Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art of the Week, Nov. 10

Here's a steampunk-style piece by Hungarian digital artist Kornel Ravadits. Hope it stirs the imagination:

BUDAPEST - Fantasy Panorama
Kornel Ravadits, 2006


Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Worldbuild Sees Its Final Form

As a fantasy writer, I have to love worldbuilding. Taking all the historical and archaeological and social knowledge I've gathered over the years and plunking it down in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Maps, I love maps, too, which helps.

Years ago, before I ever wrote a single word of the novels I'm revising, I drew the world maps for the stories to come. Drew a couple of circles for each half of the globe and started filling in landforms, rivers, mountains, then kingdoms and cities. Common tale, but I wonder if everyone creating a new uncharted world gets those delectable butterflies in the belly by just looking at those vast, empty stretches of territory, yet unpopulated by humanity? Did God feel that way, looking at all the potential of the little globe spinning around in that vast universe? I think he must've. It's the potential that elicits that feeling, endless possibilities before the nitty-gritty of diving down and making it all work together.

Well, last night my husband finally got our scanner to work, so I was able to scan into my computer all those ugly hand-drawn maps. Then I loaded them into the GIMP program. Wow. While the maps have to be in black and white and fit into a smaller space than the old printer paper they were drawn on, they now have mountains that don't look like jiggly triangles! And the names are in readable fonts! And the water has texture! I must admit, they don't look half-bad. They will certainly work for my self-publish project. It will be so strange to see those old maps printed in the front of a book. And since they came before the first word, it's fitting that they will be a reader's first glimpse of my world.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Art of the Week - November 3

I have no idea who painted this or what it's called. But it's striking. A flaming, almost organic, sunset over a dark sea. One of my favorite activities is to drive out west of my house (which is surrounded by trees) and find a treeless hill to watch the sunset. The Great Plains have unsurpassed sunsets. The ocean, too, apparently.

Chiura Obata (1885–1975) Setting Sun: Sacramento Valley, ca. 1925.
Hanging scroll: mineral pigments (distemper) and gold on silk.
Courtesy of Gyo Obata

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Busy Can I Get?

Feels like I'm being pulled in too many directions these days. But the primary writing focus is still the novel. I have set a deadline of December 2011 to get the project wrapped up and the files uploaded at CreateSpace or some other self-publisher. It's all about closure. A decade sitting on this project, trying to expand the horizons into short stories and other novel projects, but still this one lingers. Once I see it in print and hand it out to family and friends, I'll be able to call it done and move on. What a Christmas present that will be. To open that box and see my babies in their final form. That vision is my driving force, and it makes me giddy.

Did I mention that I'm doing my own cover art as well? Ick. When I was little, I took my crayons and paper and color books everywhere, but I'm no Rembrandt. The love for that kind of expression just no longer resides in my little heart. I have the basic skills to get the project done, but it's the rare day that I can force myself to pick up the pastels and paint another portion of the picture. Not sure how it will look once I scan it into the computer. If it's too terrible, I'll search the web for something appropriate and copyright free, though searches so far have turned up nil. Thus my decision to paint the cover myself. Really, so far, I'm not too disappointed in how it looks. A moody post-battle scene with dead bodies and ravens and a sunrise. At least, I hope that's what it will look like to others. Meh.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My First Review!

Well, after Milo told us about his fantastic review, found right here at blogspot, I decided to find out if July's issue of Kaleidotrope had received any kind of review yet. So I googled it. Ah, the wonders of Google. It seems that SFRevu writes up reviews of several SF&F magazines, and Kaleidotrope happens to be one of them. Sam Tomaino had this to say about my novelette "Fire Eater":

Cort Ellyn's "Fire Eater" gives us Mother Mirrah who wants justice for a draeling, a creature that is partly human, who she is convinced was unjustly imprisoned 140 years ago. She talks with him and has great sympathy for him. I won't reveal how this one turns out, but I will say that is was a very well-written story.

Cool, huh? I had read a review of Kaleidotrope before and the critic that day had nothing good to say. Seriously he must've been in a bad mood or something. So I had cause to be nervous. But all's well that ends well, right?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Writing High

Last week was hellacious, in a fun way. At least it ended that way. So I missed another week of posting, but no apologies this time. Life was hectic. In short, I was stuck in a house with eleven family members, half of whom were under the age of ten. Aaaah! Chaos. During the day the kids played with Tinker Bell dolls and watched really cheesy movies like Lady and the Tramp 2 and Alvin and the Chipmunks 2. Whatever happened to the originals that lacked the overdose of cheese? Well, at least in the case of the first above-mentioned movie there was no cheese, just spaghetti and creepy Siamese cats. In the evenings, we made smores around the firepit. Nice.

While I was happy to be with my chaotic family for a few days, the get together fell right in the middle of a writing high. I was pumping through the rewrites on the novel and experiencing that rare and amazing joy, so Monday and Tuesday, while I was preparing for this get-together, I was roaring and ranting and just ugly to be around b/c I was having to cut that high short. "High short"? How about "cut short that emotional high." Yeah, that's better. The inner editor is on key today, folks. Sorry about that. Point is, got home Friday night, so Saturday I dove (dived) back in and got through another chapter. I have only three chapters left until I finish this first half. Then it's on to the nasty second half that hasn't been touched in half a decade or more. I'm scared to see what's lurking in those cobwebby pages. I'll probably die of gag disease.

By the way, it's Monday! So here's some art for your brain:

Telling a Story Stitch by Stitch
Bayeux Tapestry, detail

Page from the Belleville Breviary
John Pucelle, 1323-26

When the written word merited this kind of attention.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Art and Apologies

Oh, dear. I neglected to post last week b/c I was laid up on the couch with a cold. 'Tis the season, says I. Nasty germs. But I'm over the worst, so here's some art for brainfood:

Sandro Botticelli, 1485-6

A modern take on Botticelli's Venus,
unknown artist