen illustrations and be done. (I thought twelve to fourteen would be the perfect number because that seemed manageable with my schedule.) So I sat down and broke the text up, attempting to make the breaks at natural transition points. I ended up with fourteen pages.
A problem quickly became apparent to me, however. As I sat on the floor reading the pages aloud, I realized if I was reading this to a kid, each page would take way too long to get through. They would be bored. This story is somewhat text-heavy (at the time it was around 3,400 words) and so fourteen illustrations wasn’t going to be nearly enough.
Over the years people have encouraged me to do a picture book. I love to paint and I love to write, so why not put those things together? And I’ve wanted to, but I simply haven’t. Other projects have crowded it out, or I’ve started and then given up, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
But now I’m in neck-deep. I’m doing it. And I want to share with you what the process has been so far: the ins and outs of creating a book, and in creating it, what’s been good, what’s been okay, and what’s been unexpectedly terrible.
There are several ways to go about publishing a book. I’ve decided to self-publish. This means I’m not submitting my story and art to a publishing company or an art director. I’m not relying on professionals for design input or editing. I’m doing it all myself. Which means I have a lot of work to do. It also means it could look like garbage, and it would be all my fault.
Earlier this month I traveled to Albuquerque, NM for an arts festival. As I prepared my pieces for display, I tried to figure out how I could inject a little more story into my paintings. And so I decided to write a few lines that I would print on the back of the 2.5″x4.5″ title/price tags. These would be story seeds, words to stir the imagination, a few lines to trigger the mind of the viewer.
Well, they ended up inspiring me as well. These lines, written in haste, almost as an afterthought, have helped me (once again) to see that writing is not this massive and unmanageable undertaking.
And so I’m writing. I’m taking a couple weeks off painting (so my Instagram feed is going to be quiet for a time) and I’m going to get a story or two out that I can turn into a picture book. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite story seeds and the images they accompany.
“I hope I’m not too late,” Stella whispered. “How long will it take to find your places again?” After a moment she added, “We need you, you know. Father can’t find his way home without you.”
She liked the hat because it looked good with her coat. And it was warm. And it helped her see in the dark and hear the whispers of the animals in the forest.
“I think you will find,” said the owl, “that we have gone farther than you could possibly imagine.”
“I doubt it,” said Ellen. “I have a very active imagination.”
“Tell me,” said the owl, “do you recognize these stars?”
Today marks the beginning of a new journey for my family. I am stepping into the world of creative work in which I will attempt to paint and write for a living. I am excited for this opportunity to use the language of Image and Story to stir the imagination, to talk about what I see in the world, and to challenge how we think.
I have several projects that I’m working on that I’ll be sharing with you as they develop.
You may have seen the beginning of one of them already: Part I of The Unraveling, a three part short story that I’ve posted earlier. You can find it by clicking on The Unraveling tab. Look for Part II soon!