The Contents and Acknowledments Dragon is Getting Angry

Content Dragon 2Above is the new art for the Contents and Acknowledgements pages in QUEST MAKER: The Last Dragon Charmer #2 and the dragon is getting a bit riled up!  It looks like it’s ready to eat someone. ROAR!  It’s standing up, wings spread, and reading to attack!Dragon Picture

This is the dragon as it is hanging out in VILLAIN KEEPER: The Last Dragon Charmer #1.  It’s still a bit ornery, but hasn’t spread its wings or turned to hiss at the reader yet. Those contents and acknowledgments pages must make it hungry. And in book two, it must be ravenous.

Trips Past, Times Present

When I was in middle school, my English teacher organized a class trip to Disney World. And if I remember correctly, she was (not surprisingly) a big fan of all things Disney, too. As such, I’m including some dancing Aristocats in her honor.

Aristocrats dancing

Tom – the male cat – was voiced by Phil Harris. He also was the voice of Baloo the bear in the Jungle Book and Little John in the best Robin Hood movie ever. (You know, the one where Robin is a fox and John is a bear.)

Phil Harris was a bandleader, radio personality, and voice actor. Also, he was my dad’s favorite singer.

My dad had his record. Then eight-track. Then cassette. Then my brother burned the songs onto a CD for him. Then we downloaded mp3s for him. Oh how times have changed. It seems I’ve gotten gotten off topic.

Back to Disney and middle school! On that trip we spent three days, I believe, in Disney and Epcot. I have a great picture of middle school me wearing a straw hat by the mirrored exterior of one of the Epcot Center buildings. I think the building was Journey into Imagination. FYI – my favorites among of the Epcot attractions were Journey into Imagination, The Seas, and The Land. And now I write fantasy and teach biology. Hmm.

Fast forward twenty plus years and I was so excited to get an email from that same teacher. I haven’t seen her since I was in eighth grade!  She and her kids and husband are all doing great which is wonderful to hear.  As a teacher, it’s also nice to connect with a former teacher of mine. Doubly cool, she contacted me because she’d seen my name and book in The Mini Page.

The Mini Page started in North Carolina. It’s a weekly newspaper insert that has articles, activities, and games for kids, teachers, and parents. The June issue often includes great books for summer. I have to say, I was pretty excited to see VILLAIN KEEPER listed. Now, I just need to get the next issue of the News and Observer, find The Mini Page, and ogle it. (Picture to come)

Cool book things I didn’t expect – Chapter art


Today, I started thinking about some of the cool things in my finished, bound book that I hadn’t expected. One is the chapter art. The book is out in the world, and you can read a free preview here by clicking on the aptly titled ‘free preview’ button, and see higher quality images of the art. The pictures in the post are pics I took with my android phone.

My favorite of the interior art is the dragon who guards over the Contents and the Acknowledgements. The dragon is also guarding over this post. He’s (She’s?) got a banner, wings, claws, and a serpent’s tongue. A dragon in my books talks forgotten languages (as does one of my main characters) so I really like that the tongue is prominent in the illustration.

In my books, there are mentions of other legendary creatures or ‘Elderkind’ as well. Each is illustrated at the beginning of different chapters. It is sort of weird and wonderful to have someone make illustrations for my novel. It’s someone else’s interpretation of my ideas, and, luckily, that someone is much better at design and drawing than me. (Eric Deschamps is the cover artist!)

20150511_155601In Chapter one, the legendary Winterbird is shown. The Winterbird protects the mountainous Winterlands.  If you notice, there is a crest behind the bird. To me, it looks symbolic of both wings and mountains.There is also a nice banner with the chapter title, and a coat-of-arms with the chapter number.

I like the Chapter two art also. The tree represents a legendary creature called the Walking Oak who is associated with spring. Interesting note – I thought about naming my book A LAND WITHOUT DRAGONS. Then I realized there are dragons20150511_155717 in both lands noted in my book, and, well, it just didn’t seem to work. However, since I liked the name I used it where I could.

Chapter titles are entertaining to create. There isn’t as much pressure as there is with naming the book or series, and it’s just a lot of fun to brainstorm ideas. It was my editor who suggested coming up with titles, and I’m glad she did.

Below is the art for chapters three and four. I like how the four chapters have some differences yet a recurring theme. In this case chapter three shows the Sunsnake (associated with summer) and chapter four shows the Bloodwolf (associated with fall).

20150511_155753   20150511_155702

If you notice, each creature has it’s own shield behind it. To me, the Sunsnake’s looks like an abstract sun. The Bloodwolf looks like a abstract falling leaf. It’s fits their respective seasons.

It’s hard to see the details in these picture but the shield is flanked by a pen and pencil as opposed to two swords. Below, is a photo of the hardcover (sans dust jacket) whe20150511_155730re you can really see those details.  I have a pen just like that. (Also, I suggest looking at it sideways, since I posted it sideways.

The page numbers also are printed on shields. It makes for a nice theme.