Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another Crazy Year!

Hail Friends,

When I started this blog I had the good intention of posting here often but perhaps you've heard what the road to Hell is paved with- at least I can one day take pleasure in a smooth ride knowing that I contributed so much. lol

So, now that more than a year has gone by I'll hit the highlights.

First up, my novelette Riders of the Three-Toed Horse was chosen for the 2009 Locus Recommended Reading List! Seeing my lil' ole name in a list with the likes of Peter S. Beagle, Tanith Lee, Lucius Shepard and other such literary heroes of mine sent me over the moon! I must have stared at the page for an hour after I found out about it just thinking "Oh my God that's ME!!". I'm really pleased people like that story so much, and yes, I am working on more- a lot more.

In more 'Riders' news, I was excited to have long time friend and fellow madman Birke Duncan adapt the novelette into a pulse pounding radio play! It has been aired on a variety of radio stations across the country and has gotten some great reviews! I designed the covers and the play features some amazing voice talents, including celebrated Northwest story tellers and actors Bob McAllister and Birke Duncan! Go get one, Now!

This year very sadly saw the final issue of Jim Baen's Universe, a pioneer in the world of web based magazines. Alas, alas, it was a wonderful thing but the fates were against it, despite a very dedicated staff's wishes to keep it going, JBU closed its doors April, 2010. I very much enjoyed writing for it, as well as illustrating- I did the cover art from October 2008 to the end and artwork for two stories, my own and Ben Bova's Moon Race. I was asked to fill in as Universe's art director for the last three issues, and did the artwork for all the stories in the final issue myself. I volunteered since there was no money to pay anybody else to do it and I am really a pretty nice guy (sucker) for all my outward ogre-ness! We have layers! It was all good, being art director for two magazines looks swell on the old artsy resume.

For the final issue's cover I portrayed the title being pulled down into a black hole-symbolizing how awful I felt to see the magazine end but also with a glimmer of hope for a rebirth in some other universe. To some extent that has happened!

The Other Magazine I serve as art director for, the Grantville Gazette has started publishing one Universe story per issue in the new Universe Annex! I'm loving this, as much as I enjoy trying to come up with fun mixes of 20th century and 17th century images every two months (if you haven't tried the Gazette yet go do so now, it's too hard to explain!) I now get to do at least one wild card piece of SF or fantasy art per issue that is not related to Eric Flint's unique 163X-verse, variety is the spice of life.

Here is my fave Annex art I've done so far, for Jason K. Chapman's exciting tale of life amongst the asteroids, The Long Fall. I've decided to make Universe Annex art look like book covers from this point forward with the hopes that Baen Books will one day wake up and realize that I can make them book covers, fast and cheap! lol

There were a couple of super bright spots this year in which I got to meet some of my SF and Fantasy novelist heroes in person. In August I had the very extreme pleasure of meeting Eric Flint in person at the
The 10th Occasional North American Science Fiction Convention in Raleigh South Carolina, ReConStruction in which Eric Flint was Guest of Honor and we held a 1632 Minicon. It was fun to finally meet the guy who signs my checks! Eric is a very genial fellow and possibly the most intelligent being I have ever met, scary smart that one! I think he was impressed that I bothered to come all the way from Bangkok Thailand to be there, I wouldn't have missed it for the world! I was also overjoyed to finally get to meet the rest of the Grantville Gazette staff and many of our writers, what a great group! I followed our Editor Paula Goodlett around like a puppy dog for the whole con, she is pretty basically The Best Boss Ever and a heck of a lot of fun to hang out with! Everybody was very supportive, they knew I had huge butterflies about giving my first ever convention panel (on art for the Grantville Gazette) and were very much there for me- it turned out fine and I was glad my peers got to see some inside skinny on how I do (the often incredibly weird!) things I do to make art for the magazine. I hope to be able to fly across the big pond and do that again one day!

The other HUGE highlight of this year was getting to meet SF and fantasy goddess CJ Cherryh in person! She is wonderful!!!!! An incredibly talented and gracious person, she was kind enough to answer my (sweat soaked, scribbled) list of 'how to' questions, something I will treasure forever!
I was also exceptionally fortunate to meet artist and novelist Jane Fancher, who in addition to doing amazing work is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and an open bar, what a hoot! CJ and the Shejidanites are among the nicest people on the planet, seldom have I felt so welcome by total strangers! It was like we had all known each other for years! Gush, gush, I don't care, feel the love!!!! :-D

The other big event in my professional life this year was finishing and selling my first novel! At first I didn't even realize I had done it, the thing started out as a short story but just kept growing and growing! It's set in the 163X-verse and revisits my characters who live there, Pam the birdwatcher and her stalwart companions Gerbald and Dore, who have left Grantville to sail around Africa to Mauritius on a mission to save the helpless dodo from extinction! It's being presented as a serial, so by all means please check out Second Chance Bird, Episode One in Volume 32 of the Grantville Gazette!

So, that about wraps up 2010. I'm working on the latest Gazette as well as a brand new 163x-verse story, something quite different from what I've done so far. I intend to have those finished well before Christmas, the twelve days of which I intend to spend pleasantly pickled under the Christmas tree with my wonderful wife Mochi. It will be time to relax and reflect on a year that was one of the craziest yet, some for ill, most for good. I am very much looking forward to 2011, I have set it as The Year in which I really take off, friends, you ain't seen nothing yet! Ideas, boy have I got ideas, and best of all I find myself landed in the perfect time and place to do them! I wish all of you who take the time to read this a a fantastic New Year- see you there!

Garrett W. Vance
Bangkok, Thailand
December 6th, 2010.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Many Good Things


I've put off posting here for far too long so here I am! My only excuse is that I have been busy working! When I decided to get serious about my true callings I started this blog and I have done the work-a LOT of good things have happened since! So, here's a brief history of what Garrett W. Vance (Yup. that's me!) has been up to!

My wild and wooly sci-fi/horror adventure, Riders of the Three-Toed Horse was published in the February 2009 issue of Jim Baen's Universe science fiction and fantasy magazine. The story is my first
published non-shared universe piece and I confess to being pretty proud of it. Lois Tilton of the Internet Review of Science Fiction gave the story a really nice review, which can be read in its entirety here. Here's the highlight:

"What Elias discovers is authentically scary and weird, and it is by no means obvious whether he will escape or not. The characters are genuine, and the setting is both strange and real, with the strange stuff made quite credible by the author." -Lois Tilton

That pretty much made my whole year!

I was also fortunate enough to be able to do my own art for the piece, I do indeed love getting two pay checks per one story! I spent long hours researching what the prehistoric proto-horse of the Miocene, merychippus, (my 'three-toed horse') might look like, based on a study of skeletal remains and wild 'living fossil' species such as Przewalski's Horse, untouched by domestication and still maintaining many ancient traits. This critter is textbook and museum quality, or so darn close you could spit there.

My long time friend and collaborator Birke Duncan is currently adapting Riders into a radio play, I can't wait to hear it!

2009 has seen art take more center stage in my career. I was very excited to be asked to do three book covers for author and Universe editor Mike Resnick. They will be companion pieces to the online presentation of the novels, as soon as the links are ready I will post them here, meanhwhile, here are the covers!

First up is the cover for Mike Resnick's The Widowmaker Reborn, an action packed science fiction thriller.

The next is for his humorous fantasy Stalking the Unicorn.

My third piece of the set is for Resnick's powerful and enigmatic Oracle.

I've been continuing to do my little dream job, making the the cover art for Jim Baen's Universe magazine. This has been a real pleasure as well as a challenge. Here comes the thumbnail gallery.

Author and super nice guy Bud Sparhawk was kind enough to email me some very welcome praise on the cover I did featuring his story Winds of Mars. "I very much admire what you did with the image in my story WINDS OF MARS for the June cover... I've already framed the issue cover for my brag wall..." -Thanks again, Bud!

I would say all that counts as staying busy. :-) I have some stories I'm working on, too, so fear not, 'Garrett the Artist' will make room for 'Garrett the Writer' again real soon! More good things to come, that's a promise.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Interview With GWV

Hi Friends,

I'm feeling a bit introspective here on an October evening and so I'm going to engage in the guilty pleasure of pretending I'm being interviewed..

While skimming across the net I found the following interview, originally with Yves Saint Lauren. I like the questions, so here goes!

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?

What is your favourite quality in a man?

And in a woman?

Who is your favourite historical figure?
Basho, the haiku poet.

Who are your living heroes?
People who dare to speak aloud thoughts, write stories and create art that might get them killed by the world's ignorant and greedy.

Who would you like to be, if you could?
J.R.R. Tolkien, my favorite author. He was a dreamer and a scholar, and quite successful at both.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Getting fan mail... and money for whatever I did that brought on the fan mail.

What is your idea of misery?
Settling for less- particularly from myself.

Where would you like to live?
Some interesting and beautiful places I haven't lived yet. Although here is good, too.

What talent would you like to have?
Being good at math.

For what fault do you have the most toleration?
Over-exuberance, especially in youth.

Who are your favourite painters? (I'll stick to the classics, as Yves did)
Da Vinci and Monet

Who are your favourite composers?
Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsokov , I love the moody romance of the Russians.

What is your favourite colour?


Of all things, what do you most detest?

Have you got a motto?
"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
-Henry Ford

What would you like to do right now?
I would like to make a somewhat more than comfortable living from my creative endeavors, and so have plenty of extra money to help young artists and writers get started, causing me to be a widely celebrated and well loved old fart.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The New Jim Baen's Universe Cover Artist

Well, that's me! I hardly believe it myself! It's astounding! It's fantastic! It's startling!

Here's December 2008's cover. I chose to feature legendary writer Ben Bova's Moon Race. I'll make a few more tweaks on it before publication, but this is the basic idea:

The piece is very much inspired by the works of the 1940's-50's sc-fi and fantasy pulp magazine artists. I was born too late to get the pulps off the newstands, but I am lucky to know them through second hand finds and printed collections. I spent many happy hours in my youth dreaming of the far away worlds those classic magazines provided such thrilling glimpses of.
I still do. I have to pinch myself now that I am the guy doing the covers for an amazing magazine like Jim Baen's Universe! It's a childhood dream come true.

I'm now working on the cover for the upcoming October 2008 issue. The art will feature Mike Resnick's very moving story, Article of Faith. It looks like this will be a regular gig for for a while, I can hardly wait to see what future stories I will get to homage in cover art! I'm so freaking happy I'm going to dance the 'Eagle Rock' all up and down the docks! "Everyone in for the Eagle Rock!" (Dances the 'Eagle Rock' Be glad there is no video.)

It still boggles my mind. I get to make moon walkers and androids for the covers of a popular sci-fi and fantasy magazine that has all the magic of the wonderful pulps of yore, and more. What a lucky life.

Postscript: I neglected to thank my friend Dennis A. Martin for making a 3-D model of the walker based on my sketches. His version forms the base of the image you see here- I think it's time I learned how to use that 3-D stuff! Thank you, Dennis!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grantville Gazette Ad

Hail Friends,

A while back Paula asked me if I could whip up a last minute ad for the Grantville Gazette to go in the Liberty Con booklet. Since our fearless leader Eric Flint was the guest of honor it would be a good idea to have something in there! I only had 48 hours to get it done but I came through, whew! After the dust settled I took another look at what I'd done and thought we could get some more mileage out of it. I made a few changes, added another Gustav fighter (my version of the premiere warplane of the 163x-verse) and sent it off to Paula who liked it. :-) My hope is it will soon be pointing the way to the Gazette from here and there around the web.

This is just too much fun.

Garrett W. Vance

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm now the Art Director of the Grantville Gazette!

Great googly moogly, I haven't made a post to my blog in almost a year! Here's my excuse: I've been busy WORKING on artistic stuff! Back in November of 2007 I became the Art Director of the Grantville Gazette. I think Editor Paula Goodlett may have put some kind of spell on me, she has Powers... All I did was whip up a jokey pic for her I made of myself dressed up in official swag from the 1632 Store and she realized I was a pretty fast hand with Photoshop.

The next thing I knew, I was hired! The best part was I got this job by clowning around! (something I excel in). I now do all the art for the magazine. I also know a LOT more about Photoshop than I did when I started. It's a big job, but I really enjoy it! (Shhh, don't tell Paula!)
Check out Grantville Gazette Volume 15 and up for the pretty pictures; some are my original creations along with various public domain art to represent the historical elements of this alternate history series. My pride and joy are the title banners I design for each story. It's always a challenge, sometimes I find myself pondering questions like "How do I make a pig interesting?" I am working hard to bring a new (and hopefully interesting) look to this very eclectic magazine. For a few personal favorites look here, here, and here. This title banner was chosen by the 1632 Board for the Ring of Fire Club member's exclusive 2008 commemorative coffee cup!

Throughout all this I have still managed to get some writing in.
I'm crossing my fingers that my sci-fi action with a touch of horror piece, Riders of the Three Toed Horse, gets picked up by the Gazette's big sister magazine Baen's Universe. I'll write more about that one in a later post (hopefully in less than a year's time, and ideally after it has sold!). Writing-wise I'm currently working on a new 163X-verse story titled Second Chance Bird, which features the continuing adventures of Grantville's 'Bird Lady' Pam Miller, who is off on a dangerous voyage around Africa to save the dodo! There's going to be more action than a summer blockbuster movie and maybe, just maybe, a little romance for Pam, our heroic (and no longer frumpy) divorce'.

Now I need to get Gazette 19's art going, I swear I am busier than a beer aficionado in Munich. Back to work!