Learning about Coloring Books

Posted by Jonathan Nori on June 09, 2016
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Everyone in the United States has noticed the new craze in coloring books: Coloring books for adults.

Nobody has noticed this more than publishers.

The explosion of demand for coloring books geared toward adults over the last year has led to a huge thrust by publishers and artists to get their line art into book format and trying to get it into the hands of buyers.

I’m no different.

But I wanted to test the waters. I didn’t want to just print 10,000 copies of a coloring book that I might end up sitting on for years. So I experimented.

I have a number of artists friends, so I called one of them up and asked her if I could include some art she had already done in a coloring book. She said yes.

But she only had about 15 pages of art. I wanted 30. So I licensed some stock art (which, if we’re being honest, most of the coloring books on the market are just the same 200 pieces of stock art packaged different ways), combined it with the original art I had, and got started.

CreateSpace is the greatest book incubator available today. If you’re not familiar with them, I’m sorry. CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and is their physical book self-publishing arm.

Because I was creating a coloring book, I was concerned only with physical books, not digital books.

If you have an Amazon account, you can use that same login for CreateSpace.

CreateSpace gives you lots of options for creating your own physical book. The best (read: most accurate) way to publish through CreateSpace is to use one of their templates and make a PDF. I didn’t use their template. I made my own template in Adobe InDesign, because I have access to pro-level software and was willing to learn it for this project. Before working with InDesign, I built my first coloring book in Microsoft Word.

(Aside: Learning InDesign really made me miss Quark XPress.)

If you look at coloring books for kids, there is often artwork on both sides of the page. Kids color with crayons. Adults tend to color with markers, which can bleed through the paper, and is more visible through the opposite side of the page. Because of this, I chose to only put artwork on the right side of the page.

Once I had inserted the artwork into my document, I uploaded the book interior to CreateSpace to test for problems.

Next was the cover.

And yes, people do judge a book by it’s cover.

Working with the primary artist, I picked a piece of line art that she had done, which she then went and colored. This colored version of the line art became the basis for the cover.

page05_New Doc 7_1 color cover photo Dark Fantasy Coloring Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the front cover was set, I was able to build out the back cover and spine (the spine width was based on CreateSpace’s paper calculation), uploaded that, and then entered the review phase.

Eventually (okay, really, about a week and a half-dozen revisions later), the Dark Fantasy Coloring Book for Adults went up for sale.

All in all, it was a fun experiment.

If you’re interested in seeing the actual Amazon listing, feel free to click through here.

Getting Creative

Posted by Jonathan Nori on June 04, 2016
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I’ve been getting creative lately.

I don’t have time for it. I may not even have had good ideas.

But I’ve been doing it anyway.

Why? Because if I don’t cultivate my creativity, I will eventually become apathetic about my ideas and never even try to accomplish the things I want.

I keep a list. As I come up with ideas, I record them in a notebook. Then, when I start to feel bored, I go to my list of ideas and start to work on one.

It’s a far more productive use of my time than “being bored,” and it results in some pretty neat things.

Two of my recent creative projects involved working with an aspiring artist friend of mine to create adult coloring books.

Dark Fantasy Coloring Book Cover

Elves Dragons and Fantastic Beasts Cover 2

This little project has even inspired some of the sincerest form of flattery–imitation!

And really, I enjoy being inspirational and inspiring other people to create and succeed.

These coloring books were fun to work on. They required learning a bit about the market, a bit about how to properly format them, and building them out for a print-on-demand solution so that neither I nor the artist has to fill our garages with books.

Shoestring Scientists

Posted by Jonathan Nori on January 31, 2016
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One of the most fun hobbies I’ve developed over the last couple of years is a convention group I’ve started with some friends.

We travel around to (primarily) anime conventions putting on workshops and panels.

Our first set of presentations was at Otakon in Baltimore in 2012. It was the first time anyone in our group had ever presented any content at an anime convention, and we didn’t know how well we’d be received.

Let’s just say that we were pleasantly surprised by the response. Our first panel, Steampunk 201: Steampunk in Anime filled our presentation room with seating for 900.

Our first workshop, Build Your Own Steampunk Ray Guns (which we were later told was the most ambitious workshop the convention had ever seen) had 600 people lined up for 150 seats two hours before our scheduled start time.

Steampunk Workshop, Otakon 2012

After several more years of workshops, in 2015 we decided to name our little group, since it made branding easier, and Shoestring Scientists was born.

We consider Otakon our “home convention,” and always try out new things there.

At Otakon 2015 we taught 3 workshops and presented 2 panels, to great success.

One of the panels, “Spider-Man Has a Giant WHAT?!?” we’ve gone on to present at NekoCon and Otakon Vegas, and as of Valentine’s Day 2016 we will have also presented it at Katsucon.

In May of 2016 we’ll be taking our Build-Your-Own Steampunk Ray Gun” workshop to the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey before we wrap it up for a time to try some new things at Otakon in August.

Three Years

Posted by Jonathan Nori on January 31, 2016
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It’s been almost three years since I’ve updated anything here.

Time to change that.

I’m going to start with the Anime and Books pages, and probably kill off the Netflix page, since I don’t think Netflix even has the embedded queue feature anymore.

Not that anyone is interested in the fact that my family binges Star Trek, Glitter Force, and Madoka Magica, often on the same day. I wonder if Hulu has a social link? We watch a lot more Hulu lately than Netflix anyway.

Well, time to get to it…

Bob Woodward’s political niceties

Posted by Jonathan Nori on February 24, 2013
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I tend to like Bob Woodward’s reporting, even when I disagree with it. He is a rare, honest-dealing investigator who calls out lies of all political spectrums. His latest column in the Washington Post was a scathing indictment of the Obama administration, which ended up being largely buried because it was full of politically correct niceties.

My version of Woodward’s article replaces all the politically correct niceties that Woodward used, but with less subtle distinctions.

The original article is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bob-woodward-obamas-sequester-deal-changer/2013/02/22/c0b65b5e-7ce1-11e2-9a75-dab0201670da_print.html

Obama’s sequester deal-changer

By Bob Woodward, Published: February 22

Bob Woodward (woodwardb@washpost.com) is an associate editor of The Post. His latest book is “The Price of Politics.” Evelyn M. Duffy contributed to this column.

Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management Lies surround the sequester, the term for the $85  billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.

What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?

The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when President Obama blamed Congress. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said lied. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”

The White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew, who had been budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011, backed up the president two days later.

“There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said lied while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”

The president and Lew had this wrong knowingly and purposely lied. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.

Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.

Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.”

A majority of Republicans did vote for the Budget Control Act that summer, which included the sequester. Key Republican staffers said they didn’t even initially know what a sequester was — because the concept stemmed from the budget wars of the 1980s, when they were not in government.

At the Feb. 13 Senate Finance Committee hearing on Lew’s nomination to become Treasury secretary, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Lew about the account in my book: “Woodward credits you with originating the plan for sequestration. Was he right or wrong?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that,” Lew responded, “and even in his account, it was a little more complicated than that. We were in a negotiation where the failure would have meant the default of the government of the United States.”

“Did you make the suggestion?” Burr asked.

“Well, what I did was said that with all other options closed, we needed to look for an option where we could agree on how to resolve our differences. And we went back to the 1984 plan that Senator [Phil] Gramm and Senator [Warren] Rudman worked on and said that that would be a basis for having a consequence that would be so unacceptable to everyone that we would be able to get action.”

In other words, yes.

But then Burr asked about the president’s statement during the presidential debate, that the Republicans originated it.

Lew, being a good lawyer and a loyal presidential adviser, then shifted to denial mode lied under oath during a Senate hearing: “Senator, the demand for an enforcement mechanism was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment.”

That statement was not accurate an outright lie.

On Tuesday, Obama appeared at the White House with a group of police officers and firefighters to denounce the sequester as a “meat-cleaver approach” that would jeopardize military readiness and investments in education, energy and readiness. He also said it would cost jobs. But, the president said, the substitute would have to include new revenue through tax reform.

At noon that same day, White House press secretary Jay Carney shifted position told the truth and accepted sequester paternity.

“The sequester was something that was discussed,” Carney said. Walking back the earlier statements Trying to minimize the damage of Obama being caught red-handed in outright lies to the American people, he added carefully, “and as has been reported, it was an idea that the White House put forward.”

This was an acknowledgment that the president and Lew had been wrong lied.

Why does this matter?

First, months of White House dissembling deception further eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans. (The Republicans are by no means blameless and have had their own episodes of denial and bald-faced message management lies.)

Second, Lew testified during his confirmation hearing that the Republicans would not go along with new revenue in the portion of the deficit-reduction plan that became the sequester. Reinforcing Lew’s point, a senior White House official said Friday, “The sequester was an option we were forced to take because the Republicans would not do tax increases.”

In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts admitting that he lied during budget negotiations, and had no interest in ever following through on the promises he made to work with Republicans on a budget-balancing solution.. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.

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Destiny Image

Posted by Jonathan Nori on July 12, 2012
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So Don, did this trigger an alert for you? Or do need to repeat Destiny Image again? 🙂

Keep calm…

Posted by Jonathan Nori on June 29, 2012
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…and vote them out.

Keep Calm and Overthrow Your Government

(and yes, I know this will probably get me on “the list”)

I’m pretty sure I didn’t “get” Prometheus.

Posted by Jonathan Nori on June 17, 2012
Personal Life / No Comments

Apparently I have to write this a second time. Woohoo.

So.

I saw Prometheus opening weekend.

Meh.

In fact, that’s an understatement.

I was looking forward to a triumphant return to a film universe that I really thought was imaginative.

Sadly, much of Prometheus was dull, predictable, or unnecessary. It had bright spots, but this movie will go down as being another Alien Resurrection or Aliens vs. Predator entry in in the xenomorph mythos. The DC Elseworlds Superman vs. Aliens one-shot was better.

The acting was excellent, for the most part. Fans of Michael Fassbender will really get a kick out of his outright creepy no-nonsense portrayal of a David-model android synthetic human. The supporting cast was hugely entertaining, while they were alive. Charlize Theron’s character was very likable. The only disappointment was Noomi Rapace, who seemed to be trying to unsuccessfully channel Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.

As I said before, the cinematography was beautiful. The Prometheus ship itself was gorgeous, and the landscapes and camera pulls and pans always left you wanting to see just a little bit more. (But then, with around 100 years of moving pictures under their belt, Hollywood doesn’t really have a good excuse for bad cinematography these days.)

The music was a letdown as well. With all the talented composers out there, you’d think they would have been able to stumble drunkenly across a single musician who could have written a score that didn’t distract you from the movie. Or maybe that was the point.

My big issues with Prometheus had to do with the plot.

Oh yeah, SPOILERS FOLLOWING.

Seriously. The plot: 35,000 year-old cave paintings directing near-future spacefaring humans to distant planets in search of the “alien Engineers” who created life on Earth? Wasn’t this covered in one of the less-popular Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes?

And don’t get me started on the Enterprise-sized plot holes and Ridley Scott predictability. Rapace surgically removes an alien embryo from her womb before it can kill her, ends up covered in blood with a dozen staples across her belly, and nobody notices her wandering around the ship bloody and delirious? Granted, Scott was busy killing off all the rest of the supporting characters at the time in the cargo bay, with a contrived plot device specifically to kill off people so he didn’t have to deal with them. Sorry, rabbit trail. Back to our blood-soaked heroine: Eventually she stumbles into a room full of people, and proceeds to have normal conversations as everyone ignores the fact that she is STILL IN HER UNDERWEAR AND COVERED IN BLOOD. And nobody is concerned by this?

The xenomorphs were…interesting. This was definitely a setup for a future film addrssing the xenos spread through the galaxy (which, thankfully, was NOT humans’ fault, which may be a new concept to some: Us NOT being to blame for every bad thing that befalls everyone in the entire universe).

But even the failures of the plot are secondary to the real disappointment in Prometheus.

The Message.

Ridley Scott must be feeling mortal these days. The years must be weighing heavily on him in his twilight. Questions of life, the universe, God, Creation, and purpose permeate this film.

Unfortunately, the answers this film provides are nothing less than depressing. “Guess what! We’ve found the Creator of all life on Earth! He’s a 12-foot tall alien with identical DNA to us. Oh, and remember the YHWH of the OLd Testament? Changeable, angry, bitter, jealous, and full of smite? Yeah, these gods are just like that. So, in a nutshell, yeah, god exists, but he’s just a small, petty, changeable, and finite as you are.”

So abandon all hope and despair, because there’s nothing better out there.

Not exactly the message *I* want to pay $12 to hear.

If Prometheus was supposed to be instill me with wonder, fascination, and hope? Yeah, I definitely didn’t get that.

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