interview

Interview with Owen Swain, Creator of the #tourdesketch Windsor Colouring Book

Owen Swain, a Windsor-based artist, is the creator and artist behind #tourdesketch Windsor, an adult colouring book featuring the sights of Windsor, Ontario. I’ve invited Owen to answer some questions for us, so we can get to know him and his seeing/drawing process.
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M|W: Other than drawing, what do you do in your spare time?
Time is flow. I enjoy: bicycling (really, really dislike driving a car), reading (fiction, nonfiction), listening to music, volunteering in my community and parish, meditation, hanging out with the Love of my life and our dogs. And when I am not drawing I am often to be found drawing or painting or, well, you get the idea.
M|W: What was your biggest obstacle in getting where you are today with your art?
Not fully believing in myself or say, not listening to my own narrative for my life. Everything belongs though and it all is a part of “now”.
M|W: What made you choose to feature Windsor in particular?
I’ve lived in Windsor since 1999 but only more recently have come alive to being alive “here” and discovered our city by bicycling and drawing on-location.
M|W: How long does a typical drawing, like the ones in the book, take you?
Roughly 57 years and 8 or 10 hours. It’s a largely different process from my usual on-location sketching in that I took my own photos, make sketch notes on site and then returned to the studio to work. They are less immediate than my usual methods for on-location drawing and more particular in trying to make them suitable for colouring in.
M|W: What’s your favorite part about drawing?
Seeing. I feel the most alive to myself and my environment when I am drawing. Getting to know a person, place, animal, tree, thing, etcetera by trying to truly observe the essence of the subject not merely rendering what I think I know about them/it.
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Owen Swain is a Windsor, Ontario illustrator and painter who works in a variety of media and styles and is interested in all manner of subjects while specializing in on location, observational drawing, sketching, mentoring and portraiture. He is never without a sketchbook.

Owen’s creative impetus is daily observational drawing that moves beyond looking to seeing, from thinking to being, and from mere drawing to discovering and developing one’s own mark. Owen believes that the Zen of what Frederick Franck coined as ‘seeing/drawing’ has transferable life skills for all.

He is the creator of #tourdesketch, an art-for-all monthly event that includes in-season slow-bicycling Sketchouts with a focus on local culture and heritage and during autumn and winter months, sketch meet-ups with instruction on ‘seeing/drawing’ as meditation as well as good fun drawing, tips, and sketchbook skills for the artist within each of us.

Owen moved to Windsor with his family in 1999 for what seemed a clear path and purpose. Things changed, life morphed, the path clouded and it wasn’t long before he felt discouraged, as though he was living someone else’s narrative for his life. He persisted in trying to make the detour make sense. However, at a critical point, Owen determined the best thing was to simply be more fully who he’d always been, to rediscover his first love and vocation as a person who makes art. To re-learn how to be, rather than to do. He got back on his bike and rode and rode and drew and drew and gradually he came to love Windsor, its people and his ‘new’ way of being.

Featuring: Joshua Pantalleresco!

As you know, July’s feature is The Watcher series by Joshua Pantalleresco. This means, you can pick up The Watcher, or its sequel, Stormdancer for only $0.99 all month long! Use code: DRAGON in our store! This is a real bargain, considering both books are a unique blend of science-fiction, poetry and graphic art that you won’t find anywhere else! Also, keep in mind that this is a trilogy, so we should expect book three, tentatively titled, Wandering God, in the near future.

Without futher ado, here’s an interview I had with the author of this amazing series, Joshua Pantalleresco:

MW:  Do you write about what you know or do you do “pure fancy”?

2015-08-29 12.58.28JP:  It’s funny that my answer is both?  Let me explain.  Most of my worlds are pure fancy.  I do a little research from time to time when I’m constructing worlds.  The Watcher’s world was inspired by pure fancy.

That said, usually what the story is trying to say is something based on what I’ve learned.   I found a few years ago that stories are better if they come from someplace real in you.  Freedom means a lot to me.  The Watcher’s story is reflective of some of my own questions.

MW:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JP:  Mostly a pantser with a dash of plotter.  I tend to have an idea where the story ends and how the story begins.  Beyond that I keep it vague.  My characters know where they are going better than I am, and I try to steer clear of them.   I find personally if you let the plot be too structured it ruins the story.  It limits where you are allowed to go.  That said, without it, the story tends to be aimless.

That said book 3 is probably the heaviest plotted book I’ve written.  It’s much bigger than book 1 and 2 so I had a few stop points along the way.  That said, there were a lot of surprises in book 3 even for me.

MW:  Is there are genre or style of writing you’d like to try?

JP:  Screenplays and plays.  I’ve yet to try anything there.  And maybe, just maybe write an amazing sestina.

MW:  Are there other authors you try to take from and be inspired by?

JP:  I’m a fan at heart so I would be less than honest if I didn’t say yes to this.  The Watcher and Stormdancer definitely have some Edgar Rice Burroughs influences – especially the Watcher.   I just love the idea of the savage character.  There is an honesty and purity to them that I thought Burroughs captured very well.

Another author I feel like I borrow a bit from is Ray Bradbury.  Bradbury was the kind of guy that would take you by the arm and show you the wonders around you.  I like to think I do a little of that here; not as good as he did.  That would be sheer blasphemy from my part.  But I always loved the sense of wonder I had from Bradbury’s work.

 MW:  What advice would you give to a beginning writer?

JP:  Figure out who you are, and keep writing.  You solve the first and do the second, you will be ahead of the game.

 

Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing – Part 1

I said yes to this without thinking really.

I thought, “sure, do another blog to shamelessly promote my books.”  Seems like a good idea.  Only looking at the whole topic and thinking about it for a second, I came to a horrifying thought.

I’m the one talking about rules in writing?  Me?  You sure?  Alright.

Let me see what I can bul-  I mean, come up with.

Thinking about this rule to writing thing, the obvious question is are there really any rules to writing?  I mean, I make stuff up and write it down.  I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong.  In truth, there’s a lot of question as to the whole right or wrong thing.  We’re making stuff up after all, and really the only thing that really matters is that you connect with readers.  This is a fancy way of me saying that I’m not sure I have ten rules or guidelines or whatever you’d like to call them to write.  I think what I will say here is I’m going to talk about what works for me, and if you can get something from it, more power to you.   I just hope I haven’t already sounded like a gibbering idiot before I began.

My Rules, Guidelines erm….Stuff to writing.

Number One:  Write!

I’m pretty sure that one is everyone’s first rule.   And it should be, because let’s face it, that’s the name of the game.   You may have this amazing, one of a kind idea about a jar of dirt that no one has ever seen before.   Kudos to you my friend if you do, but if you don’t write it down, it’s just an idea.  So write it down, especially if the idea is fresh.

Number Two:  Keep Writing!

This one might seem silly upon first glance. But here’s the thing us writers realize after a few sessions on a story.  We screw up.  All the time.  When we realize that we make mistakes, our first instinct is to just go back and fix it.  After we fix it, we breathe a sigh of relief and keep going.

Or do we?

If you do, awesome.  I’m not like that.  I tend to want to work a sentence, rewrite it, clarify it, check my word choices.  You know, make it perfect.  The problem with that elusive perfect prose is that it’s impossible to reach.   You always know that no matter how clean your words are, you could do it better.

You know what you are not doing when you pursue this course of action?  Finishing your story.   This is a nasty trap many a writer fall victim to.  I’ve done it myself.  So much so that now I don’t think about my story not being perfect.  As far as I’m concerned, this draft of the story IS perfect…until the draft is finished.  Then I can revise and admonish myself for not making it perfect.  But I don’t give myself that luxury to revise myself until the draft is done.

Don’t dare engage in revision until the story is done.  That way lies madness, and an incomplete story.  Keep writing.

Number Three:  Finish your story.

This one might also seem silly upon first glance.   It’s really hard to close a tale.  There are a myriad of reasons for this, but if I had to be honest,  it’s because this is the part that takes the most work.  Writing a story is a process of sitting on your keyboard and doing the work of putting words to a page, and getting to the end of it is a journey.  Walking that walk day in and day out takes discipline and time and effort.   It’s the most work a writer has short of promoting their stuff.

There are a number of ways to get there.  Word count is a decent path to success, unless you’re doing a book a like the watcher, then it’s a matter of chapters and goals.  But the best advice here to help you get to the end is that each day set yourself some goals and work to achieving them.  Stephen King said that five hundred words a day equals a novel at the end of the year, and he’s right.  Setting yourself goals in small steps often increases your chances of success of getting there.  So set yourself small steps to walk each day, whether it’s a word count, chapter or whatever you need to get through the day, and you’ll achieve the towering success of a novel in no time.

Number Four:  Don’t get distracted

So if I’m going to mention finishing work, I have to acknowledge the giant pink elephant in the room that is the internet.   The internet is a wonderful tool filled with knowledge, information and other things to get you on government watch lists.  But it is also a place to get distracted.

If you looked at my browsing history, you’d find wrestling, facebook, twitter, and amazon as my go to places.  We all have those go to places on the internet.  In fact, at least two hours a day of my life get lost to the abyss that the world wide web resides in.  We all do it on some level.  Maybe it’s a video of Richard Simmons on Whose Line is it anyway?  Or maybe it’s watching Charlie Murphy talking about getting his butt whipped by Prince in Basketball and having pancakes afterwards.  All in all, your computer is also your toy, and should be respected as such.  Go play a little before your begin, and hey, use it as the toy it is once you are done for the day.  Until then, turn off the wireless.  It’s a click of a button.

Now that the pink elephant has been identified,  let’s get serious for a second.  Distractions don’t just come in the form of internet amusement.   Distractions are everywhere.  They come in many forms and wear many faces.  Sometimes it can be a job, a spouse, a friend, a hassle, overcommittment – the list goes on and on.  Your greatest form of wealth is not your money but your time.  Treat your time like gold, because it’s more valuable.  You can’t replace it once it’s gone.   So if you want to write, you have to make time for it, and that means NO DISTRACTIONS.

If you want this,  make it happen.   Even at my busiest working two jobs to stay afloat, I managed to find forty minutes in a day to work.  It can be forty, it can be five minutes.  It doesn’t matter.   If you want to make something happen, it can and it will.  So don’t let yourself be bogged down with distractions and inaction.  If you want to write, WRITE.

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Joshua Pantalleresco is the author of the epic poem, The Watcher, and its sequel, Stormdancer. He writes fiction, poetry and comics. He also loves to do interviews. He has written columns for comicbloc and allpulp and currently does so for comicmix. He resides in Calgary.

He has a blog you can follow here.

And I urge you to check out his podcast series which you can also find through his blog. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Joshua Pantalleresco’s ‘Rules’ of Writing!

Meet March’s Featured Author: Sharon Ledwith!

As you know, this month we’re featuring the middle grade/young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers by the talented Sharon Ledwith. Let’s meet this remarkable woman, shall we?

Meeting a readerM|W: So Sharon, tell us, why do you write in the genre that you do?

Ledwith: I have a confession. I didn’t start out writing middle grade or young adult. Nope. I lurked in the deep pool of the paranormal romance genre before I ever considered dipping my toes into the welcoming waters of middle-grade/young adult fiction. The idea to write in this genre actually came to me through a dream. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. I really thought about that dream a lot to the point where an idea for a book started to grow, and take root. So, I thought I’d challenge myself and write a novel—a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. I’ve always loved the time travel genre, so I imagined the arches I saw vividly in my dream as time portals. Then, boom! The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis was born.

M|W: What lessons would you say writing taught you about life in general?

Ledwith: Patience, perseverance, and practice. You need all three of these life skills if you are ever going to become first, a published author, and second, a successful author.

M|W: What’s your favorite quote?

Ledwith: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” —Napoleon Hill

M|W: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Ledwith: I was once asked by another interviewer to share what inspires me to write, and why am I doing what I do. I guess the truth is that I wanted to be the change I would like to see in this world. Yes, I stole that from Ghandi, but those words have been my mantra, and have guided me to write stories I would have loved to read as an adolescent (or even an adult). My hope is to give my target audience (ages 9 and up) the kinds of stories the world needs now—force readers to ask why they are here on earth at this time, and what is their major purpose. I guess I’m looking for ways to make the world a better place. I also want to make people laugh out-loud while they’re reading my books, and leave them wanting more when they turn to the last page.

M|W: Do you have any advice for writers?

Ledwith: Never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, and in your readers. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team. Never stop learning. As you grow, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given and should be part of any author’s credo.

M|W: Do you have a specific writing style?

Ledwith: Sometimes I’m a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), sometimes a plotter (outline entire storyline)—it all depends on the tone of the book and where my imagination directs me. I have many notebooks and pads and sticky notes at my disposal. I also have a file full of ideas. I guess I start with the characters and build the story around them. The characters, my characters, must carry the story to completion, give readers closure. It’s a must. In order to do this, I begin writing out character tracking sheets (stats on characters’ appearances, clothing, likes and dislikes, etc.) which have served me well throughout the writing process. Then the fun begins. Research, research, and more research. When you’re writing time travel, you’ve got to know your facts to create the fiction. I love this part of the journey too. Only when I have enough facts, and I feel my characters are fleshed out sufficiently, then I begin to start the novel.

 M|W: What are you working on now?

 Ledwith: I’ve finished the first draft in my second book in The Last Timekeepers series entitled, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, which is in Jordan Jensen’s point of view. Now it’s on to revisions and editing! I’ve written a master plan for the series (10 books, plus the prequel) with possible titles and premises, and I’m in the process of putting all this information together in a series guidebook. And I’m also signed on with literary agency, Walden House (Books & Stuff) to take on another young adult series I’ve created about teens with psychic abilities called, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. My hope is that with enough time, patience, and perseverance (see question #2), I’ll be able to follow my heart, and bring more happiness and laughter into our world.

M|W: And how do you come up with your character names?

Ledwith:  Sometimes I take from my environment, sometimes from my old National Geographic magazines (it’s a great resource for names, trust me!), but most times I go by the character’s personality, their likes and dislikes, and use The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon as my go-to bible for names. I have named certain characters after real people I’ve known. For example, my character Amanda Sault in The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis was named after my Native American elder and teacher Bill Sault.

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There you have it! Sharon Ledwith is the author of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis and its prequel, Legend of the Timekeepers. Both of these books are on sale for the month of March in our bookstore with the code: TIME. We also recommend subscribing to this blog to learn more about this month’s featured books!

February is for Romance… and MAGIC!

February is almost over, but it’s not too late to pick up your copy of this month’s featured book, Disenchanted by Leigh Goff! Using the code: MAGIC in our store will get you $4.00 off the paperback or get you the ebook for only $0.99. You can also enter to win this month’s goodreads giveaway here.

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And now, Sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild, the half-witch main character from the YA fantasy romance, Disenchanted by Leigh Goff is here to answer the following romantic questions:

Chocolates or Flowers?

My Aunt Janie, an herbalist witch who owns a shop called Scents and Scentsabilities, has infused a deep appreciation for plant magic into my head and heart, but she also makes a mean enchanted chocolate confection to help me keep secrets. The calming confection melts on my tongue in the most delicious way. I’m torn on this question, but if I have to choose, I choose flowers because they really communicate so much more sentiment than chocolate, and they come in handy when you want to concoct magical products like Tulips to Kiss Stick and Forever First Love Lip Balm.

Going out or staying in?

Staying in. Hands down. When you are dating a guy as hot as mine, you want to spend as much alone time together as possible. His name is Alexavier. He’s American, but went to school in London, so he has a dreamy British accent. He’s tall, dark-haired, and a rebel at heart. Did I mention he’s forbidden? Oh yeah. *swoon*

Fancy restaurant or fast food joint?

I’m going with fancy restaurant on this one. Witches own most of the pizza/burger/sandwich shops in Wethersfield, and sometimes, they add enchanted ingredients like Parisian basil to their Witch Wraps to keep customers coming back. I’ll take mine without Parisian basil, thank you very much!

Action flick or romantic comedy?

Alexavier really prefers action flicks because he is all about action. He never shies away from a fight. He even goes out in dangerous thunderstorms looking for trouble. That’s how we met. Me, I prefer watching zombie flicks with my pal, Callum. My friend, Macey thinks there is a love triangle going on with Alexavier, Callum, and me, but as sweet as Callum is, my heart belongs to Alexavier.

Nightclub or ballroom?

Ballroom. And only because of the weird dreams I’ve been having lately where I find myself wearing seventeenth century gowns and dancing to harpsichord music with a well-dressed guy who looks a lot like Alexavier. I think my witch ancestor is trying to tell me something…

Coffee or cocktails?

Coffee. I’m too young to drink cocktails and with the sleepless nights I’ve been having thanks to a witchy ghost from the past, caffeine is exactly what I need to wake up and keep me out of trouble. Good thing I have my mom’s diamond bloodcharm to enhance my magic, just in case trouble finds me while I’m not caffeinated.

 

A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice…Disenchantedecover

Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families’ wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch’s true love curse, but it will take much more than that.

 

The Storm is Coming… My Interview with Joshua Pantalleresco!

profilemeJoshua Pantalleresco is the author of the epic poem The Watcher. He lives in Calgary, Alberta and is eagerly anticipating the release of his sequel, Stormdancer which is set to release October 1st, 2015.
Josh wanted to interview me for his blog, so I thought we could hit two birds with one stone. Here’s my conversation with the author of The Watcher:

MW: So, it looks like the information about your sequel was leaked… why don’t you tell us a bit about that?
JP: Stormdancer is the title of this one. This book will be longer and have more pictures in it. It also focuses more on the other characters and not just the Watcher. These kids have lost everything, so I wanted to see how that would affect them and what would happen because of that. I’m currently working with Florence Chan to decide on the cover and the images that will be in the book.
MW: What is your inspiration for The Watcher and the upcoming sequal?WatcherFront copy
JP: “What happens next?” I am always driven by that question. When I sit down to write I don’t have a plan, the story is a journey. I have an idea of where things are going to go and I know where to finish the story, but I like to see where it goes.

MW: You told me a little while back about a film project you were doing, how’s that going?
JP: Everything is filmed. We went out and filmed it when it was -28’C outside. It looks a little like a B movie, but I like it and it was a fun process. Unfortunately my video editing software went kaput, so that caused a bit of a setback, but I hope to have that fixed soon and then I will be releasing the music video/trailer for The Watcher on my blog and here as well.

MW: Speaking of -28’C weather, what’s it like to be an author in Calgary?
JP: Well, I’ve moved around alot and seen a lot of cities. I lived in Phoenix. In Phoenix it was a lot easier. They had platforms for authors to sell their books at. You just had to have a book and there would be places for you to sell it. Canada doesn’t have that. It’s a lot harder to sell books here. One thing I learned from living in Phoenix was how to sell books; how to talk to people. I took that with me to Canada. Calgary has a lot more opportunities for authors than Windsor does. I’ve made some good contacts here. I have a soft spot for Windsor, though. My family is there. Windsor is a place where people are willing to try different things. The economy crashed there earlier and the people of Windsor learned how to deal with that a lot earlier too. They know how to fight for what they get. I feel like Calgary is just on the verge of having to deal with that stuff now. The mentality is different here.

MW: What drives you to write poetry in particular?
JP: I used to hate it, actually. I feel The Watcher is different though because it’s a longer style epic poem. Which is easier than writing say, a Haiku. Epic poem seems a simplified version of writing a novel, for me. I know my weaknesses, and that might be writing a longer novel. Poetry has a certain honesty to it. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is a certain integrity to the style – an honesty and a voice. I admit I get a little scared when I first start working on them because I don’t have a master plan, I just let it happen.

MW: So do you think you would ever try writing a novel?
JP: What makes you think I haven’t been trying? I’ve got three of them on the go, actually. One of them is about a super-hero/villain that can’t be affected by technology, another I’m still researching ideas. I’ve learned that description is important. To create an impression in the reader’s mind is the goal.
I’m not a small idea guy. I like big ideas. So I like the idea of trying my hand at a novel

MW: Besides Poetry, what other sorts of things do you write?
JP: Comic books is where I’m selling. I’ve started a wrestling column about two weeks ago. I’m collaborating with some talented people on comic books and other projects. I’m really busy, especially between all of this and the day job, but this is what I do.

Stormdancer is expected to launch October 1st, 2015. Until then, follow this blog for more info or sign up for our newsletter at www.mirrorworldpublishing.com