Monday, August 17, 2015

Yup, You Know You're A Southern Californian When....(I am)

I have been fighting, and not sure why, the idea that I have become a true Californian, and more importantly, a Southern Californian. I guess stereotypes exist for a reason, and that doesn't mean that I, or anyone, walks around saying "dude" or "like" all day long-that said, many do, and sometimes I do say like, but I rarely say dude.

It means that I have lived here so long that things that seem normal to me in everyday life, really aren't in the rest of the country.

I do belong to two gyms, yes TWO, most of my friends belong to at least one, and then go to a specialized yoga, zumba, piloxing, cardio barre or something. I belong to two that covers all that. OMG I am such a stereotype!

Recently I was at a week long writing workshop in the middle of the country, and not in the middle of America, in the middle of the rural countryside of PA. It was awesome, but Oh. My. God, It was so quiet, that it freaked me out.

Growing up in New England for the most part, even though I like to call myself a New Yorker, most of my childhood was spent in Southern Vermont. It wasn't that quiet because we were in a town, even in snow you could walk to a store, or something and there were street lights. The countryside was close, but not where we were. In fact the street I grew up on there was much like every suburb here in Los Angeles, except with just a little more land between properties, but even that, it was really like the burbs here, just with a main street full of quaint shops etc.

So at this workshop-which was awesome-things that made me realize how much of a stereotype I have become started to become apparent.

The one thing that I don't yet have is that, I don't think it's cold at 70. Oh how I wish that I did because my life would be so much better. I still have all my back eastness there. 40-60 is awesome. 70-80 is hot, 80-90 is nasty, 90-100 is beyond nasty, and 100-120 is evil. I don't like to be hot. I also don't like to be in the sun, and I don't live at the beach. I guess that's two things, but honestly SoCal is divided into two groups, the ones who love the beach & surf, and those of us who still need mountains, hiking and being surrounding by trees, I am the second kind.
Runyon Canyon

The San Fernando Valley

And we walk everywhere. The myth that no one walks here is just that a myth. Everyone walks everywhere, if they can. Meaning not in certain areas with known gangs, etc.. but everywhere else, yes we walk.

FOOD!! Okay, years and years ago I went to visit my sister in New Orleans, pre Katrina, pre Andrew (or whatever that other big one was in 1998), and pre it becoming one of the trendy culinary cities that it is now. We went out to eat and the choices for salad were "houses" salad and "mixed" greens. Being from L.A. I ordered mixed greens. I was so excited! They brought me; iceberg lettuce, one tomato slice, on slice of cucumber and a carrot. I said, "Sorry I didn't order the house salad" only to be horrified that there a mixed greens salad was iceberg lettuce mixed with one tom, one cucumber and one carrot, and my sister saying, "sorry she's from California". SIGH. (It's much better now, and New Orleans has great local foods, that I basically filled up on when there-most of it blackened and most of it rice and beans).

So at this workshop, I was really in a state of shock at the food that they thought was healthy. Here's an example. Putting out romaine lettuce and oil & vinegar and calling it a healthy meal is strange to me. That was the salad-the only salad. I CRAVED veggies & beans. It was weird to me. They are awesome at this place and really try to make everyone happy. I realized quickly that it was where I live that was the problem. My issue, not there's. They were GREAT. I just want to make that clear. 

People were like, "what do you eat?", and I'd say, "I eat healthy" only to get perplexed expressions of complete and utter confusion back.

When I said that I ate a lot of rice and beans with veggies, people were really confused.

Here is what I eat normally: avocados, eggs (they did have eggs for breakfast and sometimes slices at lunch, so I ate a lot of eggs there), cucumbers, tomatoes, red-yellow-orange-green peppers, onions, (at least three or four different kinds) garlic, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, (like three different kinds) black beans, rice, plantains, cashews, broccoli (which they did have once or twice), french green beans, chick peas (as hummus and plain), corn, kale, spinach, arugula, romaine, etc.. all the salad mixes, fresh herbs, sometimes pasta, rice-especially with beans. Salmon, and tuna sometimes. Fruit smoothies, tons of green juices. Meat usually twice a week-sorry vegans, my body needs it. And, this is just off the top of my head. I follow the Blue Zone diet-it's a healthy way to eat. I am not extreme in either direction.

Oh and like once every two weeks, salad pizza. Which is a pizza base, no sauce, some kind of cheese with fruit, and then a salad on top-I know this is super California, but it's awesome.

I don't eat, processed cereals, chips, cookies, etc.. that they had out. I found myself starving. Out of desperation, I grabbed a trail mix at Walmart, (cuz a few of us needed things and that was 8 miles away) and ate Kashi cereal in the morning, with whole milk that I had to ask for. I guess back east people still think that low-fat milk is healthy, it's not, it's heavily processed.

Everyone else loved the food-well there were a few of us who by Thursday talked in our own little group about how starving we were, but since everyone else was happy with it, that was as far as it went.

The things they had that I did eat, and do eat in real life, just not every day, was cheese, and tuna. They made a great tuna salad with white beans one day at lunch that was amazing, it didn't have mayo or anything and I loved it, but it was only once.

I lost 8 lbs, and was sick every night on a non planned fast/cleanse, and was craving real food. I lost eight pounds in a week.

About midweek, I realized. HOLY SHIT I'M A CALIFORNIAN! I guess I thought that everyone eats this way. They don't. I honestly believe that here there are staple foods; red-yellow-green peppers, onions, black beans, red beans, rice, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, etc..and then all the greens, we eat a lot of greens here, and AVOCADOS! Yes I eat them every day, I do. Someone actually said, "you eat those every day??" Like I was from Mars. Yup, I do. I missed them.

It's okay, I'm embracing my new realization, and I will be more mentally prepared next time I leave my little world here. Unless I go to a city, I will plan to eat differently.

I am happy that I lost 8 lbs, it's nice to come home to my clothes being a little looser. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Social Media Blunders

Sometimes social media can be difficult, mostly because people do a lot of things that they wouldn't do in an office or social event.

For example:

Last week a long time FB friend deleted and blocked me, since I have known her for a while, I asked her why via email, and she said. "you posted about the confederate flag and.. yadda yadda."

I replied "Nope that wasn't me, I never posted about it on my page or replied to a comment on someone else's."

She said that it was on her friend's page-someone I don't even know. I replied back telling her that, and she said, "I don't have time to deal with this, I'm not even reading it." so.. now guess what?

 She deleted the wrong person. It doesn't bother me, but my suggestion for people who do this kind of thing, be sure you are paying attention to who you are deleting etc. This kind of behavior causes unneeded drama. Now I don't care, whatever, it's her life, but what if she did that to someone who is not as nice as I am?

Another thing to avoid is complaining on your page about your agent, editor, boss or peers. This happens all the time, it's a real problem.

Cyber bullying or stalking someone.

Etc.. so just remember DO ONTO OTHERS.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Posted About Equality Today and What Happened Next Shocked Me

Today something amazing happened in this country----yup you know it. Finally equal rights for everyone on marriage. This is a huge and I'm so happy to call myself an American-FINALLY, I can stand up tall and be thrilled with news. I was so excited in fact, that I posted three articles about it on Facebook.

Little did I know. 

Three words often used in literature to lead into something bad... little did I know that..

I was about to be sent a friggen' ISIS video to "teach me a lesson" from a fellow (aspiring) teen author.

This person actually deleted me from FB, because I posted the news, but before she did that, she sent me this HORRIFIC video, that I can't ever get out of my mind now to show me what non Christians (her words not mine) do to Christians, and the world needs to be rid of people like me. (again her words.... who does that sound like? WOW--rid of people like me... the words are raw, stale and full of hate.)

 Now, I'm not sure how me posting articles about equal rights makes me the same as a terrorist, but in her eyes we are the same. The video was of a few men being drowned. I wish I could ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND it out of my head. I can't. I wish that I had not opened it. I wish that there wasn't so much hate in the world.

I also do my best not to judge others for their beliefs, but I don't know what version of the bible she is reading that has taught her that having love for all people is the same as carrying out an act of terrorism. I think that she needs to reread it because I'm sure she has missed the point entirely of what it's teaching.

She went on to say that people like me (SIGH) shouldn't be allowed to write for kids, and she is going to write a letter to the head of the SCBWI to tell them that all members need to be "Christians" because we need to teach kids this, and it's unsafe to have people like me as members-all because I posted the news today.

I can't believe that she did this.

I knew this woman was conservative because she was in a writing group that I was in and she read my first chapter of one of my novels and promptly bitched me out for having the teens at a party drinking and what teens do at parties. Yes she is older, she could be my mother, and yes she is conservative, but today she went too far.

Instead of teaching teens hate, shouldn't we be teaching them about LOVE, and EQUALITY for everyone? Shouldn't we lead by example? 

I don't understand why it matters to anyone who gets married to whom, and who sleeps with who--I don't understand the hate.

I'm so disturbed by this woman's behavior today.

I for one, am so happy that we finally have equality in this country. Aren't we supposed to be the leaders in this kind of thing? Other countries, have had equality for years.

Today I am proud to be an American. It's been a great week, and our president is awesome.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

RIGHT TO WORK Contracts & Copyright, What it Means for Artists

RIGHT TO WORK Contracts & Copyright, What it Means for Artists

(mostly in this blog I'm talking about children's books)

 Earlier this week on Facebook,  there was a discussion from an artist about taking work for hire work as an illustrator and whether or not she could ask for royalties, it was/is a great discussion, but it did get side tracked and turned into a conversation on copyright.

I am just sharing information.

 One of the persons in the conversation said that artists automatically keep the copyright and just look in any book on the shelves-those are NOT "work for hire" books, they are from big publishers and yes that is the case, artists do retain the copyright. It is standard for artists to retain copyrights, but if an artist is signing a "work for hire" contract they do need to add in a "right of use" clause or just have a right of use contract instead of the work for hire.

I am talking specifically about WORK FOR HIRE here, not traditional publishing.

There are exceptions to every rule, and yes many authors and illustrators pair up and work together for splits, that is their choice, but for illustrators working for flat rates, for hire, etc.. they do need to know that they need to have this clause in there, or they will not hold the copyright.

It's just like working for a big company like Disney, etc-here is a link about the law-this is worldwide, not just in the USA.

I am sharing this information not to be a know it all, but just sharing so both authors and illustrators understand.

I didn't know any of this until about my 5th book and my author said, "you signed a work for hire, so I own all the drawings." I did get credit from her, but she was the first one who told me what "work for hire" meant in that way.

 I posted about it on my FB personal page and about 60 other artists confirmed my worst nightmare, that I did NOT own the copyright anymore.

So now I do "right to use" so I don't get burned, it works well. If I let the copyright go, then I charge a lot more; unless of course this is work on an existing property.

All of this information can be found with a little time and Google. The Writers and Illustrator market books are also good, and the SCBWI, and the Graphic Artist Guild. I apologize to anyone if my comments offended anyone, as that is never my intention. I just want to share what I've learned. Thanks so much and I hope this helps clear it up. I'm in the US so I am posting the US one, but in that other thread I posted one about world wide copyright.

It's a very tricky thing for artists and we all need to be aware. Just read your contracts thoroughly before you sigh. Most authors have no problems with the "right to use" clause.  ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Don't Get It

I don't like to post anything negative on social media---but while I was on vacation visiting my sister, someone from one of the groups I am in on FB for kidlit messaged me about illustrating her picture book-I replied saying that my rates are standard rates via the SCBWI and GAG handbook and gave her my website. Well I guess she is one of these people wanting an entire book done for $250 or less-she sent me several NASTY messages bitching me out, so much that I had to report and block her. First of all, I don't understand why people think it's okay NOT to pay artists for work, and second of all-I think it's horrible that so many people join the kidlit/children's book FB groups, and then expect people to work for free-it really bugs me! There I said it. I don't understand people sometimes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Will Terry on Doing Test (FREE) Illustrations for Jobs

I am posting this video today because I really like what my colleague-Will Terry has to say.
Some artists get really upset with this kind of thing, but it's part of being an artist.
In animation and illustration it is common and for the most part I don't mind doing a test image.
Sometimes companies, or people will pay for the test and sometimes they don't. It really depends, so before you decide to do it, you really have to ask yourself a few questions.

1. Do I have time to do a professional test?
2. Is this job worth it for me?
3. What is the likelihood that I will get the job?

The last one is because sometimes in animation, the studios will give 100+ people the same test and then it really is just a Craps shoot on whether you will get the job or not. Usually, these days, I stay away from those. I used to do them, but one animation studio-who I won't say which-I passed the same test 9 times, yup NINE and they never hired me, so I was wasting a week (40 hours) each time I did it.

I think as artists we really have to know our own time, strengths and whether it is worth it.

Have a great day making art everyone and you can find Will via this video or here.

and here

Here are some of my test images that I have done for some jobs


Friday, May 8, 2015

What I Realized at a Book Signing-Teens LOVE Characters Like Real People

I chose this photo just because the book I am working on now is set in a private school,
well that and a hospital, and the city of Boston. :) I love photos and just like to have them in my posts.
I have never thought about killing off my characters more than, this is what I need to tell this story. It has to happen. I don’t sit down and say, “hrm? How can I make people cry?” Or “I want to write a boo-hoo (as a fellow author friend of mine calls them) book.”
I went to a book signing and talk last night that a friend and fellow author was giving for her book-All The Bright Places- (Jennifer Niven). It was great, and I love supporting my friends, and great books. What was especially cool was sitting in the room with about 100 teenages. Watching their reactions to the book and how the book made them feel really hit home with me.
I thought.
Oh. My. God. “They are going to hate me, I kill of characters in every book.”
They didn’t hate Jennifer, but a lot of them were sad, and some destroyed because of something that happens in the book.
It’s funny how we as adults feel like we know and love these characters, but for teens, well, I am learning, there is a whole new level of “REAL” when it comes to our work.
I brought my first 10 pages to a Starbucks a few months ago. I bought all the teens in the room coffee and treats and asked for their opinions on my first chapter. It was amazing, and what was great was that they had totally different reactions than my critique group-who at the time was mostly middle aged and older women-who don’t want to think that their sons would ever do anything wrong. So I had to get teens to weigh in.
When I then told them what happens in the story, in a clumsy not-the-way-I-would-pitch-it way, they had STRONG reactions. One girl actually teared up-WHY???? why does that character have to die-why??? I could see it in her face. Broke my heart a little, and it excited me at the same time.
My goal is not to make teens, or anyone cry, but to tell a powerful story. I am trying, learning, revising, reworking, working on my craft daily so I can achieve this. Last night gave me a whole new perspective on just how personal these stories can be to these kids.
Also helps me be ready to answer these questions when I am up there giving a talk.
When I used to read my chick lit books at signings-I just hoped for some laughs-the books didn’t mean anything, they were just fluff and fun. Now I have shifted into wanting my work to mean something to kids even if that means I may have to pair up with Kleenex and sell tissues with each copy (just kidding of course).
If you haven’t read All The Bright Places, I highly recommend it. It’s powerful, beautiful and just great. Finch and Violet will take you ‘wandering’ into their lives, dreams, hopes, despair and love.