Monday, August 30, 2010

Art and Jon Snow

Well, it's almost Tuesday and I haven't even thought about my "art of the week" entry. I think I'm gonna have to rework my little idea, to post some strange-lovely-wonderful art whenever I can post other material. Well, I'm posting, so how about some art? -

by Ted Nasmith
(courtesy of

I've never had cause to anticipate a calendar before, but I can't wait till the new year so I can stare at paintings of the settings of my favorite novels ever, all year long. This one depicts, as the title says, the massive wall made of ice that protects southern Westeros from all the baddies of the far north of the world in George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Now, personally, I'm not a huge fan of Nasmith. His human figures are stiff and unnatural, in my humble opinion, but his landscapes and cityscapes are really spectacular. I had imagined the buildings of Castle Black a little more rundown than depicted in this piece, but I suppose it might've looked like this a few centuries before Jon Snow signed up for the crows ... er, Night's Watch. So I can't complain. Anyhoo, I'm excited about this collection of art. Saw the calendar on the shelf yesterday and got to gawk at it before my husband rushed me out the bookstore door. He has to keep tabs on me when I'm in a bookstore or bad things will happen ... like weighing down the counter at the checkout and depleting a tiny bank account to nothing. I didn't have $16 in my purse so I had to put the calendar back on the shelf with a sigh -- and the slight terror that next time all these beauties will be bought up and I'll miss out. Please, please, please, someone save one for me.

Such wistful and powerful depictions (and the occasional reread of the previous novels) will tide me over until Dances With Dragons hits the shelves. *sigh* Ah, the waiting is exquisite.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Art of the Week, Comparing

It's Monday already!? Yikes. Well, I wanted to try something a little different this time by posting two works of similar subject matter, but in totally different styles:

by Dale Wicks
(courtesy of

by Degas

Early morning coffee and a stiff, hallucinogenic drink after hours. What could be better? Seriously, I love viewing these two side by side. People in repose, moods totally different, styles of human creativity at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet not. Colors and strokes separated into small dabs and small areas to create a whole that works.

About writing. Revisions have begun on "Dreamflier." I can openly write about it by title now. It didn't win the Shredder contest. Ah, well. It was up against some fun entries, so at least the contest made for a good reading and critiquing experience. While I can't agree with the voters who complained about some mysterious grammar issues (I'm a grammar Nazi, after all, and still haven't found anything wrong grammatically), they were right about the opening being less than smooth. I can do better. And now that I don't feel constricted by a word count requirement, I feel free to elaborate on some setting, etc. to fill out the picture. Can't wait to submit this one!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Art of the Week, Aug 16

by Albrecht Durer, 1513

I love Durer's copper engravings. The stories they tell, the texture and lighting conveyed. His work was groundbreaking, setting new standards in this particular medium.

There's so much going on in this example, it takes a while to take it all in. The trees and Death's nag, especially, bring to mind the later work of Arthur Rackham, while the knight's warhorse is gorgeously Italian in influence.

Last May, I had the privilege to travel through southern Germany by train. It wasn't until I opened the tourist's map of Nuremberg that I realized Durer was from that city, an unexpected treat. His house, painted gaudily in red, still stands beneath the old medieval wall and reconstructed Nuremberg Castle. The place was packed with tourists, so I didn't pay to go in, just stood and stared in awe at the exterior and tried to absorb the vibes of genius. Not sure my efforts paid off. Ah, well.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Stories and Falling Stars

I'm so pumped! Yesterday I finished the rough draft of the story inspired by the LegendFire contest prompt (can't mention the title as voting is still underway). It's been a long time since I've been this excited by a story idea and this pleased by the results. Not sure I've ever written a story this quickly either. In other words, it's been too long since I've experienced that magic that happens when the story falls together and tumbles out virtually without effort. A couple of brainstorming sessions and the thing flowed like silk. I couldn't decide which ending I was going to go with until the day before I wrote it; if I couldn't predict how it would end, likely a reader won't either.

And when the author feels this optimistic about a story, my hope is that an editor will pick up on that, too. I mean, I've written some crap stories. I knew they were crap, and they're still reeling in rejections. The only issue is that this story is 3000 words longer than what I had aimed for. 8k is an average length for my work. So while I'm not surprised, it would've been nice to keep the word count down a bit. Still, the story has meat, and that matters enormously to me. So 8k it is.

Last night was also the night for the best viewing of the meteor shower. Comet shower? Meh, whatever. So a little before midnight, my husband and I drove out to the middle of nowhere to count shooting stars. To the northeast we have terrible light pollution from OKC, but we were still able to count 17 for-sure shooting stars in little less than an hour. Others in the peripheral vision or right after a blink may have been legit too, but we didn't count those. Cows lowing in the distance, crickets and an owl, along with the wind in the high grass made for a lovely hour under the stars.

(Next writing project, while I'm slogging away on the novel revisions: another Lucien Levenger story, inspired by Sam's Dot anthology idea about Potter's Field. Whether or not I'll submit the story to them remains to be seen.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Art of the Week, Aug 9

by Caravaggio, 1599-1600

The contrast of light and dark, the realism, expressions, movement, are all reasons why Caravaggio is one of my favorite painters. (If you've not had a chance to examine this one, please expand it to full size and indulge)

His work appeals to me as a historian as well. I mean, check out the costuming. My historical fashions reference books don't come in color.

And a bizarre combination of clothing it is. Doublets and hose you might see in a Romeo and Juliet play up against what I assume is more what folks in Jesus's time might actually wear. An artist's license, I suppose.

About writing... It's wonderful when one word inspires a great idea, the brain cooperates and runs with it, and things fall together. At LegendFire, our irreplaceable Bird is hosting a contest in our Shredder forum. The deadline for submissions is today. The entry I wrote for last year's Shredder contest has yet to go anywhere. But this year's entry is blooming like a garden. It's been a long time since I've been this excited and optimistic about a story idea. I've come to a place near the middle climax where my vision is less clear, and so I'm stalling on diving in today. Clearly. I'm blogging instead. Shame on me. Well, now that I've confessed there's nothing to be done but get to it.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

My First Blogger Award!

Wow, I always wondered what the big deal was with these awards bloggers passed around. I received my first one this week. Yay! Nicole Murray was kind enough to award me this lovely Find and Friend Award:

Apparently the goal is to pass it on to five other bloggers. Usually I don't participate in those chain-type emails and whatnot, but I don't want to break any blogging rules. In truth, I'd love to award it to everyone who managed to stumble onto my corner of cyberspace, but to start I'll just give it to the five who have been keeping tabs on my ramblings the longest:

Stephanie Thornton, whose award-winning blog revolves around her WIP, a novel about the female Egyptian pharoah, Hatshepsut.

Martin Turton, my writing friend from England who seems to have fallen off the face of the planet!

Milo Fowler, whose insightful blog focuses on the writing world.

Izzey, who posts her powerful poetry in her blog, "Life's Peculiarities," for all to enjoy.

L.T. Host, who is one of four creative and informative writers who contribute to The Secret Archives of the Alliterati

If you haven't stopped by Nicole Murray's blog, check out her gorgeous jewelry under "SalvagedBeauty" (if that's your thing. It's certainly mine), and her Wednesday WIP that includes snippets from her novel and other fiction she's working on.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Art of the Week

I'd like to try something and see if I can stay dedicated enough to it to keep it updated.

One of my favorite past times (when I have few a moments between activities or just to chill) is to find new and exciting art. Art History I, II, and III were, I believe my favorite courses in college, and believe it or not the ones that have proven most useful since. Art is everywhere. Iconic images are plastered on billboards, advertisements, television programs. Dozens of artistic styles from ancient Celtic to Art Nouveau enhance what might otherwise be dull webpages and letterheads. Point is, I love art! I love the way every style and movement from past centuries makes a new appearance here and there. All of humanity's past creativity meshed together in a tireless, eclectic mix that both honors that past while creating something new.

Instead of paying good money I don't have to collect my favorite art, I collect art images from across the web. Granted, most of my collection to date consists of art from the fantasy genre as that's what inspires my writing to expand to strange, new horizons (a necessity, for sure), and I can't apologize for that as there are some exciting things going on in the world of fantasy art. So along with the work of more classic, more widely known artists that one might find in a college text book, I mean to present a few from our contemporary, speculative genres as well. Images to inspire, challenge, and move anyone who cares to take a look.

To begin this whole project, the following is one of my all-time favorite paintings:

by Keith Parkinson
Magazine cover, oil on masonite

I think it's the isolation, the loneliness that comes with dedication to duty, that cause this piece to move me. And, of course, having a dragon to ride to work everyday is just too cool.