Wednesday, October 27, 2010


And there we go. Alright, I couldn't wait for the weekend to finish. I'm sure I'll tweak it here or there for a few weeks until I'm satisfied but for now, I'm calling it complete. Whew. The speed in which I dispatched this painting is a personal best. Go me!

And just for fun so you can compare yesterday's painting to the one from today, (you know, just to prove I actually did some work instead of posting the same pic again) here's the one from the previous post.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ART . . . and writin', but mostly art today

Thus far my charming little blog has been about my passion for all things writing related. So you were probably all wondering where the Art part of my blog title came from. Or didn't wonder. I suppose you all have your own blogs . . . and lives . . . Anyhow, I digress. Yes it's true, I also have a passion for art. See this post here if you are interested enough to see when I last mentioned art on the blog.

In fact you might say art is my first passion going back well before college, high school or even grade school. Never mind that I was pulling enough cobwebs off my oil painting brushes earlier this week to decorate my entire house for Halloween (as well as lint, hair and the occasional dead spider), or that I needed an entirely new set of paints (the ones I'd purchased and used religiously ten years earlier were not willing to open for anything). I love painting. I can't say that I'm very good at it. My paintings always come off as mere shadows of how I'd imagine them, leaving me severely disappointed and frustrated until I throw my brushes down in disgust and refuse to look at it again for months. Other people say they're pretty good but I suspect that they're just trying to be nice. In fear of proving this suspicion correct, I am going to share my latest project. Bear in mind it isn't finished. The remaining details will be furbished by the end of the week when the paint has dried some. I will post it with some pride then (or perhaps with a big, black frustrated X across it).

Earliest pic taken in my elegant art studio . . . Okay, fine, it's my laundry room. At least the project inspired me to clean it to death and then put a lock on the door barring Thing 1 and Thing 2 from messing it up or making paintings of their own. One week down and it's still clean.

I wish I'd turned off the flash. It totally screws up the colors not to mention putting a big, bright light right in the middle. Still getting used to the new phone/camera.

Work done today (ahem, without the flash).

I will be posting the final picture sometime this weekend. People say, "the picture just doesn't do it justice." I will agree fervently with this caveat: The photograph doesn't include the feeling of paints streaking together under my pallet knife, the merging of colors on the canvas under my brush, the image acquiring depth with a few well-placed strokes of shading, and (my all time favorite) the pungent and nostalgic smell of the oil paints seeping from under the door or striking memories into my brain as I enter the room. But alas, I wax poetic only for brush and canvas. Stop me now . . . no really, I mean it! This is getting ridiculous.

Just in case you're wondering, this painting is for my dad's latest book in his American Dreammakers series (also see above link) which I have been privileged to do the cover art for. Flypaper will hopefully grace my bookshelf sometime next year. Until then . . .

Stay tuned for the final, um, I want to say draft, but that's a writing term. Just stay tuned. There.

P.S. Dad if you're reading this, this is your boost to finish those edits and send me the manuscript.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Awards, Apologies and Playlists, oh my....

Several things of note today. First of all I have been awarded the amazing One Lovely Blog award that I've lusted after ever since I saw it on someone elses blog months ago.

The rules of the "one Lovely Blog Award" are as follows:

Accept your award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has sent it to you. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have newly discovered. You must contact the person to let them know that you have chosen them to receive the award.

The lovely Shellie actually awarded it to me first (belated and rather shamefaced thank you) but being in a depressing slump at the time (see this post), I didn't get around to claiming it. Then Nicki Elson was kind enough to nominate me as well and since Thing 1 and Thing 2 hadn't been in one of their more destructive moods, I was in the frame of mind to think about things like pink roses and teacups. Now my choices of those to receive this award go to (drum roll please):

Terra L
Kaitlyn Schulz
Julie Geistfeld
Roxy Haynie
Danyelle Leafty
Vicki Rocho
Talli Roland
Lola Sharp
Krista Lynne Jensen
Maria Savva

If you're someone who has already received it, sorry. If I've miscounted, again sorry. I've been told that I have ADD, so that should work as an umbrella disclaimer for any of my very reasonable failings.

In other news, I finally made a playlist for R.A.G.E. after spending a great deal of my precious writing time scrolling through my iTunes playlist for just the right mood song to get me going. It features but is not limited to songs by Evenescense, Within Temptation and Nightwish. I even threw in a couple of Toby Kieth's patriotic songs.

What songs do you write to?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

10 Things I've Learned So Far

Here are a few things I've learned since I started writing seriously. Now some of them I should have learned in my High School English classes but . . . well . . . Ahem, anyway, here goes in no particular order:

(Disclaimer: If I preach about something and then automatically turn around and fail to accomplish it in this post--I only said I'd learned it, I never said I'd perfected it. You've been warned. I don't want to hear no friggin' guff from any of you.)

1. I've learned the difference between their/there/they're as well as your/you're etc. There is no excuse for not learning grammar basics. This is my craft and I have to be a master of my craft before I can turn it into compelling prose.

2. Adverbs = evil. Words ending in 'ly not only can be overdone to the point of annoyance, they also cheat you out of a chance for more vivid description. Example: I angrily typed this diatribe. Or: My skin flushed with rage as my fingers pounded the keys until stains of blood littered the letters on the keyboard. (Note: However, if you leave adverbs out entirely, someone will notice and also be annoyed. The idea is to make the words invisible. A little evil is okay.)

2. There is always a comma within the quotation marks before a dialogue tag. No dialogue tag, no problem. Put a period within the quote marks.

3. Speaking of dialogue tags, they should be few and far between but in no way eliminated completely. When necessary only use the basic ones: he/she said/asked/whispered. Creativity will not get you points in this case. All the barking, choking, gasping, crying, yelling, laughing, coughing etc. will only make it sound as though your characters are animals in a zoo.

4. Active vs. passive writing. Repeat after me: This sentence is being far too passive. Wait . . . go here for more information on active vs. passive. It may be complicated but it's a super hero concept that might just save your novel.

5. Dialogue should not meander outside of what is completely necessary to move the story along. A little meandering to make it sound real is fine. Too much and the reader starts rolling their eyes and begins flipping through the channels on the TV to find Hawaii 5-0.

6. Speaking of dialogue, each speaker gets to have their own paragraph. Don't let different speakers crowd into each others paragraphs. Separate those little snugglers or else they'll procreate until all you have is one big-a block of text.

7. Don't use twelve words (especially adjectives) where one word will suffice. (Note: I'm not talking about adverbs. By all means use twelve words in place of an adverb if that's what it takes to kill the sucker.) I don't like seeing any knarled, brown, rough, lichen-covered, fungal, buggy, holey, crevassed, ancient, magical trees. (Fine, I could only come up with ten. You get the picture though, right?)

8. Allow your characters some freedom but don't let them take over. By all means you should let the story evolve naturally instead of trying to force it into a box. However, when your characters start acting out of . . . well, character, then it's time to take back the reigns and guide them to safer waters.

9. Writer's block is simply that evil internal critic telling me I'm a failure. (Okay maybe this is just me.) There's no need to listen to snarky voices like that. Better to just finish that !@#$ novel and start listening to real voices like the feedback from beta readers and friends.

!0. There's no substitute for beta readers and critique groups to help to find the flaws, holes and punctuation errors. Of course there's no substitute for a few friends a family (okay and maybe even distant acquaintances) to tell you you're brilliant.

And there you have it. The top ten things I've learned so far as a writer. They are all pretty basic and hopefully things all you writers have learned as well.

What's something you've learned since you started writing?