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Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks

In honor of the week of Thanksgiving (here in America at least) I decided to ask my characters what they are thankful for. Here we go:  What are you thankful for.....

Joshua Henderson (aka Bark) from the Bark series

"I'm thankful for Frost. She believed in me when I had given up."

Be thankful for those people who show where your strength is hidden, especially when you have forgotten how to look for it.












Asahina Quryu (Ashinaga) From The Last Kitsu

"I'm thankful for all the teachers who have given me a glimpse of their wisdom and experience so that I might grow into a better person."

Be thankful for the educators in your life, they put your future ahead of theirs so that you can make the world a better place.









Allison Kitsune from The Crystal Needle series

"I'm thankful for the sacrifices my parents made for me. Without their love I wouldn't be here."

Don't forget to thank God for the family in your life that puts you ahead of them.











Oki and Yoshi Kitsune from The Crystal Needle

"Video games, television, junk food, and big soft beds."

When counting your blessings, remember that sometimes the little things are worth counting.





 Treb from Legacy of the Dragonwand

"I'm thankful for the time I spent learning to be the best Rakki warrior I can be. I proudly defend my people and especially my family from all the threats of this world."

Never forget to be thankful for the security you have, many live without it and would not take it for granted if they had it. Thank God for the fighting men and women, and thank those same fighting men and women personally when you get the opportunity.






1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.




-Dan Peyton


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Legacy Begins: Bitter/Sweet


First the sweet: 
Have you heard the big news? Legacy of the Dragonwand part 1 is up for sale. You can pre-order it on Kindle right now. Follow this LINK to go to Amazon.

If you want to help, and you know you want to, share this picture and the link. Don't forget to attach the hashtag #LegacyBegins when you share.


Now the Bitter:

 When I began writing Legacy of the Dragonwand I had a reader that had become a good facebook friend. Her name was Donna Standish. She had some hard times with family issues and struggles and so we would sit and talk to get our minds off of anything stressful. She loved my characters and my work and so I decided to name a character after her, Master Apothecary Donna.

Here is the blog post that I wrote about her and being an inspiration: Click Here

I looked back at our correspondence on facebook to find the name of her daughter so I could send her a copy of the book. I had not looked at the private message page between Donna and myself in a year. The last time we spoke was in late October of 2013. I had contacted her and asked if she would like to read the book even though it was still a rough draft, she accepted. My last message to her was sending her the book. I do not know if she read any of it, but I hope she did. The character is minor, but probably will be one of the most popular for her quirkiness and compassion.

One more time, before the book goes into full publication, thank you Donna for being such a great inspiration. I miss you today and hope to sit and talk about books again one day.




Monday, November 10, 2014

The Legacy is about to begin

Good morning and happy Monday all. Just a couple things this post.

First: In honor of the coming Christmas season and the upcoming release of Legacy of the Dragonwand, The Crystal Needle is currently at half price on Kindle and Nook.

 Amazon Kindle

 Barnes & Noble Nook

Second: Big news, Legacy of the Dragonwand will be released soon. An exact date has not been set, there are still a lot of details to work out. But, right now I am working hard to spread the news and generate some early interest. I have split the book in two parts and will be releasing the first part as a single book through all the self publishing channels. I would ask that you help me out and spread the word as well. Thank you for helping.

Now for the cover and the ad video



Let me know what you think of the cover and/or the video. Feed back is always welcome as long as it's honest. Thank you for reading.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Layering Angels

Happy November everyone. Getting cold yet? We just experienced our first snow of the season out here. I have been busy. Several book projects have been on the burners cooking away. Also, I have had one bookcover that I designed and drew for a friend of mine.

That is what I want to show you today. My friend Wendy Siefken and her son Charles contacted me about a book they are currently writing. I have already done a batch of character drawings for them for this particular book, but they had a cover in mind and wanted me to draw it. The request was for an angel, in chains.

The challenge was that this angel was holographic in nature and chained up inside a space ship. They sent me some images they found that illustrated what direction they were looking for.

First: I told them I would try drawing the angel, but made no promises. I'm not so great with the female form yet. I can pull off a decent male form, but my confidence with the female form isn't so great. But, I didn't give up. (Wendy is great at pushing me to try when I say I can't.)













I started with a few poses I found that matched the idea that she had. I wanted the woman to be sad, as it fit the character she had given me. But, not just sad, sorrowful. I wanted the pose to convey the feeling of hopelessness to the viewer. At least that was my intention. I did my best and was surprised that I actually came up with something that was passable and halfway decent.

Next came the angel part. I needed to turn this drawing into an angel. How do you do that? Add wings and hope.

I worked and reworked the wings for an evening until I felt they looked alright.












Okay, so I got the thumbs up on this part and it was time to go forward with the coloring. Keep in mind this is a sci-fi novel and so you can't expect it to look like a traditional angel.




I used a picture of a holographic blue woman that they wanted this person to be colored like. Then I used a tawny owl for the wings. I left the dress white to help symbolize the inherent purity that is associated with angels. I wanted there to be a contrast to what would be around her in the finished product.

Here is where I began to stretch a little further. They wanted this person to appear holographic, or ethereal was the word used often. How do I do that? I pondered that question and then came up with a possible solution. I would add a background and then make the angel partially transparent against it. So, I set out to figure out a background. At first I only considered some kind of industrial looking backdrop; machinery, rusty metal, something like the engine room of a dirty old starship. For some reason that simply didn't work, I couldn't find what I was looking for. Then I had an inspiration. Why not do a space like background with a little metal in it to show she is on a ship? So, I shifted gears and went that direction.

This was the original black and white pencil drawing. 

This was the same drawing in color. I didn't like the large planet, but the moon seemed to work, so I only colored it. I planned all along to cut in a basic space background. Doing stars in pencil doesn't really work all that well.

Here's the final background with the stars cut in. Thanks NASA for all your great free pics. 


 Okay, here comes the fun part. Layering all this together to make it  function like the cover Wendy has in mind. Drawing and coloring all of this is fun, editing it together is tedious.

But, not impossible. I edited her into the picture, then overlayed the exact same background on top of the whole image  so that I could have parts that were solid and parts that were partially invisible. I left her dress solid to help illustrate that she is a hologram. I was satisfied and so was Wendy, which was the important part. But, I forgot something, the chains. DOH!

Okay, so I had to add chains into an already drawn picture. First I printed off the section where the chains would be attached, and then used that as my guide. 


This was my original design and I had an idea about the chains on the left arm going around behind her, but would be partly visible through her so to help the whole hologram idea. That didn't work out so well, which required that I do even more manipulation on the picture to make them work.

I started with only one side of the chains. The editing took over 2 hours just to put it in right. I moved, manipulated, stretched, erased, and recolored those chains to set them on the picture. I was so tired of chains that I asked Wendy if she thought one half would work, she liked it but wanted to see what the other half looked like added in. 

I put the second chain set on and found that it looked terrible trying to make it partly visible through her, it simply did not work. So, I cut and edited them until they came around front of her. 

So, there you have it. The cover for their book. We aren't entirely done yet...well that should be obvious there isn't even a title attached to it. What I mean is that we might add a little color here and there, some minor alterations to enhance it. But, as far as the base overall look is concerned, it is done. 

Moral of the story: When I said I couldn't, Wendy told me to just try. She had a heck of a lot more faith in my skill that I. But, it worked out. Don't forget to encourage each other. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm stitching in the rain

Hello all and happy October. I know, it's been a while. I haven't been lazy, quite the opposite. For the past few months I have been working on a book that is turning into the longest book I've ever written. But, I will talk more about that in another blogpost.

Today I want to tell you about my little rainy adventure this weekend.

October heralds in many things around these mountains. Fall colors, cooler temps, pumpkins, the normal stuff. It also brings in the Harvest/Fall festivals. One of the best is held in historic Rogersville Tennessee. Rogersville happens to be one of the second oldest towns in Tennessee.....there are two, don't worry. Each year they hold an event called Heritage days. This event brings in vendors and music like many other fests this time of year. It also brings in demonstrators who showcase arts that are old but still practiced. Like fine soap making, iron working, toy making, and so on. Adding to that element of the event the Embroiderers Guild of America sets up a booth to demonstrate and teach embroidery to the passerby. And that is where I come in. Mom and I were the only two reps for the EGA available to sit and stitch this whole weekend.
Here's mom sitting at the booth we had just set up. If you look closely you can see three little pieces of embroidery near the front of the table, those were the items we were teaching.

The weekend was fun, but wet. Unfortunately this year the weather did not cooperate and decided to rain and rain a lot. But, it liked to tease as well. It would not rain, the sun would peak through a times, and it would pretend to be breaking up, then suddenly a dark cloud would come out of nowhere and pour all over everything. Since we had a lot of fiber-arts items we were rushing them to the middle of the table, covering them with towels, and waiting out the downpours.








Aside from the rain, the festival was a hit. People still came, the demonstrators still demonstrated, and the fun was still had.

We stitched all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday. Mom worked on several things, I focused on a single piece. I did a Chinese paper dragon.

I realized that two years ago at Heritage Days I sat and stitched a piece called Phoenix Dragon. Last year I stitched on my Blackwork Dragon. This year I worked on this Chinese Dragon...notice the trend. The people at Heritage Days are going to think that all I stitch are dragons.

Final assessment: We talked to a lot of people about embroidery and EGA. I taught one person to stitch. And I completed a piece start to finish over the weekend. I got to see some friendly faces that come to the fest each year. I got to meet some new friendly faces as well. I think it was a good event.

Now for some pictures... (well...more pictures.)










Above 4 pics: The festival has an art show that locals submit pieces to be included in. Three people put in embroidery, Mom, Elizabeth Smith, and me. All three of us are members of the EGA. First note the bottom right picture of the three pieces. Those are all the same pattern for a class project that all three of us participated in. Each person did theirs differently but completed the actual classwork. Second, note my nice dragon and the 2nd place ribbon next to him, yup, won again.






Above 2 pics: This is the main street of the festival. That is small, but historic, downtown Rogersville Tennessee. A quaint place to visit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Above 4 pics: Ever wonder why they are called the Smokey Mountains? Here are some good examples. The rain caused the mountains to smoke. Between Rogersville and Morristown (where I live) there is this lovely, rustic little valley with a few farms, a few homes, some small local businesses, cows, and some short ridges of mountains/hills.  Though I was not too pleased with the rain during the event, I loved watching the effects on these old hills. This is why I tell people I live in the misty mountains.

Last is a picture I took that was both creepy and beautiful. It seemed to scream Halloween. So, I will finish with that.

       

Monday, September 15, 2014

And we have a winner

 Well, somebody actually guessed it. After a week of tries and a lot of clues, at the last hour, someone finally got the right answer. This honor goes to Tressa Cochran of Oklahoma who guessed Arkenstone. This piece was inspired by The Hobbit and so the center panel was stitched as the Arkenstone from the story.

This piece was stitched for a national class through the Embroiderers Guild of America. With it I sent a letter to explain the pattern.




Here's that letter. ....


Thanks for playing and I hope you had fun. Next time I do something like this I will try to not make it so hard.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bargello Challenge Day 5

Okay, this is it, the whole thing. This last panel should really help give you a big hint about the story. Remember the title is the center panel and it is a specific item.

BIG hints today

1: The bottom right panel is a river.
2: The top right are mountains.
3: The book is a prequel to an extremely famous series of books.

Now, let's see who get's it first.