Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks...

For turkey
For cake and cookies in abundance
For great story ideas
For a husband who is patient with me while I express those ideas
For 33 years filled with precious memories
For a family that made those memories possible
For Lady and Manalito, who teach me about priorities and unmerited blessings
For a country where I am still free to worship my Savior

Did anyone eat as much as I did? I feel like a butterball myself. For a couple of months I've been carefully monitoring my eating, so this weekend, I ate with impunity. Guiltless enjoyment. Now I never want to eat again. I say that every year. :D

Also, I have the privilege of buying Christmas presents for a boy in Mozambique. His name is Manalito and he's twelve, and I have no idea what 12-year-old boys want for Christmas. The necessities are easy, but what about the fun stuff? I'm recruiting my sister's help. Maybe she'll know what to do.

Regardless, a little boy on the other side of planet Earth has become precious to me. And seeing how he lives has taught me, not to feel guilty for the house I live in and the clothes in my closet and the food on my table, but to believe that we who live in this wealthy country have a primary responsibility of seeing to the needs of these children. I wish I could buy them running water, but toothbrushes and socks will have to do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Ideas, Rare and Precious

It's rare anymore for me to find a story idea that takes hold of my imagination and hangs on till I reach "The End." I feel like I'm floundering about, pretending to be busy with a great idea until a better one comes along. All the while, the mental tentacles are feeling around for that new inspiration. It's a murky sea, with low visibility most of the time.

So I was checking out the upcoming themes list on Duotrope the other day and came across an anthology by Dead Robots' Society that grabbed hold of one of those mental feelers and wouldn't let go. The prompt for Explorers: Beyond the Horizon is "characters forever changed by their discovery of lands and worlds beyond their own." I have rarely found a prompt more suited to my taste. Half a dozen possibilities rose amid a frenzied brainstorm session. I finally went with one and started typing. The only problem is that the word count must be under 5000 words. I have trouble keeping stories under 8000, so this will be a challenge. Even if the anthology doesn't accept the story, their prompt gifted me with the brainfood that those mental tentacles were grasping for.

Granted, I undertook this brainstorm session while sipping tea laced with cold medicine. Does anyone else find that while on cold medicine their inner critic shuts up and ideas flow? Or is that my lame equivalent of an LSD trip? Ah, well.

Here's some art to ponder:

by Adelaide Labille-Guiard, 1785

We don't hear about too many women painters before the modern era. But this one is a jewel. That fact that Labille-Guiard featured the two future female artists under her wing in this grand self-portrait lets us know that they were out there, creating beautiful things in the vast shadows of their male colleagues. Though I seriously doubt these women painted while wearing their finest. :D Enjoy!

(Click on the pic twice to blow it up all the way. The lady even painted the seam in that shiny dress. Fantastic)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Art of the Week, Sci-Fi

I have neglected to post any art from the sci-fi realm. Shame on me, for there are some amazing images appealing to the techie side of humanity lurking around out there. I just found a gorgeous one by JP Targete and thought I would share. I guess this one is a little more speampunk-ish, too:

JP Targete, 2003

As for writing, I have an enormous stack of paper to get through in one year's time. I have to remind myself that the text is printed on only one side of the paper. Then I remember that, b/c there will be so much new material and so many changes in the details, I will have to revise twice -- at least. I'm not panicking yet. Besides, I've set my own deadline. I can move it if I want. But I've already told too many people I'm shooting for December 2011. To hell with that. It's my deadline, I can move it if I want! Nope, not panicking. Though I do need to stop blogging now and get to those revisions . . .


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.