Monday, June 28, 2010

I've been reading a lot of blog posts lately by some of the teens who follow my blog. A common thread seems to be tying them together. Several of these amazing young women have been posting about their struggles with keeping Christ first in their lives, and seeing themselves as worthy of God's love.

Happily, they are realizing at a young age that God's grace is what makes them worthy, and they are accepting that grace and letting go of those fears and self-doubts. Some of their stories have brought tears to my eyes. I've wanted to leave comments for them, but I can't seem to grasp the right words.

So, here, let me make an attempt.

I am proud of you. I am amazed by you. I wish I had stuck to my faith when I was your age. I let anger take over, and doubt, and rejection. And those things are so hard to get rid of once you have let them take root in your life. So continue, as you are, to rip them out NOW.

I'm not going to say it's easy, because it's not. Some days it's going to feel down-right impossible. You may spend days, weeks, years, feeling like you're taking one step forward and two steps back. But do NOT ever stop taking those forward steps.

And thank you. Thank you for being honest and opening up to your friends and fellow bloggers, and showing each other that you...we...are not alone. That we all struggle. Thank you for not donning the plastic mask of Christianity. You are lucky to have each other, and I am lucky to have you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Catching Up and Other Suchness

(Yes, I'm making up words for my post title.)

Another "lots of little stuff" post today. Looks like July is going to be slammin' for me. Coming next month:

"Frog Face"--a short story in Flashes in the Dark on July 13

"Fire Wall"--a short story in The Absent Willow Review on July 16

"The Artist" (originally in Mindflights) will appear in the print magazine Beyond Centauri

A drawing of mine will grace the cover of Digital Dragon Magazine

Caprice Hokstad's book, The Duke's Handmaid, will officially release. A couple of final tweaks have been made on the cover, including changing the tilt on the key I drew to make it more easy to see. Here's the final cover:

The publisher has also decided to use the key as part of the chapter headings, and a tiny version for scene breaks. How cool is that?

Speaking of book covers, I've come up with another design for Finding Angel. I'm not posting it quite yet, though. I appreciate all the comments on the other one, both positive and negative, and am taking all of it in while I do more designs. I have to say that the comment Jeff Chapman added today is the one that has hit the mark for me. He said a book cover can't possible convey an entire story, or the cover easily becomes cluttered. It must be eye-catching, though, and intrigue the potential reader. I agree with that 100%. Of course, it should be significant to the story--a space ship, no matter how cool, does not belong on the cover of a fantasy that has not one space ship in it. But since the elements I included on my original cover design are in fact quite significant to the story, I've kept them, but I'm working on making the overall image more cohesive and eye-catching.

And last, but not least, another NOTEBOOK NUGGET. Well, actually, two.

The first is a Bible verse that I really, really need to keep in mind these days:

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

The other, a fortune:

"A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations." The key word there, of course, is self-imposed.

Seek Him with all your heart, and stop holding yourself back from your full potential. It may not seem that way at first, but if you think about it you'll see that these two ideas are inextricably tied together.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Big Ole Hypocrite

Well, I bought a Nook.

Yep, after my big ole diatribe about how I'm not jumping on that wagon...I jumped on the wagon.

Am I ashamed?

Heck, no.

Originally, the Nook was $259. I had started looking at it seriously, though, when Barnes and Noble tacked on a $50 gift card with every order. Then, I suddenly got a panicky feeling, as though I'd be making a huge mistake by buying it. I looked at a Kindle again. Nope, it wasn't that. I just wasn't ready.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday I got an email from Barnes and Noble regarding the Nook and it's new price. The one that had originally been $259 is now $199. And they added another one--the only difference being it's Wi-Fi only rather than 3G...and it's $149.

Yes, I caved! For that price, come on! Who can blame me?

Oh, shake that finger all you want. Talk about me behind my back. Call me a hypocrite....

I have a Nook and you don't :P.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Judging a Book by Its Cover....

First, thanks to those who left comments on the Finding Angel book cover. The over-all consensus seems to be that it's a good design but doesn't clearly convey the concept of the story. The beetle and locket are key elements in the story, which is why I chose that image. The wood...well wood and trees play a lot of roles as well. It's a situation in which you'd understand the significance of it all if you've read the book. The challenge seems now to find something that is understandable and intriguing to those who have not.

I'll state that I've found I nearly always ignore cover art when choosing a book. If it's really bad--as in amateurish, not ugly--it can dissuade me, for fear that the story inside will be hack. I enjoy cover art that is obviously produced by a talented painter or such, but then it is the ability of the artist I'm admiring and I know that doesn't translate to a good story, and I wouldn't buy the book based on the art. I focus mostly on title, sometimes bypassing the back-cover blurb in favor of going straight to the story itself. To be honest--many of my very favorite novels sport cover art I don't like at all!

So, let me ask you...what are some of your favorite book covers? Do they match the stories within? And do your favorite covers line up with your favorite books?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Playing Around With Book Covers

If you've been following me, you know I'm an artist as well as a writer. I'd never given much thought to doing book covers, though, because my favored medium for art is charcoal. I like pencil drawing as well. But neither of those involves color, and we all like color on our book covers.

So, several months ago when the owner of Splashdown Books put out a call for artists because she needed an illustration of a key for a book cover, I passed it by. But, several days later, I needed to email her about something else entirely and mentioned that I'd given thought to trying the key but that I only do black and white drawings. She surprised me by writing back that B&W would be fine.

I drew the key.

She bought the drawing. And it's now an integral part of a book Splashdown will be releasing on July 1st--The Duke's Handmaid, by Caprice Hokstad.

A few weeks later, I got another email, regarding another cover for a Splashdown title. This time, a graphic novel type drawing for a superhero spoof. No worries about color again because she only needed the outline drawing and would be colorizing it with her photo editing program. So, September first, look for my drawing of Dave, aka Powerhouse, on the cover of Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham. I don't have an official cover image to show you yet, as the publisher is still finishing the details.

All of this got me to thinking about my own book, and the cover art I'd like to see on it. I've not landed a publishing contract quite yet--although interest has been expressed--that's all I can say right now--but if I go with a small press I'll have real say in the cover art. Maybe not complete control, but definitely input. And as an artist myself, I thought it'd be cool to try something that could potentially land MY drawing on MY cover.

Here's the first result:

The locket and link it's hanging on are all drawn by me. The upside-down beetle is my original design. I blacked out the background of the scanned image, and uploaded it into a program that is actually designed for making greeting cards and some other things, but it's got features I don't have in my other photo editing software.

What do you think? Be honest!

I'm going to work on more mock-ups. I'm not sure this one conveys the right "feel" for Finding Angel. But it's been fun playing around.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paper, please.

I've got quite a few ebooks stored on my computer via Kindle for PC, and it's been pretty nice. Since I have a netbook, the compact size makes reading on a computer more convenient than using a desktop or even a standard laptop. And it's lightweight, so I can carry it around almost as easily as you can carry around an ereader.

But, there are disadvantages to reading ebooks with a computer app. First, you have to boot up the computer and start up the app, rather than just hitting the "on" button and going instantly to the book. Also, the screen on a computer is back lit, so it tends to tire your eyes. Plus, the battery life of a netbook is much shorter than that of an ereader, so I have to be able to keep it plugged in a good amount of the time.

This has all gotten me researching ereaders. I like the convenience and ease of buying ebooks. And all the free ones out there--well, who doesn't like free?

I've compared online, and handled both the Nook and Kindle in person. They are both very cool. After careful deliberation, I decided on a Nook.

I won't go into the reasons for that choice, though, because I have since decided against both.

I've just realizded I'm not ready to jump on the boat with both feet yet. I like being able to nab a free ebook here and there. If it's free I don't feel so bad about not reading it if I don't have time. But paying nearly full price for an ebook...I just can't stomach it. If I'm going to spend $10 on a book, I want to be able to put it on my shelf if I love it. Or pass it on to a friend or the library if I don't.

As I said, I've already got several free books on my Kindle for PC. I could buy a Kindle and use that to read them, more pleasantly than on my netbook. But spending $259 to read free books? Doesn't add up to me. Besides, I like the Nook better, and I can't read Kindle books on a Nook. So, I'd still have to read all those free books on my netbook. (Yes, I know Barnes & Noble has a computer app now, too. I have that loaded, and yes I can get some free books through them, too. Of course, they're not the SAME free books, so one way or the other, Nook or Kindle, I have to resort to the netbook for part of my libary.)

Sounds like I'm talking in circles, eh? Well, that's pretty much the direction my brain's been going over this. I suppose when an ereader comes out that will allow me to buy books from whomever I want--Amazon, B&N, Borders, or anyone else--and read them all on one machine, with one library, I'll reconsider. I have a feeling that's not going to happen, though.

For now, I guess I'll stick to my paper books, and my computer apps, and keep reading.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homeschooling Column

Just a reminder to everyone that I've been doing a once-a-month post on the "Teaching Stuff" blog as sort of a representative for homeschooling. My latest post is up: "Progress."

You can sign up as a follower of "Teaching Stuff" to make sure you don't miss any of my posts :).

Well, I guess this means I need to get started on the next article....

Monday, June 7, 2010

What makes it all worthwhile...

This year an anthology came out that contains a story I wrote about my Grandmother. It took months for the publishing process. Then, I had to order copies of the book. The publisher is in Canada, so we're talking international shipping, which can take a while. In my case, a while meant forever (or never, depending how you look at it) as the package got lost in the mail. I had to email the publishing company (nice people! no issues with them!) in order to get another shipment sent out. Finally, though, I got the copies of the anthology.

I gave copies to my Grandmother (my dad's mom), my dad and my aunts. It was a teary scene :).

Here's a picture of me and my dear Grandmother (holding the book, and the mirror that had belonged to her--now me--which inspired the story):

Tell me that face wasn't worth the wait!

(BTW--she is 97 years old. Sharp as a tack, too.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"This" and "That"

THIS: My latest is a poem in a newly launched magazine called A Flame in the Dark. Their focus is Christian horror, suspense, and thrillers. Hop on over and read "Serpent Uncoiled."

THAT: I was hoping for more responses to my last blog post. But I understand not everyone has an opinion on ebooks since they're, relatively speaking, a fairly new phenomenon. Still, it seems like with the pace at which their popularity is growing, more people would have chimed in. I do appreciate the opinions of those who provided them.

There is a very real reason I asked the ebook question, though. I can't share all the details, but a small press has shown interest in Finding Angel. A print version is the ultimate goal, but the publisher's print calendar is full for 2010, and 2011 depends a bit on the success of the 2010 releases. In the meantime an ebook version could be put out, but it would be a waste of time for everyone if my audience (mostly teens, that is) does not read ebooks.

So, if you have anything to add to the discussion given that information, go to it. If not, no biggie. I'm still chugging along.