Monday, November 23, 2015

snips

"Incidentally, one of your sisters said nice things about your translation of Virgil."

Jasper couldn't help but beam. "That must have been Jade -- preserving the alliteration was quite a task."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

New Cover for Book 2

The cover I currently have for Midwinter's Labours Lost has always been just a placeholder (though I do like it. :)

So I finally got around to actually finishing this one!

Less kissing, more oh shit.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Secrets of Tungsten...

A dwarven classic of great metallurgical importance!

I really hope that someday, someone gets all of the jokes in the book.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beards

Here I am, writing away, really getting into a groove, and my husband walks in and starts talking about beards! Beards, I tell you. At first I don't even process what he is saying as language because, you know, it is not inside my head or on the paper and it has nothing to do with people smooching at an 18th century ball. But then I realize he is talking about beards. I wave him away; he comes back a few minutes later and starts making noise things in the air again. I dredge my brain back up from the writing to decipher these air sounds. Beards? Beards! Why can't he grow a full, fluffy, flowing, dwarven beard, he asks. I wave my hands in the air. "Welsh. Probably because of your Welshiness." By that point, the groove was broken.
I have no idea whether the Welsh can grow fluffy dwarven beards or not. Anyone care to opine?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author Interview: Alex Wu, author of Morocco, Maybe: A Love Story

Today's interviewee is Alex Wu, who recently released his debut novel, Morocco, Maybe: A Love Story.

Thank you for journeying all the way to Elflandia! Why don't you tell us a bit about your book?

Happy to be here! It's not every day I get to be in a magical realm like Elflandia. Let's see, my book … A woman backpacks through Morocco and falls in love with an archaeologist, only to discover that her job requires her to destroy the priceless historical treasure he's desperate to save.

What inspired you to write this story?

Years ago I traveled through Morocco. I thought it'd be a fantastic setting for a love story because the country is so atmospheric.

How did you learn so much about Morocco?

Most of the descriptions about Morocco came from my memory, aided by my photos. I also did some research online. Many of the things in the book, like the tomato thief and the train creep, actually happened to me.
What was your favorite part of Morocco?

The Sahara. I'd been to deserts before, but nothing on the scale and beauty of the Sahara. You can read all about it and look at all the pictures, but being there is completely different. Immersion is much more powerful, almost overwhelming. It's striking how vast, quiet, and lonely the Sahara is. Really made me feel minuscule.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The proofreading. I read the manuscript so many times, and every time I found at least one error.

The best part?

Finishing it, and getting it into a form that I was reasonably happy with. I had never written a novel before, so I wasn't sure I could do it. The most creative writing I'd done was a crappy short story I wrote in my high school English class. In the end, I realized that simply cranking a novel-length draft isn't that hard, since I write pretty fast. The harder part is the endless rewriting to improve it.

Who was your favorite character to write?

Kai. I gave him a lot of qualities I like in a human.

What motivates your characters?

Sara Meadows, the protagonist, is pragmatic. She grew up poor and in a broken family, so all she wants is security, even if it means doing things she finds distasteful. But as she realizes, that goal has a cost deeper than she anticipated.

For Kai Rissdale, the archaeologist Sara falls in love with, he is more of a free spirit and idealistic. But of course, his ethos has a cost too. There are no cost-free actions in life.

Do you sympathize with people who've had to give up their dreams?

Absolutely. I traded my dreams for a more pragmatic career. Most people do. I get that. After all, for most folks, feeding yourself is a bit more important than ideals. On the other hand, a totally pragmatic life is pretty boring. It seems like a waste of what is already a very short life. It's about finding the right balance, and the right balance is different for everybody. The hard part, of course, is finding that balance.

Do you ever kill characters? (You don't have to answer that!)

As a general matter, yes. I'm prone to killing characters. Perhaps I'm just a murderous person. There are few things that are as dramatic or sad as death, so it's tempting to use it in a story.

Tell us a little about yourself. What are you reading these days?

I'm reading Justin Cronin's The Passage. While writing Morocco, I read a bunch of women's fiction because I wanted to understand the genre the book is most likely to be shelved as. But generally I try to read widely, as that is the best way to learn about writing. Also I get bored reading the same genre over and over again.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Taiwan. Moved to the US when I was nine. Since then, I've been living in Los Angeles except for a couple of years in Virginia.

What are you working on now? Do you have a sequel planned, or something new?

No sequel. Sara's story is done.

Now I'm working on a scifi novel. I'm not sure what genre I'm good at (if any), so my hope is to write in different genres until I find it. Also, since I get bored easily, it's more fun to write different things.

It's my observation that books seem to reflect their writers. What aspect of you is reflected in your book?
I'm an introspective kind of person, and I definitely overthink things. And I worry a lot. So I guess Sara is kinda like me, whereas Kai is more like who I want to be.

Would you like to leave us with a quote from your book/query?

A Yiddish proverb says: “Man plans, and God laughs.” Perhaps the trick is not to plan for the life you want, but to deal with the life you never expect.

Me: Good luck and thanks for everything!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What's up? Oh, not much

"What's up, Beast of the Apocalypse?"

"Oh, not much, just trying to keep my extra heads in order and my tail from getting tangled up in things. You know how it goes. How's your kid?"

"Not bad, not bad. Doesn't cry much."

"That's great, Virgin. Welp, I gotta get back to destroying the world and making sparkles come out of my butt, or whatever it is I do."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Apron Tuesday

Jaunty cap? Check. Jacket covering only one shoulder? Check. Ruffly leggings? Check. Pointy elf-shoes? Check. Friend for a pleasant walk? Double check.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

The King

Distribution of the Spoils, No. 18, from "The Miseries and Disasters of War, by Jacques Callot.

St. Etienne de Mont, Henri Toussaint, 1881

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Apron Tuesday

How does her hat stay on???

Hat pins.

From the Pays de Caux region.

Monday, June 22, 2015

They look so comfy together

Alas, I have forgotten the source of this image, and Google Image Search is turning up nothing.

I guess that just leaves me more free to imagine what's going on between these two.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A variety of things that struck my fancy

Abram Arkhipov, Visiting, 1915.

Slavs on the Dnieper by Nickolas Roerich, 1905.

Lithograph, 19th century, Bab Street, Zoum, Alger, Algeria. Artist Charivari?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Around the Worlf with Art: Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a small, land-locked country on the edge of the Sahara. Even in pictures, it looks really hot.


A Winiama masked dancer, courtesy of the Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute. More masked dancers (same source):

But some of the best art is painted on the houses in Burkina Faso--unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any (confirmed) public domain photos of these houses, so I'll just have to link you to them, but they're awesome, so please do take a look:
The African Village where every House is a work of Art
Decorated Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

Some architecture of a different variety:


Pictures of the Bani Mosque, by Chiappinik.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Psyche

Psyche, by Fyodor Tolstoy. (Not to be confused with the author.)

Psyche's Wedding, 1895, by Edward Burne-Jones

Edward Burne Jones, Pan and Psyche

I don't know what Jasper's people are doing in this picture.

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, 1793, by Antonio Canova

Cupid and Psyche, 1843, by Jean-Pierre Saint-Ours.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Wait! Let' em come nearer!"

I adore this painting, "Wait! Let' em come nearer!", by Vereshchagin, 1895.

Also by Vereshchagin:

The Night Bivouac of the Great Army--and this is why Napoleon's army all died.

In Defeated Moscow ("Arsonists" or "Shooting in the Kremlin")

There is a horror in Vereshchagin's paintings.

In the Hospital, 1901.

The beginning of modern warfare...

The Doors of Tamerlane, 1873

and yet preserved a world left behind:

Mounted Warrior in Jaipur. c.1881

Jerusalem. Kings' Tombs, 1885.

Solomon's Wall, 1885.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Around the World with Art: Brunei

Photo by Abdullah Geelah.

The Sultanate of Brunei is pretty small--smaller than an American city--but they do have some lovely architecture. This is the Omar Suffidan Mosque.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oleg

Pushkin's "Song of Oleg" recounts a meeting between the Russian Prince Oleg (c. 900) and a mage, and later his death. Watercolor by Vasnetsov, 1899.

What I find curious is how similar the style is to illustrations of Ossian, and a lot of German/Celtic art in general. Was there actually some sort of similar ancient art style that these ancient tribal groups shared, or did artists in various European countries just all start drawing them similarly?