This one might be geared a little more toward writers, but I think anyone who needs to write a regular newsletter would get valuable tips from this book.
I picked this book up because I really wanted to learn how to do my newsletter better. I want to have an engaged audience, not just a whole bunch of emails where the owner, assuming they have actually given you a real address and not a spam account, actually opens them up and reads them rather than letting them go to die.
I know several people read my blog. I only hope that they enjoy it. I have to assume that you do, or you wouldn’t keep coming back. I appreciate that. It’s always been my hope that there will get to be more engagement here too. I keep shifting, trying things out, waiting.
I’m not a very patient person.
But I also want to do the same thing with my newsletter and I knew that would mean that I’d have to improve my skills. Since I just started writing a ninja series, this caught my eye. Yes, I wanted to be a newsletter ninja.
As I predicted last week, this week was a challenge with Adrian’s play going on. But, it all worked out anyway.
I went to see his play, The Puppet Tree, twice. Here’s a picture on him with one of the puppets he played.
Coordinating schedules and getting home to let the dogs outside too up a major chunk of time. Clearing up a clogged sink also didn’t help matters. Many times I wasn’t even beginning to write my words until 11:00 p.m.
Plus I was finishing up a newsletter to get out last weekend. Fun stuff.
Then there was the major breakthrough on Cirvel’s story which helped to clear up a lot of the questions I’ve had about all of it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to write all of it down when I got it, so I later captured what I remembered and I’m waiting for the rest to return. I know it will, but I must be patient about it.
As I said last Monday, my son had come home from college for the holiday. It was great having him home (of course). He hung out with me, he hung out with his brother, we all hung out together — it was a whole holiday hang out party.
While enjoying his company, I finished the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki and got it uploaded. That meant I also had to design the cover for that edition too. I do hope that in a couple of weeks I can report that the audiobook is available.
Meanwhile, I also started on editing the audio I recorded for Fall’s Confession. I also fixed the errata I found in Fall’s Confession and re-uploaded it.
I’ve made October an interesting month so far. Now not only do I have the “get the words done” goal each day, but I also have a picture to draw and ink for Inktober. Hopefully you saw my post last Thursday showing all the one’s I’d completed up to that point. Yes, there will be more this Thursday. But, as I said, now I have two goals to reach per day instead of only one.
See, my life is the same as everyone else’s. I wish I could make a plan to accomplish my daily goals, every day, without fail. My achiever personality really would like it that way. But reality is reality and can’t always be anticipated. So I fear the day where I miss my goals.
I’ve been trying to record, when I’m home, a chapter on Saturday and another on Sunday. For the most part, it works really well. I haven’t even been setting an alarm to get up extra early to do it. I’ve just let it happen.
This weekend, I hadn’t expected on a dog puking in the middle of the night. On my bed.
It’s bad enough to wake up to the sound, but to realize that she is on my bed is even worse.
I had to get up and clean the mess. Not fun. I should have known that since Kreeli had come in to sleep with me when Adrian was home that she wasn’t feeling well. She loves Adrian and sticks with him nearly all the time. She’s a pure breed Shih Tzu and his companion; living true to her breeding. The only time she really stays with me is when Adrian is gone, she wants some quiet time in my writing office away from everything else, or she’s sick. She hadn’t come in to stay with me after I went to bed and Adrian hadn’t come home from work yet, so I should have been suspicious when she came in after he got home. I just felt her move up on the bed and didn’t give it much more thought.
Until that moment I was cleaning up my blankets in the middle of the night.
Needless to say, it disrupted my sleep cycle and I certainly didn’t wake up earlier than usual.
But the morning still worked out so I could jump in the booth and record a chapter while Adrian took Merlin for a walk. Strangely (not really), Kreeli didn’t want to go; she stayed home and slept. I had nearly finished the chapter when Adrian came home, and I did finish while he started getting breakfast together. Worked out perfectly.
So often when I’m writing a blog post meant to inspire, I talk about it being a choice. You can’t help it when life happens to you (a puking dog in the middle of the night), but you can’t let it stop you from choosing your dreams (figuring out how to record a chapter even when everyone in the house is now awake). I even thought about recording the chapter after I’d finished cleaning up and was getting ready to settle back into bed. I didn’t because I knew I was so tired and I wanted to give a good performance, not a mediocre, irritated, tired one.
And so that is how this week had gone. I made the choice to do Inktober, so I need to figure out how to work it into a schedule that already seems too full. I’m hoping that Inktober serves the same purpose that Nanowrimo did nearly 3 years ago when I participated in that; forces me to learn to use my time wisely to achieve my goals. I know a lot of writers who don’t like Nanowrimo for one reason or another. I think it works well for overcoming the mental block of “I don’t have time to write.” Even if the writer tries and fails, they tried and learned what they are capable of doing. I really want to know how to fit drawing into my schedule, even though I have done it long enough to finish Eggs at Play, I also want to find time to practice/learn/experiment, draw my comic, paint, and work on my next children’s book. The only way I will do that is if I make the choice to do something that will push and challenge me so I can prove to myself that I can do it.
It’s not like i write 50,000 words every month as in Nanowrimo. Most months, I only average around 30,000. That’s a comfortable amount for me. Yes, I have proven I can do 50,000, but I now know where a good level is for me. It’s like weight-lifting where you see how much you can lift, then you adjust down to a lower weight in order to do the reps. I want Inktober to show me that I can draw every day, how that flow feels, and helps me get back to a schedule where I have drawing incorporated into my week.
I’ll tell you, it has already proven enlightening. I have discovered something about myself that I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been pushing myself to get Inktober drawings done. I learned that I can’t see lines. I am finally understanding what artists mean by figuring out the shapes, and I understand the concept of negative space, but I haven’t figured out how to simplify something like a photograph down to its simplest lines. This shouldn’t really surprise me. When I listen to music, I hear everything at once, merges, blended. It takes a lot of concentration that I can’t maintain for long if I want to pull one part out, like bass, drums, or a trumpet. I certainly can’t tell what notes they are playing or even attempt to recreate it. When I learned that people could actually follow each individual part and play it, I was astounded.
So what lead me to the realization about the lines? Well, when I was working on Inktober drawings, I would find something simple as a reference drawing. I should have taken a picture of the under-drawing for the “chicken” prompt — I had the cutest little chicken under the cow suit. All but his face was closed off by the time I finished, and the eyes on the face weren’t cute, little, round buttons any more, but sharp eagle eyes. Now mind you, the chicken reference picture was that of a plush. The cow outfit on the chicken I modified from a couple different cartoon references. The “exhausted” prompt where I drew a dead horse, I found a cartoon of a horse with its legs up in the air. It had a saddle on, which I removed in drawing. Then I added all the scenery around it. Yes, it seemed like I was taking simple drawings for reference, then adding my own details to it.
Then, on Sunday, I sat down at Barnes & Noble with some magazines and found a picture I wanted to sketch. It was of a simple cottage with a thatched roof. I’d really like to be able to paint cottages like this. It’s one of my goals. So, I thought sketching this one would help improve my skills. I realized I was seeing everything, at once. I could pull out the lines of perspective because I’ve had enough practice doing that now, but the chimney, the lines of the bricks on the roof, the bricks around the doorway and on the landscaping, the thatching, the forest, the car, it all overwhelmed me. I got frustrated with the sketch. I gave up.
Once I had that failure, I analyzed why I’d had it when I’d been doing so well with Inktober. The answer was clear. Then I was to start taking a marker and going over the picture to simplify it. That’s what I need to do.
Leave it to me to jump in and start learning, then once I reach a certain level I have to go back and figure out all the beginning material. I’ve always been like that. (grin) Blame it on my astrological sign.
For me, learning this makes Inktober already a success. It probably explains where I have plateaued and why. If I can get beyond my frustration and get back to art, it’ll be worth it.
Also this week, I finished and uploaded the audio on For Sale, Call Loki. It’ll probably be released in about two weeks. That means that next week I get to start to work on editing the audio on For a Good Time, Call Loki. I’ve got 4 chapters recorded so far.
I started working on a new logo for my newsletter, but I think that was just a distraction on which I shouldn’t have wasted my time. I need to send my welcome email for readers who have recently joined my list; instead, I delayed it and I should have. I should have sent it, then gone to working on the logo for the next newsletter. Now I need to go send it anyway after delaying it several more days. And I still have no logo. Bad me!
I also started a chapter outline of Tangled Magic. I was working on Walk the Path, but so much had changed and I couldn’t remember the order of scenes that I was frustrating myself. That’s the sign for me to stop and line out the scenes.
It seems like a lot, but to me it doesn’t feel like a productive week. Just a time of trying to keep my head above water. On the other hand, I did a lot of personal projects that needed to get done. I also made applesauce with a bunch of apples that I received. Oh, and I tried to make hamburgers in my Instant Pot — I had to cook them longer than the recipe said, but I was happy with the taste. Have I mentioned that I love my Instant Pot?
Daily word goal reached for 58 days. Weekly word goal reached for 11 weeks.
Writing month to date total: 7,487 words
Writing year to date total: 255,292 words
Drawing/painting last week: No painting this week, but I drew a lot for Inktober. I did take the time to get ahead on my pencil sketches, but I will ink them on the appropriate day. I don’t want pressure that will make me not do this.
Audio: I spent 4 hours recording and editing audio. I uploaded 1 hour 31 minutes of audio for distribution.
I know I’ve had several people wondering what exactly the Tree Stories in my newsletter would be about. Let me start with a little background.
When I was doing my daily eBay auctions, I had a little story at the end of the auction. I know I had quite a few people following each day to see what the story would be about. Several of my collectors wrote to me and told me they enjoyed my mountain stories in particular.
These days it’s been hard to find time to do the eBay auctions like I use to. It’s something I’d like to get back to. However, in the meanwhile I’ve decided to return to telling these short stories for my collectors and newsletter readers. I did decide to be a little more specific though. Since my paintings are inspired by trees and what they bring to our lives (or that’s what my art had started out as, I’ve gotten away from, and I plan to return to), I decided to tell Tree Stories which highlight important trees I’ve had in my life. Important trees? I know it sounds strange, but it’s oh so true. I have great memories surrounding trees. That’s why I’d decided to paint them and learn more about them. Yes, I’ve gotten away from it and I hope that by telling Tree Stories in my monthly newsletter that I will refind my original focus. Some stories will be from my childhood, growing up in a small town. Others will be about how I found the trees that show up in my paintings and photographs.
I hope this has whet your appetite to read the Tree Stories. You will only find them in my newsletter. Head on over to my website www.morningskystudios.com to get your free subscription.
I’m getting ready to send out my free e-mail newsletter. It took me awhile to figure out what to put in it, but once it was decided on then the newsletter was a lot of fun to put together.
This month I decided to write about the new direction my art’s taken in the last year. Get the inside story on my new paintings. Also see my upcoming schedule, who I’ve picked for my showcase artist of the month, read the “Tree Story,” and get special pricing on newer artwork. There’s so much here you’ll want to start at the beginning and never miss an edition.
On my website, there’s a new box set up for collectors, art lovers, and anyone else’s interested to sign up for my free newsletter. What’s going to be in it?
In the interest of keeping it short and sweet, I plan on having one main article, a showcase of new art before it hits my website, a couple good quotes I’ve discovered during the month, and other artists the readers might be interested in. Every month I come across so many artists that I find fascinating and I really want to share them.
Well, that’s the plan right now. More might be added. I think it’s time I really sit down and clarify my intentions. Some times I feel so focused and other times I feel scattered in a hundred directions. While my blog is pretty much a jam session of whatever’s on my mind at the moment, the main article in the newsletter will have more relevant content. Oh, there will also be special reader only specials, so you need to sign up to be in on them.