Getting back on the horse

Woman Horseback Riding in Sunny FieldPardon me, Dear Readers, for the weeks of blog silence. I could tell you that it was the result of being swamped with paying work, which cannot be ignored. I could also tell you that this month I’ve flirted with the melancholy that rises when your youngest child has left home and home must be reconfigured in your heart. For additional distraction, I’ve been trying to hold said melancholy at bay by calling up contractors to give me estimates on kitchen remodeling. And I could, and will, tell you that my hiatus in blogging is definitely the result of my oh-so-common fall off the writing horse.

Loss of commitment and courage. Presence of doubt and fear. This month I have suffered, like so many other writers, the sudden withdrawal of inspiration, the muse, the ingenium. I’ve been writing but not much. I’m distracted by everything and everyone. It is not writer’s block, not yet and hopefully never, but it is a portent to be taken seriously. Like a small stroke.

It’s time to get on the horse, and do whatever is necessary to get myself back on the road to regular writing and being a writer. The horse may fight me. In my experience, when you don’t ride horses they become stubborn and more unpredictable than usual. Certainly there will be weeks of dancing and backstepping, a lot of head tossing. But better to get on the horse now rather than later.

I’m moving forward slowly on the WIP. Yesterday was a good writing day and I actually learned something important about one of the main characters. Soon I’ll be posting on the whimsical illustrations Zelde Grimm has completed for one of my stories, and I’ll be reviewing Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem. Also, I’ve actually got rough drafts of two short stories that I planned to post here, but now, I think I might urge this horse to jump the creek (to take this metaphor beyond its usefulness) and actually submit at least one of the stories to a magazine. Wish me well.

Mini profile of illustrator Zelde Grimm

A sketch by Zelde Grimm for "Sania and the Bee".

A sketch by Zelde Grimm for the short story “Sania and the Bee”.

Note: Zelde Grimm is illustrating “Sania and the Bee.” I saw her work at Hire an Illustrator and had a feeling that she was the one for this story. This is the first time she has illustrated another author’s story, and it’s only the second time I’ve worked with an illustrator, so this is an experiment for both of us.   

Tell me a little about how you became an illustrator. Or do you prefer the term artist?

I have alway been an artist, I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon but it was only recently I began to call myself an illustrator. I have tried over the years to make a living from my art but selling fine art is a big hustle that I found to be exhausting. A few years ago I gave up entirely and got a job working as a cobbler. It was really terrific work and I really enjoyed learning the trade, but my boss was not the nicest man, and my art was definitely suffering from a lack of time and energy. I used to think that the only way I would be able to make a living as an artist would be to learn the Adobe Creative Suite and become a graphic designer, but it really isn’t my thing. Nothing is more rewarding for me than sitting with a pen and paper and creating something new and exciting. The day I realized it was actually possible for me to make a living drawing pictures it was as if a light turned on and I could suddenly see all the possibilities of doing the thing I love every day.

What kinds of work are you doing now?

As of now I’m working on “Sania and the Bee” (of course), two albums and a long term project designing imagery that will be etched on cutting boards. Continue reading

Review of World Fantasy Award nominee “Do You Like to Look at Monsters?” by Scott Nicolay / Reseña del nominado al Premio Mundial de Fantasía “Do You Like to Look at Monsters?” de Scott Nicolay

Note: this is the last review of the 2015 World Fantasy Award nominees in the short story category. The other nominees are covered in earlier posts. “Do You Like to Look at Monsters” is published in Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed by Fedogan & Bremer, and it is available as an ebook here

Viewm2This story by Scott Nicolay made me think about when we turn corners in our thinking. I mean, when do things that actually happened in our lives move from being just another past event in our chronology to being suffused with our inklings of things unsaid? And when does that mix of events and emotions flat out flip into the weird and supernatural?

Narrated by a little boy, the reader is invited into his world where most events of interest are experienced through games and the toys he plays with or the media he sees. I really related to this kid and his array of Viewmaster reels. I think I had a couple of those myself. The boy is fascinated by monsters, a stage I’m sure many of us are familiar with and some of us have never outgrown, but he is also having nightmares and is beginning to have aversions to violence. Continue reading