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Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
I had been working at my folks print shop since high school so I knew how to run a press, do layout and design, etc. Of course I was majoring in advertising arts in college at the time so everything just sort of clicked. I started the card line in 1979.
Skip ahead a couple of years….I was getting burned out doing both the card line and working at the print shop.
I happened to be doodling around and made my signature character into a musical note. Then I started writing silly little puns to go along with the notes and Notable Quotes was born.
Jump ahead a couple more years and I was doing a book signing at a bookstore in Lancaster, California, with my first cartoon collection of Notable Quotes. The entertainment editor at the paper had written a little feature about the event. He and I became friends and it wasn't long after that he asked if I'd like to draw a cartoon for the local paper. I jumped at the chance.
On November 1,1984 the first Rubes® was published.
It also means that you "get to" make the sales, send out promo material, do the billing, chase down the people who owe you $$ and experience all the pleasure of running your own business.
Call me old-fashioned but I still actually physically draw with a pencil on paper. There is something very satisfying with holding an original piece of art. Equally satisfying is tearing up the paper you struggled with all day because the gag didn't turn out as funny as it was originally envisioned.
The same cannot be said for drawing on a tablet. If you are unsatisfied, hitting "delete" does not give the same "take that you crappy drawing" sense of satisfaction. (Ah, the sweet sound of paper being torn in half!)
Eventually, sometimes sooner than later, a workable concept will magically appear on the paper. An average day is one cartoon. A good day, two. An extraordinary day, three - though honestly, after two I call it a day. After all, there's always tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, etc.
Describe what you do your demonstrations.
I like to think of myself as a "sit down comic."
Being in front of a live audience and telling jokes or sharing observational humor, going step by step through the creative process, connecting the dots, and of course some live doodling is great fun. It gives me the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life with whom I would never have the chance to meet otherwise.
What I hope that people take away from these live events is to find inspiration in their own lives by seeing from a slightly different and perhaps even humorous perspective, what would otherwise be mundane or unremarkable situations.
I'll bet you'll never guess how funny flossing could be until you think about a sheep or a spider doing it!
Advice you say? Well, yes. I do have some for what it's worth.
If someone you know tells or sends you a letter of rejection don't take it personally. See if you can find out exactly why that person turned you down. Get the specifics if possible.
One of my earliest letters of rejection came from a syndicate that loved my gags but thought my drawing needed work. I listened to them and really upped my game. That one reject coupled with some valuable constructive criticism made a huge impact on me and on my career.
Thanks, Leigh. And anything else you'd like to say before you leave?
It would make a fabulous Father's Day, graduation, belated Mother's Day, birthday or any day gift! Here's the link and a preview: Rubes.CartoonistBook.com
Besides creating comic humor for newspapers, Leigh has produced books of cartoons, magnets, greeting cards, e-cards, tee-shirts and box calendars. Be sure to visit also his web site and peruse his witty collections and books. http://www.rubescartoons.com/
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
- First hurdle was converting my final Aberdeen pdf to a MSWord file so I could edit! Ha! Not exactly a perfect conversion process. It was like reformatting the darned book over again. Having your final published pdf is a good thing, but it isn’t a slam-dunk to a fresh manuscript—especially if you want/need to make changes.
- Secondly, while converting, I couldn’t help but rewrite—and it was the most unique editing experience I’ve ever had. It was like editing someone else’s work, I write somewhat differently now, even my voice is different, while it simultaneously didn’t feel right I should change much. I did take out words, combined sentences, removed redundancies—the stuff you never see until reading again down the road. And the mortification at the errors that ended up in the published work! And that’s despite having wonderful and extremely competent editors at the time.
- Next, what do I do with the new and improved DPM? Here’s where I got lucky, Kitty Kladstrup at Champlain Avenue Books agreed to publish my second edition! I’m awaiting a proof to look over now.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Kate Thornton is a retired US Army officer who enjoys writing both mysteries and science fiction. With over 100 short stories in print, she teaches a short story class and is currently working on a series of romantic suspense novels. She divides her time between Southern California and Tucson, Arizona.
Writing in the Other Place
Writing is a solitary pursuit; when we write, we are alone with just a gazillion characters, situations, what-ifs and possibilities. It is a good time to create, experiment, and procrastinate.
Writing needs its own space, its own time and place. For some, it is the dining room table after the kids are asleep, or the home office complete with bookshelves and cat. For others it is the local Starbuck's or the cluttered desk at work before work starts.
For a few of us, it is a different house in a different state.
I live in Paradise, in Southern California, where it is beautiful every single day of the year. I live in the house of my dreams, a mid-century modern masterpiece of light and space, with lush gardens and a small pool. I have my own office, a light-filled room with bookshelves. I am fortunate to see these dreams realized after a lifetime of hard work.
So what's the problem?
Like a suitor who has been wooing the beautiful sister only to have his heart stolen by the mousy little girl with the great personality, I have been seeing another house on the side for a couple of years. A vacation home to start, it has become The Place and will soon become my permanent home.
I am moving to Tucson, Arizona.
|Photo by Albert Voirin|
But what can I do? It is the place where I can write. It is the place where I can be happy. When I am there, I don't want to come back. When I am there, I write.
I have friends there now, and enjoy the company of other writers. There is a thriving community of arts and letters in Tucson, and now I am a part of it.
So I am moving there. Moving - especially at my age - is a big pain, but it is necessary. I can't believe how much junk I have accumulated over just the last ten years, but only the necessities are going with us. Yes, my dear husband is on board with this. In fact, he may be even more eager to move than I.
|Photo by Albert Voirin|
So for now, we make periodic trips across the deserts to take stuff and when I am there, I write. I have dug out trunk novels and unfinished short stories. I spend time at the computer undistracted by television or Facebook or anything. I feel the light and the sun on me, and the gentle whoosh of the air conditioner or the cries of unfamiliar birds through an open door or the crackle of a log in the fireplace. And sometimes, I hear the pounding of rain, relentless, almost frightening in its intensity. But when I get up to look, the sky is already clear and the sun is making steam rise from a hot pavement.
I have found my writing place and it is 500 miles from where I am writing this now.
I look forward to this new chapter in my life, although I know I won't have much of an excuse for procrastination there. All the more reason to do it.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Editing and Outlines
But there is a remedy.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
I always write seasonal stories out of season - that way there is really no looming deadline and magazines really like to get their seasonal stuff lined up ahead of time. Writing short stories is not easy - they must be tight, have impact, be satisfying and, well, short.
But the really tough writing project I am working on is a novel I wrote in 1998. Back then, I thought I was a novelist and knocked out 3 or 4 long works - adventure/mysteries - that I thought were really good. Hah! Shows what little I knew! They needed a lot of work. So I shelved them (one was actually agented and had some interest from St. Martin's Press, only back then I didn't know enough about revisions to do the necessary rewrites.) The event that triggered this effort was lunch a while back with an old friend, a dear friend, who asked about that particular book and remembered it fondly. Bless my beta readers!
So I am re-reading it first (I have a copy printed on my old laser printer) then doing a page-by-page rewrite into my computer. I used to have this work on an ancient five-inch floppy disc, but who knows what happened to that and what I could use to extract the info anyway. Also, I think it was in one of the very first iterations of Word Perfect. Yes, I am old!
I once heard you must write a million words before you learn how to put them into the right order. I am sure this old effort was part of my first million, and therefore should just be counted as practice, not the real deal. But I want to salvage the basic story, change the main character to one I have been developing, and update the technology (both in the storyline and what I use to write with.)
Maybe it will be a successful project. If so, I have at least three more "Trunk Novels" that could get the same treatment, if they're worth it.
So, how about you? Do you save your old stuff and use it - or parts of it - later? I like the idea of doing this, but it sure is a lot of work. An author of my acquaintance recommends just ditching it all and writing something new. There is certainly a lot to be said for that approach. But there is also something about an old friend, a character you have created, coming home to the present and being with you again.
So, for now, I want to revisit this person and see if they can get used to the world as it is now. And I think maybe it will help me to accept the world of today as well.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Then I joined a Tai Chi class at the local Y, and the first people to welcome me were an Asian couple. The teacher was Black. A graceful Filipina taught me some of the moves. Suddenly, my world grew more colorful again—no pun intended there, or maybe it is. And I realized how I’d missed hanging out with people who didn’t look or talk like me. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Luckily for me, I come from a family that loves reading, loves books.
My dad always had his head in a book: mostly mysteries. Shelves were lined with well-
thumbed Agatha Christie novels, Lesley Charteris’ Simon Templar The Saint books. Dad read George Simenon’s whodunits about Inspector Maigret, in English and in French. From my mum and sister, Angela, came the gateway to a swathe of other adventures.
Johanna Spyri’s Heidi is one of my earliest recollections. Even today, when things get too much, I think back to the grassy Swiss mountainside where young Heidi lived with her grandfather, her best friend was Peter-the-Goatherd and her diet was toasted bread and cheese washed down with milk straight from the goats. Yum!
It was Enid Blyton’s books about The Famous Five – five young friends who get involved in school-holiday adventures – that got me interested in mysteries, long before I discovered the grown-up Agatha Christie titles.
My brother Ted says that, when he was old enough to join the local library, his Library Card was his proudest possession. “That first Saturday, I was allowed to take out The Secret Island (by Blyton). I dashed home and read it cover-to-cover. Later that afternoon I hurried back to the library to return it and take out another book. The Librarian told me I could only take out one book a day! I was devastated.”
I graduated to one of my sister’s favorite authors, Noel Streatfeild. Ballet Shoes was the first in the tales of three orphaned girls enrolled in a dance academy. Each girl’s dream takes them in different directions. My sister wanted to be a ballet dancer – I harbored secret dreams of being an actress, at that time.
While, on the other side of The Pond, American girls steeped themselves in the adventures of Nancy Drew, I had now discovered Pamela Brown’s book, The Swish of the Curtain. This was a series about seven stage-struck children who form an amateur theatre company. Brown was 16 years old when she finished this, her first novel. Her income from the book paid for her to attend R.A.D.A and become an actress.
It was Brown’s book, Maddy Alone, that took me in a different direction. When a film company arrives in the local town to shoot, Maddy is ‘discovered’ to play a big role in the movie. I then realized that it was movie-acting that I really wanted to pursue.
As a side-line, I loved the rebellious, naughty adventures of Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, and followed her fashion sense: the freckles I had in spades and I liked pigtails and her red-and-white striped stockings.
As I grew older, I raided dad’s Agatha Christie collection, then onto his F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler books. Ah! ‘America here I come,’ was my new song.
With a steady diet of Hollywood Movies on Sunday Matinee on ‘the telly,’ a direction began to emerge.
So I did start out as an actress in England on ‘the telly,’ on stage and in films – amidst 101 boring ‘temp’ jobs. I wrote articles for the English magazines to pay my way, never thinking for one minute that I would ever really be taken seriously as a writer.
With the lectures and conferences I attended, I was introduced to an amazing new world of writers. Many were mystery writers. We spoke the same language. They were immediately encouraging, supportive and generous with their knowledge. I began to write mysteries set in Old Hollywood. I finally felt at home.
Today, when I meet up with my family, we still talk books and writers – just as I do with my writer friends here in Los Angeles.
Lucky for me, the seed was planted early in our family. I think we learned to read almost before we were big enough to hold the books.
So, fellow bloggers and dear readers, what are your earliest memories of reading? The first books you read? Which books had the most influence on your growing up – on your life? I’d love to hear the American counterparts of my literary diet.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
She first first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no 'help wanted' ads for poets in the Sunday NY Times classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from NY University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. You can find out more about her books and follow her for her latest releases at Amazon.
Board games like Monopoly and Life held no interest for me. The object was to win, and while skill played some part, winning depended on luck, literally a toss of the dice. Even without knowing what would happen, you knew the limits of what could, and it always ended the same way, with only the name of the winner changing. But even worse, to play you had to follow a precise set of rules, and I hated to follow rules when I played. With make-believe, you set up a situation, give yourself, your playmates, and your surroundings roles, and then see what happens. Two chairs and a blanket becomes a fort, or cave. A bed serves as a life raft as you flee a sinking ship, or the deserted island where you land. The network of cellars that interconnects apartment buildings on a city block are the tunnels and alleyways where the good guys and bad guys dart about and hide out, planning their strategies for battle. The goal wasn’t to win, but to experience an adventure. To have fun.
I sought out younger companions to continue my penchant for imaginary play, but eventually they, too, stopped. But I never did.
When you don’t have playmates to share in the experience, you create the games in your mind, including all the characters, the setting, the situations, the problems. You play it at night in bed, before you fall asleep. You daydream it when there’s nothing better to do. Maybe you write it in a notebook.
When I became a teen, many of my friends had crushes on some singer or actor. I was rather naïve, but I saw an opportunity, picked a harmless teen heartthrob and joined in the fun. A few of us would make up fantasies of what it would be like to be with these men, or at least, who we imagined them to be. They were really empty shells, with the physical presence we saw on album covers or on television, which we filled with all the qualities we imagined they would have. All the qualities that would appeal to a shielded thirteen-year-old, that is. But at a certain level they, and the fantasy lives we shared with them, became real to us.
Yes, I did play with board games, coloring books, paper dolls and real dolls. Outside we’d jump rope, play hopscotch, tag, or handball with my friends. It was fun and I enjoyed it, yet I always elevated make-believe to the highest level of play, and in a sense, I still do.
Is it any wonder I became a storyteller?
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
In the quest for reader respect, self-published authors are always struggling to make our books as visually appealing as those of our traditionally published colleagues. Book cover artists can design a great cover that is formatted correctly for both digital and paper editions. One thing that I hadn't considered was using artwork to spruce up book's interior!
The idea came to me when I was reading a book that I can't put my hands on. (How embarrassing.) So, I looked in another book, One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O'Neil. I'm obviously not a genius, because I straightened the image and it's still sideways, but you can see the cute grape under the title.
Inside, at the beginning of each chapter, is another cute vine and grape leaf image. (Notice that I'm getting better, and the picture is only upside down.
Can Stock Photo
I finally decided on Dreamstime, which allows me to use the images I purchase at the Standard License level for up to 500,000 print copies of my book. Ebooks aren't counted. WARNING: Be sure to read the fine print v-e-r-y carefully to make sure you are purchasing the size you want and that it is available for commercial use. Some images are only available for blogs and other non-commercial use. SECOND WARNING: Make sure you don't purchase a vector image unless you have the appropriate (and expensive) photo software, such as Adobe Photoshop.
The pricing system can be confusing. Most sites sell their images by points, so you have to purchase points before you download the image. My two images cost 30 points, or $34.99.
I'm not a formatting expert, nor am I a technical wiz (see above photo disasters), but to test it out before I bought the images, I merely inserted clip art and found that it worked, as least in the ebook copy.
Here is the Kindle preview page.
Just this one little step helps with reader perception by giving my books the look of traditionally published novel.
Sometimes, it's the little things.