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Posts Tagged ‘Sideshow by the Sea’

I’ve been taking time out from writing to do some drawing & painting. I finished a fantasy watercolor painted in various pinks, blues, and purples called Poet’s Moon, then sent a bit of it off to an editor for cover art consideration. That bit will be the cover of the February 2012 Scifaikuest.

I drew a pen & ink, faeriefolk-infested maze for BSFAN, Balticon’s souvenir book to promote my book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. (I’ve received positive feedback from a number of attendees on the maze). I painted a sweet little fairy, “Crocus,” for an ad in the next Faerie Magazine. Plus, she’ll be matted & framed for an upcoming art exhibit – I’ll have to let you know after it’s published what folks think.

I painted 2 gouaches “on spec” for the cover of an upcoming speculative fiction anthology: Rush of Wings. (Hmm, I’m not sure if that’s the true plural for more than 1 gouache — that strange child of watercolor & acrylic paints). One painting, “Rush of Wings,” was declined, and I’ve since sent it out to another editor for another project. The other, “The Golden Egg,” is still being held by the RoW editor. Both speculative paintings just sold from an art exhibit I have at Bel Air Barnes & Noble (MD) for June 1-30, 2011.

Two other paintings have also just sold “off the wall” of my local Barnes & Noble: “Mermaid & Friends,” the cover art for my eShort Sideshow by the Sea, (soon to be included in my new book) and “Three Dwarves,” a watercolor used as cover art by the now defunct Lite – Baltimore’s Literary Magazine. For those interested, you can see the mermaid painting and also, “Acorn Sprite,” a small painting that another buyer has expressed interest in purchasing when the B&N show ends — at the art-gifts on this blog: https://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com/art-gifts/

 I sent the 2 gouaches (mentioned in paragraph #2) plus a watercolor called “Strawberry Dragon” off to my local Society of Book Writers & Illustrators annual Jack Reid Scholarship for free tuition to their July conference. And, gulp, I won the illustrator’s scholarship, so my $195 tuition is being waived!

So what does this “sudden” artwork success mean? Should I stop writing and devote myself to illustration? I think not! I believe these positive responses to my artwork tell me the hours, days, weeks — actually years — that I’ve spent painting and studying art are being acknowledged. Practice has helped me to get better.

I’ll continue to practice my painting and my writing this summer. Hopefully, I’ll have good news in both disciplines. But most importantly, I hope to grow and improve so I can bring my readers better stories and more powerful art in the future. And I encourage all of you to practice whatever it is that you enjoy doing — and I bet you’ll see an improvement in your skill-level, too!

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The chilliness of late autumn has settled over Wood’s Edge. Juncoes & squirrels haunt the birdfeeders. And just a few days ago, I spent another wonderful Thanksgiving with family. This time of year causes me to think about the things I’m most grateful for. The blessings in my life are many, and family and dear friends are near the top of that list. What, you may ask, does that have to do with my writing? More than you may realize!

One of the reoccurring themes in my fiction is family. Sometimes, it’s a traditional family like the parents, children, and mother-in-law in my mermaid story, “Pacific,” due to appear in Shelter of Daylight from Sam’s Dot Publishing and my forthcoming book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. Sometimes, it’s a family of both blood relations and friends like the Chaloupek Brothers’ Amazing Oddities performers in “Sideshow by the Sea.”  And sometimes, it’s a patchwork family the protagonist builds through the course of a story.

Whether in fiction or real life, most people need security, a sense of belonging, and love. In “Blood of the Swan,” (another story set to appear in The Greener Forest) the main character, Jorund, is a member of a family and a village community. Yet while on his quest for a healer, Jorund finds he’s ready for a different kind of belonging and love. In my science-fiction adventure, “Assassins,” Flynn has abandoned the security of his mother and the family business. When he finally finds someone he wants to love and protect, he struggles to return home.

Home and all that word represents – that’s the key. Whether it’s Frank Baum’s Dorothy building a family of a scarecrow, tin man, lion, and wizard who still longs for Auntie Em and the farm, or Tolkien’s Frodo building a Fellowship who still longs for The Shire – the characters of a story can teach us about family, friendship, and that there’s no place like home.

And so, this November & December, I wish you a holiday season filled with family, whether traditional, non-traditional, or a combination of the two. May you feel secure and loved, and may you take a few minutes away from the football games and dinner table to read a good story or two.

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 The saying goes: Faeryfolk live in old oaks. And I love faeryfolk. Maybe it’s because I adore oak trees and made tea party place-settings from acorn tops when I was little. Maybe it’s because I wove huge daisy chains and danced every chance I got in mushroom rings. But ever since I was old enough to hold a book, I’ve been fascinated with fairy and folktales and the creatures who populate those stories. And though I adore the butterfly-winged fairies that sail the breezes and ride mouseback to great celebrations in the deepest parts of the forest, I like lesser-known and darker members of Faerie, too.

Trolls are one of my favorites. The under-the-bridge troll of The Three Billy Goats Gruff is fearsome indeed, but the trolls of the northern woods of Scandinavia are often viewed as nature-helpers. These trolls are responsible for tending plants and animals. I decided to make the trolls in the fourth tale in my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, non-threatening. In fact, they’re comical in appearance and quite fond of snow, unicorns, and playing chess.

Another one of my faeryfolk favorites are stray-sod pixies. Stray-sods have grass growing from their backs. They settle in a meadow or other grassy spot and wait for the unwary pedestrian to step upon them. As soon as a person steps on its back, a stray-sod twists, turns, and confuses the careless hiker. Stray-sods are one of the faeryfolk I’ve included in a novel-in-progress I’m working on.

I’ve included a kelpie in a poem. A kelpie is a waterhorse who waits in moving water for a foolish or curious person. Climb onto a kelpie’s back and you’re likely to be at least dunked if not drowned and eaten. But there’s also something touching about a horse with a shaggy forelock partially hiding its wide set eyes poised at the edge of a stream begging to be petted. Perhaps the kelpie is truly lonely and not just hungry.

And what of the swan-maidens of Celtic tales? Healers and were-creatures of great beauty and shyness, I’ve often wondered under what circumstances would they be bold and vengeful. That bit of speculation resulted in my short story, Blood of the Swan, due to appear in a soon-to-be-printed anthology.

Even goblins make appearances in my writing. I have several varieties of the much-hated goblin race in my looking-for-a-publisher YA novel, The Enchanted Skean. Though there seems to be little to love about them, the main character, Beck, wonders if the goblins also have names and families. And spriggans, rude and obnoxious cousins of goblinkind, appear in one of my short stories currently “out” awaiting a publisher’s decision to accept or reject.

Mermaids are sometimes portrayed as sirens luring men to their death. I played against that type in my eShort, Sideshow by the Sea. Still, I didn’t discard the death-by-merfolk idea all together. Though the protagonist, Dusana, is a sweet girl – the mermen in the story carry knives with sharp, curving blades.

So as spring arrives, sit under an oak, read a fairytale, and look for the lesser-known faeryfolk. Perhaps they’re peering at you from behind a shrub, dangling from a branch above your head, or skulking in your cellar way. Just beware, all fairies are tricksy!

Learn more about Vonnie’s writing at www.vonniewinslowcrist.com

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 All 3 of my eShort stories: Assassins, Sideshow by the Sea, and Bells, are YA/Cross-Overs. YA (young adult) books are written for the teenage reader. But some books that feature older teen and young adult characters, like Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-werewolf “Twilight” series, cross-over and become bestsellers in the adult book market.

Adults of all ages can enjoy a Cross-Over book’s plot twists, varied characters, and carefully constructed world. One of the earliest Cross-Overs I purchased for my bookshelf was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Though Bilbo Baggins is middle-aged in human years, in hobbit years he is a young adult. Tolkien meticulously built a complex world with its own races, geography, history, creatures, rules of war, clothing, and magic.

The book was a precursor to The Lord of the Rings trilogy which also features a young hobbit, Frodo, as the protagonist. Adding to the YA feel of The LOTR trilogy is the boyish friendship of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. But the tangle of plots, subplots, themes, and characters that weave their way through The Lord of the Rings are rich enough to snag countless adult readers.

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the rest of his Chronicles of Narnia are also YA/Cross-Over books. Written for the teen (and preteen) reader, the series continues to be read by adults young and old.

Another Cross-Over series I’ve filled my book shelves with is Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara, The Wishsong of Shannara, etc. These aren’t really YA books, you might say. But I submit to you that indeed they began as a coming of age story of 2 young men, Shea and Flick, in a carefully crafted world. And then, the Shannara books topped the New York Times bestseller list and became one of the favorite fantasy series of many adult readers.

The last cross-over series I’ll mention is J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, the three main characters in Rowlings’ classic coming of age tales, begin their literary journey as 12-year-olds. And as such, attracted a faithful readership of preteens and teens. But it’s the cross-over into the adult market that has help make the books one of the most successful fantasy series ever published.

 I’m not the only one to notice and celebrate the increase in both the numbers and quality of YA/Cross-Over books. The Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2010, p.4, A&E section featured an article by Susan Carpenter in which she quotes Lizzie Skurnick, author of a collection of essays about YA literature: “I think part of the reason we’re seeing adults reading YA is that often there’s no bones made about the fact that a YA book is explicitly intended to entertain…YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun…”

 And that’s why YA/Cross-Over books Rock!

They’re entertaining, enlightening, and thought-provoking – but most of all – they’re fun! So why not check-out my YA/Cross-Over story, For the Good of the Settlement And soon, you’ll be able to read some of my other YA/Cross-Overs: The Return of Gunnar Kettilson in Cemetary Moon and Gifts in the Dark in Dia de los Muertos.

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mermaid Reincarnation is defined as the “rebirth of the soul in successive bodies” (Standard College Dictionary).  But rather than the rebirth of a soul, I’d like to discuss the rebirth of an idea in successive bodies!  By now, some of you are scratching your head and wondering what in the world I’m talking about.  Let me explain.

Often, I begin writing with an idea like: “there’s a real mermaid not far from a jetty off of Ocean City’s shore.”  Hmm.  I decide I spot the mermaid while walking along the beach.  When I see her, I admire her beauty and allure.  Then, I worry about what would happen if my sons came under her spell.  Would they follow her into the water, perhaps to their deaths?  I write a poem about that dark mermaid moment called Ocean Lure.

Next, I decide to write a story about a woman under an umbrella on the beach who watches her husband and children playing in the ocean.  She both admires and fears the deep water, warned by her own mother that the sea will take someone she loves.  On the day written about in Pacific, the woman’s children return to her from the water.  In an uneasy ending, from the safety of the sand, the family watches dolphins leaping from the water like question marks.

Next, I consider swimming in the ocean and write the poem, Water: “Water is the mirror we sink into/ slip to the other side of…” where we “dream of the drowned/ whose bones rock on the bottom/ wear away to sand./ Sand that catches in clothing,/ hides between skinfolds,/ and comes with us/ when we come out of water.”

Another poem follows called Sea Children.  It is written as a series of cinquain (a 5-lined form of poem) that undulates down the page concluding with: “high tide/ cold, hungry green/ swashing the sunbathers/ shivering, we flee its sharp teeth/ sharkwave.// water/ salty moonchild/ rushing from birth to death/ our blood answers when she beckons/ Mother!”  Full poem was printed by SeaStories, and can be read on my website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com

Finally, filled with appropriate amounts of wonder, magic, and darkness — I consider how I’d feel if a merman came on shore to carry away my daughter.  Horrified was my initial response, but what if going with the merman was for the best?  What are the circumstances that would make if the right choice for a daughter to go with the merman to the bottom of the ocean?  And that’s where I began when I started to write story, Sideshow by the Sea, published in Volume 5 Issue 3 of “Tales of the Talisman” http://www.talesofthetalisman.com and later as an eShort.

That first idea of something beautiful and seductive lurking in the Atlantic has been reincarnated in several bodies.  Whether the idea wore the skin of a free-verse poem, a poem written as a series of cinquain, a short story with a touch of magic, or an urban fantasy — it was still the same idea.  And I suspect, I’ll reincarnate that idea again.

But I am not alone.  If you examine the stories and verse of many authors and poets, there are certain ideas and themes that they repeat in their work.  And by discovering what ideas and themes a writer returns to again and again, a reader can better understand the person behind writing.

Update: Pacific was revised and re-titled, Shoreside, and appears in my book, The Greener Forest. Updated versions of both the poem, Ocean Lure, and the story, Sideshow by the Sea, appear in my book Owl Light.

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 The snow outside is just deep enough to make a planned trip to the grocery store out of the question, so I decide to do some “office work.”

The business side of writing is necessary, but bothersome for me. Nevertheless, I pull up a couple of things that need to be printed out. Argh! The printer tells me it’s not connected to the computer.

Such techie things I usually leave for my husband to sort out, so I decide to register for a few smaller urls for some of my free stories and poems from www.tinyurl.com (A site I highly recommend. Smaller urls are a blessing!)

All goes well until I try to check for my story, Angels, published in the latest issue of Ensorcelled Magazine (from Berkeley). My computer tells me I’m forbidden to access the magazine from this server. I try several different ways to locate the magazine or story to no avail. (Update: The 4 free poems and 2 free stories that were listed here are no longer available. So, even more things went wrong since this post was written. Good news though, Angels is included in The Greener Forest and For the Good of the Settlement has been updated and published as an eShort).

I decide to check my eShort publisher to see how my eShorts (Bells, Sideshow by the Sea, and Assassins) are doing, only to find the website is down.

Hmm. I have a call into an editor and am awaiting her call-back. I check my phone to make sure it’s working. It is, but the back left burner on the stove seems to have a problem when I try to warm up some soup for lunch. Does this mean I’ll have to start making dinner a little earlier than usual?

Forget the soup. As I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I decide today is the perfect day to finish some illustrations. As long as my spectacles (a far more interesting word than “glasses”) don’t break and I have water for painting, I’m good to go. Of course as I type this, I know the studio area of the basement remains unfinished and I’ll be wearing my Bob-Cratchett-style fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm as I draw and paint.

Perhaps, I’m meant to research a new story I’m working on. I can read snuggled down in a comfortable chair by the fire and jot notes on a pad. If I’m truly inspired, I can even return to the computer and type as long as I don’t want to print anything out.

What’s the point of this blog? You can always find excuses NOT to write (or illustrate), but if you’re going to have something for publication, you must push yourself to work. Research, write, draw, paint, edit, tiddy-up websites & blogs, register new tiny urls, revise… the list could go on — but keep busy! A writer writes. An illustrator illustrates. A wanna-be finds any excuse to turn on the television and set aside their creative dreams.

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 Many authors, including me, have asked readers to vote for us and our story or poem on the Preditors & Editors Poll: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/  That’s all well and good for the authors, poets, artists, editors, and publications receiving votes — but what’s in it for the readers? Plenty! For readers, you get a chance to read stories & poems and look at books, magazines & anthologies you might not have heard about before. Perhaps you’ll find a writer who’s words you’d like to read more of.

Now, what’s in it for other writers? Gold! By checking out the various books, magazines & anthologies, you can find a few which might be interested in your writing. The nonfiction articles, bookstores, writers’ advice listings, etc. can prove to be valuable resources for you. And check out the editors, too. An editor that scores lots of votes might be someone you’d like to work with on a project. You can also check out your competition for the available slots in a publisher’s schedule. Is your work up to the standards of the work you see listed?

What’s in it for the artists?  Read the above paragraph. You, too, need to familiarize yourself with publications, editors, and your competition.

As for editors, they get a chance to see writers & artists whose work is popular with a segment of the reading population.  Though that information should never be the only deciding factor when it comes to accepting submissions, it is nice to know!

So go to the poll: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/ check-out the categories & nominees, and VOTE BEFORE 11:59 PM JANUARY 14th.  I, of course, would love your vote as a Poet, Artist, and Author — or for my 1 of my Poems: Sea Children or Spiders, my Story-Other: Bells, 1 of my Story-Science Fictions: Angels or Assassins or Sideshow by the Sea, and lastly, my Book Cover Art: Sideshow by the Sea.

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