200th Post–Celebrating with a New Book Cover Design

Today is special to me because this marks my 200th post.  I never imagined in May of 2012 that I’d still be here two years later, writing a small column with a growing group of friends and fellow-readers/writers. In this time, I’ve met some wonderful people through this blog, and look forward to meeting more.

Here are some of my favorite comments . . .

  • “I have a lot of notebooks in different rooms around the house so when an idea comes to me, I quickly write it down…” Letitia
  • “I think about writing every day but reading and dreaming about it is more fun than actually doing it.” Sharon
  • “I paint because I have to, if anyone sees the beauty in it, so much the better.” Cindy
  • “I learned in Toastmasters there is a way to offer help that is truly helpful. A gifted speaker in our group said something like, “I really enjoyed . . . about your talk. One thing I noticed, that may be just me, was a lack of wrap up for your main points. Others may have heard it – it’s just my thought.” So easy to hear this kind – and kind – of help.” Linda
  • “My favorite use of the ellipse in writing is when I want to give a dramatic effect to my reader. That pause before a shocking sentence arrives.” Ahamin

New Book Cover!

Sliced Vegetarian Front Book Cover

Whoo Hoo! Can’t wait to promote this book!

Yippee! I received the cover art for Sliced Vegetarian last week.  The artist, it turns out, is also from Colorado, so I hope to meet her in person one day (and with her permission) will do a blog interview with Deirdre Wait.

We live in a visual world, with color printing and on-line art so prolific, we take it for granted.  But don’t be fooled by the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Anyone who’s been in marketing for more than a week knows that well-ordered and professionally executed visuals “sell” all the time.  People buy books, at least in part, by what the cover looks like and what’s printed on it.

Some of the things I like about Deirdre’s work on Sliced Veggie, is that she connected one book to the next through the use of typeface and cover elements.  I love this new cover because of how bright and fun the graphics are, and I can see people enjoying the vegetable stand with the–heh, heh, heh–bloody knife in the middle.  My good guy thought the knife came from me, because it looks so much like a set we just bought. Hmm . . .

Taking A Holiday Break

Now that I’ve made such a big deal of publishing 200 posts, I’m going to turn around and let you know that I’m taking a little vacation.  This will be my last post until the New Year.  I might post a picture for Christmas, but other than that, I plan to spend the next couple of weeks enjoying a bunch of holiday movies (thank you Netflix), eating too many sugar-coated cookies, and reading some books that have been calling to me.

I wish you all a peaceful, holiday season, and hope all your special wishes come true.  See you in 2015!

New Ways With Old Books

I’m excited to say that in a couple of weeks, I’m going to the Lakewood Art Council’s gallery in Lakewood, Colorado for a book signing event.  These promotional affairs are still new to me, so I don’t feel cynical if I end up with only two or three people at my presentation.  But I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about this particular event because I’ve committed to doing an “art project.” Yikes!

Now, many of my friends know that I have been sketching and doing watercolor painting since Eisenhower was president, but to be honest, I’m not that great at it.  I don’t remember if it’s cadmium yellow that stains a paper or winsor yellow.  I’ve never achieved “vibrancy” the way professionals do.  I mostly work hard at painting and have a ton of fun with it.  There is no way I’m qualified to “teach” a bunch of artists anything about painting.

In desperate hopes I turned to the Internet for ideas.  I typed in “books in art” because, after all, I’ll be doing a quick reading from my own book.  The images I found were beautiful, but ancient looking. Hmm. Ancient.  What could I do with that?

"1455 portrait 100" by Darjac (personal collection) - Scanned by Darjac. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1455_portrait_100.png#mediaviewer/File:1455_portrait_100.png

Johannes Gutenberg on a Hungarian stamp in 1962. Portrait by Darjac, thanks to Wikicommons.

Finally it dawned on me that the whole concept of “book” is ancient.  Johannes Gutenberg is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time because about 600 years ago he invented the printing press, and made reading available to all as a result.  Until his books, people had to rely on oral history and tales passed from mouth to mouth and generation to generation for news and learning. Book printing was the “latest technology” and threatened to destroy campfire tales and other forms of storytelling.

Yet, here we are today with both books and storytelling still going strong.  But a new threat to reading in a “traditional” sense is here.  Books held strong through the advent of the radio, the television, and even the movies.  But can books survive the invention of the computer and the e-book?  Do they need to?

Let’s face it.  Books are fun to read once, and if they’re exceptional a second or even third time.  I remember my dad reading “The Night Before Christmas” every year as I grew up.  But today, for the most part, we read to be entertained for a few hours, educated (at least through the final exam of a semester in college) and inspired to be a better person. When a book is complete it usually sits on our shelves collecting dust and acting as a gentle reminder of good times and thoughts past.

It occurred to me that doing something with books that we no longer use might make a good craft project, even if it isn’t art.  In my internet search, I stumbled across such things as “book carving,” “bookmarks,” and “turning books into purses.”

In a way, this seems like a sacrilege.  One time, when I was in grade school a kid came in with his subject report illustrated by pictures he’d cut from his parents’ encyclopedias.  Oh the uproar!  That boy had “ruined” great books!  It didn’t matter that his folks could afford to buy new encyclopedias.  It didn’t matter that every project Rene brought in was constructed with the finest, most expensive materials around.  He had the audacity to treat an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia for goodness sakes, with irreverence! That scandal flashed through Vaughan Elementary with the speed of a summer lightning storm.  And for every child who was not the hapless Rene, we trembled with the thought of destroying something as precious as a book.

Fast forward to my kids’ growing up (which is still ancient history).  With my pack-rat tendencies, I always had plenty of magazines on hand to cut up for report illustrations.  But even when a National Geographic magazine was years old, I had a hard time letting the safety shears and Elmer’s glue go. Some magazines were as precious as books.

Finally, when the kids had gone and I had enough spending money to be able to buy books regularly, I began to dispose of them.  It remains hard to do, even today.  My big break-through came when I was trying to decorate an office for a company my good guy and I started in 1999.

For the first time I bought a book with the sole intention of cutting it up.  I used beautiful illustrations from the book to cut and glue onto computer discs.  My goal was to combine the idea of gleaming technology and the beauty that is Colorado together.  I ended up with about 10 of these discs mounted and framed.  The project came out well, and for years we received compliments on pictures that would otherwise have been lost in a book on a shelf somewhere.  Who knew I could do this?

So the question is, can we as artists, have a love of book and still create art with it?  Is it bad to cut up books and repurpose them, or should we let go and move on to the compact nature of an e-reader, never to thumb through, smell the ink, or enjoy a quiet afternoon rolling around on the couch to find the most comfy position to read the next page?

If you’re in my area on Saturday, July 26th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, I hope you’ll join me for Literary Arts: Meet The Author at the Lakewood Arts Council Art Gallery, 85 S. Union Blvd (Union & 6th Ave. behind the Wendy’s burgers), Lakewood, CO.  We’ll be talking mysteries and doing crafts with used books.


On Vacation

Hello my Daisy Arthur reading friends,

I’m on vacation this week, but will look forward to sharing more writing adventures next Wednesday, July 9th.

Meanwhile, I’d love to visit with you face-to-face at the Lakewood Art Gallery, Saturday, July 26 from 1:00 – 2:30pm.  I’ll bring copies of Faith on the Rocks, talk about designing a book cover and maybe play a little mystery trivia. Please join me at 85 South Union Blvd. Suite B, Lakewood, CO 80228 if you can.

Here’s to you, summer, and daisies, from a visit to Pinterest:

Daisies on Pinterest