A sadistic serial killer. A young girl. A quick read. The flash fiction story boundless is now free.


The horror novelette Repetition is now available.

Introducing Derrick and Max

This is from the first illustration I did for the first Derrick and Max book. Derrick the Dog was released June, 2013.

My first ArtRage drawing

This was the first original drawing I completed with my Wacom Bamboo tablet and ArtRage, done almost entirely in pencil. Just a little practice drawing, not related to any of the stories I'm working on.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting the Words Down

I’ve been struggling this year getting the words down.  Part of it is that I’ve actually been sleeping better (thank you, exercise).  But part of it is that I’ve been finding excuses not to write.  I’ll be too tired or there’s something else I need to do (or just wind up doing instead). 

My own work. Created using "Inkscape"...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until this year, I’d tracked my activities in a spreadsheet as they related to my writing career.  I’d track words written, time spent illustrating, time spent working on the blog(s).  I wanted to see how this year was stacking up to last year.  According to my spreadsheet, I wrote just under 28,000 words last year.  I was a little surprised.  That’s pretty low, about half of what I did in November, 2011.  At that rate, I’d only be able to crank out a first draft of a novel every 2 years.   That just wasn’t going to cut it.  I needed to kick start my motivation and improve my word count quite a bit over my 2012 figures.

So, I decided to find something that would help me set and achieve a goal.  I thought an app might do the trick.  I’ve had pretty good success tracking my blood pressure and foods eaten since I found apps to do that (and my BP and weight have both come down, for which I give credit to those apps for helping me).  WriteChain looked promising, but there was no Android version, and the Android apps I found just weren’t quite what I was looking for.  So, I kept hunting.

I eventually found this word tracker.  Since I was on my computer to write and use my existing spreadsheet anyway, another spreadsheet was just as good in my eyes as an Android app.  I liked the pirate’s color scheme best, so I updated it for 2013 (the first date in the date column on each page must be updated; I’ll probably change that at some time to point to a single cell somewhere in the workbook).  Without a good idea as to the goal I should set, I stuck with the default of 200k words.  I’ve still been tracking in my original spreadsheet, since there I can input activities besides writing (like illustrating), but I’ve been using this, too.

What’s the result?  Well, I seriously doubt if I’ll hit 200,000 words this year, although I’ll almost certainly participate in nanowrimo this year to get a bump in my word count and try to get closer.  It hasn’t had the impact I thought it would, and I’m nowhere near where I should be for this time of year to reach that goal, but I did see a 41% uptick in my word count for February versus January after I started using this (March, however, was abysmal, since I spent nearly all my spare time trying to get Derrick the Dog finalized).  So, I consider that a small win.  I also think that once I get Derrick published, that I should see some further gains.


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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Compromise of Art

I’ve been hard at work finishing up the illustration work for Derrick the Dog and so haven’t posted in a bit.  However, I read a forum topic yesterday about traditional versus digital art.  I guess it bothered me more than I thought, hence the reason I’m awake at 2:30 AM, writing a blog post instead of sawing logs.

Comparison of Leonardo's self portrait and the...

Comparison of Leonardo's self portrait and the Mona Lisa based on Schwartz's Mona Leo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve probably heard the argument:  digital art isn’t real art.  Those digital guys cheat, letting the software do the work for them.  They trace their work.  They just use the software to make a photo look like a painting/drawing/etc.  And etc.  Etc.  Etc.  So, I ask who are you to judge what is and isn’t art?   In fact, I have some questions for you, art snobs of the world.

Ever made a mistake in your artwork?  What did you do?  You maybe erased it, probably leaving behind remnants.  Or if it was in paint, that wasn’t really an option was it?  So, you either had to hide it, live with it, or start over again. 

Do you trace?  Ink over rough pencil work?  How about sketch before you paint?  Project a photo onto canvas and use that as a reference?  I know Norman Rockwell, a beloved American artist, did those last two.

Are you an impressionist or a realist?  You think the artists in the other camp produce real art?  What about children, working with crayons, producing a work that’s to the absolute best of the abilities, that they slaved over, but that looks like nothing in this world?  Would you tell them what they produced was not art?  Would it matter if they’d used MS Paint?  What about graffiti, can that really be considered art?  Is not art, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?  I don’t care for the Mona Lisa, but I would never say it’s not art.

Do you make your own paints?  I mean, do you mix pigments, binders, and all the other ingredients?  No?  Then, I say you’re cheating.  Come on, you say, nobody thinks that way anymore.  Maybe.  How about when commercially-available art paints first arrived on the scene?  Do you think those who used them at the time were considered “real” artists?  Maybe, I mean they were still painting, but that pre-mixed paint was totally a cheat.  Hmmm.

So-called “real” artists, I say if you’ve ever made a mistake in your medium, your art’s been compromised.  I can cleanly erase, make the errant stroke disappear as though it never existed.  I certainly couldn’t do that when it was a physical pencil (or worse, pen) on actual paper.  In fact, I can take more chances than you, because I don’t have to to worry about ruining what I’ve already done.  The software doesn’t do the drawing for me; I’m still making the strokes, but they’re on a slab of plastic instead of a sheet of paper.  Oh, sure, some people cheat, but it’s pretty easy to tell the hacks from the artists.  And yes, there are software tools that help speed the process, but that’s called efficiency.  Sort of like buying pre-mixed paints or pre-stretched canvases. 

I’m a child of the 20th century, only recently switched over to digital art in the last couple of years.*  Before that, I grew up with paper and crayons and pens and pencils, just like my peers.  I’ve painted in watercolor and oils.  And I can say that I absolutely prefer digital to analog the vast majority of the time.  And I don’t consider it cheating or that I’m no longer producing real art (it may not be real good, ha!).  Then again, I’m using ArtRage, which mimics real-world artists’ tools.  Now, those guys who use Photoshop… they’re total cheaters.  :)

Before you dismiss someone else’s art, or the medium they use to create it, perhaps you should actually investigate, try that medium for yourself.  You might even want to take a step back and look at your own art.  Or you could just stick to your narrow world view.  The rest of us will be creating art… and ignoring your archaic views on the new mediums and methods available in this millennium.


*I expect the children of today and tomorrow will grow up to view digital as just one more choice of medium for expressing their artistic urges.  I believe they’ll be more comfortable and adept with it than I’ll ever be.  And I expect that they’ll think it’s a cheat no more than those who buy tubes of oil paint do today.  And I suspect a lot of parents will be happy about the lack of real paint on their real floors.


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