Wednesday, July 1, 2015


 It's so exciting to finally put out this project that has been my baby for the past two years. I hope people will enjoy it and share it and it will live a fuller life as free online content than it could have as a 5$ bookapp.
When it was a bookapp I called it "One Tiny Pea" to make it easy to find on the appstore. Now that my platform is YouTube, there is no reason not to return to the original and well known title of the story- "The Princess and the Pea". 

Finishing a project after such a long time is confusing. The future seems to hold both endless possibilities and none at the same time. I'm trying to organize my thoughts and figure out my next steps. Whatever they may be, they will have to do with positive creativity and storytelling, the two things I am most passionate about.
Taking a bit of a break from the publisher now, to work on a couple of books. See ya soon <3

Friday, April 10, 2015

A desk, a journal and a waste of time

Three very important visitors came last month. The first was my brother Guy, who lives in Berlin. My wonderful brother brought me a mechanic desk base from Ikea, which is not available in our local branches. It comes with two buttons that command the desk to go up or down so I can sit or stand as I work which is very good for my back.
The second visitor was my aunt Joan-Marie from Oakland, California. Joan-Marie came for my father's 70th birthday and brought him a special gift: a journal their father kept when he was working as a technician on board the Atlantis. The Atlantis was a big research ship that belonged to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. My grandfather, Alfred H. Woodcock, went on many trips on the Atlantis as a technician and later as a scientist. He became an oceanographer by following his interest in what went on in the world around him and conducting his own research on different phenomena, having no prior scientific training. His early accounts of his observations, before his writing became fit for scientific publications, are an amazing combination of details and poetry. Listening to my father read out his father's words from 78 years ago, I was filled with inspiration by this man who was so in-tune with himself that he could do the work he was interested in regardless of what his actual job was. My father is currently typing up the journal and I've attached a piece of it at the end of this post.*

An illustration I made of grandpa Alfred

The third visitor who came last month was my friend Ilan who lives in Vienna. Ilan and I share a love of graphic novels and he brought me a copy of "The Sculptor" by Scott McCloud. Never has a gift been given with less enthusiasm. Though Ilan admitted McCloud was as professional as ever in his delivery of a story through comics in this novel, he announced that the book isn't drawn very well and is badly written. After reading it myself I had to agree. The book was like a good storyboard for a movie about a sculptor who sells his soul for the ability to handle any material in the world like play-dough, and then creates boring art. If the author had seemed to be aware of his hero's lack of artistic talent that might have been an interesting story, but no such awareness was evident. Did McCloud publish the book because he truly thought it was ready, or because he had spent so much time, energy and resources on it and was not interested in spending any more? Maybe if he hadn't published, it would mean everything he put into it was a waste, and that's why he did it?
Meanwhile I was having more and more trouble in my own creative process and became less inclined to judge others. When I wrote my previous post I was very excited about the software I'd purchased- the Kwik Photoshop plugin. Last month I spent a lot of time learning to use it and re-building my book with it, after having built it previously on the (now out of business) Touchoo Creator online platform. I finally realized that since my book was originally created with a very different set of tools, it is very hard to re-build it with Kwik. I also realized Kwik was more suitable for people with more understanding of programming and app developing than I have. I was in despair. My new sit-stand desk seemed ridiculous. Who did I think I was? I became jealous of my grandfather who studied the connection between bird flight and ocean currents, while I was stuck with trying to figure out the connection between what I had done in Kwik and the weird results presented in the simulator. Suddenly it seemed that McCloud's book was teasing me from the shelf. It may not be a masterpiece, but it's out in the world. Its author is a world renowned comics artist, while I seem to be going backward instead of forward. I could hire a programmer but that would cost a lot. This book was not only a bookapp, it was supposed to be OWL Publisher's first of many bookapps, and it couldn't be that if I had to pay a programmer out of a non-existent budget.
There was one idea that sprouted in my mind and started growing on me. I could publish a video instead of a bookapp. That is something I know how to make all on my own! Unlike many bookapps mine is nothing like a game. It could work as a video. And why not? As an unknown creator I would have to do amazing marketing work to get a lot of people to buy a bookapp. Why not start by creating a name for OWL Publisher by putting some great free content out there and then maybe I can make a buck or two on future projects? It requires starting all over again and creating new animations to bring the kind of life to the story that is expected of a video, but I know I can do it, and as soon as it is done, that's it. No de-bugging, no adjusting to different devices, no Apple developer license. I decided to go for it.
I'm now on page 5, or should I say- the flying scene, and it is going pretty well! I feel like I'm going back to when I quit my animation major in the academy because working with Flash was driving me crazy. Now I'm doing things my way. It may seem like a lot of time has been wasted, but when OWL Publisher's first publication is out there it will be worth everything.

Still from the flying scene

* Excerpt from Alfred H. Woodcock's journal, April 2, 1938:
"A squall, during the evening change of watches, put us down sharply – changing our even forward march to a pitching, spray filled rout. All hands were called – their oil-skins glistening in the startling flashes from the high-rounded blackness in the west. Then, as the ship came into the wind, the dark taut silence of the sails broke magically into a great roar as the canvas lashed with the wild energy of ten thousand black-snake whips furiously wielded. Shouting, straining, whining winch reeling bodies stinging spray; black ropes on a shining deck – shrieking ropes in the incredibly mad air; and finally, fighting to the last stitch, a subdued canvas tight-lashed to the booms."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Worthless piece of amazing genius

The first month of OWL Publisher has ended and it has been an emotional roller-coaster. 
Still is. Some people may be naturally good at self management. I am not one of them. If I could find a job as a full time crafty illustrator for bookapps I would take it, but I don't believe such a description has ever appeared in want ads for jobs in Tel Aviv. One of my favorite memes reads "Your dream job does not exist, you must create it." Well, if I must... :)
 An interesting thing about being by yourself all day, is that whatever happens is the only thing that is happening. No human interaction, no other points of view, nothing else going on around you, no one knows what you are doing unless you post it. If something bad happens, there's no one around to help or support you. If it's good, there's no one around to smile at you or be impressed. Lucky for me, I am an introverted person by nature and have a pretty good internal support system. However, in this situation of complete isolation my system has become somewhat overwhelmed so that whenever something goes a little wrong I feel like a worthless piece of garbage, and every small success makes me feel like a super talented amazing genius. 
This was exciting for about a week but it became exhausting and time consuming, so I slowly developed a habit of shaking off the melodrama, be it a high or low, and moving on. Pretty soon I started getting moody and depressed. Ignoring my own inner voices made me feel much more alone than my physical solitude did. 
At the same time, I was trying to get some sketching done every evening for exercise. Bit by bit I started to notice my sketch ideas were being influenced by my emotional turmoil. I started using my sketching to bring out whatever I was repressing during the day and letting it breath and exist. One evening I drew a map that shows the way from the "city of boring work" to the "village of independent artists" and has all the dangerous places I'm afraid to get stuck in on the way. Now, this might look like a bit of a depressing map, but every journey has its challenges, and mapping out mine makes me feel much less intimidated by them. 

So, my map of dangers is really a tool for whenever I feel bad or off track. I try to determine where exactly on the map I'm stuck and how I got there. It may sound silly but it really helps! When I can't figure out what's bothering me, I start sketching to find out where I am. I clear a mental space for this task and draw whatever comes to my mind until it makes sense. When I'm finished I always feel like I just had a really good talk with a friend and learned new things about myself. The power of art is an amazing thing. So I think what I've mastered this month of February 2015 is how to be an independent creator working from home without losing my mind. Let me know if my map is helpful to anyone else!

Other things that are happening: I'm still learning to use the Kwik photoshop plugin to create my book and making more progress every day, I made the cover page, made a logo for OWL Publisher, found a great marketing consultant, and made some beautiful mugs in a collaboration with my amazing mother for the OWL Publisher gift shop that I am slowly creating stuff for :))
Goal for the end of March is to finally finish my first bookapp, and then the goal for April will be testing, fixing, getting an Apple developer licence and earning the name "OWL Publisher" by publishing! Stay tuned :) 

Monday, December 22, 2014


A year and 3 months ago Oran showed me an ad posted by a high-school friend of his who was finishing her studies at the Adler institute to become a life-coach. She was offering her first clients a discount deal for 12 meetings. At the time, I had written the entire text for "One Tiny Pea", recorded my dad's narration and illustrated the first page. Then I got stuck. For several weeks I couldn't get myself to even try and do more for my book. I realised it was terribly hard for me to get anything done outside of some sort of framework. I had some freelance projects with real clients to work on and in between it was much more appealing to sleep late, watch TV, chat online and so on. every few days I would get depressed about all the time I'd wasted and felt less and less capable of managing independent work.
So, when I saw Ortal's coaching add, all my past cynicism on the very idea of life-coaching made way for the hope that I may have found something to help me break this loop of disappointing myself. This was a step in a new direction.
Ortal and I met for the first time one warm august evening on a picnic bench in the park. She brought a little lantern for light and some brownies and began by making it clear that coaching is not about me handing her my metaphorical reins to steer me in the right direction. It was going to be me who decides how we spend our meetings and what we do to help me get where I want to go. What she could offer would be questions and insights that could help me. The first question that completely threw me off guard was: What would you like your life to look like 5 years from now?
Five years!!! I'm the kind of person who can hardly think more than a few weeks ahead! That really blew my mind. But I tried.
I knew I would like to still be living with Oran in our beautiful apartment, but my dream job would be to work for a children's bookapp publisher. It would be amazing to be part of a team consisting of a writer, an animator, a sound expert and me being in charge of the art. Together we would create bookapps that weren't a book forced into app form or an app forced into book form. They would be like having a special kind of puppet show inside your iPad waiting to perform at the touch of a fingertip. My art would never be completely computer generated because I'm more interested in what craft and technology can do for each other. Also, I think it's important that kids feel the connection between high tech and the natural world and don't experience a bookapp as something so unrelated to what they can create with a pen on paper. Besides, it's so much more lovely when an iPad screen lights up a hand-made coloured pencil illustration as opposed to computer generated images.
As I dove into the details of my ideal future I was taken over by wanting to do anything it takes to make this idea of a life come true. The next important order of business was to decide on a rational goal for the next three months. I went for a half finished "One Tiny Pea" bookapp.
For the next 3 months Ortal and I met once a week. Each time we would review the week that had past, what was accomplished, what wasn't and what can be learned. I would set a goal for next week and we would talk about the challenges I might have to face and what I would do to get past them. Sometimes Ortal would share her insights about loops in my head I tended to get stuck in and helped me in developing tools to work my way out of them. I learned a lot about myself from talking about my work process. For example, I tend to give much more weight to failure than success. Once we realised that, I started reminding myself of my achievements whenever I felt useless. I also came up with some rules to help give myself some structure. My favourite was to send Ortal a picture of the beach every morning at 8:30. That meant I had to get up at 8 and walk there. Sometimes I went down to dip my toes in the water. Perfect day starter.

Three months and many thought exercises and creative solutions later, my book was half finished.

In the meantime, my freelance work was dwindling and I thought it was time to go back to a regular pay check. I found a job as a designer for a package design studio. I felt confident that with my new found work habits I could keep my independent work going in my free time. It wasn't actually that easy. In the past year I've tried to spend at least a few hours every week on my book. I've completed all the illustrations, animations and half of the sound effects. I've made progress, but in a year of working full time I did not have enough motivation or free time to get as much done as I did in three months of focusing most of my energies on my project. Also, sitting on my butt for 9 hours every day (at work and on the bus) brought back an old back problem I thought I was rid of. This meant i could hardly spend more time working at home. For months I made no progress at all. I thought of my five-year-vision and realised I was doing nothing to make it come true. Finally, yesterday morning, I quit my job. As soon as my boss finds a replacement for me, I'm going home to finish my book. 
Last time I was working from home I had my life-coach which gave me a sense of framework. This time I've decided to try and use this blog as a Cyber-Self-Coaching-Space. I will write about my process with "One Tiny Pea" or whatever else I'm doing and share thoughts and interests. Would it be interesting for you? If you are interested in bookapps, self employment, design, illustration, storytelling, software tips.... or just weather or not I'm going to make a living out of independent bookapps, stay tuned! :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Royalties and Vegetables

Two years ago I took a course on digital books. It turned out to be quite a disappointment and I left half way through, but nevertheless, that was where my book was born. 
For one of our first meetings we were asked to pick a story and create a storyboard for it, which was to be the first step in creating a book out of that story. I was very excited about the possibility that I could create an interactive book for tablets with no experience in apps or coding, so I treated the mission of picking a story very seriously. I found this online list of characters, stories and authors for which copyrights have expired. The item "Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson" was just what I was looking for. Fairy Tales were my favourite kind of story as a kid. I could not be happier than when my mind was wrapped up in a world where everything was possible and no harm could come to me. To this day I'm constantly amazed at what magical inventions the human mind is capable of given the possibility of what if...

Hans Christian Anderson is best remembered for his fairy tales, but he was also a writer of plays, travelogues, novels and poems. His story "The princess and the pea" was published for the first time in 1835. It was part of a volume of fairy tales which also included "Thumbalina" "The little mermaid" and "The emperor's new clothes". I've always loved the image of the princess on top of that crazy pile of mattresses and thought the pea was a super clever idea. There's something about a very small thing influencing a very large thing that always captures the imagination. In fact, put any two opposites together and you've got a story: Rich man - Poor Man, City mouse - Country mouse and so on. Royalty and small vegetables are opposites in so many ways it brings a comic element to it all. It's also very interesting that the test of a true princess is her sensitivity, not her amazing riches or long blond hair or even her talent to rule. I like that.
photo by Dismas found on Wikipedia
According to Wikipedia, Andersen had heard the story as a child, and it likely has its source in folk material, but apparently he changed it quite a bit. For example, the heroin of the only known Scandinavian folk tale involving people and peas was an orphan. Of course, a princess is a much better imagination-hooking-match for a pea, just as an orphan and a crown would be.
"The princess and the pea" is a short tale, but it has a series of basic elements which became the cornerstones of my story. I re-named my version "One Tiny Pea" to make it clear that it is a new creation, not entirely faithful to the original in some details and with my own ideas and understandings of the original text.
One issue I tried to deal with in my text was the issue of "the true princess". I tried to imagine what the un-true princesses should be like and this is what I came up with:
"One princess he found was tormenting a rat,
Another believed the world is flat,
A third one was only concerned for her looks,
A fourth had a passionate hatred of books,
And on and on, the entire world round,
The right princess could not be found."

And what is the right princess like? I'm trying to bring a lot of character into the drawings, so that question will only be properly answered when they are finished. Of course, she is the opposite of all that :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Story Telling

There is nothing I love better than stories. I love them in books, movies and TV series, but most of all I love being read to. I'm quite willing to read to someone else if they will read to me in return, but I'd much rather be the listening party. I once fell in love with a guy mostly because he had the most pleasant voice and he read "Watership Down" to me on our first date. I will never be too old to enjoy stories read out loud, but today I'm just as happy if my boyfriend reads me the newspaper.

My absolute favourite person to listen to is my dad. I especially remember myself as a child rejoicing time and time again as we read "There are rocks in my socks! said the ox to the fox" and "Stand back! said the elephant, I'm going to sneeze!". The way the rhyming sounded like music rolling off his tongue and how we would laugh together at the funny parts and I could see he enjoyed the books just as much as me. Years later, when the Harry Potter books started coming out, there were a few times when my dad read the books to us in the living room. My mom, my younger brother and I spread ourselves out on the sofas and listened. Best kind of family fun I know.
When I decided to create my book app, I asked my dad to be my narrator and he gladly excepted the job. My brother is a musician so he had recording gear. We recorded three takes for each "scene" and as I listened to them all carefully and picked the best ones I tried to imagine the children who were about to enjoy my father's wonderful gift of story telling.

I'm so glad that recording him was one of the first things I did for my book. As soon as I had the entire narration there was no way I wouldn't complete everything else to get my book out there. It was given a soul, and now it's up to me to finish the body and give it life. I'm doing my best to do justice to the wonderful books I was raised on and create something that parents may enjoy together with their children.