Stefanie Header

The first Maggy and Max book is here

 

Hello! I am Stefanie. In my column “Open Up” I give b2zone Magazine readers an exclusive opportunity to follow in the formation and development of my children’s book project “Maggy & Max” up close. My stories will openly show the entire creative process from the initial idea to the financial model.

I will describe the hurdles and successes, the creation of my web presence as well as showing you the possibilities and opportunities in the World Wide Web. I hope to share my experience with you through “Maggy & Max” and to give you thoughts, ideas and tips that you can use on your own projects. Stay tuned!

 

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Banner

 

 

Visit Maggy & Max website

 

 

 

 List of contents

 

Once upon a time How gross it is to eat wild berries again
In the Maggy and Max project we face the challenge of answering what children like Maggy and Max baking cookies
How a story book for children gets illustrated Maggy and Max want to fly
Maggy Max and me Maggy and Max at the beach
A welcomed sense of order in daily writing Maggy and Max find chocolate
The adventure after Maggy and Max were born Maggy and Max get fishing gear
An early taste of success Maggy and Max in the cloud cinema
How children think  
Yippee the Maggy and Max website is up  

 

 

 

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Banner 2

 

 

An idea is born; a book gets printed – a brief review of Hatch

It also applies to me: the developmental period of a book takes about one year – when one considers the actual time working effectively on it. In the beginning, there was the idea. Then there was a text. That is when it became exciting. But you cannot do it all yourself; much must be outsourced and enriched through the human factor and know-how of others. In my case, this is particularly true about the topics of drawing, graphic processing and print. I have already mentioned how hard it is to find the right illustrator, one who creates the figures I imagine. My luck was to meet Julian who makes outstanding images.

There is one insight about this project that I have not shared with you so far: between illustrating and printing the actual product there is a whole world that, it turns out, fueled the Maggy & Max team to grow. During another project I got to know and appreciate Roland Knauseder, who is a complete pro when it comes down to turning visuals into images one can almost touch. He practically grew up in the printing business so he knows every aspect of it, including the human element involved in the process of idea generation.

 

 b2zone magazine Open Up E17

 

When Julian finished all the illustrations I knocked on Roland’s door. I told him that I wanted to print my story, that I wanted to publish it on my own and that I wanted to create a children’s book that is more than a book. Namely, that children should be able to do something with it. And it should not be so expensive to produce that parents lock it in the glass cabinet or get angry if a page is carelessly folded or those little sticky fingers touch it during breakfast. I had to accept that I am no online printing expert. What paper thickness? Glossy or matte? Spiral or coil bound? Same coloring inside and outside? So many challenges… challenges that Roland happily took on. Roland’s first draft was there soon. The 16:9 picture from Julian that we agreed upon flowed elegantly over the middle of the book. We kept the cover and font in the same style as the homepage of Maggy & Max.

We decided to print a softcover book for the first edition because it strikes the best price-quality balance and because it meets my expectations for the product. After a few delays, graphic translations, overlooked details getting fixed, reevaluating the proof and ourselves, the book was ready for printing. I have to admit this was an emotional moment. At this point I want to thank all of you who have made “Hatch” possible. My husband and my children for supporting me, JU for his constant and constructive guidance, Julian for his amazing illustrations, Rodrigo for the translation and Roland for the graphical implementation and making the book printable. You all have been great! Yay. The first book is here.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest
Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Header

Yippee the Maggy and Max website is up

 

Welcome to maggy-and-max.com

 

It is a great pleasure to announce that Maggy & Max just got their own website! But that’s not all. The first story of the book can be read right there. So, let me tell you how it happened. Those of you who read my column know that we work nonstop to set up the Maggy & Max project the best way possible. We let Maggy & Max experience new adventures and share their stories to make them known. During this process, we reached a point where we realized that Maggy & Max should get their own autonomous home base online. The big questions were what it should be and what it should look like. I envisioned this place like a children’s room, a place filled with surprises. But the website should also be flexible to grow together with the characters and to adjust to everything that comes. It should act as a mirror to the project’s development. There are so many ideas and concepts in the pipeline waiting to be implemented. The website should be welcoming at first sight. It should bring joy. But, as opposed to other sites, it should also allow glancing visitors to experience Maggy & Max even without paying. Is that really possible? The answer is a resounding yes! The b2zone software solution has made it possible to implement my full vision. It has allowed us to go even further. The mindscape of Maggy & Max is virtually limitless. That is more than great and my heartfelt thanks go to JU who enabled Maggy & Max stories to become accessible to anyone. The first big adventure of Maggy & Max can already be found under the menu item “Online Book Hatch.” It tells the story of a girl fox and a boy wolf who try to incubate and hatch an egg. Of course, I won’t spoil the story now by telling you if they manage or not. The fantastic hand-drawn illustrations of Julian Vavrovsky, which can be appreciated full size in the printed version, are online for everyone to see. And certainly, anyone who wants to have the book can order it right away. Isn’t it foxy genius and wolfy fantastic? Stop by and see! 

 

b2zone magazine maggy and max by stefanie schurich edition 16

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

How children think

 

Should Maggy & Max eat chickens or not?

 

Until now I thought no. However, the more adventures I create the more often little fans approach me to ask when Maggy & Max will finally manage to get a chicken. This has raised some questions in my mind whether I had overlooked something important in terms of my target group’s expectations. In my mid thirties I was always of the opinion that the stories would be captivating enough if the two friends who don’t want to eat more berries constantly make up for their shortcomings by constantly coming up with something new and never giving up. Why is it then that children keep asking when the little guys will finally eat a chicken? What does that mean? Everything children aged 3-6 do is geared to the fulfillment of one’s own pleasure, that is, satisfying one’s own needs.

At the same time, children in this age bracket are learning that many of their needs are not unconditionally and immediately satisfied any more. The child learns to postpone satisfaction of his or her desires to a later point in time. In other words, wait or let go, particularly if the child gets something else instead. For this reason, stories with identification figures create a good balance in the reality of renunciation. Children experience their own longing for independence and greatness through this identification with an animal character. Maggy & Max can live the child’s needs fully. My stories unravel a special charm for children 3-6 years old.

 

Maggy and Max by Stefanie Schurich Edition 15

 

Everything will be done and tried to get the ever-elusive chicken. If the current plan does not work nothing will be left untried to remove the undesired berries from the diet. For example, they will bake cookies or they will do something impossible in a child’s reality such as learning how to fly with fern leaves. This way my stories aim first and foremost to give joy to children. But how much humor do children actually understand at that age? What children find funny is quite different from what adults find funny. The smallest details such as the pop of a bottle can trigger minute-long bursts of laughter. I see that in my own children. What really matters is that humor does children good. Stories packed with funny moments simply can’t be wrong. Especially for children aged 3-6 for whom fun is what is most interesting. Later the interest shifts more towards adventure.

That pleases me because there is nothing that speaks against extending my stories to that age group. For now, the stories should be catered to the 3-6 age group which requires letting one’s childlike imagination go. The constant attempts of Maggy & Max as identification figures must make sense to children’s perception and common sense. Their motivation must be rewarded. The actual eating of a chicken requires an age-appropriate implementation in terms of word selection and visual processing. But children need a happy ending. I learn my lessons here. This debate showed me clearly that it is important to listen. Children think differently than adults. I have no more doubts. Maggy & Max are allowed to eat chickens. Promised!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

An early taste of success

 

….what happened so far

 

Maggy & Max became my daily heroes practically overnight. They used to wander into my thoughts during long car drives or seldomly appear in the form of nighttime stories for my children. On occasions I scribbled down notes for new stories. So Maggy & Max have been there for a while but half a year ago they suddenly became a constant present. Everyday. Who would have imagined. When I started to work with b2zone I met people who are truly interested in what I like. They are interested in my dreams and in where my dreams can take me. I told them about those two little friends who don’t want to eat any more wild berries and the adventures they live through every attempt to find something tasty. They were enthusiastic about it and I got the opportunity to develop my project under the umbrella of the b2zone magazine with my own column “Open Up.”

What an opportunity. I got a chance to turn my passion into my profession and I had to take it. That was always my dream. Now it is turning into reality. I urgently had to find a space for Maggy & Max in my turbulent daily life. Everything began with a descent dose of stage-fright but a tremendous amount of drive. For me the most important factor was that I wasn’t alone anymore. JU, the CEO, of b2zone became my most important supporter and mentor. In the course of various long conversations we analyzed the stories of Maggy & Max to outline their potential and carve out opportunities. We tied up truly realizable project steps to those visions and dreams.

 

 Stefanie Schurich Maggy and Max Edition 14 2

 

The concept developed was immediately incorporated into my daily workflow, which established structure and order in my random notes system. A pragmatic approach and a huge personal success. We designed a project that I can carry out with joy in my present life situation. The world of Maggy & Max can now grow step by step. But what would the stories be without illustrations? Finding the right artist for my project was a very intense decision-making process. I was looking for someone who could not only draw the characters the way I had them in mind but with whom I could really team up. That was tricky. I met great artists and very interesting people but there was always something missing. That is until I met Julian. I was convinced right away. It was immediately clear that we could team up amicably and professionally. He is a great guy and a brilliant artist who creates with a fascinating ease and from an impressive repertoire. Julian has made it possible to give Maggy & Max a note of uniqueness. They became unmistakable.

The characters bring me great joy and I am burning with enthusiasm to write more and more stories and to see how Julian illustrates them. The first product, a storybook, is in development. The developmental process is also very close to the children who are part of the decision-making process where we can see how the stories and pictures are perceived and received. Children’s voices already tipped the scale when we made the decision about Max & Maggy’s look, an experience that reaffirmed our conviction to stay closely connected to our target group. We make Maggy & Max for them after all. The book will soon be ready. The pictures emerge one after the other. The text has been written. The technical possibilities to present it are being tested. The whole project with all its details carries me along. It flows. I watch enthusiastically as Maggy & Max build the core of a little but wonderful world where great people work together and where one burst of creativity is followed by the next one. Many thanks to all of you who take part and read my stories.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max in the cloud cinema

 

Once again wild berries don‘t fill them up. Maggy & Max lie beneath shrubberies and dwell on their thoughts. Maggy observes the clouds in the sky. How slowly they glide. How fascinating the different cloud types are. A movie theatre without buying a ticket. Max, you have to see it! Max takes his head off his paws and looks at her with intrigue. Maggy points to the sky. That cloud looks like a gooseberry. Don’t you agree? It looks more like a blowfish. Hm. What about that one? It looks like a chicken on a plate. How great would that be? Maggy’s stomach rumbles real loud. Unfortunately the cloud looks more like a raspberry on a plate. Max rests his head on his paws once more and dozes right off. Patience!

 

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright.

 

Stefanie Schurich Maggy and Max Edition 14

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Once upon a time

 

An old hunter ran across curious tracks

The igniting idea of Maggy & Max came up when I heard the story of an old hunter who had observed something unbelievable.

The story is all but ordinary and truly worth telling.

 

 Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Hunter

 Painting by Claudia Trentini

Once upon a time there was a very experienced hunter who was an exceptional track reader. He was known to be a loner and, as such, preferred to spend his time in the woods rather than with his fellow man. Other hunters profited from his knowledge so he was highly welcome at the hunting regulars’ table. One winter he started to miss the meetings and every time he showed he seemed increasingly worried, avoiding answering questions or simply ignoring them altogether.

The old hunter behaved progressively oddly. He would ask if there was something unusual about the wolves in the area, he would make plaster casts of tracks and he would wander through the woods for days. His fellow hunters rumored that he was simply going crazy. But then, just before the beginning of the spring, the old hunter revealed his story:

One day, when he was on his way to his hide, he found some fox tracks. Believing they might lead him to the fox’s borrow he decided to follow them. As he walked along he discovered that a second set of tracks joined the first one. It appeared to be a wolf. But that was impossible. There was no evidence of a fight. On the contrary, the tracks continued side by side. Unbelievable. Sure to be wrong he started to investigate but no one in the region reported any fox or wolf trespassing. The known wolves behaved normally. Nothing came from the farmers either.

The old hunter went back to find the tracks again. It took him quite a while to relocate them but it was worth the effort. He had proof of a fox and a wolf spending time together in the woods. They played, slept, and hunted together. A companionship against the rules of nature. The incident of the fox and the wolf became a central point of conversation within the hunting community who decided to leave those two alone as long as they did no harm.

The story of the old hunter and his fantastic observation created a burst of inspiration within me that gave birth to Maggy & Max. They were suddenly there. I could see them. Two best friends. One beautiful fox girl with a black tail tip and one mangy but cuddly wolf who frolic around and playfully wait to run into adventure.

 

 

About Stefanie:

Stories enrich my life. Inventing gives me great joy. Sharing my stories with people is my ambition. My occupation: story inventor. Is it related to the fact that I studied history? Perhaps to some extend because life has created the best stories in every era. But it is also related to the fact that I am a huge fan of children. Their world needs stories. Stories to listen, to read, to see and to touch. And the more fantastic, extraordinary, magical and humorous those stories are the better.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

How gross it is to eat wild berries again

 

Once again berries don’t fill them up. Maggy & Max had enough. They want to finally eat what wolves and foxes are meant to. Chicken, but no. They have to eat what the forest gives. And that is only wild berries. Forever and ever blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and, above of them all, black and red currants. Every variety. They can’t anymore take it quietly.

Everyday this berries ordeal. It starts with collecting, then cooking, then eating. They stick to everything these wild berries. They stick to the paws. They stick to the mouth. And all over the fur, some here and some there. The whole thing is so sticky. It is so disgusting. In the summer it’s particularly tricky. Grrrrrrrrrrrr! Then this hunger that stays. Never have they been truly full after feasting on berry stew. It is so exasperating to have growling bellies.

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-wild-berries

Painting by Julian Vavrovsky

 

This just can’t continue. Maggy & Max know that they have to do something but they don’t know how. Farmer Brown is the only one who has chickens around and about. And they’re not just chickens. They are the best of all kinds. Why? Because they eat the best grains: white millet, Italian millet, oriental wheat, diamond wheat, crystal wheat, Inca wheat, bread wheat, sweet corn, sunflower seeds and the list goes on and on. Those chickens look as beautiful as they surely taste. If only farmer Brown were just not around to watch over his chickens. Nobody till now has managed from him one to take.

Maggy & Max have agreed to be the first ones. They want to write history and must come up with a plan. It’s their first time. It has to be smart. With an element of surprise. Clever. Maggy must ponder. Max takes it easy and decides to lay comfortably. He knows if his friend has an idea it always works wonders.

By the time we get the next chicken, everything will be alright.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

In the Maggy and Max project we face the challenge of answering what children like

 

Here it is. The finished children’s book story of Maggy & Max. The story about a beautiful girl fox and a cuddly boy wolf. They only needed a face. There is usually more than one suggestion when it comes down to deciding on a character’s look. But which one works best for the children, for the project, for Maggy & Max and for me?
The most important indicator are children themselves. If they like a character then a lot has been achieved. If only parents favor it then it might be good for sales (short term) but it does not make sense in the long run because children won’t get into it.
Difficult but solvable. To figure out if the illustrations of Maggy & Max touch children’s hearts we have to go to them. We have to go to both the children and the buyers. It is important to counter-check with the parents as well. Luckily enough there are plenty of people around we can ask. For this project I showed the characters to the children and their parents. I split them into three groups: children aged 3-6, children aged 7-12 and adults. Then I let them vote for their favorite choices and recorded the results on a spreadsheet. Most children voted for (1), some of the oldest ones tended towards (3) and very few voted for (2). It was interesting to see that when the parents chose to their personal liking they voted for (3) but those of them who chose with their children’s liking in mind all voted for (1).

 

Maggy and Max bei Stefanie and Julian 01 E9

Maggy and Max bei Stefanie and Julian 02 E9

Maggy and Max bei Stefanie and Julian 03 E9

Painting by Julian Vavrovsky

 

This result confirmed our presumption. If the animals look more like a fox and a wolf children aged 3-6 relate to it and say it very clearly. “This is a fox. This is a wolf. They look friendly.” The shapes are plain. Children are able to imagine something with these characters. Abstraction and distortion is not attractive to our target group. Many children even asked if I had more pictures of these characters because they wanted to see them. This reinforced my decision. Maggy & Max got their faces. In Julian I met a very talented illustrator and artist who truly understands and can visualize things for children.

Tune up to the next “Open Up” edition to find out how we work together and how this process starts to take form through handmade sketches.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max baking cookies

 

Once again wild berries don’t fill them up. Maggy & Max lie down in front of Maggy’s den and ponder. How could they possibly bring this misery to an end? Max toddles off to some blueberries. While he noshes Maggy gets a stroke of inspiration. Couldn’t they just bake some cookies? Cookies should bridge the hunger gap.

Fred, the ingenuous spy of the woods, has everything for sure. And if there is any ingredient he does not happen to have he will surely source it at the drop of a hat. Butter, eggs, sugar, flour, nuts—how can anything go wrong? Aha. Maggy reads out the recipe. Max, would you beat the eggs? No, not there! Use the bowl. Now comes the sugar. OK. So far so good. Then the flour. Oh no. Don’t sneeze!. AhCHOO.

Maggy is white all over. A mixture of eggs and flour left Max’s fur completely covered. Such a big mess and not even one cookie. Maggy & Max have to take comfort in some wild berries. Still somewhat better than this nightmare so sticky.

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright.

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-baking-cookies

Painting by Julian Vavrovsky

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

How a story book for children gets illustrated

 

The thing is: I definitely cannot draw. Nevertheless, pictures are created in my mind when I write my stories. These mental pictures support the creative writing process. As an author, the story is at the center of my attention. First the text comes into being and then comes the illustration that supports the text.

So far that’s the theory. In practice two people who more or less know each other meet when the illustration process begins. They talk about a text who one of them (me) wrote and the other (Julian) is about to illustrate. At that point of the collaboration between author and illustrator an important challenge begins. Not everything that has been written can be illustrated and vice versa. But how does one reach the necessary reduction while keeping the essential?

We ask that question to the illustrator of Maggy & Max directly: Julian, is the illustration there to support the story or is it a repetition of the narrated text?

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Julian-Painting

 Painting by Julian Vavrovsky

 

“Basically it can always be both. In my belief it is important to focus on the narrative style. Due to their multilayered content, dialogs or inner monologs can be expressed easier through text. On the other hand, ambiences are captured easier by the illustration. Think of a sunset. The color shading is portrayed better by an illustration while the various emotions which it causes are preferably expressed through the text. In an illustrated story it is nice if both, text and illustration, work complementarily.

As an illustrator, when I team up with authors, I can always observe in the connection of text and picture an intensive contention about those things that will not be either written or shown visually. This method of reduction encourages the reader’s phantasy and imagination. At that point where text and image (and also voice in film) come together, an intriguing narration arises through the sum of the reader’s impressions. I consider it an obligation of the whole team to build the story in such a way that it becomes a whole experience for the reader, spectator or recipient. This process is very important and requires a lot of communication. Although this effort cannot be seen, it is essential to create a good product.”

For Maggy & Max’s book’s illustrations Julian and I speak about every page. I have the final say when it comes to text and Julian when it comes to the idea and composition of an illustration. We decide together what the best text-illustration combo is and which is the best argument. It can happen that a passage in the text or an idea for an illustration is changed under mutual understanding. This way each page receives a preliminary discussion and an agreed upon point of view before it gets illustrated.

And voilá, a text gets illustrated. A book is in the making.

 

Stefanie_Schurich-Maggy-and-Max-Julian-Header

About Julian:

My professional specialization gives life to all kinds of things from sophisticated short film productions to children’s book illustrations. I even visualize special custom wishes as well as works of my own. The joy of visual transformation has no thematic limits independently of whether the subject matter is cardiac valve surgery or Maggy & Max running around trying to catch their next chicken. Therefore, I use various tools that range from handmade models to sophisticated electronic devices and 3D animations. Still, the common denominator of each project is made up of pencil, paper and, naturally, a huge amount of phantasy.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max want to fly

 

Once again wild berries don’t fill them up. So Maggy and Max have decided it’s time to learn how to fly. Today’s the first lesson. Fred, the ingenious spy of the woods, has everything ready. The runway is clear, the equipment rechecked, it is safe to start up. The best fern leaves have been imported to function as wings. Maggy & Max are for sure ready. Each one of them securely holding on to the leaves.

Fred gives them the signal. It is time to start. Ladies first? No. Oh dear! Maggy & Max sprint. Both at the same time. They both open their wings. Just as Fred told them. But it had to happen. Their feet had not yet left the floor and the wings got all tangled up. Maggy & Max roll one over the other. Beneath. Above. Underneath. A total disaster. With dirt and dust are both covered all over. Max lets out a growl. Never again will he try to fly. Maggy gives him a consolation berry and states it needs not be with wings. Perhaps they can find an even better way to fly? Max!

 

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright

 

Stefanie-Schurich-Maggy-and-Max Edition 10

Painting by Julian Vavrovsky

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy Max and me

 

Today I invite my readers to Open Up for a visit to my writing studio. A quick look will reveal why it is such a joy for me to write Maggy & Max stories for children and adults. When all parts of a story work together like the cogs of a Swiss clock then writing is really awesome for me. And that is what I have found in the fantasy world of Maggy & Max. It all not only fits together but it assembles in endless variations.

In first place there are the characters. Maggy, the girl fox who is always searching for new ideas but never steps up to try them out. That is her friend Max’s job. The young wolf does not move a paw until Maggy calls him to action. But then he is ready and fearless. At the moment of writing it is wonderful to play with these contrasts and the clear distinction of roles helps a lot to construct the stories. But there are other supportive elements. For example, characters like Fred, the woodpecker, who functions as a connector to the human world. Or Bob the beaver who is the craftsman. Without them Maggy & Max could not manage to get the ingredients for cookie dough or to cut down a tree. As an author I get more thematic freedom through those other woodlanders.

What amuses me while writing is the fact that within the world of Maggy & Max I can juggle with surreal components which could actually be true. A friendship between a fox and a wolf? Not likely, but, why not? That a fox and a wolf prefer chicken over wild berries? Very much so. I love this childish fantasy world in which everything is possible and nothing is impossible. Who doesn’t dream of being able to lift up their feet using fern leaves and fly? Maggy & Max get to do it. They try.

 

Stefanie Schurich Maggy and Max Edition 11

 

I think their dilemma of being sick of wild berries to want to finally eat chicken is honestly comprehensible. Also their strong desire to find a solution to this problem. With this search as a motif I found a way to unlimited freedom to write about any theme I want. This is invaluable and creates great anticipation to the pleasure I will get any moment I find to write.

Besides the humorous and adventurous elements of the stories Maggy & Max live in a steadily repeating constant: their predictable failure but never giving up. Children know this feeling all too well. If something doesn’t work out they try again. Until they manage. I always have to think of when my children were learning to walk. Simply fascinating to see the kind of falls they took after which they got up and tried again. Maggy & Max continue in the same way. With joy and drive. That message of never giving up and to constantly think of new ways is one I want to transmit as an author. To adults as well as to children.

The greatest thing for me as a writer is when the curiosity of my readers to read more stories is as big as my joy to invent them.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max at the beach

 

Once again wild berries don’t fill them up. Maggy & Max have had enough. They want to try their luck farther out. They heard through the grapevine that at the beach there are nice chickens to be found. Fred, the ingenious spy of the woods, takes care of the Swallow Express arrangements. A quick trip to chase some chickens at the beach. Now, that will be marvelous.

The arrival at the beach couldn’t have gone smoother. Maggy & Max are definitely happy. They can’t believe it. They landed right on a huge sandbox. No chickens far and wide but never mind! Now it is time to dig and to build sand castles. To design a moat. Time to burry Max until nothing but his nose sticks out. This is divine!

 

 

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright.

 

Stefanie Schurich Maggy and Max Story Edition 11

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

A welcomed sense of order in daily writing

 

I always imagined authors working while seating at a beautiful café drinking cappuccino with a notebook in hand and writing bestseller after bestseller. Well, the day-to-day life of an author is different. It is a constant balancing act between spontaneous creativity and discipline. I must admit it. I am inclined to pile up paper slips and to collect pencils and notes. That worked for quite a while. To be precise it worked until the moment I decided to start this journey with Maggy & Max. I quickly realized this wouldn’t be a weekend getaway but an Everest expedition that would simply be impossible with a backpack full of random notes.

My wish for a higher sense of order started at my working place. I had to seriously ask myself how I could write the best possible way. Oftentimes I just took notes writing some lines or quick words here and there to put them somewhere. I started different notebooks and saved random files. To have a better overview of what I knew it was necessary to reduce all those writing materials down to two. A computer with a fixed place at my writing desk and a notebook that lives in my handbag. The interior of my digital working space was arranged in line with my project. All the files from the past have been cleaned up based on the “grit your teeth and get to it” principle. All orphan files have been deleted and the whole structure of files has been dusted. Then the actual challenge of figuring out how to structure my Maggy & Max project began.

 

Open Up Stefanie Schurich b2zone magazine Edition 12

 

After a few attempts I realized that the analogue approach was the best approach for me: a huge poster on my door to visually display everything I want to implement. This system is mirrored in my folder structure where each file is saved by date and project-specific keywords. And surprise, surprise, I can find them on the first try. That is my personal highlight in all this “I need to get organized” process; no sentence starts with “where is…” anymore. The next question to deal with was the “when.” How do I get the time to write regularly? Before it was fine to take an hour here and there but now it became a necessity to find regular time to write. A creativity killer? Almost, because 70% of my stories originate while I’m writing.

The remaining 30% comes from my notes. Unfortunately there is no patent remedy for this dilemma. My personal solution is to organize writing blocks and to formulate goals. That works fine for me. I can exploit a creative drive, if it does not flow it is not a problem. I simply turn to my to-do list and work on an item that had been waiting to get done later. I can continue with the deferred task on the next working session. I value the occasional working session at Cafes (less for the romanticism and more for the ease and quietness). At home there is usually more of a hustle and bustle. I just need to say: yelling children & duels with toys. But wherever one decides to work it is necessary to feel comfortable and to stay on top of all project fields. If the passion is to become a profession then ideas must be incorporated into the day-to-day life. These measures for a higher sense of order make it a lot easier for me. Everest here I come!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max find chocolate

 

Once again wild berries don’t fill them up. So mean. There’s nothing but wild berries. Left and right only wild berries. They are ravenously hungry. Yes! But hungry for something different. What a great alternative would be to eat chicken. Max lets the sun shine on his belly. Maggy is restless. On the lookout. Searching for ideas. Alternatives.

Something new. She wanders around her fox den. Suddenly she discovers a chocolate bar. What’s that? MAX! Fred, the woodpecker and ingenious spy of the woods must solve the riddle. Of course he can help Maggy & Max.

Chocolate: it is a candy and it’s usually eaten with pleasure. So far so good. They happily thank Fred for the explanation and look forward to the culinary change. Once home they unwrap the chocolate bar neatly, part it fraternally and each of them bites into it. It tastes fine but the taste must be acquired. It is only chewing. It gets harder and harder. The entire brown thing sticks to the roof of the mouth, in between the teeth and the tongue feels so furry.

No! By no means is that what they were after. Maggy & Max run off to the pond to wash out their mouths. Enough chocolate for now. Max even growls something like “never again.” A few wild berries are not so bad.

 

 

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright.

 

 

Open Up Maggy and Max b2zone magazine Edition 12

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

The adventure after Maggy and Max were born

 

So how did our work continue once our characters got a face? First of all we decided to follow the opinion of those children and parents who wished for Maggy & Max to have a clear shape and look. Julian then rolled up his sleeves and spent a lot of time experimenting at his desk with the proportions, shapes, sizes and colors. His job as illustrator includes to assess all the details and their coherence from different perspectives. At the same time he considers the peculiarities of each figure to give them an effect of autonomy. We also took our time to discuss whether Maggy & Max should have a furry appearance. Even though we thought it would have been a good look we decided against too much of a furry structure within the characters and opted for a more illustrated environment around them. Our characters portray childlike figures so Julian strives to ensure that the overall environment represents the innocence and fantasy of childhood.

A great example are the eyes. Their eyes should always be nice. Maggy has beautiful green eyes that are a perfect match to her orange-red fur. Max has blue eyes that go perfectly well with his grey fur. Even if Max’s colors could be described as cold his body structure, proportions and facial expression make him unequivocally a cozy and cordial wolf. That is the result of the careful use of soft and smooth lines by Julian.

 

Arbeitsplatz

 

Ensuring that the figures are attractive to children has been a top priority for us. Foxes and wolves are natural predators but we agreed from the beginning that our figures should not convey this characteristic in any way. But where does that start and where does it end? Could we show their claws? Should we allow our figures to laugh? To show their teeth? We decided that any element that could be connected to aggression should be left out. If we draw teeth we will never draw fangs and definitely no claws. Lovely, likeable and childlike is our target. Genders should be visually distinguishable but not too dominant. Maggy is a girl fox and Max is a boy wolf. To ensure that this works in the body structures and size proportions Julian uses some self-made models and even mirrors. At some point in the development process the moment arrives when the characters become alive for Julian.

That moment is when the characters find their own body language and posture. The facial expression is of course also essential. To reach this point it is sometimes necessary to stage situations the characters will experience or try them in front of a mirror. Julian’s artistic and personal ambition is for the characters to transmit emotions for adults and children alike to empathize with them. With Maggy & Max he did an outstanding job. They are autonomous, very likeable and with the recognizable quality of two innocent and stubborn characters always waiting for the next adventure. The joy of seeing the fully developed figures is something I now share with Julian and I can hardly wait to write new stories for them.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Maggy and Max get fishing gear

 

Once again wild berries don‘t fill them up. Max wrestles with the raspberry bushes. One raspberry simply doesn’t want to get caught. He stretches himself as long as he possibly can. But the raspberry branches stick to his fur. They pinch him. He grumpily reaches out for two branches to fish for this very stubborn raspberry. Maggy watches him absently minded. Aha! She jumps back into alertness. That’s it. Max, you are a genius! We are going to go fishing for chickens. Now they just need the right fishing gear. Bob the beaver makes some fishing rods for them.

The fishing line was to be found at Fred the woodpecker’s secret store. But where can one find fishing hooks? Especially those designed to catch chickens? The question should go to subject-matter experts. And those are of course the fishes in the pond. Max blasts the water three times with the reed. Kurt, the chief of the pond fishes, approaches. He understands right away what Maggy & Max so desperately want. Kurt brings out his private fish hook collection. He puts it in front of them and opens the case. Max gets heavily blinded by the glittering hooks and stumbles. And, oh no! He falls into the case. Maggy and Kurt almost fall over from laughter. Max looks like a Christmas tree. All the hooks hang neatly arranged all over his fur. That really stings. Never mind, Max!

 

 

By the time we get the next chicken everything will be alright.

 

 

Maggy & Max E13

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest