Adding Art to Your Words

I’m going to be speaking at the Houston Writers Guild’s Indiepalooza this September on “Adding Art to Your Words.” Of course, if you live in the Greater Houston Area, you should totally come. But it you don’t, I thought I’d share a few ideas on jazzing up your work with pictures and taking your creativity to the next level.

TBC 3I’m going to start with a project I recently released called Mr. Eakins’ Book of Cats. It’s an illustrated companion to another recently released book, The Black Cats. And I made it with the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Think of it as a super-cool picture book for adults that complements another story.

A little background: The Black Cats is an historical cozy novella that follows Edgar Allan Poe’s cat, Cattarina, as she solves crimes and inspires great works of literature. Strange, no? Well, that’s just how I like my books.

Anyway, within the story, one of the characters possesses a hand-made journal called The Book of Cats (and it plays a role). So I thought it would be fun to recreate this for readers.



I knew I wanted the cover to look like an old journal from the Victorian era. So here’s what I came up with:


Cool, right? Then I created a series of pages that looked as if a man of meager means in the 1840s had created them. Not to give too much away, but Mr. Eakins draws a lot of cats and keeps notes about them. Here are a few sample pages:

page 4 silas flat

page 16 newspaper flat

I found copyright-free ephemera, got to sketching on my Bamboo Board, and came up with some pretty nifty journal entries. Take a look at the finished product page and the “look inside” feature. I’ll wait here… Go ahead. You have time.

Now, if you’re a children’s picture book author, I’m sure you’re thinking really hard about putting your latest WIP into a digital format. Ah! But if you’re writing an adult work, you should still be thinking really hard about leveraging this technology to your advantage – especially if you’re the uber-creative type.

Still not convinced? Here are some ideas:

  1. Monster compendiums for fantasy books
  2. Secret dossiers for spy novels
  3. Police files for thrillers
  4. Tech drawings for science fiction
  5. Watercolor or photographs to accompany a small poetry book
  6. Love notes for a romance novel

I know I’m leaving out plenty more. But you get the idea.

WARNING: Don’t view this as a way to publish a long book. Your file size will be monstrous and Amazon will charge you an arm and a leg to deliver your product. So keep it short, around 20 to 25 pages at the most.

I know full well that this is highly experimental. But I’m into risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is usually my motto. I also know that no one is going to buy a derivative book who hasn’t read the source book (i.e., The Black Cats). But I truly created Mr. Eakins’ as a fun “go along” for super fans. I also use it for promotional purposes.

And now…the pitch! If you buy The Black Cats and leave a review, email me (contact (at) monicashaughnessy (dot) com) and tell me about it. I’ll send you your very own copy of Mr. Eakins’ Book of Cats free. (FYI: my third offer of February) And at $2.99, The Black Cats is less than a cup of Starbucks coffee and you’ll enjoy it a lot longer! You’ll also be showing thanks for my awesome blog post and for pointing your creativity in a brand new direction. Just sayin’.

Now go out there and get creative!


How about you, dear reader? Ever think about adding pictures to your words? What opportunities did I fail to mention? I’d love to hear!


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