Tag Archives: Writing

Lillian: Portrait Experiment in Digital Oils

Lillian by Karen Gadient, 2014

Another attempt at loose portraiture. Still not allowing myself to get truly sloppy with the brush, but I like how this one came out. Lillian is a character in a story idea I had that never got written. Maybe someday. Well, at least if characters don’t get words on a page, they can still have color on a canvas.

What is either a picture or a novel that is not character? — Henry James


Filed under Art, Creativity, Digital Artwork, Imagination, Painting, Portrait, Quotes, Writing

Storm at Sea

Storm at Sea by Karen Gadient, 2013

Coral – Digital block print. Created with Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop.

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


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

KarPaiTwenMo: Omega

KarPaiTwenMo: Omega -- Artwork by Karen Gadient

I’ve pulled together twenty pieces of art in a month. If this were NaNoWriMo and I’d written 50,000 words, I could call myself a winner. *toots horn*

Much like my NaNoWriMo novels—I’m not entirely thrilled with the quality, even if the ideas work. I only like half of the artwork I made; the other half is draft zero and would be cut in editing. Art and writing have a lot in common.

Still: I’d do it again. I’d do NaNoWriMo again too.

Because—thing is—these marathon events remind you of what you can do with your time when you set your mind to it. And you get a deadline, which is key. Plus, telling others that you’re doing something drives you to complete the task.

All good stuff.

I’ll share the artwork (minus the ones I’ve already posted) in a the next bunch of blog posts instead of all at once—because, hey—having content ready will help me stay sane in December. ;) All of the pieces are pretty large, but until I decide on a company for printing, they’ll remain blog-width here.

Whether you wrote or painted, made music, danced, cooked, crafted, or built robots (totally awesome) or whatever hobby you enjoy—I hope you had a great November and know this: I consider you ALL winners. Cheers!

Added note: I’m happy with what I created this month, but some of it needs more work to be what I envisioned. No different than early drafts of a novel—no different than NaNoWriMo. And, so: that’s why I don’t like all of my paintings this month—yet. With editing, I’ll love them.


Filed under Art, Blogging, Color, Creativity, Digital Artwork, KarPaiTwenMo, NaNoWriMo, Painting

KarPaiTwenMo: Week Two

KarPaiTwenMo: Week Two: Sanctum - Digital Artwork by Karen Gadient

I didn’t realize how I’d feel once the holiday season started creeping in. The mall is already playing Christmas music and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. It’s actually bad enough it’s Thanksgiving when you’ve lost someone close to you.

Anyway, I’m not making more posts about how sad I am. I’m sad. No surprise. Grief sucks. Also no surprise. I’m not fishing for sympathy comments.

However, if you want to comment a funny joke, I’m all ears. Sillier the better!

Speaking of jokes… let me share one straight from my dentist’s office—my dentist, by the way, is amazing and will cure your fear of dentistry if you have any—so if you’re the Phoenix area, check them out—they may also have kittens. Yes, kittens. Well, cats. Our two little kitty boys were fostered by my dentist, no joke. She still has their momma. My dentist is awesome.

Wait. The joke!

A mushroom walks into a bar.
Bartender: We don’t serve your kind here.
Mushroom: Why not? I’m a FUN-GUY.

You may have groaned, but I’ll bet you’ll pass that one along. ;)

Oh, artwork. Yeah, it’s been like pulling teeth (OMG ANOTHER DENTIST REFERENCE) but I made five more pieces of art. Once again, I hate three of them. I’m glad I have more time to pull together a show of twenty.

However, I did love two of them. This time, so that you can actually see the detail, I’m sharing just one of them. I’ll probably post another soon. This is my second favorite (hey, gotta save something to show you later) and created entirely in Adobe Photoshop, which isn’t common for me, but go figure.

I call it ‘Sanctum‘. It’s an alien gateway/throne/dunno. I created it for a wonderful friend of mine (who has no blog to link to) who adores all things alien. Someday, the mothership may return for us. I hope they bring cookies.


Filed under Arizona, Art, Blogging, Cats, Color, Creativity, Digital Artwork, Holiday, Inspiration, KarPaiTwenMo, Life, NaNoWriMo, Painting, Pets

KarPaiTwenMo: Week One

KarPaiTwenMo: Week One

While everyone else has been writing like mad, I’ve been muttering at the canvas. Much like during NaNoWriMo, I’ve found myself making a mess. Chaos is fine for NaNoWriMo, at least for me—since no one ever sees that draft. As my dear friends will tell you, I’m pretty stuffy about sharing Draft Zero of anything. I prefer to stew and edit for a few years.

This artwork thing, though—I went public with this crazy idea and now I have to share a piece or two every week. In fact, the goal at the end of November is to share all twenty and even stick them up for sale.

Therefore, I’ve been finding it hard to like anything I make. I start over and make another one, then growl at that and so on. And so on. So, here I am at the end of the first week and I have five pieces. Only I’m not thrilled with three of them.

So I’ll share two. Maybe next week, I’ll share more than two. And larger, although the originals are all 11 x 14 inches. Oh, but you’ll see them all by the end of the marathon. Pinky swear.

Hope all of you doing any kind of writing/painting/editing/running marathon this month are having lots of success—or at least a bit of fun. Go, go, go!


Filed under Art, Blogging, Color, Creativity, Digital Artwork, Friendship, Graphic Design, KarPaiTwenMo, Life, NaNoWriMo, Painting, Writing

KarPaiTwenMo: My Painting Marathon

KarPaiTwenMo: Karen Paints Twenty in a Month

After much pondering and meditation on my emotional state and current drive: I’ve decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Yeah, I know I’d shouted about how I would. But, like I said in my last post… writing isn’t where my heart is right now. Grief will bring unexpected things; for me, my outlet has been painting. After all, it’s what my mother spent her time doing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love NaNoWriMo and I love the community there. I encourage any of you inclined to write to give it a try at least once. Seriously, it’s awesome fun. But this year, I’m doing something else.

Oh yeah, I’m not slacking out here. I’ve decided to do a PAINTING MARATHON.

Goal: completing 20 paintings (5 per week) in the month of November.
Rules: all must be at least 11 x 14 inches or larger. Also: colorful. Idea is that at the end of November, I should have a nice collection of colorful artwork that I can put up as my new portfolio, all large enough to be printed and framed.

Trick is: half of what you’ve seen here isn’t nearly as big (outside of commissioned artwork, which can be very large, even if the final product is only printed book-sized) and designed solely for the blog or only for online viewing. Larger paintings take longer—I’ll be clocking a lot of hours to pull this off.

So… this idea is crazy. And yet perfect for an art version of NaNoWriMo.

Karen Paints Twenty in a Month: KarPaiTwenMo!

Yeah, that works.

The first paintings will be shown once the first week of November ends. Same goes each week. Show-as-I-go for each painting would make-me-crazy. Even NaNoWriMo participants aren’t required to do anything along the way except update word count. I’ll write a few updates on the painting process as I go.

Hope those of you who expected me to write aren’t too disappointed, but I’ll strive to bring you some bright and interesting visuals. Cheers!


Filed under Art, Blogging, Color, Creativity, Decisions, Journal, KarPaiTwenMo, NaNoWriMo, Painting, Writing

Trippy Trees

Trippy Trees by Karen Gadient

Yet more trees. Hey, I love trees. This time, I present the psychedelic little brother of a previous post. Created with Corel Painter and Photoshop.

I really need to start thinking about NaNoWriMo, although my heart isn’t in it this year. I’ll do it anyway. Somehow. Haven’t written much since my mother passed. She always loved my artwork best (my mother was the artist and my father was the writer) and so I’ve been focusing more on art for the last two months. I have no idea how to get in the mood to write again. So far, the plan is to drink a lot of coffee and sit down at the keyboard and hope words happen.


Filed under Art, Color, Digital Artwork, Family, Journal, Life, NaNoWriMo, Nature, Painting, 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.


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

Copyright and Using the Work of Others

Ask First for Image Use Permission

Cloud Lounge wrote a great post yesterday about copyright and fair use.

Interesting timing, since my photographer husband and I had discussed copyright that morning. We see so many bloggers using images that aren’t their own and not giving credit. It’s clearly not the artwork of the person who wrote the blog post, yet there’s nothing to say who did create the image.

Not only is it stealing, but it’s rude.

I mean, imagine if it was your hard work and no one gave you credit?

Ask first. Don’t be a jerk.

If that’s not a good enough reason, consider this:

It’s not just personal. Some projects that artists (and photographers) are commissioned for pass the rights to another person or company. And that person or company might have eager lawyers. Think twice.

Also worth resharing: Roni Loren’s ‘Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog — My Story’.

You might not be out of luck if you really want to use a certain image. If it’s not commissioned work, many artists and photographers will allow noncommercial use (with limitations) of their work with permission. Ask first before you use someone else’s image. If you can’t locate the creator of something you want to use, go find another image to use where you can email the creator.

Or search Creative Commons, try Morgue File or Kozzi, or consider a subscription to Crestock, Fotolia, or Depositphotos.

We all want success, popularity, and/or maybe even fame. That’s why we put ourselves (and our creativity) online and blog. We need to help promote each other instead of just promoting ourselves. Asking permission can make new friends who will promote you in their own networks. It’s a good idea all around.


Filed under Art, Blogging, Copyright, Creativity, Digital Artwork, Freelance, Graphic Design, Inspiration, Journal, Photography, Publishing, Technology, Writing


On where the writing ‘magic’ comes from: a blog post from my dear friend Natania Barron.

Originally posted on Natania Barron:

Phatman - Lightning on the Columbia River (by-sa)

By Ian Boggs from Astoria, US (Lightning on the Columbia River) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sure, sure. You make your own inspiration and all that. You sit, you write, you create. I get that. It’s 90% of the equation.

But what about those moments that are unplanned? I know I’m not the only writer out there that’s found profundity in hot showers or strains of music (in fact, most of the WIP fell into my brain during a shower). There seem to be situations where my brain is prone to wander unseen pathways, where I make connections in stories that, on normal writing days, just don’t seem to happen. No, I don’t believe in Muses, but there is some curious power in the workings of our brains when it comes to creating stories out of nothingness.

When I was writing Rock RevivalI plugged into music…

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Filed under Creativity, Friendship, Inspiration, Writing

Follow Your Inner Moonlight

Inner Moonlight Quote Art

Crazy long weekend. Family time. And a meeting of friends too: I had a lovely brunch with Faye. Talked about writing and life. We have a lot in common. We both take a similar approach to the day-to-day: that you have to grab life by the… well, whatever’s handy—and make the most of it. Especially creatively.

Never mind what others say about you or what your inner editor whines. The key to success is trusting the madness and embracing what makes you unique.

Reminded me of a favorite quote. One I needed to remember. And so, I ended up doing a little art therapy and the image heading this post was the result.

Also, while I’m at it: more about Allen Ginsberg here.


Filed under Art, Beliefs, Creativity, Friendship, Graphic Design, Inspiration, Journal, Psychology, Quotes

25 Gems About Me

Gems - Colorful Baubles

My friend Katie tagged me in one of those game-like blog thingees. I don’t usually do that stuff, and she gave me permission not to. No pressure and all that. However, I figured I should honor her by doing something in response to her thinking of me. Because, hey—friends are awesome.

So, I chose the ‘random facts’ part and made it longer.

25 Random Facts About Myself

1. I dictate most of my writing.
2. And a lot of that goes into a micro digital recorder first.
3. I skim magazines backwards.
4. I worked for years as pet groomer.
5. I like fast cars. Shiny fast cars.
6. Yet, I drive a ten-year-old car with over 300,000 miles on it.
7. I collect nail polish. And kooky socks.
8. From my home office, I can hear peacocks calling.
9. I eat salad like people eat potato chips: straight out of the bag.
10. I love to build things out of LEGO bricks.
11. I’m a Gemini. And married to a Gemini. We’re great at parties.
12. I like spiders. And snakes.
13. I have tumbleweeds on the porch to keep away solicitors.
14. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s or Burger King in more than a decade.
15. I’ve lost more than 60 pounds in the last decade.
16. I’ve worked in three Las Vegas casinos. Two of them have since imploded.
18. I would totally go on a vacation to the moon.
19. I have a fondness for Existentialism.
20. Someday, I want to own a sailboat.
21. I support psychedelic research.
22. I love ancient cultures and tribal societies.
23. Yet, I’m just as fascinated with artificial intelligence and future science.
24. I’ve never watched Downton Abbey or Mad Men.
25. I hoard notebooks and sketchbooks.

Am I tagging any of you? Nah, I don’t do that. But if you want to write up a ‘random facts’ list for your own blog: consider yourself tagged and go for it. We’ll all learn a bit more about each other. Cheers!


Filed under Blogging, Friendship, Games, Journal, Life, 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.


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.


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


Besides being my dearest friend, Natania Barron is the talented writer and shining soul who led me to the true reasons for pursuing my writing passion. This post embraces that and I believe her words are something all writers should read.

Originally posted on Natania Barron:

This is a jellyfish. Image by Natania Barron, CC BY SA 3.0.

This is a jellyfish. Image by Natania Barron, CC BY SA 3.0.

I started blogging almost five years ago, somewhere in 2008, when I decided to focus on “being a writer”–whatever the hell that means. To illustrate a little: being a writer meant actually writing every day, finishing books, and apparently telling the world out there that I, in fact, have Things To Say about Being A Writer and Fiction and Steampunk and Narrative and all these Fun Capitalized Things. I had a great deal to say on the subject, filling not only this blog but another one, along the way.

I used to write a great deal about how to be a writer. How to leverage social media.How to not be a jerk, etc. Yes, I got pageviews and retweets and I made friends and all that, which isn’t to be scoffed at (and I don’t mean…

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Filed under Friendship, Writing

Dreaming the End of the World

End of Earth, artwork

Plenty of people are writing holiday posts, but I’m gonna talk about the upcoming armageddon. No, I’m not talking about the movie with Bruce Willis; I’m talking about December 21st. You know, when life as we know it is going to end.

I don’t really believe the world will end before I get to the see the latest Tarantino movie. Because that would be a downer. Although, at least I wouldn’t miss The Hobbit. Well, the first movie, anyway.

Nasa doesn’t think the world will end either.

So, screw intellectual discussion. Instead, I’ll tell you a story.

Recently I had a dream where the power went out and the zombies came in. I blame it on watching The Walking Dead and Revolution in the same evening. In my dream, we were home here in Arizona, and our house was surrounded by Republican zombies—the most stubborn kind of zombies, but the most common here in the Grand Canyon State. Worse yet, I was under the distinct impression that they did not want us for our brains (or our vote) but for the plentiful supply of coffee in our pantry.

No way, no how.

The zombie situation turned out okay, since my husband and I have seen Zombieland enough times to have practiced our cardio and perfect our double tap. So we slaughtered them and buried them in the garden next to our roses. Like they said in Book of Eli: it’s good for the soil.

This wasn’t the end of the dream. Our neighborhood had gone all Mad Max and built a thunderdome near the community pool, which of course we had to check out. But just as things got rolling with neighbors about to fight the HOA, there was a screaming streak across the sky and a flash over the skyline. Phoenix was in flames. We waited for it to rise from the ashes. Nope, it just burned.

Cue long section of boring-part-of-the-dream where we roasted marshmallows and sang “Que Sera, Sera.”

Finally the dream shifted to being a combination of Night of Comet and 2012. Zombies were gone, but the yuppies were raiding the malls. While all this was going on, California must have been drowning: Tool’s Ænima in reality. Soon, the Pacific ocean washed over Yuma and was on our front doorstep.

We’d finally gotten an ocean view. Woohoo.

I’ll see you down in Arizona bay.

You’d think that’d be it. It wasn’t. The aliens arrived. However, it wasn’t like Independence Day, even if their spaceship was a huge manhole cover. Although… once I saw what it really was, I would have preferred something with tentacles: we were joined by the cast of Jersey Shore. Truly the apocalypse had arrived.

Oh, here go hell come!

On top of that, Snooki was clearly a zombie. Or maybe just drunk again.

Wait for it…

Then Daryl Dixon appeared and shot each of them in the face with a crossbow. After which, we all enjoyed some bourbon and played horseshoes until J.J. Abrams showed up with one of those power pendants and a script for the Fringe finale. We finished the bourbon and read ourselves to sleep.

What? You expected a complicated ending? I told you I blamed the dream on watching too much television. See, kids? Too much television is baaaaad for you. Either gives you weird dreams or insomnia. Stick to books.

Just in case the world ends, though: always remember the rules.

Happy holidays!


Filed under Dream Stories, Entertainment, Journal, Life, Science Fiction, The Unknown, 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.


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

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.


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!


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.


Filed under Imagination, NaNoWriMo, The Unknown, Writing

Pet grooming is a lot like freelancing

Groomer, grooming a dog. Vintage photo.
I have the unique experience of having been a pet groomer for a good part of my life. Not too many writer-artists can say that, so it was a clear choice for the letter ‘g’ in my alphabetical posting.

I started in grooming during high school as an summer job. I bathed dogs. It was awesome. Later, after my first attempt at college and a few more degrees I never did anything with (including beauty school), I went to pet grooming school. Not just any school, but a well-respected one in the industry: Nash Academy.

Nash are the people you see judging competitions. Nash are the people who take the craft seriously. And, as much as I managed to screw up my 20s in lots of other ways, I’ll never regret my time at Nash. I loved the place. As a student there, you’re family. Covered in dog hair—but family.

In the years to follow, I groomed on and off. Even after getting my degree in graphic design, I groomed part-time. Poodle sculpting is an art. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. But grooming is tough on a body-there’s a lot of standing and arm strength involved, plus a good dose of carpal tunnel inducing scissor work—and my aging body now prefers a desk or an easel.

Which is fine. I come from a family of artists and writers and I was the black sheep who resisted the siren call the longest. Design and words are in my blood and it’s what I do now full-time, just like the rest of them.

In the last decade, my grooming speciality was cats. That’s not too common in the grooming world, as groomers are often very much dog people and cats kind of like to rip dog people to shreds, especially in shops filled with barking dogs. I had a special hand with cats and miss grooming them the most. I also miss telling the “I shave pussy for money” jokes. ;)

Onward before this gets too long!

Grooming is a lot like being a freelance graphic designer.

You can have some seriously hairy projects. You can get bitten or have your arm humped (okay, maybe not literally in freelancing). You have to know a lot of formatting and design rules, whether it be for dog breed or publication. You’re always updating your equipment and sharpening your tools (good shears are expensive, no joke; so is a MacBook).

There are time crunches and deadlines and usually more work to get done in a day than minutes on your watch. Long hours are expected, but the money can be good (especially for a cage-bank of Persian cats or an e-commerce web site). Ridiculousness abounds, but there are tearful moments of job pride too.

What’s really cool and amazing about both being a groomer and being a graphic designer is that ooh factor you get when people ask you what you do for a living. And the chance to look forward to work every day, because no matter how weird things get at the shop/office—they’re always fun.


Filed under Art, Career, Cats, Dogs, Freelance, Grooming, Journal, Life, Writing