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Archive for October, 2011

 We’re right in the middle of National Magic Week – when it seems all the world acknowledges that magical things are still possible. And I think it’s no coincidence that Halloween is just a few days away. But rather than magic in general, I’d like to celebrate the illustrators (like Gary Lippincott pictured here) I met at last year’s FaerieCon who bring their visions of the usually hidden worlds of fairies, elves, trolls, giants, and such to the reader.

 I’m one of those devoted readers and appreciators of illustration who drags a knapsack worth of books to a conference and patiently stands in line for the signature of the artist or author. FaerieCon, held this year November 4-6 in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is a great place to meet these artist-magicians. Last year, I met the gracious Michael Hague (see my Jan. 6, 2011 blog) and the fabulous doll-maker, Wendy Froud (see my Dec. 12, 2010 blog) – but they weren’t the only artists I chatted with. Brian Froud (pictured on the left), Wendy’s husband and perhaps the most well-known fairy artist working today, spoke as part of several panels and shared his delightful tales of bringing Faeriefolk to life. And if you took the time to stop by and visit with the Frouds, both Brian & Wendy signed their books and chatted amicably with their fans.

 Faerie Magazine, www.faeriemagazine.com , usually hosts several illustrators and authors at their FaerieCon booth. Last year, the colorfully-dressed and always-smiling Linda Ravenscroft signed 2 books for me. She seemed happy indeed to converse with her many fans as well as talk a bit about her art. (Linda is pictured on the right).

For those who decided they wanted to know more about the business of illustration, businesswoman and illustrator extraordinaire, Jessica Galbreth, gave a workshop.  Not only did Jessica tell the audience about the ins & outs and ups & downs of life as an illustrator, wife, and mom – but those who registered for the workshop also received a copy of her Artists Manual. And as the owner of an autographed copy of that manual, I can tell you it was a worthwhile workshop. (Jessica is shown to the left).

And lastly, but never leastly, Charles Vess, autographed 2 of the Neil Gaiman children’s books he’d illustrated, for me to give as Christmas gifts to my daughter. This year, Charles has a wonderful painting that will be displayed at FaerieCon.  For those who’re interested, you can see the progress of the enormous painting on Charles’ facebook page. I’ve already got my copy of a book of his magical art ready to take with me to hopefully get autographed when I visit FaerieCon in a little over a week from now. (That’s Charles in the photo to the right).

And what of my illustrations? I had a successful exhibit of fantasy paintings this summer (sold 4). My illos have been published in a few speculative magazines recently, and are scheduled to a appear on the covers of several more in 2012. A small crocus fairy illo of mine will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Faerie Magazine as part of an ad. And of course, I included over 30 of my drawings in my recent book from Cold Moon Press, The Greener Forest. For those who’d like to read more about what I have to say about illustration, check out a guest-blog from me at Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog:
http://wp.me/p18Ztn-17n

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Life, per usual, is too busy. Therefore, I’m a day late wishing everyone a Happy Dictionary Day!

As a lover of words, this is a day to celebrate the marvelous words, both cutting-edge and archaic, that fill our dictionaries. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a particularly fascinating word, and wrote an entire story just so I could use it. Bloodguiltless was the beginning place for that short story titled, The Nestgatherers of Gad. It’s unpublished – but since writing the initial draft, I’ve decided to work the story into a novel length piece of fiction. A book from one word? It’s possible.

Another fabulous word is mumbletypeg. Which is even fun to say out loud! It’s used in the very first paragraph of one of my newer stories. And how much more delightful is kerfuffle to mutter than disturbance? How much more interesting is it to open a bumbershoot rather than umbrella? How much more of a clunker does a car seem when I call it a flivver?

Why was October 16th chosen for this celebration? It seems Daniel Webster, who compiled the first American English Dictionary, was born on that date in 1758. So Happy Belated Birthday to Daniel Webster, too.

So grab a dictionary, and find a new word to add to your vocabulary. As for me, I’m geeky enough to not only enjoy perusing a dictionary and thesaurus every now-and-again, but to subscribe to “Word of the Day.” Everyday, a new word is delivered to my email in-box. Often, I recognize the word; but sometimes, the word is so strange and irresistible that I must immediately include it in my writing.

And speaking of my writing, I have a new interview up on author KS Brooks’ blog, “Write Write Write.” Please take a look at the interview & comment: http://tinyurl.com/on-writing-VWC-interview

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On October 2, 1950, “Peanuts” comic strip featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends first appeared in 8 newspapers. Written and drawn by Charles M. Schultz, “Peanuts” was published for nearly 50 years. The final daily version of the strip was published on Jan 3, 2000, and its creator passed away on February 12, 2000. Oddly enough, the final original Sunday “Peanuts” comic strip was published the day after Charles Schultz’s death.

I grew up reading “Peanuts,” and still enjoy it in reprints and on television specials. Good old Charlie Brown, the meek anti-hero of the comic strip, called out to those of us who understood his lack of self-confidence. We admired his determined  persistence in the face of almost certain failure. Charlie Brown couldn’t fly a kite; he managed and played on a baseball team that didn’t win. He endlessly tried to punt a football only to have Lucy pull it away. He got rocks for Halloween, picked a straggly Christmas tree, served a sub-par Thanksgiving dinner, and had an empty mailbox on Valentine’s Day. Charlie Brown represented all of us who weren’t the “popular kids” at school.

The other character I identified with was Snoopy. Yes, I know he’s a dog – but a dog of superior intelligence with a rich imagination. Snoopy’s thought bubbles revealed the multiple and fascinating lives he lived in his imagination. He was not just a beagle — he was a World War I flying ace, Joe Cool on a college campus, a hockey player, Olympic figure skater, grocery clerk, and astronaut. Snoopy was also a Scout leader for his buddy Woodstock and his feathered friends.

But my favorite imaginary Snoopy role was best-selling novelist. Perhaps it was because I, too, dreamed of writing that best-selling book. As soon as I saw Snoopy sitting by his typewriter, I knew I’d like the comics that day. And I always smiled when I saw the first line from the 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” written by Englishman Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “It was a dark and stormy night…”

So Happy Birthday Snoopy & Charlie Brown! And thank you, Charles Schultz. You have made millions smile, given a voice to the underdog, and celebrated those who daydream. This evening, I shall do a brief, but enthusiastic Happy Snoopy Dance, then sit in front of my keyboard to try to write that best-selling novel.

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