Posted in creativity, Fiction, Graphic Novel, International, Writing

Amazing new genre pushing boundaries

As a family we’ve recently been on a graphic novels kick.

It certainly makes for shared reading, because books can be savoured and re-read within a realistic time frame.  With text intense books, what often happens is one person gets to read the book from beginning to end and then it’s due back to the library.  Or by the time the second reader is well into the book the first reader has either forgotten vital details, or even worse, blurts out bits of plot and ruins the surprise.  “The butler did it — oops, sorry!”

Despite what you might think, graphic novels can deal with tough, adult subjects.  Art Spiegelman’s Maus springs to mind.  I had read the first version when it came out ages ago, but the most recent edition has more material, and more harrowing material.

We’ve also read Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem, Chronicles from the Holy City   and his Burma Chronicles, Pyongyang (North Korea) and Shenzhen

Young Sprout of course is not ready for adult narrative but has been reading the Little Prince series.  These have a steampunk esthetic and a sophisticated narrative technique. In each story the Little Prince and Fox, his companion, land on a different planet and have to figure out how to help the inhabitants deal with their problems — leading to discussions about motivations and character and why he might like some stories more than others.

Lauren Redniss has pushed this genre to a whole new level.  Radioactive, Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout  combines     the biography of Marie Curie with many sidebars about nuclear war, nuclear tests, nuclear energy, chemotherapy, x-rays.  The artwork is done with cyanotype  a     type of sun printing.  (<<<<  this link includes a slideshow of selected pages to get a tiny idea of the book).

Ah, what inspiration!

More to follow on the resulting output — but that’s a post for another day!

P.S.  No, it’s not lost on me that ironically, a post about graphic novels has no image.

P.P.S.  Most of the links are to (Canadian website).  Readers in other countries should Google to see if Amazon has a site in their home country.

Posted in productivity, quilting

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Of course this is what some sites pick up every single day, but I’m not trying to document every single thing that happens in my life, just keep notes on my creative endeavours without letting the blogging take over at the expense of said creative endeavours.

Think my word for this year will be BALANCE

since it’s something I always pray for – balance between work/creative activities/service to family & community

And my resolution is NOT TO MAKE ANY RESOLUTIONS!  Because we know where they go ….

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in creativity, journaling, Writing

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner* can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Of course right now the stats helper monkeys would have to be towing the Dreamliner along the runway since they’ve been grounded!


Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in baraka, creativity, Islam, journaling, productivity, Writing

Virtuous Living 2012

virtues 2012006

Click here to view the Wordle
I made using the Virtues Project cards I randomly selected throughout 2012.  
The size of the writing reflects which cards I pulled most frequently.  
No surprises there I would say.  Or if you just click on the image you can
embiggen it.  (Hmmm, I wonder when embiggen will make it either into the
dictionary or the list of words to be banished such as "world-class" and 
"spoiler alert"?)

Lifelong learning is a theme which kept coming up over and over again 
through the year so I added it as an "extra" virtue although it's not 
in the original hundred virtues in the project.  
For this year I've also added Sisterhood, Self-Care, and 
Consolidation (in the sense of keeping one's affairs in order 
and generally being organized)

What's special about the Virtues Project is that it's part of a global
initiative "to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping
people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these
universal gifts of character."
As such the quotations are drawn from every faith tradition.
The virtues are all positive and the cards themselves stress the
importance of balance and common sense, i.e. truthfulness does not
mean being hurtfully blunt, generosity does not mean giving away
the grocery money.  
I've been continually amazed at how often the virtue I randomly
choose for the day is exactly on point!

Of course there are various other sets of cards out there, so I'm curious, 
do you use cards and if so which ones?  What have you learned?  do
share, please!

Wordle takes a bit of patience to get started but once you do it's
great fun!  I've used it in the past to create text on fabric
through Spoonflower.
Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Teaser Tuesday

From East of the Sun by Julia Gregson, 2008, Orion Books

“But now she was feeling all wobbly and chameleonish again, which was annoying, only this time it was Frank, and to nutshell the problem, she had the most hideous crush on him.  When he’d asked her, in the most casual way possible, if Rose and she had any plans for Port Said, she’d been sitting in the bar chatting to Jitu Singh.”

Go to MizB’s Should Be Reading blog for more teasers in every genre!

Posted in journaling, Rant, Writing

Things that get me in trouble

In a recent post about process I asked:

Am I just more of a verbal person than a visual one?

My career has dealt with the written word: translating, editing, writing, researching — things that were always encouraged, that came naturally without a lot of struggle.  Certainly no one ever urged me to go to art school, nor did I think of it for myself.

My birth family placed great store on social activism, awareness of issues and politics.  Although with a different perspective, so does Grandpa X, who was watching the news on TV when we first met.

My visual approach to life has made me look like a total airhead on a number of occasions.

When I was out with my father, I saw a line of clothes drying, stretched along a roof line between two chimneys.  To me this was a very impressive image in itself, my father just said “How difficult it must be to raise children in those circumstances.”

Grandpa X and I were watching CNN one day and an interview with a turbaned Iraqi cleric came on.  I immediately blurted out “I’ve already seen this the other day, I remember that wall!”  (The wall in question was worn stucco with amazing weathering on it.)

But now I’m resolved not to feel inadequate because of this tendency.  It’s just who I am, and really not to be taken as proof that I’m someone that doesn’t give a bleep.

Posted in Writing

Municipal Darwinism

Yes, it’s a town eat town world in the Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve

Just finished Mortal Engines and can’t wait to read Predator’s Gold and any others he may have written.

Although this is likely to be shelved in the Young Adult section of the library it’s a thought provoking book with plausible characters and some laugh out loud humour too.

Coincidentally Philip Reeve was born in my hometown of Brighton, apropos of absolutely nothing!  And Brighton does not figure in Mortal Engines, although I think the Royal Pavilion would make a perfect town-topper!  You just have to read the book to find out.

Posted in Art, creativity, journaling

Bare all? Thoughts on Journaling

At my fibre arts group meeting the other evening we were discussing journaling.

Some of us do morning pages, myself included.  Others find it not to their liking.  Mine are illegible scrawls half in shorthand and sometimes I can’t read my own writing even that same day.  Periodically I recycle old pages as I feel the need to do that.

I do review them right after writing and  mark anything with creative potential with orange pen. Why orange, you ask?  just because.

If it’s quick to do, “sketch coffee mug in pen and ink,”I put it on my to do list for the day.  Longer projects are noted in a sketchbook, e.g. “make pillowslip with new green fabric.”  If my morning pages have gone into more detail I will photocopy the page and stick it in the sketchbook, “what if I made rectangular blue and green blocks and sashed with peach batik?” especially if I drew a diagram to jog my memory.

One fellow artist shared that she’s afraid of keeping a journal because people might not like to read her opinion of them.  I can empathize with this, and actually recycled all my teenage diaries realizing they could cause embarrassment.  My morning pages are illegible and disjointed with very little narrative content so I don’t think they contain any surprises.

Then I remembered the book Visual Chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Denino.  One of their central ideas is to develop a personal visual code for people and emotions in your life.   So your unreliable cousin Bert could be a yellow spiral criss-crossed with purple zig-zags for example.  Then when he shows up three hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, you draw a table with a turkey on it, with yellow spirals and purple zig-zags on the tablecloth.  This is just an example, I don’t have a cousin Bert unreliable or otherwise!  I blogged about this back in 2007 here, and here’s one of my visual pages.

However when I clicked on the blog link, the most recent post (January 26, 2011)  by Linda is painfully honest.  I admire her courage in posting her deepest feelings about her mother.  Tried to link directly to it, but the address doesn’t change on their website, so you’ll just have to click on the blog link from their site.

There will be more about journaling in an upcoming post, and some exciting news, so stay tuned.

Posted in Library Challenge 2010

What’s the Library Worth to You? – 2

The spreadsheet is started since I believe the books I checked out this aft will be in the house on January 1, and it’s easier to count them coming in before they get put on the shelf and the night table.

The current pile clocks in at just over $180 Canadian for nine books, of which five are paperbacks.  I’m not counting books borrowed by family members because trying to keep track of what others are up to would drive me crazy quickly.

The one I’m most intrigued by and looking forward to is Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea: a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable.

Posted in productivity, Writing

Turning over a new leaf

First off, I love what I do for a living! Would I sometimes like less deadlines and more money? Yes, but wouldn’t we all? I enjoy editing people’s work so that others will want to read it, and it makes sense and reflects well upon the speaker or writer. There’s plenty of variety, some drama, and the challenge of researching terms of art and acronyms.

Still, it’s satisfying to come to the end of this year’s deadline-driven assignments and know that everything is submitted and dealt with. Plus I’ve been juggling next year’s calendar with its meeting dates since October so it’s a relief to have one less large piece of cardboard to handle every day.