Tag Archive | art

May Blog Challenge

May blog picture 2

Herding Cats & Burning Soup’s monthly blog challenge for May is “organize.” This one is a tough one for me. I’m organized…and I’m not. I could do better at organizing, but who has the time? Actually, that’s a bad excuse. Prioritizing my organizing helps me to get the job done. I’m better at prioritizing than organizing, and even with electronic calendars and reminders, I still use paper checklists. My current checklist is: drips plants, spray statues, white jeans, video footage, fairy jar, and organized blog. At first glance (or even second), my list may seem insane, but I know the codes.

Before I break down my list of items for you, I’ll explain “prioritizing my organizing.” Many things can be organized or re-organized from time to time such as my purse, tennis bag, art desk, pantry, etc. Of course, it’s impossible to organize everything in one day, so I put unorganized items on a Things to Do list (once the chaos disturbs me enough). I choose a few tasks per day to accomplish and cross them off the list. Usually, by having the list stare me in the face on the kitchen counter, I will get everything completed by the end of the week. The time of day, amount of energy I have, and amount of time I have to complete the organization all fall into play to prioritize the list.

Drips plants. I live in a desert. Plants require a drip/sprinkler system unless you grow cactus. I have three new pots with flowers that require drip lines. Time required to complete the task – 10 minutes. Obviously, this isn’t a nighttime project.

Spray statues. I’ve had some outdoor bunny/raccoon/squirrel statues that my dogs (as puppies) turned into apocalyptic zombies. I’ve hidden the statues’ flaws (missing feet, missing eyes, missing ears—you get the picture) for years behind flowers. I recently bought a tub of air-dry clay for $6 and fixed all the statues’ flaws I also re-painted them. Now, I just need to spray them with an acrylic sealer. Time of day to spray – obviously daytime but not when it’s not 100 degrees. Time to complete the task – 3 minutes (2 minutes to shake the can, 1 to spray. Repeat.) It’s only taken 10 years to get to this project.

 

May blog picture

The critter apocalypse is almost over. Bunny #2 needs paint. They all need acrylic spray.

 

White jeans – I need to hem a new pair of jeans. I’m not the best at sewing, so I need a lot of time and patience. Time required – should be 15 minutes, but we shall see.

Video footage – I need some video footage of gross bugs to complete my book trailer for Kiss from Hell. Yes, you read that correctly. I even went to a pet store and asked the manager if they had any bugs in the back. You read that correctly, too. Who knew they used frozen stuff for the reptiles? Frozen bugs won’t work. I need squirmy, slimy critters scurrying around. I plan to call my brother in law and see if he’ll get some bug footage. He came through with the awesome cemetery footage for The Zombie Next Door trailer. Purchasing video footage online is expensive. Calling my bro-in-law is free. Time to complete the task – 15 minutes. With a three-hour time difference, I have to time the call correctly.

Fairy jar – Pinterest is evil. I have pinned so many fun projects to try. I actually made a fairy jar already, and it turned out pretty good. If you get the automatic turn on/off battery operated tealights, they make fun nightlights. I told my neighbor I’d make one for her two girls. I think they’d like it. Finding a good jar is the biggest issue with that one. I’d say it takes an hour to complete because of waiting for the glue/paint to dry.

Organized blog – Here it is–completed. It jumped to the top of the list when I knew what I was going to type. I can cross it off my list. If you’d like to join the Herding Cats & Burning Soup blog challenge, the rest of the monthly prompts are:

June– Growl

July– Spirit

August– Beginning

September– Escape

October– Trees

November– Truth

December– Shine/Sparkle

blog about it challenge

 

April Blog Challenge “Art”

blog about it challengeThe Herd blog challenge continues with the theme of Art.

I decided to display art created by my talented artist friends. Most of the featured artists I met through my Nevada Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators group, and they have illustrated children’s books. One of the artists I met playing tennis and another I met from her book review blog. I have listed their websites where you can check out more of their amazing work. Enjoy!

Mayumi Kosaka has several books available featuring her wonderful artwork. Her stories and paintings are influenced from her native Japan.

Mayumi Art

Phyllis Mignard creates fun characters. For her book Draw Color Write (author Ann Pashak illustrator Phyllis Mignard), she created adorable Ro-Bits. Some are shown below.

 Phyllis art

 

Sharon Mann creates fantastic art with material as well as paint, pens, and graphics. She has a creative blog, Make Art Magic Happens where you can get a daily dose of art. She has illustrated many books including  Draw Doodle Color Write (author Ann Pashak illustrator Sharon Mann).   

 Sharon Art

Sharleen Collicott has written and illustrated several picture book series. Her illustrations are adorable, and she can even make bugs look cute.

Mildred and Sam series  

Toestomper and the Caterpillars   

Toestomper and the Bad Butterflies   

Seeing Stars   

 Sharleen Art

 Jerry Blank is not only artistic, but he has one heck of a tennis forehand. His new non-fiction, illustrated book is titled Backroads Nevada. The book delves into what you can find off the state’s major highways along with pen and ink and watercolor illustrations by Jerry.

Currently, he’s not selling paintings online, but you can contact him directly at http://www.goblankart.com/. 

Jazz Impressions: oil on canvas, framed, 48”x30″, Celebration:  oil on canvas, framed, 48”x30″, Tango: oil on canvas, 28”x40″, Lennon: Mixed media original. 22”x28”, Pirates: Mixed media original, 22”x28″, Einstein: oil on canvas, 20″x20″

 Jerry Art.jpg

Natasha Murray  lives in England. She is the author of several books including 3004 and Jack Solar’s Journal. Her Authors, Readers, Good Books and Book Promotions blog features book reviews (she provides free reviews to indie authors-check her guidelines) and author interviews as well as a page of book promotion ideas. Check out her books on the blog, too!     

Natasha Murray Art

 

What You Love Most art

What You Love Most Art combines a furry friend and the things you love the most into a watercolor painting. Visit my website for more information WhatYouLoveDixie pic n painting (2)Most.com. Dixie is pictured with Western boots and a cowboy hat, music, softballs, and a horseshoe. Each painting is unique. T-shirts are also available.

The Town from Hell: Part 3

This is the final installment of my fake picture book about the town from hell, Winthrop.

DAB Page 9 DAB Page 10

DAB Page 11.jpg

If you want to find out the huge secret the townspeople are hiding, check out the real book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. It was given a 5-star review from InD’Tale magazine and is up for a RONE award.

The Town from Hell: Part 2

The continuing saga of my fake picture book about the town from hell, Winthrop.

DAB Page 5 DAB Page 6

DAB Page 7 DAB Page 8

The next blog will finish the Town from Hell picture book. If you like the artwork, visit T.W.Kirchner Art & Books to see more.

The Town from Hell

What would a town from hell be like? It wouldn’t be a good vacation spot for sure. In my YA supernatural/horror book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, Winthrop is the town from hell. It’s a fictional town in the middle of the desert where the book’s protagonist couple go on vacation, and their experience is far from pleasant. For fun, I used a 6- by 6-inch watercolor pad and created a picture book of Winthrop. I’ll post the fake picture book in three consecutive blogs.

DAB Page 1.jpg DAB Page 2.jpg

DAB Page 3.jpg DAB Page 4.jpg

What’s living in Winthrop? More than visitors realize…

Plots, Protagonists and Pirates

Protagonists in books are supposed to go through some kind of change from the beginning of their adventure to the end. Usually, they learn or grow through their experience, accomplish a goal, or attain both. In fiction writing, the character’s transformation makes up the plot.

For most of the crew of the Fleurie Jean in Pirates Off the Deep End and subsequent books in the Pirates Off series, their main goal in every book is to complete a task, which is usually delegated by a ghost pirate and is non-negotiable. The crew, Tommy, Connor, Dillon, and their captain, Hoody, always gain a valuable lesson from each quest. The fifth crew member, Cosette, changes in a different way.

Cosette and Her Pirate Boyfriend

Captain Jacques Mignard was a terrible boyfriend for Cosette back in the 1800s, and he didn’t improve after he turned into a ghost. Because he double-crossed Volange, a powerful sea witch, she turned Cosette into a ship’s wooden figurehead, a curse that was in place for over a hundred years. Mignard was unable to reverse the witch’s spell when he became a ghost, and he couldn’t find anyone who could.

Cosette figurehead

Cosette went from the front of a ship in France to a restaurant’s wall in New England when the days of wooden ships had past. She hung there in limbo for a long time until Connor and Tommy sawed her off. To fast forward, they cut a deal with Captain Mignard, which involved taking Cosette, the figurehead, to Volange to have the spell reversed.

Read the Fine Print on Any Contract

Tommy is clever, or so he thought. However, Volange had hundreds of years’ more experience in making deals than the 12 year old. After Mignard’s original deal with the sea witch went sour, Tommy bargained with Volange so she’d bring Cosette back to life. She held to her word, and Cosette was freed of her figurehead state and made a living, breathing—dog. A Brittany spaniel. However, if Tommy didn’t make good on his part of the bargain, Volange vowed she’d reverse Cosette’s living status and turn her into a figurehead for eternity.

Brittany spaniel

Spoiler Alert : Cosette Changes Once Again

Tommy and the rest of the crew go to Scotland to fulfill the bargain with Volange. Tommy’s ever-present mentor, Francois l’ Olonnais even provides “help” by recruiting a Scottish ghost pirate, Captain Red Boots, to guide them. Boots refreshes the boys’ memories that pirates can’t be trusted, and they learn the value of brotherhood, selflessness, and the fine art of negotiation. Cosette learns that she can trust the Klopts with her life, which she gets back with their persistence, and that the world has changed a lot since the 1800s.

Cosette 1 watercolor

Characters have to grow and change to make a story interesting. From figurehead to canine companion to person, Cosette wins the Pirates Off character prize for going through the most changes. Dealing with the Klopts on a daily basis, however, should be a prize in itself. Read about Cosette and the crew’s latest adventure in Pirates Off the Mark.

The Trouble with Ghost Pirates

Francois l’Olonnais, a 1600s French buccaneer, has long since gone off to a different realm, but he didn’t leave pirating behind. Being a ghost is merely a speed bump on an already dark and potholed road to hell. Along the way, he decides to become a mentor so his legacy will continue…”Or something stupid like that” as Tommy Klopt his protégé says in the adventure Pirates Off the Wall.

With the ghost lingering around and getting them into more trouble, Tommy Klopt and the rest of his family, Captain Hoody (his dad), and brothers Connor and Dillon have a hard time retiring from the pirating business.

The ghost has an ever-watchful eye on the Klopts, and sometimes, he uses his persuasive charm to ward off threats made to them:

L’Olonnais pulled his cutlass from its sheath. “Oui, Capitaine Hoods’ list of wrongdoings is quite long, but so is my cutlass. ‘Tis long and sharp. I’d say it could dispense with your head in one swipe…possibly deux.” He sneered. “And don’t even think about shooting me. I am already dead.”

When negotiating doesn’t work, such as with ghost pirate, Captain Mignard, he’s ready to duel.

Ghostly Duel acrylic

Lost in Translation

Most of the time, the ghost lets the Klopts find their own way out of sticky situations—at times because he can’t help given his ghostly restrictions. The French pirate’s warnings aren’t always crystal clear and are a constant source of frustration for Tommy and especially Connor.

“’Tis not what I desire, but what you desire that I bear news about.”

“Beware of the living, not the driftwood.”

“You can trick people into believing you are who you tell them you are.”

Connor sums up l’Olonnais in his own special way: “He’s a nut case, and we don’t need him screwing up our already screwed-up lives again.”

Captains Don’t See Eye to Eye

Hoody is not intimidated by l’Olonnais although the pirate used him as shark bait, lost him in a card game, and sent him on a one-way cruise to Iceland. L’Olonnais refers to Hoody as l’idiot. He uses threats, but they bounce off Hoody such as:

L’Olonnais’ nostrils flared, and he gritted his teeth. “Oui, I have my cutlass, and ‘tis sharp enough to cut your head off.” His dark eyes were intently fixed on Hoody.

Hoody remains mild-mannered and gets right to the point when he deals with the ghost:

Hoody shook his head. “Speaking of things that aren’t obvious, why are you back? You have your cutlass. Shouldn’t you be lounging around on your ship waiting to terrorize unsuspecting children?”

Pirates and Sea Witches Can’t Be Trusted

The sea witch Volange adds to the Klopts’ problems. She’s beautiful, spiteful and powerful, which makes l’Olonnais avoid her and Mignard sorry he ever crossed her. Volange turned Mignard’s redhaired girlfriend, Cosette, into a ship’s figurehead for 100 years.

Cosette 1 watercolor

Tommy strikes a bargain with the aqua-eyed sea witch to save Cosette, despite his disdain for Mignard. This actually pleases Volange, but it doesn’t mean she plays fair.

Volange acrylic

The sea witch grinned. “Yes, I will bring Cosette to life again. I promise.”

That guarantee definitely came with fine print. As Tommy learns, a deal is a deal no matter how screwed up it is. The deal with Volange sends the Klopts on their way to Scotland with Cosette. She may not be a ship’s figurehead, at least for the time being, but she’s not quite her normal self. The Klopts success in Scotland will determine her fate.

A Quick Read with Action, Adventure, and Laughter on the High Seas

Being eaten by cannibals was just a setback for one of the most feared pirates in history, François l’Olonnais. The 16th century French pirate’s name may not be as well known as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, or William Kidd, but his evil reputation has hung around long after his demise in 1668.

lolonnais face part 1

Accounts of his life and treachery are sketchy; yet, what little is known paints a gruesome picture of the buccaneer. He honed torturing techniques, such as beheading and popping captives’ eyes out of their sockets, when he wasn’t pillaging or engaging in his favorite pastime, taking revenge on the Spanish. You can find more non-fiction on l’Olonnais, but the rest of this blog focuses on his current, and, of course, fictional activities.

The Pirate Ghost

Four hundred years after becoming a meal, l’Olonnais continues to haunt people as a ghost. All hell breaks loose when his cherished cutlass is removed from the wreckage of his ship, somewhere off the Panama coast. After the cutlass is stowed away in a trophy case out of the buccaneer’s reach, he stops at nothing to get it back. L’Olonnois believes only a special person can reclaim what is lost, and he has his sights on that person.

Cliff Klopt, the Captain

Enter the Klopt family. The patriarch, Cliff, is a mild-mannered, all-around family guy. The college graduate is a skilled mechanic, among other talents, good looking, and environmentally conscious. However, times are tough. He lost his job, wife, home, and most of his ability to reason along with his common sense. The only possession he has left is his old boat, which he decides will make a great pirate ship. Steal from the rich and give to—charity. The Robin Hood pirate, nicknamed Hoody, isn’t the best pirate in history, but he’s handy and tries to be prepared. However, nothing could possibly prepare him for an angry pirate ghost on a mission.

The Crew of the Swashbuckler

Hoody’s crew is comprised of his boys, Connor, Tommy, and Dillon. Connor is quick-witted and cautious, Tommy is creative and reckless, and Dillon is smart and carefree. The three brothers know Hoody has gone off the deep end, but they honor their mother’s dying wish—watch out for each other—and they play along.

Boys dock small

For a while, living on the boat is fun, but a brush with real pirates is a wake-up call. The boys come up with a plan to get Hoody to quit pirating; however, the plan is shattered when they encounter l’Olonnais and he chooses one of the boys as his protégé.
The ghostly buccaneer doesn’t negotiate with the boys. Besides, he holds a major bargaining chip—Hoody. He gives the boys and hourglass and says, “The sand will run out in three days. You cannot cheat the hourglass or stop it. You have until the sand runs out to return my cutlass. If you do not, your captain dies.” With their father’s life on the line, the journey begins.

Don’t Trust a Pirate or Make Assumptions

If you enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and Goosebumps, you may be surprised that all three series are considered middle grade books. Don’t automatically assume that middle grade means boring and babyish; books are classified that way simply because they lack dirty words, sex, and are a shorter read.

Who doesn’t like a good pirate tale after all? If it’s short enough to read on a plane or train commute—even better. Give Pirates Off the Deep End a try and see what François l’Olonnais is up to.

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer Part 3: The Finishing Touches

This is the final part in my blog series How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer. With only one scene left to shoot, I put all the other scenes, music and sounds for my young adult, horror/supernatural book trailer Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell into Movie Maker. I manipulated several pictures in Photoshop to take the place of video I couldn’t shoot.

Special Effects with One Photo

By using photos, it was possible to create an illusion that I wanted but couldn’t acquire as video. The version of Photoshop I work with doesn’t have any video editing capabilities. I’m not an expert with the software, but I still am able to manipulate photographs after some trial and error.
The first picture is of the Nevada desert, which is exactly where my characters are traveling to. Anyone else looking at the video probably couldn’t tell where the location is, so I added a ‘Welcome to Nevada’ sign using Photoshop. It worked better for me to take the sign from a different picture and move it to the desert picture.

The second picture is also the Nevada desert. I wanted to let the viewer know that the characters had arrived at my fictional town, Winthrop, so I added the ‘Winthrop, NV’ sign. The sign is about as dilapidated as the rest of the town, and it should just say ‘Welcome to Hell’, but hopefully, the text I chose for the trailer will convey that.

Creating a Scene with Multiple Photos

I used the same technique that I used in my book trailer The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door and placed several photographs together in Movie Maker. Each picture varies slightly to create motion. In Zombie, an angel statue turns into a gargoyle. For this video, the tattoo on my main character’s bicep has a symbol animate inside of his tattoo. The tattoo remains the same, but the symbol turns red and has tiny flames dance around the lines.

I took a picture of a bicep and added the tattoo. I drew the tattoo freehand in black pen and colored it in Photoshop before I added it to the arm. Once the two pictures were merged, I created the symbol as the top layer and played with different aspects to get the ‘flaming’ effect. I strung 10 slightly changed pictures together, repeating three of the brightest patterns, so it appears as though the symbol flickers. Each picture is only set for a duration of .2 or .25. You have to play with the duration to see what works for your material.

Arm small

arm n tattoo small

arm n tattoo w flame small

Welcome to NV no sign small

Welcome to NV 5 small

I still have a little work to do before I post the trailer on YouTube, but I’m happy with the way it’s coming along. The budget for this video was very low. I only purchased two audio files from iStockphoto, which were one credit each. I’m not sure what a credit is worth now because they switched to a new credit system, but audio from many sites can usually be obtained for under $10. I’ll post the link to the trailer when it’s finally complete. Good luck with your trailer!