Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Keepin’ it Rollin’

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Despite a disheartening setback with our printer — a delay of two extra weeks due to lost files??? — Monster Haiku Vol. 1 is finally set to deliver today. When I get home from work there will be a snazzy box of sexy little books! I can’t wait to see them. Once I can confirm everything’s the way it’s supposed to be, I will heave one giant sigh of relief.


This week will be one full of packing and preparing. If you’ve ordered a book, we’ve got some plans to make it a special treat to receive in the mail.

If you didn’t order one, but would still like to get your hands on one, we’re having a party at Wildcard on Friday, April 13th from 6 - 9pm.

Make, Make, Make

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Josh and I will be spending the time we took off work between Christmas and New Year’s in our dining room with our heads deep in a create-a-thon. We’re going to hole up with some good food and just make all the stuff we’ve been wanting to make all year — there will be writing, drawing, designing, painting, knitting… and possibly some sewing and basement screenprinting.

It’s going to be a creative free-for-all. Please join us. I love the peer-pressure that having people around brings, and we might have donuts. I’ve got quite a To Do list growing for those five days, and if I accomplish half of it the entire adventure will be a grand success.

Some creative ventures are on-going. I’ve got some work posting on, which is run by the writing group I’ve been a part of since February. It’s helping me stretch my boundaries. Don’t get me wrong — of course I’ve written about kids’ summer trips and a shop that changes its address each day and a cat that’s possessed by a ghost. But I’ve also written about more personal pieces and adult relationship stuff which, while less comfortable for me to produce, has been delightfully well-received. A current success.

Another project in the works (well mostly finished) is a collaboration with the talented DJ Lunchbox. Full details will emerge in Spring of 2012. We believe it will be worth the wait, so stay tuned.

And I am always editing my trilogy. I’m combing through Book 1 and 2 this week to refine some points and inspire completion; Book 3 is approximately 1/3 of the way complete. The plan is that I’ll digitally publish the first two in 2012, and then release Book 3 in 2013.

But who knows what the future will bring? As my cousin said last week, “She’s a writer. Allegedly.”

Life Updates

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

I joined a writer’s group in the hopes of growing and making new friends, and that seems to be working out. It is amazing how being around other people that do what you do (or want to do) can light the fire of inspiration. The last and, admittedly, only other attempt I made in participating in a writer’s community was years ago, and its attendees were an exercise in self-absorption. In contrast, everyone in gl(ow) seems eager to grow and experiment with their writing, and thus far critiques have been helpful and not the least bit vicious. I am optimistic.

So what if we all skipped this week’s assignment and ate hot dogs instead? That’s art, maaaaaan.

My goal to finish my last batch of books by the time I’m 30 is… crazy, but I’m trying to do it anyway. I am 33% done with novel #3, and I’ve got 24 days to churn out 120 more pages. Don’t do the math, it’s too painful. Before Daylight Savings Time, I was getting up at 6am every weekday to write before work. That has fallen to the wayside and, coupled with an ambitious-for-us home renovation project, writing has hit a lull. Strangely, this is okay. I am more concerned with finishing this series in a satisfactory way than the timing of crossing that finish line.

And hey! Speaking of impending failure:

I’m participating in this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. This is hilarious because, wow, do I hate running. If I’m not being chased by a bear, I just don’t see the point. However, Josh wanted to set up a relay team, and I like him more than I hate running, so I volunteered to be a part of it. So I’m trying to… train? It is pretty darn horrible. But doing stuff you hate builds character, right? If my knees continue to hold out, I think my determination will too.

Also, I really want to dye part of my hair pink. I can’t figure out if this is some kind of surprise “omg-thirtieth-birthday” panic bubbling to the surface, or if the anxieties I’ve been recently working on peeling back are leaving me unafraid to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was sixteen.

Dang and Double Dang

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

It’s been so long since I blogged, I forgot how to log in to this bad boy. So sad.

I haven’t even been busy. I’ve just been unmotivated.

You know what helps get those gears moving? Going to Hawaii. But it’s not the beach, it’s the atmosphere… and the beach. The beach is pretty cool, too. Also? MANGOS.


Here, have a coconut monster.

I’ve got a bit of my wind back for creative projects — which is good, considering I have an art show in April.  But for now, the Rachel Train is focusing on illustration and writing.

September 1st will be first blood on D3, the last book in the series. I know, I know, I’ve said it before. But I turn a significant number in May of 2011, and while age doesn’t bother me in the least, missing serious goals does — and once upon, I decreed that I would finish this series before I was 30. So: GAME ON.

And also, we are going here for my birthday, and if I’m not done with the story by then, the end will resolve with Voldemorte and some cute kid with Lennon glasses with Dobby riding piggy back on his shoulders all exploding in one epic magical kaboom.

I typed that bit with a British accent even; you can see the danger.


Despite a vacation, I have been feeling overwhelmed. Let’s shake it off. Let’s go get’em, tiger. Let’s be FEARLESS.

rawrnoldsager, signing off.

1,000 Paintings; 10,000 Hours

Monday, March 29th, 2010


While at Bellevue’s wonderful Affogato this week, we were discussing what we did for a living and our various expertise levels in it. My girlfriend mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours is a magic number: that it doesn’t necessarily take exceptional talent or passion to get good at something, but if you spend 10,000 hours doing anything you become an expert at it by default.

I’ve heard similar theories. In art school, we were told you’ve got 1,000 crap paintings in you, so you’d better get them out of the way. I’ve also found a similar sentiment about writing — there’s 1,000,000 terrible words you have to write before you’re good. Write them now so you can begin producing quality work.

I have, since college and by rough estimate:

  • Spent approximately 18,650 hours designing.
  • Spent approximately 1,000 hours making art/illustrations.
  • Spent approximately 2,000 hours writing, having written approximately 400,000 words.
  • Spent approximately 29,200 hours sleeping.

10,000 hours is apparently a lot of hours. The above are estimates, but I would have guessed I spent way more time making art and writing than I actually did.*

Outside of arbitrary numbers divisible by ten, these rules all have the same idea — practice makes perfect, which is something I can absolutely get behind.

What’s interesting is that my day job is design — the reason my hours are so high for designing is because I’m doing it for 40 - 50 hours a week, for almost nine years. Despite exceeding the magic mark for hours, I would not consider myself an expert. Good, yes… I feel confident that I can solve any visual problem you can throw me. But an “expert”? No, there are people doing bigger and better than I in the land of design. I love it, but if it wasn’t my day job, I doubt I’d get near 10,000.

I haven’t read Gladwell’s book, this isn’t a review. This is simply an observation about a theory presented second-hand. I will say seeing the time I’ve spent doing some of the things I’m passionate about makes me re-evaluate them. Ultimately, as long as I love doing it I will continue to design and write and illustrate.

But I also wonder how much time I’ve spent with family and friends, or on the road to see those friends or family, or waiting for bus or food. Time I’ve spent cooking or working out or online. I don’t want or need to quantify these.

There are 10,000 hours in 417 days. I say a well-rounded life is one spent filling those hours with passions — both professional and personal — even if you never get ground-breakingly awesome at any them.

Let’s have a beer soon.

My my, look at what a philosophical turn this took.

*Not that any number of hours incorporating a comma is something to shake a stick at. And dang, I’ve got mad skills at sleeping. Go ahead, quiz me.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

Saturday, February 6th, 2010


I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

I’ve been sitting on The Sum of David for years now — the first draft was completed Christmas of 2006 — and man do I hate putting time into the getting published portion of… getting published. I am totally my worst enemy.

I like the story writing part, not the paperwork. I’m a designer, remember. There’s thankfully little paperwork in design.


This year’s competition has a separate category for Young Adult Fiction, which TSoD falls right into. I’ve struggled with writing summaries of varying length for TSoD in the past, but I guess ignoring the whole process for a year will freshen you up: I threw something down from scratch and Josh said was the absolute best pitch I’d ever done for the story. That’s encouraging. Hopefully the judges think so, too.

I like to consider myself a realist (doesn’t everyone?), so I’m not holding out extraordinary hopes. I indulged myself with a single day dream in which I won the whole shebang, but even in my fantasy I hung up on the person, jumping on them for making such a cruel joke of someone’s passion.

Maybe I’m not a realist. Maybe I’m a full-blown pessimist.

Whatever the outcome, I will  be exceptionally pleased with myself if I can make it past the first round… wouldn’t that be grand?

Amazon is accepting submissions through February 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm, or until they have recieved 5,000 entries in each category. If you have a finished novel sitting in a drawer collecting dust, now would be the time to break that baby out and give it some air.  Best of luck to those submitting!

What to do, what to do

Sunday, January 17th, 2010


I am 100% introverted. If I see you In Public and come off as a turd, I apologize. I am not being a jerk (or weird) on purpose, I am simply overwhelmed with the situation.

However, in complete contradiction, I also love to play host.

Josh has a Man Weekend coming up, and I am trying to figure out what to do with this sudden Rachel time.

Possibilities that have crossed my mind:

1) Host a Girls’ Brunch at our place. (Social!)

2) Take a road trip with my dog. (Isolated + Social!)

3) Write like my fingers are on fire. (Isolated!)

Oh, bother. I don’t know. In reality, I’ll probably end up wasting it watching the Jurassic Park movies.


The Inevitable Year Wrap Up

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

ill_27.pngI guess this is like the newsletter that some families send out with their Christmas cards. Except it’s on the internet.

I’m from the future.

I can’t say that I succeeded in producing an illustration every seven days, but I’d happily commit to “weekly-ish” success. When the last week of 2009 rolled around, I was only three behind. Josh has mentioned I could technically go back and change the time stamp on the blog entries, and make me look like a real champ, but that part isn’t really the point — the whole idea of 52ills was to see if I could complete it in the first place, and as of December 31st, I had 52 ills. Go me, and I want some pie.

As an exercise, it was an excellent experience. I learned more about Illustrator and due to the volume of pieces, I was able to reach beyond my comfort zone and usual material*. I’ve happily settled into a colorful, cute style. I kind of knew that already, but practice makes perfect and all that. I also developed some good habits: composing via silhouettes, utilizing interesting textures, and grounding subjects with some kind of background element.

I’d love to get some (or all?) of them into a gallery this year, but if nothing else, I have some new portfolio pieces.

*Although there are still quite a few zombies and robots.

I did embarrassingly little writing in 2009. Even my blogging decreased in frequency. The remaining 82 pages of my last manuscript have been sitting in my parents’ living room for the last year, so I am proceeding without my mom’s trained-but-unavailable eye. My apologies to the next editor in line. I am using January to comb through the 2nd book again before I hand it off, and a first draft for the third and final David book will be complete by June 30th, 2010. That’s right, you heard it here first. Only 180 days away and counting.

Geeze, when I write it like that, it sounds downright terrifying.

First things first, however. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on Pittsburgh’s South Side working on my creative projects. When we got our dog, we decided we wouldn’t be away from home as often as we have been in the past. I technically have my own studio room, although it’s been pretty junked up for a long time. So: I’ve resolved to redo the room in a way that allows me to go in there and work until my eyes fall out, while not neglecting our new pet, plus saving gas and time and money.

The room is 1/3 of the way done, and I’m very excited. I estimate it will be complete in early February, and I can’t wait. It’s going to be amazing to have my own space. Woo.

A Mystery

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Oh dear. Oh dear. The notebook I’d been keeping for the last 18 months to close The Sum of David trilogy? It was missing. Lost. DISAPPEARED off the face of the Earth.


The only thing keeping me from a sharp descent into madness was the fact that I hadn’t really dived into my studio. My hope was that I simply needed to pick up the right pile of junk and it would appear among a chorus of angels and a holy beam of light and probably enough relieved adrenaline that my head would explode.

I turned the room upside down and it wasn’t there.

Hoo boy. Panic time.

Where could it be? In the past several weeks, I’ve been across the country, all around Pittsburgh, and through all sorts of frantic dog-proofing for the house. For a long time, I carried it with me to and from work, but my personality is one that when my schedule is disrupted I forget my usual habits, no matter how long I’ve been doing them.*

I looked everywhere it could be. Then I checked everywhere it couldn’t. Twice.

Finally, after feeling defeated and at a loss at the priceless information I had somehow misplaced, I looked in the only other place it could(n’t) be: under the passenger seat of my car.

I don’t know what made me look there, because it was pretty darn random. But I do know feeling the smooth cover of the spiral-bound cover was one of the sweetest sensations ever.

WHEW and crisis averted!

*When I’m off work for a week, I forget what time my buses come, even though I’ve been catching the same ones for 8 years. Good gravy.

spoons and syringes

Monday, September 7th, 2009

I have taken some time off from writing. I took way too much, actually. I am still waiting on my first Editor’s comments to the remaining 2/3 of the current manuscript, and I’m hesitant to start the third and final book until a) I’ve corrected most of the grammatical/story errors and b) filled some plot holes.

Blah, blah, excuses, excuses.

Instead of continuing to wait, I spent a couple of glorious hours on Labor Day straightening some things out.  I have two dream sequences to add, and got through the more serious of them before it was BBQ o’clock. There are still holes, but I’ve got a list of optional things I can do to wrap things nicely. It felt good to get back into it, and since I’m waiting on other parties for my non-David task list… I may as well work on things I want to do.

And writing disturbing dream sequences about heroin addicts is apparently a part of the Want To Do equation. Yes, I wikipedia’d “heroin”, and I’m assuming certain people on YouTube will not be pursuing a future career in politics (or any other kind of future, for that matter). Good grief.

I hope you had a nice Labor Day. I will never eat again.