This Is All for You, Sweetie. This Is All For You.

For the past several weeks, I have been reading and thinking about what is called “personal branding.” It’s sort of how you present yourself to the world.

I had been playing around with some of the free tools on Canva.com and came across this series of videos on “Personal Branding with Dr. Talaya Waller” in what they call their Design School. Each video is short and gives good information. At the end, there is an additional explanation of how you can use the Canva.com tools to apply what you have learned, BUT you don’t have to pay anything for most of the Canva.com tools.

I began to realize this was what Gracie had been trying to tell me months and months ago when I was figuring out how to draw friendship. We were discussing some of my recent drawings of her and Bessie.

“Well, I guess they are okay. If that’s what you’re going for. I like it better when you draw on paper with a pencil.”

“What’s the difference?”

“You’ve got everything in there and it doesn’t fit together. Too many big colors. Too many little shapes. Too many of everything! People aren’t going to be able to find us.”

“You’re sure? I took art classes, a lot of art classes.”

Gracie shook her head sadly. My drawings just weren’t going to receive her approval. But I did trust what she had to say. I wanted her to be pleased with my drawings, even if no one else was. These were drawings of her and for her.

“So what do you suggest?” I asked.

“Well, the colors are the main thing. You’re picking colors you like, not colors we like.”

“I see. So what colors do you like?”

“Colors that go with our feathers. Colors that go with our eggs. Soft colors. Hen colors, not rooster colors.”

“I think I see what you mean.”

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Gracie is a very smart girl, particularly when it came to her advice about color. I’ve begun to think about how color can carry emotion, and part of building a personal brand has to do with emotional value as well.

This morning it began to make more sense to me when I took everyone’s breakfast salad out to them. There was some really nice organic Swiss Chard at the grocery store yesterday and they got a whole bunch of it all chopped up just the way they like it.

Everyone is always eager to see what’s in their breakfast salad, but Pearl is the most eager of all. She is the only one who jumps and kicks out her feet in midair when she is excited. I could not help but say to her, “This is all for you, Sweetie. This is all for you.”

So I went inside and pieced together today’s illustration from different things I have been trying out for backgrounds, drawings of chickens, fonts, and of course, a color palette. All of this is because I am beginning to think more and more of my stories and illustrations as being less about my chickens but for my chickens.

My hope is by doing that, I will also make it for our readers.

There is always room for one more under the shade of the camellias in our little backyard garden. It’s friendly and peaceful here. Chickens and people like friendly and peaceful. – Gracie

Just wanted to let everyone know that I spotted two errors in the eBook text for “How To Explain Christmas to Chickens.” The first was a stray capital “I” on the dedication page. How it got there, I’ll never know! The other was a really weird and awkward sentence in the epilogue.

So I got both of those corrected and uploaded a new interior file for both the Amazon eBook and the Barnes & Noble eBook. While I was at it, I also changed the cover to better match the one for the paperback book. It now has a “softer, fluffier, more chicken-y” chicken on the cover! If you have purchased either of these, they can be reloaded through Kindle or Nook.

We are still anxiously waiting for the paperback proofs from Amazon and Barnes & Noble before making those available. In the meantime, I suppose we should spend more time working on our “personal branding”!

Now Available: The Most Long-Anticipated Pair Of Chicken Novels Of The Century! Perhaps Of All Time!

More people than a chicken can count have been clamoring for a really good chicken novel. It’s likely you’ve heard someone wondering aloud in a dejected sort of way, “Will I ever find a good old-fashioned, feel-good novel about a chicken?” Well, the waiting is over!

These novels contain the same story, just with different titles and different covers. The text is the same with only a few differences in the preface, introduction, and epilogue which reference illustrations. Pick the one that suits you best! (And save the author the difficult decision of choosing just one audience and genre!)

You might want to think of “The Bottle Cap Lady” as children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction. It is the unillustrated version of the story and placed in Adult Literature. In the same way, you might want to consider “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” as adult fiction disguised as children’s fiction. It is the illustrated version and placed in Children’s Literature.

Both books tell what happened one Christmas when the world of The Bottle Cap Lady intersected the world of a little white hen named Pearl who has always had a “heaping helping” of curiosity.

The Bottle Cap Lady has served up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone else at The Chicken Place restaurant. Pearl does not want to become a Deluxe Chicken Dinner, but she hopes The Bottle Cap Lady can explain Christmas to her. Even though The Bottle Cap Lady is strange and often dangerously unpredictable, she has more Christmas lights and decorations than anyone, so surely she must know more about Christmas than anyone. Right?

There is a Christmas gift that only Pearl can give to The Bottle Cap Lady, but will she dare…even if it means giving up her own Christmas wish…and perhaps even her life?

Amazon eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Amazon! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Barnes & Noble eBooks

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is now available as an eBook novel for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “The Bottle Cap Lady” eBook!

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” is now available as an eBook novel with 10 full-color illustrations for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble! Go there for “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” eBook!

Special Note: Both novels will be available as paperbacks once the printed proofs have been reviewed and approved!

Super Special Note: With the current global health and economic crisis, even just a few dollars could be a huge amount for some of our readers. We will be releasing a FREE limited-time-only read-on-line version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” (the version with illustrations) soon!

Happiest Of Hatchdays, Little Girls!

Before we did a short Hatchday celebration this morning, I reminded everyone, “I know you girls want to enjoy your celebration, but before you do, let’s spend a moment remembering Blanche. Her own Hatchday is today too. She gave us all so much in the short time we had with her.”

They remembered Blanche with solemn and sincere silence, and then they enjoyed some worms from the compost pile. It was the perfect treat to start their day.

“These past three years have been wonderful,” I told them, “and I appreciate all of the goodness you have brought into my life. May we always remember our friends (feathered or not) with joyful hearts.”

This evening after I get home from work, they will have their “cool down treats” of cantaloupe and green grapes. Then we will all sit under the camellias, and I will begin reading their Hatchday gift to them. Before sharing with anyone else, each chapter must pass the all-important “read-aloud-to-chickens” test. I think they will like what I read to them, even if it takes the whole weekend. (This creative adventure is over 38,000 words!)

Before I can share any chapters with you, our readers, I must get the approval of Bessie and Gracie, my oldest hens. Bessie will ensure that my writing has been fair to chickens. (You already know how she is very emphatic about treating everyone fairly, especially chickens.) Gracie will ensure that my writing has been as accurate as possible. (She is very good with details and observed many events which I did not.)

More to come tomorrow, particularly about why you are seeing two books rather than one. For now, let the celebrations begin! More earthworms for everyone!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!