Life, Art, and Monkeys
26Apr/16Off

Movin!

Well, given how infrequently I update this ol' personal blog, I think it's about time I moved things over to JKRiki.com permanently. It's updated every Monday, after all! Plus I'm going to be upgrading it in the next few months to include links to other spots I hang out online, such as my new digs at Instagram. If you're looking for me in the meantime, check over here!

Zipping over to JKRiki.com!

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17Dec/15Off

Prepping for 2016

We come once more to the end of a year, and I'm excited to get to my annual goal review/creation for 2016! Still, it's a touch early for that, so I'm trying to hold off until the week between Christmas and New Years.

I may cave and work on it early, to be honest.

Just a reminder, for anyone who hasn't been here in a while, I moved regularly scheduled updates (now Weekly, Monday mornings) over to JKRiki.com. So if you're looking for more frequent posting from me, check that out. :)

Also, my buddy Adam is doing a fundraiser this season for Living Water International, if you'd like to check that out as well. Often we (or I, at least) take clean water for granted, and a lot of folks don't  have access to it. It seems crazy sometimes, given the world we live in here in (almost) 2016, but it's the truth.

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Filed under: Writings 1 Comment
24Nov/15Off

50,000 Words Reached

I managed to hit the 50,000 word NaNoWriMo goal, and a few days early to boot! The story isn't quite over yet, though, so I'll be back to writing after this blog post.

I put together some of the lessons I learned and how they relate to other art endeavors over at Animator Island if you're interested. You can gain a lot of wisdom from tackling a challenge like NaNo, and I highly recommend it. I'm also thinking about compiling a lot of the things I learned into a small eBook for next NaNo season. We'll see! I think it would be fun to write.

Now that I've finally "won," I considered if I would ever do this thing again. I think I might, depending. Also if I never did another one, I think I'd be fine with that too. At least I can always look back and say "Yep, checked that one off my list."

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10Nov/15Off

NaNo Update – Day 10

I am doing NaNoWriMo this year, and today's post will be a little update.

So far I am a 970 words from the halfway point of 25,000. It is the farthest of any attempts I've ever made at NaNo (my last attempt in 2012 was 5,088 words before quitting) so I am very pleased about that! And hey, it's all downhill from here, right?

I gave my novel a working title (not final, if this thing were to ever go past first draft stage, which I'm not sure it ever would, we'll see) and did a mock cover for it. So here's that:

Fake book cover for fun done in 10 minutes

It's not good, but it could be worse. I did it in about 10 minutes with a photo I found in a 30 second image search. But I enjoyed doing it. I like doing book covers, for kicks. It's also good practice. For this one, I need to fix the top, because it's hideous. I'd say this would be a first draft too, ha ha.

Anyway, I am taking the day off today because it's been a while and it's time. So tomorrow it will be back to writing, starting in on Act 2 of the 2 and a half act novel!

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6Oct/15Off

Inktober #6 – And a Book

Today I did an ink drawing using a photo my friend Mike took.

Inktober bird drawing Riki
Here's the reference.

mike_bird_ref

I think it turned out rather well, considering I haven't done a lot of drawing from life recently. And the REASON I haven't done a lot of life drawing recently, apart from general laziness and lack of art momentum, is I've been working on my first book, and that book is here!

creativity Boot Camp bookmockupIf you'd like a copy, you can find it right here right now. There are both print and E versions available. Best of all it's on a Pay What You Want model, so you get to set your own price. :)

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24Jun/15Off

Past Archives Begin Here

Caution sign
Please note: Posts here older than June 24th, 2015 should be considered officially archived. I am not removing them, but in the ten years that I have been writing on this blog I have changed a great deal. Things beyond this point should be considered outdated at best, and may contain many errors or opinions I no longer hold. These things tend to happen as you grow and live life. Or at least, they hopefully happen as you try to become a better person as you age! I just want readers to be aware of that, so that if you decide to go poking through history you will know that it doesn't necessarily reflect my current or future views. :)

 

If you'd like current thoughts and posts, please visit JKRiki.com for regular scheduled updates that provide better insights and information. Thanks!

JKRiki.com

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28May/15Off

Why Book Cover Design is a Nightmare

I'm in the home stretch of my book on Creativity, with just a handful of chapters left to edit and then format. The tricky thing now is that I need a book cover.

Book covers are extremely important, especially for first-time or generally not-super-famous authors. I fall into both categories, so I've been mulling over the cover to this book for quite some time. I've done thumbnails and early mockups, but so far I'm just not ready to commit to one. Unfortunately soon I'm going to have to, or this book will never get published.

The issue, I think, is I'm too nervous about doing an average cover. If you know anything about design, you're aware of the brilliant little bell curve that happens between "bad/average" and "great." The difference can be measured in pixels.

The above graph probably explains nothing. I am so, so tired right now.

Figure 1-A (above) probably explains nothing. I am so, so tired right now.

Designing for someone else is easy (well, easier) because your only horse in the race is how much you're getting paid. If you are hired for 20 bucks, the design doesn't need to be perfect. If someone gives you $20,000,000 to do a new logo (and that person is Pepsi Inc.) then you do the best job you can, but hey, if it isn't perfect at least you are all set for retirement and can forget about the project as you sip a Coke on a tropical beach somewhere.

Designing for YOURSELF, though, makes the pursuit of perfection almost mandatory. If you screw this up, there's no one else to blame. You second guess everything, and throw out ideas that are probably perfectly fine, or even good. But not good enough!

I have no idea what the book cover will look like  (it will be yellow, I'm pretty sure) but I do know one thing: It needs to be done by Monday. Yipes.

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Filed under: Art, Books, Writings 1 Comment
26May/15Off

Goodreads

Do you know Goodreads? It's a website dedicated to books. Mountains of books. More books than you could ever read in a lifetime. Every book ever written, I suppose, because if one isn't there you just add it.

I was recommended Goodreads by a book reviewer named Heather after a serendipitous meeting that is probably a blog post in itself. At any rate, I signed up mostly because I am hoping to have a book out soon and there's a spot for authors as well as readers. I quickly grew entranced, though, by the allure of cataloging books I read, want to read, and am in the process of reading.

It's fantastic. I want to read a book so I add it to my "to read" list. Then when I pick it up, from the store or library, one click puts it over onto my "Reading" shelf/category. When I'm finished with the last page I can give it a 1-5 star rating and write a review (if I'd like, which I almost always like) and the book goes into my Read category. It makes me happy. (You can also get recommendations based on what you've rated highly, but I honestly have a backlog so deep that I doubt I'll ever use this feature!)

If you enjoy reading, I would recommend checking it out. Even if you don't read all that much, it's really rather fun to go through the lists and categories and rate/add books you HAVE read at some point. Example: I added The Runaway Bunny to my list, which was a favorite of mine when I was a wee lad back in the old country. (The old country being, as always, a few blocks away from where I live now in the same new country where I have always lived.) I also remembered reading some classics in school so I added some there too.

If you're one of those authors who visit my blog here, DEFINITELY check it out. Never hurts to be part of the conversation about your own book, and meet the readers who enjoyed (or hated) it.

If you're interested- or already a member there- please don't hesitate to send me a friend request at JKRiki. I really love talking about books and writing, and it's a great community for such things!

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25May/15Off

Beginning of the End! (Then the Beginning)

JK Photoshoot blooper

Today marks the final week of regular weekday updates to the blog! I want to thank everyone for stopping by over the last five months or so. I hope it's been an enjoyable/enlightening/tolerable experience. :)

So what's next?

I'm currently working on setting up my new personal site, JKRiki.com. Well, my wife is currently working on setting it up. I am hovering over her shoulder and saying "Can you move that image there down three and a half pixels?" and making other unreasonable requests. The point is, it is coming along well and we are planning to launch it in June. In the meantime there's lots to do!

Once JKRiki.com debuts, I will be featuring weekly updates there every Monday. These posts will look and feel slightly similar to some of the ones you've read here over the years, but because it will be once a week instead of five times weekly I will be able to focus on weird things like "editing" and "quality" that I generally just breeze right past on this blog. 😛

Along with the Monday updates I am planning to do a monthly newsletter, which I very much hope you might subscribe to. The purpose of this newsletter is twofold:

  1. To connect with people via email and maybe have some personal one on one conversations, which I've found are generally much more useful to the growth of both parties than broad, sweeping blog posts (or even forums).
  2. To occasionally let people know about any new projects, like the upcoming books I'm hoping to publish, or that fabled "one day" new Fred cartoon that I still believe will happen that fabled "one day."

You can actually subscribe to the newsletter right now if you want, even though the first one is still a little ways away. If you subscribe to it now you will get an email back from me instead of an auto-response because, as I said, I would like to actually have some one on one conversations with folks via email. Well, I think you get an auto-response as well, to confirm the subscription. So you get two emails. Two is more than one, so this is a good deal if you ask me. I already signed up, and so far I have had several rousing conversations with myself via email.

The Creative Inspiration Newsletter

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And this place? It won't go away. I will post to this blog now and then, possibly once a week, possibly more, and the posts here will mostly be drawings, doodles, or textual anticipation of E3 announcements. I may post a lot one month, and very little the next. The regular schedule will move over to JKRiki.com, which as I said will be every Monday like clockwork.

That should cover the basics, and I'll provide more details if necessary! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask either in the comments or via email. I will do my best to answer them, or make up an answer if I don't know the actual answer.

Thanks again to everyone who has joined in the conversation here, both in 2015 and during the whole nearly-10-years this blog has been up! I'm really looking forward to sharing the next part of the journey with you all! (I really considered typing y'all there, but chickened out at the last moment.)

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15May/15Off

Writing and Pain

Firstly, I pulled a muscle while sleeping last night and today it hurts to do anything. Guess I'm going to take the day off. I don't seem to have much of a choice.

The good news is it will give me some time to catch up on reading. I currently have four books started and another waiting patiently in the wings. One of those books is Stephen King's memoir/how-to about writing.

Stephen King memoir

I've not read any of Mr. King's books, minus sneaking a copy of Cujo from my older cousin's shelf when I was nine or ten just because I wasn't allowed to read them. I didn't read the whole thing, just flipped through to see "the good parts." I don't think I was ready for any of the parts of that very adult book at that age. One scene in particular stays with me twenty years later, and I don't think I'll ever forget its haunting prose.

Anyway, his memoir on writing is fascinating, and I highly recommend it to writers and readers alike. There are some great insights in there, and he puts it on the table in a very no-nonsense, take-it-or-leave-it way. He doesn't seem to care much what anyone else thinks of his process, and that allows him to be totally frank about it. I don't agree with all of it, but the vast majority is still very informative.

At one point he includes an exercise for writing (which, of course, is the only actual way to improve at anything - practice) and I sat yesterday and wrote 1,600 words off the given prompt. It was... interesting. I've not written anything in the horror genre before, and that was a new experience. It was rather dark, and definitely adult. I don't curse in real life (just not a fan) but it came naturally to the scene on paper. To not have included it there would have been dishonest. I was simply telling the story as it played out, not engineering anything.

Well, that's not entirely true. I felt bad for the daughter, "Little Nell," and so I had her father survive even though in the true version of the story he should have died, and I knew it. I'm just too soft to go killing main characters, and it makes me mad when writers do that. I invest all this energy into the protagonist and they die at the end? Blah. No thank you, you've just wasted my time. (Side note: This has become a disturbing trend in Young Adult fiction, it seems. Not a fan.)

So I guess my books will never be perfect, or great, as I have that heart keeping me from leaving everything on the table. Oh well, life goes on. If that's the worst thing that can happen, so be it.

I thought about posting the thing here, but it's not very good (first draft only, and there won't be a second because it's just practice) and it's also pretty dark. If you have any interest in reading it, leave a comment and I will email it to you. Just know before you do that it's rough and you'd be much better off reading something else. 😉

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Filed under: Books, Sick, Writings 1 Comment