On Being You: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 29, 2016By jayart, Blog, children's books, Design, Encouragement, review, story, Writing

Hey guys,

Welcome to Friday! It’s been a week of discovery around here. I’ve discovered something about myself the last several weeks that I finally have words for. Maybe you’ll relate:

For awhile now I have been hiding too much of myself. Specifically with my art, I’ve hidden beneath splatters and grunge inks. Lately, has been different in that I have been finding joy in drawing and not caring if Sienkiewicz, Parker, Brown, Waterson, et al would do it that way. I’ve just been drawing.

I’ve been drawing and letting Superman look weak, Batman look old and unattractive, Spiderman look spindly, and generally just delighting in art as it comes out of “me”.

Each of us has a story. We each have a tale that we express through our art. But sometimes, somewhere, we can often lose track of our own tale and begin to tell someone else’s. That happens when, whether from admiration or insecurities, we begin to let their style overshadow how we draw, color, write, etc.

Each of us needs to find that “you” we were created to be. That certain expression that isn’t being bound into someone else’s way, but still learns from others. You have that. You have a uniqueness that unleashed will make what you are doing delightful and inspiring.

Find that You and hold onto it. Don’t let it go, but do make it grow. This isn’t a one time static “moment”. If we look at it that way then years could pass without any real changes/ progress. Your true “you” needs to expand and become better. It needs to be challenged to do things better, but it must never let go of its own story.

The goal of an artist is story. Some people disagree with this notion, and believe that the artist’s goal is expression. However, expression is itself story. When we look at an artist’s work, of splashes and dots, and we are inspired to read into the work, that artist has been the vehicle for story.

Find you and help that tale grow from a three word tale into an epic. How? Books are written on this, and to say what I believe may sound over simplistic, but it has been my path: let go, just be you, one step at a time.

One of my personal steps is wrapping up this next week: The Adventures of Tomy ‘n’ Jon. This has been a great experience, I really appreciate those of you who have joined me thus far! There’s a few physical copies left if you want to grab one.


Recent Art:









This Week’s Recommended Tool:

When I considered a tool I could recommend to you all this week, the one that came to mind is my travel water color set. This is specifically because I’ve been using it a lot lately, and I love it. The fourth, sixth and seventh images above were all painted with my Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Field Box —a treasured gift my wife gave me several years ago.

I hesitated, on one hand, to recommend it because it is a more costly tool than I usually bring up, so head’s up on that. But, if you love water color, love to be mobile, and can afford it or want to give a VERY special and enjoyable gift to someone else, this comes highly recommended. Get it here.
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The link above is from Amazon, however, sometimes Hobby Lobby has these in stock and there is always a 40% off coupon available weekly there. (If you have a smartphone, you can get their app for coupon.)

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Current Good Read:
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days


If you do interface design at all this book is for you. If you do product design at all this book is for you. If you work on a project for any customer this… well, you get the idea. Some projects can take forever to figure out. What if you could get a great baseline for your project in just one week? Would you be interested? You should.

This is a fantastic play-by-play of a one week design sprint intended to help you get to the bottom of a problem and find a solution in one week. Check it out.


Alright guys, have a great weekend and keep creating. Here’s some words that hit the mark, to carry with you:

“Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some people would think.” -Madeleine L’engle

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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On Growing Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 22, 2016By jayart, Blog, Faerie-tales, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, story, technology, Writing

Hey guys!

Welcome to Friday, I hope you’ve had a good week.

My personal journey of “who I want to be when I grow up” is all over the place. As a child I wanted to be an artist—like my big brother (Well, that was after a policeman, fireman, clown, and several other things—but when I grew a little more serious at the age of 4 or 5 it was definitely an artist.). That said, I failed art in high school and never got a degree in art. In fact, my area of study, on the surface, may even appear to be on the other end of the spectrum from art. I studied Jewish history/religion and Hebrew—one of the most infinitely creative things I’ve ever done.

Oh yeah, and there was that time I was a school bus driver, worked in advertising, gave up on drawing, designed and developed Flash (yuck) websites, worked as a speaker/teacher, launched my own endeavors, worked as a youth pastor, and spent over a decade in the field of User Experience Design.

From the outside looking in I may look scatter-brained, truth be told, from the inside looking out, it has felt like it too. But story and art have always been the string I can follow clearly throughout. I have found truth through them, on a personal level, in leading my family, and in a broader more sweeping sense. With G.K. Chesterton I must agree, “The Ethics of Elfland” where he stated;

“My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery…The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales.”

There are times, I question where all this is heading, but mostly, I am trying to listen to the conversation my son and I keep having: stay diligent in the small things and keep our eyes tuned to wonder, not the next big thing.

I feel his pain as he laments, “But, sometimes, I just want to skip the small stuff!”. Some days, I wish I could just wake up incredible, knowing everything about art, and doing it exactly as I want to—without all the practice. You get it. We all do.

Here’s one of my kids dreaming big with his own handmade “jet pack”. Yep, cardboard.

This Week’s Art:

In my western fairytale webcomic, The Adventures of Tomy ‘n’ Jon, the plot thickened:

The-Adventures-of-Tomy-and-Jon_037(Sign up to get it in your inbox, every Wednesday for free, here.)

This story is almost over and then we will take a break. Get caught up, or if you want to have a limited print edition of this, I still have a few.

Fairyland is never far from my mind,

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Better scan to come. 

As a storyteller, I like to say that “sometimes I use words”. This week I was totally stoked to get to play around a lot with words when Scrivener, my favorite writing app, came out for the iPhone! (I don’t get any money for this, but you can tell them I said hi.) I love Scrivener, it’s the best writing/thought organizing app in my book, because:

  1. The learning curve is not huge—but there is one.
  2. The ability to cork board notes (you’ll have to see the site). I don’t know if they were the first to do this or not, but they definitely do it the best.
  3. Organization. I can write a whole story or multiple stories in one project, close it and start another.
  4. Community. If you need to know how to build a dummy book for a picture book—there’s a template that someone somewhere has created.
  5. So many more things.
  6. iPhone app! It’s clean, it works. It syncs. I’m happy with it.

I’ve already been revising some of my unpublished writings, here are two I thought you all might like. So, speaking of fairytales being a string:

String of Things

“The world we see is only one,
One of hundreds of thousands,
Strung together in the lap of the infinite.
You and I are within each world,
Within, we are whomever,
Whomever we’ve wished and feared
we would be.

Do you feel that shudder?
Giants are roaming the country side.
Roaming free. Cage free giants
Are chasing you, not the you here—there.

You, the you reading this,
You never see them.
You only ever feel the shudder.
The shudder as they pass by unseen,
Unseen in our string.

Fairytales are strings.
Strings, that once in a while connect,
Connect by the will of the Almighty.”

— Consider the Ravens*

For those who know my love of all things Bigfoot:

Brandycreek (in modern parlance)

“Brændicręk be their name—the name they knowd theirselves by.
We call ’em Bigfeet, Sasquatch, Yeti, Wild Men, HairyMan,
SkunkApe, and so—all manner unbecoming of their charms.

Shape shifters they be—by day they roam on all fours—that’s when we call them b’ars.

In this way, they’ve hidden theirselves ‘mong us. They be grace-filled creatures full of song but savage when attacked.

And if’n y’ver try to capture one on film they’ll shift ‘fore your eyes and all you’ll ever be get’n is a blurry image.

True story.”

Consider the Ravens*


If you are wondering and working toward what you’re gonna be “when you grow up”, be encouraged that the “small” things are really only small from a very limited perspective. The alternative, of skipping them, is a mess, trust me—I’ve tried.

Being “in process” is a lot like being in a story, that’s a good thing, and a lot more interesting than having everything “figured out”. No matter how “far” we get, there will always be more to learn, to understand, to see. Even if it’s a challenge, appreciate where you’ve come from and where you are today.

“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller”

—G.K. Chesterton

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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FOOTNOTE:
*Unreleased compilation of stories, poems, thoughts, and haikus by me.

MrJayMyers’ Lost Month in Review

July 1, 2016By jayart, Blog, Design, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, technology

Hey guys,

Wow. I thought I’d be back in a couple weeks, not a month. But, I suppose moving eight people a few states to the west takes a toll. It’s been an interesting and full time. Definitely I have struggled with feeling dry, struggled to draw well in the midst of the exhaustion, continued drawing, and continued to struggle.

What should we do at these times? What should we do when we are dry inspirationally?

Focus on growing our skills.

When all our inspiration is gone, in my experience, the next thing that happens is that we begin to feel bad about our abilities. Which leads to lesser quality work. It’s the domino effect. Kill that cycle early on and focus on improving skills.

Let inspiration take a break. We need to grow those skills. Choose one thing that you just can’t get right and don’t stop drawing it. Gotta draw a head a hundred times? Do it. Bad at architecture? Draw the same building from a hundred different directions.


This is diligence, not a quick-fix. It separates us from the hobbyist and from the emotionalist (“I can’t draw unless I feeeel it”). This doesn’t work if we only have our eyes on the instant, it works if we have our eyes on the big picture.

Diligence is a choice to not sit and feel bad about ourself, but rather an opportunity to realize an area of lack and do something about it with a drive and purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time, an essential time, when vacation is absolutely the right answer—take that break if you need it. Rest is a vital part of my family’s survival on a weekly basis, but it can’t be my go-to-every-time-I-get-stuck routine.

Diligence isn’t always a party, but it does and will lead us to new inspiration. Count on it.

In real life, I’ve been drawing heads allll week, for a particular character design (The Wingfeather Saga‘s Florid Sword) I haven’t been able to nail it yet, but in the process some of my most fun ideas (I will be sharing some of these in a week or so) in a while have been coming quicker than I can keep up with. Trust me, this works. My sketchbook, once laid bare for weeks, is filling up in days.


Samples of this week’s art:

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Tools In Review:

Proven winning tools that have kept me mobile, ready, practical and economical:

While I’ve been living out of a suitcase, moving states, jobs, and house, staying mobile with my supplies has been essential. I know many of you need the same.

At the beginning of my recent move, I mentioned this art tool wrap. I love this thing, I took it to the zoo and it worked just as it should—not only that, it’s on sale! MORE so than it was before. It is currently more than 80% less than it’s original price.

If you already got one the last time I mentioned this, grab one for a friend. It’s seriously the bomb.

Get it here: The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap, 72 Pencil Case Roll Multi-Purpose Pouch

(Read how I modified mine to work for more than just pencils, in less than five minutes.)

One (well three) more for you today:

Bestest White Pen Ever:

For years, I have SEARCHED for the right white pen. So many of them had lines that kind of disappeared after it was drawn; plus they were watery. So, I have a three step white/”correction” pen suggestion: Here is the first:

Presto: Years ago I used this one then couldn’t ever find it locally, and it faded from memory. Recently, I rediscovered it and love it. You can pick it up at Amazon (links below help support my art and family at no extra cost to you):

It’s the best for three reasons:

  1. Coverage. Solid lines thick and clear.
  2. Tilt. Tilt gives you a less weighty line but still solid.
  3. Squeeze. I can squeeze much or let it run a little dry.

Get it here: Pentel Presto Jumbo Correction Pen, Fine Point, 12 ml, 2 Pack.

I don’t have pictures for the other two, but check them out:

  1. Uni-Ball Signo Broad Point Gel Impact Pen White Ink, 3 pens per Pack
    1. Next best to Presto
    2. Thinner line
  2. Uni-ball Signo Angelic UM-120AC Gel Ink Pen 0.7 mm, White Ink
    1. Next best to the one above
    2. Much thinner line

I know. I know. Yes, I will be your new best friend now. :)

What I’m Reading:

To be honest, I’ve mostly been listening to books lately to keep up with my kids, but one book I have just recently started physically reading:

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How To Make Sense Of Any Mess.
by Abby Covert

I picked it up to keep growing in my day job as a UX designer because I operate on the premise of seeing this type of work as storytelling.

As I tend to think of all of life in the same way, I see this book being helpful in just about any area of life, including art.

I just began it and like it a lot so far. I’ll update more later.


I am grateful to be in this new job and new location with my family and figuring out the new swing of things. It has definitely had it’s challenges, but altogether, change is one of the greatest things. Thanks for hanging around with me in this journey.

What changes or challenges have you experienced this last month?  How are you staying creative through it?

Have a great and safe Independence Day (my US friends) weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .
Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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Navigating Change: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

May 23, 2016By jayart, Blog, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, technology, Writing

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Big changes affect us all. Changes are afoot at my house: art, home, job, state—it’s all transcendently transforming.

Art for example: for my new job, I gave up what had become a good 50% of my normal method (iPad pro and Apple pencil) this week. That kinda hurts, but in the midst of change there is, thankfully, still Pentel brushes, pencil, and that dead tree stuff (which holds the soul of the tree—how else do we explain all those drawings) we call,  paper. Let’s not forget my family (my beautiful bride is behind the camera) who are creating opportunities to draw in the midst of packing, house finding, etc.

A 15MinArt Drawing Challenge around the table.

As life works, I imagine many of you are experiencing various changes as well. A fifteen minute drawing session is one way to keep our fingers limber and a fun way to keep us ’round the table after dinner for a bit too. Keep the practice steady as you can, but don’t be afraid to rest (visit a park, sleep, listen to a book, etc.) when needed.

Here’s a couple of my #15minartchallenge sketches from this week:

spectralboy
From William Joyce’s Nicholas St. North, The Spectral Boy
jump
Tomy jumps
Phillipe "the mouse" Gaston
Phillipe “the mouse” Gaston: I am finding that many people just don’t remember Ladyhawke. You should watch it when you get the chance if you too don’t remember it.

This week, I finished reading and totally dug Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga (book four); The Warden and The Wolf King. (My kids were way ahead of me on that one.) Such a great read, wonder-full.  I’m stoked to get started on the comic. Here’s a my take on a scene from the book.

Claxton_Weaver
The Florid Sword talks with Claxton Weaver.

The amazingly talented Otis Frampton invited me to create a pin-up for his latest book and it came out (I believe) last week!

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So, while we are transmogrifying our lives, I may not get an update out next week as we’ll be doing the final packing up, moving out, and unpacking. Which means, until next time, keep creative juices flowing and have a great couple of weeks!

BTW, what kind of changes are you navigating and how are you staying creative through it?

Jay

P.S. If you’ve got an upcoming move approaching or just have a mobile lifestyle, and need a solution for all the art supplies you want to carry,  check out this art wrap my wife got me not too long ago. I love it.

The 15 Minute Art Challenge: MrJayMyers Week in Review

April 29, 2016By jayart, Blog, Faerie-tales, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, Writing


Little by little does the trick. —Aesop

This week has been awesome. I’ve had a great time working and posting with you guys with the #15minartchallenge. It is quickly taking on a life of its own and that has made me smile big. Great job everyone!

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I’ve got a challenge for you. A challenge to make the most out of your sparest of time to do something to grow your skills.

If you find your time to be constrained then use what little you have and join in The 15 Minute Art Challenge.

It’s simple: Time yourself drawing for 15 minutes.

Then stop.

You can add color, but no more “drawing”. Tag #15minartchallenge on your social media accounts. Share and encourage others to join and use their “spare” time to create something.

Trust me, doing so you’ll get: faster and better. It was my main source of drawing for almost five years.

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Constraints concentrates creativity. 

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A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark. —Dante (Alighieri)

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If you add a little to a little and do this often, soon the little will become great.—Hesiod

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The nuts and bolts of how I came up with what to draw this week had everything to do with daily life. My kids and I are totally absorbed in reading The Wingfeather Saga books by Andrew Peterson right now. Inspiration—check! Also, we celebrated two birthdays in our family this week and pulled out a favorite movie in the celebrating, The Hobbit. Oh yeah—I always love to draw bigfoot.

How do you decide what you are drawing?

Keep Creating Everyone. Have a great weekend!

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Jay

 

 

 

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Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.

Find Your Creative Sweet Spot & Tools to Help: MrJayMyers Week in Review

April 22, 2016By jayart, Blog, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, Writing

It’s been a time constrained week around here, more than usualI used to think that was negative and even a legit reason not to make or meet creative goals. Now I think differently.

I like how Jake said it,

“Creativity thrives on constraint.” — Jake Parker

With a full-time (non-illustrating) job and a family of seven (besides me) this has been a necessary and significant shift in perspective. Instead of using my constraints as excuses, I now see them as strengths.


Tomy and Jon’s on-going adventure heated up on Wednesday. I worked for months ahead before I ever launched my webcomic so I didn’t work on it this week. It posts on a schedule now.

This is my best example to date of choosing a personal project (as far as art goes) and sticking with it. It’s really helped me grow my skills and put myself out there, and definitely within constraints. I can’t recommend this enough.

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If you do not have natural constraints there are things you can do to enforce some on yourself. Even with natural ones, this helps.

The main limitation I put on myself is choosing to work in 5, 10, or 15 minute time allotments. Set a timer if you need to—I used my phone’s.

How to Find Your Creative Sweet Spot:
Find the most effective constraint for yourself by asking yourself what you believe is your biggest limitation. Then begin the process of choosing to believe it could actually be exactly what you need.

After several years of working in this way, I doubted that I’d have much art to show for between 75 hours of non-illustration work on my plate this week.  I was wrong. It proves to me again how true it is, creativity really does thrive on constraint.

Here’s my week in review:

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timebandits-Giant_sm

(This doesn’t even count the nights I was just worn down and sketched a bunch of stuff that never saw the light of day.)


Not having my own studio has been another hidden aid that has worked to help me stay mobile and make due with space limits. I gather many of you are in the same position.  So here’s a trick for the trade: modified brush pens.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Instead of an elaborate set up, I use six Pentel Fude Brushpens that I modify with scissors or needle nose pliers.

You can get them with a medium or extra fine point. Find out more by clicking the highlighted words. If you decide it’s a good fit for you (or gift for another artist in your life) at no extra cost to you, it will also benefit my family, so THANK YOU!

If you’ve already got some, or after your new ones arrive, here’s a 15 second video to show you how I modify mine.

Huge thanks to everyone who purchased through my link last week on The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

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The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap

 


With all this talk about constraint and limitation, rest has a place in this too. My family and I skipped some stones over the weekend. Photo by my wife, Raynna.

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How have you found working within limits helps you? Care to share any examples or tips below? I’d love to hear.

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Tales, Tools and Changes: MrJayMyers Week in Review

April 15, 2016By jayart, Blog, Faerie-tales, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, story

It’s been a fairy tale kind of week around here. That’s my favorite kind of story, so that’s alright with me. Tomy and Jon’s on-going adventure posted Wednesday.  My kids and I have been reading and re-listening to The Wingfeather Saga and creating as we go.

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I also had the opportunity to paint this Faerie Gathering Dust commission over this past month and finished it up this past week.

This process was a lot of fun, especially being introduced to glow-in-the-dark paint by my kids. It was an amusing surprise for my client.

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I also thought you’d dig this practical and economical find. I am always on the look out for staying mobile with my art supplies, and I know many of you are as well.

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Check it out: The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap, 72 Pencil Case Roll Multi-Purpose PouchI’m loving it,  and I love the price too. It’s currently 80% off the list price of $50.98 and selling for only $9.99 at Amazon.

As it’s original intent is for pencils, I ended up modifying mine. I cut a few of the threads to open up the width of some of the elastic. It took me less than five minutes to customize just the way I need it. Fold, roll and go.

If this looks like a good fit for you or an artist in your life, you can see more about it HEREand at no extra cost to you, clicking my link will also benefit my family, so THANK YOU!


If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
-Albert Einstein

Here’s my imagining of Pete the Sock Man, from aforementioned family read aloud: The Wingfeather Saga: —our family laughs pretty hard over these books.

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You can see more art from this week on my instagram account.


Change is Good?

The change in frequency of posts recently has a purpose.

Rather than send all my art that posts to social media, I’m sending fewer and more personal updates along with thoughts/ideas I hope will be resourceful and encouraging to you in your own creative journey.

What do you think of the change? What kind of things would you like to hear or see from me here?

Keep creating, and have a great weekend,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Tomy and Jon Weekend Adventure

October 2, 2012By jayFaerie-tales, review, Writing

TOMY & JON
Two weekends ago, I gave both issues of The Adventures of Tomy and Jon, on Amazon, away for free. I had intended to to a post on this blog, but that didn’t happen. So how did that go? and why did I do it?

Here is the report: 613 total books were downloaded. More people downloaded Tomy and Jon in two days, than all of months prior.

The reality is I get zilch, monetarily, from this venture. However, if even 3% (18) of those people return with favorable reviews then that will better my standings in the Children’s Book fairy tale section—of paid ebooks. Yes, I would prefer 10% which is still only 60 people, but seeing as that often isn’t the case 3% would be wonderful.

(more…)

iPhone Camera trick

June 12, 2012By jayapplications, technology

This weekend I stumbled upon a very useful camera feature when I was trying to zoom into a scene: left swipe right.

When you are in the Camera app, with one finger, wipe the camera screen to the right. What happens, as seen below, is that the camera roll is revealed.


This is extremely useful for a quick look at your last photo.

What is even nicer? Once you have slid into the camera roll, right swipe left. The Camera app is back.

The annoying part? If I button press into the camera roll there is no swiping that gets you back to the Camera app.

Try it out I bet you’ll like it.