Tag Archives: Fiction

Storm at Sea

Storm at Sea by Karen Gadient, 2013

Coral – Digital block print. Created with Corel Painter. Click for the print.
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
— Vincent Van Gogh

Speaking of sea…

Just returned from tagging along on David’s business trip to North Carolina, where I got to see Natania again. Only a day together, but there was talking and and wine and food and games—so even a day was enough.

I’m grateful for the internet, but I wish I could see friends in person more often.

On the return flight, I had the honor of beginning to read her draft of Watcher of the Skies, whose narrator happens to be Poseidon. So: sea. Water and wonder. Life and depth and flow. It’s already one of those books I love to get lost in.

Sweetest melodies are those that are by distance made more sweet.
— William Wordsworth

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Filed under Art, Color, Digital Artwork, Family, Friendship, Inspiration, Life, Mythology, Nature, Ocean, Painting, Quotes, Sea, Seascape, Writing

Jump In: NaNoWriMo and Imagination

Zuzamele in Blossoms by Karen Gadient

Artwork: “Zuzamele in Blossoms” | Zuzamele, the first daughter of the Exalted Sovereign of Mahanizeh, disappears after leaving her eighth groom alive on the first year of their joining—an anniversary that traditionally allows royal grooms to relinquish their lives gratefully in the Rite of Delivery. Mahanizeh officials quickly announce her capture and imprisonment in Avizhdolin, but rumors flourish of her escape to Ruhizeya aboard a celestial freighter.

Oh hey—did you know NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming? Yep, less than a month. As I have in previous years, I’ll be participating. Are you?

Zuzamele may not be the story I’ll be writing in November, but it could be. You see, that’s the awesome thing about NaNoWriMo: you can use anything your mind thinks up and run from a single paragraph (I wrote the above details on a whim after I created the artwork) well into an epic tale.

Jump in. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and make a mess. Scatter ink everywhere and watch the magic trip into life. I make new friends every year during NaNoWriMo (my user name is Keyrover). Hope to see you there.

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Filed under Art, Creativity, Digital Artwork, Fantasy, Friendship, Imagination, NaNoWriMo, Portrait, Science Fiction, Sketchbook, Writing

Perils of Professional Titles in Fiction

Dr. Smith Examines a Tonsil

I’ve been busy finishing a book. I need some advice. Well, maybe.

You know how I am. I find my answers in the middle of asking for advice.

All the same, here you go:

My main character works in the medical profession, under the guidance of a high-ranking physician. For the first half of the book, he addresses this physician as “Dr. Smith”. When circumstances change (and they do, big time)… the doctor becomes a close friend and asks to be addressed by his first name (we’ll call him “Bob” for example) outside of work.

It only feels awkward to me because he doesn’t become “Bob” until the middle of the story.

And the doctor was his mentor.

Plus the doctor is much older, so there’s a father figure thing too.

Should I explain the “call me Bob” thing in some dialogue and refer to him as “Bob” instead of “Dr. Smith” from that point on?

Bob and I went down the diner to get a five-dollar milkshake. To our surprise, Dr. Phil was there too. “Whatcha doin’ here?” Dr. Phil asked. “Dr. Smith and I wanted to see if that five-dollar milkshake was any good,” John replied. “Dunno if it’s worth five dollars,” Dr. Phil said, rubbing his shiny pate. “But it’s pretty friggin’ good.”

Or continue to call him “Dr. Smith” unless the main character is speaking to him? In which case he can pull something like:

John handed Dr. Smith the plunger and asked, “You sure you know how to fix a toilet, Bob? We could call a plumber.” Dr. Smith waved him off. “It’s a toilet. How much different can it be from the human colon?” John had his doubts. There was a reason they had maintenance on speed-dial.

I’ve been told I over-think. There’s my mind on coffee.

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Filed under Decisions, Writing

Coin Tosses and Novel Choices

Chute Image with Ladder

I promised my husband I’d figure this one out by weekend’s end.

I have two novels that have a chance of seeing the light of published day this year.

Both are science fiction. One is alternate-universe stuff, with lots of comedic touches and a very television-show like feel. The other is more Asimov-ish, but also easy reading, because I come from a background where I started writing scripts long before I ever tried novels.

For a debut novel, I’m overanalyzing which should go first. Concept, marketing, just the general “wow factor”… the less comedic one looks in line for the most success (well, maybe). However, there’s one problem bugging me:

First half of the book feels like a YA novel, as the main character is a teenager. Only I don’t think it’s YA. The second half of the book (and any series books to follow) show the main character as an adult. The book has adult themes.

Anyone reading the first two chapters would never guess that the book evolves straight out of the teen years and right into a sharp reality of a new world.

I can’t change the fact that the main character starts out young and doesn’t stay that way. It’s important to the tale. YET…

He may become an adult, but under his skin, he’s still a teenager.

Tricky to categorize, right?

Truth is, I’m not sure where the edges of YA and adult fiction are these days. Is it still YA if the character is in his 20s and older as the story goes on?

I doubt it. But… geez, it starts out in that category. So. *head-desk*

I’m stalling on this project because I can’t define my audience. I don’t want to set readers up to think they’re getting a YA novel and then leaving bad reviews because they end up with a grown man in a violent world after half a book.

My husband flipped a coin for me on these novels. The coin fell on the floor the first time—unofficial results chose the alternate-universe-semi-comedy. The official coin toss chose the maybe-not-YA-sci-fi.

Which one really won? I still don’t know.

Maybe we need a fresh coin toss.


Anton Chigurh: Just call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Well, we need to know what we’re calling it for here.
Anton Chigurh: You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.
Gas Station Proprietor: I didn’t put nothin’ up.
Anton Chigurh: Yes, you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life you just didn’t know it. You know what date is on this coin?
Gas Station Proprietor: No.
Anton Chigurh: 1958. It’s been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it’s here. And it’s either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Look, I need to know what I stand to win.
Anton Chigurh: Everything.
Gas Station Proprietor: How’s that?
Anton Chigurh: You stand to win everything. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Alright. Heads then.
[Chigurh removes his hand, revealing the coin is indeed heads]
Anton Chigurh: Well done. Don’t put it in your pocket, sir. Don’t put it in your pocket. It’s your lucky quarter.

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Filed under Decisions, Fate, Life, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing

The Value of NaNoWriMo

Character Artwork: Version Two - for NaNoWriMo 2012, Karen Gadient

I didn’t win the Powerball. Pretty sure you didn’t either. Bummer, right?

However… last night, I “won” NaNoWriMo for the second time. This novel(la) was more of a struggle than the one I did last year—due to less laughs and more doom—but I reached 51,071 words and crafted a decent ending.

My main character (yep, that’s him in this post’s image) went through a lot of changes as he fought his way through the story. He began as a teenager and ended up a grown man, much faster than he’d expected. And, although he may live for another hundred years, he still still has a lot of galaxy to save. I’ll return to him for a rewrite/edit and maybe a sequel.

Still, I’m glad to finally put NaNoWriMo aside and begin editing the novel I finished just before NaNoWriMo began. Those characters never got out of my head throughout all of November, and it was like having two people in the room with you, talking while you were trying to work!

“You really writing that? It’s creepy. Come back to us. We’ve got flying cars!”

NaNoWriMo Banner

This year, I saw a lot more banter online regarding the value of NaNoWriMo. Plenty of hate along with the love. Valid points on both sides.

I agree that not everyone “has a story in them” or is meant to be “a writer”. I agree that too many people submit/self-publish their “masterpiece” without proper revision, editing, and general professionalism.

Doe NaNoWriMo encourage this?

No. There will always be people who are naive, disillusioned, misinformed, or think that rules don’t apply to them.

I’ve been one of those writers. It was only through years of reading and failing and getting smacked on the head by professionals that I realized I wasn’t pouring magic from my fingers. Same goes with my art and design work.

As Alanis Morissette once said: you live, you learn. I’ll never stop learning. Or failing, I’m sure! I’m human. But I’ll keep doing what I do because I love doing it.

Sure, the online bookstores are full of junk. But there are gems too. Some of those gems even began in NaNoWriMo. Only those writers re-wrote, edited, got beta readers, and enlisted the help of professionals for the final product.

My favorite example, of course, is my best friend Natania Barron and her fantastic book Pilgrim of the Sky, which began in NaNoWriMo (although it went through plenty of changes before publication). I’m proud to get the blame for planting a wine-soaked seed for another book in those worlds, featuring one of my favorite characters, Joss Raddick. Mmm-hm.

Natania speaks of writing and NaNoWriMo, and shares some of her story.

Participate in NaNoWriMo. Have crazy fun with it. Get the short draft done. Then prepare to spend a lot of time fixing that draft before forcing it on others, if that’s your plan. Be proud you got the thing out of your head and onto the paper.

As my friend Katie cheered to me all this month: YAY YOU!

NaNoWriMo encourages people to give something a try—and to give themselves a chance to create something awesome. In a frenzy, without censorship. It’s so freeing. It’s a wonderful mess. It’s dreaming awake. For me, it’s embracing my inner child and remembering what it was like to hop in a sack race. It’s pure fun, even if no one ever reads it, and even if you don’t “win”.

That’s why I’ll keep doing it, year after year.

My favorite pep talk from NaNoWriMo this year, by Nick Hornby.

Congrats to all of you who did NaNoWriMo this year. And congrats to all of you who dare to create, no matter what you bring to life or what month it is.

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Filed under Creativity, Friendship, Imagination, Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Debris Dreams: Print Cover

Finally sharing the full cover for Debris Dreams, which will be out this month. Written by David Colby and published by Candlemark & Gleam. Book cover design and illustration by yours truly. The print cover shows you the wraparound design that was not shown in the front cover reveal on SF Signal.

Please consider supporting the Kickstarter and you can get lots of goodies!

And yes, this the same author with the awesome book trailer!

Click the image to see a larger version.

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Filed under Art Portfolio, Book Cover Design, Books, Graphic Design, Publishing, Science Fiction

Finishing a novel and starting NaNoWriMo

Finishing a novel, starting a novel. NaNoWriMo 2012.

Journeys: my alphabetical post for ‘J’. I just took one and I’m about to take another. Whew, man… I really thought I’d have more time for this stuff. Between work, family, and unexpected migraines, it’s been a little crazy.

BUT!

I finished another novel. This one is a normal size. In fact, it’s a little small and will need work in the next draft. Screen capture is in the banner for this post: 72,197 words. I tend to run long and I really made efforts not to do that this time. My first novel was *goes to check* …146,338 words. Yeah, that one needs trimming. With explosives.

Today is one of my favorite holidays: Halloween! I shall go a-haunting. After that, things will haunt me instead: lack of sleep, too much caffeine, voices in my head, and words, words, words!

Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?
Guildenstern: Words. Words. They’re all we have to go on.

Yep, its’ NaNoWriMo time!

Whether you like it or you hate it, it’s a great excuse to write.

I’m still in that place where I’m sad to finish a story and here I am about to start another one. As I said in my last post, it’s like drugs. No point in quitting or cutting back or I’ll have rebound issues just like any other stimulant.

For NaNoWriMo, I’ll be headed to another planet. Chaos. Lies. Creepy stuff. Plus my usual abundance of existential dilemmas. Not quite sure how it’ll end up. Doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the journey.

Guildenstern: Who decides?
The Player: Decides? It is written!

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Filed under Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

Have you ever been experienced?

Psychedelic Colors. Writing is my drug of choice.

Another alphabetical post: this time for the letter I. Given the last few weeks, I’m choosing intervention, because I probably need one. I’ve got this writing addiction, you see. Only—like many of us with a serious writing habit—I’ve got all these other things that I’m also supposed to be doing.

So, I guess I can throw insomnia there too, because I’m willing to lose sleep to maintain my writing addiction along with my real-life responsibilities. And I’m cool with that. No need for a therapy session; you can put away your touching letters. I can handle this myself. I’ll keep the phone close.

“Did you happen to bring any candy?”

I’m guessing there’s quite a few of us addicts out wandering the online realm right about now, because the big showdown of “who can do the most hits the fastest” is just around the corner: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where the goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel in 30 days.

Hell yes, I’ll be participating again this year. You can find me here.

“How are you preparing? Outlines? Synopsis? Notebooks of character bios?”

Not this year, my friends. See, this year I’ve got a novel to finish by the end of October. Self-imposed obsession.

Hey, hey… I said I’ve got this. Dude, I can handle it. Well… barely, with all the other things on my list, but who needs sleep when you have caffeine?

“Here’s the first of the day, fellas! To ol’ D.H. Lawrence.”

Can you tell I’m finishing a book that’s a little heavy on drug culture? Anyway, I’ve got about 5,000 words left on this book and then I’ll hop the NaNoWriMo train.

I’m diving in on November 1st like it’s a rave. Crank that bass, yo.

Oh yeah. You’re a writer too? Yeah? Been doing this a while? First timer or not, man—I’m telling you, once you try it… you’ll be hooked. Writing is not just a party drug. As Jimi Hendrix might say: it’s an experience.

And all of us writers want to be experienced. Our stories, given to others to explore. Part of us, in the hands of the world. Or just into the heads of a few people who matter to us. It’s all good. But you only get to see if you mellow out and follow the pretty colors to the story you want to read. Just enjoy the trip.

I know, I know you probably scream and cry
that your little world won’t let you go…

30 days. Go on. You never know what you’ll discover inside your mind.

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Filed under Imagination, NaNoWriMo, The Unknown, Writing

Cover Reveal: Debris Dreams

Debris Dreams by David Colby - SF Signal
And here we have it: the cover reveal for Debris Dreams by David Colby, published by Candlemark & Gleam. I did the cover design and illustration. Old-school sci-fi style. Although you can’t see the wrap-around on this version, the framework is a heads-up display that continues along the spine and creates the copy area for the back as well. Fantastic story. Can’t wait until everyone can read it. Visit SF Signal for the synopsis and ways to get a free copy of the book!

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Filed under Art, Art Portfolio, Book Cover Design, Books, Graphic Design, Publishing, Science Fiction, Space

Discovery, not perfection, is the goal

Pen and note paper

I like to write in longhand often. Today, I’m cracking open a new Moleskine. As much as I love Moleskines, I think I might soon have to switch to cheap notebooks—not so much because of the cost, but because of the pressure I feel to write perfect stuff in a Moleskine.

I learned a lot from finishing NaNoWriMo, but the most important thing was to loosen up and write crap. I was surprised that a good deal of that frenzied garbage I thought I was writing turned out to be brilliant—or at least useable.

My 30-day novel (51,000 words of drug-tripping parallel-universe sci-fi) lit up my mind more than I’d expected. The sheer speed of a 30-day book (my last book, an epic at 148,000 words, took years) forced me to shut off my inner editor and just enjoy writing.

So, I’m looking at this fresh Moleskine today. I vow to scribble, blotch, and dogear this thing. OCD tendencies have no place in notes and early drafts. Rules are (sing along!): make it messy and make it fun—no editing until it’s done.

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Filed under Creativity, Imagination, NaNoWriMo, Science Fiction, Writing