Thursday, July 28, 2016

Showing Another Side of My Creative Mind...

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.








Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stepping Away From Your Work In Progress, Then Coming Back To It...

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...


Go someplace...


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...


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Collaborations: What Do They Look Like and How Do I Make Mine Work? Part – II

        Welcome back to another installment of collaborations: what do they look like and how do I make mine work?  Okay, actually, I’m continuing the discussion from last time.  After all, this is supposed to be a blog, not an ongoing saga.  I also want to apologize for any strange grammar or punctuation errors in this entry because I’m using Dragon instead of actually typing on a keyboard. 


WRONG DRAGON! SORRY DIDN'T MEAN TO WAKE YOU UP, SIR.  PLEASE JUST GO BACK TO SLEEP!

           Whew!  Anyway, I'll be sharing my adventures with Dragon Speaking Naturally software, and learning how to use it, in another blog entry,  For now I’m going to continue to share my experiences with collaborations
           Now, last time I talked about my collaboration with my old friend Rich Caminiti, today I’m going to be discussing my other collaboration with my wife Helen.  First off, unlike with Rich, I am able to work with my wife, face-to-face. 


         Being able to spend time with each other in real life instead of waiting to go on Skype to plot or give feedback like I do with Rich.  This gives a whole new dynamic to our collaboration since we don’t always have to be at our computers to work on the story.  Instead, we could be driving someplace or having dinner at a restaurant and will be discussing ideas and scenes for the story.  Being able to operate like this gives us a distinct advantage to rework a scene before we actually put it to paper.  We get the chance to work out the dynamics between the characters, feelings, emotions, reactions and have a more clear idea of how we want a scene to read.
            Does this automatically mean that we have every scene worked out perfectly?  Absolutely not.  In fact, we will rework a scene time and again until we find a version that we both really like that works.  Even then we will occasionally go back to that scene and rework it with new elements that we hadn’t thought of before to improve it.
            Furthermore, we may not always agree on exactly how we want a scene to play out.  There might be elements that one of us thinks would work better in a later point in the story.  In cases like this, it’s much easier to have the other person there with you to work out those differences and come up with a common solution that we can both live with.  Another benefit is on occasion someone might forget a detail or plan that we decided to use in a scene a few days before.  This actually happens quite often due to my fibromyalgia.  I get the infamous "brain-fog" and forget things.  Luckily, Helen is always around to help me remember what I forgot what we had planned for a scene and proceed to fix it.  I often refer to her as my spare brain in these cases, since they happen rather often to me.


            As you can see, we rely on each other quite often which makes our collaboration work even better.  Mind you, we don’t always work on the project together at the same exact time.  In fact, since she’s a bit of a night owl, I’ll find that she’s been in the story working on it during the night while I was asleep.  This is actually a lot of fun for me, because then I get to see all this new material as if I was the reader and now I get to react to it.  And of course will be times when I’m working on the story when she doesn’t know what and when she goes in show find what I’ve written and then it will be her turn to react and come up with a new scene or response.  In a way to sort of the game of role-playing for us except that were actually putting together a story for others to read and enjoy.
            Now as I said in the previous entry, Rich and I take turns working on different scenes as well and we get the same effect.  But with Helen, I get to see the reactions on her face and get her input and feedback a lot sooner which gives me a great deal of pleasure.  
            So as you can see both collaborations share a lot of similarities but there are also a number of differences.  And there are number of ways that you can make a collaboration work, it’s all in how you and your cohort approach things.  Most of the time you’ll find there is always a way to make it work, it’s mostly a question of what method is going to work best for the two of you.

            And that’s all I have to say for now folks, so until next time, take care enjoy the summer and keep writing.