Posts Tagged ‘Illustration’

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

Broad Universe, an organization which supports and encourages women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, is sponsoring the Full Moon Blog Tour from October 25th until November 7th. As a member of Broad Universe, I’m delighted to participate, and encourage you to visit the other posts. There are prizes to be had, stories to be read, and new writers to meet.

And now, to my post, Owl Moon:

The moon holds a special place in myth and legend. Wolves, coyotes, and dogs howl at the mirror in the sky. Werewolves and other shape-changers are influenced by the moon and its mystical light. Gazing up at the moon, humans see Swiss cheese, a man, an old woman (Grandmother Moon), a rabbit, a dragon, and other images in the darker gray areas caused by craters. Beings of Faerie dance in moonlight (and lure the unwary to dance with them until they are either spirited away to Faerie or drop from exhaustion). And legend holds if you stare into a moonshadow, you can see the past.

So it’s little wonder that the moon and its magical light play a part in my collection of speculative stories, Owl Light. In fact, “owl light” is that period of a day from dusk to dawn when owls and their nighttime companions live their secret lives.

Maybe6 owl light cover Owls populate every story in Owl Light. “The Clockwork Owl” is a time-travel, steampunk story with a automaton owl who is made to save a life in the past and the future. Owls hoot from the trees in some of the stories like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Gabeta,” and “The Burryman.” Owls huddle in the corners of burial caves in ” Pawprints of the Margay” and serve as the companion of the daughter of winter in “On a Midwinter’s Eve.” In “Feathers,” not only do owls serve as mounts for fairies, but they’re able to talk and they attack an executioner ready to kill a condemned woman.

One of the stories in Owl Light where owls, the moon, folklore, and magic are pivotal is “Gifts in the Dark.” For those who’d like take a peek, here’s the Wattpad link so you can read the full story.

When it came time to paint a cover for Owl Light (yes, I am an illustrator, too), I found myself returning again and again to the image of a barn owl before an orange full moon.

Many cultures name full moons: The Harvest Moon appears in fall at the time of the harvest. Cold Moon appears, of course, in the depths of winter – as does Hunger Moon. Strawberry Moon is the full moon which appears in June when strawberries are ripe for the picking. One of my favorites, Worm Moon, is in the spring when the earth thaws and the worms become active again.

owl light cover 300 Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I named the cover painting, “Owl Moon.” What better creature to name a full moon after?

So as Selene (the moon goddess) rises into the night sky in a few days, go outside and listen to the nocturnal sounds. Perhaps there will be neighborhood dogs barking or crickets chirping, unless heavy frosts have silenced their songs. Or perhaps (if you’re lucky) you’ll hear the haunting call of an owl. Then you, too, can witness an Owl Moon.

Thanks for stopping by, Whimsical Words, and a shout out to Greta van der Rol for organizing the Full Moon Blog Tour.

Now, here’s the fun part – I’ll be sending a PDF of one of my books to one of the people who comments on this blog post.

untitled But wait, there are other prizes to be had – including books and gift cards via the Rafflecopter, and other goodies offered at other Full Moon Tour sites.

And here’s the link to visit the Rafflecopter for this tour.

Keep reading, visit my Broad Universe friends (see chart below), listen for owls beneath this autumn’s full moon, and maybe even purchase your copy of Owl Light. – Vonnie

Welcome to Broad Universe’s Full Moon blog tour, offering you a selection of the very best speculative fiction. Whether your taste is paranormal, space opera, high fantasy, gothic horror or something else altogether, please visit the participant’s sites for a taste of moonlit magic – and a chance to win some great prizes.

1. Jennifer Allis Provost 16. Once in a Blue Muse
2. The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor 17. Words from Thin Air
3. With What I Most Enjoy 18. Balancing Act
4. Life Happens. A Lot.  19. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
5. Pippa Jay 20. Shauna Roberts’ blog
6. I Bleed Ink 21. Ripped from the Headlines
7. Clay and Susan Griffith 22. Ann Gimpel’s Blog
8. TW Fendley 23. Disquieting Visions 
9. Because quirky characters fall in love, too… 24. Bits of This & That
10. Carole Ann Moleti 25. Alma Alexander
11. From the Shadows 26. Darksome Thirst
12. The Far Edge of Normal 27. Kate’s blog
13. The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose 28. Alexandra Christian: The Southern Belle from Hell
14. Melisse Aires ~ Romance with Infinite Possibilities 29. Whimsical Words
15. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Epic (R)evolutions 30. Musings From the Underworld

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Some days, I don’t have the necessary motivation to write (or paint). Perhaps I’m tired physically, mentally, or emotionally,  perhaps I’ve received one too many rejection letters, or perhaps I’m overwhelmed with the hugeness of a task. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to lift my hands to type, much less turn on the necessary creativity to build a world!

But feelings of being overwhelmed or just not motivated, dog us all — not only in writing and art, but in life. Maybe the lawn needs a machete before you turn on the lawn mower, maybe the shelves are bare before you go food shopping, or maybe the spiders’ webs have begun to block your view out your windows before you take a broom to them.

For me, I need to set a small, reachable goal for the day. Something along the lines of: paint a background wash on a painting or revise the first page of a story or weed the first three feet of a flower garden. Quite often, once I begin the task, I find myself completing far more than I anticipated. But even if I only achieve the small goal I set for the day, I’ve already decided it will be enough.

I think the slow, but steady approach to mountains of work is the best approach for me. For some people, having a scheduled time or a set routine also helps. For me, it’s hard to keep to schedules and routines, but whether I devote an hour to writing at 9 AM or 9 PM, it’s the goal of spending an hour on my writing that I focus on achieving.

For another point of view, check out this article from Life on the Sunnyside.

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Self-doubt is the enemy of many writers. On some days, the Doubters Club includes me. But I work hard to close me ears to that little niggling voice in the back of my brain which says my writing and art aren’t good enough. And I try not to set myself up for other voices to plant the seeds of doubt in my subconscious.

For me, the love of telling a story pushes me beyond self-doubt. The need to create a world from a chain of words or smathering of paint is enough motivation to cancel my membership in the Doubters Club and create.

My advice to writers, illustrators, crafters, and dreamers: Believe in yourself, and don’t let anyone (yourself included) keep you from pursuing your creative dreams.

For another point of view on the crippling effects of doubt, check out a recent As the Eraser Burns blog post from my writing friend, Laura Bowers: Write with the Door Closed Firmly.

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“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him [or her] the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” – Rachel Carson

Which is why, I for one, strive to maintain and nourish my sense of wonder. Beyond that, I try to create worlds in my writing and art which are filled with joy, excitement and mystery. And I encourage all my readers, especially those who write or illustrate, to embrace his or her sense of wonder!

For those who want to know a little more about Rachel Carson, remembered most for her book, Silent Spring, here’s a link to a Women’s History Minute video.

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Like many writers, I’ve sent stories, articles and poems out to magazines and anthologies – then heard nothing. The response time posted on the publisher’s website has long since passed, and I wonder do I query them about the status of my submission or just wait.

My solution has always been to give the publisher some extra time, then send a polite inquiry along the lines of: “I’m just checking to make sure you received my submission, [insert a title here]. If it was received, would you tell me the status of [insert title] so I can keep my submission records up to date. Thanks for your time.” I then add a salutation of some sort and my name.

First, I want to  make sure the publication actually received my submission. I know some publications have an automatic “We got it” email which is sent to the email from which a submission came. But not every publication chooses to send such a response. Before I huff and puff about the tardiness of the publication’s response time, I need to make certain they’ve actually received my manuscript.

Second, I want to check on the status of the submission. Perhaps, they’ve made a decision and either have forgotten to send me that rejection or acceptance email, or they sent it once and it was lost in the ether (or my spam box). Maybe, their personal life has become complicated due to illness, work, family responsibilities, etc., and they’re behind on reading and responding to submissions. If this is the case, then it becomes my decision whether to leave the submission with them, or to withdraw the manuscript and send it elsewhere.

Third, if the publication is going belly-up (a colorful way of saying they’re going to close), then I can move on and send the manuscript out to another publisher. I’ve even received an email with this sad information accompanied by note from the editor suggesting another market which might like my manuscript.

By the way, everything in this post and in the article I’ll be linking to at the end holds true for illustrators, too. I recently inquired after 4 illustrations, and heard promptly back from the publishers. All 4 will be used (and I’ll be paid for them). The reasons for the delay in responding varied, but the reasons were the usual things in life which delay each of us from creative endeavors.

I hope you enjoy another point of view about when to inquire in: The Art of Submission: Inquiring After Our Work by Emily Lackey (as posted by She Writes).

Keep writing and keep reading. (Maybe even read one of my books!)

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Vonnie at Carroll County Farmer's Market When I started the writing journey, I thought I had a clear picture of the book publishing world. Wrong!

I slid into book publishing via my work as an illustrator. I was lucky enough to stand next to an indie author in aerobics class who’d lost her illustrator suddenly. She was telling me about her plight, and I mentioned I was an illustrator. Many hours and illos later, her book (with my illos) was picked up by a major publisher, and I ended up illustrating her 8 books with Prima Publishing.

When it came to my 1st book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, again I slid into book publishing. This time, I was set to design, typeset, and layout a book for the Vegetarian Resource Group (an Indie Press). The author bowed out at the last moment, and my book project slipped into her publishing slot.

Nowadays, I slog along with the rest of the small press authors. A couple of things I’ve learned: few people know your books (even if you’ve sold thousands) and even fewer know your name. You can’t convince someone to like your book, and it’s difficult to convince them to buy your book unless they already read the type of book you’re writing.

A few more lessons learned about book publishing: Friends of friends or family members will ask you to read and critique their book (for free) on a regular basis. You need to find a nice way to say, “No.” Your writing time is valuable (and limited), so you need to focus on your own writing. I often suggest a writers’ group or class for peer input.

Countless people will talk to you at an author’s event or signing about the idea they have for a great book, then ask if you’d like to write it for them. Again, the answer is “No.” If the idea is worth writing about, they need to write their own book. They’re the person with the passion about the idea – not you.

Also, people want to learn the secret to getting their book published. To which I always answer: “Hard work, persistence, and a little luck.” I wish there was a secret I could share which would quickly get their book on a fast track to publication, but there isn’t one.

And remember, free candy will always attract potential customers to your book display at an event. 🙂

Lastly, librarians and Indie bookstore clerks are a small press author’s friends. These are people who care about books and readers.

An interesting article on the subject, 24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing, adds to my ideas and is well worth the read.

Find my books on Amazon and elsewhere. Happy reading!

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small owl light When I see a new review for my book has been published on a website, I always hold my breath for a moment as I click on the link. It shouldn’t matter what a reviewer thinks about my writing – but it does!

Many thanks to reviewer January Gray for her kind words. A sample quote: “A very pleasurable and magical book you will read over and over.” Thanks to January, also, for her 5 Star rating on Amazon. To read all of January’s comments about Owl Light, visit her webpage.

Owl Light has 5 reviews, all 5 Stars. Woot! I hope some of you might be interested in buying and reading this collection of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and ghost-tale stories. (And please post a review so I can read what YOU thought about Owl Light).

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small owl light  The 2014 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll is accepting votes until midnight, January 14th. I’d really appreciate it if my readers would take the time to vote for my work in one or more of the following categories.

Young Adult Book: Owl Light http://critters.org/predpoll/novelyoungadult.shtml

Book Cover Art: Owl Light http://critters.org/predpoll/bookart.shtml

Spaceports and Spidersilk 10-14

Magazine Cover Art:

Spaceports and Spidersilk – Oct.



Poem: Fish Story http://critters.org/predpoll/poem.shtml

Garden Skull2 Published Art: Garden Skull


Thanks for reading my blog, and for your support this year.

Continued good wishes to each of you.

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2 Pawprints large art The Day of the Dead customs celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere are fascinating. The Dead are welcomed. Seemingly macabre toys, food, and costumes are actually colorful and festive symbols encouraging ancestors to return to this world for a visit.

Here’s a link to a site with lots of Day of the Dead information.

And a link to the complete version of one of my Day of the Dead stories, “Gifts in the Dark,” included in my newest story collection, Owl Light.

Gifts in the Dark  Like what you’re reading? You can check out Owl Light and my other books on Amazon.

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Owl and Pussycat

Rush of Wings owl close up This is the seventeenth blog in a series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. Each post features a mix of owl art, facts, folklore, quotes, and links to owlish sites. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

Owl art: One of my owl images.

Owl fact: “Scientists believe that domestic cats’ night vision is as good as owls’. Also like owls, cats see only in black and white and shades of gray.” – Raptor!, Laubach, Laubach & Smith, p5.

Owl children’s poem: The Owl and the Pussycat was written by Edward Lear (1812-1888). Here are the first 3 stanzas: “The owl and the pussycat went to sea/ In a beautiful peagreen boat/ They took some honey and plenty of money/ Wrapped up in a five-pound note./ The owl looked up to the stars above/ And sang to a small guitar,/ ‘O, lovely pussy, o pussy my love,/ What a beautiful pussy you are!’/ Pussy said to the owl, ‘You elegant fowl,/ How charmingly sweet you sing./ O, let us be married, too long we have tarried,/ But what shall we do for a ring?’”

Owl link: Well, there’s no peagreen boat involved, but here’s an interesting video featuring an owl and pussycat.

And, of course, here’s a buy link for Owl Light.  Or buy it from The Owl Pages and help out owls.

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