Category Archives: Art

New Covers!


With the release of my fourth Dog Park Mystery, It has been past time to ramp up my game. I hired the inimitable and incomparable Elizabeth Mackey to take my portrait of Julia to the next level and redo my covers to create a series brand for me.


I’m a painter. I’m not a designer. I am especially not a book cover designer, a discipline which involves much more than arranging text and images.

I love how she’s taken my paintings and added a fun, sassy edge.

She has also updated my audiobook covers:



And then there’s the new logo for my imprint, Two Pup Press:


How many ways are there to say, “I LOVE it!”?

T-Shirt Sale!!! Ends February 10

Jerome1Between now and February 10, you can order a T-shirt featuring your choice of any of my eBook or audiobook covers. Check out my Lia Anderson Dog Park Mysteries to see your options.

Shirts are $20, shipping included. If you choose to order more than one sent to the same address, the price is reduced :

  • 1 shirt   – $20
  • 2 Shirts – $38
  • 3 Shirts – $55
  • 4 Shirts – $71
  • 5 Shirts – $86
  • 6 Shirts  – $100

This is going to be a low-tech operation:

  • Send your order to carolannnewsome AT netzero DOT net
  • Specify image choice(s)  Note: audiobook images are 12″ x 12″; eBook images are 8″ x 12″
  • Specify size(s), Men’s Small – XXLarge.
  • Include your shipping address.
  • Submit payment via Paypal to carolannnewsome AT netzero DOT net

Your order will be final when payment is verified. Shirts will be shipped via USPS Priority by February 21. This sale is an experiment made possible my printer’s semi-annual discount.

Tempering Those Great Expectations

I was talking to Jessica today about everything I’ve been doing for the past week, preparing to launch Maximum Security – as I spoke, this familiar tide of excitement rose up in me along with visions resulting from the thought, “I could get a gazillion guests at my launch party, and . . . .”

And I squashed it. Like a cockroach.

Why? I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve only been writing for 3 years, but I’ve been painting for 40, and put on countless art exhibitions. I’ve learned one thing: God rains down sudden abundance on people like Colleen Hoover mostly to test the faith and commitment of everyone else (Okay, maybe Colleen being really talented and nice and totally awesome and deserving had a little, teeny bit to do with it).

My progress comes in inches and any big leap is followed by a setback. I feel like I’m doing the Cha-Cha-Cha. This is typical. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, talks about the many obstacles he had to overcome to get the book published (144 rejections? A gross of rejections? Sheesh!) and then get it noticed.

The excitement I was talking about is that lottery ticket moment, when they call out the numbers and the first one matches your ticket. Then number two matches. All of a sudden, all things become possible and you feel like you might burst.

Then the third number doesn’t match.

When I buy lottery tickets, I put them in my wallet and forget about them until the next week. When it’s time to buy a new ticket, I pull out the old one and let the machine scan it. That way the anticipation is minimized and the let down is miniscule.

I try to approach launches the same way. Do the best I can to promote the book and don’t think about the results. Today it snuck up on me. Why did I squash it? It’s fun to think about having a runaway best seller and having the Big Six duking it out over you, and movie rights, and, and . . . .

Save your fantasies for your books. Fantasizing about personal success is like a drug. It sets you up for a crash when things don’t play out the way you imagined, and it keeps you from appreciating the results you do get. And like any drug, you always want more.

I read something many years ago that always stuck with me. You know how Van Halen (remember them?) got their record contract? One day this record producer (I think it was a record producer. It was someone important, anyway) wandered into an almost empty bar. There was this band playing their hearts out like they were in front of 1,000 people instead of 3. He knew right then and there that they were the real deal and he had to have them.

Imagine if the band had been focused on how they wanted a big crowd? Then nobody shows up and they get bummed, and their playing shows it, and the VIP isn’t impressed and heads out the door, leaving a half-full beer on the bar. Instead, they had an attitude that was something like, “Hey, this is so cool because we’re musicians and we’ve got a stage and we get to play music,and we love playing music.”

What if someone told them someone who could make their careers was in the audience? Ever blow something because you were putting too much importance on it? Ever focus so hard on winning big that you couldn’t enjoy what you were doing or the success you did have?

Remember Sarah Hughes? She won the Olympic Gold Medal in women’s figure skating the first time she competed. I’ll never forget her. Her performance was amazing. Why? Because she entered that competition in fourth place and thought she didn’t have a skating rink’s chance in you-know-where to win against her idols. She later said she decided to just appreciate skating in the Olympic finals and enjoy herself. I don’t think she was more talented than the other skaters. The three world-class veterans ahead of her were too grimly focused on winning. It showed in their tense and mistake-riddled performances. Sarah focused on skating and radiated pure joy during a perfect performance.

Pretending success isn’t important isn’t a tactic to get the money men knocking on your door. If Van Halen didn’t get the contract, if Sarah Hughes hadn’t won a medal, they would have still enjoyed that moment for all it was worth. It doesn’t hurt that being relaxed and in the moment is likely to result in better performance, and a better performance is more likely to attract attention.

Enjoy what you’re doing. Do the work, but focus on the process and leave the results to come as they will.

New Dog Portrait Contest

Shadda is sad because she can't enter the portrait contest
Shadda is sad because she can’t enter the portrait contest

I’m still getting the occasional hit on my Cover Dog Photo Contest posts from last summer. Thought I would let you know, I’m running another portrait contest. This one is a raffle to celebrate the launch of Maximum Security later this month.

It’s part of my online launch party on Facebook, Wednesday, November 20, from 7pm – 11 pm, EST. Participate in party activities to rack up entries. There will be lots of other prizes as well, but the grand prize is an oil painting of your dog from photos that you supply to me. No purchase is necessary to earn entries.

Go to the Maximum Security Launch Party Page to RSVP, and while you’re there, get your first entry by suggesting a caption for the photo of Buddy, a little troublemaker caught in the act of eating Grandma’s Christmas present.

If you’d like to study up for the trivia questions, half of these are from this sample of Maximum Security.   The rest come from A Shot in the Bark and Drool Baby. Other activities do not require any special knowledge to participate.

Please feel free to invite anyone who likes dogs and mysteries – but then, who doesn’t?

The 3 Faces of Creativity: Are You a Dilettante, Artist or Craftsman?


Have you ever defended your lack of sales by saying, “I’m an Artist“? You may be right.

Yesterday morning, a deluge trapped me in the picnic shelter at the dog park with one of the other hard-core regulars. In talking about the house he was looking for, “Dave” said his fiance “Sue” had lusted after an inner-city building with one floor converted into a gallery.

I didn’t know Sue was an artist. Dave explained that she had always been too critical of her work and wound up giving it away, trashing it or painting over it. Then she went to NYC a few years ago and was disgusted with the art in the Museums. “She said, ‘my stuff was way better than this,’ and she was right.”

I began reflecting on my own creative journey with various mediums, and how attitude affects our chances for real world success. I decided there were three types of creative people. Dilettantes, Artists, and Craftsmen (or Crafts-women, or Crafts-people, or just plain Crafters).

I like to sing. I used to hold concerts in my car during long solo drives. On two memorable occasions, I sang back-up with friends. I used to indulge in fantasies about being onstage, singing in front of thousands of screaming fans. In my head, I auditioned for Simon Cowell and blew him away (yeah, right). Today I make up funny songs to sing to my dogs. They have multiple verses and everything. I imagine it would be fun to make a record of doggie songs one day. Meanwhile, I only sing them for my four-footers.

Notice how I’ve never had lessons, never submitted my singing to scrutiny, never worked at it, and my main value in singing is fun. I don’t do it on a regular basis. I’m easily distracted from it and have no true commitment to it. I fantasize that I’m fabulous without doing anything to get that way.

When it comes to singing, I’m a dilettante. And that’s okay as long as you know that’s what you are. The problem comes in when someone deludes themselves into thinking they will actually accomplish something of value someday. It has nothing to do with talent, of which the dilettante may have much or little.

The dilettante may actually be talented in so many things that they can’t make up their mind what they want to do. They may be serial monogamists, taking on one passion after another and dropping them when it gets tough or boring, or they may be polygamists, doing so many things at once that they never get beyond amateur status with any of it.

Being a Dilettante has everything to do with attitude, which with the Dilettante is an unwillingness to commit to one thing; to work at their medium, evaluate it with a critical eye and stick with it despite obstacles.


I’ve been an artist all my life. I knew I was going to be a painter when I was in grade school. I totally identified with being a painter. I sold my first painting at the age of fifteen and had my first art show when I was nineteen. I went to college to study art. While I was in grad school, I told one of the other TA’s, “If I only had enough money to either eat or buy art supplies, I would by the supplies because someone will always feed me, but they won’t necessarily buy me bronze.” (I was casting statuettes at the time). I was in the studio every day and wrapped my entire life around art.

The Artist has a voice that must express itself. Sometimes it feels like channeling, with unexpected results. Always, the work justifies itself and must manifest as it must be, according to the inner urging of the artist. They rail against limitations imposed on their creativity by outside sources, such as size requirements for submission to shows, or the necessity to work according to someone else’s deadline.

The Artist is usually compelled to share their work somewhere, somehow, and is willing to accept criticism. Despite the validity of the criticism, their inner voice is their god, and their work is more precious than life.

Nothing pissed me off more than someone else picking up a paintbrush and doing something to one of my pieces. I take that back. there is one thing. While I may occasionally destroy something as not good enough, you’d better not. It’s the one way guaranteed to end our relationship. Just ask my ex-husband.

The Artist constantly strives to transcend their limitations and conversely, may stop producing in a popular body of work because they “have nothing more to say” about that particular subject. The object serves as a vehicle for a higher purpose. They often define themselves as a “process person.” They literally get high off their work and if they go too long without being creative, they become depressed.

The Artist desires recognition and often deserves it, but usually rebels against the necessity of marketing and of compromising their work to suit the market place. They find it impossible to put a price tag on it. Artists are often offended that someone would buy a painting to have “something pretty that matches the sofa.” Discussing your decorating scheme with an Artist is likely to result in fisticuffs.

A Craftsman loves what they do, but they are able to balance their work with external realities and the market place. The things they create have a purpose, whether is it to hold their coffee, look pretty on someone’s neck or entertain. Their mantra is “form follows function” and they use external limitations, such as the size of a room or its color scheme (or genre norms such as page length and themes) as springboards for their creativity. Their pleasure comes from creating a fine thing that goes out into the world and serves its purpose.

While an Artist serves their work, the Craftsman’s work serves him/her. They understand that people only buy what they want, and if you want to sell to them, you need to provide what they’re willing to buy. They expect to profit from their work and budget their investment into each project accordingly. They know when their work is “good enough” and are willing to let it go out into the world without being absolutely perfect.

They have a professional attitude about selling the output of their creative impulses and dealing with the marketplace does not make them feel dirty. They understand the concept of branding and providing a consistent product. Business people find them easy to deal with and will choose to partner with them over more talented individuals for that reason.

Craftsmen also have the healthiest response to criticism. Their assessment of their abilities is realistic and they do not identify with their work the way the Artist does. Like anyone else, they may get nervous when they put their creative efforts out before the public, but it’s not their guts hanging on display.

Most of the successful artists in the high art world have at least some Craftsman in them. It’s a dirty little secret, but the people who sell art rarely have the patience to deal with a total Artist, such as DeKooning or Van Gogh (or more recently, Basquiat). It’s their gallery and they like being the temperamental ones. The danger with the Craftsman type is that of capitalizing on one’s popularity to the point of turning out cookie-cutter creations to satisfy the market.

When it comes to my writing, I’m a craftsman. I enjoy it, but I don’t feel driven by it they way I have been driven by painting. It’s a job to me. The very best of jobs, but still a job.

Each of these types has their place and their value. The Dilettante is playful and willing to try new things. They learn from each of their creative flirtations and may be able to apply what they learn when they settle on a direction, giving them a very rich perspective. The Artist is passionately committed and unwilling to settle for mediocrity. The Craftsman is a realist and is able to manage their creative life so it supports him/her, rather than the other way around.

These three aspects of creativity function best when they are combined in one person. If you’re feeling a bit lopsided, try on a different style for a while.