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Wise Words from John Cleese: Creativity is not a talent

(Thank you all for being so patient with me during these last handful of weeks. I know I haven’t been as present lately/posting as much. I’ve been really sick. But I think I finally turned a corner!)

John_Cleese_Creativity_not_Talent
Original photo found here: http://goo.gl/ypgIr3

You might recognize John Cleese’s name. If you ever got a massive cramp around your ribs from laughter while watching Monty Python, you should thank this guy. He’s one of the co-founders.

Creativity can be the lurking monster in the closet–too intimidating for us to tackle, especially if we don’t believe we’re capable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words “I’m not creative enough to do ____.” I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in front of a canvas or a blank computer screen and wondered I could muster up the creativity for the next project.

In a Video Arts lecture in 1991, Cleese explained that creativity is not a talent. It’s not something you can be prolific at, like slam dunking a basketball or winning a chocolate competitions with your AMAZE-BALLS chocolate pudding. And Cleese had the sources to show creativity is completely unrelated to IQ. (So if you’ve always used the excuse “I’m just not smart enough to be creative”… Well, that excuse doesn’t work anymore (: )

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The Makings of a Book Cover: The Undead: Playing for Keeps Blog Tour by Elsie Elmore

Want a FREE copy? Not only can you enter the Goodreads GIVEAWAY here, enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY here. Or–leave a comment below to win a ereader copy (courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours). I will use a random number generator next Sunday at 11:59 EST to select this winner.

You can also buy the book on Amazon and at Barns and Nobles.
The_Undead_tourThe_UndeadI’m excited to be here on Abby J. Reed’s blog to talk about my new release,

The Undead: Playing for Keeps. I’ve known Abby for two years, but it seems much longer. We started as classmates in an online class, then became CPs. She’s an awesome writer and artist, which makes her blog the perfect places to share the journey to make my cover.

Step 1 : Complete the info sheet

Curiosity Quills, my publisher, has created an awesome information sheet for their authors. The goal is to think about the cover in a visceral way: what colors should be present? What emotions should the image evoke? What feeling should resonate with the reader? Bottom line.. What gut reaction do you want? The immediate answer has “buy me” somewhere buried in there, but that is not the focus. Your cover needs to reflect some element of the story.

I turned to my CP’s and beta readers to poll their thoughts as well. This worksheet was first completed in December, less than a month after I signed the contract with CQ, and then again in March. Looking back, my December ideas were a little vague. But after working with an editor for a few months, my cover ideas became more clear and better represented the story the second time around.

Colors and feelings were two components I needed to address during this process. For colors, I thought of reds and blacks (this probably had a lot to do with the fact that red is my favorite color.) And feelings… I wanted the reader to feel a sense of mystery and maybe a touch of foreboding when they looked at the cover.

Step 2 : Sketch out a few ideas.

The Undead is told through two different POVs (thanks to the editing process). Part of the story comes from Eric, a grim reaper. Since there were so many YA books with pictures of girls on the front, I decided I’d rather focus on Eric than Lyla. I sketched out a few ideas that might represent the story line. Eric’s music was always a key element I wanted to highlight.Undead1

Step 3 : Meet the artist

I was introduced to Alexandria Thompson from GothicFate.com in the beginning of April. She was the graphic artist I was assigned by CQ. (Go now, check out her work here and see why I was thrilled with the match-up.)

But a few days before we made contact, a new idea came to me… a male hand holding a set of keys. I can’t deny that the idea felt brilliant. Especially if the tokens on the key chain represented different facets of the story. So when Alexandria and I started exchanging emails, I shared my thoughts.Undead2

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Patience and Paintings

I’ve talked about patience before, but it’s blindsided me again this week and I thought I’d talk about it again.

I so badly want to be finished editing RBRP, I can taste the finish line, especially with twitter contests and PitchWars and WriteonCon and conferences and more more more fabulous books being published. I so badly want to be there.

But I am not finished line editing yet.

It’s so hard to be patient. SO hard to be patient to make RBRP the quality I know it can be.
Eagle for pre Animal ModuleAnd it reminds me so much of painting.

Again, I’ve mentioned this before, but with watercolor–ESPECIALLY with watercolor–you need a tremendous amount of patience.

When you lay down a layer of paint (called a wash), it has to completely dry before the next layer. Otherwise you end up with ugly squiggly marks called blossoms. You also have to plan out the painting, because removing mistakes is really hard to do. You have to incorporate them or scrub them out, which is not guaranteed to work.

Patience guarantees a higher quality of art.

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