Sunday, June 25, 2017

Digital Doodle, Sunday June 25th

If you've ever read Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, you've probably figured out in what way you express and receive love. This was a book my husband, Scott, and I read through and took to heart in the months before we were married, and since then, it's been interesting to evaluate how this theory of emotional expression plays out in my everyday life.

As an artist and author, I spend way too much time in self-analysis, but hopefully my observations
will be useful to some of you as well. My primary love language is time. It doesn't matter if we do anything productive or exciting. I just want to know that you value spending time in my presence. Ironically, because of my socially anxious nature, it takes a long time before I feel safe enough with any person to connect with them face-to-face. So that "quantity time" that deepens my relationships is hard to come by. Clearly, it's complicated.

As an artist, I have discovered that if I don't have time in my productivity cycle to develop my skills, I begin to resent the stuff that is crowding that time out. Time to experiment and get better at what I do is like the "quality time" of being an artist. If you are coming between me and my skills and not allowing us time to improve together, you will quickly become a serious problem for me.

In a proactive effort to preserve my sanity, I have decided I need to carve out between 30 minutes to an hour each day working on something that hones a skill I want to build. My current artistic goal is to work to develop a digital style that plays more to my strength with pencil. Before I really dig into my Divine Summons graphic novel, I want to make sure I have landed on a digital style that I truly love to work in, and the hard ink line work I've been doing so far is not it.

So tonight, I've sketched a first effort at exploring the tools in Clip Studio Pro (my comic software) to see what I might be able to use in the pursuit of a more pencil-y style. I'm also using the drawing to hopefully motivate me to tackle the coming week with fire, not weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I'm feeling good about this revelation that love languages don't only apply to interpersonal passions, but to pursuits as well. I pray that I will be successful in pursuing my goal of more "quantity time" with my personal art style.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fabulous Dragon T-shirt--2 weeks only!



We Minors are about to head out on a major adventure, and you know what?

Adventures are expensive. And I don't have a contract from a bunch of dwarves promising me an equal share of the treasure at the end. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Here's a little context to help you make sense of things. Every year since we began Realm Makers, I have designed the official Conference T Shirt as well as a "fun design" that we sell as a simple artistic endeavor. From fandom to geekery, these shirts have definitely been popular--and I've enjoyed seeing friends and strangers alike wear them.

This year, we've been working with the fabulous Kirk DouPonce, illustrator extraordinaire, to generate some updated branding for the conference and our awards. Out of that process, this awesome dragon graphic arose.

Being the dragon freak that I am, I was immediately ready to slap that puppy on everything, from our awards seals to our car to our bodies. (Not kidding, we had temporary tattoos made!)

More sober minds steadied us, however--we are hoping to take our show on the road, so to speak, and attend multiple homeschool conferences as a vendor in the near future. (More on that in due time.) But just like the way the words "magic," and "fantasy" might keep you out of some homeschool conferences, a banner with a giant red dragon might just have the same effect.

So, OK, Realm Makers won't wear the dragon badge on everything.

But that doesn't mean our nerdy following can't wear the dragon on a shirt!

And so, ahead of Realm Makers: 2017, we're doing a pre-sale campaign on these awesome shirts. Not only because we think our fans will like them, but because of that thing I mentioned up above: adventures are expensive, and we need to get creative about how we're going to fund driving from Pennsylvania to Reno and back again. It will be a grand total of 7000 miles and 4 weeks on the road.

I will be working on freelance projects along the way, but as is the nature of the freelance life, we have to guard against those times of slim pickings, which life has been dishing out over recent months.

So, if you're so inclined over the next couple weeks, I would be honored if you would be willing to order a dragon shirt for you or a friend. They come in men's and ladies' styles. You can elect to have them shipped straight to you, or if you'll be with us at Realm Makers at the end of July, you can save the shipping and pick your shirt up there.

I can't make any guarantee of there being available inventory of these shirts after this campaign, so get 'em while they're hot.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Dragon Problem-Preview


Today marks a fun day that authors never tire of: release day!

The project that I'm humbled to be a part of is an anthology called Freshly Brewed Fiction, and it's a group of stories penned for the purpose of supporting a local library. Better yet, we'll celebrate the release of this book at our local independent book store, The Towne Book Center in Collegeville. It's good to know the piece I've written will be helping the honorable institution of the local public library as well as our indie bookstore, which does a great job with author events.

In case you're interested to see what I've contributed to this book, I'm offering the first segment of the story for you here. "A Dragon Problem" introduces a new character to my story world, an ebony hatchling dragon named Silya, and it reunites readers with the tempestuous Raen, dragons warder, as well as the unquenchably direct Vinyanel Ecleriast. Mix in an undead necromancer, and you've got a caper it takes both dragons and elves to conquer.

I hope you enjoy this little excerpt. As soon as I know if this book will be available to non-local folks, I will update you. If you're within schlepping distance of Collegeville, PA, I'd love to see you at the Towne Book Center between 7-9 pm on April 30th, 2017.

A Dragon Problem
by Rebecca P. Minor
as it appears in  Freshly Brewed Fiction

Whatever you hear, whatever fears you have of what’s happening, you must not come out of
this crevice, do you understand me?” Silya’s mother set her deep into a stony niche, at the rear of their family’s cavern home.
A voice from beyond the mouth of the cavern echoed faintly against the crystalline walls. The speech had a rhythmic lilt to it, rising and falling like waves against a jetty. Silya struggled to sort sounds and syllables from the reverberations, but could not make out enough to understand. Her draconic gift to translate any language she encountered faltered in the muddled echoes.
“But what do they want?” Silya shrank back, wrap- ping her tail around her crouching body.
“Who can say, with man and his fears?” Mother said. “But promise me. Remember you are but a hatchling, and not yet a match for many men.”
Silya nodded.    

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where Did Realm Makers Come From?

Image Credit: Dog Eared Design, Kirk DouPonce
At the header for this blog, the graphic reads "Author-Artist-Ringleader," and for some of the folks who stop by, the "ringleader" part is a bit of a puzzlement. I thought today that I would shed some light on the reason people attach words like that (or nerd-herder) to me.

A little over 5 years ago, I started planning this thing called the Realm Makers Conference. It came into being because of several factors that exist in the publishing world that make it difficult for Christians who write fantasy and science fiction to find publishers for their work.

On the general market side--that means the Big Publishing Houses of New York, stories that center on traditional values are often passed over as "been there, done that" at best, or "dangerously misogynistic/insensitive/out-of-touch" in more critical scenarios. This climate  has only gotten worse over the decade I've been following publishing. In this past year, I have learned of multiple scenarios where the author's failure to include significant characters that promote ideals counter to Judeo-Christian values has proven grounds for rejection. Authors need to be on the lookout for anything that might be construed as tokenism, exploitation, cultural appropriation, and a whole other host of parameters that will send the red flag flying.

Now, understand, that I completely agree that no group of people should be treated like a gimmick. What could be more counter to the teachings of Christ? But for fiction to be forced to include a certain recipe of character types and concepts, and only cast those in the prescribed light, is poison to creativity at its core.

On the Christian market side, the speculative fiction writer has an uphill climb as well, although I must say, the publishing options in the CBA have grown a little since Realm Makers began. We're nowhere near having enough publishing homes for the number of fabulous manuscripts out there, but incremental progress does seem to be happening. The main obstacle Christian Speculative writers face is general Evangelical suspicion of the genre. This is the factor I see chipping away. We have a long way to go, and we have our own content wars on the Christian side of the fence. We battle over cleanliness in fiction, inclusion of magic, the core definition of "Christian Fiction," and more.

The other challenge for Christian publishing has always been wide distribution of books. This is actually looking a little more grim of late, given the failure of independent bookstores and the disappearance of even large Christian bookstore chains. Add to that the publishers who are rumored to be closing their doors to fiction altogether, and you've got an uncertain future for CBA speculative fiction.

So, as you can see, the Christian who writes "weird stuff" is still between a rock and a hard place. In addition to the publishing climate being turbulent, Christians face a lot of snide looks, if not downright insults, when interacting with the marketplace at sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions and other places they seek to connect with readers. The sad part is that the loudest voices don't typically represent the largest populations.

These factors prompted me to begin Realm Makers, a writers conference with several core goals:
1. Educate Christian writers so their craftsmanship would rival the "big names" in the general market.
2. Connect writers who are ready for publication with industry individuals who can bring their books to market
3. Equip Christians to innovate and pioneer in order to find routes for great fiction to get to market
4. Build a community of creative contemporaries who support one another through the challenges of being makers of fantastic, but often misunderstood, stuff. This community atmosphere where everyone's voice could be heard without fear of slap-down or disrespect was a fundamental value at the root of what Realm Makers does.

God has truly blessed the Realm Makers effort beyond what I imagined it could be, and for our 5th anniversary conference, we have already surpassed our attendee numbers by leaps and bounds. I am grateful we've been able to take this "Little Conference that Could" (to quote Mike Duran) and build it into a vibrant, year-round encouragement to like-minded creators whose faith infuses everything they make.

But as we grow, the spectrum of voices becomes wider within our community, which is a good thing. Sometimes the newer community voices don't know the history of what Realm Makers has aspired to do, all along, and that's what compelled me to write this post. First and foremost, I want Realm Makers to be a place where creativity flourishes, because no one feels they need to defend the majors of their worldview: the existence of God and the redeeming work of his Son, Jesus Christ. Beyond the tenets of our faith, however, I sincerely hope Realm Makers continues for us to be a think tank where we can lovingly discuss the challenges of the publishing landscape, whether our authors choose CBA, ABA, or self publishing.

Overall, our goal is to see great books that shine a light on who God is reach the hands of readers. When I stand in judgment, some day either soon or far, it is my prayer that the Lord will be able to say to me of my Realm Makers efforts, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Melancholy, My Dad, and the Charcoal Tree

When you're like me, and you lost your dad at 13, it's easy to romanticize how you perceive a man who's been gone for the vast majority of your life. I like to remember the Marine, the idealist, the brilliant man my dad was, even though he was also an alcoholic, a child abuse victim, and ultimately lifestyled himself to death until he left my mom with 6 kids and no real career to support us. I didn't learn much from my dad, sadly, because I was too young at the time to tap the brilliance part, while we still had him.

He did, however, one afternoon in our smoky, cluttered 80s living room, teach me how to draw a tree.

My dad was a charcoal artist who never pursued honing his gift outside of high school. Probably not a lot of opportunities to draw still life or models while drill instructing on Parris Island, I'm assuming. But I can't count the number of times he sat in his kind-of-gross recliner and told me how he drew a series of beautiful nudes during art lessons as a teen that mysteriously disappeared. (I think his running suspicion was that his instructor made off with them. Oddly, I lost one of my favorite drawings in high school the same way, but it was a cat.) Art clearly remained in his bones, even if life had pushed it aside.

Anyway, my dad gave me this impromptu lesson with a number 2 pencil and a scrap of whatever paper was sitting atop the clutter. He flicked the pencil over the paper, using the side of the lead, and said, "Trees, grow from the ground up, so draw them that way." I think he was trying to break my of the childhood habit of making a bumpy lump and sticking a trunk under it.

But I watched, fascinated by the way his seeming haphazard flicks of that pencil slowly fused together to form branches, reaching twigs, and a sturdy trunk. And how mere scribbles overtop approximated leaves so generally, yet perfectly.

There's a sort of pall hanging over me this month--call it a collection of political frustration, lingering burnout after finishing a large client project, and gray weather malaise, but I've found my mind lingering in melancholy, and for the past few days, art has been . . . awful. Stilted, graceless, and frustrating.  A friend recommended I try something to free up my mind, and in that mix of gloom and a need to shake out the tight lines, my dad's tree technique tapped on my shoulder.

The image above is a digital version of my application of my father's instruction from so long ago. Just a little 20 minute gesture, but an opportunity to reflect on the fact that I do have this one little piece of legacy to hang onto. No matter what life thrust upon or took away from him, he took that moment in my childhood to grab a pencil, and that moment has stayed with me 30 years or more. For all of us, those who are reeling with hurt, or frustrated, or fearful for the future, I hope we all remember today--and everyday--that little investments into single lives matter. More than we may ever live to see or understand.
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Harry and Honey Moon come to Pennsylvania--and I'm signing books


I officially have my first appearance scheduled as a book illustrator!

The work I've been doing on the Harry Moon brand is pulling me from my typical introverted seclusion into not one, but two opportunities to sell and sign books on Small Business Saturday, which is just after Thanksgiving.

These events will be great, for a few reasons:

  • I will be able to hobnob with the Queen of Author Events herself, Suzanne Kuhn, who will be signing the Honey Moon books she's written alongside me as illustrator.
  • I will be able to encourage people to support local, independent businesses--a Christian bookstore and one that sells all book genres. I am a big fan of the "Shop Local" movement.
  • I'll get to see my work pass into the hands of new readers--what creative person doesn't love that?


So, if you know anyone in the Mid Atlantic who would like to pick up some fun reading for their elementary aged kids, please tell them about us. Find us at

The Master's Mercantile, Pottstown from 10:30 am to 12 pm

Town Book Center, Collegeville, from 5-6 pm

Hope to see you there!
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Artistic Seasons and How I'm Growing

ARTIST

With just a few weeks left until summer's end, of course the thrust of my work right now would be all about winter. It's like the crooked, sardonic smile fate likes to cast at me, because it's a gazillion degrees outside, and every frame I design for my new graphic novel project has a dusting of snow over it. My characters are wearing scarves, and I'm fending off heat induced hives, which are one of the awesome additions my fibromyalgia has thrown into the mix.

Anyway, the project I've got brewing for Rabbit Publishing right now is another tale set in Sleepy Hollow, featuring Harry Moon and the usual suspects. It involves a 150-foot snow sculpture of the headless horseman and his mount, which magically end up wreaking havoc. I won't say more for fear of spoilers, but it's been a good laugh to have the instructions come back from my project manager that say, "Make it creepier!"
I have also had the awesome privilege of receiving my first copy of Inkadink, Rabbit's first graphic novel, printed on beautiful glossy stock, with spot varnishing on the dust jacket and 170+ pages of my drawings!


So, needless to say, things aren't feeling too shabby with the world of art.

AUTHOR

I still have to admit failure to break out of a holding pattern with my novels, though. I delivered my first pitch in three years at Realm Makers, giving The Risen Age Archive one last chance at traditional publication before . . . oh, I don't know what. I know I keep telling you some thing that I do is the last stab before I self publish. And then that doesn't pan out, so I think I'm REALLY going to self publish this time, though I'm short cover art and editing to do so, which leaves me to circling the proverbial airport.

Pitch Receiver was very complimentary in a follow up conversation about Curse Bearer, so we shall see how that looks over the next few weeks. If I can get this publisher to bite, then still like ALL the chapters, then it would on to finding an agent to jump on board, if I can get one. (No more negotiating contracts with publishers for me. Scarred. Scarred for life, I say.) But if Pitch Receiver decides to pass, then it's back to waiting for word from the tower whether I'm landing this plane. (Some art-based income to justify art-based investment wouldn't hurt!)

RINGLEADER

Perhaps the most telling interaction I've had lately about all the hats I'm wearing was one with my littlest gremlin in the family today. He saw that I was working on Realm Makers details for 2017, and he said, "What? Are you seriously working on the conference ALL YEAR now?"

Yep. That's what it's become--a year 'round labor of love. It's both great and terrifying to offer the writing community something that is now a thing to pursue. Authors and their agents are inquiring how to get a speaking slot. Every attendee has input on how the conference could . . . be better? Sometimes. Usually just be different. It's like walking down the aisles of a giant department store where hundreds of other people are throwing things into your shopping cart, saying "You want THIS, it's great."

It may very well be a great thing, unexpected helper. However, when I open my wallet, I find that maybe I better not even THINK about your suggested purchase. Sometimes I look at my home and realize...this doesn't coordinate with any of my furniture or color schemes. But sometimes, a gem I never would have thought to look for appears in the overflowing cart.

So the job of conference director begins, in this anarchy stage of planning, as one of sifting for that nugget of wisdom or crazy-perfect idea nestled within the flood of input that comes through email, messenger, twitter, texts . . . every day.

But the coolest thing is, I can see that there is a cloud of creatives around me almost invested in the stuff I'm creating as I am!