Evergreen Files: UPDATE

EVERGREEN UPDATEQuick note:

Still making progress on the second book in the series: Counterplay. In the meantime I will be making chapters available on my website. These can be accessed as pages in the dropdown menu on the home page of this website.

Today I have added the Prologue for The Evergreen Gambit  HERE and the prologue to Counterplay HERE.

 

Still looking at a spring release of Counterplay on Amazon. Fingers crossed!

 

Evergreen Files: Counterplay

Evergreen Files Counterplay cover

I am making steady on the sequel to The Evergreen Gambit. The working title is Counterplay. I still have some scenes to work out, but the outline is done and the (never ending) editing process has begun.

I’ve changed the cover and title several times already. Hopefully, this is the final cover edition.  Still, thank goodness for Photoshop if I do change my mind again. It makes life so much easier for writers.

This sequel addresses some questions that were left as unfinished mysteries in the first novel. Why was it so important for Eliot to be at the Sochi Olympics?  Why was Eliot spending so much time communicating with his ex-wife, Alyona Hubba? Why did it all have to do with Russian politics?

Continue reading “Evergreen Files: Counterplay”

The Cosmic Flower of Faith

 

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Is there a transcendent reality to our existence? Is belief in such a reality an illusion?

We live in an age where people find it difficult to discuss the supernatural at all. One of the reasons for this is that our words are changing. Definitions are being shorn of their supernatural meanings.

Take, for example, the word “cosmic“. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) gives us the following:

Definition of cosmic
1 a :  of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness, or the universe in contrast to the earth alone  – cosmic radiation
b :  of, relating to, or concerned with abstract spiritual or metaphysical ideas – cosmic wisdom
2 :  characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness – a cosmic thinker – a book of cosmic significance

However, the Bing (search engine) gives us this:

cos·mic
[ˈkäzmik]
ADJECTIVE
of or relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth:
“cosmic matter”

synonyms: extraterrestrial · in space · from space

inconceivably vast:
“the song is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”

Notice the supernatural meaning is stripped from the definition. And it’s happening in other words, too. Some people think “soul” is now a person’s personality or character. The word “mind” is preferred over “psyche” as people accept that there is nothing more inside us than a mechanical brain that responds to external stimuli due to evolutionary conditioning.

For many people there is no God, no heaven or hell, no angels, no spirits at all – just the mud of the earth we are made of. When we die we decay into lifeless molecules and are absorbed back into that same Earth. It’s no wonder that the atomizing of society follows this philosophy of the atomizing of the individual. What point is there to family, religion, community if it all ends in dust? Why should we adhere to bonds between souls when the soul is a figment of the human imagination?

There is no proof we can offer that we will exist beyond death or that there is more to us than our physical bodies. However, there are arguments that point to something beyond this material universe. And this is what we call “faith.”  But, it is difficult to hold onto that faith. We may study the best arguments of humanity’s finest philosophers, but the dominate culture of this age rejects these arguments summarily.  And yet, isn’t the possibility of life after death appealing? Should it be rejected simply because it can’t be put to scientific analysis?

Faith is fragile – even for those who feel certain that God exists. First, it is hard to maintain faith in a vacuum.  Secondly, it may be that whether one believes or not in the supernatural depends on one’s personality and circumstances.

But my point is that whether one is a believer or not, the transcendent is worth spending some time studying and discussing. All references to  this (potential) aspect of our existence should not be wiped out of our vocabulary.  The difficult truth is that we will not know the truth of our existence until the moment of death. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, we will not know whether the fragile flower of faith is based on reality or not until that moment. It will be the most critical moment of our existence.

So, isn’t it worth spending a little time, while we’re alive, contemplating what our flower looks like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

 

Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly – Postscript

boatcrop

Just a quick addendum to the last post I put up earlier today.

Here is another example of using blobs of color to create the illusion of a form of a person. Illustrations are more like hints of picture rather than an actual photograph.  It’s just a digital paintbrush and a few squiggly lines. The reader’s imagination will fill in the rest.

Also, digital art is cheaper and easier to fix than using real paint. I still love to use real paints, but I don’t have a lot of time to pursue that hobby.

This is another example of the same techniques described in my earlier post HERE.

For more posts for Non-Artists, go here.

 

 

 

Art For Non-Artists: Painting People Quickly

When you are a non-artist, painting people seems very scary, but with a little effort you can create impressions of people fairly easily.

One easy method is to use the letters M and W as a starting point. I spent a little time practicing putting the letters together with a paint brush tool I produced the image below. After getting two MW combinations I liked, I added a couple blobs for their heads, extended the legs and added a stroke or two for arms.

mwmen

It really works – they do look like a short, wide man and a tall, skinny man in a tux or or black suit in silhouette.

I used Wacom’s Bamboo Tablet and Artrage software. (There are some very useful tutorial links at the Artrage website to get you started using all the tools available.)

I do like to use Artrage to sketch because I can easily erase mistakes or lines I don’t like. However, pen and paper does teach you to stop overcorrecting so it’s good to practice with both.

After I created my MW men, I added a layer under them with the paint roller. You can see both layers in the top right hand corner of this screen shot.

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and here are the two layers merged together:

 

mwmencolor

 

Here’s the image put through a Photoshop gradient:

mwmencolorblue

Using the techniques above (and a little more time and study of proportions) I created a more complicated image for The Year of the Numen. As you can see, it’s not an artistic masterpiece, but it does look humanoid and I think it has some charm and mystery about it. It will do for an illustration of the story I want to tell.

numenlumeneffects1

To think it all started with a M and a W!

I do have to admit that it helps to have an artist’s manikin or to know a little bit about proportions. There are many resources out there to aid the beginning artist (or non-artist doodler) and I have one recommendation at the end of this post.

If you want to learn more about using blobs of color to create people, then I recommend this book below.  Many of the techniques discussed are for advanced artists, but for the beginner it’s worth spending time looking it over to get a sense of how we see color and images in paintings.

Who knows? If one plays with color long enough, even a non-artist can create people.

For more posts for Non-Artists, click here.

Keep doodling!