Sunday, August 13, 2017

First comes painting, Then comes sketching

While enjoying my new acrylics hobby, I started a painting and decided I wanted to include a dragon statue in one of them. There was, though, a hurdle I had to overcome. I don't know how to paint a dragon. I pondered a bit and realized I didn't know how to draw a dragon either.

So, I picked up Michael Dobrzycki's The Art of Drawing Dragons, Mythological Beasts, and Fantasy Creatures at Michael's. I opened its pages, grabbed a sketchbook, and took a very deep breath. I vowed to not cower before the intimidating task at hand.

Much to my astonishment, they turned out better than I expected. I've still not painted a dragon yet, but I have now drawn a few. And I will draw more. I can use the practice.

And for your amusement, here are the ones I've done, shown in the order I did them. (I've captioned each drawing with the title used by the book.)

Fire Dragon

Storm Dragon







(Just a bare naked tree -- not from the book)

So, I guess I've acquired two new hobbies this year.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A New Hobby - Painting

Wow, ten months have simply vanished since I last blogged and this place here is dusty! (And I'm sneezing--for real!) Alas, I've not been idle all this while. Overtime and I have been inseparable, but I've managed to do a wee bit of writing and plotting. However, my writing desk is no longer dedicated exclusively to writing.

I desperately needed a creative outlet that I could actually do after draining my brain at work, so my writing desk now doubles as a painting desk! Yup, I decided to try my hand at another form of art. It's a fantastic diversion and I'm really enjoying it. And I might actually be improving.

I chose acrylics as my medium and am using canvas panels for the most part. (I see little sense in wasting good money on mediocre canvases to hold beginner art.) I did, however, finally acquire some "quality" paints after much persuasion. I started using them just recently (beginning with the black and white "depth & contrast study" painting below).

There are some wonderful beginner-level tutorials on YouTube produced by folks who really try to teach. I must tip my hat to Ryan O'Rourke at Ten Minute Painting Tutorials. The first four paintings below were derived from his videos. There are, of course, many others out there who do a fantastic job as well.

Who knows? Maybe one day I'll improve enough to do my own book covers! (I'm allowed to dream; I do, after all, write fantasy.)

The paintings below are listed in chronological order based on date completed, but they were all completed this month. (Just finished Road Runner today!)





5"x7" Black & White paint only (Depth/Contrast study)

16"x20" ("Team Mascot" at Work)

Sunday, July 17, 2016


My journey through grief has now lasted three years. Three years with a chunk of your heart in a place so distant, so unreachable, seems an eternity. I close my eyes and remember her smile, her laughter, and her embrace. The tangibles now are photographs, dresses in the wardrobe, and the smell of her perfume that I keep on the nightstand beside the bed. They're pale shadows of what was and reminders of the hope of what will be.

Three years on this journey since I first asked God "Why?" and I'm finally now no longer crippled. The void inside me no longer causes my chest to crumble and collapse. The ache of her absence no longer saps the entirety of my essence in an unrelenting tempest.

Finally, after three long years, I have begun to discover the true "me after we" and am able to accept that the "me after we" has value, purpose, and hope. The "me" is better for having been "we" and can finally say with confidence, "I will live." The "me" will always miss and long for the "we", but the "me" will survive.

I see storm clouds ahead of me on this road, but I see storm clouds behind me as well. I found my way through those and have faith that I'll find my way through those to come. The mountains and valleys and ravines waiting for me are not the first I've faced. I'll slip and stumble and scrape my knees, but the road stretches onward and I've resolved to walk it to its end.

The vow of "forever" is still "forever" and carries no regret. I will hold fast the heart she entrusted to me until my final breath. I'll always be homesick for where my heart is and that's okay. I will never know on this side of eternity the answer to the question of "Why?" but I'll forever carry gratitude for the time that "me" was "we."

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Vacation Route to Completing a Novel

The Vacation Route to Completing a Novel
by Terry W. Ervin II

Just about every writer, and a good number of readers, know one way to categorize writers is Pantsters vs. Plotters. A ‘pantster’ just sits down and writes their novel, not knowing what happens next, until they reach the end of the story. A ‘plotter’ outlines or plans their book and uses that as a guide while writing the novel, from beginning to the end of the story. Of course, the division isn’t as black and white as that. For example, the degree to which an author plans or outlines their novels varies greatly.

After Relic Tech comes this!
In any case, this article isn’t intended to discuss which method is superior, or should be used, because, in truth, there isn’t any single ‘right way’ to write a novel. What works for one author may or may not be efficient or effective for another. Anyone who believes there is only one ‘right way’ is, well, wrong. Otherwise, every successful author would use the exact same writing process—which they don’t.

What I am going to share is what works for me, and has worked for a number of writers that have struggled in the past…either ‘pantstering’ and writing themselves into a corner, or leaving a jumbled, rambling storyline with plot holes and tangents galore—something unmanageable to work with. Or the writers that can’t get beyond the outlining stage. And, if the outlining authors do, they can’t transition that outline into a compelling story.

Places to visit
I think of the way I outline and plan a novel before writing it as similar to planning a road trip for a vacation. For a vacation, you plan out a route to your ultimate destination. You plan where you intend to stop and visit along the way. How long the stop will be and what sights will be seen. As with any vacation, there will be detours and unexpected sights to see. Some anticipated stops will be shortened or bypassed all together. Some stretches of road will take longer than anticipated, with construction or crowded bottlenecks. Other sections will breeze by faster than anticipated. Still, along the way, even on the road, there are things to see and experience.

Just as with the vacation road trip, I plan out my novel, from the starting point to the final destination—how it will end. I identify major plot points or events along the way (major places to stop and visit). While I have an idea how long it will take to write certain scenes containing the various plot events, sometimes it takes more words (stay there longer). Sometimes I write something unanticipated (stop at an unanticipated destination along the way) and sometimes I eliminate something from the plot (bypassing a planned stop along the way).

The thing is, an outline isn’t written in stone, just as vacation plans shouldn’t be. The flexibility allows the story to grow and become more interesting along the way. Me? I plan in a spiral notebook, taking up about fifteen pages. I jot down relevant events, bits of interesting dialogue or places or characters to be introduced, things like that. With two novels, I transferred the handwritten version to a Word document. This makes it easier to add or delete information, as opposed to adding new ideas in a different color pen or crossing things out. See, that outline is dynamic, and as ideas strike me over the course of writing, I have an organized place to jot (or type) them as they come to me.

You are here
Another hidden benefit is that I don’t get writer’s block. Why not? I know exactly which mile marker (event within the plot outline) I am at, and what mile marker (plot destination) I am traveling (writing) towards. At least that is how writing has worked out for me.

So, if you’re a writer that struggles to start, or efficiently finish, a novel, whether you’re a pantster or a plotter, consider giving my method a try. Modify it to your needs and writing style (some authors use index cards or spread sheets). If you’re an avid reader who thinks you might have a good novel inside of you…consider starting out with this method to organize that novel (or novella or short story) so that it can be written.

About Terry:
Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series (fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge.

The Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press).

In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at and his blog, Up Around the Corner at

Check here for all of Terry's books!

Friday, September 18, 2015

SOTC: What it Took - Idea to Book

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Adam Gaylord's New Novel ~

Sol of the Coliseum

Follow Along to Read Reviews, an Excerpt, and Spotlights.

Survival is an act of defiance.

I've been waiting for the day that I could take part in announcing the release of Adam Gaylord's debut novel. That day has finally come! Read Adam's message regarding what it took to take Sol of the Coliseum from idea to book.

"What made you want to write a book?"

Authors hear this question a lot. I’m sure there are as many reasons to write books as there are books. I’d like to share mine.

Back in 2005 I happened to pick up an urban fantasy novel at the local used bookstore. I don’t know why I picked it. Maybe it was the cover or the blurb. Regardless, I bought it, read it, and let me tell you, it was awful. I really mean that. At several points in the book I almost stopped reading only to have sheer morbid curiosity push me on. I figured, it had to get better, right? I mean, bad books don’t get published. Right? Wrong. The only good thing I can say for this book is that it was consistent. Consistently bad. I finished, feeling cheated and angry, and said to myself, “Hell, I can write something better than this!”

So, over the course of the next four years I wrote a book. Coming up with an idea wasn’t hard. I’ve got a crazy imagination and always have. What I learned was that having an idea and translating it into a story are very different things. Sure, gladiators are cool and fight scenes are awesome but that’s not a story. Those are elements to a story. You need characters with depth and feeling and a world that people are interested in. Writing a book is hard. And time consuming. And really fun. I fell in love with writing. I gave my gladiator a home and something to fight for. I gave him friends and enemies and tough moral decisions. I learned that the only way to learn how to write is to write. I also learned humility and, while I still think that urban fantasy was awful, I found respect for anyone who finishes writing a book and manages to get it published.

Eventually I finished writing, edited the manuscript myself (no beta readers or anything), and tried to get an agent. Query letter after revised query letter I sent out. No luck. No interest. I despaired. I put it on a shelf and said, “Someday.”

A year or so latter I decided the story needed a huge revamp. No more Roman style coliseum. I would make the story about a gladiator planet with hundreds of alien races and other dimensions and crazy weapons. But then I sat down and read my story. And you know what? I liked it. I reconnected with the story and the characters. So I got serious about getting it published. I asked friends and family to read it and provide feedback. I made tough decisions and cut out portions and tightened the storyline. Then I started submitting again. That went on for a couple years and this time I had interest. Publishers and agents asked for partial and full manuscripts. But no takers.

Once again I despaired. Sol and his world would probably still be in a drawer if it weren’t for a friend who asked me every time I saw him, “How’s the book coming? Get it published yet?” That friend pushed me. Let that be a lesson to everyone: push your friends. They’ll thank you for it. So I kept submitting and what do you know? All at once three different publishers showed interest. A lot of negotiating and a fateful decision later and my book was due to be published with Mirror World Publishing. And now Sol of the Coliseum is finally a book I can hold in my hands (and you can hold in yours).

So that’s what it takes: persistence and help and a will to move forward. Which is what most good things take. And I hope you think SOTC is a good thing.

About Sol of the Coliseum:

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K'nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Follow the Blog Tour:

Title: Sol of the Coliseum

Author Name:  Adam Gaylord

Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Adventure

Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Epic, Coliseum, Gladiator

Length: Approx. 259 pages

e-Book:  978-1-987976-10-6 

Paperback:  978-1-987976-09-0

Release Date: September 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (

Read an excerpt from the novel:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this,” he thought aloud, his voice barely a whisper. “I should be in bed.” In truth, only minutes before he had lain wide awake, willing dawn to come and give him a reason to abandon his tossing and turning. With the day came his duties; blessed menial tasks he could lose himself in, briefly forgetting his loss.

Grall had come to the Coliseum only a few months before. He had been a guard in the city of Astrolia, capital of the Astrolian Empire, until he refused to participate in a drill using live captives. His protests changed nothing. The captives had died regardless and he had yet again angered his captain, the man that controlled his fate. As punishment he had been transferred to the Coliseum, a post feared by guard and soldier alike. Far more than the danger and brutality, what inspired dread for the post was that for all intents and purposes the Coliseum was a closed system. Be you slave or guard, once you entered it you probably didn’t leave. He had begged his captain, promising him utter obedience. But for the Captain, Grall had made it personal. It mattered not at all that Grall’s young wife had just given birth to their first son. Neither did it matter that he would probably never see either of them again. Even if he managed to be one of the few to live long enough to see retirement, his son would be grown with children of his own.

He had been all for packing their meager belongings and making a run for it, but his wife’s cooler head had prevailed, as always. They lived in the middle of the Astrolian Empire, two week’s hard ride in any direction from free lands if they had a mount, which they didn’t. She was still weak and sore, not yet recovered from a difficult childbirth. Most importantly, they had a brand new baby. In the best of times the road was no place to raise a child, and they would be in hiding.

“No,” she had answered stoically through her tears, “you will go to the Coliseum. You will send us your pay. I will raise our son.”

He protested and argued to the point of exhaustion, vainly fighting the logic in her words. Eventually he conceded, packing his bag and leaving his family, barely started, standing at their doorstep.

He still grieved for the son he would never know.

And now there was this.

“I don’t need this,” he repeated to himself, stopping outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall's fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall's resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.

Purchase Links:


Mirror World Publishing

Meet the Author:

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

All I Ask

Today is the thirty-first anniversary of our wedding. Even the holidays don't rival the depth and breadth of emotions this day brings. Rarely do I publicly expose my deepest yearnings, but today my mind allowed my heart its say.

All I Ask
By Jeff Hargett

I became who I am due largely to her
I found in life what some have sought in vain
But with her gone and me now incomplete
This sorrow I feel will forever remain

I will not get over it nor will I simply move on
Don't say it's time for my mourning to end
My wife was my life and shall always be so
To behave otherwise is to merely pretend

Time is powerless and has never healed all wounds
Nor is it an ointment for mending a shattered heart
There is no salve or balm that heals the soul
Certainly not one so utterly torn apart

No longer shall I apologize for grieving what I've lost
If my tears cause you discomfort just look the other way
I'm coping and adapting the very best I can
And count it a victory when I survive another day

Perhaps I should be stronger. Perhaps you think me weak
Perhaps you think my sorrow is merely one of choice
Remember, some say. Just pray, I've been told too
Why am I not permitted to give my heart a voice

I ask of you no miracles, nor state any demands
It's not a problem that I expect you to solve
Her absence is nothing you or anyone can fix
So of that obligation, consider yourself absolved

This path is mine and its length I'll walk
There isn't anything that you need to say
All I ask of you is this one simple thing
Just hold my hand while I make my way


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So there's this "Writing Tip Tuesdays" thing...

Back in my blog's early days I ran a weekly Sunday Surfing series that provided links to cyberplaces I found interesting. These were the days I found myself hopping aboard one meme train after another. Remember them? Kreativ Blogger Award, The Versatile Blogger, The Booker, but the one I liked most was The Lucky Seven.

Adam Gaylord
The Lucky Seven (7-7-7) required a writer to post the seven sentences that begin on the seventh line of page seven (or seventy-seven) of their WIP. I found interesting excerpts on many writers' blogs, but there was one excerpt that amazed me. It came from Sol of the Coliseum written by Adam Gaylord. (I linked it in a Sunday Surfing post almost three years ago, but it's worth linking again. You can find it here. And in October 2015, Mirror World Publishing is releasing the book from which that excerpt came, so be sure to congratulate him!)

Writing Tip TuesdaysAdam has recently begun a blog series of his own: Writing Tip Tuesdays. Each Tuesday, Adam--or a guest--provides a tip for us writers. He kicked off the series by inviting someone named David Powers King. (Does anyone out there know who this guy is? I hear he teamed up with Michael Jensen and wrote some book called Woven that's garnering all sorts of rave reviews. Might be worth checking out.)

For some reason, the super-talented Adam also asked yours truly to submit a tip for his series. Fully aware as I am that only the wise can dispense wisdom, I donned my Henry David Thoreau mask and shamelessly submitted a word of writerly advice anyway. So stop by Adams Gaylord Writes and read why I encourage you to Poke Your Head Up.