Tag Archives: art

Searching for McDoogal #newbook

Let’s all welcome Mae Clair today. She’s one of my best author friends, and a co-founder over at Story Empire. Today she has a new book to tell us about, and it’s a short read. I love short books and it’s nice to see Mae dipping her toes in that water. I read it and gave it five stars.


Hi, Craig! Thanks for hosting me today for the release of my Amazon 90-minute short read, In Search of McDoogal. It’s great to have a new release, and a different one at that. As a mystery/suspense author with a bent for urban legends, many of my books carry a somber tone.

Not McDoogal. This is all light-hearted fun. The reader gets to tag along as two friends try to recover a missing painting before the artist returns to town.

Brady Conrad and Declan Fitzgerald met in high school. Now, a dozen years later, they both hold key positions at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Research. Declan is IMER’s Director, while Brady serves as an investigator. Much of the financial stability behind IMER comes from Declan’s grandfather, Bartholomew Winston Everett Fitzgerald, III. That’s a mouthful, right?

The senior Fitzgerald only gets a passing mention in McDoogal, but I have plans to explore his role in the future. I hope to continue “IMER” with a series of short reads and novellas. With that in mind, I even developed a logo for the institute. Check out the image on the left.

Down the road, if all goes well, it may show up on future book covers to designate subsequent tales in the series. And the fact that my institute is devoted to both terra firma and the briny deep, gives me lots of wiggle room to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if an urban legend even crept into institute study down the road. 😉

IMER comes up several times in McDoogal, but the gist of the story is all about that missing painting mentioned above. Brady has mistakenly sold it, and only has a set number of hours to recover it before his girlfriend—the artist—returns from an out of town trip. He doesn’t have much information to go on…the buyer’s name is Abe, he drives an orange pickup, and lives in a small town called Breakers Bay.

Road trip! And naturally, nothing goes smoothly . . .


BLURB:In search of something ugly…
All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.
With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?
Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.
McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.


I hope you’ll join in the fun of this road-trip-buddy-fic-comedy-of-errors. In Search of McDoogal falls into Amazon’s 90-minute short read category—perfect for an extended lunch break or quick read any time of the day or evening.
Thanks for helping me celebrate the release!
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up | Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media


Filed under Writing

Ah, Flex Day…

I enjoyed visiting with my parents this weekend. I always have to choose to a degree, and spent most of my time with Dad this go round. We still all went to supper, and we all had breakfast together on Sunday.

My wife and I had some shopping to do on Sunday after everyone left. I'll tell you more about that in a future post, but it's all good.

Today became my time to do something on the writing front. Finishing up the short story I'd worked on for so long opened up the flood gates.

Lorelei, the Muse sent me some cool imagery so I wrote it all down. I don't have a story to go with it, but that's exactly why I keep notes. It's like some people wake from dreams and write down thoughts so they don't forget. It's all about roots and cocoons, and stuff. It should have a use somewhere, someday.

I didn't do any review for my novel in progress, so I skipped writing it. While making the story notes, I reviewed my short fiction list. I managed to write two of them today. I'll call them micro-fiction, but one of them exceeds 1500 words. I could probably get away with posting it on a blog, so I'll tag it as micro-fiction.

I intended for one of the stories to be a fantasy, but kind of missed the requirements. It's something else, even though it has the medieval setting. I'm not going to mourn the fantasy idea, I like the way the story came out.

The other one is science fiction, and I really like it. As a micro, it may even deserve a follow up story. Can I get away with using the character again in the same publication? Maybe. Place one early, and another one toward the end?

Right now, I have enough shorts and micros to publish another Experimental Notebook. I'm a little disappointed that fantasy didn't make this round. I love fantasy, but never did write gobs of it. That doesn't mean I'm finished though, and one may turn up.

Summer has always been a dry spell for me on the sales front, and even though it's still raining and windy, Summer is upon us. Based upon my past, it makes no sense to release anything until school starts back up. That means I can keep writing and stockpiling short form stuff.

Most of it needs some kind of edit or polish, and I can also fiddle with that during the summer months. Then I can separate everything into three piles, Experimental Notebook II, Macabre Macaroni for the blog, and salvage for reference.

I wound up with a couple of tales that don't have a speculative element in them. It isn't unheard of, but I don't know exactly what to do with them. I like them, and should share them somewhere. Maybe I'll include them in a future Notebook, but make them extras. Meaning a dozen speculative tales, plus two free ones. Something like that.

I still have a long list of short form tales to write, and some of them are demanding keyboard time. I'll probably slow down now and pick away at one during the evenings.

In other news, I worked on a future Lisa Burton Radio slot and sent it back to the author. If any of you would like to get your character interviewed by Lisa, drop me a line. The instructions are at the top of my blog, and have their own dedicated page.

It's approximately noon here now. The bills are paid, the shopping is finished, I managed some writing time too. I may just veg out, but I'll probably play with my banner some more. I never got any comments on this one, so maybe something else will spark some interest. I have an idea or two in mind.

Back to the grind tomorrow. Hope you're all having a great Monday.


Filed under Writing

The Idea Mill #16

There are a few new followers at Entertaining Stories, so I'll explain myself. Idea Mill posts occur sporadically whenever I have enough information. I get news pushed to me from various sources on topics that interest me. (Not presidential debates) When something strikes me, I save the article and post it here when I have three articles.

The hope is that something will kick your Muse in the pants, and you can enhance your next novel or short story.

The Idea Mill

Let's start off with a bit of experimental fabric. It contains small cameras, and has some kind of silicone “feelers” all over it. The fashion industry made it into a dress that can tell when someone is checking you out. The cameras recognize facial features and can distinguish between a gaze and someone looking into the distance. When the fabric detects a look, the feelers move to point at the looker.

This is a terrible idea on so many fronts. Girls want to be looked at. Boys want to look. Neither side wants to acknowledge the moment, and sure don't want to share it with the world. “Hey, my eyes are up here.” (What? I'm talking about beard stares.) you can read the article, and watch a video here.

This would make a great feature for aliens. Perhaps an occupied Earth has bands of freedom fighters scattered here and there. These aliens are going to be hard to sneak up on, because their feelers point at you if you look at them. Their team mates with the guns all turn… Mayhem.

This next one impresses me. A college kid took a whole bunch of Rubic's Cubes, and made a mural out of it. His Muse was Cardinal baseball great Stan Musial. The artwork is so good that the Cardinals acquired it and hung it in their clubhouse permanently. It really is impressive, and you should look at the image before you go. Click here.

I don't know how it relates to speculative fiction, but it adds a lot of credibility to a character with a special mind. Characters like this are interesting, and make good reading. They might solve a mystery using skills ordinary folks don't have. Remember he had to solve all those cubes, in exactly the right position, before putting them together in his mural.

Let's end this one with a crypdid. Something new on the cryptid front doesn't happen every day. A tourist was taking a cruise off the coast of Greece. He snapped a picture, and got something unexpected. It absolutely looks like a marine mammal of some kind. It's just that it's a previously unknown kind. Read the article here, and check out the picture yourself.

This article gets even more interesting, because several pods of whales were recently spotted that were listed as extinct. I nearly included them on the list, but a genuine cryptid trumps them. It goes to show that we don't know everything, and there is an awful lot of our planet we haven't explored.

There are any number of ways to go with a cryptid story. Some like them hungry and dangerous, others want to protect them from those who would collect them as trophies. Pick your hero and type away. Water is a great way to add danger. The risk of capsizing miles from shore, or drowning adds an extra layer.

My usual shtick is to come up with something that incorporates all three news items. This is going to be hard, because they don't all relate very well. Here goes nothing…

There is a competition held on a ship off the Greek Islands somewhere. Invitees are asked to bring their creations and compete in various categories. Mr. Special Mind checks out the girl in the dress that rats out his gaze. He solves a Rubic's Cube in seconds to impress her. She gives him the stink eye, and snaps a picture over his shoulder. The cryptid appears in the photo. The girl who invented the dress, and Mr. Special Mind team up to identify, then protect this amazing new creature. Possible romantic sub-plot.

What would you do with these news items? Do any of them inspire you to write about them? Would you use them as a story element in a different story? My conglomeration story sucks, but I'll shamelessly accept compliments anyway. That's how I roll.


Filed under The Idea Mill

It’s Lab Week

Lab Week starts tomorrow at the hospital where my wife works. These folks blow away what gets called employee appreciation week where I work. They actually do fun things, and it feels somewhat appreciative. One day the doctors pitch in and have Goodwoods cater a lunch for the lab.

Someone took a close-up photo of everyone's nose. They are pinning them to a board, and there is a prize for whoever guesses them all correctly.

Another contest is to decorate a disposable lab coat. Old What's Her Face* brought home her coat while we have the grandkids. The oldest one is quite the little artist, and was told to do whatever she wanted with it. She created this artwork by free handing every bit of it.

This one is one of my favorite parts. I like the flask, and the green stuff hints at motion.

You get a shot at a crysanthemum and a syringe too.


This one is a sugar skull, along with the syringe.


As someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, I am impressed with this heartbeat and heart on the sleeve.


An animated cupcake. It's good, but this is what happens when you tell someone she can do anything she wants. It fits good on the front pocket though.


Another front pocket with a crysanthemum.

I may be just a proud grandpa, but I think she did a fabulous job on this. She works fast too. She spent about three hours on this. Maybe I ought to talk to her about my next book cover.

Did I mention she's only twelve years old? It all looks like tattoo art, but who cares. They all have to start somewhere, and some pretty unique authors started with fan fiction. Why should other kinds of artists be any different?

* Not my wife's legal name.



Filed under Uncategorized

Meet Sean Harrington

I have something fun for you today. Sean Harrington made the cover art for my first novel, Wild Concept. I found him when I discovered his wonderful webcomic, Spying With Lana. I returned to Sean and had him prepare some additional images of Lisa Burton for use on my blog. To see the first new Lisa picture check out this post. I invited him here to talk about his artwork.

Hello! My name is Sean Harrington, I’m a professional artist, I like long walks on the beach- Actually, I don’t really like to walk on the beach. I end up with sand in my socks. I probably shouldn’t walk on the beach in socks…

At any rate, I started working professionally in the art field about 20 years ago, although I’ve been drawing ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon (I couldn’t draw professionally back then, though. Three-year-olds are terrible at meeting deadlines). I’ve worked in a lot of different areas of art and illustration, but I’ve always particularly enjoyed illustrating book covers. I’m a longtime fan of the great cover artists like James Bama, Robert McGinnis, Benicio, and R. A. Maguire, and it’s been great to have an opportunity to work in this field myself. It also allows me to work with a wide range of different concepts and genres, which is a lot of fun for me as well.

My first illustration job was for a newsletter for the marching band I belonged to when I was a kid. They didn’t pay me anything, although I believe I did get a cheaply-made medal for my band uniform (and I think my parents had to pay a fee for the medal, too). It wasn’t my best business deal ever. But since then, things have been looking up! I’ve produced illustrations for the covers of novels, comic books, childrens books, magazines, and of course ebooks, including the cover for Craig’s novel Wild Concept.

Since 2008, I’ve also been writing and drawing a weekly online comic called Spying with Lana, which has developed a nice following over the years. The comic features a series of humorous and sexy spy/adventure stories following the trials and tribulations of Lana, a glamorous secret agent, who always seems to find herself mixed up in decidedly unglamorous missions.

It’s a fun comic to produce, and it has allowed me to meet and interact with my readers, as well as with other artists and writers around the world, and has given me the opportunity to work on several book covers for authors that read my comic. (Yes, surprisingly enough, they are still coherent enough to write even after reading my ridiculous comics!)

Over time, I’ve released several Spying with Lana graphic novels and comics in print, in addition to the online comics. I’ve also produced a variety of other comic strips and graphic novels and even a couple of childrens books and some computer game art over the years, as well as some stories for other book and comic publishers and magazines.

I’m a self-taught artist (We don’t need no education! We don’t need no thought control!) and I’ve worked with a lot of different mediums over the years. Currently when I work on a picture, I usually start with a pencil drawing, then scan it into my computer and finish and color the art digitally. In addition to this method of creating illustrations, I also like to paint, and I’ve been painting a lot of the book and comic covers I’ve done recently. I also paint portraits on occasion, as well as some more “fine art” oriented work when I have the spare time (that is, when I’m not wasting my spare time watching auto racing).

I do all my painting digitally nowadays with a Wacom art tablet. I used to paint traditionally using oil paints and brushes and all that, but it seemed like I spent most of my time cleaning brushes, unsuccessfully trying to mix the right colors, cleaning brushes… did I mention cleaning brushes? (I used to watch Bob Ross on PBS, and when he would finish painting with a color, he would give his brush a quick dip in some turpentine and -flip flip flip- the brush was clean as a pin. I can only assume that some sort of special effects were involved.) Oh, and did you know that oil paints can sometimes take months or even years to dry? Yes, literally years. So, digital painting it is!

In addition to art and illustration, I also do some sculpting (mostly using computer as well. Don’t get me started on the difficulties of working with water-based clay!) as well as doing some writing of my own. I mainly write poetry, plays, lyrics and the like; Nothing that would make Shakespeare break out into a cold sweat, but I have fun with it, so it serves its purpose.

I’d like to end by saying thank you for reading about me and my art, and a big thank you to Craig for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself here on his blog, as well as to produce art for him. I hope everyone will pop over to Amazon and download a copy of Wild Concept, as well as Craig’s other great books.

Here are some links for Sean:

Spying with Lana




Edit: Something went haywire, Thanks to Charles for pointing out the link to the webcomic didn’t go the right place. I have remedied it, so please try again.


Filed under Writing

Awesome Cover Art

My regulars all know that I was hoarding a pile of old manuscripts. I decided to post them all on Amazon and chose 2014 as the year. So far, I’ve posted Wild Concept and Panama.

Books need covers, and I think the cover is a big part of the sale. It can increase sales, but it can also decrease sales too. Choosing the right one can be difficult.

My regulars also know that I look at Zite magazine every day. This app customizes articles based upon my preferences. Artwork is one of the categories I always check. One day, there was an amazing piece by a young man named Leon Tukker. As soon as I saw it, I wanted him to make the cover for my next book, Arson.

It took me some effort to track Leon down. I learned he is a student in the Netherlands. Thank God he speaks English, because it’s my only language. He’s 22 years old and attends an art academy for interactive performance design. He taught himself to draw and paint. He would like to get a job as a concept artist at a game studio. He’s open to freelance work and more book covers.

We worked together for about a month. I wrote out an idea of what I wanted and sent him an email. He sent me some thumbnail sketches, and they were all wonderful. I had a hard time choosing one, because they were all that good. Another benefit is the fact that Leon’s a nice guy. He’s easy to work with and open to my input.

Two things to think about here. First if you are in the video game industry, you really ought to check this young man’s work out. Second, if you’re an author, Leon might be someone to consider for cover art. In my mind, if you’re Disney, Pixar, Marvel Comics, or George Lukas you should check Leon’s work out. (I know, all the same thing today.)

So let’s get down to it. Here’s the cover for Arson:


This is a depiction of a scene from the story. This is always a good choice, as long as the story has an exciting or dramatic scene. Some of the detail is lost at thumbnail size, but that’s always the case. This cover expresses the important theme even after some of the detail is lost, and that’s important.

Now I need to get off the stick and finish editing the manuscript. I’m almost done. A few more chapters, some specific word searches and I’m all set.

You can find Leon at the following sites:




Even if you’re not in the market for cover art right now, do yourself a favor and enjoy some more of Leon’s amazing art by clicking on the links.


Filed under Writing

Trying Something New

When promoting items for sale, it’s usually a good idea to try something new. Sure, the tried and true will bring an expected result, but you’ll also never exceed that method.

Doobster is trying a new writing prompt he calls Sports Shorts. If I weren’t neck deep in book promotion, I’d write something for him. He’s been very supportive over here. Check it out. Maybe you’ll want to send him a flash fiction. (Look, I supported him anyway. I’ll try to jump on a future prompt.) He inspired this thought.

I decided to try something new myself. I’m promoting my books. To celebrate the arrival of Panama, Wild Concept is free all next week. That’s kind of a tried and true promotion. Get your free copy starting tomorrow.

I love art and artists. I find inspiration for my stories through art all the time. There are some awesome artists on WordPress. There is a photograph I found on Deviantart that inspired my whole last manuscript, Will ‘O the Wisp.

Here’s where it gets different. In the blog world, Lisa from Wild Concept just got back from vacation. Get your crayons out and show me what she did. She told me she went to several comic book conventions, and stopped by Las Vegas to play blackjack.

Did she sing karaoke? Jam with a blues band? Pose with one of your original characters? Enter a cosplay contest? Ride the roller coasters? Pose for Maxim magazine? What? You regular readers know her from the blog. (Let’s keep it PG)

Bonus points if Lisa appears with one of your original characters. She hangs out with dwarves, monsters, and all kinds of things at the writing cabin. Maybe your link will sell a couple books for you.

I’ll post any pictures here on the blog and include whatever link you’d like included. I don’t care if the art is pencils, dough men, photography, paper dolls, or Legos. This is just a bit of fun. Be as silly or serious as you’d like.

Maybe it will help a budding new cover artist. We writers all need cover art sooner or later. Tell your colleagues, friends, and grandchildren. This only works if people participate.

My email address is Coldhand <dot> Boyack <at> gmail <dot> com. Send the art there and I’ll post it on the blog. You can also ask detailed description questions about Lisa if you want some guidance.

This succeeds or fails depending on participation. Wow, it’s almost like American Idol for artists, except you get promotion instead of a big prize.


Filed under Writing