Green Light!

WOOHOO!! I got the green light from The Book Designer (self-publishing consultant) that I am making the correct computer corrections on my drawings!


Chinquapin pencil drawing


It also means that I can now sell the drawings because THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE RESCANNED!!

Excuse me for shouting. I am SO RELIEVED.

Sorry. Trying to get a grip here.

It also means it is time to figure out prices. The pencil drawings are odd sizes, unlike the standard sizes I usually draw for commissioned pieces.

Gotta go – lots of work ahead!!

P.S. For the benefit of Mr. Google and anyone looking for my upcoming book, these are pencil drawings of the cabins of Wilsonia for the upcoming book The Cabins of Wilsonia. Really! It is coming up and sooner than I thought. No date yet. . .

P.S. #2 Speaking of dates, 6 years ago I began blogging about life as an artist here (it will open in a new window if you click on it.) And, 10 years ago on this date I broke three bones in my ankle, had lots of metal inserted, had a year of several surgeries, now have a Frankenfoot and am deeply grateful for the ability to walk.


Yup. That’s me. Fighting the battles of book design, technology and self-publishing.

Combining Photoshop Elements and Adobe InDesign is stinkin’ hard. I spent a long time on the phone with my friend Carol in Washington, trying to figure out how to resize the photos in Elements and then put them in InDesign with the correct “effective ppi”.

Are your eyes crossed yet? Here, rest them briefly on a photo of poppies.


We couldn’t figure it out. I remembered that several people who visited my studio during the recent Three Rivers Arts Studio Tour had offered help. I emailed one of them, plus a friend who sold me my first 2 Macs. That friend said, “There seems to be a divorced couple attitude between Apple and Adobe. (They blame each other for the software problems.)” Oh yeah.

After many emails and trials and lots of errors, I began tracking each step by keeping notes. This size export equals that many ppi which turns into this many eppi when moved into InDesign, which isn’t right so try it in another size export. I felt like a scientist.

All I want to do is convert these drawings to grayscale, scrub out the mafugo*, and resize them so the “effective ppi” is 300 in Adobe InDesign. But NOOOOOOO, the normal and sensible and simple steps don’t do the trick.

Eventually, I figured out a way. This is going to be a ton of work, but it will be worth it. I can do this because I AM A WARRIOR!


*“Mafugo” is a word I stole from KMJ’s Chris Daniel. He and I are both “proud owners of nothing but Honda since 1983″. In addition, I write to him in cursive on notecards in envelopes with first class stamps, and he reads and comments on my notes on the air. Do you listen to Chris? I think he is brilliant!

Not quitting.

Ever feel like just quitting on being a grown-up? Maybe on quitting all technology?

I finally ordered Adobe Photoshop Elements. Got version 10, because I don’t need the latest version to do two or three “simple” things.

It came. I looked at the box for about a week.

Okay, deep breath. What could be so dadgummed hard about installing it? What’s to fear? i’ve “conquered” Adobe Indesign; this is a baby program, so “they” say. It is Photoshop for “hobbyists”, said with a sneer.

Open the box. Read the little words. See that for Mac, only the 3rd disk is required. Insert disk. Scan the miles of ALL CAPS TYPE THAT IS SHOUTING TO BE READ AND AGREED TO. Agree.

A serial number?? What serial number??

Look over the box and the disks. No serial number. Or maybe it is that one. . . or this one?

Go to the internet. Ask the know-it-all Mr. Google how to find a serial number on this thing. Find lots of sites. Find lots of answers. Find a simple answer that says to look on the plastic case.

Look on the plastic case – AHA! Enter the serial number.

Adobe User Name? Sign in? Say what?? Okay, I must have done this to be able to use InDesign. Try one eddress with my normal password formula. No luck. Try another eddress with my normal password formula. No luck.

Click on “Forget Password?”

Go to Adobe website. Type in eddress (and hope it is the one I used for InDesign). Get a message that an email is coming.

Wait for email. Get email. Set new password.

Sign in.

Learn that my password has too many characters. Redo the “Forget Password”? Wait for another email.

Wish I could quit.

Nope. Not quitting.


I’m sorry for shouting. This is enough to make a preacher cuss. Self-publishing wouldn’t be hard if it didn’t include all this techie junk.

In Recovery of Excitement and Hope

After some computer research into Adobe Photoshop, which sells for about $600, I learned that Photoshop Elements, the dumbed down program for hobbyists, sells for about $60. If it is “dumbed down”, a degree in advanced computer design may be required for the big girl version!

cabin windowPerhaps by looking through the window as I did when beginning the project all full of excitement and hope will restore a bit of excitement and hope as I recover from some hard truths.

I bought Photoshop Elements and it should arrive within a week. Because it is by Adobe, the same outfit that made the program I used to design the book, I’m hoping the learning curve won’t be terribly steep. A few years ago, I dabbled in the very earliest version of Photoshop Elements, so maybe this won’t be too hard.  Lots of maybe and hope there. . .

The Book Designer recommended a book printing company in Michigan. I sent the preliminary info for a preliminary estimate on the cost of printing. One of the questions was “How many book titles do you publish a year?” Heh, heh, heh. My last book was printed in 1998. That would make about 1/16 of a book title published per year.


Holy cow, oh my goodness, fly-over-the-handlebars with sudden stopping jolting shock.

I spoke to a self-publishing consultant. He graciously (for a larger amount of money than I typically earn in a week) spent a fat hour on the phone with me, first thinking like a book designer and second, thinking like a book publisher.

He taught me a lot.

I knew there were problems in Pictureland, irritants in Imageville, and difficulties in Drawing World, as I went through my adventures in Adobe Indesign.

Yeppers. Good thing I didn’t sell any of those originals yet, because I need to rescan them. Then I need to buy Adobe Photoshop and learn how to use it. Then I need to put the new scans in Photoshop to do some computer converting and some magical mystery adjusting.

No biggie. 268 drawings, minus the 2 that I accidentally amputated, and the 4 that I drew as commissions and let the customer take equals 262 drawings to be rescanned.

When Mr. Consultant learned I did this project on a laptop using iPhoto, he called me “a warrior”.

Well, yea, I can feel good about something as I muddle along in techie ignorance.

Now I need to figure out how to procure Photoshop without subscribing to the “creative cloud”. Barf. Just sell me the dang program.

Attitude, attitude, attitude. Think and act like a warrior.

Yikes – do I need to find a rifle and shoot this project?

Nope. Nevuh, nevuh, nevuh give up.

To be continued. . .

Waiting For The Next Step

My friend Carol and I finalized the design of the book. I went to Seattle to get help from her, because she knows how to use Adobe inDesign and she has a great eye. We’ve been friends since the spring of 1977, so we are pretty comfortable telling and hearing the truth from one another. She has been a tremendous help to me in this entire process.


Carol also helped me sort out how to ask The Book Designer if he is the right consultant to help me with figuring out the next steps. So, now I am waiting to hear from him, and then I will know how to proceed.

It wasn’t all just work – if you visit my other blog, next week you can read about my trip. Or just look at the photos, if that fits into your life better. Click here to go there.

P.S. The internet was crazy good fast at Carol’s house, fast fast fast, awesome fast! I took advantage of this to download a couple of books from Audible; they took 3 minutes each, and at home it takes overnight, usually 2-3 different attempts. Gadzooks!

What Is Self-Publishing?

In the olden days, people self-published a book when they had no agent, no experience, no market and no hope of finding any of those necessary elements.

I exaggerate to make a point. There were other reasons for self-publshing, and not all self-published books were as pathetic as that sounded.

pencil drawing of cabin detail

When Jane Coughran and I self-published The Cabins of Mineral King, we chose to go that route for multiple reasons: we knew exactly how we wanted our book to look, we wanted to make money and not share with a third party, and we knew our market and how to reach them.

The Cabins of Wilsonia is the same sort of project for me. Now days, there are many assisted self-publishing companies that didn’t exist back in 1998 so the options are much broader than simply going it alone.

Assisted self-publishing means that a company provides limited choices in paper, book shape and format, types of binding, types of covers, and numbers of pictures and pages allowed. They might provide an editor if you pay more, and often they print the books as you sell them. (This is called “Print On Demand”.) They provide an ISBN and a bar code, and they are listed as the publisher. They do limited marketing, using Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and their own company. Sometimes they provide a handful of bookmarkers, postcards and publicity posters. You may have heard of some of these companies: Blurb, Lulu,and  Create-Space are a few of the biggies. This type of publishing works well for some, but won’t work for me, for the same reasons as when we did The Cabins of Mineral King.

So, I’m acting as a contractor and either doing all the pieces myself or finding experts to do the work. For example, I am doing my own book design, which includes deciding how it looks, typing out all the text, scanning the drawings, sizing and arranging it all, and using a complicated computer program to get it ready for a printer. Friends and Youtube have shown me how to do these things.

In addition, I’ve hired a professional editor and may rent the brain of The Book Designer. It is my hope that he will take the slack out of my design and point me to printers and binders and perhaps a cover designer so that I don’t make any gross errors, or even any minor ones.

Being my own contractor means I have to figure out all those steps. The type of cover design I used before won’t look good on Amazon, which may not have been in existence in 1998. The printing company I used is out of business, and I can’t remember who the binder was. Last time we  had to find a shipping company with a  loading dock so the books could be delivered from the bindery. Then Dad and my husband went to Fresno with their pickups to get the books. Now I have forgotten who the trucking company was, Dad is gone and so is his pickup. (Michael’s pickup has 310,000 miles on it but it could go to Fresno for a load if needed.)

Then I had to store all the books and mail them out to fill the orders.

So, still lots to do and figure out.

And that’s the current status on the book process.

Oh, and I have to plan a few book signings.

Wait, did I mention that I need to figure out how to presell the books so I can pay for this?

Excuse me, I need to go lie down now.


Beginning to Finish, Remotely

Have you been wondering if I gave up on the book, The Cabins of Wilsonia?

Nope. I’ve been painting a mural, and also did a couple of final little decorative pencil drawings for the book.

Meanwhile, my computery friend north of Seattle has been refining my book design. The idea was to work together remotely. Turns out “remote” is the operative word here. I live in too remote of a place to have decent internet speed, sometimes cannot get my email, could not even buy a particular back-up service for my computer because of the slowness and finally realized chances that we can do this remotely are quite, well, um, remote!


So, I’ll jet off to Seattle and we’ll knock this thing out together.

What is “this thing”? We will be finalizing the computer design. This means I am no longer accepting quotes.

We are making progress here, Folks!!


I went through the 2 boxes of finished drawings and counted 258 + 4 that are in the hands of the cabin owners. (They commissioned me to draw their cabins and then I decided the drawings belonged in the the book). That made 261 total.

Then, I went through the book on the computer and counted every drawing. There were 260 total.

pencil drawing of stone steps

What does this mean??

It means that I have done a drawing but not put it in the book.

What is a pencil artist to do??

Ask for help, of course. I spent an hour or so going through the book on the computer and matching every physical drawing in the studio to every virtual drawing on the computer. My husband helped. He likes to organize stuff (except the stuff in the workshop, but he even gets into that once in awhile.)

Look what I found:

  1. A drawing was in the book twice!
  2. A drawing was missing from Hillcrest Road!
  3. A drawing was missing from Lilac!

Wow. I’m glad I thought of doing this tedious inventory task. I wonder what other tasks, checks and balances, quality control measures there are that will make this book turn out to be the best book ever? I sure hope I discover them before it goes to the printer!

As a result of discovering 2 more drawings, I’ve added 2 pages to the book. This means I have to rework the Table of Contents, and that there is more room for the quotes that I’ve been squeezing here and there. It also means that I HAVE TO RENUMBER THE PAGES!!! I’m sure there must be a way to do this automatically on InDesign. Will it take more time to find out how to do this automatically than to simply do it by hand??

While I was looking at every drawing, I found three that just weren’t quite good enough. One has already been redrawn, but my husband made a suggestion that salvaged it. One just needed a touch-up, and it is the stone steps at the beginning of this blog post. The shadows didn’t make sense on the first version. The second one is below – it won’t be in the book, but now it looks good enough to sell.

extra lupine color

Quotations Limitations

At the time of this writing, there are 40 quotations by YOU in the book. YOU means Wilsonia cabin owners.

pencil drawing of picnic table

Who knew that getting other people to do my writing would be so very difficult?? Look at this list:

  1. Ask for quotes
  2. Ask again, because not enough people responded.
  3. Ask again, because people didn’t understand that I am not looking for history but for details about cabin life. Details, stories, thoughts, stuff about cabin life today.
  4. Edit, because people submit paragraphs and pages in response to a request for “a few lines“. (Editing is fun – if I had a career do-over, I might choose to be an editor.)
  5. Email the edited quotes, because I need people’s permission to rearrange their words if I plan to put their names on it.
  6. Put the quotes in the book, mess with 2 different typestyles and 2 different formats, then scoot and resize and rearrange the page to accommodate the quotes. (This is not fun – if I had a career do-over, I would not choose computer operator.)
  7. Decide if there are too many or if the subject matter is too redundant or if I am putting a dumb quote in because I really enjoyed listening to the person tell me about his life at the cabin or because I really like that person.
  8. Toughen up a little inside so that when someone gets upset with me at not including his quote after the book is published, then I won’t be crushed by their disappointment.
  9. Wonder if I should take all the quotes received that don’t fit and make an extra page at the end of the book. Or the middle. Or the beginning. Or on a hand-out sheet.
  10. Decide that #9 is a poor idea, especially the handout sheet.

Anyone recognize this picnic table yet or the cabin behind it??