Beautiful by Design

The Noracast has been awarded the Liebster Blog Award! Who took the time to give the Noracast a shout out? None other than Jenn from The Blog Starts Here. If you’re up for a good time, then make sure to visit her outstanding blog!

It’s the dead of winter, a chilly February day, so to celebrate this award—I’ve indulged in scorching hot chocolate accompanied by my favorite things in the entire world…Dunkin’ Donuts!

Thank you, Jenn, for the lovely award. Now, before I devour my decadent donut, I must think of five blogs that rock this crazy world. Hum, let’s see…we know The Blog Starts Here is a rock star…

Hold up! Here are the rules: Background The Liebster Blog Award originated in Germany. Liebster means dearest or beloved, and Liebe is love. In accepting the Liebster Blog Award from Jenn, the recipient agrees to:

  •  Thank the person who gave them the award and link back to that person’s blog
  •  Copy and paste the award to their blog with these instructions
  •  Reveal the 5 blogs they have chosen to award, by posting on their blog to break the news (and/or tweet it!)

Hope those people in turn pay it forward by accepting and awarding “The Liebster Blog Award” to others they would like to honor.

Okay, the donut is dead. Time to announce who has been awarded The Liebster Blog Award!

Mysti Parker Unwritten

Cambria Hebert

C.S. Splitter

Nikki: Close Encounters With the Night Kind

Michelle: A Lil of Dis, A Lil of Dat Chelle Style

BEAUTIFUL BY DESIGN

I get it. A book cover does not make the words within any book better or worse—but, a striking book cover can attract readers. Color, or the lack of it, unique fonts, or maybe fonts that are arranged perfectly on that rectangle, and intriguing subject matter on book covers pulls me in. I love looking at book designs, especially since I’m writing the sequel to Guardian 2632. Cover ideas are constantly on my mind.

Hum…shall I use large or small fonts? Blasts of supernova spirals may be an option, or the subdued and elegant splatters of black and white could be utilized too since Guardian 2632 is science fiction. If I include the main characters in this sequel, Lindsay and Zane Grayson, I also must decide if I want them to look stylized or completely realistic. See? So many questions arise when book cover design takes place.

Have a look at these book covers. Do you think they are beautiful by design? I sure do! I need inspiration, so feel free to suggest a book cover that you feel is gorgeous. Are you planning on providing input for your next book cover? Consider the size and style of the font(s), colors used, how the background (negative space) is manipulated, subject matter of your book, if the cover looks too busy, your tagline, and if possible, get some opinions on various options before a “final” is approved.

As you can see, I like various designs, some of which have lots of color…others do not. I like bold fonts and ones which are sleek with bright color. It all depends how the designer puts everything together. Millions of book covers show themselves when this topic is researched, so be sure to enjoy all of the hard work that’s been done to get great ideas for your next cover.

Did one book cover catch your interest more than another? I’m really stuck between Black Numbers and The Language of Flowers as my favorite from this group.

I appreciate that you stopped by the Noracast. Come back soon!

No intent to violate copyrighted images. All images used to illustrate the beauty found in book covers.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Numbers by Dean Frank

The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman

Dust by Allison M. Dickson

The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe

hold still by Nina Lacour

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman   

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Prince of Tanith by Terry Mancour

The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson

Walking The Tree by Karron Warren

what the night knows by Dean Koontz

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Beautifully Bad Boys

When evil gets obliterated by a rebellious guy with a mind-blowing physique that harbors enough rage to ensure justice will be done…it’s all good. Bad boys bring it on with style making us ache to jump into their world, if only for a day. Yes! The adrenaline infused actions of these guys are overloaded with a zest for life, an appetite for destruction, and this all makes for great entertainment. Truth? In reality, these guys would be hotter than Hell to handle, probably too much for most of us mere humans, but they live in a fictional world where “happily ever after” is possible.

So what is the allure of the bad boy who is also heroic? It’s seeing that hope resides deep within these guys even when the odds are unquestionably against them. They will risk it all to accomplish their mission…even die with no regret if that is required. For example, in Chronicles of Riddick, was it not amazing what Riddick went through to save Kyra? Haven’t seen this fantastic movie? No way! Check out The Chronicles of Riddick.

Although my kids will argue I am crazy to consider myself lucky to have seen just about every episode of the original Star Trek series, I must say I loved it! Seeing Chris Pine as a young James Kirk…troublemaker and all, was thrilling. He was bold, defiant, and quite funny at times, plus Pine played the role with a touch of sarcasm, but always the audience knew he’d do the right thing. James Kirk in this 2009 movie version was a combination of recklessness and righteousness that provided many opportunities for laughter as well as magnificent special effects.

Wolverine. Oh, yes…he has the animal magnetism thing going on, doesn’t he? A tortured soul, this tough guy is not afraid to use deadly force as he tries to regain his humanity. He seeks revenge on those who caused him misery…but if you read this background on him, you’ll see why Wolverine was a very bad boy who had to fight for his sanity.

Some of my other favorites are (Batman) Christian Bale/Dark Knight version, Dean Winchester from Supernatural, Leon: The Professional…which makes me think of  Cha Tae-sik from The Man from Nowhere, Luke Jackson from Cool Hand Luke, and of course so many characters played by Clint Eastwood. Hold on…I can’t leave out Jake Cottrell. He’s a seeker of mischief in my latest release, The Twelfth Paladin. Jake is his own worst enemy as he battles evil while becoming a supernatural slayer.

Do you prefer bad boys striving to do good as heroes, or do good guys through and through…like Captain America, entice you to read and watch them? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

Welcome to Earth

As far as planetary real estate goes, creatures from the cosmos may…at first glance, believe Earth’s residents to be highly disposable, savage beasts.  It is not possible to defend thousands of years of war, a lack of humanity raging within some humans, the carelessness at which we destroy our planet, or the seemingly hopeless way history repeats itself since we must learn things the hard way. The ugly truth is brutally obvious; humans are violent creatures who force war upon each other to control everything. The nightly news makes sure we are aware of our mistakes on a daily basis.  Feeling a sense of doom and shame for how we’ve handled ourselves is too easy.
Michaelangelo’s “David”

But all is not lost. Humans have great potential, and are not disposable beasts, even though we may require a tune-up…a desperately needed awakening of our minds, bodies, and souls.

So, what have we done right? Take a few minutes to marvel at mankind.  Some have accomplished astounding things which have affected millions, while others have made quiet, relatively unknown contributions…that are just as significant when placing mankind under a microscope of cosmic proportions.

For an instance, let humanity shine.

Dr. Jonas Salk: Produces Polio Vaccine

While there is no cure for Polio, an acute viral infectious disease, Dr. Jonas Salk produced a Polio vaccine in 1952 to prevent catching the disease that weakens muscles and can cause paralysis. This is the disease that put  Franklin D. Roosevelt (President of the United States 1933-1945) in a wheelchair.  Do you ever think about catching this horrible disease? I never do thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk and the other medical professionals who worked on the creation of this vaccine.

Invasion of Body Snatchers

Think you’re having a bad day? Take one minute to read The Worst Outbreaks of Disease. It will make you appreciate the diligent efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, and unrecognized guardians who care for the sick and dying. Read about Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) to discover the true power of compassion. The pioneering of nursing, along with the reform of hospitals, are her two greatest accomplishments, especially since she was a Victorian woman. She was also a noted mathematician.

Tiny Word Loaded with Death…War

War has been, and is currently, a part of life here on the blue sphere. It’s a sad fact of life, but read about the courageous women of the 14th Kentucky Infantry who supported soldiers during the United State’s Civil War. None of these women had to go out of their way; they could’ve hidden deep in the hills and waited for the war to end, yet they proved to be unsung heroes whose wartime efforts speak volumes about what it is to be human.

Also consider the valiant efforts of Len Smith who risked life and limb in the trenches of WWI to sketch enemy positions and camps. Does this not make you think about the soldiers who died bringing peace to a few corners of our world? It makes me think about the cost of freedom and of the men and women who saved others from harm’s way, but perished while doing so.

Lost in Magnificence

I acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly sides of humanity, but what I absolutely love about our species is the yearning to create beauty…to mimic what Mother Nature has to offer with paintings, poetry, fiction, sculpture, and the supreme tranquility offered by our greatest musicians. Why do we create? That’s an age-old question, and I’m sure no answer will satisfy me, although it always intrigues me.

Take a look at Michelangelo’s Pieta (1499) that was carved for the Vatican/St. Peter’s. Michelangelo lived from 1475 to 1564 and produced magnificent works of art that to this day leave his audience spellbound. And let’s not forget Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) since his legacy as a painter, sculptor, scientist, mathematician, inventor, musician, architect, botanist, and writer still astounds people. To think Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci lived at the same time is almost unbelievable. After viewing Leonardo’s work online, and reading his bio, I really cannot imagine how this person had time to sleep.  The activity within his brain must have been relentless.

Now, take a look at the ceiling fresco in Duomo Cathedral/Florence, Italy. It was designed and started by Giorgio Vasari in, 1572, and then finished, in 1579, by Frederico Zuccari.

Duomo Cathedral/Florence, Italy/Judgement Day

One of my previous posts has links to music, like Johann Pachelbel and Felix Mendelssohn. These composers are flawless in their craft…both musicians mastered the art of infusing music with emotions. You will surely smile and feel something tender, or joyful, while falling into their musical realms. Feel as far away from savagery as possible while listening to either one of them.

Ancient Greek Vase

If creatures from the cosmos ever drop in to greet us, hopefully, they will not judge earthlings too quickly…or we may appear as ravenous control freaks incapable of compassion that utilize the intelligence given to us merely for selfish gratification. No…not all the time anyway! Humans, as bizarre as we are….have the ability to create beauty, and they will sacrifice so others will benefit. I hope that’s the impression we make if realtors from afar ever visit.

Please feel free to comment about extraordinary people you know to inspire others! Thanks for visiting.

It’s Always about the Marshmallows

It’s Always about the Marshmallows

“Um…”

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

John Wooden

If Pride and Prejudice is put in the DVD player, then homemade hot chocolate had better be heating on the stove. Oreo’s are expected to show up before show time and so are Twizzlers. However, heaven forbid if marshmallows fail to plop down into the steaming cups of chocolate milk. So what if there are no marshmallows?

Well, life will go on…that is true. But the marshmallows, floating in the chocolate pool until they melt making a creamy foam, adds an extra punch. Details, like a teaspoon of cinnamon in brownie mix, a handwritten note that’s been painstakingly decorated, or that unanticipated hug when needed most, are examples of things capable of enriching any day. I smile, saturated with happiness, when I see a kind note of encouragement left on my computer, especially since a super busy teenager took the time to write it.

Celebration New York Style

Details are important. Look at this photograph of New York City taken on New Year’s Eve, 2009. The shot oozes with a sense of commotion detailing how crazy the atmosphere is in NYC, especially when a celebration is under way. So many windows create interesting patterns above the people, some reflecting light while others are dark…which easily relates to the crowd since some of them possess hearts of light, while others are filled with darkness.

Black Cat in Athens

Although it may seem this photograph of a cat lacks details, it actually provides fantastic inspiration for poetry or a short story. The details are there…look again. Haphazardly white-washed, the steps look in need of repair because large gaps exist and weeds are growing. The black cat is not wearing a collar, and it may possibly be sniffing for food. The dirt in the larger pot is low and a small piece of paper is inside the pot, plus the plant on the step looks dead. So questions arise. How many cats live at this place? Could the piece of paper be important? Is the owner of this place in need of help? The photograph makes me wonder about what the front door looks like and who lives inside. Ah, yes…details. They are juicy tidbits that enhance everything.

As far as details in the craft of writing, let’s consider only characterization for this post. The most memorable characters are the ones whose personalities jump from the pages as a direct result of their characterization being filled with unique details about their past, present, and future goals, their habits…likes and dislikes, and details that reveal their inadequacies. Sometimes, what a character does wrong is more memorable than what most people would consider his/her high points. A flawed, but likeable, character with a deep dark secret…who gets into a precarious situation, compels many readers to find out what happens because they can relate to that on some level. Perfect characters? Does anyone know a perfect person? That would be difficult to relate to.

If by some chance you hit a grocery market today, snag a bag of marshmallows. Make hot chocolate, and add a handful of details to an ordinary day. You’ll smile with glee while snuggling on the couch with that special person…because life should be filled with marshmallows.

Add some fluff to life!

What are the details in your life that make it special? Have you had the pleasure of receiving a unique gift, or gesture, that while not necessary to survive, it caused joy? Feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

Creative Motivation

Dream Catcher Contest!
Prize is one PRINT copy of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine.
Send your best dream to noraweston.nw@gmail.com. Keep the content clean, please. Entries will be posted on the Dream Catcher page at Nora Weston. Winner chosen on September 1, 2010. Good Luck! Congrats to Kelsy…winner of the Dream Catcher Contest.

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Creativity is not merely the innocent spontaneity of our youth and childhood; it must also be married to the passion of the adult human being, which is a passion to live beyond one’s death.  Rollo May

Breathe life into your artistic endeavors….spark imagination by saturating your mind with the abundance of creativity found near and far, but still accessible. If your creative juices have evaporated leaving you thirsty for inspiration, then drift into bliss as you open your mind to new music, mood-setting photographs and artwork, and links of interest to encourage creative motivation.

Sometimes, all it takes for a story idea to pop into my head is listening to music or surfing through various photographs of distant lands. Paintings, landscapes, cityscapes, and ghostly-looking computer generated artwork can provoke interest that leads to poetry or stories.

Take note of this painting by Carl August Oesterley, completed in 1865, of Holy Spirit Hospital in Winter. The dark colors are ominous, the sticks twist looking like claws of a beast, and the snow adds a deathly atmosphere to the painting, but light in the golden sky shimmers with hope. This beautiful painting makes me wonder about who may have escaped from the hospital, or what may lurk inside of it. It definitely makes an impression.

Holy Spirit Hospital in Winter

Holy Spirit Hospital in Winter

This photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge, taken by Rachael Croft, is a perfect example of how something seen in daylight can became quite frightful once the moon comes out. Just thinking about crossing this bridge at night stirs the imagination since questions arise as to the people I’d encounter, and if the bridge would falter causing me to fall into dark cold water, plus this photograph certainly makes me question if I’d ever reach the other side.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

The elegant beauty of a side street in Rome intrigues me because I must wonder who I’d meet in this charming location. Would a local resident, engaged in a heated discussion with a waiter, capture my attention? Maybe a flashy tourist, wearing a sequined skirt, and holding too many bags would be the one to pull me into her world, but it might be the child sitting at a table by himself…with a dirty backpack, no shoes, and a story to tell who would win me over. As you can see, stories abound thanks to Rachael Croft’s discerning eye.

Side Street in Rome

Side Street in Rome

Cape Town’s beach provides ample opportunity to let the imagination run free. Crystal clear water, glistening with cool greens and blues, has the capability to wash ashore treasure, mystery, pirates, romance, and ancient artifacts, plus a long lost ship could suddenly emerge from the fog.  What is hidden in the depths of the ocean, or buried in the sand, is but a few moments away from discovery if your imagination is daring enough to dig.

Cape Town Beach

Cape Town Beach

Scary stuff this is! This watercolor painting not only evokes a sense of dread, it reminds me of how dangerous sleep deprivation can be. Completed while I was in college as an assignment for a painting class, this one manages to push the boundaries of realism far away and allows me to enter a fantasy world where nothing is impossible. Looking at her face, I wonder who she is while trying to decide if she’s the protagonist in my story…or the beguiling antagonist.

Dream Catcher Face

Nightmare in Blue

At times, music is the way to go for inspiration to soar. Take a minute and visit the links to see if anything captures your interest. Don’t miss Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. It is an amazing piece.

Three Days Grace

Johann Pachelbel Canon in D Major     

Decaying Tree

Breaking Benjamin

Mendelssohn

Johann Sebastian Bach   

Jason Miraz

Emerson Drive   

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Matt Nathanson

Train

Thanks for visiting the Noracast. Feel free to leave a creative motivation suggestion!

 

Breaking the Block

Not in the mood to visit Neverland today? Is a trip to Oz out of the question as well? If it’s one of those days when your creativity has been buried under the massive weight of writer’s block, then fight to smash that block to pieces.

Inspiration can be found in an instant if you are open to it. For example, I traveled back to my home state of West Virginia to attend a wedding. It’s sad, but I’d forgotten the extreme beauty of WV. The glorious hills are carved from Mother Earth creating deep valleys and rivers run wild and free, babbling with secrets from yesteryear. Take a peek at New River Gorge, Seneca Caverns, Greenbrier Resort, and haunted places in WV to stir creative juices.

Lesson learned? If your brain is stuck, glued to a particular geographic location, get out of town. What you’ll see will raise questions about the amazing people you meet and the wonders you see.  I couldn’t help but to ponder about the history of the state and more than a few of the homes practically invited me in to uncover long buried tales of the dead. Keep in mind, an actual drive, or flight, to a new region does not have to happen. Use the Internet and soak up another region to light a fire in your belly. Consider Madagascar, Peru, or maybe a gorgeous city like Cape Town.

Music is another inspirational tool that often grabs my attention and puts in motion thoughts about people and places, plus unusual situations can arise within my imagination because of the tone, or lyrics, of a song. If you’re banging your head against a brick wall because your muse has disappeared, take a chance and listen to music that is not typically your favorite. Go on an adventure in sound.

Read! Escape for a bit into another writer’s mind to drift away from everyday stress.  I do believe chocolate is a necessity while going on a literary journey as well. Kick your feet up, indulge yourself by not thinking about your life, and soon…you may find your imagination is back on a fast train.

Never underestimate the power of the past since heroes abound who are ready to fight against the writers’ block brigade. Cool sites include Histories, Mysteries, & Strangeness, and Smithsonian.com. It’s easy to get lost in another time and place like with the Sumerians, Inca, or Aztecs.  If you explore and dive deep into legends and fabled kings and queens, you’ll be inspired.

Other tips:

-Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down new ideas or record your ideas while on the go with your cell phone.

-Interview your family and friends about their lives. You may find a memorable story within their past recollections.

-Learn about the history of your state and city.

-Visit blogs and websites of other writers to see what inspires them.

-Go to your local library and ask for assistance in finding unique books about local history and heroes.

 What do you do to stay motivated? Feel free to leave a comment.

 Thanks for visiting!