Monday, November 30, 2009

Unbelievable!


We just opened up a brand new Etsy shop and used these art glass tile pendants we made from our art and photography as a place to start. Paul posted every item we made on Facebook at the same time I was posting them to our shop. And suddenly things went wild!

We figured we'd sell a couple, maybe more to our Facebook community. No such luck. Way better! We couldn't keep up. They were buying them faster than I could post them on Etsy so I just gave up and sold a bunch of them direct. We sold 8 of the 21 we made in one night and 5 others are currently reserved for someone who intends to pay for them today!

We only have 8 left in our Etsy shop. Better get 'em while they're hot!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Busy Life


I've been neglecting my blog and I don't see much end in sight. Way too much to occupy my time. First I've been writing to literary agents and a couple of publishers. Not much to report on that front. I'm collecting rejection notices. A couple were NOT form letters and said really encouraging things about my work. The consensus so far is that it "certainly is an interesting read but..." Then they usually say something about it being "hard to sell memoirs" or they "don't know about the blogging angle" even though memoirs are hot right now and books made from blogs are definitely starting to capture the public's attention. But most have been encouraging about trying other agents who might have more of an in with publishers doing that kind of stuff. Not every agent is a great fit for every genre. I haven't given up but it takes a lot of time to research every agent, find out what they do right now (or what they said they wanted the last time they updated their websites which may or may not be true now), and to customize my stock query letter/book proposal to sound "personal" and fit their requirements.

I've also decided to add writing directly to like-minded authors as well. It seems that the practice of getting author endorsements for the back and front cover (the publishing industry calls them "blurbs") is now best done while you're still looking for a publisher. In fact, a good word from a popular celebrity can make the difference between a book being sold to the publishing industry or not even looked at at all. Sigh. Just what I love to do-- knock on the doors of very busy people I don't even know and ask them to write something about my book. I've followed through and sent letters to a half a dozen or so. I have a couple more to write to now.

Then there's Mama Love and the art and photography businesses. There was a nice uptick in sales a couple of weeks ago as most of my retail stores got their displays fully stocked in time for Christmas shopping season. Then Paul and I put a fair bit of research into what people sell their art prints and related products for on Etsy. We've been putting some time into getting that shop ready but there have been a lot of false starts. I could write an entire blog about "Art Glass Tile Pendants" alone. Probably will. Paul spent several hours today photographing and then Photoshopping the 21 pendants we made this week. Jewelry made from our photography. They're gorgeous really.... but don't ask about how much time they take. There's something missing in a lot of the work we seem to get enthralled with. The ability to charge enough for these items to make it worthwhile! But we invested the time and materials. Now we have them so it would be crazy to not put them out for sale. That will happen this week. The photo on this blog is a sneak preview.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twilight Moon


Paul  called me over to his computer all excited last night. "I've had a breakthrough!" he said. Paul is a great photographer who does hyper-realistic landscapes and other stuff. Last night he started to explore less realistic painterly effects in Photoshop and came up with the image at the left. He excitedly put it up on Imagekind and in our shop at Zazzle right away.

Today we got the following email communication from Zazzle along with the announcement that they had removed this image from their site:

"Design contains an image or text that infringes on Summit Entertainment's intellectual property rights. We have been contacted by Summit Entertainment with regards to your design, and at their request your product has been removed from Zazzle's Marketplace. For any further questions please feel free to email us below or contact Summit Entertainment at: www.summit-ent.com."

What?!!!

We asked for clarification and got the following response:

"As noted in the previous email, we were contacted directly by Summit Entertainment with regards to your design infringing on their intellectual property rights.  Perhaps your product contained search tags or descriptions that references elements from The Twilight Saga, for example titles, character names, etc. If this is the case, please feel free to re-submit your design to the Zazzle Marketplace and ensure that your product does not reference any elements from The Twilight Saga including the design itself, title, descriptions and search tags."

Well, as it turns out the latest installment in the Twilight Series is called "New Moon". Paul's photo depicts the moon. (He called it "Lavender Moon".) And guess what? It was shot at twilight so he used the term commonly used to describe the time of day between daytime and the full darkness of night to describe it!

We consider this activity by Summit Entertainment as both 1) a violation of our First Amendment rights and 2) a deliberate act of harassment which interferes with the conduction of our business.

I've swung this morning from righteous indignation -- this isn't the first time I've had to fend off an attack like this! -- to full-on pity party (we've had the worst year financially I've ever experienced in my life and now I have to deal with this?) -- to amusement. At least I have something to write a blog about now.

Want to help us out? Tell people. Write to Summit Entertainment (if you can find any contact info -- we haven't been able to yet) and register a protest. Tell people about the infringement of people's rights by a large corporate interest -- can anyone say "VAMPIRE"?!  And help us come up with a way to stop them and Mara Fox and anyone else who thinks they have the right to engage in this kind of behavior forever more. (Of course, we could just call this all a mistake on their part and call it done... but... we KNOW this kind of thing happens in the name of protecting trademarks a little too often. Twice to us alone! Saying nothing just isn't good enough.)

Paul put a second "Twilight Moon" image online this morning. He calls it "Invert Moon". You can see that image by clicking the previous link. You can see his entire Imagekind gallery by clicking here. You can visit mine if you're interested as well.  And maybe...someday...we'll post a photo of a completely empty blue-black page and call it "New Moon at Twilight"... just to piss Summit Entertainment off.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helping a Fellow Artist


Nicole, the person who introduced me to Etsy, is extremely ill, fighting for her life, and needs the community's help. That's her picture to the left. She has a neuro-immune disorder called XAND that is caused by a retro-virus that makes her so overly sensitive to items in her environment that she had to be hospitalized this past summer.

Luckily, brand new research is offering hope for medical treatment but the very long rough road she and her partner Jason have been on has worn him out and decimated their financial stability.

They have no real community connections in Vermont where they moved to be near the most useful treatment facility they knew about at the time. So they're hoping their online community, fellow artists, and others moved by their plight can pitch in.

Please visit their website at http://secreteye.org/nicole/fundraise.html where you'll learn more about this disease and the very affordable ways a large enough community of friends, friends of friends, and concerned others could help them out. They're not asking for much! If a large enough group of people could give even a tiny amount it would make a world of difference.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Has the Public's Focus Been Shifting?


I've been thinking quite frequently this year that sales of my flower essence aromatherapy perfume appear to be following the public's changing mood. Each of my perfumes are named for a particular healing quality or purpose. So earlier this year, during the very height of hysteria over the crashed economy, my best-selling perfumes were "Releasing Worry and Fear", "Mama Love for Troubled Times", "Abundant Prosperity" and "Trusting Inner Guidance." "I want help and I need it now!" -- that's the message I seemed to receive.

Then things went dead for awhile but now that Christmas shopping season has arrived my wholesale accounts (retail stores) all have come back to life. What do they want now? "Manifesting Life Purpose."

I find this interesting because traditionally this is not the time of year that perfume sells the most. January -- New Year's Resolution time -- is when that one usually flies off the shelves. But this year, all my stores have been selling out and want more now.

It makes me think that people are starting to think more clearly. What do they really want and what does it take to get it?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Woodcut Greeting Cards

Rejoice! card
Rejoice! by paulnsheryl
Shop for a different greeting card on zazzle


Behold! card
Behold! by paulnsheryl
Create notecards onine with zazzle

Straight on the Outside, Hippie Underneath

Woodcut Flower Design in my Zazzle Shop


Woodcut Flowers apron
Woodcut Flowers by paulnsheryl
Many more kitchen aprons online at zazzle

Woodcut Flowers bag
Woodcut Flowers by paulnsheryl
Create your own bags at Zazzle

Celebrating Today!

What a great 24 hours. Three wholesale purchases-- one brand new to Olympia, Washington (see previous post), one repeat to a person who is reselling Mama Love in Japan, and one back to Santa Cruz. Then we had a session with a brand new client we liked very much. And Paul has TWO people who want to buy large framed prints of his for spec houses! Then I saw this video and it was just so sweet and fun I just have to put it up.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flower Essence Aromatherapy in Olympia, Washington


Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy perfume is currently winging its way to Olympia, Washington to Radiance Herbs and Massage. They were extremely conscientious in their questions to me before deciding to make an order with me. I was impressed by the level of their knowledge and expertise. In fact, I don't think I've ever had another retail store who knew and wanted to know so much! If you're in the Olympia, Washington area check them out and click the link above to see their beautiful website. I checked out their latest newsletter and was amazed by the number and variety of classes they offer. I'm really pleased that Mama Love will soon be on their shelves.

40 Inspirational Speeches in Two Minutes

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Our November Newsletter is Online

Our latest Healing Communication / Mama Love newsletter is now available online

Experimentation with the Graphics Tablet



We have a new graphics tablet that we finally have gotten brave enough to try and a new painting program, Corel Painter Essentials, to try it out with. Very challenging to learn new things but it became very fun once I sat through all the video tutorials on Corel Painter tonight and gave it a go.

I started with a photo I took of a Yucca plant, barely manipulated at all -- just a little more color saturation. I always liked how the strange looking silky filaments in the center of the plant contrasted with the rigid straight leaves.

Then I brought it into Photoshop and added several filters. It wasn't good enough so that's when I loaded the Corel Painter program and tried it's oil painting effects. I really loved how that turned out but then I brought it back into Photoshop to do a few finishing touches. Paul reached over to show me how to do something I didn't know and hit the wrong key by mistake. Suddenly the colors inverted and then we both knew we had something unique and, I think, pretty wonderful.

The last image I'm sharing here is a small detail of the last image showing the very realistic brush strokes the Corel Painter program is capable of doing.  I put both of the paintings in one of my Image kind galleries tonight if you're interested in seeing what they look like matted and framed.