Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose, poetry, and music.

Monday Morning Haiku #92 — Pigeons

Pigeons

Pigeon lawn party
Culinary delights lurk
Beaks to the ready

February’s Guest Storyteller, Ana Spoke

AnaSpokeAna Spoke is a self-published author and an unbridled enthusiast. She currently calls Australia home, but you can always find her on anaspoke.com

FINAL COVER September 5

Sarah says: I’m delighted to welcome Ana as this month’s guest storyteller to share with us a snippet from her hilarious chic-lit novel, Shizzle, Inc.

Here are a few comments from my review of her book on Goodreads and Amazon, where I awarded it five stars.

This  humour novel is quite different from my normal reading material, but then that’s probably because it is quite different, full stop! …Initially, I decided to read it because the author connected with me via blogging and I admired her sense of direction re Indie publishing. …This début novel is the first in an intended series and I fully confess to looking forward to the next of Isa Maxwell’s escapades. …Shizzle, Inc kept me so fully engaged for a long train journey, that my fellow passengers failed to annoy me with their mobile phones and loud talking. Normally, I get very easily distracted and tense under such circumstances. Instead, I ended up smiling … a lot. 

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Fifteen minutes of fame is all Isa needs to win back her boyfriend and pay her debts. She might just get it. It might just kill her.
 
Extract from Shizzle, Inc

 

That should’ve been the end of this story, but God bestowed me with a third miracle that day. This one came in the form of a huge trash pile.

That particular stretch of the highway shoulder happened to be the city’s most popular illegal dumping spot. Over the years, it had become a landmark, with locals giving direction to their homes as “the first exit after The Tip”. The Tip was enormous. Its humble beginnings were in just one man’s refusal to pay for municipal services, but it grew quickly, as others used the excuse of “everyone’s doing it”.

At first, the city council kept trying to clean up the mess, but this only encouraged residents to dump again. Fines didn’t work either, as the officers trying to issue them were regularly assaulted, pelleted by rotten tomatoes, or even thrown into the trash pile. The city tried to organize a volunteer clean-up program, but nobody volunteered. The problem was exacerbated by the homeless, who took up residence in the valleys of The Tip and adamantly protected their territory.

On the day when I flew head-first into the sprawling landscape of mattresses and garbage bags, the city was trying out a new “zero tolerance” policy. The idea was that after a few weeks of living with a stinking fly- and rat-infested pile, the locals would come to their senses and start using dedicated bins. The exercise proved yet again how out of touch the government was with their constituents. The locals objected, staged protests, signed petitions and condemned the council officers as ‘dirty pigs’, but did not stop dumping. In the end, I owed those council pigs and stubborn citizens my life. Thanks to the extra layer of freshly deposited garbage, I did not break my neck and got away with just a concussion and severe blood poisoning.

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You can find the links to previous guest storyteller posts at 

Wordless Wednesday — A Child’s Eye View of a Dairy Cow

Black Cow

Monday Morning Haiku #91 — Bird Food

Holly berries February

Warm winter. Plump birds.
Loads of holly berries left.
~~earthworms plentiful~~

Interview With Sarah Potter

A big thank you to Dave Farmer for hosting the first stop on my Blog Book Tour and for asking me some most interesting questions :-)

Dave Farmer

Desiccation_Sarah_Potter

This is a first for me – an interview with an actual real life author, Sarah Potter, the creator of Desiccation. The cover is wonderful, harking back to the good old days of sci-fi when people knew where they stood with bugs from another dimension.

Not like these days where villains and heroes are interchangeable and plots rip off other plots to the point where you spend too much time trying to remember which other book the current book you’re reading reminds you of.

We’ll get to the cover artwork in the intermission.

I wanted to share the rear cover because it looks nicely creepy on its own. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

divider 1

Mayhem is about to break out at an elite English boarding school. Autumn Term 1967, Samantha, the new head girl, intends to reign supreme and exploit every loophole in the system to her advantage. This includes running…

View original post 2,615 more words

Monday Morning Haiku #90 — Flint

Flint & Sticks

Too damp to spark fire,
flint and sticks lie abandoned
in muted woodland.

Interview: Jamie Noble Frier, Science Fiction & Fantasy Artist

Desiccation ebook_image(300 pixels)
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome the super-talented artist Jamie Noble Frier to my blog. Many of you have already expressed admiration for the front cover he created for my novel Desiccation. It’s my belief that unless Indie authors are blessed with artistic talent, it’s a worthwhile investment to commission professionals to produce their book covers for them.

Jamie was such a delight to work with throughout the creative process: always communicative, courteous, and with a wonderful sense of humour. Armed with an excerpt from my novel, plus the request that he design a cover in the style of Amazing Stories Magazine in the 1960’s, he worked with impressive speed, completing the commission two weeks early to an exceptional standard.

Anyway, enough preamble from me. It’s interview time!

pup

 

SP: What age were you when the Muse of arts captured you in her thrall, or were you just born brilliant?

JNF: I have always been interested in art. My grandfather painted landscapes with oils, my mum was very creative, and my brother would spend hours sketching his favourite characters from video games and TV shows. He still is very talented and needs to find time to do it (if you’re reading this Bro!)… Mum is retired now and has found time to paint and sketch and has even started an art club with her friends. So I would say I had a lot of creative influence when I was younger… I used to obsess over fantasy illustrations in books and quite often try to sketch them, so I would say that was my first venture into art. Born brilliant? I think only Mum would answer “yes” to that.

SP: When did you decide to make a career out of your art and how did people around you respond to your choice?

JNF: I think I decided I would be a monster drawer when I was about 3… then life got in the way and you get to a point and think that’s not a real job, not for me anyway — you have to be pretty lucky to get a job like that. You don’t. To get there, you just have to work really really hard with what you do. It’s the same with anything, football, music, whatever — you need to get obsessed with doing it, learning it, enjoying it. I’m not sure if natural talent is a thing to be honest, I’ve always thought you’re just born with a certain level of tolerance/patience for making mistakes and if you enjoy the subject enough, you’ll work through to get better. That’s the only difference in people, I feel like you could do anything; you just need to work really hard. So after managing a restaurant for several years I thought painting pizzas on chalk boards just wasn’t cutting it and I had to aim for what I wanted to do and got back into art in a big way. I quit my job and did a course in video game production, but pretty much spent the whole year drawing and learning digital art programs. My girlfriend (now wife) was super supportive. She could see my frustration in my day job and, considering she hadn’t seen much of my drawing, had incredible faith in me. I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it without the support network that quickly formed around me. In that respect I was really lucky.

SP: Why did you decide to specialise in science fiction and fantasy art?

JNF: I specialised in sci-fi/fantasy because I was desperate to do it. It had been my obsession since I was a kid, so everything I did forced its way towards that genre. Whenever I had to try a new technique, instead of drawing a regular landscape, I’d make sure there was a dragon flying overhead. If it was a portrait, the guy would probably be wearing armour… In that way it worked pretty well for learning, too, as you had to extend your imagination a little, as well as have pictorial references to help. I can’t think of the first image I saw that switched me onto the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but I do remember carrying several wargaming books around everywhere with me that were illustrated by Geoff Taylor and Ian Miller among other folks.

SP: What else do you illustrate other than book covers?

JNF: As well as book covers, I illustrate board games, album covers, articles for magazines and I cut my teeth in the video game industry when I started. I also do a lot of stuff for personal enjoyment or commissions people want for their walls/desks, I’m pretty much happy as long as I’m busy!

SP: Do you feel a constant urge to sketch and paint outside of your working day and, if so, do you use this time to diversify in your art?

JNF: I do find the urge, yes! As any 30 something year old, I might have a mild video game problem, but since I’ve been working creatively the battle for my spare time has been consistently won by painting (digitally). Sometimes I’ll have a free day and think, awesome, time to nerd out and play some games, then I switch off after 5 minutes and end up drawing a portrait… There always feels like there’s so much to do/try/experience with art, I don’t think I’ll ever feel satisfied. That’s why I love fantasy and sci-fi. You can just launch Photoshop and see where your imagination takes you. In terms of diversifying, I do a lot of regular portraits of people, which is something quite unlikely to pop up at work. I find it relaxing and comforting. It’s also so useful to get more and more experience with the human form.

SP: Are you good at organising your time, or do you need reminding to eat, sleep, take the pup for a walk, or do your paperwork?

JNF: The pup is a creature of routine, so she keeps me in check. It’s a perfect bond really. She always comes and gives me a nudge and gets me up, which is great. I worked for about a year on my own before we got her and it starts to wear a bit on the soul. So it’s great to have company, although I think she’s bored of me. Everyone else gets a better reception when they see her! I forget to do the necessaries a lot — I have to make sure I drink water as I might start the day with a coffee and then forget anything after that.

SP: Who or what have been the main inspirations behind your art in the past, or continue to inspire you in the present?

JNF: As for artists, the names I mentioned before as well as some real digital masters like Daarken and Dave Rapoza have been really inspiring. I Feng Zhu runs an awesome series of tutorial on YouTube, he’s inspiring both artistically and in terms of what he’s given back to the art community for free. If I ever have time, I’m flying out to his school of design in Singapore. I think my family — and now extended family since I’ve been married — are inspirations in life. It’s much easier when you have a whole load of people rooting for you.

SP: What interests do you have outside of art?

JNF: Outside of art, my time is consumed by a hungry, playful puppy, binge watching TV-series with my wife and playing board games. I’ve become a real addict in the past few years and it’s been really awesome to fall into working on board games, too. I would say that is my main “hobby” these days.

SP: This question is a bit of a cliché, but where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

JNF: Ten years from now I imagine I’ll be trying to force my children to play board games with me that are far too complex for their age. I hope that I will have given a little back of what I have taken from the online arts community; I’ve just started to try and record some of my own tutorials of me working. I’m not fussed about being particularly rich. I just want to be comfortable and enjoy every day like I do right now. I hope to have some recognition. I guess, I’d value that over a skyscraper and a private plane…

SP: Thank you so much, Jamie, for guesting on my blog. Fabulous answers to the questions and, I’m sure that everyone will agree, you’re an inspiration and a real star!
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  Here are the links to Jamie’s Website and Facebook Page, where you’ll find a samples of his work, as well as his contact details.

Monday Morning Haiku #89 — Snowflakes

January snowfall (nighttime)

Cushioned by night hush,
hear the ploff of snow falling
in time with your heart.

3 Days 3 quotes challenge rolled into a single day

My dear blogging friend, Kimberly at silentlyheardonce, has very kindly nominated me for the 3 Days 3 Quotes challenge.

Kimberly dreams of a world full of compassion and tolerance, leading to ultimate peace between all nations. Her feelings run deep, as evidenced by her poems and reflections. Last year she published Whispers I Silently Heard: A Lifetime of Poetry, which I’ve bought and am very much looking forward to reading soon.

I’m going to break the rules of this challenge by posting all three quotes in one day, as I’m mindful of the fact that three consecutive days of posting might not happen in my present state of busy-ness.

The rules (for those more organised than me)

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post one fresh quotation on three consecutive days.
  3. On each of the three days, nominate three folk who have not yet taken part to continue the challenge.

My nominees (3 x 3 = 9, and without obligation)

Hugh’s Views & News
Leigh’s Wordsmithery
A Delectable Life

Blondewritemore
The Most Sublime Things
There is no cavalry

Dave Farmer
A View From My Summerhouse
Inese MJ Photography

The quotes (a writerly sandwich, indeed!) 

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”
Neil Gaiman

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”
George Orwell

“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.”
― The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt 

Monday Morning Haiku #88 — Pebble beach

Brighton beach

Tide laps, grey enfolds.
Winter season. No tourists.
Lone prints in shingle.

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