Finally, my coloring book is back!

I had this all done, then we noticed there was something that needed to be improved on the back cover.  We got partially through improving it, then the graphics computer’s CPU died.  Now the new CPU has been bought and installed and the back cover has been fixed.  So everything is good to go!

This coloring book is all about dragons, 30 original illustrations, all full page.  It’s great for anyone who likes to color.  I donated the last copies of the ones with the improvement-needed back cover to flood relief in Texas, in hopes that some kids might at least have fun with them.

If anyone wants to get a better look, or buy one, click on the link here!



Experimental College


What do red panties, Wrigley’s gum wrappers, typewriters, and a fish pond all have in common? Find out in this novel.

Experimental College is a cheerful, odd, and often surprising story about David Price, a Blind engineering student going to the University of Washington in the late 70s during one very special summer.. While he navigates his classes and degree program, he also meets several quirky companions, and discovers a lot about his own passions, both academic and romantic.

This story is a mix of gender role and sexual exploration combined with ruminations about life support systems, closed ecosystems, and physics. It is both cerebral and emotional and touches on some important points of psychology and sociology. It’s also a fascinating journey as young Dave Price learns more about who he really is. The story covers issues about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in a sensitive, intriguing way, as it is also a snapshot of the world of the 1970s.

This is an excerpt from the rear jacket:

“Experimental College: My summer in Serendip” is a lighthearted comedy with tragic overtones, which asks some ominous questions. Aiming at your heart, it may unexpectedly grab at your crotch but hopes to offer something to your head.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I enjoyed editing this story, and I think you’ll like reading it. The book is available at multiple outlets, $15.99 for print and $2.99 for EPUB, Mobipocket, or PDF.

Cover Painting – Avatar

Purple Dragon 4 brightened


I just completed this cover painting for the eBook I mentioned before.  I did this mostly with watercolors but also some supplemental colored pencil.  If anyone wants to know about the book, they can just go to the main Subversive Art site and there’s a dedicated page, or here’s a link to the blog entry.

Adventures with Etsy

I’d meant to open an Etsy shop for a long time, and finally got around to it. I’ve used eBay before with some success, but I know people who use Etsy and seem to do pretty well.  One friend of mine at least partially replaced his income from a job he previously had, so he didn’t have to go back to work as fast when he was laid off.

I do have my own website for commissions and art prints, but I’ve realized that what I really need is exposure, and I wanted to take advantage of Etsy’s customer base and visibility.   Since Etsy specializes in handmade items and vintage items, it is perfect for me.

First, I love the price of a listing. 20 cents is good, and even if I have to pay that again every time I have to relist, which is every three months, I find it more than reasonable. It’s certainly better than the percentage taken in most places.

Second, I like the flexibility of things I can offer. I can put up a set of 5 cards, an original watercolor painting, and digital downloads of hand drawn maps, vintage jewelry, and a really neat crystal cluster. I see other folks selling all manner of things, everything from home furnishings to vegan deodorant.  I found the listings easy to create and there’s plenty of support for sellers.  Etsy will use some of the money they make to buy Google ads and such, I’ve actually seen traffic to my shop from those.

Third, the interface is nice and clean and it’s easy to find things. That’s important, both for buyers and sellers. Products look good, I don’t find the site too cluttered, and the individual shops have lots of room for personality.  I can put up multiple pictures of a listing, be creative about my descriptions, and have a ball making a cool looking shop.

I’ve only made three sales but they amounted to about fifty dollars.  Now that I’m branching out into adult coloring pages I think I will start selling more.  Some people even sell their books on Etsy!

A few tips:

Try to list a couple of things every week, at least.  That will keep people looking at your site.

Give lots of good description on your listings and take good pictures.

Make sure you fill out all the information on your shop – let people know who you are and why they should buy your products.

If you have any questions or need help or support, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to tell you what I know.

If you want to try Etsy out for free, follow this link to get forty free listings.  No strings attached, you just have to be new to Etsy.



Blog your way to a book

Blogging can be a great way to get enough material to turn into a book. I have seen people stitch short stories into a book, poetry, anecdotes about life, webcomics of course, and several other topics. The excellent blog and website “The Art of Manliness” has spun off into several books, all of which are truly excellent reading.

I’ve done this too. In fact, my novel “The Dice of Fate” was largely published on a blog, in its rough draft form, before I polished it and made it into a full length novel. The short format of the blog was accessible enough that I wasn’t daunted by the writing, and I found that I’d written the whole story, in little chunks, in just over a month. It took a couple of months to polish and much editing, of course, but it can be done.

Your blog will give you the most bookworthy material if it’s all centered around a theme. For instance, if I were going to turn this blog into a book, I might pick two or three of my categories. For instance, I might pick “life,” “life and love,” “life hacks,” and “randomness” if I were making a book about my thoughts and observations.

I might pick “art,” “art tips,” “writing,” and “publishing” if I were making a book about art and improving your work.

Making your blog entries into a book doesn’t mean you have to leave them as they are, either. You can go back and edit them, restate things in a better way, expand on points, and more. It can be a lot of fun seeing how you’ve grown, and giving your original thoughts the advantage of your increased knowledge and perspective!

Then, when you have everything polished, you can self publish as well as make your work available as an ebook. This kind of book is a natural for that.

Don’t forget to have someone else (or several someones) read your new book to make sure it’s interesting, topical, and flows well.

Happy blogging!

Lifesaving Tips for Self-Publishers

Here are some hard-won lessons I’ve learned and want to share with you.  They will make your life much easier!

Make your work available as an e-book. This can be easy if you use an outlet like or CreateSpace. Some places, like FastPencil, will let you create and edit online so you don’t even have to stay at home with your word processor.

Price your e-book fairly low.  Remember that you don’t have to work at all when you sell one.

Be aware of current costs of books and don’t price too much below or above the going rate. Above and people won’t pay, below and they’ll say “what’s wrong with it?”

Use a beta reader. The more eyes, the better. You will ALWAYS find something that needs fixing.

When formatting, use full justification when you write. If the print lines up nicely on both sides of the page, it will give a cleaner, neater look. If you don’t know what this means, find out.

When submitting your work, pay attention to the final size of the page and pick a font size that will be readable.  Also, pick a font that is easy on the eyes, such as Times New Roman. A common size for books is six inches by nine, it helps to set your page that way in the beginning so you don’t have to make a bunch of changes later.

Use good word processing software so you can make your work look its best, such as Libre Office. That’s free to anyone with an internet connection.

If you are designing your own cover, avoid clutter and make sure you use an image that is high enough resolution to look good in printing. The company you are working with will tell you the minimum resolution required for images. There’s free image editing software out there, it’s called GIMP and it’s excellent. Like Libre Office, it’s open source and virus free. Both programs come in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions.

Don’t forget to leave room for the barcode and ISBN on the back of your book, if you design that space in, it will look much more finished.

Write what you love, write what you know, and never ever write something you don’t know about without expert help. That is, talk it over with someone who knows the subject and then listen to what they have to say!

And finally, don’t pay for any services unless you know exactly what you are getting!

How to publish a book without paying a cent

You can do it with all the equipment you are currently using at this very moment.

That’s right, just a computer, an internet connection, your brain, and your fingers. Let’s say you have a manuscript. It could be a novel, non fiction, book of poems, biography, cookbook, or whatever. If it’s polished and ready to see the light of day, you already have everything you need!

How can you do this without fancy software or paying publishing fees? Read on.

If you have your text ready, the first thing you will want to do is format it and make sure it includes all the bits you need. Author’s note, copyright, acknowledgements, etc etc. That’s not bad. Then you need to be able to convert it to PDF. One free software program can do all that and it’s called LibreOffice. It’s available for free, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Just gGoogleit!

Many self publishing places want you to put your book in 6 by 9 inch format. That’s easy to do with Libre Office, you can set up the page size so it will automatically be in that size. And when you have your file exactly the way you want it, you can convert it to PDF through the “export to PDF” in the file menu. PDF format is good because it makes sure the book prints out exactly the way you have it set up.

But what about the cover? If you have some artistic or creative talent, you can do it in GIMP, another free program that works for Windows, Linux, or Mac. When you are done setting up the titling and everything, it will also export to PDF format.

Don’t want to draw your own cover? No problem, both of my favorite print on demand sites have a cover wizard that help you make a nice looking cover with very little work.

My favorite print on demand sites are CreateSpace and Lulu. Both support print on demand and ebook options. CreateSpace takes a bigger cut of the profits than Lulu does, but at the same time it gives you much wider distribution options. Both places will assign you an ISBN and let you keep all your own rights in case you should make it big. And neither charges anything for basic set up, they only make money if you sell a book. How much you need to charge to make a profit will depend on how many pages your book is.

My own novel, that I published last year, is 250 pages that are 6 by 9 inches in size. If I charge $14.99 for my book I make just over $5 in profit. That may not sound like much, but it’s a lot better than most authors get with traditional publishing. The Kindle edition makes me more, as I get about $4 per book if I charge $5.99. I like that anyway, because ebooks are great! If anyone would like to see my book, they can search “The Dice of Fate” in the CreateSpace or Kindle eStore.

So there you have it. I published my book and I didn’t pay a cent, and you can do it too.


Dice of Fate cover small

Writing tip: Scintillating Articles

This tip may be a bit basic but I think you’ll all agree that there are many authors who could use this advice.  So, as a public service, I repost this tip:


It’s not so hard to write a fascinating, informative article or blog post if you organize it right.

All you have to do is use the “inverted pyramid” writing structure that journalists do. Basically, you start with an eye catching headline, hopefully relevant to your content. Then you write a short introductory paragraph outlining your main point.

After that, you expand upon your main topic, giving detail and supporting evidence. There is where you would use the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of journalism to best effect.

If you want to make it really great, use interesting, descriptive words to draw your reader in and really illustrate your different pieces of supporting evidence.

When you are done, sum your subject or facts up again, make an interesting point about it or underscore your conclusion. This will keep the idea fresh in your reader’s mind. And it will make a coherent, very readable post!

There’s extra credit these days if you add an eyecatching picture.

Who knew you’d find something useful in high school writing class?

Improve your stories with Loss

One of the common themes in stories, both short and long, is the cycle of loss. The character starts out with something. It might be knowledge, a home, a location, a thing, a person. The bulk of the story consists of the character dealing with the loss or change, adapting to it, trying to get whatever it was back, etc. The end of the story, if the story is good, shows the character come to some kind of resolution – growng as a result of the loss, learning something, getting something, having an insight. A good story is not a circle but a helix. The character ends up in a different place than where they began.

This is why some TV shows and book series can be unsatisfying! If everything has be put back the same way it began by the end of the episode, the character can never experience true loss or true growth. Have you ever watched or read something and thought “they can’t get rid of that character so I know they will get out of this somehow.” That’s what I’m talking about.

It’s interesting to look at different stories show what parts of the loss cycle. Cinderella, for example, goes from a bad but normal state, gains something, loses it temporarily, and eventually ends the story in the “gain” part of the cycle. It wouldn’t be as interesting a story if there wasn’t that temporary loss part of the story, where the prince is looking for her and she’s having to deal with her sisters.

War and Peace starts in a time and place of relative prosperty, moves through many phases, most of them involving loss of one type or another, but eventually ends up in a happy place again. The characters grew and changed through their losses and gains.

Black Beauty starts with a place of peace and happiness, goes through loss and troubles, and ends up happy again but with the main character being much wiser.

Most sit-coms start from a place of gain, move temporarily into fear of loss, then go right back to the happy ending without learning anything.

What are some stories you can think of that are like this? Do you ever consider this type of thing in your writing?

Two tips for writing fiction

Tip #1:

Get it all down before editing!

I have started many novels and many more short stories. I also have a bad habit of not finishing them!  Luckily, I finally found one of the secrets to finishing them and so I’ll share it with you.

The key? Don’t start editing as you go along. I’ve gotten more done in a shorter time than I thought possible, just by posting on an online site.   (This can be public or private, by the way.)

Why? Because it forces me to keep moving forward. Instead of writing two pages, going back, changing things, editing, and reworking, I write two pages, post them, write the next two, and keep on going. I’ve made a few notes about things to include or change later but I’ve gotten a lot more of the actual story told than I otherwise would have. So keep writing! Don’t stop till you are done, and then go back and polish! You will notice a difference.


Tip #2:

Embrace conflict and confrontation in your stories

Why? Because conflict is what creates drama. Conflict doesn’t have to be argument between people. It can mean an obstacle to the character’s goal. Conflict of some type is usually needed for an interesting story.

Your character is trying to get to grandma’s house, but there is snow in the way and the horse doesn’t want to pull the sleigh. Will your character ever get to grandma’s house? Or will they be able to convince the horse to pull the sleigh?  On the way, what if there are robbers or sheep wearing wolf suits?  Anything could happen.

The challenge to the character creates the suspense, the drama.  If it was a story about how the person got in the sleigh and everything went perfectly, it would be boring, wouldn’t it?  That can be fun for a scene, or to set the stage for something else, but not as a whole story.  You’d think that would be obvious, but can’t we all think of stories where the author didn’t think of it?

Use conflict and confrontation as tools to add spice to your stories.  At the very least, try being aware of the conflict in a story as you read it, and watch how it makes that story more interesting.