Digital Art


It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned anything about my creative endeavors, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating. I’ve been working on some character sketches that I hope to share with you all soon. And I’ve been playing around with digital art.

My hubby recently bought me a new laptop because my old one was biting the dust and with it came this awesome new paint program and a ton of headaches. Ha! Learning something new and not having the same software as I have had before, it’s been a bit challenging and hair-pulling, but I’ll eventually learn the ropes…

That said, I’ve been playing around with this paint program and it is so cool, aside from the fact that I’ve lost three canvases I was working on already. There is no instructions, no manual! Not that I would read it, but still. Ha!


Anyway, I’ve decided to open an account on Deviant Art. jstarshine, if you’re interested. Have yall seen that place? There are so many talented artists and photographers and creative types over there. One of my writing, critiquing pals is an awesome digital artist. She goes by NetRaptor over there and has a website/blog as well with a tutorials on how to mess around with Photoshop. Check her out if you get the chance.


So what kind of creative endeavors have you been up to lately?

Flaming Go-karts

My family is a creative bunch. Seriously. When I sat down to write this post, I was struck with how creative they are. One grandma sewed quilts, the other did some woodworking. My relatives paint and create stuff. My parents the same way. Painting, building, creating. You name it, they could do it.

One of my dad's artwork

One of my dad’s artwork that hangs in my office (our office/guest room/etc)

Well. One of my uncles built a go-kart out of items he found in a junk yard. Yeah, my family would visit landfills on occasion  That’s how we came by our lawnmowers and parts to a snowmobile that I crashed as a kid, but that’s a different story for a different day. 🙂

So, my uncle’s go-kart. All I remember was the steering wheel was an actual tricycle wheel. And he liked taking the wrench, touching it to the engine, gas tank thingy. I don’t remember what it was exactly, except that when you touched it: Ouch! I think that’s why I don’t like to just push random buttons without first knowing what they are supposed to do. You never know, it could zap you or be an ejector seat or a secret passageway. Can you tell I have an active imagination?

But one day I got to drive it. I was all over their place, up and down hills. Okay, it was their yard, but as little as I was, their lawn looked like hills. It was a blast.

So, there I was zooming circles around the house, and all of sudden every one is charging out of the house after me. My uncle had the fire extinguisher. I was like, oh, what’s going on? Then behind me I see flames shooting out of the back of the go-kart. Needless to say, I stopped and got out quickly.

Yeah, that was the last time I remember driving the go-kart.

What crazy adventure did you have as a kid? Please share!

The weekend is almost upon us. Have a good one!

The Next Big Thing


Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy.  On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to five other authors you can explore!

My gratitude to fellow author, Clare Davidson, for inviting me to participate in this event.  You can click the following links to learn more about Clare and her books.


In this blog hop, my fellow authors and I, in our respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our current book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek).  We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write–the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Sorceress’s Curse

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

In the glorious naivety of a newbie writer, I wanted to create a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress meets Lord of the Rings, but without the obvious. Granted, without the obvious, no one could tell it was an allegory. So that was pretty much scratched during the second rewrite. Oh, the things we learn the hard way. Ha!

3: What genre does your book come under?


4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I first started writing, I envisioned Kael to be like a young Jimmy Smits with long dark hair and no facial hair.

Ayianna. She’s a harder one, but I’m thinking actress Rachel Weisz with a dark braid.

Desmond. Blond hair. Blue eyes. I don’t know maybe Matthew McConaughey

Prince Vian. short, red curly hair.  Rupert Grint

Saeed. Kind of like Morgan Freeman, but balding on top, the rest of his hair, white and pulled back into a braid. Long moustache and beard.

Semine. Nicole Kidman with red, coppery hair.

Derkomai. Maybe Robert De Niro with black-salt-n-pepper hair, mustache and goatee.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a family secret kills her father, Ayianna must discover how to free the plains people before she loses her mother too.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

At the moment, there is a publisher looking at it. 🙂

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I can’t remember, that was like ten years ago. I don’t even have the same computer it was written on.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I know, but I don’t. It’s epic fantasy quest…the jury is still out on that one. ha!

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Don’t really know. Funny thing, really. I had completely forgotten that I had wanted to write when I was a kid until I found some old notes, and in those notes, I found glimpses of certain elements in this story.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Adventure, questing, a hint of romance, mermaids, dragons, harpies, elves, dwarves, feline shapeshifters, prophecies, secrets…


Below you will find authors who will be joining me virtually, via blog, next Wednesday. Please be sure to bookmark their sites, and add them to your calendars for updates on their upcoming books!  Happy Writing and Reading!

Gabrielle Meyer

Lynn Donovan

Charlene Newcomb

Morgan L. Busse

The Chipper Muse

Since so many authors I know have already participated, I figured I’d post the links below to their posts for you to check out. You might find a new favorite. 🙂 And if you happen to have a favorite “The Next Big Thing”, please feel free to share a link in the comment section. Thanks!

Anne Elisabeth Stengl

R. J. Larson

Jill Williamson

Pauline Creeden

C. L. Dyck

Kat Heckenbach

Kessie Carroll

Aaron DeMott

Laura Ritchie

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged! Thank you, Aaron DeMott. I’ve been seeing this “The Next Big Thing” around cyberspace for awhile, and it has finally made its way to my little corner of the web. Once we’ve been tagged, we’re supposed to copy and answer the questions, then tag five other people. So without further ado:


1) What is the title of your next book/work?

Something dragon something or another.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

Honestly, a friend of mine had read through my first book and said, what if what they thought was one thing, but turned out it was the opposite. Totally paraphrasing. So I started thinking…

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

YA Fantasy

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Funny you should ask. I usually don’t think along these lines, but to help get the creative juices flowing I’ve been trolling the internet and pinning images on my secret Pinterest Board. I had a bunch before I deleted them all awhile back, so now I’m slowly building again, but I haven’t decided yet.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Lily Delaney’s father, the world’s famous elven explorer, disappears on his last expedition, and she is determined to find him, but she soon discovers that some things are best left unfound.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Maybe small press, maybe agency. We shall see.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A month. Thank you NaNoWriMo.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My friend Preston. 🙂

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Swashbuckling adventure, dragons, other winged animals, flesh eating merpeople, elves, humans, dwarves, lizard people, pirates, true love, secrets…Now I can’t very well giveaway the heart of the story, now can I?

And now I tag:

Clare Davidson

Gabriel Meyers

Lynn Donovan

Melissa Lee

Raewyn Hewit

Vander Galien Part 2

Old Dwelling

Today’s part two of our interview with photographer Jory Vander Galien. If you’ve missed the introduction and all the lovely pictures from yesterday, you can  find the first interview here. So without further ado, let’s dig in! In one of your photos, I see tents camped out at the edge of a mesa, which leads me to wonder, what do you go through to get the perfect picture?

Oh yeah…I love to backpack and really get out there away from everything. 9.9 times out of 10 I am alone too. I love being out in the open high desert alone. It is so quiet that all you hear is the ringing of your own ears and it almost hurts your ears…it is very eerie. This past summer I took my brothers out into the stillness if the high desert and I warned them of this and they experienced it firsthand. It is something that can only be sensed in the high desert I guess. Because even in the stillness of the mountains, you hear the wind pass through the trees but in the wide-open…nothing nada zilch.

The risk of being alone most of the time though is I can get into some pretty precarious situations. I have had a few run-ins with a rattlers, a few near miss steps close to falling to my death, close to being struck by lightning during the monsoon season and have even been broken down and stuck with my car with no one around for 50 miles to help… it can get hairy out there in the desert. But I think the thing that scares my most is losing my keys to my car believe it or not, but being out in the desert just invigorates me. The fact that I feel so small and insignificant to the vastness all around me just gets my blood pumping. Being alone making photographs is my ultimate drug per-se. Hence, I have to camp a lot to get the picture I need. The picture I believe you are referring to has two tents right? This is the trip I took my brothers on.

Adventuresome! You might have to revisit and share some of your adventures with us. I see a lot of landscape photos, is that your favorite? What else do you most enjoy taking photos of?

Ya there is no question that Landscape photography is my favorite. Looking at a great landscape photograph helps me be more imaginative. It takes me places, places that I don’t always have words to portray my mindset. You know what I mean? It’s like… an escape from my present. When I see a great landscape photograph, I imagine being there in that vast stillness. I quite literally get the feeling I am really there in the frame of the photograph. It is a form of escapism and this is what I try to do with my work as well. I believe this is much more successful with a black and white landscape image because there is less color distraction while with a B&W, one can only see tones of grey and if you look real hard, you can start to hear musical tones, and when that happens, that is when your escape begins.

As far as another medium of art photography, I really enjoy architecture. Actually lets just say this, I like taking pictures of things that doesn’t move. Scenes I can control (not that I control a landscape or the weather) but I sit and wait (camp) for hour’s even days for the right photograph. When the right picture is there…I just know it and I get goose bumps all over. I am in control of my camera and compositions but the weather and the potential of light is completely out of my hands, which is again where the waiting game begins. The great thing about photography is, I can control the amount of light that reaches my film or sensor. I control what I want my viewer to look at. Just taking a landscape photograph with everything in plain view can be boring; I like to make a picture with character and a personality all of its own. So this is a different kind of control rather than lets say shooting a wedding where I am directing and always on the move seeking that one money shot rather than waiting out in the field.

So yes, I do photograph other things. I have to make a living hehehe so I do shoot weddings and portraits. It is unfortunate that it is the commercial side of this medium is where most of the money comes from. It is rare that an artist can actually make a 100% living off their art but I have to say… it is not impossible and this is my ultimate goal and I have the belief this could become a true reality for me in the coming years.

Path of Light and Virga

What are your goals as a photographer?

Wow…perfect timing for this question right…wow.

So I am feverishly trying to get some work into some galleries. Once I can get into a gallery or two then I can start making a little bit more on my sales. Sales are sporadic especially in this economy, I can go months without a sale then all of a sudden boom…10 sales this month but it averages out to about one print or two a month so this is where great gallery representation would be such a great help. Please pray for this.

I hope to have a book deal here in the next 5 years too so this is exciting to even think about.

One other thing is, in the next year here or two, I plan to start up my own landscape photography workshop. No I won’t get rich doing them but it is a way to make side money to keep up with the equipment needs and of course it keeps me closer to the landscapes I love so much.

As an artist though, it is my goal to bring my viewer to a place they have never seen. My work is mostly austere and quiet so with that in mind, having a distant austere landscape in your living room invokes a sense of imagine and surreal fantasy I suppose as I explained already, a place to escape to. I get some of the most unusual remarks from my clients who own my work but the most common theme is they have a reason to escape into the picture and see God.

Recently, there’s been some interesting conversations about Pinterest, sharing images found online, copyrights on photographs, and such, at least among the writerly types. This is your livelihood, or at least your dream just as much as writing is mine and the next person is something else. What’s your take on this?

Ya I used to take this really serious but I have come to realize that if someone really wants a picture for whatever reason, they can take a screenshot of the thing. There is no real way to stop this but the thing is though, the files I post online are really small and copyrighted so stealing one of my images is of no real value to someone. I have made plenty of educational screenshots for PowerPoint presentations for my classes. Like I said though, there is no real point to even get all up in arms about it anymore these days. I mean in some ways an artist’s ultimate compliment is to have their work stolen. Now on the other hand…if you are posting 50MB files online…then you’re just asking to get ripped off but even then, every digital image has embedded copyright and metadata file attached, so if someone tried to claim an image as their own or tried making a professional size print without the artist’s consent…there is a consequence. I for one would never what to be on the wrong end of that.

As far as Pinterest goes… isn’t that just for women? LOL. In all seriousness, no I don’t use that. However, now that I just recently acquired an iPhone, I have been having fun with Instagram. I can be followed there at joryvg.

Cedar Mesa

Don’t be too quick write off Pinterest. 🙂 Tell us a little bit about the contest you’re in and how we might support you in your endeavors.

So this is a landscape photography contest showcasing the splendor New Mexico as its centerpiece only as a means to celebrate 2012 as New Mexico’s 100 years of official statehood. The contest is also a celebration of Master Photographer Craig Varjabedian’s  (my former mentor) newest book called Landscape Dreams.

The contest requires you to vote for your favorite images (which btw I hope you find mine to be your favorites). You can only vote once for each picture. In other words, once you vote for a certain image of mine then you can never vote for that image again. I am looking for as many votes as possible. The image with the most votes is the winner. Right now I am in first place and you can find my work easily by finding the “TOP RATED” from the dropdown menu to the right, however there are a few images starting to get closer to mine in votes. Please if you can, vote for my work, I would be forever grateful. The voting ends on Nov 30. In order to vote you will need to register your email or login through Facebook but I think it is easier to just register your email. One thing you can do though is share you voted for my work on your Facebook wall.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Jory!

If you’d like to see more of his work, check out the contest his photos are in over at Santa Fe Creative Tourism. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites. 🙂  He is also on Facebook at Jory Vander Galien Photography. If you want what you see, he takes orders for prints. 🙂 He has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned. 

Photographer Jory Vander Galien

Today, I have the special privilege of introducing my friend, Jory Vander Galien. We met about 12 years ago on a trip to Peru. Fun times, but that’s a story for a different day. Jory’s a photographer and his photos are like poetry. Seriously. They are beautiful, and I just had to share them with you guys. So I thought, why not do an interview. 🙂

Welcome Jory, and thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with us. So, who is Jory Vander Galien? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I want to first say thank you Jennette for affording me this opportunity to answer a few questions to tell you a little more about myself. Trying to break into the mind of an artist is hard and once you do, I have heard it said “why did I even try” hehehe. I/we have a very different way of looking at the world. I am so happy to be where I am today in life. I am truly right where God wants me so it is never too late to embrace your artistic side and run with it.

Yes, wow, can you believe it has been 12 years now and you know there were a few significant events that happened during that trip like the 2000 Election, and we all know how that turned out. I remember trying to read the papers there in Peru but my Spanish was so bad then I just couldn’t get a real grip of what was going on here in the States at that time. It was frustrating but yet liberating if you remember. We were so in tuned to our Mission trip that what we deemed important was just an afterthought to the importance of our mission. It was weird, wasn’t it? Probably the most significant thing though that happened on that trip was me meeting my future wife Vanessa in which we will be  celebrating our 10 year Anniversary this Dec 21st.She is a real gem and I credit her with helping me soul search the me that was just waiting to escape. We have two Mini-Dachshunds named Sammy and Oliver who are the joys of our lives but this does not go without saying…kids are in the plans for the very near future =) I think after 10 years of marriage, this is long over due hehehe. Goodness, where does time go huh!!!

Shiprock in Slanting Light

Who is Jory today in 2012, well he is a result of everything disappointing and great, trial and error, and victory accomplishment up to this very moment. Everyday I believe we are shaped and molded into Gods perfect image. All my dreams growing up of being a photographer today, have by the grace of God, become a reality. I feel I have the perfect life living in the most perfect landscape known to man… New Mexico.  I have been to every state in the lower 48 except Maine and have traveled all over Latin America and there is just no place like New Mexico. The high elevation desert and the crystal clear blue sapphire skies and the light…oh man the light here at this elevation is just remarkable. It is almost a cliché here in NM to talk about how amazing the light is but it just is… and if you don’t know what I mean, you just have to come experience it and then you will be transformed forever. I sometimes refer to New Mexico as Gods place for man to get a glimpse of what heaven will be like or a place God is actually before our very eyes preparing as heaven lol, New Mexico is all that, it really is.

Remaining Day

I can relate about the open spaces. I didn’t realize it until I went to Tennessee and felt a little claustrophobic  not being able to see, hemmed in by the sides of the mountains. What’s the story of your art? When did you know that you know this is what you wanted to do? Share your journey with us.

My journey began when I was a young boy beating on pots and pans and old oatmeal containers as my makeshift drum sets. Then I took piano lessons but there was still always an art itching inside of me I just could not seem to tackle if you know what I mean. (I think at that time I was too young to really understand but looking back, that is exactly the anxiety I had in those days) It was not until I started paging through some thick yellow magazines aka National Geographic that really started to make me dream and wonder away from my present state of reality and consciousness really. This is what great mediums of art can do…they take us places, places away from our realities. Almost like out-of-body experiences. (in a non-religious way) Even if it’s just for a few seconds, the escape happened. I began to be completely immersed in the idea of photography and what it means to me.

Growing up in dairy country, Wisconsin (Yes I am a proud Cheesehead LOL), it is not all that scenic (I say this and I truly believe Wisconsin is the most beautiful Midwestern state…sorry Jennette) or most of all, wide-open, a good chunk of the state is very wooded and now I feel very claustrophobic when I am not in a place I can see. I feel cooped up inside, I need my wide-open spaces. Even here in NM, I love going into the mountains, but after a few hours, I am get antsy and I need to get to a place I can see. I love being able to see for a hundred miles, there is something very freeing about that. So when I saw those photographs of big western landscapes, I was just awestruck. I knew I was called to be in those places but I still could not grasp the fact “all that open space, how could that be”? Old Jory speaking to young Jory…”Oh it can be sonny”!!!

Cloudburst-Monument Valley

I even remember for a junior high school assignment where we had to choose a career. It was an easy choice for me, photography. My decision one day in high school to be a photographer was completely solidified when I discovered Ansel Adams. This was a dream I figured would not ever happen as I was soon approaching the end of what I thought was normal…my days of my adolescence and school. It was time to make a living.

I started to truck cross country and I was beginning to witness firsthand the great vast open plains, those purple mountains so high with snow-capped peaks and finally, finally the sweeping deserts of the southwest with high distant mountains and mesas. All this always fueled my passion to one day be a landscape photographer. This is not to say I did not have a camera by my side all times. I considered myself a serious amateur in those days. I even taught myself how to paint with oils and play guitar but photography was the apple of my heart and the art I just needed to express myself with.

Fast forward to 2007, Vanessa and I moved to New Mexico, and after a short stint with the New Mexico Stare Police (being a western lawman like John Wayne), I entered the University of New Mexico in the spring of 2009 to pursue an art degree. There is really something to be said when you follow your passion and Gods perfect will. By the grace of God, I graduated this past spring 2012 with my BFA in Art Studio-Photography, Cum Laude and High Honors.

Sorry, but I have to disagree, Minnesota’s got Wisconsin beat all the way. And no, I don’t do football, unless there is food involved. Hey–is that cheese? Yum! 🙂 

Well that wraps up the first part of our interview. Tomorrow we will discuss his goals, his photographs, and what he has to do to get them. Jory has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned. If you’d like to see more of his work, check out the contest his photos are in over at Santa Fe Creative Tourism. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites. 🙂  He is also on Facebook at Jory Vander Galien Photography. If you want what you see, he takes orders for prints. 🙂

NaNoWriMo & An Interview

November is here! I’m writing this thinking about…well…too many things…must focus! National Novel Writing Month is upon us, and I’ve been living in denial. I said I was going to do, and I am going to do it. But it seems once I put a goal like that out there, the whole world is out to get me. Ha!

Participant 180x180 (2)

First, I changed my mind on which project I am going to do. I’m no longer going to write book three in my current trilogy. Instead, I’m going to attempt a rewrite of an old NaNo project from 2009. I think this one has some potential, and it isn’t riddled with all the mistakes a newbie makes. It’s got new ones. Ha!

Have I looked at my outline? Nope. But I’ve been brainstorming and trying to develop two secondary characters who aren’t introduced until the end of the book. What? Well, they play important parts, trying to sabotage the quest and all, but I need to figure out what type of creature they are. They have to be special and be able to fly. I’ve been combing through mythology sites, books, etc trying to find the right one. My first inclination is a griffin, but I’m not satisfied with that. I could make up my own winged creature, but it would be easier to just pick something from mythology that everyone is familiar, but we shall see. Ideas are brewing.

Next week, we have a special guest visiting us. Rebecca P. Minor, author of Curse Bearer and The Windrider Saga, has so graciously accepted my invitation. Whoohoo, party in the house. Starting Monday, we’ll chat about her books, her writerly habits and other fun stuff throughout the week. So stop in, say hi, ask questions, and watch for the giveaway. 🙂 Yo Ho will continue the following week. 🙂

Y’all have a great weekend!