Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Review: "Dark Digital Sky" By "Carac Allison"

I was contacted by a self published author named Carac Allison on Goodreads and asked if I'd like to review his first book. After reading the synopsis of this thriller I agreed, it sounded like it had an interesting premise. This is what Carac wrote that got me interested... 
"I love the lurid action of pulp. I love the dark urban landscape of noir. And I love hardboiled heroes. It was my affection for Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald, McBain, Thompson, Ellroy, Willeford, Leonard, Block, Pelecanos and Parker that got me writing. Four months ago I thought I’d finally broken through after a lot of years at the keyboard. A UK Publisher bought my debut thriller “Dark Digital Sky” and promised to publish it in May 2015. But a few weeks later they folded their crime imprint and voided the contracts of their crime writers." 
I was glad to hear that Mr. Allison decided to self publish and offer his book on Amazon. Good for him. I hoped that I'd find the book worth reading, it certainly had a great sounding character.

Chalk is our main character in "Dark Digital Sky". He used to be in the FBI until he flamed out in a spectacular way. He doesn't have much of a life, his wife left him, taking their son with her, he has bi-polar disorder and he tends to drink to excess when he gets depressed. He does have one thing going for him though, he is is a very successful private investigator with impressive computer skills. Chalk also has some hard won knowledge about how the most evil in our society stay hidden. He uses his knowledge of tracking psychopaths (learned and honed in his time with the FBI) to help thwart a monumentally scary terrorist who is holding the United States hostage. Chalk doesn't mean to fall into  tracking this monster, all he was doing was helping a eminently dying billionaire find the offspring he fathered years ago when he donated to a sperm bank. He wants heirs and he needs Chalk to tack down the three sons he knows were fathered through test tubes.

I give this book four stars, with reservations. The book can be a little choppy but then I think that's what it truly might be like to be a detective or an investigator. You follow leads, you learn about the person you're tracking and you come to a dead end. You start again and still, dead ends. Everything goes into the file, much of the info is probably useless in answering the questions that need answered. We are so used to watching TV where in one hour the killer is revealed. To watch an investigator go down blind alleys is frustrating but part of reality. Hopefully, as the investigation goes on and the detective follows the bouncing ball of clues, he comes across a good thread. Pulling that thread get that detective closer to the why and who and to answers. The superfluous information collected in the investigation doesn't have to lead anywhere. However, in our fast moving world, it seems redundant. Carac Allison just has to learn how to iron out the creases and make all that chasing around a little smoother.

Carac Allison is a highly capable writer. I look forward to his tweaking this character and bringing his writing into a little more focus. He has created a character that I think about after the book is over. That's exceptional. That's what other great writers do. Allison, with a little seasoning, could be a terrific new author to watch. Lets hope he finds a happy place to land with a good publishing company and gets his next dozen book published because I look forward to reading more about Chalk.
Best,




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Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #133

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




REMEMBER: APR will take a hiatus throughout December to make room for all the stuff we all have to do for Christmas!
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Friday, November 21, 2014

AEDM Day Twenty-Two

I had a really productive day today making art. In fact, I haven't even started watching the Liz Steel videos in my last class of SBS. My first page that I completed was the page beside my magnets page so I wanted whatever I drew to go with that. I decided to finally draw up the roller-skates I'd love to own again. I used to roller-skate when I was young. I was good and I loved how the wind whipped through my hair and it kept me cool as I got warmer from the exercise. I really miss that feeling. I actually wore out my pair of skates, the metal between the wheels broke in half. Just too many hours of use I guess.

My next page was used to draw up the pool I dream about. The other exercise I used to love as a child was swimming. I was a fish in another life. I used to do laps, back and forth for hours on end. My relatives and friends thought I was nuts. Why didn't I play in the pool like other kids? I loved the water over my skin and the repetitive movement of my limbs. I'd love to own an Endless Pool. They're compact so will fit in almost any backyard. You can even get a treadmill in the bottom for doing water aerobics. My mom would love that! The best part is the jets that move the water so you swim agains current. I dream of swimming like most people dream of flying.

My final page was really a practice page. On the Sketchbook Skool advertising page there's a piece of art by one of the teachers (I don't know who). I loved the look and I wanted to see if my skills with watercolors had improved enough so I could pull off doing this kind of landscape. I love how it turned out and I'll use this knowledge when I do my own landscapes.

That's it for today. I'll be entering all this into AEDM. We're nearing the end of the journey through November. I'm so glad I already have a plan to continue my own challenge. I wouldn't want to get bored, right? Talk soon. GOD, I need a coffee... and some chocolate wouldn't hurt either. ;o)
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

AEDM Day Twenty-One

Pens as first page in my Moleskine sketchbook
Holy Cow, so much art, so many days, lol. We're all making it through though. Today I did my final piece (for now) in Andrea Joseph's style. It's in my new sketchbook Moleskine that I'll be using for my Art Challenge that I'm starting December first.
By the way, if you are shopping for an artist in your life or even just someone who loves amazing art, Andrea is having an amazing little sale on her Etsy shop. Go look, you'd get her book and a whole lot of other goodies. This ends our commercial portion of this post. (I am not compensated by Ms. Joseph, I just love her work and want to share it with everyone I can, kinda like finding a new author, lol.)
The newest and last class for Sketchbook Skool just started about ten minutes ago. I'm kinda sad that this is the last seven days of learning. I've loved both "Beginnings" and "Seeng". I can't wait to see what the next class they're making now is. Liz Steel is this week's teacher and I'm sure to learn a lot.

This is being entered into AEDM.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

AEDM Day Twenty

Quote by PICASSO
Quick post. I'll be doing a version of Brenda Swenson's seventy-five day Challenge starting the beginning of December. Yep, I'll be doing art everyday through Christmas for at least three months. I know that seventy-five days is less than three months but my new Moleskine sketchbook has 104 pages, soooo... You see where I'm going. I can't imagine not finishing the sketchbook. Since I've done AEDM for the past month (or I will have done when November ends), I'll have done art for about one hundred and thirty days after my new Moleskine is full. WOW, that's a lot of art. I'll definitely have a habit after all that time.

Here are the rules I'm gonna use. Brenda's rules are:
  1. NO pencil
  2. ONLY blue or black pen
  3. Draw EVERYDAY
  4. DRAW anything you want, just draw
  5. DON'T quit for 75 days
My rules will be:
  1. Use ANY media you want, including watercolors
  2. Draw EVERYDAY
  3. DRAW anything you want, just draw.
  4. LEARN to use less pencil (so by the end of one hundred days you can go pencil-free)
  5. DON'T quit for at least 75 days
  6. FINISH your new Moleskine sketchbook before you stop
So, the art above is the start of my new Moleskine for the Challenge. I'll be back in a few minutes with tomorrow's art. I have to finish it first, lol. ;o)

Talk very soon...
Best,




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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

AEDM Day Ninteen

(Click to Enlarge)
This is my final homework for Andrea Joseph's class in SBS. I absolutely loved the process of doing this drawing. I used a Faber-Castell Pit pen in sepia for the shading. Much of the other small details were done using Pentel Slicci micro point pens. I had all these gel-type pens that I'd really never used so now I have a whole new set of art materials to work with. I have to admit though, after four days without watercolors, I miss them. I can see myself working ballpoint drawings into my art now though.

(Click to Enlarge)
These are vintage magnets that have been sitting on my fridge, holding all my grocery lists and odd pieces of paper for years. I knew exactly what I wanted to do when Andrea told us that our homework was to do a collection drawing. I actually have several collection drawings that I want to do and now that this turned out better than expected, I'm looking forward to doing these other drawings. it's intensive work, this took me all day, almost twelve hours (minus time for lunch, dinner and bathroom breaks, that is). 

(Click to Enlarge)
I'll be putting this into AEDM on Leah's blog. I can't believe it's been nineteen days already. It gives me hope that I'll be able to complete the Brenda Swenson seventy-five day challenge of art everyday. Although, I've realized that I won't be strict about the rules of only black or blue pen. With Andrea's class using ballpoints and being without watercolors for almost a week, I realized there's NO WAY I could go seventy-five days without using color. 

Now, many would say that I should do a
(Click to Enlarge)
small piece of black and white art then do something with watercolor as a second piece if I want to. But, see, I make sloooooowwwww art. What may take many fifteen to twenty minutes, probably takes me over an hour so there's not much chance of fitting in several pieces a day, especially over Christmas. I think the point I'm taking from the challenge is to do art everyday for at least seventy-five days. I'll probably be doing many more days as my Moleskine Sketchbook has 104 pages. ;o)


Talk tomorrow? Yes? Great! ... now I gotta go stalk a cuppa before I die of caffeine denial.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AEDM Day Eighteen

(Click to Enlarge)
Another quote using Andrea Joseph's handwriting technique, which I LOVE. This one is from my very favorite author, Robert A. Heinlein. He's one of the fathers of science fiction writing along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I love how Heinlein thinks so, of course, I'd love the quotes he produced when he was alive. This is one of my favorite...
"Women and cats will do as they please, men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
I decided to embellish this quote with some simple dog and cat things. Just a fun and simple page. Hope you like it, sorry about the photograph, it's nearly impossible to get a good pic of a double page layout from my watercolor Moleskine, it's just TOO wide. Oh, and if you want to see yesterday's quote, it's here.

Heinlein quote
Tomorrow I'll be doing a very complicated collection drawing for the Sketchbook Skool course. My final homework for Andrea Joseph. It's gonna take hours and hours to finish. We'll see if I get any finished art up tomorrow, it may be half done, lol. We'll see. Talk to you later, everyone! (thanks for all the great comments, btw, I really appreciate all the love.)
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

AEDM Day Seventeen

Another day with Andrea Joseph in SBS. I'm so totally loving this week with Andrea. Today I've worked on my handwriting. One of the videos Andrea shot was to show all of us with bad handwriting (Hey, I'm a lefty, OK??) how to make handwriting look SO COOL. I decided to do a quote from Thoreau and I decided to do it in pink. Hey, what the heck. Blue pen just got a workout yesterday, how about pink today? Probably, expect purple, green and orange ballpoint tomorrow!

Anyway, I think it turned out great. I just love having a way to make my handwriting something I actually like. Also, a great quote from Thoreau. Even better, the quote illuminates the previous page which you can see here. I love how the soft crosshatching looks around the edge but WOW does it take time and patience to complete. Well worth it though.

Quote by Henry David Thoreau
Tomorrow will be coming quickly, like a half an hour from now, lol. I want to be ahead again with AEDM and I hate getting posts in just under the wire. See you in day eighteen!
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

AEDM Day Sixteen

So, this week our Sketchbook Skool teacher is one of my all time favorite artists. I discovered Andrea Joseph's blog a several years ago and have been enthralled with her art ever since. I couldn't wait for this week to start so I could watch her videos over and over. Having done that throughout this weekend, I'm now making art using Andrea's style. I'm kinda thrilled about how my first piece turned out. I can't believe one can achieve such cool art using only a blue ballpoint pen. But then, that's the point that Ms. Joseph is trying to make. You don't need the latest pen or even a fancy sketchbook. All you need is a free pen you get from any business that asks you to sign something and some plain paper.

Those letters are so blurry without GLASSES!!!
Just for you who would wonder what pen I used for this drawing... I used a Pentel R.S.V.P. medium nib dark blue pen. Oh, and my watercolor Moleskine of course. ;o) The cool thing is I have a huge collection of gel-type pens and ballpoint pens in all different colors. They're cheap (usually) and I thought they'd be fun to draw with. Then I discovered my love of black archival ink like in the Micron and the colored pens got relegated to the back of the art shelf. Well, now I have an excuse to get them out. I now know I can make cool art with just a lowly ballpoint, who knew? (sending this into AEDM)

I'll be back tomorrow with something else done with a ballpoint! Toodaloo.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

AEDM Day Fifteen

I found some photographs of old rusty scissors and they so reminded me of the scissors that my mom used to have for sewing. It was under pain of death that anyone dared touch the sewing scissors. Now that I'm older I know that cutting paper with sewing scissors that are used to cut expensive fabric is the best way to ruin a good dress pattern but back then I just thought they were great, sharp scissors, unlike the household scissors that wouldn't cut butter.
Rusty Scissors
This is entered into Art Everyday Month on Leah's blog. Thank you to her for running this wonderful get together every year. It's a great way to keep you skills sharp. Ahh, what an awful pun when I'm doing scissor art. ;o)

We're half way through the month and I'm right on track. My watercolor Moleskine has about seventeen pages left so I should finish it on November 30. YAY!! I have a new Moleskine Sketchbook on it's way to me so I can do Brenda Swenson's Seventy-Five day sketch out. Yep, that's one way to make a habit, just don't stop creating. Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

The Artist's Play Room #132

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,





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Friday, November 14, 2014

AEDM Day Fourteen

It's late in the day and I'm totally behind in my art. But at least I GOT IT DONE for AEDM. I'll have to wake up tomorrow and do a bunch of art to get ahead again (oh the horror!), doesn't that sound like a terrible thing to be faced with? ;o) Ya, terrible. Right now it's less than half an hour until the fourteenth of the month ends and i'll have missed making art everyday. HURRY JENN, HURRY!! Hey, I'm typing and photographing as fast as i can!

Ok, my art is drying and as I wait until I can photograph it for you, I'll give you a little hint about what you'll see when you scroll down the page. I'll sing you a song.

I don't like snails or toads or frogs
Or strange things living under logs
But mmm, I love onions!

Onions, onions, ha-ha-ha!

Root doot doot-doot, root toot doot!

I don't like to dance with Crazy Ted

He's always jumping on my head
But mmm, I love onions!

Onions, onions, la-la-la!

Onions, onions, ha-ha-ha!
Root toot doot-doot, root toot doot!

I don't like rain or snow or hail

Or Moby Dick the Great White Whale
But mmm, I love onions!

I don't like shoes that pinch your toes 

Or people who squirt you with a garden hose
But mmm, I love onions!

Onions, onions, la-la-la!

Onions, onions, ha-ha-ha!
Root toot doot-doot, root toot doot!

(Click to Enlarge)
 Yup, it's the "I LOVE ONIONS!!" song. I used to sing this in grade seven when I was in a ukelele band. We were very popular and we were GOOD! Hehehe. It was such fun, we played and sang and were even on tv one Christmas. We also were the only band ever to play in the huge Episcopal Church that was downtown Saskatoon. Do you love ONIONS?

Well, if you don't I hope you like mine. I wrote the whole song all around the outside of the onion. Such fun and great childhood memories.

The newest teacher for SBS is Andrea Joseph. I've been looking forward to her class ever since I started "Beginnings" months ago. When I heard she'd be teaching in "Seeing", I immediately signed up. I love her work. GO look at her art here on Flickr, it's GORGEOUS. You can buy her book here. It's amazing to see all her art in one place. Any artist or art enthusiast would love it as a gift. Just so you know, much of her art is done using plain old ballpoint pens. You know, the Bic pen? Ya, that. Amazing right? I thought so too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anybody Need A Goat? (AEDM Day Thirteen)

Plan Canada Goat
Christmas is just around the corner. Do you know how I know that? My very favorite commercial of all time is back, once again, to make me smile and yell, "SHOP TODAY!". The Plan Canada goat commercial begins every year around this time and my mom and I absolutely look forward to it, for serious. :o)  When the commercial comes on tv we alway backtrack it when it finishes so we can watch it again and again. In fact, just today, as I was speeding through all the boring commercials to get to the end of Chicago Fire, I saw our goat go by. I immediately stopped, not caring who burned up in the series, and went to watch our goat.

He's a good goat. He's a cute goat. He's a spokes goat. Yes, I said SPOKES GOAT. :o)  He talks you into buying a seventy-five dollar goat and sending him to a very poor and deserving little girl or boy and their family. I guess it could be a girl goat too, that they send, I mean. Actually, now that I think of it, it's probably a girl goat most of the time. You only need one boy goat in the whole village to "service" all the girl goats. Then there's all  those baby goats and all that goat milk and cheese etc. That would make for a very happy and better fed village.

Anyways, you can go to Plan Canada and order a goat. For Christmas. And you don't even need to wrap him. I mean her. :o)  Although a bow would be a nice touch. You can also buy other animals or buy parts of animals. That sounded bad, what I mean is you can donate a part of the fee for an animal and others donate too and TADA!! Now you have a whole cow for a poor family from a third world country. Cool huh? Yuppez.

Here's how the whole double page looks! (Click to Enlarge)
Here's the thing. Do you have relatives or friends who are notoriously hard to buy for? Would those people love to help others? If the answers to those questions are yes, then this Spokes Goat has the answer for you. Go to Plan Canada and order a big bag of hope for a child in the third world. No, they don't put the goat in a bag, it was a metaphor! Go buy somebody you love a cute animal that will be sent to a family who will nurture and love that animal because it helps them live a better life. It's a win-win, don't you think? Here's the commercial... Why do I think that Spokes goat just sold another thousand little guys just like him? Well, he's just so cute! He makes you wanna SHOP TODAY!!!!!!!! and buy a goat!



This is cute goat is being entered into the Art Everyday Month Linky over on Leah's blog. Thanks Leah for doing this great November artcrawl, it's awesome to see so many people participating and making so much art.

Talk to ya all tomorrow. Did you buy a goat yet?? ;o)
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
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