Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, New Approach!

With the New Year almost upon us I want to take a moment to wish you all health, happiness and great success in 2012! My wish is to get this book completed in 2012. 2012 will also be the year of the dragon and is said to be dramatic fortunes and dramatic losses. Everything will be grand. Here's hoping we get more of the fortunes and success coming our way.

I have been contemplating a pen name since my real name is quite a challenge and quite long. Looking for something shorter. Kim for sure but was considering Grace as a last name and well, that brings up some images unfit to be associated with a children's book. But I really love the name. Should I go with it or go with Kim Hart? Or maybe even just change the spelling of Kim? to Kimm? (this is what my mother made me do in elementary school because I complained that Kimberlee was too long) or Kym? Again - going for simplicity so I am not sure and need to settle this pretty soon.

Give me your thoughts! and Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New developments!

Helena and I finally were able to tag up and unfortunately her life has changed ironically putting her into a position where she can no longer help with the project. I do hope to work with her one day, but it will not be in the very near future. She is putting her energy into her jewelry line, which is also fabulous. You can check out her work at the following link:

So I have had to refocus and search for alternatives to illustrate this book. I currently have found 2 different artists willing to take on the book. I am asking for a concept from each with prices per image, since my "free" deal didn't work out with Helena.  I am very grateful that she was willing to go down the path with me and donate art until we picked up a firm publishing deal. Given that the 2 artists I am considering are also full time artists it is only fair that they are compensated for the work upfront. I think that is the best way to proceed. (and only)  One artist does more simple cartoonist art and 3-D animation and the other one (John Garancheski)  is a tattoo artist with what appears to be great graphics skills which align closer to my original vision for the book.

I found John because he designed a logo for an upcoming charity event  I am assisting with for Make-A-Wish foundation in the Baltimore Area January 14th. If you are in the Baltimore Area come out on Jan. 14th for a great cause!

I will be sending in the script for final editing soon - over the holidays. And I called the company from which I received a free logo design and business cards credit. Graphics By Kandi:
I have an appointment to meet with them on Monday Jan. 2! I will be taking my logo I designed to see what they think and maybe what else they come up with for the series which may be more reproducible. So I will be starting off the New Year pressing ahead with completing this project!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Minor Delays...

Wow, well, we have really let things age. Just looking and the last post was in May. I am at the point of dusting things off and sending in the manuscript for the final editing stage. Months ago Helena also had to put the illustrations aside for other higher priority work. I am hoping that we can get back to it. We waited for the summer light for her painting,  it breaks my heart for her not to be able to use the lighting. She also had wiated to get a new studio. Once she got a new studio set up, and just when we were making some headway, the universe sidetracked us. Summer is ending, Vacations are over. School is starting. A new phase of life is ramping up. So I am going to go back at it. I am going to go forth with the editing of the script, with the trademarking of the series, and logo generation.  Time to get back on the band wagon.

For me working with NASA too, the Shuttle is done. It is an end of an era. Many people are transitioning from one job to another or are leaving on a search for something new. I wish I had this book completed as it is a perfect time for it. And yet, it is never to late for these messages.

I called Helena today, but didn't reach her. Hopefully we can get this book back on track soon. Thanks again for following our journey. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letting Things Age

So being as such my father is hitting a milestone today and Helena's mother,  I thought this title was fitting. Sometimes it is good to let something age, sit, fester, settle, or sink in. The rough edges become smoother. The fruit ripens. I edited about a month ago and have just been waiting a bit (mostly because I couldn't find the time) before responding to my publisher. Now my publisher has been calling, Helena and I need to tag up on the illustrations, and I owe her the revised editing version and any other thoughts.

Tonight I got the kids in bed and got to work. The timing was just right. The editing had risen sufficiently like a nice Russian kulich. :) I drafted the storyboard to the side of the stances with more certainty of the flow and what should accompany the final wording.  I've counted a total of 16 illustrations. Ten large two-page spanning illustrations and 6 small spot illustrations.  Some would be slight changes from one to the other....and I am hoping that we can still get this released this year. But time goes so so fast.

 I also recently won a free logo design. I am debating whether to use it for my series or to give/donate it to someone that could maybe use it more. I really like my logo, but maybe it could be tweaked/simplified in some magical way..... I may just use it. It came to me for a reason, right?

For me June will go really fast. I have a training class and travel to attend to for work. I am hoping that Helena with the longer daylight hours can make good progress now with my final draft and the updated story board in hand. Next for me is re-submitting and it going through the grammar and punctuation editing, or what they call the heavy lifting editing.

I just know this is going to be magnificent. I can't wait to see it all coming together and be working with the layout team. It's just a matter of time. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Editing, editing, editing

So, I have not had much time to sit and contemplate the suggested edits lately. Spring break came up and I spent a lot of time with my kids and work has been so busy that I have preferred to read a book or enjoy some other relaxation time without being in the creative mode. Oddly enough my sinuses are killing me and I have had a very rough weekend with them, but tonight after taking a 24 hour Sudafed and my 4th or 5th neti pot intervention, my head is feeling much clearer and I spent the last hour pouring into re-writes. It is really not many lines re-written but takes a lot of thought to keep the same general intent and flow of the story. I am quite pleased with my edits but would like some others to look at them before I re-submit.  So I may call upon some friends to take a look-see. :)

The other day too when I was home with my sick daughter and trying to work from home while she got into everything in the house it seemed I received a call from my editing consultant. Of course they are going to try to sell me more editing packages than the consultant package that came with my publishing package. And maybe I will consider it, but we are a little too far off. I would love to be farther along in the game, and yet early promotion is not such a bad thing. I just have no idea how to project timing of completion at this point. I want to do this right, not spend a lot of money, and to be successful. And I would like to complete it this year. Hopefully with spring coming Helena will have many more daylight hours to create and with my editing complete we will have a final storyboard from which she can create!  The other thing I did today was to watch the launch of the next International Space Station (ISS) crew from Kazakhstan. And so if you have never seen such a thing, please do take a gander.

On interesting thing for me is the little stuffed animal toy that they always hang from a string. It is fun and tells them - if they can't feel it already - they do - that they have reached micro-gravity when it starts to float. About 9 min and 23 seconds in when they come back from a drop out in communication the little dog is floating.  I think there is another reason for it and I would have to wake up my husband for that info. So we'll just leave it at that tonight. May you dream of your new horizons!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Like Christmas! or a First Date?

Today upon reading my email when getting home I discovered that my manuscript had been returned from the editor! Yeah! It's just like Christmas, or maybe more like a first date. Did they like it? How many comments did they make? When I open it will I be utterly deflated as a writer, or will I be disappointed that maybe they didn't put their heart into it?

I opened it, after having to download a free unzip program because my WinZip trial had expired. (I'm not paying for a simple thing I can get for free.) And, I was not disappointed! I think they gave it a fair review. Good productive comments and some atta girl comments too for certain parts! Especially the ending! They love the ending! So I am so excited and motivated to really critique it with regard to their comments and well, you can see a bit for yourself my cover letter and pages one and two. Page three is hidden behind. Not all the red is bad. As I said they also included positive comments too. I am pleased with Author House so far.

Just for your reading pleasure, and because I am so excited here is an excerpt from their cover letter to me:

Dear Kimberlee Prokhorov:
It has been my pleasure to assist in the Developmental Edit of your manuscript, Beatrice and Raymond. It’s a beautiful story, and I’m confident it will reassure young readers that change is something to embrace instead of fear. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Interior Art

Today I was working on the first 2 page spread for our book. I've already worked up a very rough sketch indicating placement and proportion, and Kimberlee shared what she was envisioning. The first sketches are always rough because there will be changes and unforeseen developments. No need to waste time and effort on tight detailed drawings at this stage. The sketch at left is on tracing paper that allows for quick erasing and placement of elements before starting the actual painting. I quickly traced over sketches in my sketchbook, placing them in the template sized 8 x 11 inches per page and adapting size and proportion. We decided to add a loose border treatment of slender vines or branches and drape the art along the lower portion of both pages. I like to keep some butterfly wings, my sketches and reference materials near by.

I work with layers and scraps of of tracing paper, making small changes then attaching them right over the rough draft. Not having to erase or redraw something speeds up production time and helps my ideas formulate without breaking the flow. At top right you can see some of my botanical references, sketch pad and multiple layers of sketched ideas.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ever seen a beautiful caterpillar?

See below for accompanying music by The Cure - The Caterpillar. (one of my favorites) 

So, as you have seen Beatrice, she has an early version of herself to portray in the book and that is herself in caterpillar form. Have you ever seen a beautiful caterpillar face?  They can be quite scary as I am sure nature intended to ward off predators.
Alice in Wonderland - type caterpillar
Many artists have made cute little caterpillars, but they are very cartoonish.

The trick is, how will Helena convey a caterpillar face which is realistic, yet able to emote for the story? I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. (yes - I ended in a preposition.) I consider blogs more of casual spoken English which is not always the most proper. Anyway, Helena has been busy with the things that are bringing in an income for her - so you blame her? So, she requested my help in finding more caterpillar faces for her. Here is what I was able to find. Hopefully it will give her inspiration. If not, maybe the song will. :)

Watch The Cure - The Caterpillar in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bios and Beatrice

So I am proceeding forth with my submission of material and want everything to go smoothly. Despite being under the weather lately, Helena has finished the painting we anticipate for use as the cover image! I love it, but I love all her work so I think I could never be disappointed. :)

I have sent the bios off to a friend for review. Another pair of eyes never hurts even though I did pay for professional editing. I also am going to go forth with registering the name of my book series. So please wish me success in that area. I have done brief searches and did not find any thing with the same name registered so I hope it is not rejected. I don't really want to hire a trademark lawyer, but.....maybe I will check around with some other sources first. I know someone who works at a brand marketing company. Maybe they could do a brief service for me at a minimal price.

And hopefully spring will be here soon and Helena will have more daylight to paint and I cannot wait to see more of Beatrice. This is the type of butterfly Beatrice is: Polyommatus icarus. She is so beautiful, is she not? 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Author in the House!

Helena has been taking such wonderful steps to move things forward with the project, I felt it was time for me to do something on my end to keep the momentum moving forward. I have researched trademarking and believe that I will pursue that soon. But what I really needed to dive into is the world of self publishing. I needed to educate myself more on the process, the services, the types of publishers, and figure out what is really right for me, for Helena and I, and for this project to be successful.  Success is not the only key, but to also have the outcome we want, and for us to be in control.

My vision is one I want to make come true and start on this journey having the end product most represent this vision. Not that I could even convince a top end publishing house to be interested in my stories yet, but they will hand the story over to an editor whom has their own vision based on what they read. They may not be versed in the background, and may not convey the original intent with the right style illustrations, colors, sense, feelings, or overall package. So this is part of the reason why I intended to self publish first. To, 1) have control, and 2) Because the odds are against someone who is not yet established in the market. And I have a day job, and young kids, and no time to spend sending thousands of query letters to prospective publishing houses. And 3) Because the market is rapidly changing. E-book sales beat out paperback this last year for the first time ever. More self publishing companies are offering conversions to e-books like Kindle and iPad in their publishing packages or as add-ons.

So, the first night I found a few companies. Some offered free newsletters or publishing guides and asked for some brief information. To my surprise the next day 2 companies were knocking on my door. Now I fully understand that publishers are putting their own money into the production, while self publishers want to sell you their services. But I was still shocked at the immediate response. One company really seemed like they were just trying to sell me something. Wanting me to call them back and wanting to know if I wanted more information or was ready to sign up. But I still needed to know more. The other company's publishing consultant took the time to answer my questions, send me the contract upfront for review, explain to me the packages, the options and learn from me what I was looking for without sounding like a telemarketer. They took the time to build my trust.  They offered a great discount and shared much advice with me.  I spent the last week searching and researching many more companies, but still really feeling comfortable with this one until I found some complaints about them. The complaints did seem to sound like they came from others whom may not have done their research so well or didn't fully understand the contract they entered. I questioned the company and they calmly and rationally explained the reasons for the complaints and in many cases websites set up by competing companies, and honestly just plain stupidity of some people to not comprehend that your book is not necessarily going to sell. You have to market it. And if they didn't for example take the time to get it professionally edited, that could also be a reason why it was not selling.

Some self-publishing companies are called vanity presses. This one was referred to as such, but is not that way today. This is where you publish and have to pay for a certain amount of books like 1000 to be printed and delivered to you, but they do not get distributed, and you have to sell and store them.

Others are called Print-On-Demand or POD publishers. These publishers print on demand when someone orders the book from a site like or Barnes and However most of these companies also offer editing, distribution to wholesalers to be printed or ordered, list you in the Library of Congress, and so basically your book is out there and able to bought by many. They also offer artistic services (but Helena has that covered for me), layout, and even marketing services.  Marketing services range from free business cards and bookmarks to guide on setting up book signings, doing radio and media promotion, and more. They offer discounted prices for the author to purchase books, handle copy-writing, and supply ISBN.

Being the big engineering nerd that I am, I created a big spreadsheet to weigh and rate each company I reviewed. In the end, the services with the right price and the ability to still be in control of the final product and know that the company is one of the largest, has the best possible rating with the Better Business Bureau (despite web slander) and is not going anywhere gave me the security I needed to make the decision. I also read some articles saying you have to create your own publishing company, or don't go with a vanity press as no large publisher will ever take you seriously. I think these are mainstream elitist authors/publishers, etc. And times are changing, rapidly. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work today. Doing things the same for the sake of it does not allow progress or improvement.

But in reality I do think it is all about exposure, initiative, and intent. You have got to get your product out there if you want it to be useful to others. And if you can get others to believe in you then you are on your way. But believing in yourself first is the key.

Ok - so, I reviewed the following companies: Lulu.comBlurbSelf PublishingOutskirts PressiUniverseBRIOTraffordInstant PublisherU Build-a-bookCreate SpaceFriesen Press;Heirloom; and Author House. I am sure the longer I look the more I will find. At some point though, enough is enough, and I didn't want to over think it or stress about it. This is a journey I am taking for the joy of it. I do not want it to become obsessive.  

So I signed up with Author House today! I got a spectacular discount - essentially developmental editing for free, flexible schedule, and non-exclusive contract (able to walk away and on to a larger publishing company at any time).

So I am another pea in the POD, but this author in this house is ecstatic to complete and publish a book with Author House! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Painting on Dark Days, continued...

At the left side in the top photo are 2 images. One is the Beatrice painting Ive been working on in this blog. On the right you see an older, rejected version. I wasn't happy with body or face and was using this reject to experiment with, mainly exploring the nature of the paper . While working on the leaves a motif came to mind which I hope to draw this evening.

Until there is a brighter day its very difficult for me to predict how these will reproduce. The paper is bright white but as you can see, it looks much darker. even though I brightened the image in Photoshop.

While experimenting I was thinking of the kind of books I liked when very young. Lots of color, clear patterns, contrasts. Somehow this triggered a cascade of ideas which may or may not be plausible for the book.

Painting on Dark Days...

Today was a typical cold, dark January day in Illinois. Sounds like a great day for being inside, painting, but at this stage a brighter day is preferable. My lighting is designed for artists and mimics daylight, but when working with blues and blue greens it gets tricky because even though I have made myself a color coded chart and endeavor to compensate, contrast and intensity will always be a bit off. After today's work, the foliage may be too saturated and busy. I'm unhappy with the paper as it continues to shed filaments in abundance. The photos here were taken early afternoon, by sliding glass doors.

While waiting for one section to dry I was experimenting with a discarded version and happened upon an idea for the book, which Ill work on tonight ( a pencil drawing, not painting). Meanwhile I took photos of the Beatrice painting as she is now, and the first version. The top image is what Ive been working on, with abundant foliage and wing details being filled in.

In the nest blog entry Ill compare her with the discarded painting and discuss why it has revived my interest~

Monday, January 24, 2011

Painting Beatrice

In the last blog I wrote about looking for a new space and since then have found one. We'll save the details of locating an affordable work space for a different entry because today was a painting day without interruption and I'd like to share what was happening with the art . People sometimes ask whether I use a frisket or mask to keep paint from covering areas where it dosnt belong. The answer is no, never. My work is detailed and to use frisket would take too long, its far easier and much quicker to just paint around the white areas. After regular practice your hand/eye coordination will adapt. A hot press surface is best when leaving minute white areas, the water and pigment glide off the brush and there are no textures to inhibit the flow. At right you see a close up of what is being worked on, at the tip of my brush. In some paintings I draw the negative space in before beginning, other times I just move along leaving the white spaces while painting, wherever they feel right. They can always be washed over later.

Here's a closeup of the above section, partially filled in. I painted the stems first, then came back later when they were dry and applied the browns.
Notice the segments in the leaf and how they are rendered. Compare the penciled lines in the leaf in photo 1, above, with the same leaf, at right. Eventually Ill be coming in with even darker browns and purples, adding some depth to those shaded areas. Doing so will cause the foliage to 'pop' and create the impression Beatrice is sitting above and upon the foliage. This is a timely process, hurrying will result in sloppy brushwork and blurred lines.

I have a difficult time aligning all my photos in one entry. Ive a photo of the entire painting as it looked when finished, but can't seem to get them loaded correctly. On tomorrow's blog Ill include a photo of where I left off today. Sorry!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finding My Three Little "P"s

So I have been focusing on this next year and moving forward, and read in Oprah that we all need to work on finding Joy. I thought, "How true is that? Amen, sister." When I sit back and observe how people treat each other publicly, and see how self absorbed everyone is, yet - oh - so in touch with someone on the other end of the cell phone, yet so disconnected to the here and now of what they are actually doing and people with whom they are physically interacting, it deeply sickens me. It sickens me what we are not teaching our children and what we are not personally experiencing. I hope through my stories and my writing to bring the here and now and joy back into our lives and our children's lives as well. After all we are the examples of what they become. If we cannot find JOY, how will they ever have a chance of finding it?

So as I focus on 2011 I came up with three words to focus upon for myself, and really for everyone as sort of mantras to remind ourselves in 2011 what is important and by focusing on these words and practicing them,  may we all find JOY and be good teachers to our future generations on how to find JOY.

PURPOSE – To have purpose behind everything that is done. Not to pursue anything without a purpose, in essence not to waste time on meaningless things.

PRESENCE – To be present at all times, taking in the present experience and not worrying about the past or the future, but just being in the present.

PATIENCE – Exhibiting patience as much as possible, relaxing and taking in the moment, not worrying about being late or getting uptight that things are not happening on my timeline the way I envisioned them or wanted them. To be comfortable that the universe may have a different clock than I do.

So as we all move into 2011, let us focus on purpose, presence, and patience and hopefully find a very JOYOUS year ahead!

Monday, January 10, 2011


CLICK THE HEADING, ABOVE, and link to a typical artists space and residence page. Cities often have several arts organizations offering similar services. In the suburbs, good luck finding anything as space is at a premium, and loft or old apartment buildings are priced to the max. Similar ads appear in Craig's List. Search terms: Art space, artist's space Chicago area, artists studio space. And heres an example of same, but for writers needing a quiet place to work:

If you are creating at home, and sharing that home with partners running their own businesses, children and often, aged parents, consider an outside space. It might enhance creative flow and quality of work. My creativity and production have slowed to a crawl after my partner set up his home office and an adult child moved home. I swear, its like running the front desk in a busy airline terminal and trying to paint in between customers, announcements, interruptions and non - stop cacophony from various media sources, meetings, friends and the dog's frantic, angry yapping. Also, for most of us economics and distance are determining factors when finding a space. Id love a romantic gazebo studio or artsy urban garret but in my area even a shabby, downsized version starts at $1500.00 per month not counting utilities and licensing. For now, a quiet place where nobody can find and pester me is the target.

First, investigate what’s out there. Artist spaces are listed on artist guild billboards, publications, online art communities and Craig's List. Be flexible. Example : a small room in a a law firm or real estate office might serve your purpose – many are renting their empty rooms to generate extra cash. Next blog entry will focus on pros and cons. An other option is households with a large spare bedroom, walk in attic, or other spaces. Many empty nesters and singles or working couples are happy to renting out unused space for daytime use. I'd steer clear of any residence with children for obvious reasons.

Factors to consider when sourcing out locations for your space, aside from monthly cost and rental details are below. Italics are responses particular to my own requirements.

1. Estimated travel time to and from, and traffic patterns. I loath driving in heavy Chicago toll - way and north side city traffic even with great music or an audio book. Drive time, one way after the rush hour requires 1 hour 45 minutes, usually 2 full hours. (2:00 a.m. it's 60 minutes)

2. Fuel or transportation costs. Fuel costs are estimated to double by the end of 2011- am I prepared to move out of the studio and find a closer space if this occurs, within a year?

3. Do you want to work around other artists or prefer a quiet place? If another artist in the shared space is overly talkative, plays her music loud or has many loud visitors will this be a problem? For me, solitude is preferable.

4. How much space does your medium require? 250+ square feet is fine.

5. Do you require natural daylight, ventilation? I prefer indirect natural daylight.

6. Days and hours – when will you be using the space? Sometimes you can split the rent with another artist. I’m planning on 3 full 8 hour days in studio per week. Other days will be used for my jewelry business and art related business like web maintenance, invoicing, preparing and shipping orders, phone calls etc.

7. Do you need somebody available to sign for and receive shipments when you are out? No

8. Heat and air conditioning. Heat is a must; a fan might be fine in the summer. In the Midwest temps range from frigid to sweltering.

9. Do you need a location near galleries? Often, nearby artist buildings are included in gallery walks and tours. Nice perk but not essential; I need work space. Socializing with artists or gallery owners and clients, marketing, and community are not on my radar. In 2 years this may change as Ill have built up a new body of work and seeking exhibition spaces.

10. Stairs, elevator, a loading dock, and locks on the doors or a cubical in a large shared loft space – these are some of the details to bear in mind. I may be loading and unloading my studio furniture by myself. This include drawing table, a collapsible work table, chair, lighting, some shelves, possibly the large easel. So I prefer walk in, a lift, or elevator access.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Owls are wonderful parents and talented hunters, navigating the woods in the night, spending their days in the treetops alone, avoiding the crows and pestering starlings. Some creative individuals are this way - we like others of our species just fine but need our space and time away from the flock. This week I'm addressing the need for a space of one's own, and sharing the experience start to finish.

Some creative individuals prefer working in a group, especially those in the hobby and weekend workshop categories. These group sessions are about social and communal needs as well as creating. What about those of us who aren't 'joiners', always flying off on their own and lacking the 'flocking' instinct? Like owls, we prefer flying alone, and associate with a limited circle of like minded creatures. I require space and no interruptions or conversation when painting because all my focus is directed toward the work at hand. Socializing when creating jewelry or beading is great, but painting and drawing access my deeper processes and require focus and dedication of a different sort.

With family returned home and a husband who works from a home office this place can get busy, its like an airport terminal or busy storefront around here. Creative and work time has decreased significantly since my menfolk have returned to the nest, while domestic responsibilities have increased. Its getting out of hand lately and like many working at home women I'm feeling pressed into a choice. Either become a full time domestic goddess, or get a separate space where I can create and run my business.

After trying all the obvious solutions it may become apparent that you, too, will seek a place in which to create without the frequent interruptions that result when adults share a small living space 24/7. This is a common and understandable situation today, when parents who've downsized suddenly find themselves with adult children and often, older parents, moving in. We love our families , value their company, and like communal living...but we need our space too!

In the next entry Ill begin the process of deciding what is required and the adventure of hunting for and finding that space.

The owl in the photo was rescued after being wounded when somebody shot at her. She lives at one of our wonderful Illinois wildlife refuges and is well cared for. This photo was taken when the local preserve staged a community awareness day at the local strip mall. Her protective handlers demonstrated knowledge, gentleness and understanding. The owls and hawks were kept safe and out of children's reach.