Working with an Illustrator

Dooney & moe Book Photo 2

I love her interpretation of the spider.




Writing my first children’s book meant having illustrations. There is no doubt about my inability to draw. My cats look the same as I was taught to draw them in kindergarten. Not an ounce of improvement toward the likelihood that someone might recognize what it is supposed to be. Thus, my search for an illustrator began. Creating books can get expensive when you pay everyone to do something for you. We are trying to learn to do as much of the process as we can because it is harder for Indy writers to sell books. As I said, I can’t draw.Many of us are on very limited incomes.

My search for an illustrator was very short since I knew a few artistic souls and had been following some of them on Facebook. I only had to approach one and she was agreeable and reasonable and exactly what I needed.

Things to think about when you are considering hiring an illustrator. You want to know that you both are willing to set the same timeline. If you wish to get the book for sale at a specific time, you need to be agreed as to what that timeline or finish date looks like for you both. We, as authors, must not be unreasonable or inflexible since your illustrator or artist may have many more projects ahead of yours. You may both have to give a little to accommodate everyone’s schedule and anticipated time to complete the work.

If you approach someone to do your illustrations, you should check their previous projects, so you can see a sample of their work. I had seen some of this illustrator’s work previously so already knew she had talent. She, however, had never done book illustrations in the past, but then I had never written a children’s book before or worked with an illustrator. We agreed to learn the process as we worked together and went on.

After establishing the agreement as to what you want or need and their willingness to do the job you asked them to do at the price you both settled on, you need to see if your vision is their vision. It is not often the fact that the price is as much as they deserve, but many of us are working with small budgets.

You need to be able to covey what you want so that they will understand what they need to give you. This was a wonderful experience for us. I had not finished the final draft when she took on the job, so I sent her what I thought we needed for each illustration. A paragraph description of what each picture should show. Even though you wrote the book, your illustrator should be given control of the drawings and let them show you their interpretation of what it should look like. Something I read talks about allowing the writer to make a couple minor changes, but if you are ‘on the same page’ so to speak this should be unnecessary.

A super important element of this selection of illustrator should be a happy working relationship. We did this whole project online through texts and emails and never met each other. I am hoping to remedy that and to meet in person someday.

Your illustrator should have the following qualities: patience with you because you are new to each other, a detail – oriented mind, be an excellent listener, a person that doesn’t get too excited because life is unpredictable and a person you could have a long- term relationship with and I found exactly that person. Part of me does not want to share, but that would be selfish.


I highly recommend Janice Ducrepont and would suggest you contact her for help with your next project.

E-mail Janice

Once the book is published I will replace the drawing above with an illustration from my book.

How Much Time Should Writers Spend Reading?


 Not sure if anyone ever came up with a good ratio of reading to writing but, there must be one. Those who read and review seem to spend about twice as much time reading as writing. Some of us spend much less time reading than we should and often less time writing than we should as well.

Whatever you decide is the right amount of reading to writing time for you; there has to be enough input to have a reasonable amount of output. Many authors consider this the most important key to writing well. If you continually feed your mind with interesting ideas, it will reward you by inspiring different ideas that could lead you to produce more writing.

There are authors who say you must fill yourself with good writing by the very best authors and others who claim it is advantageous to a writer to read everything including trash, bad writing, comic books and even cereal boxes. I tend to believe you should read everything even if only to ensure you your writing is not the worst out there. Reading everything is valuable to help you recognize the bad as well as the good.

This quote says it all- “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

― Stephen King

We know when we read a masterpiece as opposed to a good story by a creative writer. We all know when lots of the spelling and grammar is wrong. We can tell good formatting versus bad and we can be inspired by ideas even when the writing is not at the level it should be. We have different stages of writers and authors. We should aspire to be Hemingway’ and Patterson’, but, also recognize that some of them wrote for decades and you may only have a few years under your belt.

Whatever your ideal is for an author, new or old, unknown or classic, you wish to write at your best so reading everything you can will inspire, produce creativity and make you more productive. It may strengthen your knowledge and help you see how it is done by the experts. Whatever reading does for you, you will be rewarded as well as enjoy yourself. It is recreation but so much more. when an author shares their thoughts with you, it is a great gift and no one should take that lightly.


Finding the right people for book promotion



New independent authors soon discover that writing the book is the easiest part of the whole process, especially when comparing that to the promoting of the book. Whether it is because we are too close to the object we are touting or too attached to actually sell the product produced by our minds, heart and soul, I really do not know. What I do know is we need fresh eyes to examine the whole project. We need strangers who can see what is wrong and what is in need of changing or fixing or rethinking.

If we discover this fact soon enough, maybe we will eliminate countless sleepless nights or the constant doubt we get plagued with when nothing is happening. I have been suffering with both those problems. I don’t know about you but, I feel it is vital that we step back so someone else can really see the problems.

Reviews are still a key to letting people know your book exists and also is worth buying. A review tells potential customers I took the chance on this book and it was well worth my time. Honest reviews are necessary so pretend ones will not cut it.

It is obvious that reviews can fill an important role in the success of your new book. However, even with all their importance, having someone that knows the ropes and has experience in this area can be a game changer. I have already tried many free promotion services and a few very inexpensive ones and they have all helped at least a little. It still comes down to the motivation of those running those sites for book promotion. It is obvious who is about the money and who is dedicated to helping you succeed.

Usually those that want to help new authors get known and new releases get sold are authors themselves and are super inclined to do all they can to make your time with them worthwhile. The people who think most about helping others are usually the best in the business and their caring is transferred into positive results.

So far, one place stands out when it comes to promoting among the few I have tried and that is The Owl Branch. Working with Crystal has been very rewarding in that she appears to have tons of ideas and willing to go the extra mile for new, beginning, inexperienced authors. Thrilled to have her be on my team. Looking forward to a long professional relationship. I highly recommend using any of their services and buying one of their memberships.


Visit the Owl Branch at  




Twenty Stephen King Quotes for Writers


Recently, I have been collecting quotes that would be of interest to writers and authors for my own author page. While engaging in this activity, I found some famous authors have provided a wealth of encouraging, helpful and fun quotes. Why not learn from the masters? Why not take what they say about this field that we have chosen as a perfect starting place for what could benefit us and be observed?

Today’s list is by far not complete since the book quoted most often by Steven King seems to be mainly quotes. There are so many more you may wish to read the famous book from which many of these originate. It is called Of Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft. Here they are in no particular order, just some of the ones I loved best by the genius Steven King.

1/“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”

2/“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

3/“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

4/ “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

5/ “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

6/“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

7/ “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”

8/ “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9/ “The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as long swallows.”

10/“Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do― to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.”

11/“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”

12/ “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

13/ “you must not come lightly to the blank page.”

14/ “I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they “don’t have time to read.” This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.”

15/ “I see things, that’s all. Write enough stories and every shadow on the floor looks like a footprint; every line in the dirt like a secret message.”

16/“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

17/“I have spent a good many years since―too many, I think―being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”

18/ “Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

19/ “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

20/ “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Does anyone else have this problem?

For me I get too focused on things and then become almost obsessive. Currently working on an event for our football booster club to benefit the teams and I have a very hard time dividing my attention so as to do other things like write.

I get fixated on making whatever I do a success and there is no time to think of other stuff. The silent auction I’m working on requires a lot of time and effort if it is to go well. I am using the Internet to save me time as there are few worker bees and much to be done.
Focusing on what to try to get donated, from where and how to promote this event are time consuming tasks and I am not one to take any job lightly if I am attempting to benefit some cause.

Another problem I find is that I am very detail oriented so each element of the planning must be examined, analyzed and decided how to make it better. If it can be better( usually means more complicated since my ideas don’t run to simple) I am your person. You know it’s like cooking, if an ingredient is tasty and 1 cup is what is called for, my mind starts thinking how it would taste with twice that much or at least a bit more. Can it be more attractive, can it last longer, can we offer this added benefit or that one. After a while a simple task can become most unwieldy.

When the research says you should have a specific number of items in regards to the expected turnout, I try to meet that number. If I cannot, I immediately feel a sense of failure. Does any of this sound the least bit familiar in your writing?

Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that are way too complicated or too impossible. We decide failure is not an option so we refuse to believe something cannot be done. Guess we must be shown that in a very plain way. Like they say, I do believe if the task is difficult and takes too much time to accomplish, I believe u like many okay it’s impossible so it will just take longer.

Don’t be too hard on yourselves writers! Remember the impossible just takes longer.

Writing and keeping routine versus living your life


After reading a blog about one author’s problem with not writing on weekends and then taking it up again on Mondays I can sympathize. It is hard to completely immerse yourself in work to the detriment of your family. Even harder is taking a break and then realizing getting back to writing is a challenge. So what can we do?

Several suggestions were made and mainly discussed taking an hour or two to write no matter what else happened on your time off. What you write is less important, according to one commenter, than just making sure you spent time writing. I believe I am in full agreement with this solution. When I take off a day or two from writing, even though I am not writing a novel, I find getting back in the flow of things to be difficult. It is like starting over and requires whatever it is your routine demands to get in touch with the muse.

Getting in the mood to write and becoming comfortable in the next phase of actual writing is different for everyone, but most of all, it is necessary and time consuming. Every time, we are required to reach the state of grace where we can actually write means lost time, depletion of energy and a delay that can weaken ideas and even our resolve. Can we really afford this break, this intrusion into our writing life?

Although, I am in agreement that breaks in writing can cause a lot of self-doubt and even despair, we still need to maintain our daily lives and connect with family and friends if we are to have any kind of somewhat normal life at all.

Good writers treat every day like a workday, including weekends and holidays. They must be torn away from their work to engage in the most simple of family connections or celebrations. They want to stay writing and resent anyone who interrupts this flow of ideas and work. How do they manage then to have a family life or any social life at all? Or do they?

I think dedication to anything a person does is admirable. I believe a superior work ethic is what breeds success. To become the best you can be requires an above average amount of work or else you will never stand out from the crowd. Writers have so much competition, but I believe that is okay if they write what only they can write and use only their voice. Still those who work the hardest usually see the best results and that means giving more time and energy to the project you are obsessed with each and every day.

Learning to balance this goal with enjoying life and connecting with human beings is the larger goal. Take time for life since this is the fodder we need to grow this animal of imagination.

Promoting Your Writing

Writing is hard work and once you have written something you would love for someone to read it. Writing must be promoted if you write on the Internet. There are thousands of online writers and everyone is vying for the reader’s attention. A reader can only read so much since most readers also have another life. So while the writing part is actually very important, you need to devote a good part of your day to promoting in order to make online writing a success.

We probably all use social networks to advertise our latest articles. While that seems a slow process, it is a necessary one. But, how much traffic, likes, comments, subscriptions or follows do we actually get from those?

If you have fixed your settings on the websites to which you write articles to automatically submit to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumble upon and Tumbler as well as many other websites does that guarantee readers?

I would like to figure out a schedule in which to promote articles in a certain way every day, but sometimes that seems daunting. For those places you may want to try, but that all writing websites do not include as an automatic submission, that means a great deal of work daily. If you write 3 to 4 articles a day, the amount of promotion time seems almost impossible to achieve. You will actually spend more time promoting than writing.

Promoting writing involves using your time to the best advantage so you do not spend hours where you get little return. Getting more bang for your buck is exactly what you must consider when choosing where to promote.

Exchanging links with other writers seems to be a good way to help each other, but unless they are much more advanced in their writing career than you are and also have more contacts, it may be useless to pursue. More established writers were once where you are and may be able to help you avoid the promoting pitfalls. They may know where the best places are to promote so as to get enough of a return for your time. As your writing career advances, you too will have many more contacts and know which ones are the best bets to get results.

Hashtags for Twitter and Facebook are another possibility. You simply find a descriptive word for your piece. You put a (#) number sign in front of it and the web picks up this designation and it is shown with others of its kind. For example, this article could be promoted with a hashtag like this -#writingpromotion

Joining writer’s groups or chat rooms where there is a specific place to mention articles and list the ones you want to promote, is another avenue to try.

Writers need to locate all the possible ways for promoting and then choose wisely. Most writers only have so much time to promote daily and want to work on those with more likelihood for success.

There are lots of ways to make sure your articles get a growing readership and it would be helpful to explore each one on an individual basis. I may try to do that here.

I need to have help in finding all these places of promotion for myself as well as the readers of this blog. This is a place I could really use your comments as to what has worked for you. Thanks.

Please share your best place for promoting or add to the few I have already covered quickly.

Writing groups and writers chatrooms-are they helpful or harmful

Years ago there seemed to be good reason to join other writers groups and visit their chat rooms. As time passed, I was not so sure. Whether or not it benefited me, I wonder if they benefit anyone? I do believe that actual classes, seminars, conferences and training run by professionals that have already achieved success are different. Those seem to be very helpful and advantageous to the person attending them.

In the past, when I was part of these groups, I always felt I should have been writing rather than clacking with other hens and roosters. The talk was sometimes helpful and enlightening, but most time just a time waster. Writer’s need to write every day, as often as possible and as much as possible if they are to ‘make it. Success depends on perfecting our writing skills as much as it does our great ideas. Do you agree?If more time is spent chatting rather than writing, you will never gain the expertise you need.

It is fine to share your work with someone who will be honest and fair, but also helpful and uplifting. Just because we are part of a writer’s group does not mean we are professionals who have all the answers. All writers can benefit from a give and take of ideas or resources or jobs but, that may be where it ends.

If your group is honest in critiquing you it could be helpful, but writers are often all going after the same assignments and jobs so is there gong to be fairness. I would love to know if you found a fair group that is uplifting to you and is a good source of information and resources.

I am hesitant to get back into groups as I found them sometimes to be almost unfriendly. I do want to find a place that serves the writer, not the gossiper or the bored housewife. I want a place with information unavailable other places . I want a place where you feel welcome and know you are among friends. Where you can hang back and listen or speak your mind without too much criticism. Do you know of a place like that, please comment below so we can check it out.

Groups are important since writing can be a very lonely profession.