#Art of Fantasy 18: John Buscema

d665be2f32fd4ec6e64792e1c2b4f5d2Today’s artist is the award-winning comic book illustrator and penciller, John Buscema. In my humble opinion, his run on Conan the Barbarian was the best there was, and thus, he qualifies to be mentioned here. And because I have so many fond memories from reading Conan and admiring Big John’s work, I thought it high time I introduce another aspect of my education to you. Buscemi did stints on Hulk, Wolverine, The Avengers, and pretty much every other Marvel title. He has a younger brother named, Sal, who is also a comic book artist.

I liked Buscema’s style in particular because he made Conan look savage and violent and brooding, and to me that epitomised Howard’s Conan. Buscema, like other artists I admire, had a very distinct and easily recognisable style which raised him above the rest. It is always interesting to note how art impacts people in different ways, and in this case I admired Buscema to the point of copying him.

Below are a few sketches I really like. Clicking on an image will take you to where I found that image.









Sadly, John Buscemi passed away in 2002 from cancer. He will forever be part of my creative history, responsible for many hours of reading and drawing enjoyment. Back then, when I still dreamed of being a comic book artist, I used to copy his style–or tried to–drawing my heroes bulky and aggressive, feet firmly planted wide, and a sneer or a scowl on their faces. All good memories.



Indie Author Interview With Woelf Dietrich

Covers for Guardians of the SealsIndie Author Review has an interview up in which I answered a few questions, which is usually what happens when you do an interview (You’re probably thinking, “You don’t say!”). I talk about past and current writing projects, including my very first and overly ambitious attempt at historical fiction, which I never completed.

Plus, while you’re there, look around. Check out the other interviews. You might just discover someone new to read.

You can read the interview here.



Robert Harris on Writing

81sN0UiNqoL._SL1500_I found an article written by author Robert Harris on writing fiction. Harris has penned several bestselling historical novels. I haven’t read all his books, and the ones I did read I read in a weird order. My first contact with Harris’ work was Archangel, which in turn led me to Enigma, and then, Fatherland. Fatherland is an alternative history tale about a world in which Hitler actually won. I think I read these during my days at law school.

The linked article is useful, as is most articles on writing by successful authors, but what I liked about this one is the references to advice from other successful authors and how it applied to the writer, and in doing so, Harris actually revealed a lot, which I will discuss later in this post.

First, the advice from other authors in Harris’ own words:

In the 20 years that I’ve been writing fiction, three pieces of published wisdom, each offered by an eminent American novelist, have helped me along. The first was from John Irving, who maintains that any writer who embarks on a novel without knowing how it is going to end is a fool and a knave. A novel, he argues, recounts something that has already happened; therefore you cannot just make it up as you go along. This practical approach had a profound effect on me: indeed, it enabled me to complete my first novel, Fatherland which, in classic rookie fashion, had trailed to a baffled halt somewhere around page 50.

The second was from a 1995 interview with EL Doctorow: “You have to find the voice that allows you to write what you want to write … It’s a writer’s dirty little secret that language precedes the intentions.” On the face of it, this contradicts Irving (“I don’t begin with a plan,” insists Doctorow), but actually they are both saying the same thing, which is that the shape and style of a novel is determined by the thought you give it beforehand: that the way you approach your material is at least as important, maybe more important, than the material itself. This process of settling on an angle of attack may take months, even years of frustration and false starts, during which many writers – and certainly most writers’ families and friends – believe the author may be going slightly mad.

Have courage, and remember the words of my third authority, Philip Roth, in 2003. “Over the years,” he observed, looking back on his career on his 70th birthday, “what you develop is a tolerance for your own crudeness. And patience with your own crap, really. Belief in your crap, which is just ‘stay with your crap and it will get better, and come back every day and keep going’.

It’s good advice, but as with any writing nugget, we take what is useful to us and disregard the rest, and that decision lies solely with the writer themselves, because at the end of the day, not 61eB9G3jEnL._SL1275_everything works for everyone. We are just too different from one another. We come from different backgrounds and heartaches and all that inform our framework, and who knows how we’re wired. Mostly we don’t, but when we write we settle into a rhythm and eventually we find a voice that is unique to us, and there lies the gold.

For instance, I’m disregarding John Irving’s advice. This is wholly subjective. I do find planning my stories works, but so does just writing them. It all depends on the nature of the story. Some stories do need careful planning. Some stories just want to be written without fuss.

The second and third pieces of advice are pure gold. Doctorow is correct and I can say he is correct because I have discovered it with my own attempts. You have to at least understand your intentions, and to me, this is like decorating a room in your house. You don’t just throw stuff together. You think about colour and size and style and you follow a theme. I think this is the same with a story. Our voices contribute to the overall readability of a story and so we must be consistent. But beyond that, the tone needs to fit the story for it to reach its full potential.

And this brings me to the third piece from Roth, which I think is just as valuable, and that is, it’s fine to accept your first draft is crap, but the thought that subsequent drafts will cure that should give you the necessary peace to continue writing, without those dark thoughts harassing you or destroying your writer’s trance (we’ve spoken about this in previous posts here and here). The same approach counts for how you view your ability. Accept that you have a lot to learn, but the very fact that you are willing to learn, that you’ve decided to keep on writing, and are in the process of developing your ability, should give you ample enough confidence to keep your attention focussed and do what you have to do. We all go through this. We all have to shut that voice down to get words out in the order we want them.

Anyway. I’m no expert. Just sharing my own experience. What do you think? Do you agree with the advice from the authors above?

Good luck!


#Wallpaper Wednesday

Red Skull WallpaperI haven’t had a Wallpaper Wednesday for a while so here is the latest one I’m using. Before this one I had an underwater steampunk submarine and before that, a painted spaceship. I probably should have posted the painted spaceship. Looked pretty cool, actually, but I grew tired of it quickly.

Anyway, I’m obviously in a specific kind of mood for this one. I think it looks awesome. Maybe it’ll last even longer than a week.

If you follow this link it will take you to the artist’s gallery on Deviant Art.



#Art of Fantasy 17: Allen Williams

tumblr_n6q55vDSQq1r2p7cpo1_500On my Facebook timeline Saturday I saw a post by Brom asking people to support a project created by Iain McCaig. The project aims to help fund artist Allen Williams‘ cancer treatment which involves a tonsilectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, and cost about $50,000. Brom shared  a link to the Gate of Fire Fund page and if you follow the link you’ll find more information about the project’s goal and the artist himself.

I thought I would do my bit by featuring Allen’s art on my #Art of Fantasy series to spread the word, but I can tell you now, if you see what he does, you’ll realise quickly enough that this man’s talent speaks for itself. Far louder, in fact, than what I could hope to achieve with my words. So consider my post a gentle nudge in the right direction. Just make sure you’ve a tight hold on your sanity before you dig in.

Allen Williams is an award-winning illustrator, concept artist and writer who has applied his talents for over 25 years to a broad spectrum of media. From illustration for gaming companies, book covers, concept work for major motion pictures, as well as personal work on display in galleries and shows across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Some of Allen’s clients include Paramount, Lionsgate, Legendary Films, TOR Books, Hasbro, and even Guillermo del Toro who had this to say about Allen’s work:

Entire worlds flow from Allen Williams’ pencil and brush. Creatures and characters more twisted and full of humanity than our imagination dares to conjure. He is an incredible draughtsman and a true original mind.

Allen wrote his first book titled, The Witches’ Kitchen, which he also illustrated. Little Brown Books published The Witches’ Kitchen in 2010 with a German edition released in 2014. He is currently working on the second book in a three book series.

Below are a few of his illustrations and paintings. Although there were many to choose from, I selected those that really resonated with me and that I thought showcased Allen’s tremendous talent. As usual, if you click on each image it will take you to the source.


first spread



Maritime Guard








Check out Allen’s website where you’ll find more artwork to salivate over. And click through to the Gate of Fire Fund and support Allen, if you can, whether by donation or by sharing the link on your social network.



Review of Little Mouse by R.A. Williamson


The sheer awesomeness of this story forced me to write this review.

Little Mouse is about a little girl and her attempts at coming to grips with her parents’ separation. The tale focusses on her trying to make sense of the ugly things grownups do and showcases the emotional vulnerability and dependency of children.

Mia is the only child of a recently divorced couple. The daddy is abusive, physically and emotionally, but he has never laid a hand on Mia whom he calls his little mouse. Mia’s mom, however, is not so lucky. Mia lives with her mom full-time, but you get the impression the couple received joint custody of Mia, the details of which are not so important right now.

Mia’s dad was supposed to take her for the weekend, but he cancels at the last-minute. He pays them a surprise visit later the same day and matters deteriorate quickly. It gets all too much for Mia who, it turns out, is much more than just a meek little girl.

The author originally asked me to write a blurb for the story, but I was so blown away after reading it, I felt compelled to write a review. It is a beautiful and sad story and domestic abuse is ugly, but Williamson succeeds in bringing beauty solely through his ability as word artist.

Williamson uses imagery that are tonally precise, that conveys little Mia’s perspective–how she views the relationship between her mom and dad, how she sees the world—with painful accuracy. The way Williamson describes Mia’s emotional evolution and how it informs her view of her surroundings and people in her life is so real, you forget you’re reading a tale of paranormal horror.

Writers use words to create feeling and convey emotion, and if a writer is expert enough, he’ll allow you to see the created world through the eyes of his characters. Williamson succeeds remarkably well in this regard.

Here is an example :

“She sighed melodramatically and blew her bangs out of her eyes. Rolling over, she stared at the underside of the tabletop, crossing her eyes until the crayon drawings on the rough particleboard split into dancing, blurry doubles of sad trees and dark houses and tall, angry men.”

This one also stood out for me:

“Nearby, He-Man reclined in a too-pink lounge chair and watched television with Strawberry Shortcake. A thimble of beer sat on a thread spool beside him. Sometimes He-Man let Strawberry Shortcake have a tiny taste of beer when She-Ra wasn’t looking.

He-Man was tired from a long day at work and told She-Ra to move her lazy ass. He was hungry.”

Of course, there are many more examples of woven magic in the story, but one needs to tread carefully when writing a review, especially of a short story. You don’t want to spoil it, but trust me, just the imagery alone makes this story worth your while. The rich descriptions, little details here and there, are exquisitely done. I remember sitting back, after reading Little Mouse, thinking, “What the hell just happened?!” And I wasn’t referring to a scene in the story, but my emotional reaction to the overall story.

It therefore came as no surprise when I learned later that Little Mouse received an Honorable Mention this year from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.

Little Mouse is available for a buck over at Amazon. This story deserves to be read by many. It is one of the better ones out there. Trust me.


Subscribe to my Mailing List and Get Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones for Free

email-icon-vector-Free-Vector-Icons-36I’m trying something new today. As a way to entice you to subscribe to my mailing list, I’m offering Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones for free.

But wait, there is more awesomeness in store for you. Not only do you receive a free story, you’ll also be first to hear about new and upcoming releases.

You might even receive a special offer on these new releases because you are a subscriber.

So, if you want to take a leap of faith, SUBSCRIBE HERE. Don’t worry about your email ever landing in anyone else’s hands. This is strictly for my eyes only, plus you’ll make me smile, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I should smile more.

Besides, you won’t get very many emails from me, but there are a few projects in the pipeline for this and next year, which I have already started work on, and I’m really excited about them.

And, if you feel generous and you’ve read Bullies, let me know what you thought about the story, whether it pressed your buttons, and so on. I’d love to hear from you.