Sunday, October 31, 2010

One More day of Halloween Fun then...

NaNoRiMo! Next month is November. No, surprise there. And I have joined a group of writers, other blog friends, SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators) friends and associates to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

What is NaNoWriMo ( It is a writing challenge that has grown over the years to prompt writers out there to put their butt in a chair and write. The challenge is to write a 50,000 novel in the month of November (that’s only about 1,600 words a day). You start from scratch with a new idea or one that you have been chewing on but haven't really started. Everyone who participates starts at the same time, Nov. 1st, and writes their brains out. It is designed to get the ideas down and not worry about all the editing or rewriting. It ends Nov. 30th, hopefully with a new manuscript to edit. And a few new friends.

Last year there were 165,000 participants from all over the world and I think the Seattle area came in first in total word count. Must be all that rain and the free flowing coffee. I have talked to several SCBWI friends that have done this and they love it (and hate it). A marathon for writers where you don’t even have to wear shoes! Even if you only get 1/2 or 1/3 of the way to 50,000 words – you still win!

Ever wanted to write that novel? Now’s the time to start.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Details, details...

It is amazing what can stick in your head from childhood. When I'm writing or illustrating I pull from those odd little memories to deepen a character. Details make a difference in whether your character is dimensional or flat as the paper you are using. Details give subtle clue s to the characters personality and can foreshadow events. Details are the 'showing' not the 'telling' that is so important to a good story.

Any thing well remembered from childhood or adolescence works.  I remember a little Halloween song I learned in 3rd grade - that's about 48 years ago now. The words go like this:
The witch is riding high.
Have you seen
her shadow in the sky?
So beware, don't you dare
to even boast or a ghost
to your dismay
will hear you say
you don't care to say a prayer.
Or it may come and
Pull your hair!

The song still gives me goose bumps when I sing it on Halloween night...and I still sing it! I think it might appear in one of my stories someday. What Halloween memory keeps haunting you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not so Creative Halloween Costumes

Does anyone remember those old 50's and 60's Collegeville and Cooper brand Halloween costumes? You know the ones that came in a cardboard box and included a plastic mask with painted-on hair, hats and smiles. The costume itself was all-in-one, tie-on and flame proof! My brother once tested that claim with a match; the costume edge didn’t flame at all, it just melted. The top and bottom of the costume were permanently attached to each other and all the details printed on the fabric like jewelry, glasses and mustaches.

My witch suit 195
Most of them depicted cartoon characters or movie heroes or princesses. We loved those things! You couldn’t really breathe through the oval mouth hole, it made made you sound like Darth Vader, of course we didn't know who Darth Vader was then. Your face got sweaty behind those masks and your vision was severely constricted by those teensy, weensy eye holes.

We always carried a big hollow, plastic jack-o-lantern with a black handle for all our loot and a flash light for safety. The flashlight was also good for shining in your siblings eyes and destroying what little night vision they had through the mask’s creepy eye-holes.

Kate the Witch, 2009
Next Halloween you had to wear a hand-me-down costume unless you pitched a fit about being a princess because you were a boy. The inside of the hand-me-down mask might smell vaguely like candy corn and chili and the edge of the costume might be ripped or melted a little. Maw haa haa… I was the oldest kid, so it was one of my old costumes that got handed down to my sibs.

Costumes have come a long way from the early the 50s. What has your creative mind come up with for Halloween this year?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creative Thinking…

Teaching creativity is teaching the brain to think differently. Following ‘the straight and narrow’ path leads straight to tunnel vision in the creative world. Psychologist say to broaden your horizons and to promote creativity you must widen your path laterally. That works well for some problem solving and helps in creating empathy for other points of view. However, to really expand your creativity you need to think spherically.

What is linear, lateral and spherical thinking? Well, imagine driving your car home; you have a road ahead runs in a familiar even line. It is the linear path – straight and narrow, linear thinking. You may see some side roads along the way that you’ve never taken before; side roads that basically go in the generally the same direction as the original straight line but hey curve and meander a bit, these side roads can become your alternate path. The side roads give you a new and different path that can get you to the same place – home. This is lateral thinking.

Now imagine you are in an airplane, not only do you have to deal with what is straight in front and in back of you but also what’s side to side: the lateral view. But being in an airplane also means you must pay attention to the air that surrounds you in every direction: the spherical view. Behold, spherical thinking!

Try thinking spherically and you will likely experience a global perspective both in your art and in your life…unless you happen to be a gerbil.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Minor Redesign of My Blog or Me?

Did you notice? I did a little redesign of this blog. I was trying to make it a little more ‘me’ and a little less ‘Blogger Design: ‘Rounded Corners’. It took longer than I thought because I found I didn’t really have a clear idea of which me I wanted to show. The trouble was that were infinite images that could be me.

After a little self-searching I realize that there is not one image, illustration or design that is the real ‘me’.
Today I might feel childlike adventuresome or shy. I might have loads of self-confidence or feel like gnome (I kind of look like one). I might be a subtle pastel or vibrant sunset.

So I decided the safest route to the blog redesign was to match-up my blog header with my web page background (

Now when someone reads my blog they will hear a little bit of me in every entry and when they link to my website, they will see a little of me in every picture there. However this blog and the CedarMoon web page are still very much works in progress with many more illustrations, ideas and stories and yes, redesigns to come.

Oh, I guess that is the real me!A work in progress with more illustrations, ideas, stories and redesigns to come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creativity and Halloween...

Mwaah ha ha
“By the prickling of my thumbs, 
       something wicked this way comes…”

Halloween has been known as the Roman; Pomona, the Celtic; Samhain (pronounced sow-in), the Mexican; Day of the Dead (Nov. 2nd), Old English; All Hallow’s Eve (Hallows = Saints). Even Shakespeare mentioned Hallowmas, the day after All Hallow’s Eve. However no one celebrates Halloween quite like North America with pumpkins and costumes and trick or treating.

Halloween brings out the creativity in just about everyone. This week I saw teens and grandmothers cruising through the Good Will searching for something to wear on Halloween. I heard comments like “What can I do with this?” or “I need something green.” or “Does this make me look dead?”.

I too was searching for something odd and wonderful to wear as a hostess of the local Garden Club October lunch, boring you say? Oh no, I would never let even a garden club lunch be boring.  

Lunch is served...
My theme was “Recipe for the Perfect Man” a Frankenstein-esque tableau of body parts and ingredients from dreamy eyeballs to a heart of gold and everything in-between. I spent several hours ‘canning’ up parts to display on the table.
With a lot of dry ice, some clear tubing, some lightening and four women (who literally looked sewn together) and you have a creative lunch fit for a ghoul. It didn’t even kill anyone’s appetite. All the food, even the severed ladyfingers, disappeared.

Halloween allows you to be someone or something you aren’t. It opens up your imagination and allows you to explore the things that scare you and meet them head on. It softens your sense of reality and lets you play along if you let it. It also helps you deal with the fact that the nights are getting longer and we will have to face the dark eventually.

So get out there, rummage through the garage or attic and find something to wear that will allow you to step out of yourself and find the creativity of play. Halloween comes but once year – have fun!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kate's P&W received a Blog Award

One of my follower's Melissa L. Gil at Melissa Getting Published gave me a blog award: The One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Melissa, this is my first one.

I researched this award a little and found out it started at least as far back as 2008. Basically you receive the award, acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you then pass it forward to at least 3 (or 5 or 15, the quantity seems to vary) other bloggers that you have newly discovered. Then contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

This is a wonderful way to tag other bloggers and explore new blog sites. It also is a good way to get more followers and find new perspectives. I'm going to review my favorite sites and pick my own award winners soon. This may be harder than it sounds.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Place to Write or Draw…

There is unending advice about how, why, whom and when to write or draw but seldom do you read about where to do your passion. Where do you find that special place, one fertile enough but private enough to create?

It’s popular today to jump off the gerbil wheel of the office or ditch the constant din of domestic bliss for a coffee shop where the caffeine runs freely and the sounds of steam and conversation become a non-distracting white noise. The WiFi is free and there is usually not a clock to be seen.

Some people like to escape to a hotel room or a cabin on an uninhabited pond like Rowling or Walden. Some are lucky enough to have a haven set aside in or near their house where they can let the muse sit quietly by and interrupt only when necessary or invited. Choosing your writing sanctuary might be found serendipitously (love that word) or found only after a great search. It just might be found where you are at the moment. Often it’s a personal place or a place that contains memories. Or it’s the only uncluttered spot on the kitchen table.

A few essentials for choosing that inspiring place:

1) Find a good chair, a non-finicky computer, a well oiled typewriter or good pen (for the traditionalists). Author/illustrators should have all their art toys and materials surrounding them. Make a contract with yourself not to use the WiFi except for reference. Turn off the phone.

2) Have a dictionary or spell checker available. A Thesaurus is handy too.

3) Always start with a clear workspace either on your desk or table or your digital desktop. Hide all the open documents and piles of paper. Close all the programs but your writing program. File away the mail, bills and catalogs even if it’s just under the desk or in a computer file labeled “Later”. Put out the cat, kennel the dog and tell the kids to go outside and play.

4) Be comfortable. Unless you are writing of pain, angst, urgency and despair, definitely have a bathroom nearby (or a handy forest). Find the best lighting; too bright or too dark ambient lighting strains your eyes. Stay warm but not too warm; your brain works better when it’s not worried about shivering or sweating. And don’t forget some munchies – writer’s block often starts with low blood sugar!

5) Leave self-doubt in the closet. Then “Just do it”.

Where is your perfect place?

Monday, October 4, 2010

I have an Idea...

My family cringes when I say "I have an idea," but they listen anyway. Some of my ideas don't work or never get done or run into huge brick walls. But I have them and I share them and I do write them down. A notepad is by my pillow, another on the passenger side of my car and another in my studio. This may seem like an organization nightmare but I do take these notebooks and compile them – occasionally.
My idea of painted baseball fans for a theater set. Can you tell which one is me?
I get my ideas in dreams and while driving and sitting by the ocean. I get them from old friends and old people and old photos. I get them from my muse and my cats and my memories. I find ideas under rocks, behind the trees and in the sky. I see them in the moon and the stars and the great hot sun. And, well, I guess a better question for me would be be, "Where don't you get your ideas?"

I've got writing several works-in-progress going at the moment. Including a non-fiction Picture Book story about crab apple tree and Middle Grade about a boy who stows away on a hot air balloon and a Young Adult about a teen who inherits her Irish grandmother's Pooka.  I'm discovering the writing in one genre opens up ideas and better writing in the other ones. For instance writing a picture books forces to me find the essence. Writing MG is usually done from a narrator or storyteller's POV and YA is almost always 1st person. It stretches my mind. It also improves my typing skills and my spelling. And it provides me with text to illustrate.

I write at least 1 hour a day. I draw at least once a day and don't limit my time. The rest of the time life, people, theater, family, cats, Puget sound and books get the way. I have an idea, lots of ideas and I always will.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How not to be creative – an internal perspective

I used to think that I absolutely positively had to get my chores done before I was allowed to do anything I wanted to do. That’s what I had always been told and I believed it because I was a kid. But now as a grown-up I realize that although it’s a fairly good lesson to teach children, it can become a crutch later in life.
It can become a reason not to do art, or to write or to daydream.
You know those internal dialogs that insist that:
a) I can’t work on a drawing until I finish cleaning the floor, the dishes, the kids, the top of the bookcase, the cat....
b) I can’t sit down and write while the laundry piles up or the shopping need to be done.
c) I shouldn’t be daydreaming a picture book when weeds need to be pulled.
d) I’ve got to answer that email (oh, look at that youtube video – isn’t that cute!).
e) Etc. and so on...fill in the blanks.
What excuses do you use to NOT to make art?