or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Month: September 2010

So many contests, so little time!

There are a couple different contests going on right now, and with so much excitement, things can get a little confusing. Let me clear things up.

Contest #1: Olive Stickers to support Casting 4 a Cure

This isn’t so much a contest, rather than a friendly competition to raise a little money for a great cause. I’m selling Olive the Woolly Bugger stickers for $3.00 each: of that, $1.50 goes directing to Casting 4 a Cure to fund research and support for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. The other $1.50 covers the cost of printing and postage. The person who places the largest order of stickers as of October 4th 2010 will win a pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses (A $100 value). All you have to do to enter into the competition is click on over to Myflies.com and purchase a sticker. BTW, a sticker will look great on your drift boat, fishing rig, or tricycle.

October is National Rett Syndrome Awareness Month, so what a perfect time to buy an Olive sticker and contribute to such a worthy cause. Stickers will continue to be sold foe the good cause after the contest concludes.

Contest #2: Book Giveaway – 2 Free sets of Olives

I’ve created a little scavenger hunt of sorts for anyone to enter.  There is no cost, other than a few minutes of your time.  If you answer the questions correctly your name will be thrown into my lucky fishing hat. Two names will be drawn, and those lucky folks will each receive a set of three Olive fly fishing books for kids.  Contest ends September 30, 2010 so hurry! Contest rules can be found HERE.

Book Giveaway – Free Olives!

Word of mouth is perhaps the best form of advertising I can think of.  I’m confident that once people read the books, even if they don’t know a thing about fly fishing, they’ll be hooked on Olive.  And my hope is that after reading and enjoying the books these same people will recommend them to their friends.

In order to make some new fans for Olive, I’m offering a free set of books for those who play along with my contest here.  It’s a scavenger hunt of sorts, so it does require a little bit of your time.

Here are the rules:

1.  Successfully find the correct answers to the questions below.

2. Leave your answers in the comments section of this blog.

3. Contest ends September 30, 2010

4. I will draw the names of 2 winners. Each winner will be sent a set of autographed books.

5.  You must tell your friends about Olive the Woolly Bugger!

Here are the questions:

1.  Go to the Olive website.  Name the titles for all three books.

2. Go to the Examiner review for the Olive books.  In this review the name of Olive’s new friend in the third book is revealed. What is the name of her new friend?

3. Go to this page of the Olive website. List the most popular 3 colors of the woolly bugger.

4. Go to the Fishy Kid website. In the list of contributing artists, name the 10th artist featured on the list.

5. Go to this page of the Olive website.  How many fun, free pages can you download for your kids to enjoy?

6. In this blog article, according to the Outdoor Foundation, fishing is the top…____________________?

7. Go to this page of the Olive website. Proceeds from book sales go to support two groups. List those groups.

8. Go to this page of the  Olive website.  Click the KONG 6/16. In the interview it is revealed that I fish with both my son and my daughter:  True or False?

9. Go to this page for the publisher of the Olive books. All three Olive books are on the publisher’s bestseller list.  What positions do they occupy on the list?

10. In this review on Midcurrent, the reviewer’s children preferred reading Olive to watching what TV show?

Thanks for playing along, and good luck!

WINNERS – Monica and Aileen!

Thank you to all who participated

How I draw Olive the woolly bugger.

I’ve had more than a couple people ask me how I create the illustrations for my Olive the woolly bugger fly fishing books, so I thought I’d share the process with my vast listening audience.

Let me start by declaring that I’m Olde Skool to a certain extent.  I didn’t grow up with computers, and it wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that the personal computer came to prominence. Since I was working in the field of graphic design at the time, I had to learn how to do everything I’d learned to do by hand, on the computer.  At first I resisted, but when that proved futile I embraced the computer as a new tool.  However, there are some things that just can’t be achieved with a mouse.

All of my illustrations begin the old-fashioned way with a piece of paper and a pencil.  I’ve never found a suitable replacement for the tactile relationship between the hand and the pencil/paper. More than anything it’s a hand-eye coordination thing. I can draw pretty well with a mouse (don’t care for those Wacom tablets), but the free-form ability to create fluid shapes and gestures is only revealed (to me, anyway) with a stroke of the pencil. I create my rough sketches in this manner, and those rough sketches provide a basis for the next step.

Step #1: Pencil Sketch

Once the rough pencil sketches are done I scan the drawings and import them into my primary drawing program, Adobe Flash.  Yeah, you heard me right–Flash.

“But wait, Kirk,” you ask. “Isn’t Flash just a tool for creating web graphics?”  Why yes it is, and I’m glad you asked.

“Hold on just a second,” you interject. “For printing don’t you have to use a program that allows for CMYK colors?”  Well, yes. But you’re getting ahead of me with that line of questioning.  Please be patient–we’re getting there.

I use Flash to trace over the scanned pencil sketches.  I like the drawing tools in Flash better than any other software program I’ve ever used and it allows me the most flexibility that can only be topped by drawing completely by hand (which in and of itself has limitations).  The first step within Flash is to draw a thin black outline around all my shapes. At this time I also add some details that were not done in the pencil sketch. Full creative license to do as I please. 😉

Step #2: Outline in Adobe Flash

After I’ve drawn my outlines I then go in and add my main colors. Then I use secondary shading to add detail to the drawings.  This is all very easily done with Flash.  But now, as was noted in our discussion above,  I have a file that uses RGB colors (Red, Green & Blue). The computer screen uses a combination of these 3 colors to display images. If I were creating my illustrations only to be viewed on the computer, then my work would be done. However, for printing my books these RGB color files are not suitable.

Step#3: Colors added in Adobe Flash

My Flash files must then be converted to another software format that allows for colors that are used in commercial offset printing.  This process of printing is called the 4 color process, or CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black). The program I use to achieve the CMYK colors is known as Adobe Illustrator. Fortunately Adobe makes both Flash and Illustrator, so the two programs play nicely together.  This compatibility allows me to export my Flash file to an Illustrator format, which does have a CMYK palette needed for offset printing.  The problem is that when I open the newly-created Illustrator file, the colors which were so vibrant in Flash, are now dull and washed out.  This is a result of color palette discrepancies.

Step #4: Faded colors in Adobe Illustrator

What I have to do at this point is select new colors to replace those that are now dull and faded.  It can be a tedius task, but I have found ways to streamline the drudgery. Yes, it’s an extra step but one that cannot be avoided. It’s not a perfect world, but it works for me because it allows me to work in a manner that suits my style.

Step #5: Final colors in Adobe Illustrator

Essentially after I have converted all the colors, I am done. At least with one illustration.  Now I have to do the same for every other illustration in the books.  As you can imagine, it’s not a task to be done overnight. You may be asking, “Why don’t you skip the Flash step, and just draw directly in Illustrator?”  The answer is simple:  Flash is a better freehand drawing tool that allows me to work in a manner that Illustrator doesn’t.  The most important thing to me as an artist is to have final illustrations that look like they were hand-drawn (because essentially they are).  I don’t want software to determine the look and feel of the illustrations.

How I came to work in this manner was very much a trial and error basis, and I may be the only illustrator in the universe that works in exactly this manner.  If there is anyone else out there reading this that uses this same process, I’d love to hear from you.  And Adobe, are you listening?  My life would be made a lot easier if you added a CMYK palette to Flash, or added the flexibilty of Flash‘s drawing tools to Illustrator!

Thanks for listening.

Olive goes against the (main) stream.

I never set out to be a children’s book author – it just happened.  Had I been consciously trying to write a book, or series of books as it were, things would likely have turned out a lot differently: I would have had a specific plan in mind and probably would have adhered to the rules. Let’s examine what makes Olive a rule breaker, or perhaps more appropriately what makes Olive the woolly bugger unique.

First, the length of the Olive books sets them apart.  Typical children’s picture books, for young children who cannot read on their own or are just learning to read, are nearly always 32 pages. Why 32?  The reasons for this are physical: when you fold paper, eight pages folds smoothly into what’s called a signature, while any more results in a group of pages too thick to bind nicely. In addition, the 32 pages can all be printed on a single sheet of paper, making it cost-effective. In extremely rare cases, picture books may be 16, 24, 40 or 48 pages, all multiples of eight (a signature); but 32 pages is industry standard. The first book in the series, Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, is 48 pages.  Olive and The Big Stream is also 48 pages, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride tops the charts at 56 pages! Woah, now! What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t thinking: I wasn’t thinking about writing to a pre-determined format. I wrote as the story came to me, and that was that.  Certainly I realized that Olive didn’t fit the mold for a typical children’s picture book, but there was no way to tell the story in 32 pages. Chapter books allow for more writing, but they don’t showcase illustrations in the same manner as picture books. Being an illustrator I wanted pictures to be a big part of the books.  So what does one do when a book fits into neither a picture book format nor a that of a chapter book?  Run with scissors. Color outside the lines. Break new ground.

The result of my recklessness is a series of books that are age appropriate for a much broader range of children.  Youngsters who cannot read to the level of the story still love the illustrations. Therein lies a tremendous opportunity for the parents who love fly fishing to not only endure, but embrace story time with their children.  For the kids who can read well on their own the stories provide ample substance to challenge their reading ability, and the illustrations are a bonus for this audience.  Even kids who are well beyond the reading level of my books and who no longer need illustrations to entertain them enjoy Olive.  Heck, adults like her too. They’re fun stories with fun illustrations. Why do books have to have such stringent guidelines in order to make them appealing? They don’t, nor should they.

Very early on in my journey toward becoming an author, I hired a well-known editorial consultant to give me some feedback on my manuscripts. This particular individual has an impressive resume of having worked as an editor in the children’s book publishing industry for many years. This person even co-wrote a book on how to go about becoming a published author.  I do not discount their credentials and when I received my consultation notes from this person, there were many valid points that drove me to work further on my writing. Second in the list of rules that Olive breaks speaks to the characters in the books themselves, and when I heard this it caused me to roll my eyes a bit:  “Publishers don’t like stories about inanimate objects that go to school.”  I’ll admit, that was a problem because in the first book Olive goes off to Camp Tightloops to learn to become a fishing fly.  I decided that I would just have to disagree with this particular comment and forge ahead on my maverick journey.  The more I thought about it the more the comment made me realize that some editors/publishers are out of touch with reality. Kids are the audience for children’s books, and these people are not kids. To this day I remain fairly certain that children have wonderful, fantastic imaginations and can embrace a story of a fishing fly come to life that goes off to a learning institution to gain the knowledge needed to become successful. At least I didn’t write in rhyme, because editors really don’t like that.

Next I was told was that publishing house editors wouldn’t be interested in my book(s) because they have a niche market. I agreed about the niche market but I viewed it as a positive thing. My market was clearly defined for me, and I’d done some research and there really wasn’t much, if any competition for kids books in the fly fishing market. I also believed (and still do) that while the books are an obvious choice for the fly fishing market, they can certainly spill over into the mainstream children’s book market as well.

What we have is a 3 book series about a woolly bugger fishing fly and her many friends who go to camp and learn something. Then they set off on a series of adventures that put their schooling to the test.  The stories are fully written narratives with full page illustrations that capture the storyline and bring the words to life. The stories are engaging, whimsical and entertaining. They also teach important life lessons and impart some basic lessons in fly fishing as well as conservation-minded angling.  They are age appropriate to a broad range of kids.

So no, the Olive books don’t fit into the mold of traditional publishing industry. In the books Olive faces adversity, and yet through perseverance she discovers that she has a unique talent and ends up succeeding. The development of the books themselves parallels Olive’s journey, and while the books have yet to win any high profile awards or make the New York Times Bestseller list, I’ve visited schools and had children tell me they love Olive. I measure success is smaller increments. There is a place for the books as many have come to discover.  Kids like Olive. Parents like Olive. My publisher liked Olive enough to sign me to a contract. I must have done something right.

Judge for yourself. Go out and grab a set of books (don’t just buy one- it’s a series). I’m confident you’ll be hooked on Olive.

Kids & nature- it’s a big deal.

I’m always probing the depths of the internet to find potential venues for promoting my series of children’s fly fishing books, and recently I came upon an organization whose goal is very much that of Olive the woolly bugger: The Child & Nature Network. The C&NN exists to encourage and support the people and organizations working nationally and internationally to reconnect children with nature. I’ve just begun to explore what the group has to offer, but I am greatly impressed thus far.

So what does this have to do with my books?  Well, everything.

On the surface, my fly fishing book series for kids may just appear to be children’s stories set against the backdrop of fly fishing. While true, there’s much more to them than that. The intent of my books is to introduce kids to fly fishing through a series of fun stories that are both educational and entertaining (call them “edu-taining” if you will). For kids lucky enough to hail from an angling family, no encouragement is needed to get them outdoors with a fly rod in hand.  But kids who may not have the guidance of an adult angler in their lives are really the ones who stand to gain the most from my books.  In other words, my books are for all kids (and frankly, for adults as well). But the goal of my books is also bigger than just fly fishing – it’s about getting kids outdoors.

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, according to a study by the Outdoor Foundation fishing is the #1 “Gateway Activity” to launching kids into many other outdoor pursuits such as camping, hiking, boating, etc.  All are excellent ways to get kids away from their video games, off the couch and into the great outdoors for some good, old-fashioned recreation.  There’s a book available by Richard Louv titled, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder that speaks to the lack of outdoor activity facing our youth today. Louv’s book won a 2008 Audubon Model and has inspired Leave No Child Inside initiatives throughout the country.

Aside from getting kids outdoors and instilling in them an appreciation for our natural resources, outdoor activities are good for a child’s health.  Michelle Obama is promoting her national effort to fight childhood obesity, and on April 9, 2010 hosted the White House Childhood Obesity Summit as part of her work with the recently formed Childhood Obesity Task Force and it’s accompanying “Let’s Move” campaign. C&NN is advocating that outdoor play go one step further to involve outdoor play in nature. Being able to roam around the outdoor environment is an enriching experience that brings with it many physical and emotional benefits.  Please read the entire article by Suz Lipman of the Child & Nature Network.

According to a report by C&NN, children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have varied opportunities for free unstructured play in the outdoors.  I interpret that to mean if you take a kid fly fishing where they can experience a natural setting, walk along the banks of a stream or lake and learn about bugs and fish and other wildlife that benefit from clean water, that child is going to be smarter.  I always thought fly anglers were an intelligent bunch and now I know why!

“Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future” is the mission of the US Department of the Interior. On April 16, 2010 President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.  The President spoke before leaders representing the conservation, farming, ranching, sporting, recreation, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from all 53 states and territories. For obvious reasons this is of great significance to the fly fishing community and Phil Greenlee, President and National Chairman of the Federation of Fly Fishers, was in attendance. Read more about the Great Outdoors conference here.

To sum it all up in a nutshell, outdoor recreation is good for kids in both mind and body, and the outdoors are important to all of us.  So, the bottom line is this:  Get kids outside.  Fishing is a great way to start them off on other outdoor adventures.  While they’re outside having fun they’ll be practicing healthy habits and getting exercise. Furthermore they’ll develop an appreciation for our natural resources, which will ensure that future generations become stewards of the earth.

It may be a lofty thinking on my part, but I believe every child should start down this journey with the Olive the woolly bugger series of fly fishing books. Now, if anyone has an idea as to how I can make sure that every child hears about Olive, I’m all ears.

Get stuck on Olive and help Casting 4 A Cure

The power of the internet never ceases to amaze me. What’s more amazing than that is the generosity of complete strangers.  In this virtual world of ever-increasing social media and online networking, there are critics who think that the world is becoming an increasingly impersonal place.  While that may be true to some extent, I find that the internet is bringing people closer together. There’s no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face and shaking their hand but since that’s not always readily possible, making acquaintances online is the next best thing. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some great people lately – people who have been generously willing to help me out. And by helping me they’re helping others.

April Vokey is one such person whom I’ve yet to actually meet in person, but through the internet and Facebook we’ve shared some online correspondence. April owns and operates Flygal Ventures, a British Columbia-based fly fishing guide service. April is also a casting instructor and offers many different casting workshops. She’s a busy gal, and recently returned from Victor, Idaho where she participated in the Casting 4 A Cure event on August 27-29. For those who don’t know, Casting 4 A Cure is a group of like-minded compadres who use fly fishing as a means of having a lot of fun while at the same time raising money for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. It’s a tremendous group of people fighting to find a cure for a horrible childhood disease.  Since my series of children’s fly fishing books have a little something to do with kids and fly fishing, I pledged Olive’s support for Casting 4 A Cure and will do what I can to raise a little money for the group. One of the projects I’ve started is selling Olive the Woolly Bugger stickers, with proceeds going to Casting 4 A Cure.

My friend Sharon Butterfield is another key person who has helped me out. Sharon owns Myflies.com, which is a rapidly growing online collection of fly fishing talent, from fly tiers to artists, photographers to authors, rod builders to guides and adventures and lodging.  It’s an impressive assortment of folks that Sharon has assembled, and fly anglers looking for the best of many offerings need look no further than Myflies.com. A while back Sharon generously offered to sell the stickers through her site, saving me from having to set up a sales venue. Stickers sell for $3.00 and of that $1.50 is sent directly to Bill Farnum, Executive Director for Casting 4 A Cure.  The other half covers the printing cost of the stickers and postage. If you do the math you’ll see that nothing goes into my pockets.

I recently asked Apri Vokey if she wouldn’t mind posting an Olive sticker link on her Facebook page. She’s much more popular than I am, and by doing so she has helped put the word out to several thousand people. Upon posting the link, one of April’s friends stepped up and offered a free pair of Optic Nerve sunglasses (valued at $100) to the person who places the largest order of Olive stickers by October 4th.  K.C. Lund is a fly angler and former professional snowboarder now working as a steel fabricator and is the BC/Alta rep for Optic Nerve. This generous act has left me humbled- thank you, K.C. If you would like to reach K.C. to inquire about Optic Nerve sunglasses you can do so by sending email to E.kc.opticnerve (at) telus.net

I want to thank April for spreading the word and for having such great friends, and to also thank Sharon for all the support in selling the stickers.  I couldn’t do it without your help.

So to those who read this blog, and I’m not sure that there are many of you yet, please consider purchasing an Olive the Woolly Bugger sticker and by doing so helping Casting 4 A Cure. Click on the sticker graphic below and it’ll take you right over to Myflies.com.


I’ve been getting a lot of emails from the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) recently, reminding me of the forthcoming International Fly Fishing Tackle Dealers (IFTD) tradeshow in Denver (which starts on September 11th).  How I got on the mailing list might seem curious to many, but it all stems from series of correspondence emails I had a few years ago with then-President, Robert Ramsay.  Mr. Ramsay was gracious enough to preview my kids fly fishing books and offer some good words to use as a promotional blurb. Since then I’ve been the recipient of all emails pertaining to all AFFTA happenings. It’s kinda neat to feel like an “insider”, even though I am not.

Many folks who I “know” (in the way that becoming Facebook Friends, Twitter followers and blog comrades constitutes “knowing” someone) are going to Denver for the IFTD, and several have asked if I was planning to be there as well. I wish I was because it would be a tremendous venue for meeting many of these people face-to-face, networking and rubbing elbows with people in the industry that may not already know about Olive the woolly bugger.  My goal, a lofty one at that, is to make sure that every single person in the fly fishing industry learns about Olive.  Beyond that I want everyone who is a customer of those businesses in the fly fishing industry to know about Olive.  And of course I want parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone else in the world to know about Olive the woolly bugger.

Aside from the chance to have a booth and hob knob with like-minded fly fishing professionals, there are exciting things I’ll be missing at the show, including these specials.

Redington will be at the show, and Redington is a friend of Olive.  When you purchase one of the Redington Minnow Fly Fishing Outfits for kids, you receive a coupon for ordering all three Olive books at half price.  That’s a great way to get kids interested in fly fishing.

As an author, I’m particularly interested in anything pertaining to the book business. One of the distributors of the Olive the woolly bugger series of books is Angler’s Book Supply.  They handle all distribution in the West, and have been great business partners, believing in Olive since her inception.  Angler’s Book Supply is offering a very enticing show special:

Orders placed at the show will enjoy an extra 10% discount and an additional 30 days dating.  For orders of 20+ units that’s 50% discount and FREE FREIGHT with 60-day dating.  You must visit our booth to qualify.  No splits or delayed shipping allowed.

That sounds pretty good to me, so if you’re a fly shop owner looking to add Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream, and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride to your inventory, now would be a great time to contact Angler’s Book Supply.

I see from the list of Exhibitors that a few book publishers are planning to be present as well. Unfortunately I don’t see the publisher of the Olive books listed. I’m a little surprised and disappointed that Big Earth Publishing won’t be an exhibitor. After all, they have offices are in Boulder which is really close Denver, so logistically it wouldn’t be too difficult. But more important than proximity to the show is the fact that Big Earth has a good list of fly fishing books in addition to all three Olive books (which are all, by the way, in the publisher’s Top Ten Bestsellers List!). The following titles are all available from Big Earth, so check them out:

• A Kid’s Guide to Fly Fishing by Tyler Befus
A Kids’s Guide to Fly Tying by Tyler Befus
Breakfast at Trout’s Place by Ken Marsh
Carp On the Fly by Barry Reynolds, Brad Befus, & John Berryman
Fly Fishing with Barry Reynolds: From Bass to Walleye by Barry Reynolds
Poul Jorgensen’s Book of Fly Tying by Poul Jorgensen
River Girls by Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf
The Blood Knot by John Galligan
The Cinch Knot by John Galligan
The Nail Knot by John Galligan
Olive the Little Woolly Bugger by Kirk Werner
Olive and the Big Stream by Kirk Werner
Olive Goes for a Wild Ride by Kirk Werner

Maybe next year Big Earth Publishing will be at the IFTD show in Denver. Hopefully I will, too. If you’re one of the lucky folks going this year be sure to check out the IFTD Social Media Lounge. Kyle Perkins, of the Compleat Thought will be manning the booth where those in the fly fishing industry can learn about the new media and social outreach possibilities available. Kyle also generously agreed to have some info on hand about Olive so grab a handout while you’re there.

And speaking of social media, in addition to this blog and website, Olive can also be found on Facebook and Twitter:

FaceBook: Fly Fishing with Olive the Woolly Bugger

Twitter: @olivewoollybugr

Stop on by and join the Olive Facebook group and follow Olive on Twitter.

If you’re like me and can’t make the IFTD show this year, Marshall Cutchin of Midcurrent will be blogging live, so tune in. It should be the next best thing to being there.