Tag Archives: art

In the Picture: Prepping Images for Your Ebook

Last month I discussed how to clean up your manuscript to prepare it for ebook conversion. This time I’m going to be looking at how to do the same thing with images.[1]

There’s one big difference, however: where the advice that I gave you about getting your text squeaky clean was equally valid for preparing to convert your words to either print or ebook format, these suggestions are ebook-only.

What’s the difference?

Well, in either case, you’re going to start by finding the perfect picture to go with your words. You’re going to crop the picture (cutting out any extraneous bits) and enhance it (or get someone who knows how to do so) so that it looks beautiful.

However, there are two enormous differences between the image files you want to use in an ebook and ones you’re going to get printed on paper:

  1. In a print book, color is expensive, while in an ebook beautiful color costs (essentially) the same as black and white.
  2. On the other hand, in print, you want the image file that goes off to the printer to be as high quality (that is to say, large) as possible, while in an ebook, every kilobyte costs you (I’ll explain how below).

 

Continue reading In the Picture: Prepping Images for Your Ebook

Tending the Spark

The Unfortunates
Ramiz Monsef

There’s the intoxicating flame of creating, of feeling inspiration hit you. And then there’s the equally heady, very different feeling of watching someone you’ve inspired — a child, a student — catch fire himself. Sometimes the two come together.

Before I turned full-time to publishing, I was — like my wife Maura — an actor and acting teacher. About sixteen years ago, we had the good fortune to teach a young man named Ramiz Monsef who took to what we were teaching as if he had been born to it. It was a little humbling to watch as he inhaled both the techniques we were offering to him and his classmates and the philosophy behind them and made them very much his own. Inspiration comes from the Latin meaning literally “breathe in.” That’s what Ramiz did.

That was half of his lifetime ago, but we’ve kept in touch with Ramiz, following as he continued his studies and launched a career, eventually becoming a resident actor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

This summer Maura and I headed up to Ashland, home of the OSF, to watch The Unfortunates, the original musical that Ramiz had helped to conceive and write, which premiered at the festival. Continue reading Tending the Spark

Christina's World – On Struggle and Story

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009). Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel. 32 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Andrew Wyeth

I was talking with an author the other day. We were discussing cover art, and the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World” came up.

Not that we wanted to use that piece, but we wanted to evoke the same feeling.

What’s so evocative about “Christina’s World”? Well, I’m not an image person so much as a story person, and for me, it’s the central figure’s determination, her yearning.

The actual Christina — the model for the body (though not the head) in the painting* — was a paraplegic who refused to use a wheelchair; she moved around the farm that she and her brother lived on solely through the use of her arms.

Why were we discussing this? Well, obviously, its an incredibly evocative image. More to the point, Nicole Sykes, the author I’m working with, was born with cerebral palsy. Speech is a challenge for her. She has partial control over her left hand, but doesn’t use her right. Her mobility is provided by a motorized wheel chair. She speaks — and writes — by tapping a large keypad with the back of her left fist; speech is synthesized in Stephen Hawking-like bursts.

And she’s written a memoir. A funny memoir. Continue reading Christina's World – On Struggle and Story

Christina’s World – On Struggle and Story

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009). Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel. 32 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Andrew Wyeth

I was talking with an author the other day. We were discussing cover art, and the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World” came up.

Not that we wanted to use that piece, but we wanted to evoke the same feeling.

What’s so evocative about “Christina’s World”? Well, I’m not an image person so much as a story person, and for me, it’s the central figure’s determination, her yearning.

The actual Christina — the model for the body (though not the head) in the painting* — was a paraplegic who refused to use a wheelchair; she moved around the farm that she and her brother lived on solely through the use of her arms.

Why were we discussing this? Well, obviously, its an incredibly evocative image. More to the point, Nicole Sykes, the author I’m working with, was born with cerebral palsy. Speech is a challenge for her. She has partial control over her left hand, but doesn’t use her right. Her mobility is provided by a motorized wheel chair. She speaks — and writes — by tapping a large keypad with the back of her left fist; speech is synthesized in Stephen Hawking-like bursts.

And she’s written a memoir. A funny memoir. Continue reading Christina’s World – On Struggle and Story

Seven Gods of Luck Available Now!

The Seven Gods of Luck – Now Available!

Limited-Time Special Offer:
Print, Ebook and Audiobook for $23.95 $9.99!

Stillpoint Releases Classic Folktale

November 1, 2012 – Stillpoint Digital Press announces the release of the fifteenth anniversary edition of the picturebook retelling of the classic Japanese folktale, The Seven Gods of Luck by David Kudler with illustrations by Linda Finch. Set during O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year festival, The Seven Gods of Luck is a magical holiday tale of generosity rewarded.
Continue reading Seven Gods of Luck Available Now!

Thanks for helping us choose our cover!

Thanks to all of you who voted and who shared your wonderful insights regarding the cover for The Seven Gods of Luck! Here’s the final design (which has been uploaded to the printer–we’re waiting, again likely children before the holidays, for what we hope and trust are the final proofs):
Continue reading Thanks for helping us choose our cover!

Seven Gods Cover Art – A Poll

I need your help!

So I’ve been working away to prepare The Seven Gods of Luck for simultaneous release as an ebook, a paperback, and an audiobook. Great fun! It’s almost ready…

Except for one thing — the cover.

I’ve been assuming that we’d be using a cover very similar to the one designed for the original edition:
Continue reading Seven Gods Cover Art – A Poll

The (Other) Little Death

Painting by Helene Steele © Helen Steele
Painting © Helene Steele

My fourteen-year-old interviewed an artist yesterday for Fastforward, the local kids’ newspaper: a wonderful painter by the name of Helen Steele. I went along as chauffeur and photographer.

Julia asked some great questions, which got Ms. Steele talking eloquently about the most interesting thing of all: her process as an artist. She talked about how she starts a painting–not the way that I’d have thought, with an image in mind, but by working with texture and color until she sees something on the canvas and then begins to work to bring it out. Fascinating.

“There comes a point in every painting, though,” Steele said, “where I have to take what I thought I was doing–the thing that I’ve been so focused on–and kill it off, let it die. And that’s usually when the painting really takes off.”

Her comment hit me between the eyes like one of the diamond pickaxes from the games of Minecraft that Julia’s friends are always talking about.

I realized that the same thing was true of just about every writing or editing project that I’ve been involved with: that at some point, I have to take the part of the book that I’ve been fussing at and obsessing over for hours or weeks or months (or, in the case of a book I finished writing recently, for four years) and kill it. Let it die.

And that made me think of the schema of the Hero’s Journey mapped out in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. There’s a point in most hero tales where the hero (or heroine) has to face a death–either real or metaphoric. Harry Potter allows himself to be killed. Luke Skywalker cuts off his own head (though he thinks it’s Darth Vader’s at the time). Odysseus goes down with his ship before washing up naked on the beach to be found by Nausicaa.

It’s only after this death that the hero can reach his or her potential–can become truly a hero. The old self has to perish in order for the true self to be born.

In every creative project, there’s that moment: the pinnacle of frustration and the abyss of despair. And it’s only by letting go of the thing that we think is so important–the sequence or passage or sentence or character or scene or chapter that we’ve been banging up against that we can discover what the heart of the piece we’re working on truly is.

So, hard as it is, we have to learn to welcome that little death and learn to see it as the narrow, dark passage to the unknown, glorious fulfillment of our own creative work.