Friday, March 27, 2015

Don't Blame Lufthansa

  • This plane crash thing is just a nightmare-but I am seeing a lot of posts on social media to boycott Lufthansa/Germanwings-I disagree-the guy clearly hid his illness. I understand that people are angry, but Lufthansa is historically a great airline. The whole situation is just tragic. My Westie Finnegan and I flew Lufthansa back from Denmark. We flew KLM over-they are both great for that as well as Air New Zealand to Sydney. KLM actually flies horses a lot and Finn was on the same level as we were in the back.  But I feel terrible for Lufthansa and everyone involved. I understand the rage, but I think boycotting is not the way to go. It could happen anywhere. I think changing the way of only having one person in the cockpit is the next step for all airlines. Yesterday people were posting saying that in the US all airlines do this, but it's not true, on the short hops (like this flight was) sometimes one person is left up there. That said, I am sure the FAA will make more changes. Maybe because my father worked for the airlines for a long time-I come from an airline family in a way-I can see the other side of this nightmare. It's so easy to blame the airline for the actions of one person. Flying is still safe. I saw yesterday a report saying that more than 150 people have died in the world in car accidents since this plane crash and yet people still get into their cars everyday, text, etc without giving it a second thought.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Update Seymour

So the author has announced that a second run of this book has been released and guess what? I haven't been paid. Shame on her.

YES THERE WAS A CONTRACT-and it's been selling and guess what? Not only am I NOT getting paid, she has taken my name off all the promotional things and is just giving the penciler credit. I have been talking to Amazon about it since she is in breach, but it's just shameful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bullying-It Happened To Me, Most of My Life

Today a friend on FB posted this video. It gave me flashbacks of high school and as I always say, I thought, "thank God there was no social media when I went to school."

Here is that video. It;s called Think Before You Speak.

Here is part of my story.

I was bullied in junior high and the beginning of high school, it was awful. I was called names, fat, ugly, skank, I was beaten up for having black hair and being a white girl with black hair. In the first year of high school I was made fun of because I didn't have money or cool clothes, I had to transfer high schools because of it. I finally had to change everything about who I was to become popular so I could survive it. I dyed my hair, dropped everything that I loved and started doing worse in classes so I could fit in with the middle and not stand out. I ended up loving from 10th grade on, but I wasn't me.

If I even talked to someone who wasn't popular my group of "friends" would make up rumors or tell me that I couldn't talk to them. I am ashamed to admit that I cut people who I really liked out of my life because of it. The pressure was so intense that I just followed what everyone else did.

That freshman year my own sister even made fun of me with her friends citing that I was a dork, weird, and a loser. When she went back to live with my dad I started shoplifting to get the cool clothes that I couldn't afford and then I remember she told me on the phone that one of her friends said, "your sister is starting to dress better, so we can talk to her." That friend gave me speed-told me it was aspirin and I ended up in the hospital. She thought it would be fun to see what happened.

In my junior year a friend of mine decided that I liked her boyfriend. I didn't. I was seeing someone from another high school who I worked with at the movie theatre. Well she started a rumor about me, telling everyone on the baseball team that I said things about them, so ALL of my friends, ALL of them stopped talking to me. I was called names every day or shut out completely. This girl, Amy, said to me, "I told you to stay away from Jimmy, don't F*** with me." All because she saw me sitting next to him in the dugout-I was the batgirl, so I had to. It took months for that to end.

My high school experience with like Meangirls dialed up, and I just accepted it for what it was, and it was better than how things were at home for a long time so I just found a way to deal with it. It wasn't easy.

Today I wish I had been stronger. I regret things like dropping my real friends for the popular group. I regret dropping out of band/orchestra-I was really good at music-in fact I am probably better at that than anything else I have ever done. I regret dropping out of drama. I regret doing poorly in classes to fit in, I regret being phoney. I regret becoming someone that I didn't even like just to be liked.

Of course I am lucky that I found a group of friends somewhere in the middle of that super popular group and the jocks-I am still friends with them today. I don't even know if they ever knew how bad it was for me there.

The sad truth though is that this doesn't end in high school. It happens as adults too. I was at a job at an animation studio where for the first three months I was called names like Disney Princess (because I had recently worked at Disney and I guess people didn't like it) and kicked in the back of my heels if I ate lunch in the studio cafeteria. I had drawings thrown at me. Or my drawings were ripped in half and I had to redo them. I was told to quit every single day, I was lied about, I was called a slut and rumors started about me that have followed me to this day. When I went to management about it, they ignored it. It took about 4 months for it to stop, but I went home crying almost every day and I was 30. I didn't understand because I just did my job, I did it well and still it happened.

It was bullying.

Before that job while I was still at Disney someone (I don't want to say who, but this person has a rep for being a bully and I am not sure why they have gotten away with it for so long) got upset with me, I don't remember exactly why, and it's not really important-it had something to do with me going to work in Florida and some rival that was going on long before I even started there. But it was bad because this person would go into my cube and write nasty notes like, die bitch, everyone hates you, jump off a bridge, slut, etc.. and I had a crush on Tom Cruise, (like everyone in the 90s) and she had one day put a bunch of photos of him all over my cube writing really nasty things about me liking him. She would tear up my drawings. It got so bad that I had to lock up everything in my desk when I left at the end of the day. I was afraid all the time. It was a huge part of me deciding to leave when my contract was up. Then what happened at the other studio happened. It was hard to take cuz all I ever did was work my butt off.

My point is that, it happens all the time. There will always be bullies. Bullying is some people's way of feeling better about themselves, but they have no idea how damaging it can be.

As someone who definitely went through it most of my life, I can tell you that it is one of the worst things that you can ever have to deal with.

It's fine if everyone doesn't like you, or what not, and it's fine not to like everyone, but the mean spirited name calling and bullying really needs to stop. It's really awful.

Everyone hurts someone else in their life at one point or another by saying or doing something they either shouldn't, or they said something wrong etc, but doing it on purpose-that is bullying. I am sure that I have said things that have hurt people's feelings, but I have never ever done it for that reason, nor would I, ever. It's just wrong.

Fat, stupid, ugly, slut-are just some of the things that I have heard my entire life. I used to say about being called a slut-that my life in rumors was way more exciting than it was in real life, and I'd laugh about it, but it always hurt. Being called fat and ugly-well even when I was an actress and modeling and I knew in my head that it wasn't true, I believed that it was. I starved myself for years to be prettier and skinnier. Stupid? Well not being stupid I know that is just other people's way of not having enough wit to come up with something better, but it still hurts.

I guess I am writing this today because I hope that if you read it, you will think before you speak about others.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Get Some Class Ladies

I am sorry but if a woman sleeps with various men to acquire her higher position (director/boss/CEO etc), she can't then go on rants about not being treating equal. and women's rights. That's just like complaining about being a feminist and then getting angry at a man for not paying for dinner. Come on ladies, get some class.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Don't EVER Work for FREE, or Royalties Promised-Even For a Friend

So it's with sad news that I have to even write this post. Last Jan, I was asked by a friend, a good friend to help her color some illustrations that a penciler had done on a poetry book she was working on. I told her that I can't afford to work for free, she got upset with me about it-that should have been my first clue.

Well after her begging me to just color/paint the images, I agreed to it but had her sign a contract-that I still have saying that I will get $1.00 per book sold. She promised into the thousands. I knew that wouldn't happen, but was expecting to get paid.

I was between gigs and had time, but it was still a lot of time. The paintings were watercolor style and even though digital took a LONG time. I also had to spend quite a bit of time fixing the original pencil work to get it so I could color it.

She promised me a big contract with the publishers BEFORE publication. Well in Sept she started hounding me to sign a contract the day I was on a plane. I kept saying to send it and I would as soon as I got back, asking her NOT to have the book for sale before this new contract. She yelled me again. Well the contract never came, the new one that is. On dec 15th of this year, I found out via social media, that the book was for sale, on Amazon. I asked her about it to get yelled at, called names, etc.. I asked her for a contract or payment. I gave her a REALLY low flat payment to make instead of $1.00 per book. She refused. She got a lawyer and demanded I sign something saying that I would NEVER speak of this, in other words, trying to get me to sign an agreement that I wouldn't share this story and warm artists about doing this kind of work-I knew then that I would not get paid. The new contract, said that I would get paid when everyone else did PERIOD. She was beyond nasty.
The lawyer isn't even a publishing attorney, but a friend, so it was all around shady.

She sent me so many nasty messages and didn't give me credit for my work that I had to finally block her from the harassment. Yeah I worked for free and then got harassed by the person ripping me off. All I asked for was payment for my work. Well I was asking for the new contract. When she originally asked me to do the work, she promised that a big national publisher was going to be handling this and we were all getting a contract-that never happened. When I brought it up, she cut me and my work down. When I explained that I am a professional artist she said it was just coloring that her toddler niece could have done. Which is funny cuz she had me do her logo too. I have worked for her for years-in fact this is how we became friends. This is just ONE of the many drawings I did for her Jack Russell terrier logo.. there are more.


I sent her a counter contract. With either the $1.00 per book sold with payments to be made monthly and attached the original contract, or she could pay me a flat rate. The lawyer finally said that the old contract stood and I would be paid MONTHLY at $1.00 per book sold.

The book has been on sale, for sale for the last few months. I know people are buying it and guess what? I HAVE NOT BEEN PAID A DIME.

I have sent her lawyer several emails and requests for payment to only get NO REPLY.

So this was my mistake, I shouldn't have done it, even for a friend, because now, I never got paid for my work. Not a dime. I lost a friend and my work is being sold and someone else is profiting from it.

I could sue her, but the book isn't selling a lot, and it's just not worth it at this point. She has to live with herself for doing that to me. I learned the hard way, again, because I wrote for someone for free for years for promise of royalties and even had a contract to get nothing as well, to NEVER WORK FOR FREE or BACK END ROYALTIES.

I am not sharing to slam her or anything, but just to warn people of what happened.

Here is some my work in that is in the book. (there are many more) I had to FIGHT to even get credit on the thing. Everything that was promised didn't happen.

It breaks my heart into many many pieces that this person did this. Even if she has only sold 100 or less copies, I should still get the money promised and owed. I am a professional artist not a student, so taking the month or so to do this was worth a lot more than that, but I trusted her and believed her.

So artists, do NOT ever do this, ever.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Luck? No It's Hard Work

Yes it is possible to make 100% of your living as a creative-artist, writer, musician, actor, etc. You can do it. 

Hey everyone so this is a carryover from a discussion on FB about working as a writer and artist or one or the other.

I write this blog today because it seems that people are misunderstanding some things that were said at the SCBWI winter conference in New York earlier this month. One of the editors made a comment that it always scares him when his first time authors say the words, "I quit my day job." Now everyone is on social media freaking out saying that it was said at the conference NOT to quit your day job because you can't survive as an artist or a writer. Funny, I was there and didn't hear that at all.

What I heard was an editor being truthful about his part in the publication process and how much stress that puts on him when someone does that. The truth is, that editors work too, and if a book is successful or isn't, it affects them as well. Telling your editor, especially on your first book, that you are now depending on your book to hit, and stay, on the New York Times Bestseller list, is a lot of pressure.

To be realistic. Authors don't make a lot of money. That is the truth and it's been the truth as long as writing books has been around. It surprises me that new writers are shocked to hear that they aren't going to be rich when they get an agent and sell their book-the great American novel. Yes there are some that do. We can all name them off the top of our heads-even the people who don't read that much know them. SOME AUTHORS ARE: Stephen King, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, George R.R. Martin, Jennifer Weiner, Helen Fielding, and in children's books- J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Philip Pullman, Stephenie Meyers, and recently, John Green, Jay Asher, James Dashner. To name a FEW. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Wouldn't it be great if we all made money on our novels? And don't forget Dan Brown and E.L. James. Not the best written books of all times, but they are laughing all the way to the bank.

It can be done, but it's not the normal. I have plenty of author friends on the bestseller lists who work day jobs on the side. Most of them are well known in the writing community.

This doesn't discourage me at all. Why? Because I know the truth about it and I don't do it for the money. I have been published in the adult (just meaning non-children's books) world. I jumped at the opportunity to get published with smaller publishers and was wildly unsuccessful because I knew NOTHING about editing, the process, or marketing. I am a published author and yet I still work, have a day job.

I also have been hired, work for hire as a picture book writer. People alway say, "but you wrote like 16 books for FarFaria, can't you live on that?" hahaha, yeah, no. That was for a flat rate on each book, so I could gain experience in PBs etc.

I am now concentrating on my YA (teen fiction) books because I LOVE writing for teens, not to get rich. I wouldn't mind it. I daydream about my book(s) as films, but I don't do it for that reason.

Most of you know that my day job is as an artist-specifically a children's book illustrator. Yes I am one of the ones who makes her living drawing. I have for the last 20 years. I started in animation and then I went to children's books. But guess what? I also do TONS of other illustration and graphic design jobs from painting doggie portraits, to licensing my work, to logos, greeting cards, educational books, magazine illustrations, consumer products, storyboarding, character design, background design, being in art shows etc. See? I work all the time because I do a lot of different things.

One person said to me that I was lucky when I started. That may be true to a point in that I got my foot in the door by luck. The luck was that I was doodling at an audition for Disney when they saw my quick sketches and offered me a job in their animation internship. I turned it down, then a couple years later, sick of my mother telling me how I was going to be a waitress forever, I decided to call up Disney and work as an artist. That's the short version. What people forget when telling that story is that I worked my arse off for almost two years in classes at the animation guild while working full time at the Cheesecake Factory to make that happen.

I drew 8-12 hours a day. I slept about 2-4 hours a night. I took classes 5 days a week, all day long ones on anatomy, life drawing, quick sketch, animals and animation. I busted my hump to make that happen. It wasn't luck it was hard work. Then when I got into animation I worked on 7 films, back to back, to back.. etc.. for 3 years, 6-7 days a week, with an average work week being 70+ hours. I also continued to take art classes and animation classes on the side. Again sleep didn't happen much.

I still take art classes. I still take writing classes. When I got my first novel published in 2003, I had been out of work, when animation crashed in 2001, for two years. I had only worked briefly on a couple films and commercials, but for the most part I wasn't working, so I dove into writing. I took tons and tons of classes with Gotham's online courses and the Children's Institute of Literature. Then in 2007 I was offered a job on a TV show for ABC, it got cancelled the day I started-I know, what rotten luck. Well I dove into TV and film writing courses, workshops etc. I continued to take novel writing courses. Etc. Get it? I worked my butt off and I still do.

To work and make a living as a writer, you have to do more than just get an agent and sell your book. You have to do other things like; being a reader for the studios and publishing houses, be an editor, write copy, write shorts, write for magazines, work in tv and film, etc. Just like art, you have to do more.

So while there may be some element of luck to how I got into art in the first place. I continue to work because I work at it. I network all the time. I continue to take classes. I improve my skills. I used to split my income between writing and illustrating, but these days, I am focusing on my YA novels and so my art is my day job for the most part. I still read scripts, TV shows, specs, etc.. I still do consulting, but for the most part, my day job is illustration. I work on greeting cards and children's books mostly right now, but also do other side jobs when they come in.

I think there is a huge misconception of the creative industries that we don't work-I think that we work harder than most industries. That has been my experience. It's the same for actors and musicians. The friends of mine who are making a living at it, work all the time. The aren't relying on one thing to make them famous, they are working.

So my advice to anyone who is new, don't give up, but know that you have to work at it, all the time. If you end up as the next J.K. Rowling, than great! (don't forget me! Hehe)

Also to be a professional creative-you have to LOVE what you do. I always say that I don't have a choice in the matter, this is why I was born. Rich, poor, broke, flush-none of that matters to me. Trust me, I am always up and down with money, that is part of the deal. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

YA For Boys

So many of you know that I write from the male POV. I am not trying to change the way things are done in teen fiction or any of that, it's just what comes to me. I do, however, feel that boys are grossly under represented, in that most of the teen fiction that have strong male leads are MG action adventure-not that there is anything wrong with that. I LOVE the Maze Runner and Percy Jackson books as much as the next person.
I write contemporary YA fiction from the male POV. Maybe it's because I was obsessed with S. E. Hinton in middle school or that I just like boy driven stories better, but that is how I write. I am writing for the teenage boys. Hopefully girls will like my books too. Recently I was at a SCBWI convention and someone said to me, "you are writing Boo-hoo fiction like John Green" because yes in my first book there will be some deaths. I don't think of it as Boo-hoo fiction, I look at it like intense there are consequences to your actions stories from the boy's POV.
I just got an idea and have already plotted it out. I don't mind sharing, because I think there could be tons of books on this subject and we would all write it differently.
I am going to write a YA about a boy who gets drunk and sleeps with a girl, who is also drunk and then gets accused of rape. This is a VERY important storyline and poor guys, they are always just called assholes. What about when it ISN'T rape? Who is sticking up for these boys?
This is all stemmed from a recent storyline on a popular ABC Family teen show that I watch. I blogged about it here on my other blog. I am happy to hear your thoughts on it, but please be respectful of others. Thanks.