A few months back I was approached by my brother, and his friend, with a proposal to work together and sell our photography and art. I respectfully declined. My photography is a source of relaxation and peace for me, an expression of how I see the world and an extension of who I am. Never did I have any plans to sell it. Until that initial request, never once had I even considered it. I’ve happily given some of it away to friends and family, and have otherwise just displayed it in my home.
Fast forward a couple months and countless requests, and I’d decided to join them in their venture, but only if they met my one requirement. I agreed to sell my photography if we would donate all of our profits, for a set period of time, to charity.
For anyone who knows me, I have a deep and undying respect for the men and women who serve in the military. I also feel for young children who are unable to share in some of the simple joys that every child should experience. So, we worked out a deal between the three of us to donate 100% of our profits, from all sales through December 14th, 2013, to the U.S Marine Corps Reserve – Toys for Tots Program. Over 97% of the money we donate will go to providing toys, books and other gifts to less fortunate children.
If you’re interested in knowing more, have any questions, or wish to discuss this, or our photography, please feel free to reach out to me through this website, Twitter (@schlising) or through our joint website at RDR Photography & Design. I have provided links to both the Toys For Tots website, as well as RDR Photography and Design.
As always, thank you for reading and I wish you the very best!
Today, on this twelfth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, my thoughts are with those whose lives were lost; the people who were spouses, parents, siblings, children and dear friends. I’ll continue to honor our fallen heroes, and remember their selfless acts and their sacrifices. My heart goes out to everyone whose lives have been changed forever. On this horrific day, twelve years ago, so many lives were lost. So many lives were changed. To forget would be yet another tragedy.
Recently, I’ve fielded questions regarding the status of my novel and if I had any other short stories or art projects in the works.
I have fallen into a trap I promised myself I would avoid: A gigantic pit of artistic unproductivity. The pit was large and obvious, jaggedly dug into the ground with a blunt spade; its edges hacked by a miner’s pick. You could see it for miles, a shadowy hole centered in a field of sun-touched grass. I could’ve easily walked around it, letting the swaying grass brush across my fingertips as I continued pursuing my writing and digital art. Instead, almost willfully, I fell in head first.
For weeks I’ve wandered around the bottom of the pit while scanning its dirty walls and the yawing blue sky above me. I haven’t written a single word, edited any of my work, created any new digital art or even submitted my novel for publishing consideration since my plunge into its depths. For now I sit and wait as I listen to the distant chirping of the crickets in the field above, and the whisper of the wind pass over me. Surprisingly, it’s a welcoming and peaceful feeling.
I’m not looking for rescue, or inspiration that would free me from this captivity. Rather I’m using this time to focus on my next projects, and the next phase of my life. I have plans; wonderful, life-changing plans that have altered everything I’ve ever known and expected from this world. All too often I let life get in the way, preventing me from pursuing my dreams while accepting a vanilla existence. I allowed it to build towering walls that blocked access to what I truly wanted. This is no longer my reality.
Now isn’t a time for personal retrospection, rather it’s a time to focus on the incredible future that’s waiting for me. It’s time to focus on what’s next.
As for my creative endeavors, I have an internal promise to systematically pursue publication of my novel over the next few months while I continue pressing forward with the second book in the series. I have another book and a comic/graphic novel that will be co-authored, and started before year’s end. As for my art and photography, both are passions that I will pursue as time permits.
This year has been fantastic, and continually gets better as each passing second ticks off the clock. A new life and renewed creativity are what’s next for me, and if that’s what you seek as well, I wish you the very best.
Toward the end of last year I commissioned the talented David Nash to create custom art for my science fiction novel: MXX. At the time we talked, I wasn’t certain how it would be used. However, I was so impressed with the projects he did for us at Notting Hill Games that I knew I needed him to create an image – a small window in which people could view my work in its visual glory.
I’m still debating how to move forward with the publication of my first novel. I’ve batted around the idea of a Kickstarter campaign and self-publishing, and have lightly queried for agents. During this time I’ve considered all options with extreme seriousness, yet have pursued none of them with any sense of urgency. I’ve mentioned numerous times that I’m not in a detrimental rush to see my novel in print, and would rather make the correct decision than a hasty one. However, because of that, MXX, and its associated art, sit in creative limbo.
Rather than hold the art while I ponder what I should do with my novel, I’m releasing it here for public viewing for the first time. If I eventually choose the self-publishing route I’ll have a new piece created and use this one somewhere within the book, as a back cover or as a promotional print.
David Nash will be selling this print at Gen Con Indy along with a slew of additional prints of his other amazing artwork. If you get a chance, please stop by his booth in the Art Show in the Exhibitor’s Hall and check it out. If you decide to purchase one you’ll receive some incredible sci-fi artwork by an extremely talented artist. If MXX becomes as big as I hope, it may be a chance to pick up a tiny piece of sci-fi history.
I hope to see you at Gen Con Indy 2013!
I often enter into discussions with other science fiction and fantasy writers about the amount of research needed to create their fictional works. The results of these conversations tend to be fascinating and quite varied.
On the surface, creating works of science fiction appears easier than non-fiction and other forms of fiction writing. Some people believe that I just use my imagination to create a setting, some characters and a plot then spill those ideas on to a blank page. Simple, right? Not quite. It’s easy to dismiss the idea of research when writing science fiction, but there’s a surprising amount of it that’s needed to complete a novel. For me, there are two forms of research that help shape creativity and lend credibility and a sense of realism to my writing. Those two forms of research are observational and oral.
I’ve been a rabid fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember, and my head is packed with images, characters, worlds, tech, story arcs and other such sci-fi goodness from my favorite TV shows, movies and books. All of this creates an invaluable cache of observational research. I’ve spent decades enjoying and ingesting science fiction then molding and shaping it in my mind to bring my own unique visions to life. Additionally, my overdeveloped imagination processes everyday happenings then sprinkles in some of the details from the cache to create my own fictional twists.
It isn’t all about exposure and enjoyment of other people’s creations. I believe it’s equally important to take in additional elements to strengthen my writing. Traveling to, and researching different locations around the globe provides a vast resource of ideas and details for landscapes, vegetation and weather, which all relate directly to my off-world settings. The varying dialects, cultures, mannerisms and the psychology of people help me develop diverse characters and racial structures. Appearance, habits and predatory tendencies of fictional beasts can be created through the study of wildlife.
While observational research is essential to enhance creativity, oral research provides invaluable information that helps build credibility in my writing. Though I create fantastical settings and characters, there needs to be a sense of realism contained within. People have a lifetime of unique experiences to share, and when available they should be tapped for that wealth of knowledge. There are so many things to be learned by the experiences of others, such as the feeling of adrenaline surging through someone’s veins, a near death experience, flying a plane or the skills learned from armed forces training. You’ll never experience everything life has to offer yourself, and the best way to learn about them are through the real life experiences of others.
Together, all of this information is accumulated and stored for future use and blended together for the proper mix of creativity and believability. I consider my writing similar to completing a very complex puzzle. My imagination sets the frame of my story, while my research searches for the thousands of missing pieces, gathers all of them and places them together into one finished picture.