by robin gayle howard

Tag Archives: Writing

Occasionally I write morning pages (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) as part of my quiet time.  I usually write them when I wake up at oh-dark-thirty because I have MUCH more time to write.  The other day I just started to jot down a series of words . . . direction-guidance-focus-path-steps-choices-mistakes-misreads-errors-bloopers and blunders.  Then I started to write using these words in the appointed order.  Here is the result:

I’m not sure the direction my brain is taking this morning.  Here’s another adventure that I need guidance on so that I can focus on what needs to be accomplished and keep my eye on the path.  As I walk down my path day-in and day-out, I find that each step has hundreds of choices to evaluate.  3 birdsTurn right, turn left, go lighter, go darker, make it smaller, make it bigger–the wrong choice will lead to an obvious mistake.  A mistake can lead the observer’s eyes in the wrong direction, causing a misread and a misinterpretation of the entire point.  What may originally appear as a small error in choice of placement, or lighting, or color can lead to an extreme blooper that affects the entire composition.  I feel like I don’t have a clue to what I am doing in composition and that I am just blundering through to put something together.  I desire to be much more thoughtful in the process. 

I would like to work from a plan or a distinct vision to be able to create something that is much more aesthetically pleasing.  I am learning.  I know that I will make mistakes, but like Thomas Edison said, the 999 mistakes are ways you’ve learned how to not achieve your goal – or something like that (talk about creative license ;op – the actual quote is “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”)  Every practice piece is leading me to something better, something more dynamic, something that I will be pleased with and will make me smile.  My hope is to bring a smile to the face of another.  That’s when I know I have accomplished my goal.  That seems like a very minute goal, but that’s a good place to start.  The lofty goals will come when each smile is achieved along the way.  And it all begins and ends with direction.  Guidance from my Creator.  I seek to retain the proper focus so that my eyes are ever on the correct path, that each step is carefully placed, and that my choices are made looking for the result of advancement of His kingdom.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fabulous weekend!


Whoa!!! It is high time that I get back on the stick.  I have been busy making rainbows of all kinds, but have not been documenting it at all.  Bad Robin!

So let’s see if I can recap. 

  • I have written three picture book drafts in 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  Two have good potential.  We shall see.
  • I have found a color palette that I absolutely love and have been experimenting with that.  See how yummy it is.
  • I have been in a monthly art therapy group that has been exploring new media. 
  • I purchased a Wacom Bamboo Create digital tablet to use for my illustrations. 
  • I’ve been watching scads of tutorials in order to learn how to use the new paperweight. 
  • I was part of a team that wrote a grant for a parenting program (first I have ever written . . . we will see if the desired outcome arrives.)

I think I am tired from just remembering everything that I’ve worked on. 

  • Oh yes, I made some melted crayon art and some monster feeling faces from what I found on Pinterest and am ready to make some kitty, dog, and bunny feeling faces too!

Yes, the biz-eee is here as always.  I guess biz-eee is as biz-eee does ;o)

Digging for gems

Yesterday was a full and rewarding day at the SCBWI Keeping It Real Non-Fiction Intensive.  There I was able to  bask in the wisdom, knowledge, and experience of  all of the wonderful speakers.  When I started on the journey of writing and illustrating picture books I had absolutely no thoughts about non-fiction.  None! 

While soaking in all of the information that was shared, I remembered something very long forgotten.  I love doing research!  That is where a majority of the time is spent for non-fiction writing, even for picture books.  Facts are facts and they need to be accurate.  In days  and jobs gone by, one of my duties involved research.  I used to spend hours in the library using their databases to dig up information during those B.I. (Before Internet) days.   Just being in a library was a joy for me.  While the internet does hold vast riches of information, it is just not the same as excavating book after journal after article to discover the rarest of gems.  The stacks, the smells, the enjoyment . . . I really miss those days! 

So what do I do about that?    A few months ago I started a story about someone in my family tree, but that story is more historical fiction than non-fiction.  I guess I will have to start digging to see what can be unearthed about the background story, and perhaps discover some little known facts or people that have a truly interesting and encouraging story that needs telling.  On to a new challenge, so . . . let the digging begin!

I love challenges!  I have sometimes been compared to a pitbull when it comes to something I can’t  that takes me a while to figure out.  So the challenge for 2012 . . . dundunDAH . . . 12 new drafts of picture books in 12 months.  Thank you to Julie Foster Hedlund and the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  You can see a link to this in the sidebar.  If you’d like to join, you have until January 29th.  Along with committing to the challenge come prizes.  Who doe not like a chance to win prizes?  Click on the 12 x 12 badge and come join the fun!

With this challenge comes the need for clarity.  Right now I am working with the lovely ambient tones of football crowds and announcers in the background.  (Love ya honey!  An episode of Bones is waiting in the wings ;o)  hehehe.  So, a few nights ago the constant bantering in the background while I was working on consistency in my illustrations saturated me to overload.  My mommy ears just were not working.  I couldn’t see clearly.  I couldn’t think clearly.  On came the wool sweater and I joined the lovely East Sacramento quiet of the evening.  Don’t get me wrong because I really enjoy a good football game, but that night it was not working for me.  Taking a walk in the chill of the night was refreshing and energizing.  I could think about what I was working on and roll things around in my mind and change the perspectives and size and tone as I enjoyed the remaining Christmas lights and the occasional passerby.


I can see clearly now . . . for all of us boomers . . . the rain is gone.  Knowing when you need to change things up for yourself is invaluable. You are the only one that truly knows what you need and what will work for you.  If your first attempt does not work, don’t give up, just move on to the next one.   You are worth it!

Intention wanted to start a blog back in April, after the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Spring Spirit conference here in Northern California.  The speakers were so inspirational and I was soaking in every word in an attempt to shorten this steep learning curve of breaking into the children’s picture book biz.  I needed to start a blog.  I intended to start a blog.  So much for good ol’ Intention.   It is now December and Procrastination has kept many words and themes rolling around and around and around in this brain for much too long.  Mr. P is a very strong foe but he did finally meet his match today.  I am not entirely sure why today was any different, but Determination won out!  Finally!  Yeah!!!  So, here we go . . . and I hope you do follow along with me.   

Making rainbows is what I love to do most.  In my daily work I deal with an enormous amount of black and white and many grey areas too, but the grey areas do not even edge over to blue grey, or any other shade of grey.  Just grey, and black, and white.  I must have color!  Color is a requirement for me . . . in words, in action, and in form.  I try to bring color into my day in whatever way I can.  That happens most in my play time which is much too much abbreviated by all other life happenings . . . dust, dishes, errands, exhaustion, family, friends, fatigue, work, must do’s, must see’s, and on and on.  I value my islands of time that are my sanctuary to enter into the zone of rainbows. 

My primary goal is to create rainbows of images and words that will be of value to at least one other person in this world.   Secondary to that is the desire to have my rainbows published in order to reach more than one.  But just one heart touched will make me smile and say to myself, “Well done!”  I do know how to focus on the joy in the journey.  But one must take steps to be on that journey of making rainbows.  Step one, check.  Thank you, Determination!  I will definitely work to keep your volume turned up.