Life, Art, and Monkeys
26Apr/161

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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12Feb/16Off

Reading Time

I reserved a bunch of books from the library, thinking they would come in over a stretch of time, but of course they all came in at once! So now I have some decisions to make on what to tackle first...

Library books
There's a bunch on spirituality/religion, but I just finished one in that category, so I may jump over to fiction (The Monument 14 book) or one of the science ones (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, or The End of Time). That said, I've been itching to start The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching for a while now. Either way I have some serious reading time to get to!

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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 Things beyond this point should be considered outdated at best, and may contain many errors or opinions I no longer hold.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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2Jun/15Off

JKRiki.com is now Live!

It was a lot of work, and there's still SO much to do, but the new website JKRiki.com is now up and running! I hope you'll consider stopping by and checking it out. Updates are every Monday morning, and there's the newsletter which will go out once a month. Soon (hopefully soon) I will be adding a page for the new book, which... well I guess it would be okay to give you guys a sneak peak of the current version of!

creativity Boot Camp bookmockupThe cover art isn't confirmed final yet- still trying a few variations- but I think it will probably be pretty close to this at launch. When that launch is I can't say yet, because I want to go through one final time and make any last edits before going to publish! (Side note, I'm going to try to do a preorder first which will let you order the book at more than half off the final price, so stay tuned if you're interested!)

I'd also love feedback, so if you have any thoughts please don't hesitate to let me know! Good, bad, something broken on whatever browser you use, just say the word. :)

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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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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
28Apr/15Off

Starting the Transition

I've officially begun the transition into the next stage of... whatever this thing is I do here. I hesitate to call it a career, because it seems ill suited to that word. It's also too small to describe as "life" and doesn't make the money required to be referred to as a "job."

Well, whatever it is, I've started changing it towards some future... thing.

In the coming weeks I will be switching this blog over to updates once or twice a week (regularly scheduled) and hopefully launching my new book and site to accompany it. That site will be (again, hopefully) updated once per week and the posts will revolve around topics like creativity, inspiration, and getting things DONE. My goal for that blog will be cheering on readers to set achievable goals and then working towards their dreams and callings. I've always enjoyed being a motivator to others, so I would love to do that on a regular basis and try to be a source online of encouragement to folks. The life stories and lessons that are sprinkled now and then on this blog will be going on full-time there, so I hope you'll stop by and let me know what you think! Currently there's no deadline or set day for that launch, but I would like to have it up and running by the official start of summer. We'll see how it goes.

Beyond that I will be diving back into art and working towards really focusing for a few months on nailing down anatomy. I took a class last year and it's time I went back into it all and focused like crazy until these muscles and what they do are second nature. Once that happens I'll be able to draw (and then animate) with a freedom I don't currently enjoy. At the moment it's more like I'm fighting with the paper and pencil, instead of working with these tools to create great art. A firm grasp of anatomy will make that process a whole lot easier.

That's the currently plan, as it stands today! It could, of course, all change tomorrow if a new opportunity comes along or the robot uprising begins. I'm playing it by ear one day at a time and trying to live in the present. I'll lay some foundations for the future, but I don't want to only dream about "some day" when I have today right in front of me.

You have today right in front of you as well! Make it a good one. :)

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10Apr/15Off

One Possible Future

Last week I asked a bit about what folks would like to see update-wise and regarding the blog here. I got some great answers, and I really want to thank Charles, Tom, and Adam for their comments. Though it doesn't fully return the favor of how much their input helped me, here are links to their spots online. Hopefully a few more people will stop by and read the compelling things they have to say!

Charles at The Animation Anomaly
Tom at Journey's of a Wandering Wordsmith
Adam at Typewriter Monkey Task Force

All great sites to visit! These fellows know writing better than I.

After taking in their thoughts along with some personal pondering and prayer, I am leaning towards a particular direction at the moment:

At some point in my acquisition of domain names, I added JKRiki.com to my basket. I figured it wouldn't hurt to have, and since there was some "bulk purchase" deal it ended up costing under $10 I believe. At any rate, since I have a book coming (hopefully) soon and a few more in the works, I feel that having a dedicated place for those things would be useful. A lot of self-published authors I admire have a similar setup to what I'm considering.

Essentially I would have a very simple site up at JKRiki.com that mostly contained my book on Creativity (with others to follow) and a weekly post that offers a particular insight or encouragement. I very much enjoy rambling here on this blog, but sometimes I feel that the updates are very self-centered and I'm not sure how USEFUL they are to the rest of the world. The weekly updates there would be similar in nature to other inspiring authors that I read now and then, and a place to stop by every Monday (or Wednesday, or Friday, I'm not sure which day yet) and read something that's purpose would be to encourage and cheer forward readers. They might be little stories from my personal experience, or just something I think would be useful about the creative process, or simply a post reminding you that it's worth slowly chipping away at any walls standing between you and your dream goals.

Meanwhile this blog you're reading now would be updated on a less regular basis, and mostly whenever I had something on my mind or new art. I'd probably try to post more art, and less words, and shoot for some new drawing or illustration once a week here. It might be a new Ukrainian Egg or just a doodle from warm up practice. The deeper stuff in text form would be regulated to JKRiki.com.

The biggest reason for this is that it would allow me to focus a lot more on my writing outside of the blog, which could potentially be compiled one day into actual books that people could hold and add to their own personal library. A blog is nice for writing, but it feels less and less "tangible" the more I do it. I've written things over the years that I certainly don't remember anymore, because I don't put that much thought into it all. And I certainly don't edit (in case you couldn't tell from the common spelling errors)! I would love to be able to dig a little deeper and focus on writing with purpose, instead of just rambling as I currently do.

This is all very preliminary, so you know! It is merely the direction I'm leaning at the moment. I'm certainly open to more ideas, suggestions, and thoughts, so if you have any please share them! I want to be useful to this world, and part of that comes from knowing what would be useful to you who sticks around and reads this stuff here.

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