The dummy dance – part 2

Ah! I managed to get all the required items in order. A cover letter with short bio and story summary / pitch. The story in proper format with title page. Plus not required for the challenge, but allowed, three B&W illustrations with values studies. Also, I included 2 samples of full color illustration from other stories, to give a sense of my finished style.

As an illustrator I required this of myself, as well the story was one requiring at least these three illustrations to give a better sense of the story characters, the word-play situation involved, and the inferred but un-described outcome.
I worked day and night almost daily for over three weeks – a short time to accomplish this much, yet it felt slow to me. I managed to get it all done 4am the day before the deadline [due by 6pm]. I knew better than to try to organize the email at this tired foggy point.

I also knew not to wait till 4 or 5 pm, because things can go wrong. Things are forgotten till the last minute. Sure enough, I realized after exporting art to pdf as required by this publisher, that the files were too large. I had to go back to the original files to  change the size properly. I also work on a mac which opens up all photo attachments in the email. I have never understood why it does this or how to stop it. I thought it was only with jpgs. But Wednesday I discovered that although my pdf files of writing [letter and story] stayed as attachments, the pdf’s of art opened up in the email! So then I had to go back and turn them into compressed zip files, and hope this is okay.  Once this was all done, I started the email.

Now is where I tell you everything did not go smoothly. The dummy mistake still occurred.  Now I can share the BEST & EASIEST TIP to HELP ANYONE with ANY email submission, no matter what type of email, what formatting is required, what sort of submission. Seriously, this is the most important step if you are sending an email to purchase a house, apply for a job, to date someone online, to send a love letter to your partner, or a hate-letter to an ex-lover.  Ready? Here it is –


Yes, over-tired brain still foggy from the night before had all the files in order, yet after putting the story in – the incorrect one without the added cover letter – and meaning to click on the attachment icon to add the other files – accidentally clicked something that sent the email. Just like that.

I then put the proper email together, having to write something about the error prior. By then the submission received email had already reached me. So it may be all for naught.
Definitely not the professional level I had intended.

Yet, grateful it was in this challenge situation, and hopefully I will be much more intelligent and patient in getting my submissions out to agents with my stack of stories now in-progress piling up. I finally understand that this is not about getting that one book, but about creating a career. Getting all the dummies lined up ready to go is next. Figuring out the agents who seem aligned, and the one book to choose for sending out first to each particular agent is next. A slow process, and I am learning patience with myself.

So taking a weekend to just love that I completed this much work in this amount of time, knowing I can do this again and again. I am no longer the old paradigm who would have beaten myself up with despair over my mistakes. Instead, I am grateful and relaxed. Loving into the break to the other parts of myself – dancing, swimming under the full moon, eating yummy healthy foods, listening to great music, nourishing myself.

Life has shown me timing is a funny thing, and it generally provides what it provides… and that includes all the times of synchronicity. They do happen, and I believe will happen in right timing. Rushing never got me anywhere fast.

May you benefit somehow from my sharing this mis-step in the dummy dance journey.



The dummy dance – part 1

When I lived in Australia, it rubbed me the wrong way when people called a pacifier a dummy. I kept imagining they were telling their babies to “dummy up”. The connotations of the word dummy in America has such negative slurs that I couldn’t shake this image until an English friend told me it was simply meant to be a way to say a replacement for the real thing… of course a dummy, like a dressmaker’s dummy, or a picture book dummy!

Of course, how many of us have sometimes felt like a dummy now and then in the process of making our book dummies?  Here is a short list of some of my many foibles along this continuing trial and error process towards progress:

The multiple times I have bounced ahead, putting together a fully polished full-color dummy, glued properly with cover, dedication page, and contacts on the back – only to realize:

I need to revise words.
Text that was on a layer was sent to the background and did not show up in the print.
An entire 2-page spread was eliminated.
I need to revise words.
Publishers / editors / agents / guidelines request a B&W dummy.  B&W. Not color.
Trying to print the color dummy out in B&W did not express the values properly, and lost the mood almost entirely. Not a quick fix.
I need to revise pictures.
Creating 3 finished art pieces to show the final style…finding out the trim size of the book is not working.
I need to revise pictures.
I need to revise words.
I need to revise pictures.
I need to revise words.

Since I am working on a dummy right now with a deadline for submission to be read [as part of my 12 X 12 Challenge membership], I will get back to work!

Well actually – not really a full dummy on this one – not enough time given or requested. But it being a story with “punny” language , and since I am an illustrator working both in my mind with the images, providing at least some of the visuals is essential. Part of creating a dummy is figuring out characters, how they look, act, move.  Figuring out the setting. Lighting. It is much like planning for a play.

Right now, I am putting together a larger cast of key characters than normal in key action scenes that show settings essential to the plot. In the culminating scene there is a celebration that includes many additional characters as well. I love these sorts of scenes because they allow me to share lots of movement, diversity, and creative stimulation to the reader / viewer. However, it is filled with complex details and arrangements, that takes quite a lot of care in composing to make sure it fits the page sizes, essential things don’t get lost in the “gutters”, and saved in formats that corrections later won’t be impossible.

But, as I said, the deadline is looming. How much I can submit will depend entirely on how focused I can be, how many interruptions happen, and staying in a flow.

Some people will tell you they work on a dummy in the same way each time. As an illustrator/author, each project the dummy dance is improv dance for me. I like to imagine I get smarter each time, but I find every project has its own rhythm and demands.

As soon as this gets sent out, back to the other 7 projects. If I can stay on task now, I hope to bring some examples here to share on process.

Good luck to all who are dancing with their dummies today!