Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elizabeth Littman - Who the heck is she?

Are any of you fantasy readers?  Yeah, I imagine you are.  :)

When I was a little girl I was a huge Anne McCaffrey fan.  Read everything she'd written, even the books with a small amount of that adult mojo that an 11 or 12 year old girl really isn't equipped to totally understand.  One of my favorite books was Dragonsinger.  It had all the right kinds of things.  Dragons.  An oppressed young woman who had a super talent that she wasn't allowed to use.  Dragons.  Mean teachers and peer pressure that resulted from that super talent.  Did I mention dragons?

Ever think that if you are going to be a social outcast then you better have a super talent of some kind for a root cause (or maybe for a bonus prize)?  I call it the Super Power Excuse: the cause of a hero feeling out of sync with the world.  If I could pick my life's theme I'd pick that one, complete with Superman soundtrack playing in the background (lately I've been wondering if I'm really Catwoman instead, but it works either way). So if indeed that could be the major theme of my life than I anxiously await the discovery of my super talent.

And while I wait I'm not idle with regards to my own skills.  I'm  working hard.  I figure if you don't have a clear super talent maybe you have to create one for yourself.  So working on my writing and my yoga seems to be the right things for this decade.

In the midst of all that, I found Elizabeth Littman hanging around on the web a bit. She's an illustrator of fantasy books and specifically she drew the covers of Drangonsong and Dragonsinger.  An artistic flash from my childhood! Ahhhhh, the super power of gifting enchantment, offering a fantasy universe in one picture.  That one is hers. 

Today, I got to speak to her on the phone.  She described to me her method.  At the beginning she reads the book she's illustrating.  Bless her for that!  And then she begins drawing.  She gets lost in her work.  Lost lost.  Gone.  She lives in it.  The kids, the bills, the house, the real world vanish and the fantasy world becomes all that there is.  The messes breed new messes, the children feed on Fruit Loops and Poptarts, the utilities get cut off, the pets eat each other but... the work gets done.  I guess this is what it means to be ass over teacup. 

Three months and perhaps 600 plus hours later she has her finished product made of water colors, pen and pencil.  A cover of enchantment!   Her magic is woven into the work of fantasy for each reader to enjoy over and over again.  

We parted from our call with such warm feelings. She gave me an enchanted gift many years ago.  I hope that I gave her a gift as well.  The gift of my wonderful memory of her work that has lasted for 30 years. I hope it inspires her to return to her art more fully now that her children are grown.  And I want to say to all who read here: may you also create a wonder of art that gets your readers lost and may it come from your own lost self.  Get lost and found over and over so that others can lose and find themselves.  Maybe our lives are ass over teacup, but at least we are alive! 

PS - Don't forget to enter the contest here  :)  Find a new teacup pattern for Erin!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Contest Extension

We are extending our contest deadline by one week.  New Deadline:  April 29 at midnight.  Thanks so much.  Hope you feel inspired to enter! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Contest Time! Erin Needs a New Cup Really Bad


Win a free copy of:

Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke  [Fire]
On Writing by Stephen King [Earth]
Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul by Burkhardt   [Air]
Journey to the Heart by Melody Beatie [Water]

Four books - four elements - four ways to write.  Live the alchemy!

If you are interested in this collection of fabulous books just submit a link to a new china pattern for Erin with an explanation of why it will help her out of her dilemma to us in the comments section of this blog.  Make sure your email address is accessible so we can contact you if you win!  Also, winners will be selected based on your explanation more than the pattern you choose so make it a good one!  Contest starts today and concludes next Friday 4/22/11 - Good Friday - at midnight! Winner(s) will be announced May 2, 2011.

Good luck!  May you make Erin laugh her cup right into a better pattern!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finally Writed

"Oh, GOD, Erin.  What have you done to yourself?"  Laura moaned.

Erin just flailed her arms and legs around miserably like the useless teacup she was.  She was grateful that Laura had not yet asked her what to do because she had no idea and couldn't answer anyway.  She was even more grateful when Laura said, "Well, first thing to do is get you back on your feet.  That much I can be sure of."  And she reached her arms around Erin's brim, tipped her on her side and then rocked her to her bottom. From there she was able to help Erin stand without falling back over again. 

"Honestly, Erin, I should have seen this coming."

But Erin didn't have time to get exasperated by Laura's attitude.  She took one look at herself in the dresser mirror and was mortified.

Laura, being unskilled at reading teacup facial expressions, kept right on talking as though she didn't notice Erin's shock at seeing her cup properly for the first time.   "First of all, your writing had signs all over it of your dissatisfaction with your life.  And all of us have been talking about it. And we all know what happens when life isn't satisfying; something has to give.  No matter how good other things are..."

The idea that her friends were discussing her generally fragile mental and emotional state behind her back would have made her angry on another day, but all Erin could think about was how absurd her cup was.  If she was going to have the nerve to get herself turned into a teacup she could at least be one with a really nice design.  There were so many really gorgeous ones. 

But she was stuck with...

She looked like she had chicken pocks shaped like rosebuds!

(Contest coming in the next post....  prizes:  four books for writers.  Stay tuned.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Enter Lady Laura the Cup Saver

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Erin? What's going on in there? What are your kids doing downstairs eating pop tarts and watching TV? Shouldn't they be in school? What is going on with you? Are you sick or something?"

Erin thought maybe she had dozed off because she couldn't remember hearing Laura come into the house much less upstairs to her door.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Erin! Open the door; you're scaring me!"

Laura must have been knocking for some time to get so upset. Erin felt bad about upsetting Laura.  She tried to answer but again her mouth could not make any sound. She settled for scraping her hands around on the floor as noisily as possibly. Her arms were pretty flexible and so luckily they managed to move some of the things lying around, most of which were papers from her abandoned manuscript. She also managed to shove three coat hangers, one of her son's discarded toy cars and a shoe. The shoe was loud enough to be heard in the hallway.

"Erin? I heard you; I know you're in there. What's happened to you? Your boys have turned the first floor of the house into a scene from Lord of the Flies.  You aren't having some kind of nervous breakdown or something?  Are you?"

Erin got a firm grip on the shoe at last and stomped it against the floor once very loudly.

Laura was quiet for a moment and then she said, "Stomp once for yes, twice for no. Are you hurt in there?"

Erin considered that.  Was she hurt?  She wasn't really sure.  Certainly she was not herself. 

Stomp, she answered.

"Okay...  do you want me to break in and help you?"

Stomp, she answered again, this time instantly and with as much force as she could muster.

"Okay...  I...  well, I'll try to break in then."  Laura sounded nervous but very soon Erin heard shuffling from the hallway and then running and finally...  BOOM!  Wood trim pieces snapped off the door frame, the lock gave way and Laura came busting through the door, a 5'3" flurry of energy.  She moved fast into the room, her red hair flying back with the wind, her normally mysterious blue eyes fierce and determined, until she crashed noisily against Erin's dresser.

She had barely stopped for a second when she turned to scan the room.  Erin could see Laura's eyes go from determined to confused as she took in the rumpled bed linens and the mess of papers on the floor.  At first she did not seem to be able to focus on Erin.  But finally Laura realized what she was seeing:  Erin, upside down, transformed into a giant teacup, and waving one brown leather shoe around like a flag of surrender.

"What the fuck?" was all Laura managed to say.