Writing

Creative Exercises to Keep You Going

Whitney Eklof is currently an offline marketing specialist for Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She has a master’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University, focusing specifically on storytelling across a range of mediums and storyworld creation.  While at IU, she also served as an associate instructor, educating students about writing, storytelling, and other telecommunications-related subjects, and worked as a writer for Indiana University’s Media Team.

Creativity can be hard to come by. Some days we’re just worn out, or we feel we’ve exhausted our creative juices. Writing, an inherently creative process, is no different. There are days we’re just dog-gone out of the dose of creativity we need to keep pushing our story forward. However, we don’t have to languish in our creative void – there are a whole host of creative exercises we can try to get our writing juices flowing again. Below are just a few suggestions, from the obvious to the obscure.

The obvious

Free write: You are probably familiar with this technique. Simply set aside what you’re working on and write. Write whatever comes to mind; write in full on stream-of-consciousness. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes or that the paragraphs don’t flow together. Just write. Free what’s in your heart and mind and put it on a page – you never know where it’ll take you.

writing-1209121_960_720Read: We are often inspired by others. In fact, that may be the reason you started writing in the first place. Maybe you read a story that sucked you in completely and charged you up to write something of your own. Take some time to go back to those roots. Read something you really enjoy; even better if it’s in the same genre you’re writing in. See how someone else spins a sentence or brings a character to life. Let someone else inspire you instead of trying to will creativity into existence.

Utilize writing prompts: There are hundreds of books and websites full of writing prompts. Whether or not they relate to your book’s subject-matter, taking on a prompt can let your mind roam free. Don’t be afraid to embrace a genre you don’t normally write in either! Writing prompts give you just enough direction to send you down the path to creativity.

The not so obvious

Exercise: When we think about trying to jog our writing creativity, we often focus on writing-related exercises (the obvious ones mentioned above), but exercises unrelated to writing can also help us find the creativity we need to finish that next chapter. In comes the most straightforward exercise of all: exercise. It gets your heart pumping, gets you out of that hunched-over-your-laptop position, and just flat-out increases creativity. Scientific study even supports it!

Meditate: Mindfulness meditation has exploded in popularity over recent years. Mindfulness is about slowing down, taking in your surroundings (and your body), and simply being. It’s a practice about being present, and not letting the distractions of life in. The process of mindfulness can boost creativity as it helps us focus and frees us from worry or tangential rabbit holes.

The obscure

Play: That’s right, play. Sit down with your children, nieces, nephews, pets, or even by yourself and play. Free your mind from stress and worries and just imagine yourself as a princess, a powerful wizard, or simply be your dog’s favorite ball thrower. Play not only incorporates exercise; it helps expand our thinking in new directions. Instead of thinking linearly all the time, we open ourselves to more lateral thinking and associations. You might be surprised at how creative kids can be, they may end up providing the inspiration you needed. Beyond that, play is simply important, whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Restrict yourself: This one probably seems counter-intuitive. You probably imagine creativity is a product of freedom, and sometimes that’s true. However, there is power in restricting yourself, as the story behind the creation of Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Green Eggs and Ham,” demonstrates. By reigning in your boundaries, you’re forcing your brain to work within confines it may not be used to – giving it a new challenge, and forcing you outside of your comfort zone.

Creativity is something we can find in the most unexpected of places, and it’s something essential to writing – no matter if we’re writing a sci-fi saga or a how-to helper. When our creativity wanes, it can bring our writing to a halt, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of our story. There are thousands of creative exercises out there and the ones listed here are but a few. So, please, take some of the ideas listed above and give them a whirl, or share some of your own creative exercises to help a fellow writer out of their creative void.

Write on, fellow writers!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Words with a Young Writer

The following are the words of Karina Williams, author of “Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager.” Learn more about Karina on her author website kwilliamsbooks. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

It Began with a Poem

In my freshman year of high school, I won an Karina WilliamsHonorable Mention in a poetry contest for my school’s literary magazine. Back then, it was terrifying to meet the fiercely intelligent AP Literature teacher assigned to help me edit my first poem to be published. I was only fourteen. Three years later, I found myself sitting in her class getting ready to graduate from high school. That day she asked us all to reflect on one thing: What do you want? I answered her with the first and only thing I could think of…“I want to be a writer.”

Months before publishing my poetry anthology and taking what I believed was the first step to everything I was reaching for, she replied with the one answer I needed to hear. “You already are.”

What “Writer” Means to Me

Being a writer is like being on a journey that never ends. Once a chapter is finished, the next one begins. We live our lives through the worlds we create on paper, all the while hoping that someone else finds as much life in them as we do. Creativity is beautiful thing; I believe it’s a way to create something so honest that you write the words someone else needs to read in that particular moment. That is what writing is about.

Dreams New and Old

Now I’m a freshman in collegeLive, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager pursuing my science degree. Things have have certainly changed a lot since high school graduation. Yet, if someone asked me today what I wanted to be my answer remains the same- I want to be a writer. As demanding as the study schedule is here at Cal Poly, I am still finding ways to chase my dreams. Soon enough, I will be adding an English minor to my degree plans while keeping up with a blog I started as an effort to publicize my book.

Over the publishing process for my book, a friend asked me how I could put so much time and effort into something that might not work out in the end. But I don’t write for things to “work out in the end” … I write because it is everything I am. From the months it took to compile my manuscript, to the day I held the first printed copy in my hands, it was all worth it. It is indescribable to hold a book with my name on the cover in my hands.

What Comes Next

I became a published author as a freshly graduated high school student, and Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager is just the beginning. From the hardship of friendship to the adversity of growing up, each poem in the compilation has been inspired by experiences that make me who I am. My book tells the story of youth, vibrancy, and life. I hope to continue telling the story within my next book focusing on the experience of being a young-adult.

In the end, it is all about the story— either telling the truth or the sweetest kind of fiction— and this is everything my heart reaches for in the future. No matter where I end up in the next ten years, if you ask me who I am, I will only have one answer; for it will never change. I am a writer.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Writing Advice from Famous Authors

Regan Platt is an offline marketing intern at Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She is currently a senior at Indiana University where she studies English. Regan is in Indiana University’s Liberal Arts Management Program, an honors level interdisciplinary program that incorporates Kelley School of Business courses with a liberal arts education. 

Don’t stop reading.Don't stop reading.

William Faulkner: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Meaning: Faulkner emphasizes the importance of immersion. If you constantly surround yourself with writing, then you can start to observe both valuable techniques and common pitfalls. As you put to practice what you’ve observed, your own writing will become all the better for it.

Write the book you can’t find.

Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”               

Meaning: This quote can be read as a call to arms for dreamers and “creatives.” The world would have so much less to read and dream if those with great stories never shared them.

Follow your instincts.

Saul Bellow: “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”                                    

Meaning: Bellow comforts and encourages fellow writers who work in bursts of passion. Inspiration may come at the strangest and least convenient of times, yet when the muse calls it is best to answer.

Beware the predictable.Robert Frost Quote

Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Meaning: Frost suggests that strong writing occasionally necessitates a stream-of-consciousness technique that leaves only feelings and ideas. This emotional work results in literary moments of ingenuity.

Show, don’t tell.

Anton Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Meaning: Our final quote by Chekhov reverberates the traditional writing advice “show, don’t tell.”  Engaging writing leaves a reader to do some of the “visualizing” work themselves. Rather than dully listing the circumstances, great writing will reveal what’s happening in an innovative way.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Thirteen Mistakes Readers Always Catch – Part One

Finding Mistakes

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re a writer. And if you’re a writer, then chances are you’ve read a book and set it down in disappointment because you found some mistakes that offend your sense of professionalism.

mistake

We all have.

Worse than finding an annoying blunder while reading is when an error is pointed out in your own work. A person finds a mistake in your work that you somehow missed. This is a mortifying moment. It’s especially annoying because the mistake is usually obvious after it’s been found. We know you hate this sensation and moment as much as we do! Continue reading

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Writing

Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule

Rumor has it J.K. Rowling worked for five years, building the world of Harry Potter and plotting all seven books before she began writing anything. Jack Kerouac reportedly wrote the draft of On the Road in less than a month. How long will it take you to write or finish your book?

The right answer is up to you.

The one thing you will absolutely need is some kind of plan. It doesn’t matter whether your writing plan is a month long or a year long. The time is less important than the plan.

In the post-Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule, Archway Publishing offers 4 easy tips you can use to help you keep to your writing plan, whatever it is.

Click here to read more >>

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Author Feature

Q&A with Betsy Sleath, Author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Betsy Sleath, author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”.  For more info, visit her blog.  Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

What inspired you to write Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I always wanted to write a book set in a pharmacy with a soda fountain that had characters that drew you into the story.  My mom worked in an independent pharmacy with a soda fountain when I was growing up in the small New England town of Durham, Connecticut.  I have always loved the feeling of community and belonging in small town pharmacies.

I go to Carolina Beach, North Carolina to relax and write.  I regularly walk down to the docks where the fishing charters come into with the pelicans following not far behind.  One day I had the idea to create a novel inspired by the town of Carolina Beach with one small change-I added a pharmacy on the canal where the fishing boats pull in.

I decided to make this a positive yet suspenseful story of a single mom leaving a domestic violence situation who finds friendship and support in a small beach town as she rebuilds her life.  Having been a victim of domestic violence and knowing many women who also have been, I wanted to create a compelling yet fun story focusing on an issue that is often difficult to talk about publically.

What research did you do before writing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I have experience working as a pharmacist which helped when writing the book.  Since many of the scenes in the book occur at a soda fountain, I visited pharmacies that still have soda fountains when traveling.  I also went to the North Carolina Museum of History and the Museum of East Tennessee History to do research. Both have excellent displays of old-fashioned pharmacies with soda fountains.  I spent time in the exhibits imagining Norma behind the soda fountain being sassy to her customers. Hanging out in these places helped the story and characters come alive in my head.

When it came to creating a military romance, it helped that I live in North Carolina where there are several bases and that my partner was active military when I met him.  I have interacted with many of his colleagues and friends across the world.  I have visited several military bases and have even been to two military balls.  These experiences helped me create the character of Tom and the realistic intersection of soldiers visiting North Carolina beaches.  I learned about deep sea fishing by regularly watching the fishermen on the docks and by reading all of the pamphlets they had out at the docks.  Someday I want to go deep sea fishing myself!

What do you hope readers will get from reading Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I want people to enjoy reading the book.  I strove to create a good story about resilience and hope.  I have always been told, “Write a book like the ones you like to read.” So that is what I did.  There are many men and women functioning as single parents who are attempting to rebuild their lives after difficult divorces like Jessie.  As the novel unfolds, readers watch Jessie struggle with learning to love and trust again.  I love the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”  I tried to create characters that exhibited strength that resulted from challenging life situations.

Why did you choose to self-publish and why with Archway?

9781480821590_COVER.inddBefore I decided to self-publish, I did send out two query letters to agents.  One agent responded that Pelican Island Pharmacy was not a genre they were focusing on and the other nicely told me that the beginning of the book did not draw her in fast enough.  So I rewrote the beginning of the book to grab the reader’s attention immediately.  I have a very busy job as a professor and division chair at UNC-Chapel Hill so I decided to self-publish because I did not have a lot of time to write query letters.  When I do have free time, I like to focus it on writing.

I chose Archway because they had everything that I needed in the bookseller’s package–cover design, editing, Goodreads giveaways, and worldwide distribution through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, and all the major book retailers.

What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

To be honest, I published under the pen name Betsy Hess Sleath because I thought I better separate my life as a professor from my life as a fiction writer. I was not sure how my university colleagues would react. However, I am amazed at how much those in my university life have enjoyed the book and have encouraged me to write more.  They can’t wait for the sequel. That has been the most satisfying part of writing and publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy. The UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, even featured an article about the book.

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

First, I would join your state or local writing organization.  The North Carolina Writer’s Network has been a huge support in my writing experience.  Second, take as many writing classes as you can.  I took fiction writing classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and learned tons.  In the advanced fiction writing class with Rich Krawiec, I wrote the first eighty pages of Pelican Island Pharmacy.  Rich is an amazing teacher and his encouragement kept me going even after the class was over.  Finally, figure out your writing pace. I strove to write five pages a week because that is all I had time to do each week.  The strategy worked because I finished the book in a year!

Betsy Hess Sleath (Betsy Sleath, Ph.D.) is a distinguished professor and chair of the division of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She lives in Chapel Hill and spends as much time as she can on Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  She has published over 127 scientific articles and this is her first work of fiction.  Her second book, Love at the Soda Fountain, which is set in Connecticut in the 1960s, will be completed by December 2016.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Q&A with Moustafa El-Guindy, Author of “Beyond Love”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Dr Moustafa El-Guindy , author of “Beyond Love“. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

Many facts and many people inspired the story and it wasn’t all at the same time and they weren’t all linked with each other. Things happen or you meet people and the writer stores it in his memory, then the creativity join the facts, creates others, recovers the characters, crafts others and builds the story that will take you to new places, some of them are happy, others are devastatingly sad, but all of them stretch their bounds in our dreams and fantasies. That was the story with Beyond Love.

  1. You have published books in multiple languages and in a variety of genres, tell what prompted you to write this book.

9781480822832_COVER.inddMy passion always had been writing, romances, short stories, poems, my real passion is writing, but I can’t deny that I love to write long and very emotional stories of love. The romance that gains its strength from its bounds with the reality, then grows with the imagination navigating in a new world build by our creativity and inventiveness, just like a tree its roots go deep in the soil and its branches go everywhere in the sky.

  1. What do you hope readers will get from reading the book?

I wish the reader learns that the great meaning of life is loving. Loving is the bird flying, the music playing and the little child smiling. Love is the river cutting its way through the rocks, the drop of the water touching the sky and coming back to the earth. Love is the dream of living, the pleasure of giving, and the happiness to be able to do that. Love is the hands extending, the smile shining, and the deep desire to have the lover in the heart forever.

  1. Why did you chose to self-publish and why with Archway?

I searched many companies, I was looking for quality. The effort and hard work employed in the production of the manuscript deserve a qualified publisher to produce the book, of course with an affordable price. That is why Archway Publishing.

  1. What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing a book?

Two moments are very special for me. First, when I received the first copy in  my hand. It was like listening to the first scream of  a newborn. The second moment was when someone approached and asked me something about the book. The moment when I felt that somebody shared the same feeling and my passion.

  1. What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, be persistent, go forward, don’t be intimidated by rebuffs or rejections. Keep writing, and publish, don’t keep your writing for yourself. Writing is only alive when you share with others, so the great tips are keep writing and publish.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Self-Publishing My Children’s Book

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Caryn Umetsu, author of “Little Liar”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

my mom sis and II was 4-years-old when I left my birth country of Japan, my parents divorced and that’s how I came to live with my new father in Hawaii. My mom often played a song about a little blue-eyed blond doll made of celluloid who was leaving America to go to Japan.  The doll was homesick and wondered if she would make friends. By the tone of the latter half of the song, we know that although she left her home country, she made fast friends in her new country. That is how I felt, I was sad for the divorce but thankful for my new life and the new me. I renamed myself Caryn which means “one of the seven stars of the constellation Orion.”

I don’t remember much of Japan but I do remember saying good bye to my aunt and uncle as we pulled out of the train station.  Nothing is more romantic and forlorn, the way a train leaves ever so slowly then faster and faster leaving behind your loved ones who grow smaller and smaller like figurines in a dollhouse. My aunt and uncle gave me a book to remember them by, a Chinese folktale called “The Magic Brush”.

For most of my life, books have always played a significant role in shaping who I am. First grade was the first time that I ever set foot in school.  I didn’t know how to speak, read, or write English in my new country; my mom said I cried every day for two weeks. My dad was the one who patiently sat with me under the lamp on the edge of the couch on a nightly basis to read with me “A Pig Can Jig.”

julian and nicholasEvery Saturday, my dad took my sister and I to the library where we could borrow as many books as we wanted, we felt like Hansel and Gretel at the Gingerbread House.  In no time, I was out of the ELL class and devouring whatever I could get my hands on, I moved beyond the picture books to the chapter books.  I moved up quickly in reading level from the very bottom to the very top; my teachers were amazed and so proud of me.  Later in college years, my sister and I said that we would become sister writers, I would be Emily and she would be Charlotte Bronte.

My latest children’s book “Little Liar” is based on my oldest son “Bobby”. When he was four and my middle son “Mitch” was two, we wrote the “Little Liar” book together and after many nights, we finally finished and stapled it together with pride. Although we went to the library twice a week, that was their favorite book. Even with all the dinosaur and construction books we borrowed and reborrowed, it continued to be their favorite bedtime story. I still have the purple tattered and torn copy of the original  book which I used to create “Little Liar.”

The most powerful tool about self-publishing that I have come to find out is that we are able to, as authors, be in full command of how the book turns out. For me, the illustrations were truly important. I liked the cartoonish style of illustrating, similar to a “Peanuts” comic book. It was beyond words, the feeling that we three experienced, bringing our once beloved and nearly forgotten book that we had created so long ago when I was a housewife, to life.  “Bobby” and “Mitch” are now 23 and 21, a fireman and a marine. My youngest son who is introduced on the last page of the book is 14.3 sons

I have so many books that I am currently working on and I hope to continue publishing.  It has been so amazing working with Archway Publishing. I feel that every day brings me closer to my dream. Just like Marie Lelay  in the movie “Hereafter,” I will one day become an author proudly sitting at a book signing.

Thank you Archway, I believe what you do is phenomenal. Check out my new website carynyumetsu.com. I am also making a plushie of Bobby by Budsies and another Bobby doll by Ginta from ParisJavaDoll from Etsy. What I have in mind is that eventually my book will be popular enough and in demand so I can order many plushies to sell with my book.  I am also preparing for a book launch with SCBWI. If you want to email me, I am at carynyayoi@yahoo.com. I am a high school 11th grade English teacher so I have summers and many holidays off to work on my books. Let’s network and help each other make our dreams a reality. I would love to hear and learn from you!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Meet Max!: Finding an Illustrator

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Elizabeth Rosso, author of “Meet Max”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

If you’re just joining me, my first two posts were about how I came up with the idea for Meet Max!, and how I turned that idea into a manuscript.  At that point came the big question: now what?  How do I turn this into a real book?img1

Initially I thought traditional publishing was my only option.  I knew it would take time and that I’d likely collect a lot of rejection letters before finally succeeding…if I succeeded.  Nonetheless, I began to mull over the things I’d need to learn, like how to pitch my idea, whether I needed to hire an agent, et cetera.  As I began the process of learning just how much I didn’t know, I happened upon a story on the radio about self-publishing.  Interesting.  No need to get a publishing house to buy into my idea.  Retain creative control over the final product.  Keep more of the royalties.  And, if the book sells well, maybe attract the attention of a traditional publisher anyway.

That all sounded good, but I still felt like I didn’t know which choice was best.  So, I turned to the one place I know I can always find answers, or at least pass a pleasant afternoon: the bookstore!  Off I went, and lo and behold, there was a book that set out the basics of not only traditional publishing and self-publishing, but also of starting your own publishing company.  I bought it.  I devoured it.  It gave me so much to think about!  In the end, though, (and as you’ve probably already guessed), I went with self-publishing.  It seemed like the best way to get the end product I wanted, on my timeline, without having to prove beforehand that my idea was a good one.  Plus if I decided to go the more traditional route later, I’d already have a prototype, so to speak, of what I had in mind, and hopefully the sales data to back it up.img2

I still had the problem of illustrations, though.  My book definitely needed them, and I definitely do not have that kind of artistic skill.  What’s more, most of the self-publishing companies I identified were geared towards more traditional, black-and-white chapter books, not short children’s stories heavy on artwork.  It seemed like there were three options.  I could learn to draw, I could hire an artist, or I could keep shopping for companies that could help me get the illustrations so crucial to my concept.

Learning to draw was almost certainly out of the question.  Even my stick figures need a little help.  Could I hire an artist?  Where would I look?  How would I communicate what I wanted?  And how would I know if I was getting a good rate?  As luck would have it, I have some friends who are either artists themselves, or who routinely hire artists as part of their work.  They were able to give me some great guidance and point me towards some fantastic resources, but I still felt like I was in over my head.  And then I discovered Archway.img3

Archway was one of only two self-publishing companies I identified that had artists on staff.  What’s more, it’s the only company I found that provided enough information on its web site for me to educate myself and focus my questions prior to contacting them.  Then, when I did make contact, they answered my questions and provided even more information without using a “hard sell” approach or making me feel pressure to make a decision right away.  They were able to explain the self-publishing process to me and go into detail about how the illustrations portion of the process would work.  And they were willing to answer any additional questions I might have along the way.  It was just what I needed!  At last I felt like I had to the tools to finally bring Max to life.  The only thing left would be getting the rest of the world to love Max as much as I do (i.e., buy the book) – more on that next time!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub and Like the Archway Publishing Facebook page.   

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Author Feature, Publishing

Self-Publishing Children’s Books with Archway

From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jan Gimlin, author of “The Adventures of Franz and Jethro: Ants in the Pants”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.  

My storytelling days began with my own two children. I read a lot of stories too, but their favorites seemed to be the stories I just made up for them. They used to beg me to make up stories, the wilder and crazier the better. They were the perfect captive audience!

SKU-001060594Anyway, I love animals, and especially love how different their personalities can be, much like humans. So, with our two dogs, I always make up sayings/words based on what I THINK they would say if they could talk. My husband and I would tell our black lab (Jethro) that he had ants in his pants, because from the time we got him (adopted at about 5 months) he’d have a crazy burst of energy (OFTEN) and be ready to play fetch or catch; then just fizzle out.

So one day the story just came to me and I wrote it down on the computer. That was last summer. On a whim, I emailed the story to my daughter and asked for her impressions. She loved the story and told me I should try to get it published.

Next, I went to the library and checked out about a dozen children’s books, read them, and wrote down the publishers names. Then I researched the publishers of the books I liked best, looking for the self-publishing branch of each. I thought Archway sounded reasonable, contacted them and someone called me back.

Now, discussions began with my publishing consultant about the direction of my book. I had to make a decision: how to illustrate it. I am an artist, mostly a painter, but NOT a cartoonist. As a creative person, I kept thinking there must be something that I could do myself. So the consultant asked me if I’d thought about collage, or something else. Over the course of a weekend I decided to do a drawing, a collage, and a model magic figurine; then attached pictures of all three in an email to the consultant. This consultant was intrigued by the model magic figurine because he could think of no other children’s book on the market with this type of illustration for its characters. I liked the sound of having a unique book, bought more colors of model magic and began to create the characters in various poses.

As an art teacher my favorite modeling compound for elementary students was Model Magic, a crayola product, and I LOVED creating dogs or other animals with them. But with this product or even clay, one problem I had was creating a large dog with stick-thin legs. The weight of the main body collapsed the legs! So I had to create a “skeleton” for the walking poses with the black lab. For the dachshund, I just made squattier legs and left it at that. But I had to show the difference in proportion between the two dogs (100 lbs. vs. 12 lbs.), and realized it would just look weird for the lab to have thick squatty legs! So, my husband helped me make the skeleton out of wire and hot glue, which I then covered with pieces of model magic.JanGimlin

Next, the publishing consultant gave me the idea of a diorama for the background. After googling “diorama”, I came up with a few ideas. I used foam core as a base, and for the indoor scene I covered it with two types of shelf paper. For the outdoor scene, I used three different types of textured mediums that I use in painting: coarse pumice gel for the ant bed, coarse modeling paste to simulate sandy red dirt, and fiber paste to simulate grass. Then I painted over all of these. The outdoor background was painted on a 11×14 canvas board. The bushes were clumps of reindeer moss. The furniture and plant for the indoor scene were dollhouse furniture.

Next, my publishing consultant told me that the picture resolution had to be at least 300 DPI, so I tried taking pictures with my cellphone but when he checked the resolution, he said the pictures were blurry and just wouldn’t work. I already had a tripod, so used it along with our digital camera to take all my pictures.

Then when the story and pictures were finalized, I was transferred to a check-in coordinator, where my patience with technology was tested time after time! Next came the design team, where the cover and interior were planned. After several revisions with the layout, my project was done!

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