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Post-weekend Poetry 024: ‘Poem from Other World’ by Garden Urthark

Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the twenty-fourth poem in this series.

This week’s piece is by poet, essayist, short story author and novelist Garden Urthark.

This poem is the final poem written by the hero, Moody Santo, in Garden Urthark’s Other World, an epic mystery in five parts that can be downloaded from Smashwords.  The poem, a sonnet, appears in the fourth part of Other World, which is entitled “Book of Afterlife.”

Let my love be darkness, let it be dark
Dark as a midnight sea.  I feel—I feel
The frantic waves rise upward in their arc
But to fall back to Earth again, and wheel
Back into dark.  O tumultuous One
Of Mysteries who made this sea of blood,
So take away all light from me, no sun
Controls my heart, nor makes it ebb or flood—
Not like the Moon, whose love I seek, whose face
I cannot touch, nor body kiss or hold,
Whose beauty all my yearning to embrace
Is not to reach, and soon I’ll be too old.
Such waves of darkness rise within my heart,
I weep such tears past finding out by art.

***

Garden Urthark (Writer): A native of Washington, DC, and its suburbs, Garden Urthark wrote the Life Trilogy over a period of over thirty years, devoting over 18 years to Other World.

While a Visiting Student at Gallaudet University, where he worked part-time as an English tutor, he met his wife, Sung, who was one of the students he tutored.

Garden and Sung almost immediately began their collaboration on projects that would combine her art with his literary work.

Sung Kim (Artist):  Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Sung is deaf. She came to the United States to study art.

A graduate in Studio Art at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts university in the world for deaf people, she married Garden Urthark and together they have a hearing son.

Sung’s artwork for the Life Trilogy includes reproductions of her oil on canvas paintings, paintings in acrylics, watercolors, and pencil drawings.

Portraits Deep in the Castle is available in paperback from Amazon.com; Other World is available as an eBook from Smashwords.

If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with military mystery / suspense / action Cindy Bring – the three hundred and ninety-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in ebooks, poetry, writing

 

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Guest post: Book covers by Vonnie Winslow Crist

I’m delighted to welcome back novelist, short story author, poet and illustrator Vonnie Winslow Crist for tonight’s guest blog post.

Book covers

We’ve been told by teachers, librarians, and our mums: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” That saying might be great life advice – but truth be told, most readers pick up a book because the cover has caught their eye. So what’s a writer to do?

If you’re lucky enough to be published by a major publisher, the art director and editor will ultimately choose your book’s cover. As the author, you’ll have little input. If instead, your book is published by a small, independent publisher or you self-publish – you’ll be involved in cover choices. So what do you need to think about?

1-You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression. You need to grab the eyes of the shopper (or library patron) and hold their attention long enough for them to read the title of your book. Store shelves are lined with books. Yours must stand out from the rest. But how? Answer: Color! There are certain color combinations that our eyes are naturally drawn to. Black lettering on bright yellow is one. Others? Look at traffic signs. Certain color combinations attract the eyes and can be clearly read at great distances. But how to find a color combination that works for you? Visit a library or bookstore. Don’t look at the covers; instead, study the book spines that line the shelves. You’ll naturally gravitate towards certain book spines. From studying those spines, you’ll discover which color combinations and lettering styles are the most legible.

2-The right title. Remember, the most eye catching color combination can’t correct a poorly chosen title. Titles should be content appropriate, as brief as possible, and catchy! A title that makes a reader curious enough to open the book is what every writer is looking for.

3-Cover style. While at your local bookstore or library, look at the covers of books. Make a list that clearly states which covers appeal to you and why. Then, make a list of which covers ”turn you off” and why. And forget about the covers which aren’t strong enough to cause a reaction at all—if they’re as bland as elevator music, you’re not the only one who barely notices them. By looking for common threads in the best covers, you’ll be able to list what attributes your cover needs. Maybe simple, uncluttered cover images are your cup of tea. Maybe a fabulous photograph surrounded by a thick, solid-color border on which to place text works for you. Maybe a dark mysterious image with bright, bold letters is appealing. Once you have an idea which covers attract you, then you can begin the process of selecting the artwork or photography for your book. And if you’re not a photographer or artist yourself, there are places where you can buy images – just make certain to acquire the rights you need.

4-Communicate to a reader what’s between the covers. Your book’s cover needs to tell a potential reader what’s inside. First, the cover image must match the content. The bright colors and bold images of a children’s book wouldn’t be a good fit for most romance novels. Just as dark silhouettes and bloody knives wouldn’t be the correct image for most self-help books. Next, the title and author’s name must be readable – so make sure there’s a place to layout text. A beautiful photograph or piece of artwork doesn’t necessarily make a great book cover if the artist hasn’t left “open space” for placing the text. Most good cover art has an area that’s free of images or complicated patterns on which to position the title and author’s name.

5-Lettering counts. The color of the lettering is another consideration at this point. If the cover art background is sky blue, then it’s best to pick a color that contrasts with it. Orange lettering with a black shadow or outline would “pop”, whereas white or pale yellow lettering would blend in. Also, the font should be easily read. It’s a good idea to skip the fancy fonts when choosing a style for your letters. And remember to make the lettering large enough to be legible from an arm’s length away. Readability is important.

6-Get the opinions of others. Technical help is available from professionals, but every one of your friends and family members can tell you if an image interests them and what sort of book they think that image represents. The potential cover, including text, can be shown to friends. Be prepared for both positive and negative responses. If everyone you show the cover to has trouble reading the text or doesn’t get the message from the cover art that you’d hoped to convey—maybe it’s time to re-think your cover.

7-Think small, too. Paperbacks and hardback books are sold from electronic sites as well as traditional brick and mortar stores. If your book is an eBook, its cover may only appear online. Your cover should not only be attractive as a small image on readers’ computers, but customers need to be able to read the title. The boom in Amazon and other online stores has added another challenge to authors hoping to attract readers with their book covers.

In conclusion, congratulations on completing your book! The good news is – selecting a cover isn’t as difficult as writing hundreds of pages of text. Use these 7 tips to help you with your book’s cover. And remember after one book is published: keep writing and believe in yourself.

Thank you Vonnie, as a self-published writer who designs my own covers, I loved that! :)

Vonnie Winslow Crist, BS Art & Education, MS Professional Writing from Towson University, is a columnist for ‘Harford’s Heart Magazine’, an illustrator for ‘The Vegetarian Journal’, the editor of ‘The Gunpowder Review’, and a contributor to ‘Faerie Magazine’. A firm believer that the world around us is filled with miracles and magic, she has had a life-long interest in reading, writing, folklore, myths, legends, fairy tales, and art. She lives at the edge of a very green forest in a rural area of the USA, loves to hear owls hooting, feeds wild birds, adores toads, tends Faerie-friendly plants in her garden, and often has toadstool fairy rings sprout up beneath the trees in her yard. ‘The Greener Forest’ is her new book of fantasy stories: http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html.

You can find out more about her from…

Her website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com

Blog: http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/Fb-Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Author

Twitter: http://twitter.com/VonnieWCrist

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with novelist Greg Messel – the two hundred and forty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in ebooks, Facebook, novels, Twitter, writing

 

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Guest post: Illustrating by author Vonnie Winslow Crist

I’m delighted to bring you tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of illustrating, by author and illustrator Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Illustrating

When I tell people I’m an illustrator, they usually respond with, “So you draw pictures, right?” And I answer, “Well, yes. But it’s more than that.” And indeed it is more than just drawing a picture.

Illustrations, whether in a book, magazine, newspaper, or e-publication, require the illustrator to bring something more to the story, poem, or article being published. Pictures are said to be worth a thousand words. Rather than an elaborate, action-stopping description of a castle in a piece of short fiction, an illustrator can visually communicate to the reader with a drawing or painting the appearance of that castle. What’s more, by carefully selecting the color palette, perspective, landscape, and characters (if any) shown, the illustrator can emphasize the mood of the tale. She can also foreshadow some of the upcoming action.

The trick when creating a picture to accompany a piece of fiction, especially if the illo will introduce the story, is to present as much relevant information as possible without tipping the reader off to the ending or any surprises coming later in the tale. Sometimes, the editor or art director wants the illustrator to hint at some upcoming action. In that case, the line between what to show and what not to reveal becomes even thinner.

In my newest book, The Greener Forest, I’ve included over 30 illustrations. The first type of illustration in the book are stand-alone drawings. These illos fill an entire page, and while subject appropriate (in this case about one sort of Faerie creature or another), they don’t accompany a specific story or poem. A stand-alone drawing must do just that – be able to stand by itself and tell a story or please the viewer without additional words.

The second type of illustration I’ve drawn for The Greener Forest, are small introduction pen and ink sketches. These appear above the title of each short story and serve as a hint as to the content of the tale. In the case of the first story, Birdling, the intro sketch is of a bird’s nest with broken egg shells. In the case of the tale, Appleheads, the intro sketch is of uncarved apples. In the case of Shoreside, the intro sketch is of two fish. And in the case of The Return of Gunnar Kettilson, it is a welcome candle.

Since I introduced each story with an illustration, if there was a bit of empty space at the conclusion of a tale or poem, I decided to add an illo. But I didn’t want to overwhelm my readers with art, so I came up with an India ink drawing of some blowing leaves that could be used as often as I liked. There are trees in most of the prose and poetry included in The Greener Forest, so the drawing also reinforced one of the reoccurring images in the book. Also (she adds with a smile), the leaves are blowing towards the next page – a gentle hint to keep on reading!

At the conclusion of some of the stories, or in some cases on the page opposite the beginning of a story, I drew an illo that added to the narrative. Examples would be the sketch of the dragon from Weathermaker, the mermaid from Shoreside, the gremlers from Waiting for More, and the spriggans from Tootsie’s Swamp Tours & Amusement Park. Adding these images is risky! Many readers don’t want the illustrator’s interpretation of the characters or setting of a story to interfere with their view.

Lastly, I created the cover art. I wanted the reader to feel as though they were opening an old journal or diary, so I attempted to give the viewer the feeling the central cover image was a photo or painting taped onto a browning page of sketches. Also “taped” to the front cover are a four-leaf clover, a feather, and an oak leaf. The back cover image is also designed to appear as though a painting, leaf, and jewel suspended from a leather lanyard are taped to old parchment paper. To add to the antique journal vibe, I also painted a full-page image of a raggedy piece of paper that could be used as background for the poems and stand-alone drawings.

I won’t bore you with the technical details of illustrating – but mathematics, a familiarity with art materials, and understanding of the printing / publishing processes are important. And the toughest thing for an illustrator, is to see the artwork they meticulously created discarded when a print book is transferred to an electronic format. This will, I’m sure, change in the future – but at the present time, pdf files are the only electronic format to accurately included artwork.

Though I hope you will purchase a copy and enjoy all of the artwork in The Greener Forest, I’ve included a sample of each kind of illo from the book, plus here’s the link to a free Greener Forest maze that I drew: http://coldmoonpress.com/forreaders.html and as you leaf through books, remember the illustrators work just as hard as the writers to tell a story.

Thank you Vonnie!

Vonnie Winslow Crist, BS Art & Education, MS Professional Writing from Towson University, is a columnist for Harford’s Heart Magazine, an illustrator for The Vegetarian Journal, the editor of The Gunpowder Review, and a contributor to Faerie Magazine. A firm believer that the world around us is filled with miracles and magic, she has had a life-long interest in reading, writing, folklore, myths, legends, fairy tales, and art. She lives at the edge of a very green forest in a rural area of the USA, feeds wild birds, adores toads, tends Faerie-friendly plants in her garden, and often has toadstool fairy rings sprout up beneath the trees in her yard. The Greener Forest is her new book of fantasy stories: http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html.

Vonnie’s website is http://vonniewinslowcrist.com, blog http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com and she can be found on Facebook and Twitter. She has also blogged about this very topic at http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/magical-illustrators.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s author Helen Moss – the one hundred and sixty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

 

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Author Spotlight no.16 – writer and illustrator Vonnie Winslow Crist

To complement my daily blog interviews I recently started a series of Author Spotlights and today’s, the sixteenth, is of Vonnie Winslow Crist. You can read the others here.

Vonnie is an author of YA / adult speculative fiction, a poet, nonfiction writer, and illustrator. She also occasionally teaches creative writing classes at a college near her home, Wood’s Edge. Her love of myths, legends, folklore, and fantasy began at age 3 when she taught herself to read using fairy tale books from the 1930s published by Platt & Munk Co. She shares a poem that tells that story.

As a girl, she graduated from reading A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter to C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and L. Frank Baum. A fan of Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Terry Brooks, and Neil Gaiman, her favorite author remains, J.R.R. Tolkien. But it wasn’t only the words in books that fascinated her, the illustrations served as the impetus for her to pick up pencil and paintbrush. The art of Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, Eulalie Banks, Brian Froud, Michael Hague, Alan Lee, Linda Ravenscroft, and others continues to inspire her.

Her newest book, The Greener Forest, is a collection of fantasy stories (with a few poems and drawings tossed in for good measure). In each tale, the world of Faerie spills into our mundane world of city streets, flower shops, amusement parks, public beaches, and backyards. Between the book’s pages spriggans, goblins, Brown Men, mermaids, dragons, sprites, gremlers, giants, and more interact with humans. A poem that describes how to find Faerie creatures serves as the introduction to the stories of The Greener Forest.

And now from the author herself:

I believe the world is full of mystery and magic. You just need to look, listen, and believe that wondrous things are still possible. And I live my life certain that the magical is nearby.

Like many other writers, my life is the source of writing (and illustration). People I meet, places I visit, stories in the newspaper, snippets of overheard conversation, and just about everything else I encounter are the beginning places of my work.

“Wait a minute,” you might say. “You write fantasy. How can that be?”

Let me explain. In “Birdling,” the first story in The Greener Forest, The protagonist, Cora, goes outside after a storm to pick up broken branches that litter her yard. She finds a baby bird, nurtures it back to health, then tries to help the robin rejoin his wild kin. That part of the story relates an event from my life. I just added a Brown Man to the tale. Sadly, in reality, a hawk swooped down and snatched the robin from beside me. I like the fictional ending more!

Another example from The Greener Forest is “Angels.” In that tale, the protagonist is a woodcarver. I’d met a man from the Appalachian Mountains of the United States (my home country) who whittled animals from wood to entertain himself during the winter when he was snowbound. I asked him how he knew what to carve. He answered: “My hands know – the wood tells me.” I based the story’s other main character on a barber I took my sons to who had a barbershop in his house. Lastly, I added bee-lore I’d either read or learned when interviewing a beekeeper for a freelance article. A pinch of imagination, and you have a story.

A third example from my book is “Shoreside.” I’ve been to the beach with my husband, three children, and mother-in-law. I don’t like to go into the water, and my mom did go to a gypsy who made the dire prediction in the tale. My husband and kids do go into the sea – I watch them and read. And like Hiromi, I’ve spotted dolphins and felt an unnatural urge to swim into deep water. As to the gull-back riders and ningyo… Well, I’ll let the reader decide what’s real.

I encourage writers to write what they know, but also to speculate. I’ve been to Balnuaran of Clava, Iona, Tinturn Abbey, Conwy Castle, Giant’s Causeway, Dunbeg Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Stonehenge, and many less touristy places that offer opportunities for experiencing the mystical. I’ve also been to the library (and online) to research the facts before stepping into the fantasy worlds I love to create.

My advice: read, experience life, research, imagine, and have fun writing. Speaking of fun, to download a free Greener Forest maze I drew.

Thank you Vonnie. :) You can find more about Vonnie and her work via…

…her website, blogTwitter and Facebook author’s page and purchase her The Greener Forest here or her other books here. You can also read her guest blog on writing fantasy and she’ll be returning to talk about illustrating on Tuesday 25th October and I shall be interviewing her on Tuesday 15th November.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with fantasy novelist Catherine Stovall – the one hundred and forty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. They love reading your comments (as do I and if you’d like to get involved in anything you can email me. You can also read / download my eBooks here.

 

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