A Truly Scilly Summer

I recently brought the book I am working on out and shared it with a writer friend of mine. My friend is also a writer and was able to look at my idea and evolving story with fresh ideas and eyeballs. You know I had not really thought about the value or necessity to share my manuscript with anyone before. It was not completely finished so no one needed to see it yet, or so I thought. This friend has been a terrific help and encouraging force in the evolution of this manuscript. I actually became excited about it again.
When I first began this book I was looking for an actual place with an interesting name. I was really interested in the 1940’s, possible orphan character, WWII, Europe. Imagine my delight in discovering the Isles of Scilly; a chain of islands off the southwestern coast of Cornwall, England.

This friend of mine came right out and said,”You need to go do some research. The story will almost write itself once you walk in the shoes of where you characters would have walked.”

Isn’t it annoying when someone else thinks of a solution first? What a good friend!

This summer I am taking my friend’s advice. Starting in London and then traveling by train to Land’s End in Cornwall, England. Taking the ferry, called the Great White Stomach Pump, 28 miles to the Isles of Scilly where my story takes place. Once there I am staying in a castle commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I in 16th century. I look forward to updating my blog as I prepare for this journey and discover how the story continues to unfold.

Falling into Scilly

It’s been a busy year with lots of projects and changes taking place. More recently, as dust has settled a bit, I have just enough time to pick up some projects long left tucked away for when time allowed.

For sometime I have been toying with a new website to introduce and promote my book Life in Scilly. www.lifeinscilly.com is live and evolving as I continue working on and developing the entire book package.


A Year’s Worth of Creative Attempts

I started this challenging art project last December. At the time I thought it was a great way for me to stretch my creativity and force myself into building a project from a picture I found on online. The original project I found used canvas as a base and paper for the patchwork, which clearly that would have been so much simpler than my brilliant plan! Using fabric would be so much more fun, or challenging, or difficult! So I dove into my fat quarter library (a seemingly simple task to most) and actually cut and fused about 100 or so circles of fabric to make the 2 sided patchwork pieces, as well as choose suitable buttons to add interest to some of the squares. Now, fat quarters and buttons are two of my favorite things in the world so to cut into a perfect fat quarter, whatever the reason, or separate a button from all the others in the big glass jars is quite an anxiety producing event. But it was a great winter project.

All’s well that end’s well and I think this time it turned out well. In future I know how to create other pieces to display the button and fat quarter collection currently filling my shelves and studio.




Pretty Social Media Images

Social Media is tricky; I freely admit that I struggle with it at times. I don’t really feel that anyone much cares, nor should they care, what I ate for lunch, watch on TV, or where I plan on spending my weekend. Obviously social media’s place in my world is a bit iffy but that doesn’t mean knowing and understanding the appropriate sizing of those social media images aren’t important to me. If you need some assistance formatting images and setting up your social media feel free to contact me. While I may be at a loss for exactly what to post on my social media I am more than happy to help you make your social media visually stunning and uniquely your own.

For those ambitious individuals,  I have come across a few of these helpful articles which are really handy when setting up social media, and this particular article, by setupablogtoday.com, is great because it is also an infographic.

2015 Social Media Image Size Guide

Wooden Type

Searching for inspiration the other day I found myself perusing some of my type trays in my studio.  This is some of my favorite wooden type in my collection. I acquired it some time ago, from someone who put it up on ebay unaware of it’s cool factor. I liked his version of where it was found; in a barn in the Midwest. It’s clearly old type, not all perfect and some letters have some damage to them, but that only makes them more interesting. When displayed they really are mini art pieces!


Copyrights and Trademarks

While organizing my websites digital closet I came across a really great blog posting by Mary Engelbriet on the subject of copyright and trademark issues. I have had numerous conversations with other artists on the subject of copyright and trademark rights. This 2 part article helps explain the importance of this subject without sounding angry or snarky.

Now I am a huge, I mean huge fan of Mary. I’ve met her twice and she has signed many of my prints and my copies of her books. Her work is so playful with a twist of nostalgia mixed in. Mary Engelbriet is also a remarkable business woman and has enjoyed great success, therefore she knows her stuff. I believe she may even have a little Mary Poppins in her as well!

Art and Web Capabilities

I was at a meetup event recently and someone asked about a particular feature they admired and wanted to achieve. After a little detective work it was a parallax website this individual was speaking of. It jogged my brain into rediscovering a beautiful site to show them that goes above and beyond what one would think possible from the web. It is a mix of technology and art that is done so well neither overshadows the other.

Barbara Olszańska-Żywalewska

Parallax is not perfect for a number of reason; one of the big reasons is the speed at which it doesn’t load. It can be tedious and for some people it is not worth the trouble or the extra few seconds it may take to load. I personally appreciate the care given to develop a complex site such as the one above.

Need a little form in your life or website?

Recently I have started recommending WordPress clients use Gravity Forms on their sites rather than relying on free plugin form generators. While free plugins are great and the price certainly can’t be beat, they leave the door open for potential problems. Sometimes those free plugins just break, due to an upgrade or conflict with other plugins, and not always are those broken plugins operated on and brought back to life right away.

Here lies the problem; if someone visits your site and your contact form isn’t up and running.

How do they contact you?
How long has that form not been working?

Once you have your site built and the designer or developer hands you the keys how do you fix that kind of problem yourself? Unfortunately without hiring them again to troubleshoot and fix the problem most people are dead in the WordPress water.
So my best advice on this subject is to invest that bit of extra in your website. A $40 individual license is far more economical than $60-$100 an hour for a developer or design to try and rectify the problem later on. Gravity Forms are fairly easy to learn for even the novice user. Your designer or developer should set you up initially and create what forms you may need to start, but don’t be afraid to ask for a tour or lesson in how to use Gravity Forms. With the purchase of a license you get access to their documentation and support, so if a problem arises you have help right at your fingertips, no developer required.

Want to learn more? Here’s their site: gravity forms

Could it be a Sign?

In my attempt to be organized, on the ball, with it, and most importantly professional I ordered new business cards. I spent a significant amount of time on Barking Mad’s development, but to the cost of my own sites update including new cards. So I did order them, they were on there way! UPS had transferred them to the Post Office and they were due to arrive today. I waited, and waited, and waited. Then at 6pm, after repeated checking the Post Office’s website which ensured me they were out for delivery, I get a text proclaiming my cards arrival. Oh joy! But wait, there is nothing there. Not sure where he left them but my business cards are safely delivered somewhere else. Ugh… Is it a sign?

I hope they are nice, where ever they are!

It makes me smile, even if the mailman gave it to someone else.

It makes me smile, even if the mailman gave it to someone else.

Tomorrow will include a trip to the Post Office to inquire.