Monday, January 25, 2010
Have Hobbies Vanished?
Oh, no! I just asked a group of third graders about their hobbies (hoping some would say “reading”), but they didn’t know what I was talking about! Really! Is it that kids don’t have hobbies these days or that they simply call them something other than hobbies? Either way, hobbies (or whatever you call them) are not what they used to be. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when almost every neighborhood had an actual “hobby shop”. These little shops were always packed with goodies such as gimp, balsa wood and paint-by-number kits. They were places where the owners actually knew all of the neighborhood children.
Without getting too sentimental. do you remember when children actually did things after school? They played ball, took walks, roller skated, built forts, did arts and crafts, learned to knit, collected bugs, read books! Now they sit, electronic equipment in hand, and they twitter, send instant messages and chat on facebook. Ok, I guess I am old, but maybe I have lived to be old by being active, having hobbies and actually doing things. I’m fearful that the next generation will be plagued by weight problems, shrinking grey matter, giant thumbs and carpal tunnel problems.
C’mon parents, get you kids up and doing something. How about an hour of computer for every hour of exercise? How about an hour of Wii after an hour of reading? How about family games in place of TV during the week? How about bowling? Photography? How about talking to each other? How about a hobby?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Have you ever wondered how an audio book is created? I have. While I was writing my first children’s book, I often thought about the interactive books with tapes that I used to listen to with my own children. What if I could create a CD to accompany my book? Of course I could! To make a long story very short, I’ve put together the basic steps I followed in creating the CD for my first book. It worked out so well that I also created CDs for my second, third and (just recently) fourth books.
• First, plan the entire content of the CD. For a children’s book, the story narration is the key element. Also, a song would be nice. And background music. How about some interesting sound effects?
• Write the entire script including every word and every pause. Decide who will read the story. Most people prefer to hear the author reading the story, so be prepared to practice, practice, practice.
• Locate a reputable sound studio and meet with the audio engineer to work out the details. How long will it take to record? Will he/she adjust the sound levels and timing, add the sound effects, delete any unwanted sounds and create the finished product? Be aware that it’s not as easy as simply strolling into the studio, reading your book and waltzing out with a CD in your hand.
• What music will you use? Music is protected by copyright laws, so you will need to write your own words. You may be able to use the tunes from old nursery rhymes that are now in the “public domain.” Just be sure to do the research on the song you choose to make sure it’s available.
• Who will sing the song? Finding musicians was relatively easy even though I live in a small town. I called music schools and local bands and was amazed at how many talented people live nearby.
• Be prepared for a lot of fine tuning at the end. This is where the audio engineer can provide the same “magic” that a graphic designer provides for illustrations.
The process was a real exercise in creativity and quite a learning experience! And I can’t wait to do it again! By the way, how do you like my “non-union” chorus of grandchildren and friends?
Sunday, January 10, 2010
OK. So, you have written a children's book. You have hired an illustrator and worked diligently with this person to make sure your pictures match - and enhance - your written words. Now you have a beautiful set of pictures, however your project still does not resemble a book. What's the next step?
Now is the time to turn the pictures over to the graphic designer. Unfortunately, many authors eliminate this important step. I'm not sure if this is to save time or save money, however this step is crucial to the overall quality of the finished book. The graphic designer places the text on each page, coordinates the colors of the backgrounds, designs the extra pages (such as the copyright page and the end flaps) and "punches up" the colors of the illustrations if necessary. This is the person that ties up all the loose ends and presents the book to the printer in "camera ready" form. In many cases, this person also designs the cover.
It's important to work as closely with the designer as with the illustrator. They can really perform magic. For example, one of the children in my new book had a hand that just looked strange to me. No problem. My illustrious designer simply copied a hand from another child and replaced the one I didn't like. We were also able to test a number of end flap colors and overall color schemes with ease. (See photo)
So don't skimp here. This step is too crucial to eliminate.
The next step is finding the right printer. Stay tuned...