Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This Video Made My Day!

Last week I was lucky to see two friends I haven't seen since my college days. I say "lucky to see" because it was after a Facebook post that we realized we were traveling in the same city! The visit was short, but it gave us time to catch up a little. Plus, I got to meet their two beautiful children! 
Before they left for home they wanted to buy an autographed copy of Baby Beards! The next day I received this precious video of my college buddy reading my book to his son.  His reaction to the end of the book is priceless!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baby Beards! Part 10: They're Here!



The perfect baby shower gift!

Baby Beards! Cover via www.ericvr.com

A big package came in the mail today! Just in time for the end of the 10 day blog series about Baby Beards!.

My youngest son was anxious to see what was inside the BIG box.
He said as he unpacked, "I think its Baby Beards!."
He was right -- 100 copies of Baby Beards! plus a few of my Three Ghost Friends books to replenish my supply! I was running low after all the school visits I did at the end of the school year.  Did you know I love visiting local schools?  Click here for information!
My Three Ghost Friends books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle.
Plus, they are on iTunes as eBooks for iPad and iPhone.
Lookin' Good!
Whoa! Check out that stack of books!

Thank you so much for reading this blog series! I hope you enjoyed it! 

Here are a list of the posts from the series in case you missed them:

Part 10 - They're Here!

Celebrate the end of this blog series by picking up a copy of Baby Beards!:




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Baby Beards! Part 9: The Joy of Holding Your Book In Your Hands for the First Time!



The perfect baby shower gift!

Baby Beards! Cover via www.ericvr.com

This is post #9 in a blog series -- Did you miss any of the first 8 posts? Here are links to each -- (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7, Part 8)

Baby Beards! Part 9: The Joy of Holding Your Book in Your Hands for the First Time:

The proof copy of Baby Beards! was to be delivered a day earlier than I expected! 

I waited all day and finally at 5pm the UPS truck pulled up in front of our house. The driver handed me the package after I met him at the end of the driveway. He noticed our Little Free Library in our front yard and told me how he read to his kids when they were little and suggested that I continue to read to my children because it is really important! He thanked me for having the Little Free Library available for the children of the neighbor too.  (What a cool guy!)

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives


Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

I can't tell you how happy I was when I held the copy of Baby Beards! in my hands.  All my anxiety disappeared after I paged through the book. All the hard work had paid off.  The cover has a matte finish that feels great in your hands! (Everyone who has held the book has commented on it!) The illustrations are bright and crisp! I was so happy with the printing quality from Createspace!

I was so excited I got in the car and drove over to a friend's house just to share!  (I had to show someone.) I knew my friend would be excited for me because she was at our house when I was uploading the book to Createspace at 3am!

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives


Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

Baby Beards! Proof Arrives

That night, my son gave me the biggest compliment of all by choosing to read Baby Beards! for before bedtime reading.  My boys loved the pages in the back of the book that allow you to record food related memories -- kinda like a baby book. We reminisced about when they were babies and toddlers and what they liked to eat.

It took over a year for my vision for Baby Beards!  became a reality!
A baby beard!
It began as an idea I had when I sat with my family at our dinner table.
Baby Beards journal via ericvr.com
First, it was words and doodles in my journal and...
Baby Beards journal via ericvr.com
sketches in a sketchbook.
Storyboards via ericvr.com
I improved the sketches and added color on a storyboard which brought excitement and momentum to the project.
Baby Beards Painting via ericvr.com
I painted babies and beards. I painted dogs and healthy food. I even painted on cardboard!
Basement Wall Pages via ericvr.com
I watched as the pages of my book unfolded before my eyes on my basement wall.
thumbnails for Baby Beards via ericvr.com
The final artwork was ready for critique and suggestions.
Read BABY BEARDS! - A book that will make your children smile!
Now, I have a book that I can read to my daughter.
And I hope you will share Baby Beards! with your friends and family too.
One more post to go! Tomorrow will be the last post in the series. I haven't written the post yet, because what I am going to write about hasn't happened yet! Stay Tuned!



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baby Beards Part 8: If anyone tells you making a picture book is easy THEY ARE WRONG!

LOWEST PRICE EVER ON AMAZON - $7.25! Pick up a copy today!
Let's show Amazon that we love this price!

Baby Beards! Cover via www.ericvr.com

This is post #8 in a blog series -- Did you miss any of the first 7 posts? Here are links to each -- (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7)

Baby Beards! Part 8: If anyone tells you making a picture book is easy THEY ARE WRONG!:

The hardest part of this whole project was the end. I even stopped taking pictures of the process.

I am sharing the struggles and troubles I had completing this book not to complain and whine but to provide hope and inspiration for those of you working on your own projects or working towards goals. I encountered many difficult and lonely times while working on this project. But, overcoming each one made my book better and made me a stronger and more confident author and illustrator.

Here are few things I encountered toward the end of the project:

I struggled painting the dog most of all. I couldn't get the color the way I wanted it. The dog actually started out dark brown. I am so glad my wife suggested a lighter color. Once I got the color right, I needed many poses of the dog because it is on every spread in the book. All my kids have loved books Have You Seen My Duckling? and Who's Counting? by Nancy Tafuri.  She is really good about having the main animal character in different places and perspectives on the page which lends to a seek-and-find dialog between the reader and the child. I really wanted this for Baby Beards!. My goal was to create a book that a parent and very young child could have a  conversation while reading. To achieve this I needed over a dozen different dog paintings.

I struggled with the shading on the baby's face. I think I repainted every single face at least once.

When I was doing the final edits I looked at some of my food items on the healthy food pages and I just didn't like them anymore. I had to redo those too.

I would find mistakes and typos when I thought I had already found them all. I kept saying to myself, "I have spent months with these pages. Why didn't I see this before today! Arggghh!"

Checking and rechecking for consistency was a nightmare. This was probably the hardest thing about the whole book. I needed to make sure elements of each scene carried through the whole thing.  If there was a spoon in the baby's hand on the first page of the scene then it needed to be there on the other pages too.  If there was spinach flakes in the bowl of brown rice then they needed to be on the bib and on the floor. I checked and rechecked everything dozens of times.

I loved the writing and brainstorming.  I loved the painting and creating. I loved see the book come to life on my basement wall. The final editing and adjusting and perfecting was driving me batty.

I started to say to random people "If anyone ever tells you that making a picture book is easy. They are WRONG."  It was a draining process. I was overwhelmed with taking care of my children, writing my Happy Birthday Author blog, and finishing the book.  I was anxious that I wasn't going to be able to put it all together. I worried about how my artwork would look in print. Baby Beards! consumed all of my thoughts.

Eventually, I got all the pages laid out the way I wanted from a storytelling perspective. I printed thumbnails of all the pictures to show my writing critique group. I was nervously confident (if that is even an emotion) about showing them the book. Thankfully, they liked it for the most part. They had many great suggestions and I think I used them all!  I am so thankful to have my writer's group! (If you are writer and do not have a writer's group I highly recommend finding people to support you. It really helps.)


After I made the changes suggested by my writing critique group, I poured over the images and text for days. I needed a new set of eyes. I contacted Beth Stilborn of Flubs2Fixes for copy editing services. Her price was VERY reasonable and her response time was fast!  It was one of the best decisions I made to turn to someone else for help. I highly recommend her services!

There was one more call I was waiting for before I entered the final phase of publishing the book with Createspace.  I was awaiting a call from my brother-in-law, Todd Zverloff. He is also a self-published author and understands the anxiety of publishing a book on your own. I really value his feedback.  He and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth to each other for over a year now. I can't tell you the relief I felt when he called to say that he thought the book was ready to go.

Once, I had his seal of approval I knew it was time to upload the book to Createspace.  I was dreading this phase. Not because the process is hard -- Createspace's web software is actually very easy to use -- but because I knew I needed everything to be just right. I worried about the gutter of the book. Were my illustrations going to fall too far into the middle of the book? Was the artwork going to transfer over correctly? Had I made all the right choices about my illustrations?  Would I have to redo the artwork? 

Unfortunately, I needed to adjust almost every page of my digital artwork to make it fit within the margins and not fall too far into the gutter. Then, I stayed up until 3am the night I uploaded the book, just to make sure it all got there correctly. Overall, the process was not as bad as I expected -- two days of making adjustments and 4 digital proofs later I was ready to submit for my print proof.

Next, it was time to wait for the proof book to come in the mail. Will I be happy with the book? Will I look back at all the difficult and lonely times as no big deal because the book came out exactly the way I wanted? Find out in tomorrow's post -- Post #9!

Buy the paperback book and get the KINDLE eBOOK for free with KINDLE MATCHBOOK program! WHAT A DEAL!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Baby Beards! Part 7: Painting a baby, messes, and highchairs

LOWEST PRICE EVER ON AMAZON - $7.25! Pick up a copy today!
Let's show Amazon that we love this price!

Baby Beards! Cover via www.ericvr.com

This is post #7 in a blog series -- Did you miss any of the first 6 posts? Here are links to each -- (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6)

Baby Beards! Part 7: Painting a baby, messes, and highchairs:

On my birthday, March 29, 2014, my wife and children snuck down into the basement to clean up and rearrange how the toys were organized. Their hard work gave me one of the best birthday presents ever -- my own place to work on my artwork! Now, I could leave my work area messy and would not have clean up the dining room table before dinner. Also, I wouldn't have to be nervous anymore that my children were going to help me finish a painting with their crayons and markers! (This is just one example of how supportive my family was during this process!)

Much of the rest of this post is going to be photographs that I took as I worked. In Baby Beards!, there are four high chair paintings with the baby waiting for food and four paintings of big messes and smeared trays.

The process was the same across the board for these illustrations. I copied and enlarged my storyboard picture, traced it onto tracing paper, and colored with a charcoal pencil on the back.  Then traced over my drawing onto my illustration paper and painted.

This photograph show the enlarged sketchbook drawing and the tracing paper. After tracing the image I made adjustments to the drawing before transferring the image to the illustration paper.
A good look at my NEW basement studio! :)
Pencil outline
Painting with inexpensive acrylics.
Almost the final illustration -- I later lightened up the shadow on the baby's face.
Working on a "Tray is smeared" painting.
More dried paint was building up on the plastic lids. I used only 3 or 4 lids for the whole book. I think I will keep these as a reminder of all the painting I did for Baby Beards!.
I was painting cameras on this day.
This photo was taken when I started the paintings for three "Tray is smeared" pages. I painted 4 because I didn't like my sketch for the "pirate bib" tray so did two paintings and picked the one I liked best.
I painted them all at the same time for consistency.

"WHAT A MESS!"
I was nervous to add the messes to each tray.  I thought I was going MESS up my paintings!


I was looking at many more finished pages, but I still had over 2 months of work ahead of me!
Getting ready for the other 3 highchair paintings. 



Almost complete....
Final illustration in Baby Beards!
Final illustration in Baby Beards!

This was post #7 in the series! Stay tuned for tomorrow's post. You were probably thinking that I was having too much fun making this book. Tomorrow, I will explain the hardest part of the whole process -- THE END!

Buy the paperback book and get the KINDLE eBOOK for free with KINDLE MATCHBOOK program! WHAT A DEAL!