Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ct-illustrator is moving!

I am in the process of streamlining my blog and website and I will be gradually moving all my posts to a new home at http://www.curtistaylor.biz/blog.html

Friday, September 2, 2011

Alien Invaders

I have all these cartoons and comics just sitting around just gathering dust!  I might as well post them here so they can find an audience. 

Here you are looking at the final inkwork.

 In the next week or so I will be using Photoshop to paint all the elements and add some weight to the lines. This will be my first full blown Photoshop painting excercise so you will have to bare with me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bus Stop Adventures: The Whip sketches

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

I have decided that it is time for me to start posting the sketches for some of the stories I have been creating.  This graphic novel series features a boy who uses his incredible imagination to liven up his daily walk home from the bus stop.

I will be adding more pages all the time so stop back soon to get your next installment!  Soon the first half of this story will be available on my website for purchase.  Those who purchase the first half of the book will be eligible for free updates along the way until the final installment is posted.

Click HERE to see more full color illustrations for "The Whip"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meta Data - revisited

One of my most read posts (ironically it doesn't have anything to do with writing or illustrating) is starting to sag so I thought I would try and revive it by rewriting and combining it with a few other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) related posts of mine. 

When I first started becoming aware of SEO I was getting 2 to 4 hits a day.  I had one reader, maybe two and I remember how happy I was when I started fooling around with my SEO tools and I went to 10 hits a day.  That seems so long ago now that I am averaging 70 hits a day and I have now topped 10,000 in my all time hits. 

In short SEO works and my blog is proof.  So what are you waiting for?  Visit these blogs, follow their suggestions and start watching your visitor hits rise.

If you are totally new to SEO the start here:

This one is super easy. Just fill in the blanks and it does the work for you.  Next you will copy the code into your blog HTML (easier than it sounds) and you are set.

There is important information here for Kindle self publishers. The blog stresses the importance of metadata (info like tags and descriptions) on future sales of your titles.
Five Degrees Of Metadata: Small Changes Can Mean Big Sales

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shelf Talker Designs

Just in case you don't know, a shelf talker is a mini-poster of sorts that explains or describes a certain product on a shelf.  In essence it tells you something important you didn't even know you wanted to know.   The most common shelf talkers, for a person like me, are found in a liquor store.  There you will find shelf talkers on the shelf in front of many of the wines, telling you what their Wine Spectator score is.  Well, in the last five years or so more and more beer shelf talkers have been showing up.  The most common shelf talkers are from BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer.  These shelf talkers tell you, among other things, how well that particular beer rated with the sites readers.

I have been developing a shelf talker for my other website/blog HopHeadSaid - in my other writing life I write about beer, commercial or homebrew; food pairings, and beer events not to mention beer reviews. My shelf talker is just a bit different from the other ones because my "ST" isn't rating the beer.  Nope, if my "ST" is on the beer then you know I recommend that beer, my "ST" suggests food pairings for that beer.  No food item or course is off limits.  On any given shelf talker, I may suggest a salad, a cheese or even a desert that will pair well with a given beer.

I worked hard on a design that would incorporate my HopHeadSaid logo and introduce some more elements that I would like to start branding.  I also worked hard to make sure the shelf talker was easy to read and understand.  I thought I had covered all the bases until I took my design into a local beer store.  There I learned of a real world problem with shelf markers.  Many are made to stand up in the portrait position but when they are attached to the shelf they get knocked around and often get pulled off because they extend well past the shelf and get snagged on the bottle that is being pulled off the shelf.

So when I got back home I started redesigning a landscape version of my shelf talker. This new orientation will significantly reduce the overhang of the the shelf talker and reduce the chances of it being knocked to the floor.

Original portrait version.

New landscape version.

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Hotel South Dakota Cover Progress

This will be the last post of the cover design for "The Hotel South Dakota" until it is finished, but I could resist sharing the finished "frame" with you!

When the frame is finished it will include a custom "Oracles" team logo and some fun Delphi Public School announcements.  I am hoping that I will be able to finish  this cover in the next week. 

If you want to know more about "The Hotel South Dakota" visit my mom's  blog, Kathleen Taylor's Dakota Dreams,  and there you will find a book description for "HSD" as well as descriptions for the other five mysteries in this series.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hotel South Dakota Cover Progress

So my mom has started pushing me to get her next cover done.  I have been dragging my feet mostly because I have been so consumed with beer writing that I didn't want to pull myself away from that while that was flowing so easily for me.  But a job is a job and I guess I will see how well I can multi-task for the next week or so.

Building this brick by brick digitally is only less physical but I think I could have built it with real bricks in less time.  When finished the brick frame will look like an old school (pun intended) event marquee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sex and Salmonella Schwag Giveaway Results

The winners have been picked!

Congratulations to Mary, Beverly and Maxine! Send me an e-mail  and be sure to include your address and I will get your schwag in the mail ASAP. Thanks for participating! Stay tuned 'cause I will be hosting another raffle in a month or so when Hotel South Dakota is released!

One last thing, I am trying to boost my blog and Facebook numbers for a book proposal so if you have a moment I would appreciate a "like" on Facebook (link in the right column), Twitter (link in the right column),  a mention of my blog on your blog or just check back in every once in awhile.

Thanks again for participating!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sex and Salmonella Schwag Giveaway!

It is time for another Tory Bauer schwag give away!  Last week  my Mom received her latest CafePress order complete with a Sex and Salmonella t-shirt, apron, pint glasses, magnets and note cards. A plan was hatched soon afterward to raffle off some author and cover artist signed schwag. Register below for the raffle to win a Sex and Salmonella magnet and note card signed by the author and cover artist.

It is easy to enter:
1. You must post a comment below to enter and tell me where you heard about this raffle. (Facebook, Twitter, another blog, etc.)
2. Three lucky winners will be picked out of a hat and the winners will be announced here on Thursday, August 11, 2011.
3.  One signed magnet and note card (and envelope) will be mailed to the winners.

Good Luck!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Funeral Food Giveaway Results

The winners have been picked!

Congratulations to Bunny, Mary and Susan!  Send me an e-mail and be sure to include your address and I will get your schwag in the mail ASAP.

Thanks for participating!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Funeral Food Giveaway!

Just a few days ago my Mom received her latest CafePress order complete with a Funeral Food t-shirt, magnets and note cards. A plan was hatched soon afterward to raffle off some author and cover artist signed schwag. Register below for the raffle to win a Funeral Food magnet and note card signed by the author and cover artist.

It is easy to enter:
1. You must be a registered Blogger user.
3. You must post a comment below to enter. Tell us where you heard about this raffle.
4. Three lucky winners will be picked out of a hat on Wednesday, August 3, 2011.
5. One signed magnet and note card (and envelope) will be mailed to the winners.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wedding Present

I have had to keep this under wraps (literally, it was wrapped) but now that it has been opened I can show it off to the world. 

I designed a poster commemorating my brother and now sister-in-law's wedding. This will be the only one of these produced but I am working on the new "public" version which will have Haystack Rock printed in the space of Cannon and Beach and "Cannon Beach, OR" printed across the bottom where the date is now printed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Design Suggestions

In my other life I am a beer writer.  I try to write about all facets of beer from beer reviews to beer industry to breweriana.  Most recently, except for my weekly beer blog, I proposed a book about beer and food pairings.  It was an interesting writing exercise and something I hadn't done before. The proposal contained a chapter list, proposed chapter setups, two sample chapters and a market survey. I haven't heard back about that proposal, but when I do I will be sure to let you know.

One of the more interesting proposal topics I had to address was how can I help market the book.  This got me brainstorming and I started considering shelf markers.  Shelf markers are the small cards you see in wine and beer stores that rate the wine/beer.  This card and its score is how many people choose a specific beverage.  Well I decided to use that idea but make it my own.

My shelf markers won't rate the beer, if my marker is on the beer then you know it is a good beer.  However, I want improve the drinker's experience by suggesting a food pairing that will take that beer to a whole new level.

Design Considerations:

  • I wanted the card to be easy to read.
  • I wanted the card to be easily recognized.
  • The card had to be easy to use so a store manager could easily print, cut and tape to a beer.

The finalist: 

Design Notes:
  • I have cleaned up the extra text and removed the wording “food.pairing” as it is quite obvious that these are food-pairing suggestions.
  • Just incase it isn’t obvious I have made a larger cooler (as in refrigerator) marker that could be taped to the cooler window that would briefly explain the “food.pairing” cards.  Design coming soon.
  • While I liked the key hole cut-out design from the first round, I began to realize that virtually no one would take the time to hand cut each card.  The design wouldn’t look as good with white paper surrounding the top and so it had to go.
  • By removing “food.pairing” out of the “key hole” I was able to eliminate extra text and make the beer’s name more prominent.
  • I got over my need to have the HOP dominate the design but I couldn’t eliminate it totally. 
  • I am trying to brand the place setting to be synonymous with “food.pairings” so I incorporated the HOP design into the silverware.

Special thanks to my wife, who at  5:30 am this morning after I had posted a different set in three different places (that will teach me to post designs before I show them to her ) said "Have you considered removing the spoon and "x-ing" the fork and knife?".  Genius!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Freelance e-Book Cover Designer

As many of you know I have started designing e-book covers for my mother, Kathleen Taylor.  You can see two of the finished covers below.  There will be four more e-covers by the time I am done with this series.


I am designing these covers for the "exposure" -which you probably know doesn't pay well- and to build my portfolio. I am certainly not complaining as I knew there WOULD be lots of exposure from this project. 

What kind of exposure? Well, besides these murder mysteries, my mom has written umpteen knitting books and maintains a blog that just topped 500,000 hits. Most -like 99.99% - of these people would never visit my blog since my writing and illustrating genres are so different from my mother's. 

Well the exposure angle worked this time.  After completing the first two covers my Mom's agency was interested in adding me to a list of freelance cover-art illustrators.  Wahoo!  This was great news but it left me with a new dilemma.  How much should I charge for this service? I had no idea so I started at the low end of the agency's norm. I still haven't found the wording for a satisfaction guaranteed clause, or any of the other legalese additions yet. These are likely to change as I get feedback, legal consulting and/or work but for now these are my contract terms:

Option #1
  • $200 
  • I keep the rights to the image 
  • An additional $100 if a spine and back cover are needed
  • The front cover/spine/back cover will be formatted for an 11"x17" poster and can be scaled down to any size needed.
  • Author may use the cover art for any promotion of your book.
  • I will set up a section in my e-store where merchandise (business cards, post cards, phone covers, etc) with the covers can be purchased.
  • These products are done through a third party and my modest commission on those items is 10%.
  • I will display the covers on my website with links back to your website as well as to any e-book venue where your book can be purchased.

Option #2  
  • $500
  • You purchase all the rights and own the front cover/spine/back cover.  
  • You will get unlimited use of the art work and may make prints/posters for purchase or sell the image on merchandise.
  • I will only use the cover for self-promotion and as a piece in my portfolio
  • I will display the covers on my website with links back to your website as well as to any e-book venue where your book can be purchased.

Discount for multiple covers

  • 5% discount for 2 - 3 covers
  • 10% discount for 4-6 covers


  • All payments will be made to me via PayPal.
  • First 1/2 of contracted price due at signing. 
  • Preliminary sketches and design work will be submitted and mutually agreed upon before the final cover design is completed.
  • Author will have at least two preliminary designs to choose from.
  • All preliminary sketches and designs will have an "obnoxious watermark" and/or low resolution to deter use of images before final payment.
  • Last half of contracted price due before shipment of final cover art design.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sex and Salmonella: final e-cover design

Sex and Salmonella sketches
and early design mockups.

This concept sketch is quite a bit more refined than Funeral Food but I still wanted to add way too many elements into the frame.

The first "frame" and you can see why it was quickly rejected.  For some reason I thought the tarp and cardboard were going to work.

The custom carnival font made its first appearance, though.  The carnival font spurred a thought to make the "frame" look like a vintage carnival poster

The vintage carnival poster made its debut with the third version.  I knew I had a keeper with that design but I ran into a wall when it came time to add the inside elements.  

As with the Funeral Food cover, cutting the clutter was the key. I cut the initial elements by 2/3 (I won't bore you with those covers) and then I cut the number of elements again for the final version

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A big shout out!

Thanks to my visitors.  I had nearly 1000 hits last month and now I have topped 4K hits.  That is pretty incredible to as there weren't even 1K hits in my first year and my blog is only a year and a half old!

Let me know who you are by leaving a comment and tell me what feature you like best of all.  Also, I would love it if you would spread the word about my tutorials using your favorite social medium.  If you are a facebook user I would appreciate it if you "like" my author page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Curtis-Taylor-Author-and-Illustrator/136714559699220

In the meantime visit my newly updated website @ www.curtistaylor.biz

Thanks again!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I know this has been said before…

I had to make some changes to the Funeral Food cover.  I needed to streamline some design elements and the “torn paper” element behind the title and author name had to go. For now this is the final cover design of Funeral Food.
Funeral Food

Also here is a sneak peak at the new cover I am working on.  The title of the page is Sex and Salmonella.  Great name, isn’t it?  You will see the rough sketch I started with and the finished “frame”.  I am still working on the inside elements but they probably won’t be as grand as the sketch.  I will probably limit the elements like I did for Funeral Food and it will probably be a much tighter close-up shot of the elements.

Adding Relevant Content: Interviews

By no means am I the first person to consider or even blog about relevant content.  We all know that if we want people to come back and read our blog we have to continually provide fresh relevant material.  It hasn’t been so easy to do lately because I have already written about my approach to finding a publisher and I know there aren’t very many people that will want to read yet another post detailing my latest rejection.  However, finding fresh and relevant content has been easier to do with another blog (HopHeadSaid) I write because that blog isn’t as dependent on outside acceptance from others for content.  It is just plain fun. 

So, I just want to share my story about an “Ah-ha, why haven’t I thought about that before.” moment with you.  Lately I have been adding more “education” pieces to HopHeadSaid to try and attract a larger readership.  The blog started out solely as a beer review site and then I started adding glassware and food pairing suggestions to the blog.  I was rolling along and enjoying writing about these new topics and then it hit me that I could start doing interviews.  Interviews would be a good educational addition to my blog.  While I was planning for my newest addition I had another “Ah-ha”.  When I was done with this interview I could blog here about my first interview experience and talk about my successes and not so successes.  Some relevant content for both blogs, yippee!

But first let me get back to discussing the interview. 

First of all, I need to come clean.  I have never conducted an interview so this is going to sound a lot like “I’m not a doctor but I play on T.V.”.  Take my experience with a  grain of salt.  I have never conducted an interview, however, I have read a lot of interviews.  I had a vague idea about what I should do; ask some questions and let people answer them. I knew I would have to take notes during the interview and I would have to write about it when I got home. Pretty easy right?  I didn’t once think, can I do this?   

My Preparation:
I had decided to interview the coordinators of a beer festal.  I had a very small connection with the on of the event coordinators so I was able to contacted her via e-mail.  If you don’t have that connection it might be better for you to make a phone call.  I have found that the personal connection makes all the difference.  I have two more interviews lined up with local breweries because of a personal connection but I have yet to hear back for four other breweries that I have no connection with.  Coincidence?

My contact e-mail (you can find at the end of the post, the names have been removed to protect the innocent) was fairly straightforward. I wanted to let the person know who I am and why I am contacting them right away.  I also wanted to let them what kind of exposure the interview would get.  Notice, I didn’t mention anywhere that this could be my first interview.  I didn’t think that would help me any, so I just acted like this is an everyday request for me.  If the contact person is still reading by the second paragraph that is where I started explaining the specifics of the interview.  I finish up the request with a compliment and a link to a review of one of the breweries beers that I have done. The request for this particular interview was met with great enthusiasm and scheduled for the very next week. I am a serious beer geek; I have been homebrewing for fifteen years, I am always searching for new beers, I read beer industry news and listen to beer industry podcasts. So the week I had to prepare for this interview was more than enough time. 

I organized a list of “data” questions; which vendors will be attending, how many people will attend and event history questions. Then I organized a list of “human interest questions” to put a personality on the interviewees.  Then I organized a list of “opinion questions” so the coordinators could talk about their favorite parts of the event.  I wanted to make sure I would have enough information to write an average sized post/article and I figured the interview would last roughly an hour.  I thought this would give a nice balance of close-ended and open-ended questions.

The Interview:

The day before the interview, I started to get quite anxious.  I was starting to feel like I had just bluffed my way into an interview.  I was starting to ask myself “Can I do this?” I started worrying if the interview going to be worth their (the event coordinators) time or if I would even be able to pull it off.  I talked to my wife about these concerns and she simply reminded that I am doing an interview about something that I am passionate about and that I would be talking to other beer-geeks.  She then asked me if I had ever had a conversation about beer that didn’t last at least a half an hour.  Just the right words!  She helped me remember that after all, I am just talking to people about beer.

I brought along my laptop and record the interview with USB microphone.  I use a free audio program that is called Audacity and a Snowball microphone by Blue Microphones.  The program and the microphone are super easy to use and they provide great audio. I had used this laptop/microphone setup on many occasions (for other purposes) and I was comfortable with that format and confident that the interview would be recorded.  I probably don’t have to say this but make sure you test your equipment beforehand and make sure you are comfortable using it.  Using these tools/toys allowed me to concentrate on the conversation and limit my note taking to extra questions that would pop up along the way. 

The interview went well, although I do not like the sound of my voice and I asked almost all of my questions.  I’ll talk about what I forgot in a little bit. The interview lasted nearly 45 minutes. 

Writing the interview:
One of my least favorite reading experiences is reading a Q&A interview:

Q: How are you doing?
A: Fine.

That was a lot of fun to read, wasn’t it?  I wasn’t quite sure how to write the interview but I knew I didn’t want it to read like that so I started transposing the audio and my notes in an outline form.  This wasn’t a conscious decision but one that paid off in the end.  Each question had its own heading and I wrote down the relevant info from the interview in short one or two word answers.  This really forced me to write the article like a review piece rather than a Q&A session.  When I was finished writing the outline for the interview I noticed that I had neglected to come back to a couple really important questions during the interview.  Be careful because it is easy to go off on tangents if you approach the interview as a conversation.  In the future I will use a check off system to make sure I don’t forget questions again.  I e-mailed the coordinators the next day and explained my negligence and politely asked them to answer the two questions I forgot.  They were more than happy to do so and while I could have written the article with out those questions it certainly helped it become a better article.

I hope this story helps anyone. This is a great way to add content to your blog and I intend to make them a regular addition to my blogs.

You can read the interview at
http://hopheadsaid.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/salute-beer-and-food-pairing-festival/ .  The really nice thing about conducting interviews for your blog will be that you can organize your interview however you want.  I was able to include some trademark HopHead design aspects which helped convey some of the drier facts about the festival in an easy to read info graphic kind of way.

Interview Contact E-mail

Dear *******,

I am starting a new interview series on my blog to address the local 805 beer scene in detail and I would love to do an interview with you for HopHeadSaid.  HopHeadSaid is a beer review, education and nonsense blog that is “syndicated” on VenturaNightOut.com and ThousandOaksNightOut.com.  I will also be appearing on the Live 805 radio show on 1520 KVTA in June.  The hosts and I are hoping to make this a regular segment that will cover the local beer scene, as well.

The interview could cover the whole spectrum of operations, from recipe formulation to the final product.  I would also like to cover the brewmaster’s professional history as well as the brewmaster’s plans for future beers.  The interview would then be split into two separate blog posts.  One post would cover the basics of the brewing operation for the casual reader and the second post would be for the beer geeks who want in-depth knowledge of the brewery. 

I can do a sit down interview but I would really enjoy a working interview. I have been homebrewing for 15 years and I would love to get into those rubber boots and help out as I conduct the interview.  There is nothing like drawing from first hand experience as a reference for writing! I am a freelance writer and illustrator so I should be able to schedule an interview that will be convenient for you.  Thanks for taking the time to consider this and I look forward to your response.

BTW, I am also big fan of your ******.  You can read a review of ******* and others here


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cover Design: Funeral Food

I won’t make you sit through the whole presentation to see the “final” cover design for Funeral Food. So without any further ado… (scroll down a bit)


In (1990) my mother (Kathleen Taylor) started writing what would be the first of six murder mystery novels then titled The Missionary Position and then later Funeral Food.  The mysteries are set around an overweight waitress named Tory Bauer in a fictional South Dakota town called Delphi. The books were originally published by Avon and had a good run. Many years have gone by now and the books are all out of print and the rights have since reverted back to my mother.

After some success of my own, publishing my books on the Kindle and Nook formats; I started nagging my mother to do the same with her books. After all, they were just sitting there and she wasn’t profiting from any of the used book sales that she was tracking on Amazon and e-Bay. It wasn’t until a friend offered to convert her books (as a university class project) that she finally decided to go forward.

Soon after she made the decision she asked me to design the covers for each book. Of course I agreed, it would have been silly not to. I took a week or so to think about a design theme that could be used for each of the covers. The design had to be flexible enough to allow for the individual story to shine through but also cohesive enough that when you saw the cover you would know it was a Tory Bauer Mystery.

I settled on these constants:

1. There would be some kind of frame that would draw your attention towards the middle of the cover. The frame will have something to do with the story line.

2. The elements in the middle would set the tone for and possibly give a clue about the story. The words “A Tory Bauer Mystery” would be found inside the frame, also.

3. The title would be at the top and the author’s name would be at the bottom.

4. The elements on the outside would be photographic but formatted to look like they were cutouts floating above the frame.

The beginning sketch for this cover design wasn’t strong at all.  I thought the frame might be a church or a cross cutout but quickly discarded those ideas.  Then I thought I would use photographs of my hometown as elements inside the frame.  Those elements were just too busy. 

At this point I was starting to worry if I had agreed to something I couldn’t do.  I tried umpteen different versions and didn’t like any of them.  I knew things weren’t going well when my wife exclaimed “Oh! That is really different”.  I paraphrased there a little but I got the hint.

Then I had a breakthrough.  I was hoping that if I put this away for a day or two the answer would come to me and it did.  Square the frame, design a font based on popular diner fonts and limit (I mean really limit) the number images inside the frame.  And this was the first “final” version.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cover Designs

By the end of the year the e-book conversions of the Tory Bauer mystery series will be complete. For those of you who don't know there are six installments in this series set around an aging, overweight cafe waitress working in the fictional town of Delphi, South Dakota. Oh, and the author of this series is my Mom, Kathleen Taylor.

I had been nagging her for quite some time to convert this out of print series to any e-book format to no avail. Then a opportunity came-a-knocking. A professor friend who teaches e-book technology offered to convert her books as a class project. The students would get some real world experience and my Mom would get her books converted for free. Unfortunately, the books were written in the time of 5 ¼ floppy disks and the manuscripts were printed and mailed to the publisher so there weren't any edited electronic files that could be easily uploaded.  This meant that six copies of the book would have to be disassembled and scanned. The conversion of the first three books are almost complete and the last three will be completed next semester.

So this is where I come in. My Mom asked me to design the new “covers” for the e-versions of her books. I said yes immediately not knowing exactly what I would do at the time but I knew I would have time to figure that out. After a few weeks of percolating I started to develop a theme or style that would be used across the board for all six covers. I have scanned two of my rough (very rough) sketches to use as examples while I explain the uniform elements of each cover.

1. Each cover will have some kind of frame layer on top and that frame will be unique to the story. Neither of the sketches have a frame yet.

2. Each element will be photographic and “cut-out” with a drop shadow to add a layered effect.

3. Kathleen Taylor will be found at the top and behind all the layers.

4. The main elements will layer on top of the author’s name.

5. The title will be either a part of the frame layer or added as a separate element behind the frame layer. The title element will always be unique to the story and near the bottom of the cover. It will also be the most prominent element on the cover.

Stay tuned for full color mockups

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't Take My Word For It

I know it has been a while (just over a month) since I have posted anything and almost two months since I have posted anything new or even the slightest bit entertaining or educational. Please excuse the absence, I will try harder to add pertinent information more often.  It has just been so easy to click “retweet” or “like” lately.

However, the lack of posting here doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing any writing or illustrating. I have been spending a most of my time writing blog posts for my beer review, education and nonsense blog at www.hopheadsaid.com.  I have also been writing and illustrating a geeky beer info book (plan to make that a series) that will be released soon and available on Kindle and Nook. 

I have also been searching for paying writing jobs.  There are few worthwhile opportunities out there and I am making a list of my successes and not so successful endeavors for you.  I will talk about those in greater detail in the coming month.

I have also been doing some art here and there when the bug bites.  Right now I am in the rough (very rough) draft stages of six book covers I will be designing and illustrating, for lack of a better term.  These covers will be used as the e-book covers for the soon to be re-released e-versions of the Tori Bauer murder mysteries written by my mother.  I will be posting the rough draft sketches soon and more progress picture updates when they are necessary.

Even though there hasn’t been much posted here for March or April I have reached an important milestone in my writing career over those two months.  Drumroll please? I sold enough books to earn a commission.  True, it was small but it was big enough to buy a few pints!  More importantly, though, that commission check made me a professional writer.  Some may disagree as to the degree of professionalism, but I will now be labeling myself a writer, after stay-at-home dad and before homebrewer! 

So that gets me to the point of the post.  I have had some good numbers in Amazon for an unknown author and an unknown book and I have been sitting steady at #11 Top Rated in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Children's Fiction > Literature > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Dragons.

My book  Pet My Dragon? is sitting right behind “Dragonbreath: Curse of the Were-wiener” and I would like you to help Pet My Dragon? take that spot.  While I would really like to take that #10 spot what I am really interested in is creating a buzz around that book that I can use to help find a publisher for this story.  Please help me by tweeting or posting a link to my book on your favorite social media outlet and help me get this grassroots campaign started.  Below are some reviews that have been posted on Amazon.com.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Book, March 16, 2011

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded this e-book to the Kindle app on my Blackberry Bold. Looks great and is easy to read. My 4 year old son really liked the illustrations, especially the one from the cover showing the dragon breathing fire. He didn't Very much want to pet the dragon either, but iT sparked a great discussion about seeking first to understand peopLe before making judgements. I recommend this for all parents of preschoolers.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Scribbles Never Looked So Good, February 27, 2011
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
This is a very cute story geared towards small children, but also fun for adults who will most likely be asked to read it night after night at bedtime.
The words and rhymes are very enjoyable, and adults can have fun reading each character's dialogue in a different voice.
What I like about it is the pictures, which are created to look like a child has drawn them. Crooked lines, out of proportion eyeballs, and colouring out of the lines are features that make this book very fun to look at, and the added touch to make the elements look like paper cutouts is a really great idea. The bright and simplistic nature of the pages will be sure to keep the kids entertained and allow their imagination to run wild while listening to the narrative. It's also a great book for kids just learning to read on their own. Definitely worthy of a spot on your ebook library shelf.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great llustrations, January 18, 2011
Dave Sparks (Sioux City, IA USA) - See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
Great job, Curtis, and a great message. My favorite part: the very creative illustration technique. I have never seen anything like it. Least favorite part: Not crazy about the text font. Kindle on the iPad (or other large format) is the way to view this. The color is great! I look forward to reading this one to my 4-year-old granddaughter. For the record, Jenny, I had no problem viewing one page at a time on the iPad by just rotating into the vertical position.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Really Hip for the Toddler Set, January 18, 2011

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
Downloaded this for my new Kindle 3G with Wi-Fi and it is a really unique book. I have a new grandchild in July and wanted to have some cute books on my Kindle ready-to-go. Super easy to download and worked immediately!

I was recommended to this author and I have to say the rhymes are very hip and cool and the art is eclectic enough for repetitive reading by adults as well as eye-catching for the younger viewers. I will be watching for a sequel...

5.0 out of 5 stars
Super!!!, January 13, 2011
matthew taylor "redwing24" (south dakota United States) - See all my reviews
 Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded it on my Droid X and looks great, very easy to download and the kids loved it as so did I. Keep on plugging and waiting to see more in the future!!! Great Job!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Pet My Dragon?, January 11, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
Very easy to download. I viewed it on my MacBook Pro, on my iPhone, and on our iPad. Easy to sync between the three units. IPad showed double pages at a time. I was unable to change that to individual pages but that format IS more like a book. IPhone was small, and not as smooth for moving to next page, but my iPhone is a 3G and nearly 3 years old. It was running on wireless network in the house. I used my MacBook Pro to share it with my kindergarten class at school. They loved it, immediately noticing the "speech bubbles" which we were just learning in reading. The colors were very bright and vibrant. They were excited about the rhyming words which I also enjoyed as they were far more interesting than just 'cat/hat'. Viewing the pictures more closely we noted that the characters were often hidden in the picture on the page prior to the character's introduction. Great social message that we discussed as a class. I am planning to download Kindle for PC at school and try it there. Very well done!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful Rhyming Story Book, January 5, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pet My Dragon? (Kindle Edition)
The bright colors and wonderful illustrations just add to this lovely rhyming story. This book is perfect for reading out loud to little ones. Kids will love the story, and the message of looking past exteriors is one we can all use. I look forward to this writer's next book!