November 25, 2014

Amazon Createspace self-publishing DRAMA.

Self-publishing can be full of drama. Earlier this week I submitted my book, PickleWeasel Picture Riddles, to Amazon's CreateSpace for review. They approved it and I ordered my proofs. And then...I decided to make a teeny, tiny change to the interior file: I added page numbers to the bottom of each page and then resubmitted the book for review.

They sent me this email:

This be a troll-move.


For those who do not know it, CreateSpace is Amazon's 'print-on-demand' company. In this email they are telling me they won't approve my book interior (after already approving it). Because the answers are upside down. And because it's two books in one. Or something. To be honest, I can't even "can't even" that one.

The struggle is real.


GUYS. IT'S A RIDDLE BOOK. The answers are supposed to be upside down.

Also there's bonus flippable animation in the top right corner because it's fun for kids. All this is written on the back cover and in the book description.


You know those violins in the shower scene in Psycho? I had those in my soul.

I called up CreateSpace and explained everything to a patient and polite person named "Anthony". Anthony insisted that an actual human person does look over each and every book. When I asked why it was first approved and then not, he said that one person notices things that another person doesn't.

Me: "So it's a subjective process then?"

Anthony: "Uh....it's not supposed to be. But it happens."

He promised to resubmit it for me, and to plead my case. He said it would take about two business days. I did warn him that I have a small but feisty social media army on my side.

The next day, another email:

Ashley is also very polite.

All that Dramazon for nada. And today, look what arrived:

Real live in-the-flesh-books. 


They are so pretty I want to sleep with them under my pillow.
I guess these should be ready to go on sale anytime...maybe I should wait until after Thanksgiving.

Have you guys started your Christmas shopping yet?


November 22, 2014

5 NAKED Couples.

WARNING: Naked stick figures.

I was listening to the "Pitching Perfect" Blogging Betties podcast this week, where they were interviewing pro-writer Allison Tait. She shares good guidance on how to pitch freelance writing stories.

It's important to get an angle on a story, and the example given by Allison was, "five naked couples talking about the sex they never have". Me being me, I immediately imagined what that would look like. And me being me, the images are haunting me. So, me being me, I'm sharing them with you. You're welkies!

Couple number 1.

Couple number 2.


Couple number 3.

Couple number 4.

Couple number 5.

Allison says that you have to be able to deliver on whatever angle you pitch. Meaning you better have those five couples lined up and ready to talk naked. Good thing I can draw.

If you want to see drawings of couples having lots of preposterous sex, you should click here.

What names shall we give these couples?


November 19, 2014

Meet my font.

For a long time, The Huz has been trying to convince me to make a font. I just never had time. I still don't have time.

But I'm building the Kindle version of PickleWeasel Picture Riddles (book 1) and I want it to have popups - super fun, right? But the popups are text based. So it became an unavoidable necessity.

How to make a font? It was a bit of a hack getting this font made; the look of my line comes from a certain blobbiness in Flash. I've tried to reproduce it in other apps and programs and it's never quite right.

But to get from Flash to the FontLab meant jumping through several hoops including backwards saving from Flash CS5 to CS4 to CS3, going from W7 to MAC to XP on different machines. Then output to Illustrator and finally to Eps, which could be imported into FontLab.

And speaking of time, this font is going to save me tons. Thanks to The Huz!


November 16, 2014

Book cover design for PickleWeasel.

I crowd-sourced feedback the new PickleWeasel book series, specifically about the title and book cover design. I had awesome responses from both Facebook and Ello, so it was a nice slice of different people-types.


The numbers came in at 36 votes for "A" and 34 votes for "B" - too close to call. It eventually came down to whether or not to keep the "101" in the title. Lots of people liked it because it follows an existing paradigm for story titles, and I admit that I was one of those people. But PickleWeasel's personality won in the end; it became a question of quality appeal over quantity appeal.

Here's the final version: PickleWeasel Picture Riddles.


Click here to embiggen.

There are 101 tricky PickleWeasel Picture Riddles in every book. And this is just Book 1; three more books are coming, each with 101 tricky picture riddles. That makes a total of 404.


Think about that for a moment.

Thanks to everyone for all your feedback; especially the kids!


November 11, 2014

PickleWeasel books are coming soon!

I've been frightfully busy getting my next four books lined up. Yup, you heard right: FOUR books. For kids. Because I somehow ended up with several hundred drawings of PickleWeasel.


101 PickleWeasels! (working title) are comin' atcha in the first book in just a few short weeks. Print and Kindle versions. In time for Christmas and gifts and stuff. The rest of the series will follow over the next year, so you can collect the whole set, just like a proper book series. I am smart.

Here is a sample layout:


As usual, PickleWeasel is acting out, and you have to guess what he, she, they are up to. Some of the words are easy and some are a little more challenging (even I learned a few new words making this book) with the option to "hide" and "reveal" the answers with your very own thumbs. Plus the answers are upside down, since I know that some of your kids pride themselves on upside down reading skills.

And just because I can, I put this flippable animation in the corner. Swaaag!


Please stay tooned.

xojc



November 6, 2014

How to comment with images on Ello.

I didn't think people were going to find this so useful, as I posted it about a month ago on Ello.

One of my favourite things in life is to comment on social media with an image, and also, to share someone else's image. Since Ello is still in beta, there's no function yet to make this happen.

I asked @Cacheflowe from Ello's developer team and he told me about this markdown code. So here it is - how to post images in the comments on Ello, and also how to repost someone else's image on Ello (works with gifs too btw):


The images you share must be hosted either on Ello already, or somewhere on the Internet. You can't use this code to upload an
image from your drive. I upload my images through my Blogger account; it's important not to abuse the hosting of other sites when using this code.

I'm really enjoying Ello. It's my go-to Internet spot right now - the interaction there is similar to what this blog used to enjoy, back in the day...



October 18, 2014

Sarcasm face emoji.

I was challenged by some fEllos on Ello to design a "sarcasm face" emoji.

Sarcasm has an element of two-facedness; you say one thing but mean the opposite. It's best served with a dash of humour, a pinch of bitterness, or a dollop of diss. We don't want to confuse it with exasperation, trolling or passive-aggressiveness (though I suppose there is some intersection with the latter).

A sarcasm emoji would be the emoticon equivalent of writing the word "NOT" immediately after a statement. Here's an example:
"Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine! I always scrape my face on the pavement like this to keep my complexion glowing. NOT."
Or you can use the emoji like this:
"Shall I call 911?" 
"No, don't trouble yourself. I didn't really need that eye anyway." 
"Dumbass" also works pretty well though.






Emoji are expression-concentrated into a very small number of pixels. It has to be decode-able at a tiny size. I went through about 8 designs before sticking with this one. This is definitely the face I make when I'm deploying heavy sarcasm: it's my ARE YOU A FUCKING IDIOT face.

Here's the cut & paste markdown:

![sarcasm_face_555](http://bit.ly/sarcasmface555)
![sarcasm_face_200](http://bit.ly/sarcasmface200)
![sarcasm_face_50](http://bit.ly/sarcasmface50)
![sarcasm_face_25](http://bit.ly/sarcasmface25)
![sarcasm_face_20](http://bit.ly/sarcasmface20)

Some folks must think I just pull this stuff out of my behind. But it's fine. I enjoy staying up until 4 AM doing drawings for other people. Really.