Agy Wilson on why you need to suck it up and keep going.

 Nan’s Gift is a quiet story with fun language
and warm illustrations,
Nana’s Gift is appropriate for readers young and old.
is a great deal of paradox to any art.
Pushing on
through creatively means a lot of butt-in-chair time, and one has to master
both objectives in order to succeed.

My mother and grandmother gave me
permission. Go write, go draw. More than likely to get me out of their hair,
but it became a good use for my time. I fell into the love of creating images
whether with words or lines quite by accident. I soon found people responded
with “ooohs” and “ahhhs”. I still love the appreciation
people feel about my work, and I love the time spent ferreting out expression
from a page. Each step of the way though I improved, there was more to
challenge me. That was true then, it’s just as true over forty years later. I
hope it’s still true in another forty.

you’re not as luck as I was, being a pain and then being directed toward
falling in love with something before you can say no. But you can pick up a
craft anytime along the path of your life.

Frannie never expected a ghost
with revenge
on her mind!

Coming Soon!
It’s the doing of something, the
investment of yourself your time and thought, which transcends craft into art.
Or, as one of my favorite sayings put it, “It’s never to late to be what you
might have been.” (George Sand).

My new venture has catapulted me into
uncharted territory. I published Nana’s Gift last year after years of traditional pursuit and moderate success. 
The goal is to publish more of my own books, and a co-adventure with the fabulous Margot
. I’m not only illustrating and formatting epicture books, but in
Margot’s case, I’m animating her charming stories– they just lend themselves
to it.

But I knew nothing of Photoshop, and I only knew of WacomTablets a year ago. This year I learned about Mobi and Sigil and InDesign and
Smashwords. As you read this, I’m in the process of learning about
applications, animations, Adobe Catalyst and DRM, and sometimes my mind is
boggled about how much I’ve learned and how much I need to know. Pushing
through means really applying myself in ways I’ve not done. Perhaps ever. Whether
you’re already doing something outside your comfort zone or thinking about it,
a lot of success is mindset. I thought I’d tell you my secret to the paradox in
case you’re thinking of doing something crazy as well.
 But just as importantly LEARN to your best. Absorb
as much as you can from the best sources you can find and don’t be afraid to go
back or spend some time really becoming comfortable with your subject. Recently
I decided to revisit character development, I found someone outstanding in his
field, and for a twenty dollar investment in his books and the time to read and
process them (about two days), my characters became ever so much stronger.
Don’t have the money? Get a library card, and check out interlibrary loan.
Research through Youtube, your friends, any professional groups, and don’t be
afraid to ask people you admire, what their influences are. Join a critique
group. Can’t find one, find a few friends who you can trust, and start one. Yellapalooza just celebrated its tenth
anniversary and I would have been lost with them.

IT’S A JOB. If you wait for the mood to strike, it
just might not. In order to master ANYTHING it takes DOING. Wrestle with it,
make some crap if you have to, don’t give up. You can put one thing down for a
little bit if you’re too frustrated, but make sure you pick it back up. Me, I
tend to put it down and pick up something related, so I stay focused on my
goals at hand.

AND IT’S PLAYTIME. Don’t be afraid to try new
things, see where it goes. We haven’t decided where to go with Margot’s
characters yet, but I loved all the rendering styles 
(rare for me) and they were quite out of my
normal handling. Because it was fun
BUT YOU GET MORE WITH HONEY. Reward yourself when you achieve something, anything. If you’re at all like me, your infernal internal editor can really knock you about. Invite her in for tea and crumpets, or whine, er, wine and cheese, and point out what you do that’s good. Me, I’ve been rewarding myself with an episode of a television show, or small predetermined gifting. Yes, Agy, you can have that chocolate bar if you finish that chapter. Watch the tutorials on Youtube for two hours with good notes, and you can watch a Netflix with the family. Even if you would have done that already, it’s good to acknowledge the positive. Be very careful though, because this tends to spill over into other aspects of your life.

FINALLY LISTEN TO YOURSELF. If you honor your process, you’re much more likely to be successful. Besides, how can others take you seriously if you don’t yourself? I can tell when my procrastination is about needing a break and when it’s fear and something to be waded through with my Wacom and ergonomic keyboard in hand.

I’ve found when I’m most engaged in my projects, I get the best responses from others. I’ve pushed at being fearless in my embrace of what I do, that I feel for it. When I give myself permission, it brings me full circle back to when I was gifted so long ago. Appreciation and enjoyment. No longer will someone send me away to do these things, so that is something I must create for myself.  Because I’ve braved this venture, I’ve met some wonderfully talented people. I’ve rekindled my love of art and writing, and even learning. I’m enjoying the work immensely.

Most of all, I’m getting back in touch with myself, that inner kid I heard tell about, the one I’d started writing to, long, long ago. No one may care if I do this, until perhaps after I’m done with this adventure, and that is probably as it should be. It is what it truly means to be creative, and for someone who has done it most of her life, I’m amazed that it’s taken me so long to get to this step.

All illustrations here are the work of Agy Wilson.

Agy Wilson
is an author, illustrator, egg artist and calligrapher living in Maine. You can contact
her via her fanpage, Agy

How to format for Smashwords?

Easy Steps
1.  Bring up your manuscript. Save it somewhere safe.

2.  With your ms safe, we can “play” with formatting. There will be no page numbers, no fancy fonts or pictures (it’s possible but this guide is just basic). You will need your notepad, so locate that. I found it in my start bar and I searched it.

3.  You’ll also need to locate your tool bar (at the top of your word document).

4.  In the to tool bar find the    mark. It’s called “pilcrow” and represents a paragraph break. Click it. Your precious ms should be littered with strange marks now.

5.  For formatting with Smashwords you should only see the pilcrow, the small “space” mark, which looks like a tiny raised full stop and a page break mark: 
No other mark is allowed, and so we now aim to remove all other marks!

6.  Open the “notepad” of your computer.

7.  Copy ALL of your ms. I go into the ribbon and click “select all”, then move my cursor to the darkened area of my ms and right click to copy. 

8.  Paste your ms into your notepad.

9.  Open a clean word doc.

10.  Then copy your ms from the notepad and paste it to the clean word doc. Close the notepad, you don’t need that any more. In your clean new word doc, make sure the pilcrow is activated again.

11.  Select all. Then make sure your new document is NORMAL – see below circled.
12.  Select all again, and in your tab bar drag it over to where you want your indents to be.
13.  Now you need to check for all stray spaces, tabs and returns. Delete them all. There are no short cuts, so it will take a while. Make sure your document is a decent size so you can see those stray spaces (these mainly occur at the end of a paragraph just before the pilcrow).
14. Next select all again, and keep to TIMES NEW ROMAN, point 11 or 12. Titles and chapter headings should be no more then point 14.
15. Chapter headings MUST begin CHAPTER ONE etc The “chapter” bit is a must. Have a pilcrow above a line break, and one below.
16. Everything is to the left, and you want your chapter headings centred. You can’t use the normal way any more. In the tool bar you will see “Change Styles” with “AA”. Beneath it is a small button, click it to bring up a small window.

17.  At the bottom of that window are “AA” again. Click them.
18. And up pops another window. In the “name” put CENTRED. Then in the right, left, centred or justify buttons below click CENTRE. Then OK.
19.  Your chapter heading is now centred. Now EVERY TIME you need to centre something you will click on the little mark beneath “style changes” and use the centred that you made. Just highlight what you want centred and click on your newly made CENTRED button. 

That’s your ms formatted. 

Remember to follow the guidelines for the copyright page because SMASHWORDS are your publisher as an eBook, not your original publisher.

Good luck!