Posts Tagged ‘alpacas’

Pondering Writing Journals

So, my writing book for August was Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle, which is probably one of if not the first writing book I bought myself (and yet had never read, which is par for the course). Description is a weak point for me and always has been (though I like to think I’m getting better at it), so I found the book informative and interesting and would recommend it.

(Though I recommended it to a writing friend, and apparently it’s gotten really expensive. Boo.)

One of things Mr. Rozelle recommends is having a writing journal, which is kind of like a normal morning journal, except it’s focused on writing and writing adjacent activities, such as outlining or planning (both the general story or that day’s work specifically), thoughts on media consumed and what worked/didn’t work, snippets of conversations or observations to be used in future stories/scenes, story ideas, maps and floor plans, stray thoughts, etc.

The idea is that you do a couple of pages each day, and then you’re generally better organized or at least thinking about writing more regularly. Plus everything is in more or less one place and hence easy-ish to find.

It sounds lovely.

But it also sounds like how I used to work. I had these two steno notebooks (one, the one that I of course wrote down all my initial thoughts and outlines for Shards, is lost to the depths of time. And of course it disappeared before I actually sat down to write Shards.) that I carted around everywhere. I drew maps and other important things (the uniforms that go along with my space dinosaur story are in there), wrote snippets of story, figured out backstory, did odd brainstorms, you name it.

But I found it hard to find the stuff again later (missing notebook not withstanding). I’d often have to go through both notebooks a few times before I found what I was looking for (invariably it was tucked in some margin somewhere, or on the back of something else), and sometimes it would turn out to be somewhere else entirely.

But I also wasn’t terribly meticulous. The notes aren’t in any sort of order; I would open to a blank page and go. It’s possible that if I started at the beginning of a notebook and wrote on pages in order that the whole thing would make more sense.

So I am pondering giving the whole idea a go again. I’m certainly not lacking in notebooks. And I think I would write in pen this time, because pencil does not last. (And it smears.)

I know this year has been a mess, but I’ve felt so unproductive. I haven’t been, not really, but I’ve also been hyperaware of times when I could have been writing and haven’t been able to actually do so. Maybe a change of format, or a morning routine, could be helpful.

(Though I have yet to figure out a morning routine around the small, mobile ones. Maybe a mid-morning routine?)

Anyone keep a creative journal of any sort? Found them useful? Tips that you find really work?

In other news, Heifer International sent me this video about llamas and alpacas, and well, here we are:

Been a while since we’ve had alpaca content here. Whoops.

Also, as a reminder, my new SkillShare class about genre is here! If you’d like a 14-day free trial of SkillShare, you can get it here. In general, I’m fond of SkillShare–it’s a great learning platform for creative stuff (I take illustration and singing classes, mostly) and there’s a lot of good content on there. Plus with the membership, you can take as many classes as you want, with no limit. (Could totally get in a few classes in those two weeks, just saying.)

Almost autumn, squiders! Hooray!

Why I’m Learning Watercolor

So, as you know, Bob (sorry, writer joke), my word for 2020 is education, and part of that is taking a different art-related class on Skillshare each month.

(Except my membership runs out in August and then I shall have to fend for myself. Or, most likely, work my way through the drawing books I own.)

As far as art goes, I’ve been drawing forever. Mostly I sketch things out in pencil and then ink over them. You guys have been seeing examples of that technique since the blog began.

(Sometimes I just draw in ink and risk doom. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.)

But I’ve always run into an issue, and that’s with coloring. Despite my best efforts over the years, I just don’t really understand shading. I mean, I understand the theory of it. Somewhere, there is a light source, and depending on where you are in the drawing, some areas get light and others don’t, and the ones that don’t are darker than the ones that do.

It just never comes out looking quite right.

When I was younger, I tended to just use markers, which work out okay as long as you’re careful, but I still wasn’t shading. Just doing color block. And the same thing digitally, which was really frustrating, because invariably I had line art I liked which was then ruined by being colored.

(Which is why I did it digitally actually, rather than risking ruining the actual paper drawing.)

I have taken some classes on shading, and it has helped, but I still don’t feel particularly comfortable with it.

ANYWAY, long story short (too late), I decided to try out watercolors. Watercolors are kind of weirdly ethereal, and shading doesn’t seem to matter that much, since the colors are naturally variable based on the amount of pigment and water, etc.

And I actually really like them. I started a sketch journal at the beginning of the year and have been using an ink/watercolor combination, and the pictures have come out really well. Plus it’s WAY faster to color something with watercolors over colored pencils or markers.

This month I took two, shorter watercolor only classes. Previous classes I’ve taken have been watercolor/ink combos, but I thought it might be good to have a better understanding of the medium on its own.

The first project was to make a pattern, so I, of course, chose alpacas:

Alpaca pattern, because why not

(There is ink on that one, because otherwise they were just blobs. Also the dark brown was a mistake.)

Next we were supposed to paint something around us.

Tea kettle and vase (not pictured: coffee mug)

The teacher ended up with a really pretty flower bouquet but we work with what we have.

And the third project for that class was to paint the room, which went okay. I went out and bought real paint brushes, including a 1-inch flat one which makes it way easier to make a uniform color in an area. I don’t have a picture of that one, though.

The second class actually made me practice shading, the horror.

The ubiquitous sphere shading exercise

I mean, it’s not horrible. But I’m not going to pretend it’s good either.

And then we were supposed to use all the different techniques from the class to make a picture (including masking fluid, which I don’t own, white highlights, salt, etc.) but I am lazy and painted a pool.

The smaller, mobile one was disappointed that I did not include the cartoon fish on the bottom

Am I getting better? Hm, dunno! Probably a bit. All the art teachers on Skillshare talk about finding your own style and whatnot, and thus far my watercolor-only style seems to be a bit messy, but I don’t mind it. As I said above, I kind of expect watercolors to be that way. If I want something to have more structure, well, that’s what the ink is for.

The drawing/painting is also a nice stress reliever, and I’ve found it’s easier to work on this year than the writing has been, probably partially because I’m mostly doing it for fun, and probably partially because I don’t typically have to think too hard about it.

(Perspective! That’s another issue I have with watercolors. Everything kind of ends up caddywhompus but perhaps that adds to the charm. Or so I will tell myself.)

Anyway, that’s how this month has been going, art-wise. Know anything about watercolors? Thoughts about painting or drawing in general?

I’ll see you next week, squiders, hopefully with a library book sale find review, but reading’s gone soooooo slow this month, so we’ll see.

Release Party Aftermath (and a Video)

So, the Necro-Om-Nom-Nom-Icon release party on Saturday was interesting! It was held in a combo coffee shop/bar (I don’t know about where you live, but here in the Mile High City and surrounding areas, we’ll combine a coffee shop with anything. Or a bar with anything. Really, it was inevitable.) which we took over most of and confused the general patrons.

They had a toast (I promptly spilled my champagne on myself, very embarrassing, would not recommend) and did some readings, and we all signed each other’s copies and also copies from the general public. And my sister showed up and brought me an alpaca, which she got me after I expressed jealousy over the one she got the smaller, mobile one for Easter.


(Mine’s the purple one.)

One of the other authors did interviews with everyone. Here’s mine, where you can see me fail at reading as well as try to spell Cthulhu on the fly, and the whole series is here.

All in all, it was interesting, though a bit stressful, because while I knew some of the other authors, I didn’t know anybody particularly well. One of the publishers told me that they’ll be doing a second one closer to home soon, and I’m not sure whether or not I’ll go. (Though it will probably depend on schedule more than anything.)

Still no buy links on the anthology, but I hear we’ll have them soon.

How’s your April going, squiders?


Alpaca Poetry

Once again, the Friday Round-up did not get rounded up, so today we will be discussing alpacas.

How can you not like alpaca?  They are fluffy and evil.  I submit the following as evidence (and also dare you not to laugh):

The comedic timing of the alpaca can be compared to the llama or the moose, both comedy staples.  (In my world, at least.  Admittedly I grew up on Monty Python and Whose Line Is It, Anyway?)  So, to honor these adorable would-be world dominators, and because poetry and I – especially meaningful poetry not about animals, fictional or not – do not get on, I offer you…the Alpaca Limerick.

There once was an alpaca from Surrey
Whose neck was not in the least bit furry
He tried Rogaine
To regrow his mane
All it did was provide rash-y fury.