Thursday, January 29, 2009

More character sketches for Roe!

It's so much fun to see what an artist can do with your characters. Sometimes, the resutls are...mystifying, like when a magazine artist made drew of my Rescue Sisters in a form fitting spacesuit--and gave her a figure that would have made Barbie jealous. And inhumanly large hands. Needless to say, the magazine ran a different illustration, but I kept a copy of the sketch in my files. To this day, I wonder just what I wrote in the story to have made him imagine a nun looking like that.

Roe Mesquita, cover artist for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, has not read the book. He's been going off the descriptions I've sent him (and some pictures off the Internet.) A couple of days ago, he sent these sketches of the supporting characters:

I'm thrilled with the results. I love how with just a few details, he managed to capture the personality as well as the look of most of these characters.

Galendor: I gave Roe a picture of Legolas for this one, and told him to age it a bit. Galendor looks angry because in the cover, he and Gozon will be fighting. I wasn't sure about the cheekbones, but I like him.
Gozon: Oh! Roe caught the aging powerful beaurocrat look very well. Gozon will always look like this in my mind now.
Sister Grace: By far, my favorite. Sweet and intelligent. In Live and Let Fly, Vern comments that he could be happy just watching Grace smile at him all day. Vern adores this sketch.
Kent is actually Garn, but that was my bad--I switched the names in the description. I love him, though, and Garn is who we need for the cover, anyway.
Galinda is just lovely, with a touch of pert. I'd always imagined Galinda with tight waves in her hair for some reason, but didn't mention them in the description. I'm glad I didn't--Roe's sketch is so Faerie Princess in the Mundane world.
Coyote: I didn't like Coyote much at first, and my daughter Amber agrees. We'd always imagined him more "boy band" and less "Geronimo." Rob, however, tooka look and commented, "Not what I expected, but he nailed him." So I looked at some photos online of Native Americans and that is the right face. However, the expression is wrong. No matter how conniving Coyote may be, it never shows on his face. He's the happy-go-lucky dog type--the kind that gets into your trash can and looks at you as if saying, "I found the bacon grease! Aren't you so proud? What a fun game! Can I have a cookie now?" I sent him back some photos of panting coyotes and happy Labradors to give him an idea of what I mean.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fun Working with a Cover Artist

I've said it before and I'll say it again: one great thing about working with a small press is getting to work with the cover artist.

Roe has already considered my suggestions and come back with the next iteration of Vern. I love it. I feel like he's caught the fun side of Vern's personality, which, really, Vern has just been discovering himself.

The only thing I still didn't like are the eyes. In part, I'm not thrilled with the "googly" factor (the circle and lines surrounding the eyeball), but more than that, I've made a big point in Live and Let Fly that Vern has 270 degree vision because of the position of his eyes--but that he can only see directly in front of him because of magic. In Live and Let Fly, as his magic drains, he starts going blind in front of his nose.

I'd already sent Roe some links to illustrations of the eyes I was thinking of, so to make sure he understood what I meant, this time, I decided to draw them myself.

As you can see, I traced over his sketches and made my changes. I'm a good tracer. :) I know he'll make it look terrific.

Someone asked me about the style we'd chosen, and why we didn't go for something more grand. We deliberately chose a cartoony/caricature style because it best suits the tone of the book. I spent an hour in the bookstore looking at the different cover styles and deciding what they said to me. Even the painting-style covers of books I knew were humorous did not say "slapstick," and they tended to blend in with the high fantasy or even get pushed out of the limelight. However, these covers stand out:

Myth, Inc. by Robert Asprin (RIP) and Jody Lynn Nye are similar in tone to Magic, Mensa and Mayhem and Phil Foglio's covers reflect the book perfectly. I wanted the same for MM&M. In fact, if I'd thought I had a chance at getting Foglio, I'd have jumped, but I'm glad I got Roe Mesquita. He's great to work with.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Making an Obamanation out of Simple Responsibility

We have a new President, and I know a lot of people are excited about that, but I've got to tell you, the Obama-rama is really starting to annoy me.

Frankly, this doesn't even have to do with President Obama himself. (That's a separate issue.) It's the "celebrating a new era" that really is the old era for most of us, just with fancier dressing. Case in point is a YouTube video about how Obama is ushering in a "new era" of personal responsibility. I won't post the YouTube link because I refuse to submit anyone to such schmaltzy feel-good celebrity back-patting. Essentially, you have about 15 seconds of flashy OBAMA hype followed by a bunch of celebrities smiling as they pledge to do the kind of things ordinary people have been doing for ages:
* be a good mother (WHAT was she before?)
* help feed the poor (been doing that for years myself--is this a new idea?)
* find a cure of Alheimers (with her theater degree?)
* I pledge to CONTINUE my work for Unicef (so she's already been doing something good, but now that Obama is President, it's special?)
* consider themselves a American and not an African-American (This one makes me especially furious because its what we ALL should have been doing for ages.)

What is boils down to is "I pledge to take part in propagandizing responsible behavior as as something newly inspired by the Obama administration."

It's along the lines of all those commercials of movie stars who were nowhere near New York nor had family there talking about how 9-11 has traumatized them and changed their lives. By airing their personal pain, they trivialize the people who were experiencing real pain--and not just in the US. In the same way, this "celebrate Obama" video trivializes the millions of ordinary citizens who don't pledge but have actually been good parents, worked for charities, spent years of studying in order to become the kind of people who can find a cure for Alzheimer's, continue working for a charity (big or small) without advertising themselves, and have not bought into the need to separate themselves from our joint heritage by making themselves a sub-section of the American people.

Are we really such a spoiled brat people that we need to wear our tragedies like badges of honor and our responsibilities like a medal?

I wish I had the resources to make a counter video. I'd show my friend, living alone in Alaska with six kids while her husband is deployed to Korea. There's a good mom.
I'd show people actually working in the soup kitchens and doing food drives like they have for years. They are feeding the poor. I'd show the PhD who can't afford a nice car because he's still paying off student loans while he does post-doc work in neurology. He's our best hope to find a cure for Alzheimer's.

And I'd post this guy. Here's someone who has been looking past his color to look at the issues not because it's the new "cool."

One more thing: this is an interesting take on the "difference" between what Bush and Obama say. Skip the sarcasm in the beginning but look at the clips from their speeches:

Guess what? Some things never change--they just want you to believe they have.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Chili of 1989 Lives Again!

The first meal I ever made for Rob was before we were dating. I was having a movie night and made a big pot of chili. It was my first experience with chili, so I spent a lot of time fussing over it. I'd add spice, stir, taste, add a little more... When it was just right, I put the pot in the fridge. I'd made it in the morning, and the party was late afternoon.

No one ever told me the awesome power of steeping chilis. In four short hours, that chili went from "just right" to "nuclear fusion." Even the most stout-hearted of taste buds survived only after a liberal amount of cheese, crackers and milk. It made culinary history, along with the Gravy That Stood On Its Own and the Turkey That Set The Oven Afire.

This weekend, my daughter had her Confirmation retreat. I agreed to make chili for the kids. I've become quite a pro at it, and usually make it mild in deference to my kids. I thought, "These are teens, so I'll spice it a bit." I tasted, added, tasted, added...

And stopped. I remembered the chili of 1989.

What I didn't remember was that I was supposed to make chili for Saturday, not Friday. So I had to take the pot back home and stick it in the fridge, where it steeped and chili juice seeped for 24 hours.

Yes, The Chili of 1989 Lives Again!

Fortunately, someone else made mild chili, so they mixed it. It gave them a few laughs--and me, too--and we brought the leftovers home. Where they are steeping in the fridge.

My youngest, the spicy daredevil, wants some for lunch. I have a gallon of Lactaid waiting.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Great article for writers new to Twitter--who to follow! Good for others, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We have a cover artist!

W00t! We have a cover artist for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem!

The other artists I'd mentioned earlier did some sketches of Vern, and although they are very talented, they didn't get the feel Dindy (the publisher) and I wanted, so we started the search anew. We considered about a dozen other artists as recommended by friends and acquaintances. I perused art websites and DeviantArt... I was getting worried.

Last week, three talented finalists sent their sketches. One by Gregory Price made me laugh.

It wasn't quite Vernish. I sent him some suggestions; lots of suggestions. Maybe I scared him? Either way, he had a family emergency happen after Christmas and could not have completed the work.

Another artist, Justin Shauf, Sent me this one at the last minute. Can you believe this is his first time drawing a dragon?

My daughter, who goes by Amblifier, had a great sketch going, but at 13 wasn't ready for the assignment, and didnt' get the sketch done by deadline. However, her concept was very good. You may see some of her stuff on my stories I sell as PDFs later. She wants to finish her sketch before I put it up.

So, we have Roe. Yay! Dindy found him on Deviant Art, and he's doing another cover for her, so we know he has experience. Roe is from Brazil and had a comic-book style that I wanted for MM&M. English is his second language, so I was very impressed that he was able to parse my long-winded description of Vern and come up with the sketches above. (I sketched the changes I thought needed to be done.)

I'm relieved the search is over and excited to see what the cover looks like.

Want to know how Vern felt about being sketched? Go to and read it for yourself.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

getting interviewed on internet radio in 30 minutes:
call in at (646) 929-1455
7 pm est
MORE PETA: Seakittens? How about riverkittens, lakekittens, swampkittens... Do seakittens chase swamprats?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take 2: Fall ends, birds take flight/duties fulfilled, scarecrow rests/on the frigid drift
I'll put a photo up on my blog Thursday
Minot haiku: lone scarecrow reposed/on frigid drift, awaiting death/it's winter all right
Ending could be more profound...nah
Minot ditty: half hour of sun/grab the shovel and run!/more snow to come
Minot Haiku: billowing snow arches/bare the cold sidewalk below/i love snowblowers
Haiku for Rob: Walk a missile site/sinking waist deep in the snow/who put a ditch there?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Final scrub of Magic Mensa and Mayhem sent to Swimming Kangaroo. How do those typos sneak back in?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Last for the night: Hey, PETA: I just got a new seakittening rod!
Vern: If PETA tries to change my species name to "cavebunny," can I flame them?
Will PETA next lobby to have all seakittens spade and neutered?
PETA: Giving cat haters a reason to live since 2009.
Alex's addition: No--Octopus Prime!
PETA: the Fish are petitioning for the name Sub Optimus Prime or Sea-World of Warcraft.
bah! wrote myself into a corner again!
PETA Primer: Seakittens! Seakittens swim. Swim, kittens,, uh, wait...
PETA does Shakespeare: What's in a name? A fish by any other name would smell, wait...
PETA wants to rename fish, "seakittens." It's open season on PETA--comment now!
Please vote Leaps of Faith for best antho in the P&E poll: Book Info:
Winter Haiku: Cold flakes fall foot deep/Drifts tower over my head/Shovel on, Minot!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Dragon's Eye View Newsletter Out!

I've started a newsletter about my DragonEye, PI universe that I love to write about. A Dragon's Eye View comes out bi-monthly and includes a short article from me, a rant from Vern, Faerie Facts and special offers. It's available to DragonEye, PI members, so sign up today.

In the inaugural issue:

* How Karina came up with the idea for DragonEye, PI
* Vern rants about human misconceptions regarding dragons
* Vern's explanation of the Faerie World (from Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, coming March 2009 from Swimming Kangaroo)
* Special offers and events

Sneak Peak:

* I am not a fire hazard. I can control my fire better than you can control your bowels, thank you very much. Also, it took me over 800 years of service to earn my fire back--I am not going to lose it because you annoyed me, forgot the title of my book, called me a dinosaur, whatever. I can deal with you in other ways.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Did so much e-mailing, my server has locked me out! With 8 msgs in the outbox! Wah!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Catholic Writers Conference Online--register by Jan 15!

Hi, folks!

Just a reminder that the second annual Catholic Writers’ Conference Online will be held February 2-9, 2009. The online conference is free of charge and open to writers of all levels who register by January 15.

This year's conference boasts 60 presentations with over 40 editors and writing professionals from all over the country presenting. Editors on this year’s faculty include Brian Saint-Paul (, Ami McConnell (Thomas Nelson Publishers), Susan Brinkman (Canticle Magazine), diocesan newspaper editor Kyle Eller, and Sister Maria Grace (Pauline Books & Media). Lea Schizas, Terri Main, Frank Creed, Karina Fabian, Devon Ellington, Mark Shea, Melanie Rigney, Michelle Buckman, and Tom Grace will also be presenting in their areas of expertise.

Workshops include: writing humor, worldbuilding, characterization, idea generation, writing devotions, writing and canon law, the business of writing, editing your manuscripts, crossing genres, virtual book tours, selling yourself and your works, and more.

In addition, at least five publishers will be holding pitch sessions, including Loyola, Pauline, Twenty-Third Publications and Our Sunday Visitor. (Pitch sessions require separate registration and authors must ensure their work meets the requirements of the publisher.)

This is open to all writers, but we ask that you respect our faith. Anyone using this conference as an opportunity to troll, argue or "evangelize" will be removed.

Registration closes January 15. Although the conference is offered free of charge, donations are accepted; proceeds will go toward future conferences. To register or for more information, go to

Karina Fabian
Catholic Writers Conference--online and FREE! All welcome; respect our faith. Feb 2-9 Register by Jan 15

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 Goals: Making and Sharing

Happy New Year!

Did you make some resolutions? I did.
--Lose weight and gain strength
--Get contracts on two books
--Sell some stories and thousands of books
--Develop a big fan base for DragonEye, PI
--Get the many projects in the Catholic Writers Guild running smoothly

Resolutions are easy. Making them come true--that's hard.

The only way to do that is to make goals. A lot of people make goals, but how many of us meet them? Perhaps the problem is not in our effort but in the goal itself.

When I was in the military, they taught us the key to making goals is that they have to be realistic, measurable and specific. Based on that, I might then change a resolution from "develop a big DragonEye, PI fan base" to "have 200 people registered on the DragonEye,PI website."

However, that's still not really a goal. Why? Because it depends on other people. After all, I can work and work to get contracts on my Miscria novel, but if it's wrong for the market, or the publisher has a big backlog, or there's some (eek) fatal flaw in the manuscript I can't see and no one's taken time or energy to tell me about, then I'll never meet the goal no matter how hard I try.

Goals need to be something you can achieve, on your own. You want your goals to work for a desired result that may depend on others, but the success comes from doing what you can do.

With that in mind, here are my 2009 goals:

1. Publish 6 DragonEye, PI newsletters.
2. Publish 4 issues of Faith-Filled Fiction.
3. Sell 4 stories via my dragoneyepi website.
4. Submit ISIG II to publisher (Jan 5)
5. Submit proposal for Discovery (end of Jan)
6. Finish Discovery (end of March)
7. Write next DragonEye, PI novel (end of November)
8. Set up a better system for reminding CWG officers and project heads about their duties so that more gets accomplished this year.
9. Contact 50 university and 50 high school markets about ISIG I.
10. Write an article about using SF for teaching morals and theology and submit to homeschool mags.
11. Make a new workshop for MuseCon.
12. Write chapter on Internet Marketing for book (mid Feb deadline! eek!)
13. Lose 20 pounds by working out on the elliptical 4 times a week and cutting down snacks to one a day.
14. Submit Miscria to at least four publishers or agents
15. Submit at least 6 stories to magazines.

What are your goals for 2009? Share a couple with me.

I'm pleased to announce that the latest issue of Wayfarer's Journal has my sci-fi story, "Code Seven. Check it out online!

If you'd like to get the DragonEye, PI newsletter, be sure to register on the website: I'm posting the first issue tomorrow!