Taylor Swift (with cat)

I drew a picture of Taylor Swift a few weeks ago. Just now posting it here. Lately, I’ve been busy illustrating a new book. I’m about to upload it to Amazon soon. It’s a science fiction/comedy/horror novella I wrote during Christmas vacation. It’s a short one. And it’s completely and totally ridiculous.

 

Laurali

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Here’s a drawing of my friend Laurali, who lives in Florida. Originally, I wanted to draw Florida scenery growing out of her head, but I couldn’t find any decent photos of oak trees draped with Spanish moss. (When I think of Florida, I don’t think of palm trees. I think of oak trees covered in gray moss. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of summers with my grandparents in Tampa.)

Anyway, after combing through Google Image Search for a few hours, I finally decided to dump the Florida scenery idea and stick a dinosaur and a nutcracker on Laurali’s head instead. And here it is.

My new job is going well. It’s harder work than my previous job, but it’s not nearly as stressful. I spent most of Friday shoveling sludge out of gaps in the floor. And once I had done that, I shoveled the sludge into a big metal box.

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You can click here to order my novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun in paperback.

Flo

Here is my drawing of Flo the Progressive Girl. I started it back in 2012 in one of my little black sketchbooks. It’s been collecting dust under my coffee table for a long, long time now. I came across it yesterday while I was showing the sketchbook to Angela. I had kind of forgotten about this drawing. Last night I decided to go back and add some shading and make her hair darker.

Thanks for reading. Have a nice week.

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Both my novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun, are available in paperback now. You can click here to order copies of them. You can also read them on Kindle if you prefer e-books.

Angela

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The snow began to melt away this afternoon. The neighborhood isn’t a magical wonderland anymore. Patches of grass and gravel are showing everywhere. “Real life” is quickly resuming. I’m sad to see the snow vanish, but I’m also relieved. I know it’s caused some serious trouble for a lot of people.

I spent most of the day nestled in my apartment, enjoying the warmth of the kerosene heater and watching an old VHS tape of The Andy Griffith Show recorded in 1987. I also finished drawing a picture of my beautiful friend Angela. And here she is. I’m not completely happy with the way this picture turned out … but I don’t completely hate it either.

Lately, I’ve been drawing on manila folders. It’s similar to the paper in a Moleskine sketchbook, but much cheaper. (Still, I’m planning to buy a new Moleskine sketchbook when I have a little more money. Maybe I’ll do that when my income tax money comes in.)

Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great week.

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You can click here to download my two novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun. They will also be available in paperback soon. (Crosses fingers.)

Snowbound

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It snowed heavily today. Well, some people might not use the word “heavily,” but we rarely get snow in Georgia, so any amount of snow is a major event. Because the roads were icy and people had a hard time driving, there were traffic jams galore. A lot of people were stranded in their vehicles for hours. And many other people abandoned their vehicles and started walking.

I’m thankful I didn’t have to work today. I didn’t have to get out in it. I mostly stayed home and drew. At one point, I did walk over to the gas station on the corner to buy a phone card. On my way back, I saw people in trucks struggling to drive up the gentle slope in the road nearby. They weren’t able to make it. They kept sliding backwards. I was terrified for them. I helped one lady push her SUV into a ditch — since her tires kept spinning on the ice … and the ditch seemed to be the safest place.

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The other day, my friend Dan (who was my history teacher in high school) came over and brought me a kerosene heater. For some reason, this image (above) popped into my head after he left. This evening, while I was hanging around in my apartment with nothing to do, I sat down and put it on paper. (While watching the Andy Williams Christmas Special from 1967 on YouTube.)

It’s a dog … with Dan’s head … warming himself in front of a heater. I’m hoping to do a better version later, maybe tomorrow if I’m still snowed in.

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NOTE: My novel, Citizens of Purgatory, will be available in paperback soon. In the meantime, you can click here to download the electronic version to your Kindle. Citizens of Purgatory is a novel about the misadventures of Nick, a young sportswriter who doesn’t know anything about sports. Nick’s life turns into a nightmare when an ex-convict crashes into his car one morning.

A drawing of Myla Laurel

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Here’s a drawing of my blogger friend, Myla Laurel, from earlier this year. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I thought I would post it again, just for the heck of it.

Yesterday, I wrote a very short children’s book and slapped it on Amazon. It’s called The Rabbit and the Rooster: A Completely Worthless Book. I wanted to see how a Microsoft Word file translates into the Kindle format. I also wanted to learn how to put together a table of contents. (The table of contents on an e-book is a fascinating little thing. It’s like the main menu on a DVD, where you choose which scene you want to skip to.) So I spit out a really stupid story and scribbled a quick “cover design” picture with a red ballpoint pen. The whole thing is just a trial run, since I’m getting ready to upload my new novel in a month or so.

Formatting a book and uploading it to Kindle is actually a lot of fun. I love writing and I love drawing, but “electronic book making” is an art/craft/skill/passion in and of itself. I can’t wait to upload the real book.

 

Ann Bisky (and Kenny Rogers)

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Here’s a drawing of my friend Ann Bisky. She writes, tweets, and creates amusing YouTube videos.

Last week, someone visited Ann’s blog and posted a link to a self-help book. Ann was annoyed with the person for using her blog as a promotional platform … but she was even more offended because the self-help book was about gambling. Ann felt like the person was insinuating that she had a gambling problem … but Ann doesn’t gamble at all.

When she told me about it, I immediately sent her a video of Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler. We had a nice little laugh about it.

Afterward, I poked around on YouTube and stumbled across more Kenny Rogers videos. I discovered some old commercials for Kenny Rogers Roasters, a food chain that served “home cooked” food and specialized in chicken. I saw those restaurants when I was a kid, but I never ate at them. (Whenever my parents wanted chicken, we headed to KFC. Colonel Sanders was a staple of my childhood. At all the important family gatherings, I remember seeing red and white buckets everywhere, speckled with warm grease.)

I haven’t seen Kenny Rogers Roasters since the early ’90s. I’ve never given it much thought, but I always assumed (in the very back of my mind) that the business sank like a rock and Kenny Rogers was sitting in a dimly lit room somewhere, hurling whiskey bottles at the wall and cursing Colonel Sanders.

However, I did some research on the subject. (In other words, I glanced at Wikipedia for seven seconds.) As it turns out, Kenny’s chicken empire is still alive and well … but not in the United States. According to the Wikipedia article, Kenny Rogers Roasters “continues to flourish in Asia, particularly in Malaysia and the Philippines.”

As I skimmed over the Wikipedia article, I was shocked and amazed. It’s so surreal (to me, anyway) to imagine people in Malaysia and the Philippines eating good ole Southern home cookin’. (Especially at a restaurant with the name “Kenny Rogers” written in blazing red letters above the door.)

For me, it’s perfectly normal to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant … or sit down in a sushi restaurant with my cousin Ellice and struggle to operate a pair of chopsticks … or go to a Mexican restaurant … or go to Outback Steakhouse, a restaurant with Australian signs hanging everywhere. But it blows my mind when I realize that people in other countries eat at American restaurants. (Think of the way Marty McFly reacted in Back to the Future 2 when he stepped into the Café ’80s.)

After I mulled it over for a little while, I realized that I’ve experienced this same feeling before. Many years ago, when I visited Germany, my friend Jochen told me that everybody refers to McDonald’s as “The American Embassy.”

I still laugh about that sometimes.

I didn’t sleep much last night because I was working on Ann’s portrait. I need to rest now. I’ll leave you with these videos…

My new sketchbook

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When my German friends, Wolfgang and Regine, landed in Georgia last week for a quick visit, they surprised me with a couple of neatly wrapped presents. They gave me a Moleskine sketchbook and a set of Faber-Castell colored pencils in a fancy metal case. (They actually gave me three gifts, if you count the Haribo gummy bears. It was like a mini-Christmas in April.) Even though I was thrilled with all three gifts, my favorite was the sketchbook. I’ve heard a lot of artists talk about Moleskine sketchbooks, but I never knew exactly what they were. Now I have one. The pages are thick and heavy-duty, but soft and smooth at the same time — similar to the card in the back of a library book with all the due-dates stamped on it.

On the first page of my new sketchbook, I drew a caricature of Matt Smith, the current star of Doctor Who. It looked terrible. I almost tore it out, but I didn’t want to cheapen my brand-new sketchbook by ripping out the first page. So I reluctantly left it in there. On the second page, I drew a picture of Billie Piper. This one also turned out to be a hideous train wreck. On the third page, I did a sketch of G.E. Gallas, one of my blogger friends I met here on WordPress. She’s a writer/illustrator who lives in San Francisco. I was actually happy with this one. Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt to draw Carl D’Agostino, a new friend of mine in Miami.

I still plan to draw a few other citizens of the blog universe, but it will take time. I haven’t forgotten you, I promise.

Late night sketching

My headache went away, so I grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing again. This is a sketch of Myla Laurel. She’s an amazing photographer/blogger who lives in Dubai. This is only a work in progress. I’m going to wait and see what my friend Emma says before I really, truly, officially declare the picture “finished.”

I’m thinking about adding the silhouette of a palm tree in the background, on the right side of the composition, since Myla lives in an exotic part of the world. Not sure yet. I also want to draw my friends Ananya and G.E. Gallas, but I probably need to take a break from all this and sit still for a little while. I need to recharge. I love to draw, but there’s something extremely unhealthy (and draining) about finishing one picture and then staying up all night doing another. I’ve watched the same “Doctor Who” episode about four times tonight. It’s the one I mentioned earlier, with the Russian submarine and the ice warrior. It’s a good one, but it’s getting old.

It’s time to get some sleep now.

(PS – my novel, Under the Electric Sun, is available on Kindle. You can click here to download it.)