Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Finding Time and Losing Weight

In my most recent post I shared an idea for a method of staying on track. I'm happy to say it worked.
In the past eight days I have lost 2.4 pounds, found the top of my desk and made a LOT of progress on my children's book. I also made all four of the Mousekin birthday cards that I hope to be selling on by September, so all four of my goals were met.     
One of the 4 new cards
                    Here are the steps to take:
  • Set small, achievable goals for each day
  • Write goals down
  • Post where you will see it multiple times each day
  • Check off each goal each day as you complete it
  • If possible, have a friend or family member share the news
This worked like a charm. I think I will make a habit of this.

The hour (or more) I spent each day at my desk in my studio was very productive. I did reading about writing children's picture books. I read several children's picture books. I made some major revisions on my text and have revised my thumbnails for the book three times.

New Insights:
  1.  Decide what question your book answers.
  2. Check to see that it is answered in what you have written.
  3. Focus on that one small question.
  4. Consider two levels: The child and the adult who is reading.
  5. Keep reading new books, as tastes, formats and interests of both readers and publishers change over time.
Baby Raccoon and Mousekin
After I did this, I remembered a piece of advice from a speaker at an SCBWI workshop I attended several years ago. The suggestion was to draw a map of the space where your story takes place.  When I did this, I realized that by using the map, I could clarify the flow of action in the book. I changed a lot of things and switched one creature for another as I visualized the yard in which my characters are interacting. I also did some research on various animal species that appear in my story and, as a result, switched the order of baby birds and crows, and then dumped the baby birds and added baby raccoons instead. I think the fuzzy baby raccoons will be more attractive to young listeners than the  baby birds in pinfeathers.

I have accepted that several pieces of my original text will not appear in this book, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that they may reappear in another story in the future. I have definitely graduated to letting go, which makes revisions far easier and less painful. I've even accepted that the title will probably change and that the cool back-matter pages will have to become part of a website to support the book and its readers in the future.

For me, this was BIG progress in a short period. I now feel that I will really get back to work on the book. Now it's time to set the next set of goals and see how far I can go in the month of August  toward meeting big goals like:
  • Print, package and market a set of Mousekin Birthday Cards by the end of September.
  • Acquire a table at the Hollyberry Fair in November to sell Mousekin cards, puzzles and prints.
  • Search for an agent and/or identify publishing companies that are currently accepting proposals from unrepresented author/illustrators.
Small steps can lead to big strides. We'll see how August flows. I'd LOVE to hear from you about whether any of this advice is helpful to you.

Momma Mousekin

Monday, July 24, 2017

When is the Write Time?

May to July... Where did the time go? I have no self control about somethings, but am very disciplined about others. After all, I DID draw 366 mice (one for each day) in 2017. There have been years when I have done my Lenten Projects for 40 days and reached my goals. You can see the results of these productions at So I don't feel incompetent or like a failure.

Since I last posted in May I did research and write the Centennial Journal for Camp Glen Gray. It turned out quite wonderfully, and I can't thank my friend Paul Holland enough for doing the production work on it. Everyone seems to love it, and I learned a lot working on the project. Our event in June, celebrating the 100th year of a former Boy Scout Camp my dad, uncles, brother and husband all attended, was a great success. That kept me busy too, setting up displays, writing press releases and such.

BUT this morning while doing my cardio exercise (fast walking with weights to tunes on my ipod nanno) I did a lot of thinking about how I can get myself to apply the same discipline to snacking, writing, drawing and clearing clutter. SIGH!! I guess it's a one day at a time scenario, just like drawing mice. The problem may be that with the previous projects I had something to show at the end of each day. NOT snacking, isn't visible. "Oh yes it is," says you. "You can track your weight." Well, I can tell you that there is no direct correlation there, as there are so many other factors that affect weight (meal size, saltiness of food, exercise duration and level, etc).

I just found a website that deals with "Staying on Track." There are six suggestions there and every one seems to have an application to my situation. #1 is to Focus on Fewer Things. The examples are - amusingly - starting a new business, writing a book, losing weight and redecorating the house. I"m trying to do three of those four things, and if you switch "barn" for "house" it's four for four! Wowsers!!! Someone is stealing my brain waves!  So I guess I need to prioritize and do #2, which is "Plan Ahead."

Looking at my calendar, I have nine days before there will be a chunk of days when I can't do anything on my lists due to other commitments. SO if I plan ahead and do #3 Set Milestones, I can accomplish a bit on several of my goals in that period and maybe even begin to do # 4: Build Good Habits.
 #1 - Focus on Fewer Goals: I have had this lovely window put in the barn to replace a broken window. The barn was painted last week and today the carpenter came to take out the windows for repair. I think the barn is off my list for the time being. Leaving my business, losing weight and writing.

Yesterday I drew one Mousekin picture for a set of birthday cards I want to have for sale on Mousekin later this year. If I do three more in the next 9 days I can feel good, but not stressed. For snacking/weight loss goal I just had  brilliant (I hope) idea. My usual dessert is two scoops of ice-cream. If I don't snack, I will allow my self this treat for the next 9 days. If I snack, it is fruit only for dessert. Starting right now!!  As for writing, I will find my dummy, clear my desk and spend at least one hour working at my desk for the next 9 days.

I now have some milestones and will, hopefully, be developing some good habits, by working toward these milestones.  Here is the chart that will go on my fridge. I'll be back to the blog next week to give you a report. I've already checked off two items for today. Now I'm going for another walk! Wish me luck AND try making a chart for yourself. In 9 days, or even 7, you can probably make a difference in how productive you are! Good Luck!!

Quick update: 4 days in. I've hit 3 of my targets every day. The 4th, working on the book, I made some very good progress on, though I didn't get to it every day. I'm also down .6 of a pound. While I didn't finish the 2nd Mousekin card on the day it was scheduled, I think I can still make the overall goal. And I've done a lot of other productive things too. So I DO recommend  that you try making a chart like mine. Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

See next post for final results. It worked!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Blogging When Life Gets In The Way of Your Plans

The fact that I had to spend half an hour to regain entry to this blog is proof that it's been WAY too long since I blogged. Last night while volunteering at the Montclair Film Festival I was discussing my book and art work with another volunteer and her husband. It was the frustration of feeling that I have a really good product, but can't seem to get the word out. She reminded me that I need to gather a blog following to have publishers take me seriously. So today when I checked into my blog, I was appalled to realize it has been 10 months since I made an entry.

Life tends to get in the way of plans...

Since I last blogged the following things have happened:
  • I've completed the remaining 162 (+) drawings of Moueskin
  • I took an 11,120 mile Great American Road around the U.S. with my husband 
  • We spent five days on the Navajo Reservation near Winslow, AZ delivering food and gifts to the Navajo elders with Adopt-A-Native-Elder
  • I've created a journal with drawings of our 52-day road trip
  • I've worked for about 2 weeks in the Admissions office at my old school earning extra money 
  • I've created three picture puzzles from Mousekin drawings
  • I've created three sets of notecards based on my Mousekin drawings (and sold quite a few sets)
  • I've  set up an on-line store ( to sell my puzzles & notecards
  • I've made good progress in funding and producing a Centennial Journal for Camp Glen Gray and helping to plan the weekend-long event
  • I've gotten about 2,000 children's drawings of their favorite movies contributed from school children and posted around town for the Montclair Film Festival
  • I've had open-heart surgery and done 19 cardio-rehab sessions
  • I've made a poster and walked in The People's Climate March in Washington, D.C.
Not to mention the things we all need to do like cooking meals, organizing papers for taxes, weeding gardens, preparing for Christmas, volunteering at the library, doing laundry and reading WAY too many mysteries.

SO, my drawing skills have improved significantly, but my publishing skills have been rusting. My discussion at the Film Festival has reminded me of the need to focus. SO here I am back on line to share the continuing story of On The Laundry Lawn, my embryonic children's book.

Although I have a lot of commitments in the next two months, I will blog each week, and I will get back to an organized writing/drawing schedule and space. How?

  1. Watch Less TV
  2. Spend less time reading and more time writing
  3. Organize STUFF so I don't waste so much time looking for things
  4. Start some serious de-cluttering
If you want to encourage me, please post a comment. I will be looking for responses. I didn't meet all my goals for last year, but I DID draw my 366 mice and a few extra as well. If you want to see them  you can find the 366 at under "The Mouse Project" and the 2017 mice at under "Mousekin and Friends". 

Have to run. Duty calls. See you next week!