Giveaway Frenzy Has Big Feet

GIVEAWAY-DOTS (3)Monday morning has dawned and a full week stretches before us, denizens of the internet. What perils will we meet in traversing this week's unknowable landscape, before we dock at last in the safe harbor of another weekend? Will we be called on to outwit the Cyclops? Will we pass between Scylla and Charybdis? Or will we run into something a little…fluffier?

Today, your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Name the two parties responsible for the famous, controversial 1967 film footage of Bigfoot.

One bold commenter/tweeter/etc. who answers correctly will receive our feetastic Bigfoot Rescue Kit.

Bigfoot Rescue Kit

Book Expo America!

Last week, the greater book industry erected a sprawling microcosm of itself inside the Javits Center, flung open the doors, and sank into a welter of bibliophilic chaos.

Well, okay, there are some other salient details. But that's the gist.

Book Expo America takes place once a year in Manhattan's massive convention center. Publishers and other book-related companies from all over the globe set up booths and display their titles, showcasing highlights from their upcoming lists. Very important people meet with other very important people to do very important things. Distinguished writers, artists, and publishing professionals take to stages throughout the building and hold forth on topics from the craft of writing to the direction of the book sector's various digital facets. Cookbook authors stage demonstrations. Creators sign advance copies of their books for lines of eager readers stretching across the show floor. Savvy publishers give out tote bags emblazoned with their logos, knowing that attendees need something to carry all those books in. Occasionally, famous animals who have starred in books make appearances. (I hear Grumpy Cat was there to promote his new book, and I missed him. Woe unto me.)I'd liken the experience to nothing so much as stepping physically into the internet. Information swirls around you in staggering quantity and breadth. The show floor represents a pretty delightful sampling of human experience, schools of thought, and areas of expertise and interest. In the space of a few minutes' walk, you'll see Lego sculptures, handsomely-bound shoebox-sized reference tomes, memoirists elaborating on their stories before rapt audiences, volumes of meticulous scholarly research, origami artists teaching attendees how to fold outlandish creatures, giant nature photography, artisanal cupcakes, and people laughing together over children's books about unicorns. Librarians abound; I had the good fortune to chat with several over the course of my day at the conference, and affirm my longstanding assertion that librarians are some of the coolest people in the world.

For the first two days of the conference, admission is open only to members of the publishing industry. On the third day, however, BEA welcomes members of the public, and often schedules some of its most exciting events for their arrival. This year's conference is over, but I encourage anyone who loves books and can make it to NYC to consider attending next year. And if you do plan to be there, drop me a line in the comments! I'm always happy to say hi.

Happy reading!

Image Credits:1st image – Schweitzer; 2nd image – d; 3rd image – Melnikov

Drawing Dinosaurs! A Colored Pencil How-To for Kids and Adults

Hi, artists of all ages! I said a little while ago that I might be doing more crafts-focused posts, and this is the first of them. You may recall (I mentioned it in my post on rockslide-dodging paleontologist Mary Anning) that we have a great kids' guide to drawing dinosaurs: Ready, Set, Draw…Dinosaurs!

It's specifically designed for young artists, but I think it's a pretty excellent introduction to drawing dinosaurs for dino-fans of any age.* Artist Kerren Barbas Steckler has given ultra-simple visual step-by-step instructions for drawing 18 dinos (and dino-proximates; see footnote). They're easy to follow, and the results are most fierce.

Today, I thought I'd give a quick colored pencil demonstration for anyone who's mastered the dino outlines and wants to get a little fancy. Detailed colored pencil drawing may seem a bit intimidating at first (no erasing? What?!), but all it takes is a little practice, and once you begin to get the hang of it, it's tons of fun.

 We'll be drawing velociraptor today! Despite the reputation a certain popular dinosaur movie gave raptors, they weren't (evidence suggests) particularly diabolical fiends. Nor were they especially large. They were, in fact, about the size of a turkey. A really scary turkey. Our drawing of velociraptor is feather-free, but recent evidence suggests they may have been feathered.

Follow along to draw velociraptor, or pick another dinosaur from the book if you have it, and use the suggestions here to create your own many-colored dino!




1. To start, pick a very light colored pencil (I used pale green here), and sketch the outline of your dinosaur. Follow the book, copy my sketch, or do your own sketch–whatever makes you happy! You may find it to lightly draw a sort of "stick figure" version of your dinosaur first.

2. Once you've outlined your dinosaur, lightly sketch in details like eyes, claws, stripes, and teeth. Give your dino a personality. My velociraptor is definitely grouchy. Or maybe just in need of a snack. Perhaps I shouldn't have my hand so close to her jaws…

3. Now the fun starts: shading! Pick a color that's slightly darker than the color you used to outline your dino, but is still pretty light. I used a dark yellow. The color doesn't matter too much, as you'll be coloring over it. Press lightly for this step. Don't worry about being super-realistic here–we're drawing dinosaurs for fun, after all. Put a little shadow below your dinosaur's jaw, along the bottom of its neck, on the bottom of its stomach and tail, and on one side of each of its arms and/or legs.

4. Time to start adding more color! Pick five or six colors, including at least one very light color and one very dark color. I find it's helpful to choose a pair of complementary colors (opposite colors; see the link for details) like blue and orange or purple and yellow, and use shades of one color for light areas, and the other color for dark areas. In this drawing, I am using yellow for light areas, and purple for dark areas. If there are any areas that you want to be a particular color, add that color lightly now so you don't forget. (I did that with the light purple stripes.) Then, pick a dark-colored pencil and shade over where you put your shading earlier.

5. Now, choose your darkest pencil and make sure it's sharp. Fill in a few very small areas, like your dinosaur's eye, its nostril, the bottoms of its claws, and the backs of its teeth, that you want to be very dark. It's okay to press hard when you fill these areas in, in order to get the color really dark–you won't be layering any more color over these small areas. You can also make some of the dark areas of shading a little darker, if you like.

6. Very lightly fill in your dinosaur's body with your light color. (I used yellow.) Then, with a medium shade of your dark color (I used light purple), lightly shade around your areas of dark shading. Add some new shading as well, if you wish. Tip: Press lightly until you're sure you like how something you've shaded looks. You can't really erase colored pencils very well, especially once you've started layering colors, but you can make things less noticeable and blend in colors you don't like if you put them down lightly.

7. Color in your dinosaur fully as you started to do in step 6, layering one color over another so that they blend in places, but making sure to keep your light areas light and your dark areas dark. If you're using complementary colors, you'll notice that layering your colors over one another will sometimes make an area appear brown or grey, but that you can still see traces of both original colors in the brown or grey color. Cool, huh? I think this is much more interesting than just using a brown or grey pencil! Feel free to fill in your solid-colored areas (like the light purple stripes on my dino's back) in this step.

8. Add in any finishing touches (I put in some lines on my velociraptor's brow ridge), and voilà! You've drawn a full-color dinosaur!

FYI, I used a Peter Pauper Sketchbook here for the first time, and found (disclosure of bias self-evident) that the paper was quite good for colored pencil drawings. It's thick and sturdy (a necessity if you don't want to see an imprint of your drawing through half the pad, or worse, risk tearing the paper by pressing too hard), and just a tiny bit textured, so it picks up color nicely and you can get a lot of rich layering in before it's saturated.

*I should note, with apologies to anyone irked by this usage, that the word "dinosaur" in this and any other blog posts on the subject will sometimes be used according to its popular definition, not its scientific (i.e., actually accurate) one. So when animals such as ichthyosaur and archaeopteryx, despite not really being dinosaurs, are referred to under the dinosaur heading, I'm invoking the term as it's often used in popular culture: to mean "non-mammalian animal that had its heyday in the Mesozoic Era."

Mistaken Identity

If any person ever informs you that editors never commit really spectacular lexical blunders, know that said person is a rotten liar. (If they're speaking of editors broadly, that is. If they're speaking only from personal experience, I suppose they might be telling the truth, and shake my fist in resentful admiration at them and everyone they know if so.*)

The editorial team at Peter Pauper writes a lot of online descriptive copy, in order to communicate the loveliness of our journals, etc., to website customers who can't actually hold them and flip through them before buying. We like to make these descriptions fun to read as well as informative, which typically involves a bit of wordplay, and linguistic tricks such as alliteration and assonance.

I recently wrote an expanded description for our Cat's Meow Journal. When describing our journals, we often like to reference the experience of writing and thinking, in addition to discussing the journal's aesthetics. I believed I'd come up with an alliterative and moderately charming (key word, in retrospect, being "moderately") way to do both at once. It required a fairly exact synonym for "thinking" beginning with the letter "f." I was convinced that one existed. (There may well be one—I just can’t find it.) Moreover, I thought I knew precisely what this word was; my guess is that I confused it with “ruminating.”

I’m very glad I looked it up before I submitted copy that praised the “feline flair for fulminating."

*A note on this sentence and the one preceding it: I think "they" is an excellent ungendered third person singular pronoun, and fulfills a vital role not at all adequately performed by the clunky, distracting "he or she." People have used "they" in that capacity for centuries. Shakespeare used it thus. Modern writers are bringing it back. Even the Chicago Manual of Style came around a while ago. I capitulate to the current strictures of formal writing when necessary, but as sovereign of the Tuesday blog column, I hereby restore third person singular "they" to its rightful glory within my teensy realm.

Photo credit: Mihejevs