#Art of Fantasy 14: Alex Horley


Alex Horley is an artist, illustrator, painter, comic book artist and concept artist. I found the following from his bio on his website:

His real name is Alessandro Orlandelli and he was born in the small town of Opera in the outskirts of Milan Italy.  His love for the fantastic came early while reading his favorite Marvel comics in the seventies.  He started to try and draw them when he was in kindergarten and even taught himself the English language by reading comic books.  Within those pages he studied stylings of such masters as Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Gene Colan as well as John and Sal Buscema.  Years later it would be the writings of Robert E. Howard which fueled his imagination and love of the fantasy genre.  He then discovered the art of Frank Frazetta on the cover of the Conan the Destroyer comic series.  He searched bookstores for more of his work and came across The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta Volumes 1-4.  The very next day he purchased his very fist set and brushes and began to push paint around on the canvas.

I wouldn’t call this an emotional post, but Horley’s early bio reminds me of myself during my years in high school and a little while after,  when I dreamed of being a comic book artist. I sometimes wonder how my art would’ve turned out had I kept on drawing, kept on copying the masters, like with writing, until I found my own style. My own voice. I used to copy specifically John Buscema (He used to draw the Conan comic books) and Alex Ross, but there were many others.

There was a time when you couldn’t find a blank piece of paper in our house. I would draw on everything, my mom’s notebooks, on magazines, even receipts. I once got into trouble for drawing in my parents’ bible.

And now I write. I think I shall not make the same mistake with my writing. It is a different kind of art, but it’s still art. I suppose it’s not a complete loss, then.

Below, per usual, are a few choice selections of Horley’s awesome art, linked to the pages where I found them.








If you guys have any ideas on artists you want me to feature, who you deem worthy, let me know. I would like to include lesser known and up-and-coming artists in my #Art of Fantasy posts, along with masters, new and old.



Beware: Weird Retweets of My Best Reviews

Something weird happened yesterday on Twitter. I woke up to dozens of retweets of my best reviews for Seals of Abgal. At first I got excited, I thought, “Awesome! At last I’m being discovered,” but alas, my excitement lasted less than one minute.

When I clicked on these retweets to see who my new admirers are I found this:

Tweeter 1

And this:

Tweeter 2

And this:

Tweeter 3

I mostly use my phone for Facebook and Twitter and when I saw the retweets I only saw a name with a tiny avatar, until I clicked on the name. The three examples above are only three accounts of over a dozen that retweeted my reviews, using different names.

And this is what the retweets look like:

Screenshot 1 of RTs

And another.

Screenshot 2 of RTs

I’ve only uploaded two screenshots, but there are many more of many more retweets. My reason for writing this post and sharing this with you is my concern that somehow existing and potential readers might associate my honest, hard-earned reviews with these guys and, possibly, assume that I received my reviews in the manner described above. I don’t know if they are legitimate, these guys, but given the number of retweets, I don’t know. It seems suspect to me. All the above accounts link to BayReviews.net, but if you follow the link you get a 403 error page.

So, for the record, all my reviews are honest. I don’t have that many reviews given how long my book has been out, but they are from people who bought Seals, who actually read it, and really enjoyed the story, and who gave their honest opinion about their reading experience. I have one or two reviews that I received after submitting my book to reviewers, but I received  fair reviews in return, and said submission is stated in the review itself.

I believe in growing organically, and yes it’s slow, but it is solid and dependable. Besides, my ego demands honest admiration, not pretension or fake likes.

That’s all for today, folks. Have a grand day.


#Art of Fantasy Special Edition: Game of Thrones

game_of_thrones_poster_by_norbface-d7cw0ud#Art of Fantasy celebrates the start of the fifth season of A Game of Thrones, which premieres tomorrow here in New Zealand. We will see it at the same time it screens in the U.S., which means the season premiere, for us, takes place in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday. I’ve already set it to record and there is a repeat later that night.

Yes, I’m looking forward to this season. I’ve been following it from the start and my wife and really enjoy it. I haven’t read the books. I wanted to, but I later decided to wait until the end of the TV series and then tackle the books. In my experience it is always better to watch the film version first before reading the book (should you ever find yourself in a situation where such a decision needs to be made). Doing it the other way around always spoils the movie. Well, in my experience, anyway.

As is the norm with #Art of Fantasy posts, I curated a collection of images from around the internet. I’ve linked as far as I could to the artist responsible for each art piece. Where I was unable to find the artist, I linked to the website where I discovered the image.

There are a lot of Game of Thrones art out there. It was not easy to choose. If I hadn’t limited myself I would’ve had twenty pictures on here.













Enjoy the fifth season of A Game of Thrones!



#Art of Fantasy 13: Vance Kovacs

10317720_718562978193036_4398956150457250102_oI discovered Vance Kovacs when I searched for information on my previous #Art of Fantasy’s entry, Justin Sweet. Kovacs is an artist, illustrator, and designer for games, film, publishing and theme parks, and his clients include Disney, Epic Games, Warner Bros, Paramount, Trion Worlds, Wizards of the Coast and many others.

His tone and style is similar to Sweet’s, and there is a grimdark quality to his work that I like very much. But then, dark things have always attracted me, but on my terms, because my weird personality can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be gloomy or sunny.



334513_246251965424142_2103432151_oScreenshot 2015-04-06 17.02.53Screenshot 2015-04-06 17.14.01Screenshot 2015-04-06 17.15.54Screenshot 2015-04-06 17.17.19Screenshot 2015-04-06 17.21.08Screenshot 2015-04-06 17.24.21

Next week I will feature A Game of Thrones special edition for #Art of Fantasy to celebrate the show’s new season.



#Writing Mechanics: Stephen J Cannell’s Rule Number One

Stephen_J_CannellI’ve wanted to post something about Stephen J. Cannell for a while now. Cannell–you may remember his iconic “Stephen J. Cannell Productions” logo recreated above–produced, created, and wrote many television shows during the eighties and nineties. Shows like The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, Riptide, and 21 Jump Street, to mention just a few, which, admittedly, entertained my young mind for many hours.

Cannell also wrote novels, most notably the Shane Scully series, of which I’ve only read On the Grind. I’d like to remedy that one day soon, if I can. Most people agree Cannell was an awesome human being who helped a lot of people, including wannabe writers for whom he produced a series of videos on writing tips. His death in September 2010 really shocked me. Although I never met him in person, having his work be part of my childhood growing up and then to still have him guide me through my writing tribulations as an adult, meant his death felt like a part of my history died.

I don’t want Stephen J. Cannell forgotten or his body of work or the fact that he was so willing to help other people.

One of the things I discovered about Cannell, that made me pay more attention to his advice, was that he suffered from dyslexia, and yet he carved out a hugely successful career with words. It made my wannabe writer brain remind me there were people around the world with bigger stumbling blocks who achieved success despite their circumstances and if I stopped feeling sorry for myself and wrote more I would eventually find success. And so I paid attention to Cannell’s advice, which I still do, and I wrote more. Success is always one book away.

I don’t know how many people know this, but Cannell gave seminars on screenwriting and today I want to link you to the page where his notes can still be downloaded with an excerpt below of what to expect. You’ll find that his advice apply to writing novels, too.

Give Yourself Permission to be Bad

Every great writer who’s ever lived has, on occasion, written garbage (in my case it happens all the time). It’s okay to write garbage. You’re a good critic, you’ll fix it later. Shakespeare wrote garbage, Hemingway wrote garbage, Faulkner wrote garbage. It is okay. Every writer has bad days, or a day when he or she isn’t connecting with the material. A day when, unknown to us, the story we are writing or the characters we created have been improperly designed. When this happens, writing becomes a struggle.

That doesn’t mean you’ve lost your muse or that you’re a creative burnout. It just means that you have a problem in your story structure or with character motivation. Something is dishonest that seemed okay when you set it up. Rewriting is part of the process. Most writers plot with their heads and write with their hearts. Sometimes that causes unintended dishonesty. You start to push to make it happen. It feels forced — you freeze and your creative fire starts to gutter and burn low. You say, “I’m outta here. Time to go to the beach.”

Don’t go! Stay right where you are. Start asking yourself a few questions. Put yourself in the place you’ve designed for your principle characters. Ask yourself, “If this was really my problem, would I do what I’m saying this character is doing? Would I say what he or she’s saying?” If the answer is “no,” start redesigning; get out of your head-plotting demeanor and deal with your emotions.

My favorite story dishonesty (which I see constantly) is where the hero is in trouble, but doesn’t seek police help because then the police would solve the case. Then there would be nothing left for the hero to do, and the story is wrecked. You can’t let this flawed logic stand. You’ve got to redesign. Put the hero’s fingerprints on the murder weapon; he’s now wanted by the cops, so he can’t go to them.



#Wallpaper Wednesday: A Game of Thrones

Ah, yes. I did not think I’d have another one so soon, but here we go. Staying with A Game of Thrones theme, this one is a bit extreme considering the intense use of color, but interesting nonetheless, and it looks great on a 27″ iMac screen. Trust me.

Screenshot 2015-03-30 22.53.31

And here is the link to the site where you can download the wallpaper in all its pixellated glory.



The Mercy Giver: An Experiment

A man is on his way to Mexico to lay low for a while. He is hunted by the authorities. He has a particularly skewed take on life. While hiding in some dusty small border town he meets a very strange man. Think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but for psychopaths.

This is a WIP that I was curious about, that I wanted to experiment with. I’m not yet sure about the ending. I have an inkling, though. I wrote it a while ago and my original intention was for it to be a novella. I’m now a bit unmotivated and with so many other active projects, this one has been left on the back burner.

Mercy Giver Cover TesterThe traffic cop stopped me on a Thursday. I rolled down my window as he approached.

 “Hello, Sir,” he said. “Did you know you were speeding back there?”

“No, I didn’t officer.” My hands were still on the steering wheel, relaxed. A moment of silence followed as the cop studied me. His belly squeezed over his belt. It reminded me of rising dough.

“The speed limit is 60. You were going 72. I’ll have to give you a citation, sir.” His aviator sunglasses had mirrored lenses and I could see my distorted face in them. The bristles of his mustache glistened with sweat. His pudgy face shined with it. Dark stains circled the armpits of his khaki-colored shirt. With the window open, the heat felt like crushing weight as it forced its way inside the air-conditioned interior.

“Your license and registration please, sir.” The fat pig seemed not to mind the heat so much, or the fact that he looked like a wet stain.

Probably used to it if he’s doing this shit every day.

“Sure, no problem, officer,” I said smiling while I reached towards the glovebox with my right hand. His gaze followed suspiciously, his hand dropping to the holstered service revolver resting on his hip, primed in case I pull out something other than my license. The movement seemed more a reflex than actual suspicion.

I surprise him with my left hand, producing a small pistol that I had tucked away between my seat and door. I squeezed the trigger and the pistol coughed. The bullet entered his left eye, drilling a hole in the lens of his sunglasses, and he dropped like a marionette doll.

The little pistol, a .22 Ruger, has a special place between the door and the seat. I always thought the glovebox was a stupid place to put your gun. It’s too far away. Plus, my way makes it less visible from outside.

I got out of the car. The road shimmered in the distance with heat and the nothingness around me. No cars. No pedestrians. Not even proper shrubs, just dry tousled bursts of brown short brush over flat ground with some hills vaguely visible in the distance on both sides of the road. The blistering sun dominated the sky, diluting the blue to a cloudless white. I looked down at the cop, at his lifeless body, in a heap like he imploded on himself. His face frozen in surprise.

Yeah, I’d be surprised too if someone shot me like that.

A thin red line trailed down the side of his face soaking the dust under his ear. Sometimes they bleed a lot. Sometimes they don’t. I’m disappointed with this one. I thought he’d gush more.

I dragged him away by his ankles and deposited him in the trunk of the police cruiser. It took some effort, as it usually does with deadweight, and this guy loved his donuts. I ripped a piece of his shirt off and opened the gas cap, dunking part of the cloth inside until it became soaked. Pulling half of it out, I lit the sodden material and walked away.

By the time I had gotten in my car and onto the road again, flames had engulfed the police cruiser, angrily licking at the paint making it bubble and peel. Black oily smoke swirled up out the windows high into the sky, followed by a muted eruption. A ball of black smoke billowed and filled my rearview mirror.

It was beautiful. I watched as the image grew smaller and smaller, fading to a shimmering dark smudge on the horizon until it disappeared from view as the road swerved down into a canyon.

The memory would fade soon.

By the time I reach my destination it’ll be another vague moment. One of many I have drifting around in the dark recesses of my mind. I don’t boast about my deeds, about my killings. That is not why I do them. Life is quick and fleeting. Its a joke. We cleave to it like a tick to skin, but it’s fragile. Fragile and ultimately pointless.

I’m here to give meaning to it.