Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ryan's Dinosaur Dreams--update

Cover for the book
Having worked every night for the past few weeks and filled every working gap of every single moment on these pictures, I'm only three illustrations off finally completing my first children's book, Ryan's Dinosaur Dreams.

I wont lie to you, it's been a baptism of fire. I've never done a children's book before; never written one or illustrated one; but somehow--- drawing it as I did initially for my grandson--- it made it so much easier to produce; and on top of that, I've got ideas for more children's books, graphic novels, comics,short story collections and novels. So please do keep coming back because y'man here is going in all kinds of new directions; I'm evolving, growing and expanding my horizons and ideas. It's all so new, so exciting and it's happening before your very eyes (hopefully).

Picture title: Teaching ballet to Brontosaurus
But meanwhile, back here on planet earth, Ryan's Dinosaur Dreams has turned out, as I've just said, to be a bit of a task; flying as I was without the metaphorical safety net of experience. And because I'm also publishing it myself through the medium of P.O.D. (print on demand), I've got all the technical on-line form filling and file uploading with only a cold heartless computer programme to guide me along the way--- with all the pit-falls and possible catastrophe's that they entail. Place this next to the fact that I'll also be launching my first Sleepy Hamlet tale--- a kindle novel--- and you can see that I'll be going through two pretty steep learning curves at more-or-less the same time. So if I go slightly off the rails, please forgive me.

Mind you, whenever I have a clash with technology, there always seems to be a story that comes out of it, like the wordpress v blogger post I did a while back. So I guess my suffering is usually your future entertainment.

Anyway, back to the book. I struggled with endless cover designs. At one point I had a very large and intricately illustrated front cover idea, and it would've looked spectacular, but I had to think of my audience: children of that age just wouldn't get it; I'd effectively
be drawing the cover for myself, which is not what this is all about.

So I went back to the drawing board. I tried this, and I tried that, I even tried a bit of the other, but nothing sat well in my mind and everything seemed  crass or amateurish.

So I did what I always do in situations like this: I walked away from it; completely forgot about the cover and put it to the back of my mind and thought: an idea for the cover will come to me. 

Now I know this sounds weird and a bit airy-fairy but it really works. I've been using this technique for over twenty years and it has never once failed me. I remember once when I had a twenty minute deadline to come up with a gag for a news story and my mind was white and empty with blind panic. So bravely---and I really mean, bravely---I chose to forget the story and do something else for five minutes. I actually gave my mind five minutes to come up with a gag that had eluded me for the best part of three hours, and within that five minute deadline an idea just popped into my head.

And here's the really strange part--- the bit I can never explain--- the gag I got wasn't anything to do with the train of thought I'd been pursuing before. It was a completely different angle and idea; almost like it had been written by someone else and handed to me.

Anyway, that's enough of the mind guru stuff. All you really needed to know was that this is my process and I applied it.

So about three days later I was skimming through my documents looking for something unrelated when I came across this image (see below), an image I'd already used for one of the inside illustrations. No sooner had I glanced my eye across it than the image at the top of this post just popped, fully formed, into my head.

I thought: 'but wont that be cheating, won't that just be taking an illustration from the inside and using it for the cover, where's the thought process in that, isn't that just a sell out?' and then another image came immediately into my mind of a selection of children's books I'd been reading recently while researching size and format for this one, and they'd all done just what I'd been thinking. They'd taken one of the illustrations from within the book and plonked it on the front. And I guess because I'd placed it within a box, laid it onto a background of stars, picked a colour scheme and designed and positioned the books title, it wasn't exactly 'just a picture from the inside'.

So with just a bit of creativity and the untapped power of the mind, I came up with a cover that I'm really happy with, and one that I hope you are to.

Hope you liked the little preview and the sample illustrations from the book. I will, of course, let you all know when it is finally ready for purchase and I'll also be adding a banner add on the side bar above where it links you to my Greeting card site.

Anyway, that's it for today but don't forget to come back on Friday for the page 20 (that's almost half of the way through), of our weekly webcomic Brabbles & Boggitt. 

See you then!

If you like my blog and the things that I say and do, please tell your friends; mention me on Facebook, Twitter and any of the other fine social media networking sites you use. I would love to have my work reach a much larger audience and although I could no doubt eventually get there under my own steam, I'll get there a lot quicker with your help, so please, please spread the word.

Thank you


  1. Wow! I think the cover looks stunning! It's not cheating to use an illustration from within the book, even an unmodified one. Every kids book I've read with my son did the same thing. Anyway it's a good indication of the quality of illustrations people can expect, not some special pow-wow mega-doody picture just for the cover only to have rough line drawings inside.
    One question, what age group is your book aimed at? My son is 8 and I'm itching to get a copy for him.
    I truly hope this is hugely successful for you!
    Cheers! Brian.

    1. Ha, I agree with you on the 'pow-wow mega doody' cover thing. I see that so much and then feel let down.

      I guess I wrote it for my Grandson so he's going to be 5. But I understand that there are people out there who are buying it for themselves and the art; which is both lovely and gratifying to hear. Either way, I hope you and your son enjoy it, should you decide to go ahead and purchase a copy; I'm also looking into putting it on kindle and other tablets, so that could be an option. But more of that later




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