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Why Contracts Are Really Your Best Friend

August 12, 2010

When freelancing you sometimes hear this little tidbit of advice floating around: “Always use contracts for work, even with friends.” Maybe you hear it and take it to heart, or maybe you listen to it and use it sometimes and when you don’t you think that there’s no way that it could possibly be necessary. After all, friends are friends for a reason, right? We do all kinds of things for friends we wouldn’t do for a total stranger or a one time client: we give them discounts, and every now and then we do free work for them, or maybe we cover their shipping, or do them a quick favor. Because they’re friends and that’s what friends do.

Right up until you aren’t friends anymore.

Case in point:

The other day my husband and I stopped into our local Borders. There on the shelf in the computer department was a brand new shiny copy of Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual, by Lesa Snider (King). If you remember back far enough, you might remember that I did some work on Photoshop CS4: the Missing Manual, also by Lesa Snider-King (it was hyphenated at the time). In addition to the contracted work I did for the publisher (O’Reilly*) as a tech editor for the book, I also consulted with Lesa on the digital painting chapter, providing her with several graphics and artwork, as well as a full, step-by-step tutorial for her to use in the book.

At the time that I did the work, Lesa and I were (I thought) friends. She agreed to pay me for the work I did, but we never sat down and actually worked out a real contract. Our agreements for the work were done mainly through IM/email and verbally. But we were friends, and so I didn’t worry about it too much.

Until she and her husband separated. My husband and hers had been friends for a long time, and when Shawn came to us for advice and a sympathetic ear… that’s what he got. I offered the same to Lesa, but was–rather rudely–shut down. Over time, when she couldn’t convince us that Shawn was (as she seemed to believe) the Spawn of Satan, we became The Enemy.

Months went by, and I didn’t get paid for my work. Finally, because I was in need of the money and I’d given her a year, I invoiced her. She did, finally pay me.

What we failed to do, however, was specify precisely what she was paying me for.

At the time I’d provided the work, remember, Lesa and I were “friends.” She was swearing up and down she’d never write another book again. It never occurred to me that she would want the full rights to the work, and so I charged based on the first publication rights. I also vastly undercharged her–ah, the naivete of “friendship.” My mistake.

Fast forward to the other day. I’d heard that she’d reused my work, but hadn’t actually been able to confirm it for myself. When we flipped through the book, there it was, basically word for word and image for image the same work I’d given her for the previous book. She never contacted me about reusing the work, never even notified me that she would be. She didn’t pay me for it, or even offer me a copy of the book in thanks. I was credited (at least)… but that really doesn’t take the sting out of finding out that my work is being reused, especially not by someone that I no longer consider a friend.

Since the work I provided was done fairly specifically for a prior version of Photoshop, her using it in the current version is just her shooting her own foot–since it’s now out of date and only going to become more so if she continues to write Photoshop books without bothering to update that chapter. Based on advice I’ve gotten from various people (including the editor, other professionals and copyright law consultants), I might actually have a legal case against her–but it would be long, difficult (due to the lack of explicit contract), and probably end up costing me more than it was worth. Not to mention… she’s just not worth that much of my time.

I’m likely never going to see a penny for my reused work–but I can make sure that other people don’t make this same dumb mistake by sharing my own story.

What I learned from this experience:

  • When doing work for a friend (or family!), if it involves ANY sort of commercial use, set a contract. Sign it. Keep to it. It will keep your friendship healthy.
  • Make sure you *always* specify exactly how the work can be used, and what rights they are getting. Basically, treat them as you would any other client
  • Be sure of exactly what benefits you’re willing to give them for the sake of your relationship. Remember that it might come back to bite you in the ass.
  • Try to keep personal conflicts out of your professional relationship. This isn’t always possible, but you should still try.

*I have no quarrel with O’Reilly Publishing. This mess was not their fault, and I enjoyed working for them. My contract with them was very clear and concise, and I was paid well for the work that I did for them. As far as I’m concerned, they were as deceived by the author as I was.

Crow King and Crazed Arsonists

April 27, 2010

Just realized it’s been too long since I updated last, and I do have new work to show.

First, I want to point out that one of my cards for Fantasy Flight Games’ “Call of Cthulu: the Yuggoth Contract” was featured in an article a few weeks ago, and I totally suck for not mentioning it until now. You can check it out here: (it’s the “Crazed Arsonist” card).

I also recently finished a more personal work, this one a revised version of a character I’d painted years ago. Prints, puzzles, coasters and more with this piece on it can be purchased in my deviantART store (click image below). You can also watch the progress of it over on UStream.

Attending the Crow King

I’ve got another piece in the works, and a handful of stuff under NDA, which is why I’ve been fairly quiet lately. I promise, I’ll post more as soon as I can.

Macworld 2010 and a 2011 Wishlist

February 18, 2010

Just got back a few days ago from our annual trip to San Francisco for Macworld Conference and Expo. In case you’re wondering why an artist would go to a convention for Mac users, the short answer is: I’m a Mac User. The longer answer is: my husband, John C. Welch, is something of a Mac IT guru and semi-infamous in the Land of the Mac Geeks. Every year he speaks at and/or teaches sessions at Macworld. This year he had five sessions, I think, plus a live version of the podcast he does with Peter Cohen (of the Loop) and Darby Lines (aka “the Angry Drunk“). By their powers combined they are the Angry Mac Bastards, and while their podcast on the show floor was much less profane than usual, it was still as funny. (Basically their podcast revolves around mocking stupidity on the internet and in the Mac community–you can listen to them here: http://angrymacbastards.com).

This makes my fourth year attending Macworld, and I have to say that despite many of the predictions that this was going to be a dead year for the convention I was pleasantly vindicated to see that it was not. It was just as crowded and interesting as years past, with the notable (and for me, anyway, not so lamentable) loss of Apple as a showfloor vendor. Honestly, I never spent much time in the Apple booth. I was far too busy hunting through the smaller vendors and looking for something that would be useful to me that I couldn’t see just by going online or to the store.

I also got a chance this year to attend a session presented by Ninja Mountain podcast regular Patrick McEvoy. He demoed for the session attendees a walkthrough of his painting process, using Photoshop and Painter. It was great and I learned a lot more than I had expected to (and I’d expected to learn quite a bit). Everyone in the audience seemed interested and those who asked questions were following well. I’m hoping that Patrick decides to come back again next year and teach another session or two.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I love Macworld and I definitely want to see it continue. I think its a great opportunity for people like me to be able to check out vendors and software and hardware that we wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to. It’s also an amazing learning opportunity, with tons of sessions for everyone from basic users up to the hardcore IT guys like my husband. The problem I’ve found, however, is that there is a lot of stuff there geared toward photographers and people interested in photo editing… but that’s ignoring a huge chunk of Mac users who use their computers creatively but aren’t interested in photography. There also seem to be other gaps that it would be nice to see filled, at least from my perspective.

After a chat with my husband last night I decided I needed to sit down and make out a wishlist of things I’d like to see at Macworld 2011. Things that would interest me and other Mac users that I know, that would help us get more out of our computers.

Show Floor Exhibitors I’d LOVE To See:

Wacom

I have been looking for a Wacom booth since the first year I went. I’d heard they’d had a booth the year before I started attending, but they’ve been a no-show for the last four years. Well, unless you count their products occasionally appearing as part of a demo booth for another product. The reason I want Wacom there? Simple. There’s NO OTHER WAY to try out their products. I’ve been a Wacom user for years. I started with a Graphire (which was a gift). Eventually had to replace it because, let’s face it, I’m HARD on my toys, with a second Graphire. Then I got an Intuos at work, and another one for home (another gift), and finally my Cintiq (which was an amazingly generous gift, too). Now… back when I was using a Graphire, I was really interested in seeing what an Intuos or a Cintiq could do. But you can’t hike down to your local Best Buy and try one of those babies out. In fact Best Buy doesn’t even carry them in store, as far as I can tell. The best they’ve got on hand is a Bamboo (the new Graphire equivalent). The Apple Stores carry them… but not out where you can play with them. They hide them in back rooms and you have to ask for them. And what do you do if, like me, you live in a town with no Apple Store? Well, then you go online and check out the specs and talk to people and try to decide if the upgrade is worth the expense. If I’d had the opportunity a few years back to play with an Intuos, you can bet your ass I’d have saved up my pennies and bought one. Instead I waited till I got one at work. And if I’d had the chance to try a Cintiq? I might still be saving my pennies for it, but it would have been way up there on my list of Things I Want to Purchase. Right now, I’d love to try out one of Wacom’s 6D Art Pens, but I don’t know anyone local that has one I can borrow, and the various artists I do know who have them are split on the topic of their usefulness. If I had the chance to try one out at Macworld, I’d be able to make a better decision about whether or not it was right for me to purchase.

Corel/ArtRage

Adobe has always been one of the big guns at Macworld, though they were absent this year. I’ve been a Painter user for five years now, and I’ve fiddled with ArtRage a few times. What I’d like to see on the show floor are demos done by professional artists (or even hobby artists) using these products and showing people what exactly they can do. So many beginning artists turn immediately to Photoshop–which, admittedly can be a powerful painting tool in its own right–but many of those just making the switch to digital would probably find it easier if they started with programs geared toward traditional artists. Giving them an opportunity to play with these programs on the floor, hands on, would let people decide for themselves if the software was something they’d be interested in purchasing. And seeing pros use these tools is always inspiring and shows users new ways of using tools that they might not have thought of themselves, demonstrating the flexibility of the product in a way that simply viewing a final finished image can’t.

Adobe–with a twist

Usually Adobe’s booth focuses on digital photography and photo editing and so on. No problem. Would it kill them to demo what Adobe can offer artists, too? You’d be surprised at how many people out there are budding artists who might be interested in learning digital, and seeing how flexible their program is might be the thing that pushes them to purchase. Even if YOU aren’t artistically inclined, maybe your kids are or your sister or brother. You never know. Yeah, I know I’m pushing the “lets see more than just photography related stuff” but honestly, while I’m a decent photographer (and many of the other artists I know are too), we’re often far more interested in how Photoshop lets us DRAW than we are in getting rid of red eye. Most of the people I know (even the non artists) who do digital photography, don’t really do much with their photos after taking them. Maybe they upload them to their roating digital picture frame or their phone, but I don’t know many who even do the basics like red eye reduction or zapping zits with the healing brush. On the other hand, I know lots of people who will open up their copy of MSPaint and doodle while on the phone or who have downloaded Brushes for their iPhone for the same reason. People like to draw, even when they can’t. It’s soothing.

Just something to think about. Especially with the iPad about to hit the market. Think of how many people are downloading drawing programs for their iPhone. Now think about how many are going to want to doodle or draw on their iPad…

MySmithMicro

I’ll be one of the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of Poser artwork on its own. I’ve only very, very rarely seen it done well. However, it can be useful for artists who have a hard time finding or taking pose references. They used to make a product that was essentially just FOR artist figure reference, but I can’t find it in their product line anymore so it may have been discontinued. A shame, because that was the one Poser product I would really consider purchasing. Other than Poser they also sell (make? Not sure?) AnimeStudio and MangaStudio… neither of which interest me, but I know a ton of other artists who would love to see these products demoed. I remember last year they had a small booth that demoed a couple of their products, but it wasn’t really a friendly kind of atmosphere, or the kind that encouraged you to step up and check it out. (Seriously guys, sticking one bored artist in front of a cintiq to demo ArtRage without some kind of mirrored monitor to show what she’s doing was lame. If there’s a crowd, no one can see, and if there’s not a crowd but just one really irritating little kid that keeps asking “but what does that button do?” I’m probably not going to approach. And playing with Poser on my own is… tedious. I’d rather see a demo by someone who knows what they’re doing with it.)

ZBrush

Pretty much read all of the above. I’m not a 3D artist by any means, and playing with the demo version had me lost after awhile. Be nice to see someone using it who knows what they’re doing.

What I’d like to see Sessions on:

Dedicated sessions

on learning pretty much any of the software I listed above. Right now most of the “creative” sessions are limited to those people who want to do photoediting, but do we really NEED three seperate sessions to show us how to mask something in Photoshop or reduce red eye? It’d be wicked great if Macworld could partner with a site like ConceptArt/MassiveBlack (which I believe is partially headquartered in San Francisco) to get some pro artists in to do sessions at different levels on any of these programs. Not to mention the massive draw ConceptArt/Massive Black seminars generally have for the artistic public would likely boost conference sales if users knew there were sessions they would want to attend. I know I was jazzed last year when Android Jones and Jason Manley were doing a session for Corel that wasn’t much more than simply TALKING about the product. I’d kill for a chance to see Android doing his live art thing on the show floor at Macworld, because I might not have a chance to see it otherwise. I’m not talking something as intense as the huge Art School conferences that Massive Black does every year… maybe just a handful of more basic classes and one or two more advanced tracks for pro artists. It would definitely be something I’d spend money on and I know other people who would, too.

Getting the Most Out of Your LiveStream

Live streaming sessions are becoming more and more popular with artists nowadays. I was an early adopter of the format with my Ustream sessions, and since then hundreds of other artists have jumped on the bandwagon. Most of us are self taught in using Ustream or Livestream and aren’t professional broadcasters in any sense. I’d love a session to talk about milking the best quality screencasting (or video for those traditional artists who do this) out of these programs, how to optimize my stream for less jumpiness, the best kinds of headsets or microphones to use, best ways of outputting, how to integrate video or audio, etc.

Specific techniques

Watching Patrick’s session last Thursday got me thinking about all the different kinds of art out there and how many different ways artists use various programs. While a session dedicated to learning the tools in Painter is useful, it’s also useful to see an artist who works in mulitple programs to achieve a specific kind of style or image. For instance, a session on how to do webcomics or manga using MangaStudio and Photoshop. Or how to scan images in Photoshop and turn them into Painter custom brushes or textures. That sort of thing.

Social Media Marketing for Creatives

We all know that social media is a key way of connecting with our fans and possible clients, but many creative people are at a loss as to how to apply it to themselves. There are tons of blogs out there for those who dwell permanently in the Blogosphere and who use social media constantly to market their blogs and writing. Companies usually have people working for them who handle their social media exposure. Creative professionals, however, are usually on their own trying to work and navigate the murky waters of the internet. I’m not sure what benefit I’d get from a Facebook fan page, though I know other artists who have them and use them well. On the other hand I’ve amassed something of a following on Twitter that hasn’t hurt me at all in terms of upping my sales. There are tons of social media galleries and art sites out there (dA, ConceptArt, CGSociety, Etsy, to name a few), as well as all the other sites that can be adapted by creative users to help get their work out there and noticed. A session that explores these from the perspective of either a creative professional or even just the individual with a homebased or freelance business, would be great.

To sum up:

Regardless of whether Santa brings me everything or anything on my Wishlist next year for Macworld, I’m still planning to go. I can usually find a few sessions to interest me, and while this year there wasn’t much on the show floor for me, that changes drastically from year to year anyway. I’d encourage anyone who is a Mac user who would like the opportunity to learn more about their computer and more of what it can do for them (and who can afford it) to consider going. And if by some miracle somewhere up there in the Macworld chain of command someone hears my wishes and manages to grant even a few of them… you can bet it’ll make the experience for me even more worthwhile.

Oh, and one other thing, IDG? Can we pretty, pretty please have some more electrical outlets on the second floor of the west hall by the tables for people to plug in their laptops? Being relegated to the painful, cold, and awkward metal benches that were quarantined way off in the corner because they were the only spot on the floor that had easy and safe electrical outlet access was not a fun experience. Thanks!

Exotique 5

December 11, 2009

Just a quick update (I promise, I’ll add a longer one when I’ve got time). Exotique 5 is out now and I’ve got two pieces that made it in this time around. Puck’s Introduction and April (you’ll find them both on page 74). This year’s Exotique is GORGEOUS. A real turn around from the previous one, which as you might recall I complained about being way too full of T&A and not enough hot guys. This year there’s a pretty equal balance of subject matter. Yes, there’s still plenty of scantily clad chicks for the boys, but there’s a hefty representation of men, monsters, and more as well.

Looking through books like Exotique always revs my creative juices… which are sorely in need of revving at the moment. I’ve had a bad couple of months and December is looking to be tight, financially. But I’m still kicking, even if it’s not quite at full strength.

A quick note:

I won’t be doing UStream sessions until after the holidays are over. I’ve got to get some other things straightened around and I haven’t had much time or inspiration for personal work lately. Hopefully I can get that straightened out by January, so look for my sessions to resume then. My apologies there.

Oh, and swing by my deviantART shop (it’s over there in the link box on the right). dA is running sales on prints and stuff this month, so if you’ve been wanting to pick up anything by me, now’s a good time to do it.


Post Dragon*Con

September 15, 2009

Got back from Dragon*Con (a week ago) Monday night and spent most of the last week trying to recover from it. Four days of hotel hopping, wading through crowds of people in bizarre costumes, lugging a heavy (and mostly useless) portfolio, meeting new people and old friends, trying to locate food, and trying to navigate the warren of escalators and staircases… it was kind of like being in the Labyrinth, only with a longer time frame, more goblins, and more sharp objects being hurtled down tiny corridors at you. Also, no Bowie. And most of the suggestive costumes were on women. And the ones that were on men were often traumatizing…

We got in late on Friday, just in time for the shortest line ever at Pre-reg pass pick up (as in none), and to be mobbed by Zombies on their way to the prom. There’s nothing quite like zombies toting kegs and shuffling toward you at top speed to convince you that you might want to be somewhere else. Since we (my husband and stepson and I) were tired after our five hour drive, that ended up being back at the hotel where we waited for some dubious Chinese food to arrive.

Saturday I made straight for the ArtShow, where I finally got to meet Meredith Dillman, Jessica McDouglas, and Ellen Million–all of whom I’ve talked to online for years but never met face to face. It’s always interesting meeting people that way, especially since most people have no clue what I look like. (Hint: there’s a photo of me under “About the Artist” above, although I’m not nearly that attractive in real life). I attended a few panels on fairy tales (a hobby of mine), got to listen to Peter S. Beagle speak, and caught the first part of a disappointing Workshop on Art Trading Cards before my rapidly dwindling blood sugar level forced me out to find food.

On Sunday I met up with Jeff Jones and his uber talented wife Veronica–Jeff is the one who gave me the awesome review a few months back at Blue Moon Rising–, Pete and Anna Mohrbacher (from W.I.P. Podcast), Angela Sasser, and the crew behind Time of the Faeries. I stopped by SpookyChan‘s table as well to check out her upcoming comic “The God Machine,” and spent some time in some amazing panels on Art and Illustration, including one where Larry Elmore and Janny Wurts made me cry. (Don’t judge me. I was a little hormonal.) I also participated in the Monster in an Hour Panel, and our “masterpieces” of crayola monsters were auctioned off for charity. Mine looked something like a gigantic pink heart, with seven eyes, lots of tentacles, big sharp teeth and wearing a brown and orange leisure suit. No, it was not my idea. :D

Monday was last minute shopping day (never did find my Jareth figurines I was looking for), and goodbyes before we headed home. Mr. Elmore was awesome and looked over my portfolio and gave me some advice–some of which I’m still mulling over. All in all it was an amazing trip and I’m looking forward to next year.

Some things I learned from this trip:

  • Even if it’s awkward and heavy it’s better to have your portfolio with you than not.
  • Overweight men and spandex DO NOT MIX
  • All of my friends are midgets (except Ellen).
  • Pete Mohrbacher and his wife are not midgets, but are both exceptionally cute and genuinely nice people.
  • Jeff Jones is one of my new favorite people.
  • I need to work more on my traditional artwork more often.
  • More people hate Twilight than the other way around.
  • Most women who wear revealing clothing have no idea what their butts (and breasts) REALLY look like in those costumes.
  • Be careful of falling plants when walking around the Marriot.
  • Don’t worry if you’re not in one of the Con Hotels so much since you won’t be in your room that often.
  • Do worry about the enthusiasm of your hotel toilet.
  • Good places to eat: surprisingly the cafe in the Sheraton (and supposedly the cafe in the Hilton) were mostly deserted.
  • Do not try to eat at the Peachtree Center.
  • People really don’t appreciate a really well done Spartan costume enough. (mmmmm…. lickable abs)

All in all it was an awesome experience that, overall, left me feeling excited about my chosen career path, even if for the moment it’s only trudging along.

That said, I give you some new(ish) artwork.

Above: “Raistlin”– because looking through Mr. Elmore’s artwork reminded me once again how much I loved the Dragonlance series when I was growing up, and it occurred to me that it has been probably fifteen years or so since the last time I drew the character. This was a quick, two day “speedpaint” illustration. Overall I’m pleased with it. I wish I’d gotten the colors a little better, but mostly I’m happy with it. Particularly with his hands and face.

This one is “Neptune” and came about during my live Ustream drawing sessions on Wednesdays. This one I completed over several days, during live broadcasts. I let the chatroom audience make suggestions as to what I would paint and it developed from there. You can watch the progression of it here (though I warn you the videos are pretty long):

Part 1: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1971717
Part 2: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1972423
Part 3: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1976939
Part 4: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1977574
Part 5: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1982498
Part 6: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1983001
Part 7: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2010464
Part 8: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2011154

I may be taking a break from my Ustream sessions for a bit. I need to look at whether or not it’s financially a good idea for me to continue to do them. I enjoy doing them, but right now the economy has us really tightening our wallets, and I need to be looking to spend my time as profitably as I can.

New Art and Itchy

July 31, 2009

So there’s a good chance I’m allergic to pine sap or pine needles. Not in the sneezy headachy way. No, I never seem to do anything the usual way. Instead, handling it makes my hands break out in tiny tapicoa-like blisters, especially around my fingertips and on the inside of my fingers. It’s a mild form of eczema, and like eczema it itches like mad. I’ve progressed from the blister stage now to the point where all those little blisters have burst and my fingers and hands are super dry and peeling.

NOT fun when you work with your hands for a living. So I’ve been delaying on my oil painting for a little longer (since the paints and the cleaners tend to dry my skin out worse), and trying to use moisturizer and take breaks away from the Cintiq so the heat doesn’t aggravate it.

That’s probably TMI, but since we’re on the subject of health… it’s one of those things that really suffer when you’re a work from home artist. You’re mainly sedentary since you’re at the computer or the easel or the drafting table for so long, and your posture suffers. Eating … there’s another bad habit. Not eating, actually, I should say. I skip meals when I’m deeply entrenched in a painting, and it’s not till late in the evening when I’m ravenous when the thought of food finally occurs to me. By then I want to eat the computer, I’m so hungry.

Since we’ve had Maggie, our labrador and probably german shepherd puppy, I’ve been getting out of the house more. Today we walked two miles to one of the local parks, met a really sweet boxer boy named Andy who quickly put Maggie in her place. I’m hoping, as the weather turns cooler toward fall and Maggie’s more up to date on her shots and better on the leash, to spend more time going to the local parks (we have a LOT of them around here), and doing some sketching out doors. Maybe even have  chance to sketch some of the softball players practicing, or the kids running around on the playgrounds. Not to mention the gorgeous old gnarled oaks that are all over town.

In the meantime, however, you’re just going to have to suffer with two new art pieces. Fiery Ida (above), was my attempt at a more painterly style portrait inspired by the pirate paintings of Howard Pyle. My model is the fantastic MizzDraconia (Ida Walker) over on dA. You can check out her gallery of costumed stock images here and I also worked on this during one of my live Ustream sessions here:

The one below, Lightblind, was my entry for the Drow vs. Illthid challenge on ArtOrder. After seeing some of the other entries I feel a bit meh… but I’m really glad I participated anyway. I love the work I did on the background on this one, and while the lighting could have been better, I’m still pretty happy with it. There are over 400 mushrooms in this painting… in case you’re curious.

New Art (and a really cute puppy)

June 26, 2009

If I’ve been a little quiet this last month, it’s because I was pretty busy. Anthologies, Book Covers, and Commissions (oh my!) and then on top of all that, I got a puppy.So today’s post shall be a quick wrap up of some of those projects.

Art Order: B&W Vampires

I decided (close to last minute) to dive into the current Art Order Challenge. It was a great excuse to bust out the Painter Digital Inks and play again (my last fully inked piece was “Exquisite” a year and a half ago now).  Gwenth and Garreth are vampires in the D&D world, previously human. I had a lot of fun coming up with their armor and fiddling with the digital inks. Hopefully I’ll get time to play with them again in the near future.

If you’ve never worked with Painter’s Digital Inks before, you can watch my latest Ustream Session to see how they work. I babbled for a bit about Art Order, Romance novels, and vampires (the cool and the lame sparkley kind), too. There’s a bit there when I start ranting about Stephanie Meyer where the audio goes a bit wonky, but sit tight and it sorts itself out after a couple of minutes. Trust me, you don’t miss much.

Art Order has a wicked new challenge that just went up a few days ago, and you get a bonus week to complete it. So scurry over there and check it out, especially if you are a dragon fiend: Catastrophic Dragon Challenge

Master of Crows

Just before this, I was finishing up an “alternate” cover for Grace Draven’s new novel (due out in early July) Master of Crows. This image will be used for promotion, bookmarks and to bind sample chapters of the book to be sent out for review. It was a really fun commission, and I very much enjoyed working with Grace on it. The book pretty much rocks, too. You can purchase it through Amber Quill Press (with the photomanipped cover). You can read an excerpt here: http://grace-draven.livejournal.com/11332.html

What would you do to win your freedom?

That is the question which sets bondwoman, Martise of Asher, on a dangerous path. In exchange for her freedom, she has bargained with her masters, the mage-priests of Conclave, to spy on the renegade sorcerer, Silhara of Neith. The priests want Martise to expose the sorcerer’s treachery and turn him over to Conclave justice. A risky endeavor, but one she accepts without hesitation—until she falls in love with her intended target.

Silhara of Neith, Master of Crows, is a desperate man. The god called Corruption invades his mind, seducing him with promises of limitless power if he will help it gain dominion over the world. Silhara struggles against Corruption’s influence and searches for ways to destroy the god. When Conclave sends Martise as an apprentice to help him, he knows she’s a spy. Now he fights a war on two fronts—against the god who would possess him and the apprentice who would betray him.

Puppy!

And finally, as promised, a picture of my newest family member, Maggie. We adopted her from our local shelter. She’s about 7 weeks old, and some kind of Lab mix. Utterly adorable–except when she’s crying at 4 in the morning, of course. :)

Between her, the anthology layout I’m finishing up, and bludgeoning CSS into order to redesign my website, my weekend is going to be stuffed. Wish me luck!

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