Make Good Art

I had coffee with a freelance photographer I met a few years ago during a reading by Mario Vargas Llosa, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. She offered me a free photo shoot, saying that her work on my blog “would probably be good publicity for both of us.”

“Sweet idea,” I said. “The Little Princess will enjoy having her picture taken by someone who photographs professional models and who has created the covers of books she can recognize.”

“I was thinking about your profile picture for your blog,” she said. “Maybe Facebook.”

I was delighted. I mean, I don’t know this lady very well. We have exchanged emails, talked on the phone a few times and attended a few more readings, but that’s all. 

“I really appreciate the gesture, but I like using real pictures for my blog and other online profiles. Not that your photos are fake—that sounded really bad, huh?—I just like pictures that show smiles fueled by life. My current picture was taken the day my Piano Man and I got engaged. I think people can feel the energy I was exuding at that moment. I like sharing that kind of happy.”

“Professional work transmits a stronger message,” she said.

We spoke for about fifteen minutes after that. I declined the “professional” pictures for my online profiles. She said that maybe she was too busy for a family shoot. And I left to get the Little Princess from her tap class.

The meeting wasn’t a complete waste of time. You see, I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach my Artful Readers Club entry for January. The encounter provided me with a perfect example of how to illustrate what I got from Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” Speech: making good art is not about producing sellable work—although that helps quite a bit. It’s about letting your muse birth art that feeds the soul; about creating art in ways that make you (and perhaps others) better for having experienced it; about living the process and rejoicing in the results.

Let me show you my artful bit for this month; made while I waited for the Little Princess to be done with tap. I used a coffee filter (it still smells like French vanilla), black and red markers and a black pen. I glued a small fold of the filter to a page from my reading journal...
Later, I will lift the page (it’s not glued) and write more personal bits about the reading.
The text says: I will write stories where red is for passion. Black is for sweet and where red can change its mind, and be Redish [I meant to write "reddish," but you know what? Reddish should be able to be redish, if that's what it wants] or Black… if it wants to be. I just want to write real stories full of fictional facts.
The structure of this book is… fantastic!
“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician—make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor—make good art. IRS on your trail—make good art. Cat exploded—make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before—make good art.” ~Neil Gaiman
stolen, snatched, borrowed from Brain Pickings
visit them to listen to Neil Gaiman’s speech
it’s pure genius!
While we are on the topic of Neil Gaiman’s genius for making good art… I’m giving away three digital books, two by moi and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

What did you read in January, my Wicked Luvs? What did the words make you feel?

Her Heart on a String, a Weeping Angel and My Sunshine Covered Tales

I should say that the questionable quality of my camera is an insult to SunshineShelle’s glorious work… but a witchy writer must do the flashing with what she has, right? So please look beyond my camera’s lack of yum and delight in the original art for the covers of AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories, Thorn in Red and Wishing upon Earth and Bone (work in progress):

I love Shelle’s work. There is magic in the way she takes a bit of story and turns it into the right colors and shapes for the tale. This is the snippet I sent when I asked for AlmaMia’s cover:
“The sun oozed through the cacao leaves that shrouded the trail leading from Vanesa’s place to Miss Toledo’s cabin. Birds shot through foliage, their morning interrupted by the sound of feet smacking ground. A branch scraped AlmaMia’s right cheek. Covering the stricken flesh with a hand, she kept running.” ~AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories

Wishing upon Earth and Bone was a bit different. I can’t share the cover details without giving you spoilers (and spoilers are the scum of the universe). But I will say that I gave her less than 28 words. When it comes to Thorn in Red, Shelle had an image to work with. My dear Eliora created a virtual model of the Ax and Butterscotch necklace she was crafting for the novella. I’m still in love with the shine of the ax, the yumminess of the tiger’s eye (butterscotch) bead, and the glittery cover.

Shelle also sent me these two beauties: 
I fell in love with Weeping Angel the moment I saw those huge golden eyes, silvery tears and that lone feather. I was terrified the piece would be sold, so I emailed Shelle while she was on vacation and made my claim. My angel arrived with a friend… I was thrilled to get Carnival of Bones. Shelle painted the lovely girl with her heart on a string for Witches in Fiction 2013… to the Bone. I thought she no longer had her… Every now and again, I love being wrong! *cackles and giggles*

Right now, I’m writing Wishing upon Earth and Bone, editing Blooming Howls (to be published in spring) and plotting mayhem with a secret project… 

What have you been doing, my Wicked Luvs?  

“My Pagan Heart” Valentine Charm Clip Giveaway, by Eliora

If you visit me regularly you already know the work of Eliora—the artist who created the Thorn in Red Ax and Butterscotch necklace. Her work brings a smile to my heart and shine to my soul.

*sigh* I really wanted to keep this to myself, but my need to share beauty (and to run my mouth) seems to be greater than my greed towards gorgeous sparkly things.

*double sigh* Eliora is giving back to her followers and to her clients (existing and new). What might be she be giving? A stunning Valentine Charm Clip – Rose Quartz with Pink and Silver Hearts.

Follow “My Pagan Heart” to Facebook to enter. Do get there before midnight on February 1st.

If I don’t win, I’m getting this:
Or this:

Heck! I’ll get both… Hm, all of a sudden, I’m wishing not to win, just so I can win.

Star Wars Rite of Passage

My father sings silly songs to me when we speak on the phone. The singing started when I was sixteen, right after I moved to the United States. I didn’t like all the noise and the lights of the city. In the Dominican Republic, night was pitch black and serenaded by the sweet and mildly creepy crawlers of the night. I missed home so much… and I had trouble falling asleep.

My Dad was a cook when I moved to the US. He rarely got home before midnight. On school nights, he would call me on the phone and sing silly songs: “La chiquitica de su papá, la chiquitica de su papa se va a dormir y a tener sueñitos bonitos. La chiquitica de su papá.” (Daddy’s little girl, daddy’s little girl is going to sleep and to have pretty dreams. Daddy’s little girl).

He might have one of the worse singing voices Ive ever heard, but his songs would always send me to bed giggling. And more often than not, I would have pretty dreams. He still sings to me when we talk on the phone. It’s our thing—tuneless father and daughter bonding that means the world to me… and to him, too, I believe.

The Little Princess and my Piano Man share a mutual love of Star Wars. They play the video games, build LEGO models, read the books, watch the movies… and they love it. I think a father and a daughter (a parent and a child) should have that kind of private bonding time, so I usually stay away when they are fighting dark evils in a galaxy far, far away…

…but a few nights ago, I leaned against the Piano, spying and grinning like a happy loon. I enjoyed watching the Little Princess and my Piano Man as they stared at the Return of the Jedi while their dinner got cold… I wondered how long it would be before the Little Princess realizes that dinner and a Star Wars movie is something special that belongs only to her and her Daddy. I can’t wait for the day when she understands just how valuable that is. He already knows, I believe.  

Grow Your Blog… One Seed at a Time

Greetings, my Wicked Luvs. To everyone visiting via 2 Bags Full, welcome to “the place where I share some of my dark fiction, and where friends get together to discuss all the wicked fun things that make life worth living. Fine, so we also devour unsavory topics, social—and sometimes rather personal—issues that can make a soul want to smack stupidity on the back of head and kick it while it twitches on the ground. But we do it all with a gentle grin on our faces… most of the time. If you take pleasure in the thrills of critical thinking, enjoy fiction, love celebrating the good things in life—and glaring at the not so awesome ones—then you’ll probably like Pagan Culture.”

I blog about living life to its fullest and surfing the imagination, even if things get a bit foolish
…about forgetting everything, but stories, when the mind is encircled by the miracle of books…
…about smiling at frogs, playing with hammers, growing green things, and loving funky socks…
…about watching Nature remind man that without her gifts, we would be less than nothing.
I also blog about the most important people in my life…
…especially, about the Piano Man who loves kissing me and whom I love kissing back.
I blog about writing, reading and dreaming dark fiction; I share the worlds I create
…I also write about adventures brought to life by the craftiness of other people’s muses…
…and my favorite posts celebrate the power of smiling with our entire faces and doing it often. I blog about it because if I dont, I would stop being Magaly Guerrero: Happy, Witchy, Writer.
You can read more about me
here and in my writings.
If you like the words, read on… and enjoy.

a copy of Thorn in Red
To enter, leave a comment telling me which of my reasons for blogging attracts you the most, and why. Please make sure I can easily contact you if you win.

  The prizes will be in digital format, Kindle edition. Don’t fret if you already own a copy, of 1 or all 3 books, this giveaway is transferrable. Yep, you can share the word yum with a friend. This is an international giveaway, open until the 13th of Feb, 2014, at 10:13 pm, EST. The winner will be chosen using Random.Org, and added to the end of this post, on Feb 15th. 

Please visit 2 Bags Full (after midnight, on the 25th),
to meet other bloggers
and to Grow each other’s Blogs ;-)

The winner of the giveaway is…
from Olde Baggs ‘n Stuft Shirts
Congrats, Oma Linda!
I shall email you shortly ;-)