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Category Archives: Writing

always learning

I recently attended a workshop on creating children's picture books and while the experience this time around did not live up to my expectations of challenging work, nor did it measure up to past workshops I'd attended, I did hear some valuable information. Even though I already knew this, I was reminded of how important it is to practice your craft everyday. Be it drawing or writing, it is all important to just do it every single day. The instructor is a wonderful illustrator and writer who sketches everyday. His sketch books are awesome to behold and I wish I could produce a finished product that is half as good as his "rough" sketches! That being said, I have been trying to learn how to draw squirrels for a story I wrote. They are hard little critters to master but I am happy with the combination of reality and caricature that I have come up with for my squirrels. I think they are whimsical but you can still tell that they are a woodland creature.... squirrels ...and back to reality, I am at least trying to challenge myself while licking my wounds from a less than stellar experience. I am fortunate to have a writing partner who is also working on a children's book and she is a tougher task master so the beat goes on....

working hard…..

I'm happy to say that not only did I finish the children's book I had started 3 years ago, I have also started another and I'm halfway through doing the illustrations for it. There are a LOT of snow scenes in this one (like every single page) and I had never really painted much snow before so I had to learn as I went along. It was a combination of watching youtube videos and trial and error but I'm happy with the way the pages are looking. Here's a little sample of the new book and it's main character though I won't disclose his identity just yet. Suffice it to say that he's a pretty cool guy and I really enjoy drawing him... Jack Frost pg 4 1

Sneak peek….

I've been working hard on my children's picture book and I'm determined to get it finished at long last. It is all done with the collage method of art so it's very labor intensive but gives each page a wonderful 3-dimensional look. This is just one of the dozen pages I've completed thus far...100_2426 You may notice that a Scottie dog has made his way into my book.....

A white tailed tale….

100_0493 Morning was happening but a thick impenetrable wall of fog wasn't going to let any sun shine upon it. The trees stood out in shadowed relief and a gloom pervaded the dawning. Even the backyard squirrels had stayed in their cozy nests leaving a lone chickadee to enjoy an undisturbed breakfast at the feeder. A motion out of the corner of my eye brought me to attention and I looked up to see the lame deer grazing on the creeping myrtle outside the patio doors. She was so beautiful and no matter how many times I had seen her, I was always in awe of her obvious will to survive despite her handicap. Her right hind leg had been mangled somehow.  Was she hit by a car, caught in a trap or had she just snapped her leg by stepping into a hole? I'd never know but I'd watched her solitary quest to live for over a year now and she was as familiar to me as the mourning doves under the feeder. I'd taken to supplementing her diet of greens with some deer food purchased at the local Agway store. A few cups scooped into an old frying pan and placed upon a flat wooden wheel barrow on the back bank became an oasis for her during the unusually long and bitter winter months. She came twice a day and I tried to make sure there was something out there to sustain her. She was so alone and hurt that it made my heart ache to see her. I tried to approach her once as she lay in the winter sun by my shed. I slowly extended a carrot towards her but she was not falling for any interaction with the likes of me!! Over the long months of winter though she became familiar with me and my noisy dogs peering through the windows at her. Still leary of sudden movements but willing to accept my charity, she became a bit more accepting of my presence on the other side of the patio doors. An occasional apple cut into quarters became an evening treat that she munched with obvious pleasure. She would camp out beneath my neighbor's tall evergreen trees where the thick bed of pine needles made an acceptable mattress. She had a path worn down through the icy snow between her bed and her meals. Some days I would see blood stains in the snow when I went out to refill the frying pan with feed. Her disability made maneuvering through the snow very difficult and she had a  bad limp since she was using only three legs but she managed to keep going day after day,  week after week and ultimately month after month until winter was over....finally over. Spring brought new growth to the underbrush and with it new nourishment for her hunger. She would disappear for weeks at a time into the woods across the street from my house where the stream ran freely now offering a refreshing drink along with the new vegetation. But she would make an appearance every so often to forage a bit under the bird feeder and pause for a salad of greens from the bank. The deer feed was no longer needed as she could now fend for herself from nature's bounty... as it should be. I didn't want her to be dependent...I only wanted to help her survive the cruel winter and help her to heal and adjust to her disability. And adjust she did! I thought if she could communicate with me that she would just be one of those stoic patients who never complain of their pain. She would be the best one in the re-hab place! I rejoiced that she had overcome it all. I was so proud of her. I enjoyed her occasional visits through the spring, summer and fall months and began to fret over the upcoming hunting season. Thanksgiving came and on it's heels was the first day of rifle season. Oh how I worried. I could hear shots ring out and I would cringe but then she would come by as if to let me know that she was okay. One day just before Christmas, almost exactly a year from when she first limped into my backyard, she arrived looking for her frypan full of feed. Finding it in its usual place, she proceeded to have dinner as if this was the most natural thing in the world now that winter had set in once again. A few days later she returned with a handsome button buck who she shared her dinner with!! She seemed especially proud to "introduce" him to her tenuous "family" on the other side of the glass!! He was very skittish of the movements within the house and especially of the ruckus made by the dogs, but he eventually became a bit more trusting that we were not going to burst forth and attack him. I had named her Holly since she came to me at Christmas time last year and so I dubbed him "Nick" for the same reason. Our local hunters have been kind...passing the word not to shoot the lame deer... who has become somewhat of a legend in the neighborhood, thanks to social media and word of mouth!! Our beautiful couple have survived the months of hunting season somehow by the grace of God.  I can now relax a bit and just enjoy the visits I that am lucky enough to witness. Hopefully they will avoid traffic and stay to the woods and our little neighborhood so that we can enjoy them for many months to come. I think it's nothing short of a miracle that Holly has survived for over a year and that she has flourished in spite of her handicap. I am so happy that she can now put some weight on her leg and mostly I am grateful that she has companionship after being alone and hurting for so long!! I love that "Nick" looks past her lameness to her beauty as I do. Am I romanticizing this pair?…yes!! But I know what I know and I see what I see and it has been beautiful to my eyes and"dear" to my heart..... 100_2079

AEDM Day 13 … A Pal for Fuzzy

My little dog, Fuzzy has a nice pal to accompany her in my children's book, His name is Scotty Mac. So here he is ... no black cats for Friday the 13th...just a sweet black doggie. (You know I love them!)Scotty Mac

AEDM Day 12 A work in progress…

I'm back to working on a children's book that I wrote over a year ago. The illustrations in the mock-up copy are very basic so the first order of business will be to fill out the drawings with more detail. The copy may also need just a tad of "tweaking" so I'll work on that simultaneously. My writing partner has made a suggestion that I'm considering so I'll also fiddle with that idea to see if it will work with this particular book. This is one of the little "characters" in the book. Her name is "Fuzzy"....Clara

Isn't she a cutie?

Working…

Ever since I came home from the writer's workshop that I attended recently through the Highlights Foundation, I have really been working hard. I didn't expect to have a renewed desire to do some illustrations, but I guess that was a "bonus" that I came home with too! On the final day of the workshop, we were being shown how to mock up a book. This exercise is more or less to see where the breaks are in the text for each page. There are generally 32 pages in a story book so you can see where this information would be extremely useful. It is a good way to make sure that you have enough "meat" in your manuscript to do a story book with it. Well, in doing this exercise at home, I decided to add the illustrations for the text as I imagined an illustrator would do them. I can't believe how long it took me to just do this first draft of illustrations and edit the manuscript as I went along but last night I finished my little "mocked up" book! Editors don't really want to see a manuscript with illustrations so this was strictly for me to see how an editor would possibly lay it out on the pages. I'm very proud of this little book even though it's just for me. I'm also pleased that I saw it through to the end knowing this! Discipline is a bitter pill to keep swallowing but if you enjoy what you're doing, it pays to stick with it…no matter the reason! Scan 36 I've also been writing a variety of things and editing and re-writing…an endless job. It's like painting an abstract and wondering if it's done or not! Also doing the dreaded market research which gives me a tremendous headache after a while. I'm blessed that I have the time to do what I love to do. I'm getting a lot of use out of my new laptop and I'm enjoying long days on the front porch with Fergus and Shamus to keep me company. It's like my "summer office" out there! My hubby keeps busy in the garden and the yard and has his music playing as he works around. I'm doing what I love and loving what I'm doing. Life is good! 100_9512 100_9539

A wonderful working get-away

On June 12th, I traveled a little over one hour from my home to Boyds Mills to participate in a writer's workshop through the Highlights Foundation. Yes, that's the Highlights Magazine that you knew and loved as a child. The one you purchased for your kids and maybe even your grandkids! I am fortunate to live close to their headquarters in Honesdale, Pa. The Foundation has a great facility nearby at Boyds Mills where they hold intensive writer's and illustrator's workshops and retreats. The complex is centered around a wonderful new "barn" where all the sessions are held and exquisite gourmet meals are prepared and served to the participants. The morning starts with yoga in the loft if you care to join in or you could take a hike along a meandering stream. Or you might just want to sleep in a little since you can't do that at home. You will be staying in your own fully equipped cabin surrounded by woods and other cabins…just a short walk away from the barn. Or you might be in the new lodge with a few other folks. One thing is certain…you will be in a setting that will feed your creative soul! Even mealtimes will bring lively conversations about your goals as a writer or artist as you share the meals with like-minded people. Go to  http://www.highlightsfoundation.org for a list of all the exciting workshops that are scheduled for the coming months of 2014.  Some of them still have openings and you will surely find one that will interest you!  You will be treated so royally during your stay that you will barely notice how hard you are working! You will come home with a renewed enthusiasm for your craft as well as new techniques that you can't wait to use. You will make some wonderful friends and discover new networks for your writing or art. 100_9424 The particular workshop I attended was called PB & J and was tailored towards children's picture books (and all that jazz.) We each worked on a manuscript while we were there (Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon) doing many revisions and critiques. Lots of moans and tons of laughs! Our group leaders were published children's book authors, Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski who were wonderful teachers and fearless in their editing and critiquing! Guests speakers were  Stephanie Pitts who is an editor with Schwartz & Wade Books and Illustrator, Henry Cole whose awesome art can be found in many a children's book. Henry's wit provided some comic relief as a foil to how intensely we were working on our revisions!  All four of these pros shared much trade knowledge and many inside tips with us. Invaluable information! 100_9421 100_9430 100_9428 I already have my next workshop picked out. All I have to do now is start dropping coins into the piggy bank towards that goal! Meanwhile, I continue to write and make art because…it's what I do….

Creative Point of View

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copyright notice

All images and writings presented on this blog are copyrighted and are the property of Maron Craig Bielovitz. As such, it is unlawful to use these images or material without her express written permission