Book reviews starting!

Something I truly believe in order to becoming a better writer, is to read as much as you can. Reading different genres can really help you figure out what it is you really like and what you could really like writing about. Reading books from different authors can also help you find a writing style that inspires you to develop the right tone for your book/blog. I would even go as far as saying reading books written poorly or on an amateur level, can also help you develop better writing skills. It plays into that concept of ‘learn from someone else’s mistakes’.

So, I decided to start posting book reviews because I want to give myself accountability with keeping up with my reading and in turn, my writing. So often I find myself starting a new book or audio book and it takes me a lot longer to finish it than it should. Instead, I’ll start watching TV or scrolling through social media, basically just wasting time instead of using it to the best of my advantage. Of course, every now and then its perfectly fine to veg on the nonsense and turn your brain off for a while, but ‘every now and then’ so easily becomes ‘far too often’ and then it gets difficult to get back on track. I can look back and recall more times I just turned off my brain more than I did something to intrigue it, and frankly, I am sick of it.

I have found that for me, reading feeds into my creative side as well as relaxes me. Conjuring up images in my head from well written works, really inspire me to create something new or to use it as inspiration for my next piece of art or writing. Also, I am so that person that needs transition time between finishing a book and the real world!

My book reviews will be as objective as possible. Personally, I love reading book reviews that explain how well the story developed, if the characters were relatable, was the story face paced, etc. I plan on following that path and making sure to give honest reviews that will help you decide if it will be your next read. (Or if you’re like me, you’ll buy it and forget about it for a few months to a few years……)

If you have any recommendations for me, feel free to tell me about them! I love exploring and discussing new books with others!

 

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Dear Aspiring Artist

I wish there were an easier way to tell you this, but there isn’t. So here goes.

You need to work on your art more.

Is that something that you’ve told yourself before? Have you done anything about it? Well, you should, better yet, you need to. If you don’t, you’re only going to get worse. I am telling you this with sincerity and encouragement and hope. I do have hope for you and all of us artists to one day be satisfied with our level of artwork, to stop comparing ourselves to other artists, to finally master that medium that has always intimidated us, to see which path of art we are supposed to take and conquer the struggles that are part of being an artist.

I don’t think it matters how long you have worked at it, you will always want to be better. You chose art or maybe it chose you, depends on how you look at it. Never the less you are with this ability in your mind and in your heart. So now its time to do something about it.

I am an advocate for practicing everyday at art. You have to. It’s vital to exercise your brain and hand to work together to turn a piece of blank paper or canvas, into something that literally expresses emotion. You can not get better without practice. Everyday does not need to be a masterpiece. No. Way. If that is in your mind, throw it out now. I am telling you that you need to draw everyday. Even if it’s a simple circle.

You think that’s crazy but let me ask you this-how perfect can you draw a free handed circle within the first 5 tries? What about 15 tries? See where I am going with this? Something as simple as being able to freehand an even circle, sets you up higher than you were before.

Next point, you know those artists that you envy and adore their work and kind of want to go that path they took, follow them (on social media only, please do not stalk a person) and practice what they draw. You can not steal their work in any way and get a way with it. You may think, ‘oh they probably won’t notice and it’ll be fine’, and you may be right. THEY won’t notice, but their thousands of followers will and out of those thousands of people, I guarantee, 10% of them do nothing but look at other artists artwork and will definitely  wave that red flag when they see plagiarism in any way. I have seen it so many times. So what I am telling you is to practice the way they do, not to copy their exact work.

If the artist you admire draws a lot of botanical pictures, you start drawing that. Do they draw people a certain way that stands out? Figure out why it stands out and then find a way to make yours stand out too. Can they shade a car drawing so well that it leaves a metallic finish even though it was done in pen or pencil? Well get out that blending stump and start practicing that too.

It’s a challenge to really devote yourself to one thing everyday. Internally you may feel that you really want to and physically it just doesn’t happen. That is the time to find a way to get the discipline you need for yourself to pick up that pencil or paintbrush and start getting to work. Easier said than done, believe me I know and I have personally been there.

I took so long off of my artwork a few years ago that when I came back, I felt that every artist in the world just showed up on the internet to tell me I had gotten worse. Everything I drew felt amateur. How could that be? Haven’t I drawn detailed pictures since I was young? Wasn’t I in the gifted art class? Wasn’t I accepted for an art scholarship? So why, all of a sudden am I so terrible and ‘uninspired’?

It wasn’t all of sudden and it was all my fault. Being good at a skill takes work. Real hard work. I expected to put out the works of a genius after I had put in the effort of a sloth. I was discouraged and embarrassed. It took a long time of me telling myself, yes you are still good and yes you will keep moving forward. I also had (still have) the support of my husband, family, and friends. For that, I am grateful and hopeful that you, also, have the support you need. If you don’t, then you have it from me.

If you really want this then go practice. If the first picture isn’t what you want, call it a sketch, figure out where it went wrong and fix it. Make your shading better, make your color palette beautiful and perfect that free handed circle.

None of us really know why we chose this path, but we did and we are loving every step of it. So good luck to you and always move forward.

Sincerely

Madelyn

 

Don’t forget to order your coloring books on Amazon made just by me! Want to support my art and get great tips, tutorials and awesome art prints too! Come by my Patreon page and choose a tier that best suits you!

Growth

This week has been so chaotic that I literally could not think of anything to write today. I have re written this post about five times because I want to give you something positive to start your week off tomorrow. So here we go.

Today’s post is really just a realization that I have grown in my artwork so much that I have become somewhat satisfied with my artwork, that is something I haven’t felt before. And honestly, I still don’t have a real chance to embrace it because, life is just plain hectic. There is so much going on with me right now that I seriously can’t just sit and indulge in my art. But its okay. At no point do I expect to be on top of every emotion and make sure things go according to my plan. My plan in life doesn’t matter as much as God’s plan.

Sure I get frustrated when things don’t go the ‘rational’ way I have conjured up in my mind, but I get over it. Life isn’t about stressing over every single thing that went wrong. It’s about growth. Growth in anything and everything you do. Family, spirituality, career, hobby, health, responsibilities, etc. Embrace what you can when you can and keep growing. If your life is busy, embrace it and be productive. If your life is slow paced, embrace it and still be productive. Life is only lived once and dwelling on each mishap until a new one arises only slows you down.

Since I can’t just sit and soak in my little accomplishment, I can grasp on to what I can and keep moving forward. And I am happy with that. One day I will be able to take time to look back and be happy at how hard I pushed  myself, or maybe not. Who knows? But I do know that you have what it takes to move forward and the will to accomplish what you want is there. So the only question you have to ask yourself is – Are you ready?

 

 

Don’t forget to check out my books on Amazon and my YouTube channel for my drawing videos!

 

The most nostalgic Christmas

Today is the last day of 2016. Some of you are reflecting on the year and feeling many emotions over it. Maybe it was really successful and you accomplished more than you expected and maybe you didn’t realize the year was ending and wished you had more time. You may also not care at all about the fact that a new year is approaching because its just another way for you to spend all of January (or the first half of 2017) accidently writing 2016 on everything. Whatever your feeling may be on the subject, I will still tell you happy New Years Eve and I hope 2017 is a great year for you.

I typically spent New Years thinking about all the good things that happened to me or the lessons I had to learn, with either life or general knowledge, and talk about them with others and listen to their stories as well. But as I reflected on 2016 there is one thing that holds my heart more than anything.

When I was a kid I lost most of my childhood toys. Under very sad circumstances, I was left with just a few things to show my kids that I had from growing up. Not every toy had a special meaning but a few did and unfortunately, those were the few I would never see again. I would tell stories about them a lot to my kids and husband and they thought they were so cool, because they were! A couple of those was a Tuggabows doll I would call ‘Big Head’ because when I was little, she was so big and had a very heavy head that was covered in yarn hair, and an orange towel like blanket that folded in the middle into a pillow and zipped up. The blanket had a flower embroidered on it with the word flower underneath it. A Japanese girl scout who spoke very little English gave it to me and also took me out for a day to see what the Japanese culture was like with her family.

Yeah, I told you they were cool. So this year, during our many Christmas’s at multiple families homes, my husband decided to give me my presents before we got back home. We were at his parent’s house and it was pure chaos. There were 18 of us there with only 17 unwrapping gifts (the 18th was still sleeping and growing in my sister in law’s belly! (;  ) and my husband hands me two big bags and says, ‘Here’. I knew he had been up something and he isn’t a mushy romantic, he’s more like an awkward romantic, it’s really cute. So after he hands me the bag, he steps back and watches me open the gifts. I pulled out a pillow that had a sunflower print all over it and realized it unfolded from the pouch into an orange blanket. I stood stunned and looked at him and my eyes started to water. Before I could say anything else he pointed to the other bag that had a Lalaloopsy doll with a head full of yarn hair. I smiled and laughed to myself and had to hug him. He had no idea what he was looking for when he was buying me those things but he wanted to do something for my old childhood self. And I can tell you now, she was very happy!

When I think of 2016 and my accomplishments, hardships, lessons learned, and fun times had, I am happy to be where I am now. But those few minutes over Christmas when I was standing in a living room that wasn’t my own, mother of 5 children, holding a doll and blanket that my husband bought for me, I felt blessed and elated. It was truly the best Christmas I had ever had.

Are you done wiping your eyes? Because I still tear up when I think about this and it was almost a whole week ago when it happened! But that’s what floods my memories and heart when I spend time reflecting on 2016. I am truly grateful for other things, my kids scoring high academically, publishing 2 coloring books, starting a blog, getting a novel half written, spending time with my husband, expanding  my art career and so much more. There were a lot of hardships also, but the way I handle those times are to remember the good that came from it and move forward. That wasn’t always easy but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have so many things to be grateful for.

I am glad about 2016 and am excited for 2017! What makes it better, is that my followers, supporters and patrons from Patreon, are here by my side! I can’t thank you guys enough for your encouragement and helping make all of this possible. I could just be sending words and pictures into the abyss of the internet, but you decided to stick around with me for my art and writing journey and that’s just amazing!

I hope you have a fun and safe evening bringing in the new year and as my husband would say “Happy New Year where the cubs won the world series since 1908″……..so there ya go! He’s always been a die hard fan!

Thank you all for being you! Happy New Year!

 

Want to have tips and tutorials to help you become a better artist? Or maybe you want a print every month of one of my art pieces? Come by my Patreon page and check out all the reward tiers or just make a donation, that is always appreciated!

Don’t forget to check out my coloring books that are still available on Amazon! Fun for Hours and Stressed Out!

 

 

So….where is Nell?

If you remember, a few posts back I wrote about a woman named Nell whose husband was ordered out of the house by a group of men from the military because the second civil war had finally broke out. She was distraught, helpless and confused. She couldn’t figure out what to do but knew that if she were to stay where she lived, she would die.

I got a great response and I had a few people say that they are ready for more! I even managed to get my husband excited about it, which may not be a big deal, but he prefers non fiction, sports and religious books. So for someone like him to like a story, it really needs to capture his attention. And to some writers, the interest of a few followers and a spouse isn’t something to get excited about. For me, it’s huge. I have taken the leap into sharing my stories and there are people who appreciate it. So I am going to keep following those dreams and turning them into goals!

So what is going on with Nell?

We left her driving away from the bomb that just detonated in her neighborhood and now has to find her way to the Midwest where the detachments are. At a security stop she ends with a man named Howard in her car and he basically takes over the talking to all the officers so no one suspects anything from either one of them. While they are driving on the highway, Nell notices that all the highway signs are painted four different colors, each representing one section of the country where everyone must go according to their political or wealth. Nell and Howard are headed to the Midwest to join the rest of the detachments, those who don’t have a preference of either political side.

The highway runs relatively smoothly but on occasion there is a rush of cars from one exit because of another explosion in another town. One point there are helicopters that will pick people up from cars that have been pulled over. Howard says they are being arrested, but Nell isn’t convinced of that. She still believes that any side of the government holds any power that high. Howard is constantly telling her that she is naïve and gullible and gives her the nickname ‘Gully’. To no one’s surprise, Nell doesn’t like that nick name and isn’t very fond of Howard.

 

Well that’s pretty much all I am going to write. At the advice of some friends and my husband, I need to turn this into a book. Fortunately, I have so much of it written that not only is it turning itself into a book that people are interested in reading, there is a way to make it into a series! I will be posting updates on the book and of Nell throughout my blog so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

In the illustration: It’s Nell and Howard. I didn’t want to have them in the car like most of their dialogue is upon their first meeting, so I went with her closer to the front and him in the background. I like the red pencil and ink. It was actually an accident when I found that technique. I was sketching ideas for another YouTube video and stumbled across it. Thoughts?

What do you think of Nell’s situation so far? What would you do?

Passion over fear!

I have to say, the feedback I got from my previous post ‘The Second Civil War’, was relieving. Now, I didn’t have hundreds of readers comment me saying its the best writing ever and they are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for me to continue (although that would rock my socks off!), but the little bit I did get, was positive and helpful. So, naturally, it was encouraging and kept me wanting to write more.

I was really nervous about my writing. I have always wanted to write and have filled many notebooks with stories that varied in genre. Instead of publishing it on the internet or in a book, I just left them there. Just untold stories, some with characters that have no names and unfinished dialogues. I lacked confidence in my writing, even though I have such a passion for it. I was more fearful or publishing my writing than I was my artwork.

With artwork, the reaction is immediate. The image you see makes you feels something , or nothing, right away and then you move on. With writing, there’s more to it. Time is invested in reading the story and then thinking about what was just read. For whatever reason, I was always intimidated to ask people, ‘Hey, read this please.’ I had this irrational fear that if they didn’t like it, they would be mad at me for even thinking about wasting their time to give them such garbage, even though they were willing to read it anyway.

At one point, I stopped my writing all together. Never bothered to attempt to write down any cool story ideas or even draw character designs for some awesome hero I just conjured up in my head. Now of course, I regret that because I could’ve at least had those ideas tucked away some where for the chance to have them written out. But at the time, I just didn’t see a future in writing for me, so I just didn’t see the point.

I had (still kind of have some left) self-doubt and fear about something I not only enjoyed, but that made me feel good about myself. I was realizing that in the end, I was wasting my own time with dreaming and not following through. So I stopped. Literally. I told myself, enough is enough, go for it and stop doing it, which is why I started writing my first story and later decided to write an online fiction.

So if you have any doubts about your dreams and passions, remember, you are not alone. Everyone does feel this way and it’s just a matter of your will getting in the way. There is an audience for everything out there. Maybe you’ll have to dig a little bit and network yourself a lot (A LOT!), but it will be worth it in the end because you did in fact do something for yourself and your passion. Following dreams wasn’t meant to be easy, otherwise everyone would do it. But don’t completely discard your passion because you think that no one could care about it. If you truly care about it enough, it will show through in what you do and then it really won’t feel like work.

What are your dreams?

Catching up with life

I have to say that I am pretty good at staying on top of tasks and getting things done. I personally don’t like to procrastinate but it does seem to happen from time to time and its seems to be inadvertent when it does happen. I take on too much, I know that, and therefore in the chaos of it all, some things slip through the cracks even though everything else seems to be on point.

I.E. My blog post

I knew for a fact on last Friday that I needed to have a drawing done for this blog AND start writing. So, I started writing a new post. It’s a great one, too. I am becoming more confident in my writing and so I thought a little fictional story on my blog would be fun to share and to also draw some concept art for it. Who knows, maybe even publish it into a book one day.

Well, I started writing it at 11 pm. It’s late but not too late, but being the time it was and the depleting energy level I was experiencing, the story is not up to par. No worries there, I will just edit it in the morning, since it’s not a long introduction to the story anyway, and then I will spend a couple of hours drawing concept art for the story and post by Saturday evening and viola! Only ‘Viola!’ didn’t happen. I never edited the intro the next day and I completely forgot about sketching a character design or any concept art for that matter. I, instead, got the house cleaned, helped 3 of my 5 kids with their rooms, went on a walk, went to church, played on the trampoline, checked on the garden, helped locate our two very large dogs that escaped the house, and made a bonfire and had cocoa with my kids just before putting them to sleep and literally passing out myself.

Sunday was my husbands full day off from both of his jobs so I told him to sleep in and I will take care of breakfast. Well, I did that and a lot of the same things from the day before along with 3 hours of yard work and sawing a tree branch into multiple logs. Yes, my arms are sore. After another bonfire (we have a lot of those) we put the kids into bed, I played Tetris with  my husband, and grabbed my sketchbook. I drew a rough sketch of my main character and still didn’t edit my story intro.

Today it needs to be done. I am not one to really stress over missed things, but I don’t like delaying on my art, writing, or learning. Its really not a habit I care to get into. So I have planned out meals today and told my children that I need to get my work done. Thankfully, I have thoughtful children and when I tell them that, they usually return with ‘okay’, ‘do you need anything done’ or ‘when can I read it’. I love their encouragement for my work and they do see that from their dad, who always asks those same questions.

I did manage to get a YouTube video done so that will have to be the image you see today. This image is from another story I am writing and its actually the first story I started this year. I am excited for that book to be published as well, and I do plan on having illustrations within the story and those will take a lot longer than the writing.

Be on the look out for my story that I am posting on here ‘The next civil war’

Here is the YouTube video I managed to get up and if you like it, be sure to share with your friends! This illustration is from the first story I came up with the year ‘The royals legacy’ (title a work in progress!)

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Fun For Hours coloring book- for those who enjoy a challenge for their coloring! https://smile.amazon.com/Fun-Hours-Madelyn-Janelle/dp/0997885211/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478490732&sr=8-1&keywords=fun+for+hours

Stressed Out! – For those who need to let out some anger without the profanity! https://smile.amazon.com/Stressed-Out-swear-phrases-profanity/dp/099788522X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478490861&sr=8-1&keywords=stressed+out+madelyn+janelle

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