Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Calamari Kid is on Kindle! :D

I wrote the story of the Calamari Kid a couple of years ago. I wanted to make up a story for the website Squidoo, and a story about an octopus seemed appropriate, even though the site as a whole is not particularly squid-related. I wanted to write a story that I could illustrate with my own cartoons. The whole story ended up taking five of Squidoo's "lenses" (that's what Squidoo calls their web pages, I don't know why) to complete.
I almost wrote myself into a corner with this one. I made up the story as I went along. After the first three lenses, I couldn't figure out how to end the story. Then I saw this cartoon in the Sunday paper.

Of course! I should have storyboarded this in the first place! So I printed up what I had so far and taped it to the pantry door. Now I could see my storyline and try to figure out where it was going. I could see that something needed to happen to little Joy and the Calamari Kid would save her, with the help of his friends. I was able to write and illustrate the end of the story.


I received some kind comments from people who seemed to like the story. Some people encouraged me to have it printed as a children's book. I looked into it a few times, but I never got past trying to find out the aspect ratio of the pages. My mother takes up so much of my time.

Recently, I've been encouraged to publish it on Kindle. I decided that this is something I can do. (!) I read up on the process. Also here. It is recommended that you use a Word document. I use a Mac. I do have a version of Word for Macs that my husband put on my computer. I had never used it before.

It was very confusing because the instructions referred to some different, newer version of Word. The Kindle uploading site requires a newer operating system than I have, so I used John's computer. He has a newer version of Word, too.

I thought that I wanted to enter everything as images. That way, I reasoned, I could control the layout of each page. Well, apparently, this doesn't work.

I tried uploading the first page as a trial. My image was sideways, cut in half, and in black and white. I re-sized the picture and turned it 90ยบ. I re-sized it again. I tried several configurations. I even measured the kindle picture on my screen.

It never looked right.

Finally, I decided that I should follow the directions as closely as possible. What a concept! Now all I had to do was teach myself Word. It was mostly self-explanatory. I used the help function a lot. And I could insert the same illustrations that I used in the Squidoo lenses.

This was an improvement. 

Now the problem I was having was the layout of the pages. I designed a page with text above and a picture on the bottom. But when I uploaded it into the Kindle maker, the text and the picture were on separate pages. The text was at the top of the page, and there was plenty enough blank space for the picture to fit. Other times, the text and images shared the page comfortably.

The instructions said that Kindle books are not just viewed on Kindles. People read them on other devices, and the proportions and layout of the pages have to be fluid. That's why you can't do a table of contents unless you use a special TOC generator that changes with the circumstances.

So my page layouts can't be counted on. I just typed in my story and sprinkled the pictures where they seemed appropriate.

I proofread this book so many times, I got sick and tired of the story.

The pricing of my book presented problems that I hadn't anticipated. I had a choice of claiming a 35% or a 70% profit. When I read that, I wondered why anyone would do 35%.

The answer is this. At 35%, the minimum retail price is 99¢. At 70%, the minimum price is $2.99.

I chose 70%, but I'm thinking about changing it so I can sell my book for 99¢. It may be more popular that way. After all, it's my first book. And I'm sure I didn't do a perfect job.

Another thing I had to decide was whether to enable something called digital rights management. I think I did enable this, and they won't let you change this. I read a little about it. It's something about protecting my copyright, which I'm totally in favor of. But I don't know everything about it. So now, I'm second guessing myself on this. I'll probably research it a little more before I publish my next book.

So The Calamari Kid is now available on Kindle.

By the way, although the book cover is in color on the Amazon website, the images seen on the Kindle are in black and white. And a lot of shades of gray. However, when the other devices (that I mentioned earlier) are used, the colors will show. Plus, I think they will probably come out with color Kindle some day.

And when they do, I'll put a Kindle on my Amazon wish list.

I'd appreciate your comments, especially if you know something about this.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

SCUBA Dooba Do....

---------- ★ ★ ★ ----------

I don't swim.  I don't know anything about SCUBA* (except for what the acronym stands for). And so, in my Calamari Kid series, I have the children underwater with snorkels. Deep underwater. Well, apparently, the pipe on the snorkel, that only rises a few inches above the characters' heads, cannot reach the surface. These kids are breathing water. I know that now, but I doubt that I will redo the whole series. You pretty much have to suspend disbelief for this whole storybook situation. The Calamari Kid is a story told in five web pages. Each one has a link to the next one at the bottom of the page. I can tell by my tracking that I sometimes lose readers in the middle of the story. Are they getting bored? Are the links too obscure? One guy asked me what age group the story is for and said that my vocabulary may be too advanced for my target group. I really don't know. I am not an educator or even a parent. In my own childhood, I regularly read books above my grade level and liked to learn new words. The guy I mentioned questioned the word skeptical.
*Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stolen Cartoon Art Alert!

  One of my facebook cartoonist friends posted this shortly after Comic-Con. Spread the word and alert the authorities if you come across any of these.

‎"Brent Anderson had a lot of art stolen in San Diego. His car was broken into at the San Diego Zoo and the following original art was stolen: 50 pages from Astro City Vols. 1 & 2 & Local Heroes; AC: Dark Age Books 1 (#s 1-4), 2 (#s 1-4) & 3 (#s 1-4) (50 pages). Green Lantern and Rising Stars artwork was stolen as well. Please share this to as many venues as possible, to get the thief caught and the art returned."

"If any of these pages surface, email"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Geography Lesson
 One of my facebook friends sent this to me and I thought it was pretty funny.

1 - Open Google Maps (directions)
2 - Type China as your starting point
3 - Type Taiwan as your destination.
4 - Read step 48

And I found this one myself because I've always wanted to go to Hawaii...
1 - Go back to Google Maps (directions)
2 - Type in Sacramento, CA as your starting point
3 - Type in Honolulu, HI as your destination
4 - Read step 11.

Why they have you drive to Washington State is only a small part of the mystery.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

John had his surgery about three weeks ago. I was hesitant to blog about it while he was in the hospital because it seems unsafe to advertise that I was alone in the house with an invalid for a week. I couldn't run any errands without bundling Mom up in her wheelchair, strapped in the van, and bringing her along.

My biggest problem was that I couldn't go visit him at all. When I was finally able to arrange a driver, they were releasing him. And he begged me to come get him in the van. He said the shuttlebus that took him to San Francisco was the bumpiest ride he'd ever had, and he couldn't bear it in his condition.

I finally had to get my dear sister to drive, and we took Momma along. I'd never taken her for a trip that long since way back when her condition was healthier. Mom was a good sport about it. The hospital is on a beautiful place with a great view of the Golden Gate. It's tantalizingly close to some museums that I crave to visit. Maybe someday when John is better.

Would you believe it? I had to give John SHOTS! It was easier than I'd imagine. They came pre-filled and disposable. I didn't have to worry about bubbles or anything. I just had to give him one per day for ten days after he came home. This was a blood thinner to prevent blood clots since he couldn't move around very much. I've been a caregiver for about seven years, and this was the first time I ever had to give anyone a shot.

I also had to deal with putting blocks under the legs of our bed, because it was too low for him. I had to get help with that, too. I had no idea that our king-size bed had SIX legs under it. I had to go buy more blocks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm trying not to let this blog post sound like one of the letters I used to write to my grandmother. You know, the ones when I was a little girl and I spent the first part of the letter (after the how-are-you-I-am-fine) apologizing for not having written recently.

Well, Dear Readers, I haven't written to you lately, have I? Well, here's what's been going on...

First of all, I need to tell you about a problem I have. I can't drive on the freeway. I have panic attacks. Especially if it's an elevated freeway with lots of other cars, everybody going fast and merging. For years, I used to force myself to do it. But it didn't get better. I felt like I was re-traumatizing myself.

I'm usually okay if I'm not driving. I can close my eyes and pretend I'm sitting on the sofa at home if it gets too scary. I prefer to ride with a relatively sane driver.

Meanwhile, my dear husband is scheduled to have hip replacement surgery next week. In San Francisco. A hundred miles away.

One day last week, my sister Kathy stayed with Momma so I could go to San Francisco with John for his preliminaries. We left before seven o'clock in the morning. We grabbed a drive-through breakfast from McDonald's.

We got to the VA hospital about nine. Our first appointment was scheduled for 10:30, so we thought we had a lot of time. But we checked in just to find where the first appointment was, and they told us to go to another building. From there, we had to go to get an EKG and blood test before going back to the first appointment.

And so went the whole day. X-rays, physical therapists, urine sample, surgeons. Several of the people we saw looked at the paperwork and thought it said knee replacement. That didn't give John much confidence.

We talked about the transportation problem. I was hoping that somehow I could stay at a nearby handicap-accessible motel with Momma and we could visit John every day. Of course, we would have to stay there until John was recovered enough that HE could drive home. Of course, I'd have to wheel Mom in her chair everywhere I'd go and I'd have to somehow puree her meals. It just wouldn't work.

Mom needs to sleep A LOT. And she needs her adjustable bed with the air baffle thing that prevents bedsores. She's incontinent, so I have to do a lot of laundry. I have to add thickener to her beverages and spoon-feed her everything she can't suck through a straw.

John is going to take a shuttle bus from our local VA hospital to the one in San Francisco. I am going to have to stay here and take care of Momma. If I'm lucky, I will be able to get someone to stay with Momma one day when someone else drives me to San Francisco for a visit.

We don't know how long John will be in the hospital.

I imagine when he comes back, I'll have to get a double wheelchair kind of like those strollers they have for twins. Then I'll have to push them both around together.

Oh, and how are you? I am fine.

Monday, April 11, 2011

a day off at last
I was getting flustered by my caregiving duties. I hadn't had a day off in about a month. I was thrilled to get a phone call from my sister Kathy. She offered to spend her Sunday with Mother so that John and I could have a day off.

We went out to eat at Cassidy's. We hadn't been there in months, but they still remembered our favorite breakfasts. I love my mother, but it sure is nice to not have to puree her food and feed her, while being kicked and coughed at.

Okay, enough griping. I enjoyed my day off very much.

After pancakes, bacon, and an egg, we went to an antique show/street fair. They have this once a month, but this is the first time I had the day off. I saw some interesting things, and I wished I had a camera with me. There was a creepy bizarre wall-hanging mask thing with long twisty horns. I saw a very old-looking fur-covered rocking horse. I don't know what kind of fir. It didn't look like horse. I saw a lot of Boy Scout paraphernalia, a Hunkleberry Hound doll, and a seven-foot cigar. I found a booth with a variety of cute robots.

I bought a pair of cute doggie figurines for only six dollars.

John still hasn't had hip replacement surgery. He was limping around with his cane. So we took it slow. The weather was quite comfortable and we had a lot of fun looking at stuff.

Then we went to Arden Fair Mall and had a light lunch at Johnny Rockets. I love the fifties retro style of the place, but the acoustics in that place give me a headache. The music was loud and the place was crowded. I usually go to places like that on weekdays. I'd never been there when the employees danced.

The music got louder and I was tempted to cover my ears. But then I noticed the line of waiters and waitresses dancing to I Will Survive . It was somewhat anachronistic. A song from the fifties would have been more suitable. It was fun.

We walked through the mall. I love looking around the Disney Store. I bought a Mickey Mouse shopping bag. I stopped the cashier from putting it in a bag.

Then we walked to the movie theater in the mall and watched ARTHUR. Russell Brand is hysterically funny. I recommend this movie.

Then we went home and relieved the lovely Kathy. What a refreshing day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a recent message

On 04/06/11 9:01 AM, Martin L wrote:
Hi Carolyn. I'd like to learn more about animating for light shows. What's a good primer book or web site on the subject?

Thanks....Martin L

Hi Martin.

I created animation for laser shows in the early eighties. I did not know of anyone else who was doing this. The software was proprietary and still being developed at the time. I would go in and find out the guys had changed my computer so it worked completely different from the way it worked the day before. Sometimes it felt like I was drawing with a rubber band on the end of two long sticks.
It didn't help that computers were still new and I had never used one before. If there were such a thing as a web site, or the internet, I'd never heard of it.
I taught myself to animate using Walter Foster art books and THE ILLUSION OF LIFE (a Disney book). I had to figure out for myself how to translate that information into this new technology. I worked in a dark windowless room, entering points on a Summagraphics pad with a new gadget called a mouse. While I did this, my work would be projected on the wall with a red helium-neon laser. My art did not appear on the monitor, only a list of x-y coordinates.
I worked four ten-hour days a week so I wouldn't lose my seniority at the drug store where I worked as a sign painter. I continued to work there two or three days a week.
I did this for a year and a half, until our laser company went out of business.
Years later, a company in Florida contacted me. They had bought the equipment and they wanted me to make some animation for them. I was flattered that they had gone to the trouble to hunt me down, as I had been divorced, moved, and changed my last name.
If there are any books about laser animation, I've never heard of them.
I'm sorry if I gave you too much information. No one has asked about this for a long time.

Good luck to you,
Carolyn Pile

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Give to the Red Cross. It's Good Karma.
I know I'm not an expert on drawing Godzilla, but if you click on this picture, it will lead you directly to the Red Cross, where you can make a donation. I know it works, because I did it myself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

today's challenges

The next round in the artist tournament is coming up. This time the challenge is to illustrate the perfect (or not so perfect) valentine. The picture is to be in black and white and grey with one shade of red.
I sent mine in several days ago. I will post it here when the entries are released.

The Jeopardy Online Test was today. I am not getting any younger, and, although I like to think I'm reasonably intelligent, I just don't think as fast as I used to. I know I would have done better if I could have had a few extra seconds for each problem. They give you fifteen seconds for each problem.

Some things I know I got right. Some things I know I got wrong. I really do need to brush up on geography. I had absolutely no idea what the sports questions were about. They don't tell you how you did, or what the correct answer should have been.

When I watch Jeopardy on TV, I sometimes get most of the answers right. But I know that, if I were ever ON the show, I'd be way too nervous to be able to think at all.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

what's been happening lately

In the last two weeks, these things have happened...

(1) On my birthday, we had plans to meet my sister and her husband for dinner. We had Momma all strapped into the handicap van. The van wouldn't start. The battery was dead. John had to push the van (a Dodge Grand Caravan) out of the garage so we could jump the battery. And John couldn't find his jumper cables. So we had to borrow some from a neighbor we hardly know.

(2) The same night, after we got back from dinner, I was sitting in the living room watching TV. My face was itchy. I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I had an insect bite under my eye. I took a Benadryl and went to bed.

The next morning, I had a huge swelling under my eye. It was nearly as big as my eyeball. Since it didn't get any better after a few days, I had John take a picture of it and I emailed it to my doctor. He called in a prescription for antibiotics and antihistamines.

The swelling is almost gone now, but there's still a sore red mark where the bite happened. Oh, and I was told it must have been a spider, although I never saw the critter. It's creepy to think of a spider unseen on my face under my glasses.

And THEN -

(3) Tuesday I had minor surgery. I've had this bump on the back of my neck that keeps getting infected. Tuesday I had it removed. They said it was a cyst. They used a local anesthesia so I could drive myself there. I made sure to park where I wouldn't have to back up to get out.

(4) I am also participating in an artist tournament put on by some of my Facebook friends. I have voted for my favorite entries in the past, but this is the first time I've participated.

Most of the other artists have much different styles than mine. I think there's a lot of testosterone muscular super hero illustrators among my competition. Really good ones. I don't expect to win, but I think it would be good for me to try.

The premise of this first entry is that of a harrowing experience. There needs to be a survivor who has just escaped a deadly situation.

I will post my entry here when they become public.
Here is where you can vote for the various art works. They had quite a few no-shows this time, probably because of the blizzards in some parts of the country.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Cafepress Store
I finally changed out the Christmas theme on my Cafepress store. I have hundreds (maybe thousands, I really don't know) of items available with my artwork on them. There are greeting cards, tee shirts, sweats, mugs, wall clocks, posters, baby bibs, mouse pads, and other miscellaneous things that you probably can't live without.

Monday, January 3, 2011

San Francisco Military Hospital Adventures, Part 1
When I was a little girl, we lived in Marysville. A trip to San Francisco was a very big deal. It was a three-hour drive each way. The drive seemed to last forever. When I was 12, we moved to Sacramento. Now San Francisco was only two hours away. Still an eternity when you're stuffed in a hot station wagon with your sisters.

My youngest sister was born with a heart condition. She had open-heart surgery when she was four. They did it at Letterman Hospital at the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco.

This was my experience on a typical trip to San Francisco - Two hours in the car, then we three older sisters had to sit on the lawn outside the hospital because visitors had to be at least 18 years old. We waited there ALL DAY while our parents were inside with the patient. Then we were stuffed in the station wagon for two more hours to go home.

It was the most boring thing in the world.

There were no video games, iPods, or internet. It was 1968, and we were 15, 13, 10, and 4. The four-year-old at least had something to do. Of course, we were concerned about her. But there was nothing we could do and the days were long. I don't remember how many days we spent like this. I believe it was several weeks.

There was a MP guard shack near the hospital. We could see it from the lawn.

One day we saw the MPs dragging a young man into the shack. This was during the Vietnam War.

A little while later, the young man broke free and ran out of the shack. The MPs shot him with their rifles when he was about ten feet away. He fell onto the grass.

The MPs grabbed him by the arms and dragged him into the hospital.

An MP came over and asked if we were okay. We said yeah.

Then it went back to being boring again.