Where Creativity Takes Wing
Some of you may recall that I interviewed Ms. Chadwick on Friday, here, and she has returned the favor. Check her site and books out, they are great! She asked a lot of interesting questions, too. Her interview is here. If you aren’t a member of Goodreads, I’ve included the interview, slightly edited for length, below.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your latest novel, cover art, illustrations.
Hi! Thank you for interviewing me. It’s an honor. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and I work in customer service but write and draw every chance I get. I’ve been drawing ever since I was tiny, and writing since I learned to type. I love cats, especially my floofy, crazy calico, and live with my partner of nearly 13 years. She helps me edit my books and is an artist herself. My latest novel is a book called “Rageth,” which is about a call center worker who has to deal with a ghost haunting her phone lines. My latest book, though, is “Self Publishing Made Easy,” which I’ll say more about later.
2. What inspired you to be a writer, artist and/or illustrator/ to get into indie publishing? How long have you been writing and/or illustrating? How long have you been published as an indie author? Has your cover art or illustrations been published? If yes, then where? If not, would you want it to and in which publications or websites?
As far as my art goes, I’ve been doing it so long it’s just something that’s part of my life. My wonderful partner, however, is the inspiration to keep improving it instead of staying in one spot and resting on my laurels. That’s true with both writing and drawing. I’ve been illustrating for perhaps fifteen years, though I started drawing thirty five years ago, roughly. I’ve been writing for perhaps fifteen years as well, and have been serious about it for about five. My cover art is on several of my own books, as well as on and in books by two other authors. My art has been featured in Venue Magazine of Moses Lake, Washington, on the front of a martial arts studio, on a parade float, at a couple of Star Wars fan sites, and of course on my own sites.
3. Who are your writing mentors/authors/artists/illustrators? What genres do you enjoy writing and what genres do you like to read? Are you an avid reader/reviewer and/ or appreciative of other authors, artists and illustrators?
The closest thing to mentors were probably my high school writing teacher and my parents. An author I truly respect is Richard Marius, who wrote the excellent book “A Writer’s Companion.” As far as illustrators, I was truly inspired by the work of Wendi Pini of ElfQuest when I was young, though now I have too many to name. I enjoy writing Science fiction, light modern horror, fantasy, and non fiction essays. I enjoy reading military sci fi, regular sci fi, modern horror, non fiction essays, history, and alternative history. I do truly appreciate the work that other artists, authors, and illustrators do because every time I look at or read something, it has the potential to teach me.
4. Have you ever co-written, or considered collaborating with your artwork on a project?
My spouse and I are planning a collaboration on a novel right now, which will be a military sci fi setting. We’re batting ideas around about worlds and cultures, ship designs, weapon designs, things like that. I’ll be doing a lot of the writing, she’ll be doing a lot of the 3-d rendering of the art. We have another novel we’re thinking of that will be more of a true writing collaboration, a cyberpunk story.
5. What are your dreams and aspirations that could drive you forward on this writing/publication and illustrative journey?
They are twofold. One, I simply enjoy writing and doing art, and I dream of being able to do that more. Two, I would like to be able to make some income when I have gotten older and have become too feeble to do traditional work. With today’s economy I can’t expect a pension so I would love to still be able to support myself. Of course, it would also be fun to see my work all over and have people be able to enjoy it!
6. Do you prefer to do marketing and promotion yourself for your works or would you rather have someone else control that spectrum? What are some of the things you have done to promote and market yourself?
I do my own promotion. I’ve used handbills, author interviews, advertising on my own sites, and also had some luck with the promotion that Amazon automatically does when you publish a book. I’ve also done a couple of free eBook promotions, posted on various fora about my books, and done a Goodreads Giveaway. I haven’t seen the benefit to paying for large amounts of advertising, since it often doesn’t seem to pay off.
7. What is your greatest accomplishment as an author, cover artist, and illustrator?
I think my greatest accomplishment was completing The Dice of Fate. I worked hard on the cover painting, made illustrations for the interior, and spent months working on the interior. I also took my editor’s advice and made neccessary changes when she pointed out serious flaws in the story. Anyone who’s written a story and then taken it to an editor knows what I mean! That project brought together all three aspects of what I do.
8. What’s the next writing and or illustrating project(s) you’re working on?
I’m putting the finishing touches on a modern horror novel about a call center worker, a metalhead, and a ditzy nurse who have to save Tucson from a spectral presence who possesses the phone lines. It’s kind of a dark comedy with serious elements. I’m also slowly getting a fantasy novel into shape, which is about a mage’s apprentice who unexpectedly finds a winged horse, and must find a way to win her freedom. I don’t have any illustrating projects at the moment, thought that could change at any time.
9. How would you balance creativity with the business side of writing and illustrating such as coming up with particular concepts and solutions to stand out among the crowd in this writing/publishing/illustrating industry where ‘popularity’ is key, if your idea wasn’t exactly popular/or was unknown to the readers/publishers/art galleries and other art websites?
I try to do things a million people haven’t done, or if I do something that’s been done, I try to do something different with it. Then in my description I try to pique the reader’s interest and show them why I’m a bit different. I have noticed though, that there are a fair number of people who really want more of the same thing they already liked, so complete innovation may not always be needed. Being original is still important but sometimes it’s okay to fit into a genre. It’s easier to sell when you can quickly and clearly state what you have to sell, rather than fitting something into ten different genres.
10. Have you ever been traditionally published? Would you consider it? Or feel like a sell out if you took a traditional deal and abandoned indie publishing? Have you ever thought about being a hybrid, part indie, part traditional published? How would you feel about such an opportunity, if both or either of these things happened? How would you feel if your artwork was featured on a prominent art website or gallery opening?
I’ve written articles and made illustrations that were traditionally published. I haven’t had any novels or stories published that way, though. If I were approached for a publishing contract I’d read it thoroughly and take it if the terms were right. I’d always stay at least part indie, though. I’d feel honored and be glad that someone approached me in that way. If I were featured on a prominent art website, I’d be stunned and pleased, and a gallery opening is my secret dream. Of course, that’s unlikely because my art is so “lowbrow,” ha ha!
11. What other creative talents do you have besides being a writer and illustrator? Do you paint, build sculptures, etc. What kind of artwork do you do (ex: conceptual art, sketches, etc.)
I paint in both acrylics and watercolors. I draw in pen and ink, which is the bulk of what my illustrations are done in. I also enjoy markers, colored pencils, graphite sticks, and chalks on black background. I do sketch, sometimes just to rough out a concept, but will often finish them in ink.
12. What advice would you give other aspiring authors, cover artists and/or illustrators?
First, never give up. The most successful people in the world are not the most talented, but the most persistent. Second, in all you do, always strive to do a little better than you did before. Third, welcome all learning opportunities of all kinds. Fourth, if you’re a freelancer, don’t give friends and family deep discounts. Once you start down the discount path, forever will it dominate your destiny, because they’ll pass their own discounts on to others and your fees will be eaten away. And finally, never give up.
13. Describe yourself in a one-sentence epithet.
Nightmare to both sides – a sandal-wearing, Lesbian, Anarchocapitalist, Atheist gun nut. LOL!
14. Paying it forward. What things do you do in your community/ and other communities to help others?
I said I’d mention “Self Publishing Made Easy again. I wrote it to help my fellow indies. I wanted people who are new to self publishing to have a really cheap (99 cents) resource that will save them from many of the newbie pitfalls and make sure they do everything needed to write and publish a successful book. As far as paying it forward, I’ve begun hosting fellow authors on my blog, and I also participate in various charity events held by my day job. In one of our recent events, we donated a school bus load of supplies to local kids in need. I bought a whole bunch of notebooks and put post-its with inspirational messages inside, for my contribution. I love finding creative ways to help my community, whether it’s my local community or my online one!
Social Media Links:
Art site: http://rohvannynshaw.com
(To view the whole, unedited author interview including bio, check out Angel’s Goodreads page!)
The word Radical can have many meanings but one of them is to completely change the nature of something.
If you were to live radically, you would be changing your nature.
What would you do, if you could do anything?
What kind of person would you be?
Would you be wealthier, for example? More generous? Kinder?
A radical shift in attitude happens in small steps. It’s a transformation. A butterfly does a lot of walking and eating and growing before it finally forms a chrysalis and emerges with wings. It’s not an instant transformation.
Successful people aren’t born that way. They usually work very hard, and that means constant effort – even if it’s not hard, it is steady. People born to wealth need to work to keep it. A radical shift means a thousand small changes, a few a day. Eventually you wake up…
…and you’re the person you wanted to be.
Consider, for a moment, what it would be like if your entire life was a computer simulation. Only, you didn’t know it was a simulation. Everything around was created for you, all bodily sensations, etc, and the “real you” was a body lying in a vat somewhere, or hooked up to cables as a battery, or something like that. It might even just be a disembodied brain. Or it could be that long ago, your consciousness was digitized and uploaded into a vast matrix – and the entire world as you know it was in some huge group of servers.
What if you became aware of this? Would it change how you behave? You couldn’t really change the laws of the place your consciousness resided in, because the program would work the same way, so there wouldn’t be any Neo like abilities to suddenly know Kung Fu or fly a helicopter. But, might that realization change how you face the world?
Might your own habits seem a bit less immutable? Might you live differently, knowing your thoughts and perceptions were under your control? Might you decide to really crack this oyster of a world and learn all there is to know, and gain real influence?
Maybe not… but maybe so.
You wouldn’t have had a way of knowing what this Matrix was beforehand, after all.
Also, how could you know that this isn’t really happening right here and now?
This is the first in a series of posts where I explore a painting or artwork I’ve done and discuss the process, what I was thinking when doing the work, etc. This first one will be a watercolor painting I call “discovery.” If you have any questions, post them up and I may alter the way I do my next entry in this series. Click on the image itself to get a better view.
This painting was a lot of fun for me to do. I got the idea from a story my partner and I were working on, about creatures from the Age of Mammals being found in Canada and Siberia. I wanted to show a scene that could be from that story, but also I wanted to practice a new tree painting technique.
As I commonly do with watercolor, I started by wetting the paper down and painting a blue gradient on the top half of the paper. I made it nice and bright because this is a forest in the mountains. I let it dry thoroughly before putting in the trees. This painting was done in many layers, letting everything dry in between layers to keep details sharp and unmuddied.
The bark of the birch trees were one of the final details – they were accomplished with opaque white watercolor paint. I had a lot of fun modeling the kayak and the hat! Also, I was pleased with how the water turned out.
When I look at this painting, I can imagine myself kayaking along some Canadian or Siberian waterway, enjoying the forest, and suddenly happening upon these great brown shapes… what a discovery that would be!
I had a great walk this morning. Not a long one, but a fun walk with my smaller camera as my companion. I found some gems!
For instance, this perfect fruit, that was growing on a very well tended cactus.
This is the biggest prickly pear cactus I’ve ever seen. It was roughly ten feet tall, and growing in an alley near my home.
I love the growth of this big, old tree.
It was fun looking up through the branches of this pine, too. I took many other pictures. Not bad, considering it’s all within a few blocks of my house!
I see a maple’s sunlit dream
of flight, in early seed-hood.
Giant’s reaching roots drink deep,
but stretches yearning branches high.
Remembering that first, best spiral
when wind-swept ‘cross veiny airfoil
and landing, settled to the ground.
Who first taught a tree to fly?
What evolutionary climb
gave wings like owls, and sparrows
and Beeches, and Cessnas?
Next time I spy a maple seed
helicoptering from heights
I’ll listen closely for the whoop
of dizzy joy and pure delight!
Whether you are painting, drawing, or sculpting, it is best to tell a story. It doesn’t have to have a beginning, middle, and an end. But there should be little details about the character and setting that help your viewer place themselves inside the work.
If you are painting a landscape, what creatures live there? Are there little nibble marks on a stump, perhaps? Tracks? Weather?
If you are drawing a portrait, give the posture a little life. A little contrappasto, a bit of jewelry that says something about the character. Have the person doing something. Not just staring at the viewer, doing nothing!
It’s such a simple tip but it can really make a difference in your work. Details, energy, life. All these help make a great piece.
I see people ask the same question over and over: what is the point to life? What is the meaning of life? Not having found the answer, I see those same people descend into the depths of depression with seemingly no hope in sight.
My SO says that the purpose of life is to do the most with what you have, and have fun while you are doing it. To me, fun is important because when you enjoy what you do, you do a better job at it, are easier to be around, and make others happy at the same time. Joy spreads.
The key to this is finding your passion. You can do this by doing something you are good at, whether it is sports, helping people, drawing, writing, tending plants, taking care of animals, typing, cooking, or whatever. It may not be the only thing you do, but do a little of whatever it is at least each week. The other thing you can do is find meaning in life, is see the meaning in what you already do. Say you work a really boring job. It can be hard to deal with but it’s usually possible to find ways in which you make a difference. Find how your life is relevant to others.
Example: Factory job. Putting together widgets. It can be mind numbing, sure, but think of all the lives your widgets touch. Such a job also gives you time to dream, which is useful if you write, for example. Even if you cannot work, and cannot leave the house to volunteer, if you are reading this you have the ability to reach out to people online and help that way. There is always a way to be relevant. Humans, as social beings, often feel more meaning if they touch others in a positive way. This, to me, is the meaning of life. Do what you can with what you have, because you may not get another chance. Even if you believe in reincarnation, as I do, you won’t have another chance with this same skillset and with these opportunities. This is not a divine plan, it’s a matter of what you wish to do. Those who take responsibility for their own happiness are most likely to find it.
Joy spreads. So does sorrow. Which would you rather feel? Which would you rather pass along?
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