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Thursday, November 29, 2012

December Sunbeam (2012)


Another month is almost over and its time to bid a fond farewell to Jan at ArtSings1946 and Victoria at Finding Harmony: Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit.   Hope you both enjoyed your time in my sunbeam's little glow.

This month Sharon's Little Sunbeam will shine on the lovely ladies at The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow (Hi Jess and Stephanie!).  Their fabulous blog will be well known to many of my own blog friends, but if you are not already a regular pay them a visit and you will not be disappointed.

My second choice for December is a recent discovery - Harriet at Victoria Stitch.  Harriet is an illustrator so her blog is one I thoroughly enjoy.  I especially liked Victoria Stitch Makes Paper Snowflakes which gives details of how she made the marvellous 3D scene for her new header.

This festive month my little sunbeam is yours to bask in and enjoy - hope you like it!



(Starting in the New Year I want to repeat the original recipients of my sunbeam who only spent a week on my sidebar. If you were part of this list watch out for your name as I'll be following the original order!)  




Sharon's Little Sunbeam is my own personal 'no strings attached' award.  It is my way of thanking the people who enrich my blogging experience.  After the recipient has been introduced a link to their blog remains on my sidebar for a month.  There are no conditions attached to the award.  The recipient does not need to answer any questions, pass the award on or even acknowledge that they have received it.  All they need to do is bask in my little sunbeam and enjoy it!


   




Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Enchanted Lion (Part 2) - Jesus Blasco


These two illustrations were previously included in Wonderful Weddings and Handsome Heroes

Last week I posted the first half of the lovely story The Enchanted Lion, beautifully illustrated by Jesus Blasco.  I wouldn't have thought of including this story myself as it is quite a bit longer than those I usually choose to post.  I received such a good response to Part 1 though, that I am glad I received the request to share it, and hope everyone who enjoyed last week's offering will like seeing the rest.    










This story appeared in 'Once Upon a Time' children's magazine.
Today's post contains 2 of 4 issues:
Issue #117 published 8 May 1971 and
Issue #118 published 15 May 1971



Tomorrow would have been my Mom's birthday.  She passed away in 1999 when she was just 69 years old.  I was very touched by the comments that were left on a previous post when I mentioned my Mom and how she encouraged me to write.  Like me I know there are some of you who have also lost your own mothers as well, but feel they are still here with you in spirit.  My Mom's presence is with me all the time and I don't think a day goes past when I don't remember her in some way. I can still hear her voice talking to me now

To me my Mom was a beautiful fairy princess - I guess most little girls see their mother's that way!



My Mom - Molly



Every year I send my sister a calendar from Ireland for the new year (she still lives in South Africa).  They always contain a photo of Kylemore Abbey.  It is on the west coast of Ireland and is the one place I have not been able to get to yet that I would still love to visit.  Below is this year's photo of Kylemore Abbey that was also chosen for the calendar's cover.  I'm not sure if they still do it but at one time it was possible to have a tree (I think mainly oak) planted in someone's name as part of a reforestation scheme.  I always wanted to 'adopt a tree' in memory of my Mom.







Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Enchanted Lion (Part 1) - Jesus Blasco



The Enchanted Lion - Jesus Blasco


The last time I posted one of my 'Sunday Stories' I received a request for this classic fairy tale called 'The Enchanted Lion' illustrated by the brilliant and incomparable Jesus Blasco.  I've come to appreciate Jesus Blasco's work more and more as an adult - what really appeals to me about the stories he illustrated is that he used a variety of different artistic techniques and this brings an incredible richness and depth to his work.

This story is much longer than those I usually choose to post.  Because of this I've decided to split it into two posts - half this time and the rest next week.











This story appeared in 'Once Upon a Time' children's magazine.
Today's post contains 2 of 4 issues:
Issue #115 published 24 April 1971 and
Issue #116 published 1 May 1971





Even now that the winter chill is well on its way there is still some seasonal colour in the garden and fresh flowers for me to pick so I can still have a pretty posy in a vase.

I also couldn't resist showing this off.  Yesterday while I was at work my husband and son decided to bake a cake.  They followed a recipe on Youtube and made a chocolate cake with ganache icing (decorated with Maltesers).  I think its a first for either of them - I was very impressed - its delicious!
  



I'm also still able to forage for tomatoes and the last few salad leaves in the greenhouse.  We've realised its best to pick these cherry tomatoes while they are still green or they go soft on the vine.  After I took this picture I collected another bowl this morning so the kitchen window sill is overflowing with these little beauties that look like a child's collection of marbles!  (Do children still play with marbles?)


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Next Big Thing Blog Hop



I’m honoured to be chosen to be part of this blog hop, and I’d like to thank Joleene Naylor  for tagging me to participate. This gives us all a chance to view releases from authors we admire, as well as introduce us to some works in progress.
This is the cover idea I am currently toying with.  I made it using a CreateSpace cover template and one of their stock photos. It may change but for now I quite like it.
I've also downloaded the CreateSpace Word template and am using it for the current draft of the book.  Its quite handy as it gives a good idea of what the final layout will look like.  

Ten Interview Questions for “The Next Big Thing” are as follows:

What is the working title of your book?
When I first started writing this story I called it Stoneflower.  Then I noticed a book in my local library called The Stoneflower so I decided to change it.  The current title Alcluith - Tears on Stone is a reference to the geographical location of the story.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Many years ago I read a whodunit by Ellis Peters called The House on Green Turf.  The book starts with a group of young musicians spending a weekend at a country house. Woven into the plot are extracts of musical verse, including an ancient Scottish ballad.  The ballad itself has no relevance to the plot other than to set the scene of the gathering.  I found the story behind the ballad intriguing and thought it could be used as the basis for a novel.
What genre does your book fall under?
Without wanting to appear too pretentious, what I am hoping to emulate is the literary tradition of the Arthurian Cycle as well as tales such as Tristan and Isolde and Cuchulainn..  These stories and legends are all tantalisingly veiled by the mists of time - set during the turbulent and uncertain period following the withdrawal of Roman rule.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
15-20 years ago I would not only have all the actors mapped out in my mind, but also the theme music and film locations.  Nowadays I've had a bit of a paradigm shift.  In the past TV was always the poor relation, but recently a number of high budget, well crafted shows makes me more inclined towards that medium.  I've mentioned before I'm a great fan of Downton Abbey, but in the context of my story what I would really aspire to is Game of Thrones (without the tawdry sex scenes that seem too self consciously bolted on).  I'm not in the same league and would also not want to give the impression that my story falls into the fantasy category, but that sort of top class production, creating an incredible sense of atmosphere would be brilliant.  A made for TV show has an intimacy and immediacy not easily achieved in a big screen movie and with the number of viewing apps available this medium is much more accessible.
I would leave the choice of actors to the professionals and the production team.  I've been pleasantly surprised by shows I've watched recently and I think someone relatively 'unknown' can make a character their own.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Can a son - born to be king but raised in obscurity - return to avenge his father, reclaim his birthright and change the course of history?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self published. A while back I sent a synopsis of this book to one of the big publishing houses in Dublin.  They turned it down - as you do with unknowns.  I would probably have abandoned it altogether if the new self publishing options had not become available.  I think they are great as they give people a voice who would otherwise remain in obscurity.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote it off and on over a period of years. (I gave a bit of background to this in a previous post.)  The draft I am working on is hopefully the final one - when I can get to it I've found it progresses surprisingly quickly - the trick is being able to make the time to write!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Last week I published a post called Books That Have Stayed With Me and listed the 5 authors and novels that have made the greatest impression on me.  Amongst them are The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart.  Both have the myths and legends of Merlin and King Arthur at their core, but the stories themselves are anchored in the real world.  I'm trying to achieve the same effect - my characters and events are all completely fictitious, but the locations I have chosen are all completely real.  This gives the narrative a quasi historical reality that appeals to me.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I started writing purely for my own enjoyment, but as I've mentioned before, if I do get it published the dedication will be to my mother - no longer part of this world but always with me.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hopefully the book will just be an enjoyable read and bit of escapism for anyone who gravitates towards this genre and era.
Two previous posts Some More Adventurous Scribbles and The Friendship and Inspiration of Blogging contain a much more in-depth synopsis as well as extracts, an explanation of the character's names and a link to the first chapter.
Ygern's Secret is another complete short story with a similar theme that I wrote many years ago when I was in my early twenties.

And last but by no means least these are the authors (and all round great people) that I am tagging.  They will be posting their blog hop entry on the 21st November, but you can always visit them in the meantime: 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Guinevere Paper Doll - Blue Dress (Season 5)


Queen Guinevere - From the BBC production of Merlin


Season 5 of Merlin is almost half way over and so far my poor Queen Guinevere paper doll only has one gown! (the Velvet Burgundy).  So although I know I still have to finish her coronation gown from Season 4, I'm jumping ahead again and giving my Queen Gwen doll a new dress.  Next up for her will be the purple satin, but I liked the colour of this blue so decided to paint it first


Guinevere Queen of Camelot

Guinevere - Blue Dress

Guinevere - Blue Dress Sketch

While I was busy my husband took a (surprise) photo of me!  (He also gave me the bowl of popcorn to snack on!)  So I thought it might be fun to include a pic of me at work, (specs and all) on this chilly November day!

Also a bit of news! - I joined the Original Paper Doll Artist Guild about a week ago and today emailed a scan of a doll I made for their next magazine theme.  I've just had an email back from Jenny at OPDAG to say she likes it!!  So a big thank you to Gayle (who has been encouraging me for ages) and everyone else who kept suggesting I join the guild. (I won't be able to show you the doll on my blog but the theme is about Babies and Children.)




Since the clocks changed at the end of October I've been given a little window of opportunity again to visit my favourite swan family in the park every morning on my way to work.  The swans have become very tame - especially the young ones.  People must feed them so I think they associate us with yummy treats.  I'm usually one of the first people to enter the park when the gates open at 7.30 am - as soon as the swans see me they come racing up to where I'm standing, the young ones cheeping away madly.  Poor things - all I have with me is a camera at best, but perhaps they are also a bit sociable and like the company as well!
  




The trees still look very pretty with their autumn foliage.  These photos aren't all that great as the light was not very good - soon it will be too dark for me to go in at all, but I'm making the most of it while I can.






Queen Guinevere's Velvet Burgundy dress can be found here










The original Guinevere paper doll can be found here










The companion Morgana paper doll can be found here



 Sharon Souter - not to be used for commercial purposes 





Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vintage Cards




Well - I guess cards from the 70's qualify as vintage these days although it is strange to describe something like that when it doesn't feel like a long time ago to me!

I came across these unexpectedly while looking for something else yesterday (isn't if funny how that always happens).  I remembered the envelope I had carefully stored them in as soon as I saw it although these cards haven't seen the light of day for many years.

I always get such a thrill of recognition when I find something like this from a time in my life that is receding into memory.  The 70's (I think) was a wonderful era for fantasy and fairy tale.  Looking at these again I could slip straight back into that world!




The card above is called 'Swan Boat' illustrated by Tudor Humphries.  It was printed as an Everyday Card by Gallery Five (England) in 1977.




I always pictured myself as this girl sitting on a rather perilous outcrop looking at a fairy castle.
Another Everyday Card printed by Gallery Five in 1977.  This one is called 'Castle of the Clouds' with artwork by Mark Harrison.



These cards each contained a single image that folds in half - the front of the cards look like this when folded.

Two more cards by Gallery Five (England) also dated 1977 shown below.  (I would have bought all of these at the same time.)

These are described as Cameo cards.
The one of the left is called 'Dapple Greys' by Heather Murray.
The card on the right is called 'The Letter' also by Heather Murray.



Each of these cards has a cut out window through which the cameo image is seen.




The outside of each card has a wonderful metallic finish.  Unfortunately my scanner can't capture the sheen of the cards too successfully,







Also printed by Gallery Five in 1978 are these two cards with designs by Tudor Humphries.  The series is called 'Celtic Legends'.  I love them as I think artists at that time tapped in very well to that era.

I'm not sure what these cards were intended for - they are on fairly stiff board but do not open up - something like an oversized postcard.





Another mini poster / maxi postcard.  This one is called 'Relayer' printed by Dragon's World Ltd in England. At some time I obviously had these cards stuck on my bedroom wall.  Unfortunately this one is quite badly damaged on the underside corner from tape having been stuck on and then pulled off again.  Most of the writing is gone as a result.  I can't see what year it was printed but it would have been around the same time as the others.  The name of the artist is also damaged but I was able to find this image quite easily online and can confirm that the artist is Roger Dean.



What I always liked about images like this one is the detail in the background that is not necessarily the central image.  In fact I HATE snakes (I can cope with spiders, bugs and any other type of creepy crawlies) but I've always loved the figures on horseback and the bridge they are crossing.  That this part of the picture is slightly indistinct only adds to its appeal.





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