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A Gift to Myself…

For the past 7 years, I have been giving myself the most wonderful gift on my birthday.

I take the day off. 

Of course this is easier to do as a self-employed illustrator and small press publisher, but I do have other clients and work that I do outside of my own company and I do not book any of those on my birthday.

This is a day just for me.

Those 7 hours, while my daughters are off at school and my husband is at work are mine… all mine… to do with whatever I will.

I write in my journal.

I make a mug of tea and read a good book.

I doodle or get creative with craft supplies.

I start a new adventure in Pokemon Blue on my old Gameboy Colour.

I take a nap.

I go for a long walk and look at the leaves beginning to turn colour.

I do whatever I want.

That is a precious and rare gift in our over scheduled, over committed society.  Time to think,  time to be still, time to recharge and time to be me.

Today, the fringes of the hurricane are bringing heavy bands of rain to our area and it is a grey, wet morning.  I will curl up on the couch with a good book, write a long journal entry to dream about the year ahead and celebrate being alive.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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Why Piracy Hurts Creative People…

Here is a post I made to a site debating about sites like Tuebl and illegal e-books:

“After reading all the posts, I am going to jump in here since I have already lived through piracy affecting my family income. For 16 years, while my children were small, I designed and wholesaled counted cross stitch patterns around the world. I produced them through a printer, since I was a graphic designer and did all of the pre-press and photography myself. I built the company up to where we were being sold in 26 countries around the world with 3 major industry distributors and was featured in several US magazines. Then China and Russia opened their websites to allow people from outside the country to post on their servers. Within a year, pirated charts were popping up after stitchers would scan them in at home to create illegal copies and then “share” them with other stitchers who couldn’t afford “expensive” patterns. Within 2 years, one major chain store stopped carrying all leaflets not produced by Leisure Arts ($18,000 loss from our family income per year) and stores began closing. Within 6 years, my income from stitching dropped 350%. Of the 98 designs I had spent 16 years creating, 57 of them were out there in illegal formats that I keep shutting down to this day.

So I took my experience with me and moved on to illustrating children’s books. I have also become a small press publisher and had another press publish my first manuscript as an author this spring. Our second title has just been nominated for an award that will see 600 books go into the schools along with 19 other titles for the 2012-2013 Hackmatack award so that children in Grades 4-6 can read the books and vote on the winners.

The saddest thing about this whole thread is that the arguments I hear from many of the people sharing e-books (or even those creating their own illegal e-books to share) is that the language and tone are identical to those who stole cross stitch charts and decimated the industry. It is not OK to profit from someone else’s creativity or deny them a reasonable payment for what they made. Most authors/illustrators receive 10% of the total book price at best as their royalty. Publishers no longer support new authors with promotion or travel costs until a book has “proven” itself. For every “Hunger Games” or “Fifty Shades of Grey” there are hundreds of published authors doing their own footwork, promotion, school visits, media tours, library visits etc. to try to find readers to enjoy what they have created.

This truly is the first digital generation who thinks that they can have or share anything they find out on the Internet for free, download copies of movies, books, games or music without paying for it and copy words without quoting sources. My two children know better because they have lived through how it affected our family income… but they are considered odd by all of their friends.”

Most people who share illegally will never be convinced that what they are doing is wrong… but every now and then, someone’s story might make them stop and think. I read voraciously, but I use libraries, garage sales, book swaps and used book stores to feed my habit or save up for the authors that I love. I hope that maybe one person who reads this thinks twice about how their actions affect those who create something from nothing.

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Wounded Dragons Can Still Read…

Being rear-ended in a friend’s car a few weeks ago meant that I fell behind on posting here, but not my reading.  The reviews will be coming fast and furious as I get around to typing them all up in bursts without spending too much time looking down at the computer screen.  Here’s the list of what I’ve read….

#30 Wither by Lauren Destefano

#31 Infinity(Chronicles of Nick #1)  by Sherrilyn Kenyon

#32 Misfit by Jon Skovron

#33 Blackveil by Kristen Britain

#34 Svaha by Charles De Lint

#35 Invincible(Chronicles of Nick #2)  by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Thank goodness for books when your body has to rest and recuperate!



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4 Down… 48 To Go!

Learning the ins and outs of making things look the way I want on WordPress has been a challenge after using Blogger for so many years.  The Cannonball Read IV challenge made me decide to set up a presence here to review the books as an ongoing part of my year, separate from my existing blogs.

The fact that my husband put his back out for most of last week meant less time to play around on the computer in WordPress, but plenty of time to read… so the first 4 reviews are all being posting now, even though they were read in the first 10 days of the month.

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by Australian author, John Flanagan was originally published as hardcover books beginning in 2004, but have recently been rereleased in paperback format.  I stumbled across the first 4 books in December and was instantly hooked.  Since Book 5 appeared under the Christmas tree as a present, it seemed logical to start the year off with a wonderful book as the first review of this challenge!

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A Reason To Hoard More Books…

When I first heard about Cannonball Read IV challenge to read 52 books in a year and post about them on Pajiba , I was intrigued enough to send off a request to take part.

By the time I’d been accepted, I’d rearranged my vast collection of books downstairs, reorganized the “To Read” pile on my nightstand and even given myself permission to pick up a few more books that I’d been lusting after from Chapters.

The Dragon really loves having a reason to hoard even more books!

As a children’s book illustrator, I also felt the urge to draw my own header for the new blog.  After all, why use clip art or other templates (as nice as they are) when you can draw your own!

Let the challenge begin!

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