Latest Entries »
Today I was in one of my moods regarding creativity and decided to share another side of myself. As many of you know, I not only write, but I’m also an artist who specializes in soft pastels and charcoal. I know I’ve shown some of my book covers, but today I felt like sharing some of the other works I’ve come up with over the years.
This first piece is a soft pastel which was inspired by a song by Nina Gordon, “Tonight and the rest of my Life”. Her we have an angelic figure who holds a universe in her arms and behind her you can make out large fingers which in turn cradle her.
This piece was coming along beautifully until it came time to do the face. I couldn’t find the right one to use, or get the angles right. Then my wife stepped in and posed her head just right, and from then on the painting seemed to come alive. It held even more meaning than before to me as I retouched areas and strove to finish it with great love and affection, for now it showed how much she means to me and how she holds MY universe in her arms, forever and always.
This next piece was inspired by Holts’ “The Planets Suite”. Many of us has heard the “Mars, Bringer of War” with its powerful ominous tones, but there are a number of other songs on the album that brings the almost all the planets of our solar system into new and even playful ideas. Having played violin in school for a number of years (no I did not ever play Holts’ music unfortunately) I often found myself drawn into the music as it filled my head with all sorts of wondrous images. So in this piece I tried to capture those moments and feelings in my work. I like to think I succeeded.
Mind you, I do not specialize simply in cosmic inspired artwork. I’m one of those artists who simply paints whatever catches their fancy. Take this Pink Iris for instance. This lovely blossom was growing in our backyard one year and I was totally captivated by how the sun was catching it in just the right way that it seemed to glow. I immediately set up my easel outside and pulled out my pastels and went to work. In one hour I was done. This is probably one of the fastest pieces I’ve ever created, and I was very pleased with the results.
Finally, I wanted to share one of my charcoal pieces. This Spotted Owl, I created from looking at various photos of owls and I came up with this fine, slightly scowling, fellow. While by no means my best charcoal piece, it gives you an idea of some of the effects I’ve been able to achieve in that medium. I was particularly proud of the feathering effects I was able to capture in this piece.
So what does all this have to do with writing? Sometimes an image can give birth to a story, and vice versa. Both inspiration and creativity can take so many forms and need to be expressed in different ways. In my case, I’ve been able to blend the two into my books and enjoy every minute of it, even during the more ‘difficult’ times. They can be a struggle, but they usually lead to some fine results one can be proud of.
If anyone would like to see more of my artwork, you can go to this link at Fine Art America, where prints, pillows, duvets, towels, and so many other items can be purchased with the images beautifully imprinted on them:
I’ll be sharing more images here as I get better quality photos, as well as continuing my posts about my adventures in writing. I must say even after being an Indie Author for 3 years now, I’m still on a learning curve. Is that true for others as well? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks again for tuning. Until next time, take care and keep writing.
We’ve all been there, slaving away at a story and finding yourself getting more lost or frustrated with where it’s going. Even if you have a well planned outline to guide you, there’s always a scene or situation that arises that leaves you flummoxed and frustrated. You can’t seem to move the story or yourself forward for one reason or another. What do you do?
Well, in my case I get up and walk away from the story and I mean in every sense of the word. Step away from your computer and do other things. “But for how long?” I hear you ask. My answer is simply this, “As long as it takes.”
“But I can’t stop writing, I’ve got so many ideas in my head…”
GREAT! Go work on one of those instead. I’m not saying stop writing by any means. What I’m suggesting is that you let your brain work on other projects, or activities such as go bowling…
Take a nice long walk…
In short do whatever else you enjoy or have been thinking about doing and have put off. Let your mind wander and experience something other than trying to figure out your story. Brains need downtime or something new to work on in order to keep them working right. Or like I said before, work on some other stories or ideas not connected to your work in progress.
Sometimes I find working on an entirely different project makes me feel better about having been stuck on the one I’ve stepped away from. I actually relax and feel the same passion and satisfaction from using my creative side.
In my case, I’ve been working on “The Door” for almost two years now and still haven’t finished a 1st draft yet. Why? Because I kept hitting various roadblocks.
And each time I hit one, I’d bang my head against it for days before finally walking away. Then after a while (i. e. a few days, weeks, or even months) I’d come back to it with a new idea and started making progress again. But then I hit another obstacle and had to walk away again. It’s not that I don’t like the story, I love it! It’s crucial to furthering my Para-Earth Series, which may have been part of the problem. I was trying to put TOO much into the story and kept getting myself bogged down, or losing sight of the plot. Within the last year I tried introducing new characters who would appear in later books (such as my vampyre Nathan) which helped open new avenues and scenes, but the story began getting too long and convoluted. I was losing sight of the main characters for “The Door” (Alex, Veronica, Cassandra, Julie). So I pulled him back out of the book. But some of the scenes his presence inspired remained because they were useful.
But then I found the book was almost 70,000 words long, even with Nathan and company’s removal, so I set the book aside again and worked on “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” getting it ready to be released this October.
Now, with “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in the hands of beta-readers who I won’t hear back from until next month, I found myself coming back to “The Door”.
What happened next? I’ll tell you in my next entry.
Until then, take care and keep writing…
This wonderful little piece that shares my feelings on this creature, comes from my good friend and very talented author Aurora Jean Alexander. I highly recommend checking out her site for more shorts and poems, you’ll be glad you did.
It’s an animal, a predator, hidden and smart
It’s scary, strange and to catch it is hard.
It has legs, but no feelers, no fur and no wings
It envelops prey, it bites and sometimes stings.
It has no tongue and doesn’t have teeth
But it has pincers and poison underneath.
You find it in forests, in basements in corners around
It does scare you sometimes, but not with sound.
Superstition says seeing it in the morning makes the day bad
But meeting it at night should make you feel glad.
Some of them are useful, and some are dangerous to see
depending where you live, you better flee.
Some are as tiny as dust you don’t know they are there.
But some others are huge, these are the ones that scare.
Some live in holes and await there their prey
Some others build webs, where they…
View original post 96 more words
I got permission of my fellow author and friend Joe Hinojosa this beautiful short story he posted recently. Joe has authored a number of short stories that I’ve enjoyed tremendously but this one made me smile and cry at the same time. He’s a wonderful author and I hope you enjoy this tale of his as much as I did.
So without further ado, allow me to present “The Storyteller”…
Glenda listened as her great-granddaughter Emily spoke excitedly about her latest accomplishment, securing the movie rights to a book she never heard of before. That was her thing, the reason she woke up in the morning, the reason she went to work as a lawyer for a movie studio. She loved the thrill of competition, thrived in it, excelled in an industry more concerned for making money than for its workers. She reveled in making obscure writers famous, at having that immediate financial impact to make their lives that much better.
Glenda’s granddaughter rolled her eyes, and Glenda struggled not to do the same. At almost a hundred years old, she had lived a long life, though not necessarily a fulfilling one. There wasn’t anything she felt particularly excited about. She did what needed to be done, what she had to do in order to keep her family alive. There…
View original post 1,226 more words
As a writer, I try to avoid talking about choices made by other writers in regards to where they decide to take characters or storylines. I know how much thought must go into each story idea and how it grows, develops, and takes final form. I also understand how certain decisions are in the end solely up to the author.
When J. K. Rowling published the seventh book in the “Harry Potter” Series, I was very one of those readers who was screaming and jumping up and down in a rage at the loss of certain characters (I won’t mention names as there might actually be readers of this blog who have not read her series), because I felt their deaths served no real purpose to the main story itself, especially since some of them took place off camera. Since then, even the author herself has admitted regret in some of the choices she made.
However, all those characters were her own creation and she had full control to do with them as she pleased. Whereas, figures like Captain America and Superman, have been handed off time and again to new writers at their respective company’s behest. But sometimes, certain decisions are made or ideas proposed that are so far out, that one wonders who gave the “Okay” for them in the first place. Especially when those decisions leaves the fans wondering what purpose did it serve?
Superman, who has been one of the longest running characters in existence, had always lived by certain rules and tried to uphold them in even his darkest moments, had his nature changed in Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel”, which left a sour taste in the mouths of a large part of the audience. Having a long-time hero violate their own code of not killing, was more a shocking disappointment than anything. But, Mr. Snyder wanted to take the character in new direction, making his world darker and more gritty, which was a total 180 from the bright colors and hopeful ideals Superman had always represented in the comics.
Now several years later, after a disappointing continuation of that dark world Mr. Snyder’s version of Superman exists in (“Batman Vs. Superman”), we have Marvel Comics publishing a storyline where on of their most iconic characters Captain America, who many have looked to for hope and inspiration, is and has always been a deep undercover agent for Hydra (an offshoot branch of the Nazis back in World War II). This new concept and ‘retconning’ of Cap’s stories over the last 70 years, seems like a slap in the face to readers and fans worldwide.
While Cap has gone down some dark roads at times, the idea that he was actually working for such a diabolically evil organization all this time seems like nothing more than a cheap gimmick by the parent company to sell more books. Unfortunately, I fear it may have just the opposite effect. Marvel higher-ups seem be banking on dragging the story out for a number of issues that will keep the readers coming back for more in order to find the real truth behind this supposed betrayal of everything Captain America has come to represent.
Of course, longtime comic book fans know that sooner or later this whole storyline will be retconned or weeded out when another writer takes over the book down the road, but still it seems to make little sense to even do it in the first place. This fascination some people have of “dirtying up” iconic heroes who have inspired children for decades, is quite frankly bewildering to me. I see no reason for it.
Yet at the same time, I can understand the allure (from a writer’s standpoint) of putting your own spin and touch on characters you’ve read about for years. So-called Fanfictions do it all the time. People insert favorite characters and sometimes themselves, into dark or unusual stories and taking them places one would never expect. This to me is normal. I did it myself for newsletters, and just for fun, among some of the science fiction fan clubs I’ve belonged to over the years. But those stories were always for a specific audience, not for the general public. And this is where I have to question the wisdom of decisions like making Superman darker, or muddying Captain America.
The challenge of taking characters to dark places can be exciting, but if you want them to still shine or be even greater beacons of hope than ever before, you better have one helluva finish for that storyline. At present, I’m not sure what Marvel’s writers have planned and will be sitting on the sidelines to wait and see what they do. Based on interviews with the editor and writers, I don’t have a lot of confidence at this point, but then again writers, like magicians, never shows you what they have planned. They lie and use misdirection constantly in the hopes of giving you a breathtaking finish that leaves you spellbound and wanting more.
I pray Marvel does have something spectacular in mind, because if they don’t, I fear they will have destroyed an iconic character who was created by two Jewish men (Jack Kirby: born Jacob Kurtzberg, and Joe Simon; born Hymie Simon) in 1941, who wanted to create a beacon of hope and justice to a world that needed one more than ever.
After getting my hands on the original “Rosemary’s Baby”, I was fascinated to see where Mr. Levin would take the characters after having left them untouched for almost 30 years. I was not disappointed.
This story takes up 34 years after the conclusion of the first novel. We find Rosemary waking up from a coma she had fallen into some 28 years earlier. Her last memories were of still living in the Bramford, and glancing at her son Andy who had recently celebrated his sixth birthday. From the other side of the walls, she could hear the coven chanting as usual then blackness.
She awakens in the year 1999, to learn that the coven had put her into a long-term care facility under the name of Rosemary Fountain (the last name of one of cults members). Realizing the coven had put her into a coma as they had her friend Hutch, she is outraged and fearful for what had become of her son Andy, whose father is Satan himself.
She soon learns that Andy, has become a respected man of influence who is loved and reknowned around the world. Thanks to her own celebrity status as Rip Van Rosemary, the woman who woke up from a 28 year coma, she uses a television interview to reach out to Andy and let him know she’s alive and well.
After a tearful reunion, she learns that the coven had told Andy she had died in an effort to raise him in their ways. But as Rosemary had hoped at the end of the first novel, his human half made him rebellious and he has been using his ‘influences’ to thwart his father’s plans and machinations. Or so Andy says.
The story continues with Rosemary being both relieved and skeptical of her son’s motives and actions, along with the God’s Children organization he has formed to make changes towards peace and tolerance throughout the world. Yet in spite of all the good she sees he has done, something still does not feel right. Especially in those moments when his horns peek out (literally) and his eyes turn from hazel to “Tiger”. Still she does her best to aid his more noble efforts, not realizing that they are both being manipulated to bring about the end of man on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, when almost everyone in the world will light special candles provided by the God’s Children network.
Many have criticized this book because of how the story ends…
****Warning Spoiler Alert–Do not read further unless you want to know what happens****
Satan reveals himself to have been in Rosemary and Andy’s midst all the time. He even crucifies his son for rebelling against his plans thanks to his mother’s influence. Yet at the moment of Satan’s apparent triumph, Andy manages to send his mother back in time to before his birth and arrange her life in such a way that she and Guy (her husband) do not wind up moving to the Bramford, thus escaping the coven’s trap.
The complaint with this angle is that Rosemary wakes up from this prolonged nightmare (i. e. “It was all a dream…”). Yet we are given clues that it wasn’t and that a part of Rosemary does realize what her son had actually done and that her fondest wish that his human half won out in the end.
Like the first book there is not a lot of gore or outright horror, as seen in other Son of Satan works such as the “Omen” series. Instead, Mr. Levin sticks to the spirit of his original work and plays a psychological game with the readers and Rosemary, leaving us wondering until the end if Andy can be trusted or not.
A brilliant effort by the man who also gave us “The Stepford Wives”.
After reading Miss Du Maurier’s classic “Rebecca” I set out to find more of her works, in particular I wanted to read some of her short works. In “The Doll: THe Lost Short Stories” I found a treasure of tales which left me both fascinated and a bit disconcerted.
One might easily wonder at how I reconcile those two emotions, but I can safely say I learned from the author herself. In this collection of early works, we get to see the sharp insight Miss Du Maurier had to the minds of people. Each story contained in this tome, involve people making bad choices in love and relationships, yet still pursuing objects of affection who are most definitely wrong for them. Those they pursue are either disturbed, toxic, or playing games with the affections of others.
Yet, Miss Du Maurier keeps our interest in each tale, as the reader finds themselves reflecting on their own relationships and behavior, or those of family and friends who they’ve watched go down similar paths. Each story left me disconcerted in one way or another, which only served to demonstrate the keen insight of the author and the mastery of her craft. To evoke such feeling and thoughts in the reader is truly a work of genius.
I certainly look forward to reading more of her works, especially “The Birds” which the great Alfred Hitchcock brought to the screen starring the wonderful Miss Tippi Hedren.