Category Archives: For the LOVE of BOOKS

Exploring how the spacial relationships between typography and image can enhance meaning

What is so Special About The Story of Jasmine?

     The Story of Jasmine is truly unique and remarkable—not only from the standpoint of the story being told but from other key aspects as well. I thought I would help my supporters understand why every installment is unique and remarkable.
     It’s not supposed to happen like this…
    … to freshly present a finished installment to readers at the same time the story is being conceived is unheard of. But here we are.
The Writing
     Books usually go into production after the ideas have already been conceived and written down, sculpted and rewritten, then edited and proofread. The amount of text is known. When planning a publication, designs are based upon knowing beforehand the sizes of all the elements needed to be in the layout.
     The Story of Jasmine is in perpetual idea form. I can truly say I only have a vague notion of where the story is going. And I don’t know how the story ends. I am trusting that the creative process will take me where I need to go and everything will get resolved in a spectacularly satisfying way.
     The way I process information is a factor in my creativity. Not only am I a visual thinker, but a spatial thinker as well. I see things in terms of their orientation in space (and time). When I’m writing, I often get a visual of how the story appears on the page.
     I record ideas as they freshly occur to me and reason out the in-between stuff. I’m often surprised at what is gets revealed in the narrative that had never occurred to me when piecing known elements together. To update the newest information in my head is to integrate it.
While I’m in a more linear mode, I ponder why newly revealed details would be important and how they might affect the other characters. All I really have to do is pose the question to myself and I’ll (eventually) receive an answer. However, the story usually comes when I’m engaged in a physical activity, such as housework.
     Maybe I’m sweeping the floor when a part of the drama unfolds before my eyes. I’ll continue my activity until the “clip” is finished. As a visual thinker I “see” the characters in motion. Then I’ll go over the scene in my head, again and again—while still sweeping—so I understand it from each character’s perspective.
****I’ve read research that suggests that doing something physical while trying to learn something reinforces the ability to remember. It might be why when talking with a friend while on a walk, I would be able to reconstruct our entire conversation later when taking the same route. The memory is tied to different features, such as walking over peculiar cracks in the sidewalk or pausing in front of a tree. I’m apt to agree with the study.  But I digress… ********
     Each published installment is a single scene that represents a complete thought. I decide whose viewpoint would most effectively advance the story for the reader. I only begin writing in earnest when phrases start coming in.
     Writing might take a couple of hours or three days. But as soon as I am finished, I transfer the raw text electronically and import it into Photoshop. First, I see how much text there is to work with. If there is little text, the illustrations become larger, vice-versa.
     This is the point where I edit the text. Appreciating the text in the context of the page is where I begin to assess the design. The text becomes units or blocks that have spatial relationships to other blocks. Visually, some blocks need to be filled when the lines are too short. I solve these visual problems by adding or losing words. It’s a matter of choosing different words to convey the same meaning. If I want to increase the size of an illustration, I may toss out a paragraph.
     This more organic method flies in the face of conventional graphics design where an established grid dictates the size and relationships of the units. For aesthetic considerations, I rely upon my eye and my artistic sensibilities to make the page a joy to behold because I’ve internalized the rules and understand how to break them.
The Jasmine Font
     A large part of my page aesthetic is due to the font. I designed my Jasmine font based upon the calligraphy I used in 1980 in some installments of The Story of Jasmine published in The Dragon magazine.
     The text font is the italic version of the Jasmine font. This is another departure from convention. Italics is seldom used for large blocks of text because italics is too hard to read: it is usually reserved for captions instead. Roman (upright) and Regular (medium weight) versions of fonts are normally used for blocks of text.
     When I first used my font, I was still renovating the original panels and wanted to replicate their size and look. The Jasmine italics font is the same size as the calligraphy was on the original panels—large—so readability is not an issue.
     Then I decide what needs to be illustrated. Often, within an illustration’s progress, I may change the text to better describe the action, which may increase or decrease the size of the art.
     Often, no illustration decision is necessary. I simply re-create what I saw in my mind’s eye when my creative muse showed me a clip. I admit, I often receive material enough for several pages. So it’s a matter of being discerning. If I wish to feature a certain scene, I manipulate the text to accommodate an illustration, balancing the elements of the narrative between three panels or more.
     I chose to make the characters ultra-realistic looking. I wanted to f—k with the notion of reality impinging upon fantasy … a story documentary in page form. The realness of the characters feeds the realness of the tale. This very story just might be happening out there, somewhere, in another reality…
     From conception to finished layout and art, the process takes about a month. With Patreon’s monthly deadline, I feel honor-bound to my patrons to produce at least one installment each month. During the month, I weave together many different creative disciplines. But whatever I do, the result is fresh and in-the-moment.
     Where actually does the story come from? Is it my imagination or am I tapping into some other realm where all this is actually taking place? Do other writers wonder the same things too? Can’t it be both?
     Well, I cannot worry about how relevant a story is about a girl growing into her power even though I sometimes wonder if people are sick of medievally-inspired fantasies about kingdoms at war with evil. It doesn’t matter. This tale is being told whether or not our world is ready for it.
All I know is that my Patreon fans are witnessing a creative process that integrates several disciplines on an on-going basis.

An Example of How to Actively use Color for Healing and/or Enneagram Integration

The language of the unconscious uses symbols and colors as a part of its lexicon. The unconscious mind responds to colors emotionally. When you use color to consciously bridge communication with aspects of your self, it starts a conversation. Mindfulness coloring is being aware of your intent during the process while keeping your focus squarely within the moment. 

There are no rights or wrongs. There are only feelings and experience. Whatever the outcome, in the simple process of coloring, different states-of-mind become accessed. [Tip: Simply switching the pencil to the less dominant hand in the coloring process will assure interesting adjustments.] 

Use a light touch so that the colors from different pencils layer on top of each other.

If I wanted to:

Bring more joy into my life, I would choose a yellow coloring pencil. I would either color my own Enneagram Type’s coloring page from “Dancing The Enneagram” with yellows and oranges, or I could color Type 7’s coloring page. I could also choose another page that has animals associated with happiness and joy, like the dolphins from the Peacemaker coloring page 18, shown above.

Here is a narrative demonstrating my mindfulness coloring.

To alleviate feelings of sadness, I would choose a palette of several colors and approach the coloring in stages, using the darkest first (dark blue, medium blue, turquoise, pink, yellow–with a surprise at the end). It’s important to develop a technique of using the side of a sharpened pencil to color a broad area and to lay down color with a light touch. The idea is to broadly go over the general area with the color, tracing the contours over and over again. The page gets darker with each subsequent pass as the color’s saturation builds up.

While your pencil is finding it’s path, it is imparting and picking up energy. Move your strokes to encompass more of the page. Give yourself permission to feel when you need to move on. Don’t get caught up in any desire to “finish” coloring any certain area. Leave it be for later, in a different coloring session. We are always a work in progress.

The point is, by first using light feathering strokes, you are able to layer two different colors together. Another reason you are using light strokes is because of the rhythm you create with the pencil strokes puts you in touch somatically with your deeper parts.

The beauty of the system I’m developing is that it by-passes the intellect. Having more to do with the intuition, there’s no need to process why, when, who, how–the only need is to watch the healing parts of yourself take over as you allow it. The healing works because we respond to symbols and colors on a deep, foundational level.

To begin…

Acknowledge your sadness by choosing a dark blue color pencil (like navy or even indigo). Find the Peacemaker coloring page (18) and just color bits of the background, because sadness is always in the background. Do not color the dark blue all over unless you are treading very lightly. There are many color blues in the ocean.

The waters of the ocean you are coloring represent your emotions. Consider the ocean as different shades of blue and in using different blues, you are honoring the depth and complexity of your feelings. 

Now, choose a medium blue pencil and begin coloring next to the dark blue, gradating it out. Using a light touch, feather out the edges. Use the same technique with a turquoise pencil and continue coloring lightly where the medium blue left off and beyond.

Whatever recent issue prompted your coloring session, the blues represent your acknowledgment of your sadness. You have every right to feel what you feel. You honor the Truth of your feelings. The blues, quite literally, lighten up. Turquoise, with its bluish-green cast, introduces a hint of healing into the image as you color with the pure hue. Know that you won’t be blue forever.

Still using the turquoise, work your way up to the horizon. Using the lightest of strokes, concentrate on the sky closest to the water. Ascend your strokes, ever so subtly out of the water, out of the emotions, and up, into the horizon. Your pencil is till close to the water, (probably still wet 😉 However, now you have more perspective. Before you lies the expanse of the ocean, representing the innate wisdom of your Emotional Intelligence.

Now, you are free to pick up a non-blue color. Choose pink. Pink is white added to red. As a warm, active color, you are introducing quiet action. Continue to feather the pink over and quite beyond the boundary of the turquoise. Continue filling the sky with pink. Notice, what happens when the pink gets merged with the turquoise. Your eye blends the two to create another color. Behold–the result is a shade of purple. It’s magic! By yourself, you have introduced purple, the spiritual color of transformation

Look! What a sunny day it is. Like you did with the pink color, take out a yellow pencil (confidence) and feather over the pink, making sure to preserve some of the pure pink hue (for the sake of aesthetics).

Notice a beautiful shade of peachy orange becomes created when the yellow rolls over the pink. Orange is known for its gentle, warming effect.  Totally opposite Blue on the color wheel, orange is considered to be an antidepressant color, which exudes confidence and joy etc…   FIN

Extra Credit.

Only when and if you feel confident enough, you can end the session by taking a purple colored pencil and going over some areas within the dark blue of the water. Symbolically, you’re adding the power of transformation into the waters of your deep emotions, making it easier to get out of a funk. The purple is an echo of the sky-color you created, literally adding a little bit of sky into the deepest parts of your sadness.

I hope this technique gives you a better idea about how to approach the act of coloring as a tool for transformation. The approach may be gentle and forgiving, but it’s surprisingly effective.

The coloring page is from “Dancing The Enneagram” by Kate Finlayson and myself available here.


Dancing The Enneagram

I’m very excited to announce our PlayBook,* Dancing the Enneagram, by Kate Finlayson and yours truly is now being printed for a June 1st launch.

Last August (2018), I was at my friend, Kate Finlayson’s “Dancing The Enneagram’s” PlayShop in Charlotte. The experience with Kate’s effervescent energy was inspiring. I was so stunned and impressed with its power, on my drive back home, a vision to have her material developed in written form appeared to me.

That night, I furiously wrote. Within a short time, I created an outline for her book. I telephoned Kate and relayed to her my excitement. She asked me to present her with a sample chapter, which I did in short order. It seemed to me the book REALLY wanted to be birthed. And here it is: nine months later our baby is born.

The premise for “Dancing the Enneagram” is unique and ground-breaking. Kate, who is Nia-trained and certified, moves through each of the nine personality types. Her idea is to add a somatic component to an intellectual process, grounding one’s knowing into embodiment. Kate’s work is powerful and integrative.

Originally, I intended to present only Kate’s material, but an idea popped into my head to include the component of “coloring” into the mix because each of the nine personality types is also associated with a color. I’ve been working for a couple of years creating coloring books with positive images of maidens in their power to inspire “girls of all ages.” It seemed only natural to include what I know about coloring as a further means of integration, especially for those who have not experienced Kate’s energy in person.

I’m at my first “Dancing The Enneagram” PlayShop, August 2018.

Thus, in “Dancing The Enneagram,” I present the symbology of color, explain the difference between Light (RGB) and Pigment-based (CYMK) color models, and also offer a “Conscious Coloring” technique.

So the nine full-page illustrations I created for our PlayBook can be colored in or enjoyed as is. I’m also really happy to use one of my own font designs in the PlayBook. The design of the book exemplifies Beauty as is one of my best efforts.  It’s epic!

Dancing The Enneagram

*PlayBook and Playshop are Kate’s preferred terms over Workbook and Workshop. Learning shouldn’t be work.


BOOKS From My Library are 4 Sale!

Imagine, you are browsing in a used book store. If you are a true bibliophile, you’ll easily recall the joy of discovering a book you’ve wanted or one you didn’t know existed. So today, you can again access that joy — without the hassle of finding somewhere to park…

You are only browsing. Then you notice the History books on this shelf…

Books on shelf 5 of my Biography Bookcase


  • GANDI, An Autobiography, Mohandas K. Gandhi, (Beacon Press, Boson: 1957).
  • GANDI, A Pictorial Biography, Gerald Gold, (Newmarket Press, NY: 1983).
  • DASHIELL HAMMETT, A Life, Diane Johnson, (Random House, NY: 1983).
  • PHILOSOPHY OF EXISTENCE, Karl Jaspars, (Univ. of Philadelphia Press, Philadelphia: 1971).
  • WASHINGTON, Douglas Southall Freeman, (Touchstone Book, NY: 1968).
  • THE GREEK TREASURE, Irving Stone, (Doubleday & Co., Garden City, NY: 1958).
  • THE LAST LION, Winston Spencer Churchill,  Visions of Glory 1874-1932 ,William Manchester, (Dell, NY: 1983).
  • THE LAST LION, Winston Spencer Churchill,  Alone 1832-1940 ,William Manchester, (Dell, NY: 1988).
  • BOB DYLAN, Chronicles, Vol. One, (Simon & Shuster, NY: 2004).
  • EINSTEIN, Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, (The World Publishing Company, NY: 1971).
  • T.E. LAWRENCE, A Biography, Michael Yardley, (Stein & Day Publishers, NY: 1985).
  • THE PASSIONS OF THE MIND, Irving Stone, (Doubleday & Co., NY: 1971).
  • D.W. GRIFFITH, Richard Schnikel, (Simon & Schuster, NY: 1984).
  • NUR MAHAL, Harold Lamb, (Country Life Press, Garden City, NY: 1932).
  • PLUTARCH’S LIVES or LIVES OF THE NOBLE GRECIANS AND ROMANS, Plutarch, (The Modern Library, NY: reprint of 1864 volume).
  • EARLY REAGAN. The Rise to Power, Anne Edwards, (Morrow, NY: 1987).
  • GREAT HARRY The Extravagant Life of Henry VIII, Carolly Erickson, (Summit Books, NY: 1980.
  • WALKER, The True Story of the First American Invasion of Nicaragua, Rudy Wurlitzer, (Harper & Row, NY: 1963).
  • MONSIEUR D’EON IS A WOMAN, A Tale of Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade, Gary Kates, (Basic Books, NY: 1995).
  • BUSHWORLD Enter at your own Risk, Maureen Dowd, Putnam Press: NY: 2004).


If you happen to notice a title or two you may want, that’s great!

Many of these hardbacks were originally purchased at the $29.95 range, but I’m letting them go for $5.00 each (plus shipping and handling).

I will pack your desired books into a box to determine shipping costs, add the number of books by by $5.00 and respond to you via e-mail regarding the total. If you choose to pay via PayPal, please tack on a little more for their fees (Thanx). Once I receive funds, I will send the books out promptly.

If you are serious about getting some book(s), let me know by telling me in the comments section, so I can save them for you. Your order will packaged and shipped within a week. In the case that the same book is chosen by different people, it’s first come, first served.

 Shipping costs via Priority Mail Flat Rate info is at the bottom of this post or I can ship via Media Rate.

History Books to Browse


  • DECISION IN NORMANDY, Carlo D’Este, (Harper Perennial NY: 1984).
  • BITTER VICTORY, The Battle For Sicily, 1943, Carlo D’Este, (Harper Perennial NY: 1988).
  • THE ROCK OF ANZIO, From Sicily to Dachau: A History of the US 45th Infantry Division, Flint Whitlock, (Westview Press, Boulder, CO: 1998).
  • IN MORTAL COMBAT, Korea 1950-1955, John Toland, (Wm. Morrow, NY: 1991).
  • THE CRUEL PEACE, Everyday Life and the Cold War, Fred Inglis, (Basic Books, NY: 1991).
  • THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, A Political History of the Space Age, Walter A. McDougall, (Basic Books, NY: 1985).
  • DARK SUN, The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Richard Rhodes, (Simon & Schuster, NY: 1995).
  • THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB, Richard Rhodes, (Simon & Schuster, NY: 1988).
  • ACES, William Yenne, (Berkley, NY: 200).
  • THE GOOD YEARS, From 1900 to the First World War, Walter Lord, (Harper & Bros, NY: 1960).
  • THE NIGHTMARE YEARS,1930 – 1940, William L. Shirer, (Little Brown & Co., Boston: 1984).
  • WAR WITHOUT MERCY, Race & power in the Pacific War, John W.Dower, (Pantheon Books, NY: 1986).
  • EDEN TO ARMAGEDDON, WWI In The Middle East, Roger Ford, (Pegasus Books, NY: 2010).
  • THE SLEEPWALKERS How Europe Went to War in 1914, Christopher Clark, (Harper Collins, NY: 2012).
  • ROMMEL’S LAST STAND. Lawrence Cortesi, (Zebra Books, NY: 1984).
  • WARTIME, Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, Paul Fussell, (Oxford University Press, NY: 1989).
  • THE WAR’S LONG SHADOW, The Second World War and It’s Aftermath China, Russia, Britain, America, Bradley F. Smith,(Simon & Schuster, NY: 1986).
  • GOODBYE DARKNESS, A Memoir of the Pacific War, William Manchester, (Dell, NY: 1979).
  • THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WWII, I.C.B, Dear, Ed., (Oxford University Press, NY: 1995).
  • THE SECOND WORLD WAR, John Keegan, (Viking Press, NY: 1989).
  • CASSINO THE HOLLOW VICTORY, The Battle for Rome, January-June 1944, John Ellis, (McGraw-Hill, NY: 1984).


Biography Books on the Previous shelf you can browse:

Biography and Novels on the Fourth Shelf.


  • MASON & DIXON, Thomas Pynchon, (Henry Holt & Co., NY: 1997).
  • WHITE SHADOW, Ace Atkins, (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NY: 2006).
  • BABEL TOWER, A. S. Byatt, (Random House, NY: 1996).
  • VINLAND, Thomas Pynchon, (Little Brown & Company, Boston: 1990).
  • SPOOK COUNTY, William Gibson,(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NY: 2007).
  • SIGN OF THE QIN, L. G. Bass, (Hyperion Books, NY: 2004).
  • A WORLD TREASURY OF PROVERBS FROM 25 LANGUAGES, Henry Davidoff, collector, (Random House, NY: 1946). [SOLD]
  • HEIDEGGER ON THE DIVINE, James L. Perotti, (Ohio University Press; 1974).
  • FRANCOIS VILLON, D.B. Wyndham Lewis (Star Books, Garden City, NY: 1928). [SOLD]
  • THE LETTERS OF JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER, Jeremey Treglown, (Uni. of Chicago Press, Chicago: 1980).
  • FROM SATCHMO TO MILES, Leonard Feather, (Stein & Day, NY: 1972).
  • OLYMPIO: THE LIFE OF VICTOR HUGO, Andre Maurois, (Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., NY: 1984).
  • SAMUEL JOHNSON, W. Jackson Bate, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NY: 1977).
  • THE VENDETTA, FBI Hero Melvin Purvis’s War Against Crime, and J. Edgar Hoover’s War Against Him, Alston Purvis, (Publ;ic Affairs, NY: 2005).
  • AN ORIGINAL MAN. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD, Claude Andrew Clegg III, (St. Martin’s Griffin, NY: 1998).
  • THE MONSTERS. Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler,(Little, Brown & Company, NY: 2006). [SOLD]
  • THE SELECTED POETRY OF RAINER MARIA RILKE, Stephen Mitchell, (Random House, NY: 1982). [SOLD]
  • A TREASURY OF BIBLICAL QUOTATIONS, Lester barry, (Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NJ: 1948). [SOLD]


Biography Books on the Previous shelf:

Books from the third shelf of the Biography bookcase.


  • ORSON WELLES, Barbara Leaming, (Penguin Books, NY: 1985).
  • The Complete Tales & Poems of EDGAR ALLEN POE, Intro by Hervey Allen, (The Modern Library, NY: 1965). [SOLD]
  • THE ADVENTURES OF CONAN DOYLE, Charles Higham, (Pocket Books, NY: 1976). [SOLD]
  • CYRUS THE GREAT, Harold Lamb, (Bantam Books, NY: 1960).[SOLD]
  • ROBERT THE BRUCE, Vol 1. Steps to the Empty Throne, Nigel Tranter (Coronet Books, London: 1977)
  • ROBERT THE BRUCE, Vol 2. The Path of the Hero King, Nigel Tranter (Coronet Books, London: 1977)
  • HOUDINI The Man Who Walked through Walls, William Lindsay Gresham, (MacFadden Books, NY: 1968).
  • THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X , Alex Haley (Grove Press: NY: 1966).
  • THE WOLF BY THE EARS, Thomas Jefferson and Slavery, John Chester Miller, (University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: 1991).
  • THE FRONTIERSMAN The Real Life and the Many Legends of Davy Crockett, Mark Derr, (Quill, NY: 1993). [SOLD]
  • THE HAUNTED MAN. The Strange Genius of David Lindsay, Colin Wilson, (Borgo Press, San Bernardino, CA: 1979).[SOLD]
  • A COFFIN FOR KING CHARLES. The Trial and Execution of Charles I, C.V. Wedgwood, (Time-Life Books, Alexandria, VA: 1981.
  • THEY ALSO RAN, A Penetrating Insight into 23 Presidential Candidates–who didn’t make it, Irving Stone, (New American Library, NY: 1966).
  • THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory, Robert V. Remini, Penguin Books, NY: 1999).
  • L. RON HUBBARD Messiah or Madman? Bent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., (Lyle Stuart Inc., Seecaucus, NJ: 1987).[SOLD]
  • THE RIGHT STUFF, Tom Wolfe, (Farrar, NY: 1979).[SOLD]
  • A SORROW IN OUR HEART, The Life of Tecumseh, Allan W. Eckert, (Konecky & Konecky, NY: 1992).
  • NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, The Life of Joseph Smith, Fawn M. Brodie, (Alfred A. Knopf, NY: 1982).
  • PAUL REVERE & the World He Lived in, Esther Forbes, (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston: 1942).
  • THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, Joan Didion, (Alfred A. Knopf, NY: 2005).[SOLD]


The Biography books on the previous shelf…

Biography Books on a shelf



  • THE DIARIES OF SOPHIA TOLSTOY, Cathy Porter, (Random House, NY: 1985).
  • THE KNIGHT, DEATH, AND THE DEVIL, Ella Leffland, (Wm Morrow & Co, NY: 1990). [SOLD]
  • RASCALS IN PARADISE, James A. Michener & A. Grove Day (Random House, NY: 1957).[SOLD]
  • CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI AND THE LOST REVOLUTION, Ralph Roeder (Viking Press, NY: 1937).
  • REALLY THE BLUES, Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe, (Citadel Press, NY: 1990).[SOLD]
  • BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Walter Isaacson, (Simon & Schuster, NY: 2003).
  • BURR, Gore Vidal, (Random Hose, NY: 1973).
  • CARELESS LOVE, The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, Peter Guralnick, (Little Brown & Co., NY: 1999).
  • VAN LOON’S LIVES, Hendrik Willen Van Loon, (Simon & Schuster: 1942).
  • OLYMPIO: THE LIFE OF VICTOR HUGO, Andre Maurois, (Carroll & Graf, NY: 1956).
  • FRANCOIS VILLON A Documentary Survey, Hilaire Belloc, (Star Books, Garden City, NY: 1928).
  • THE LETTERS OF JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER, Jeremy Treglown, (University of Chicago, Chicago: 1980).
  • FROM SATCHMO TO MILES, Leonard Feather, (Stein & Day, NY: 1972).
  • GURDJIEFF, ANATOMY OF A MYTH, James Moorse, (Element, Rockport, MA: 1991).[SOLD]
  • AN ORIGINAL MAN. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD, Claude Andrew Clegg III, (St. Martin’s Griffin, NY: 1998).
  • THE ARYAN CHRIST. THE SECRET LIFE OF CARL JUNG, Richard Noll, (Random House, NY: 1997). SOLD
  • LORD ROCHESTER’S MONKEY, Graham Greene, (Penguin Books, NY: 1974).[SOLD]
  • SAMUEL JOHNSON, W. Jackson Bate, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NY: 1977).
  • CORNELL WOOLRICH: First You Dream and Then You Die, Frances M. Nevins, Jr. (Mysterious Press, NY: 1982). [SOLD]


You are only browsing. Then you notice the Biography books on this shelf…

Today, I’m featuring 20 hardback books from the top shelf of my Biographies Bookcase because I am whittling down my library. I’d rather my books go to appreciators of knowledge, not number pushers. I have 18 book cases, 6 shelves each, packed with collections on every possible subject. See below for title information.



  • BLUE ANGEL The Life of Marlene Dietrich, Donald Spoto (Doubleday, NY: 1992).
  • LEONARDO DA VINCI Flights of the Mind, Charles Nicholl (Viking, NY: 2004) [SOLD]
  • W.B. YEATS, A LIFE The Apprentice Mage, R. F. Foster (Oxford University Press, NY: 1997) [SOLD]
  • JOAN OF ARC, HER STORY, Regine Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin (St. Martin’s Press, NY:1998) [SOLD]
  • FINDING ATLANTIS A True Story of Genius, Madness, and and Extraordinary Quest for a Lost World, David King (Harmony Books, New York: 2005).
  • THE CRIME OF GALILEO by Giorgio de Santillana (University of Chicago: 1955) [SOLD]
  • MANDELA The Authorized Biography, Anthony Sampson (Vintage Books, NY: 1999).
  • THE MAN ON A DONKEY A Chronicle, H.F.M. Prescott (Macmillian Pub., NY: 1952).           Note: This is an historical novel based on the Prioress of Marrick, a nunnery which survived the destruction ordered by Henry VIII of monasteries and convents. [SOLD]
  • ALBERT CAMUS, A BIOGRAPHY, Herbert R. Lottman (Doubleday, NY: 1979).
  • EMPIRE OF THE SUN, J.G. Ballard (Simon & Schuster, NY: 1984) Note: This is a novel describing the author’s experiences in Shanghai during WWII and eye-witness account of the Japanese occupation.
  • VOLTAIRE and the Century of Light, A. Owen Aldridge (Princeton University Press, Princeton: 1975) [SOLD]
  • GORDON OF KHARTOUM The Saga of a Victorian Hero, John H. Waller (Atheneum: NY: 1988) [SOLD]
  • JULES VERNE An Exploratory Biography, Herbert R. Lottman (St. Martin’s Press, NY: 1996) [SOLD]
  • W.B.YEATS THE MAN AND THE MILIEU, Keith Alldritt (Clarkson Potter, NY:1997) [SOLD]
  • EDIE An American Biography, Jean Stein (Alfred A. Knopf, NY: 1982).
  • FREEDOM IN EXILE The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet (Cornelia & Michael Bessie Book, Imprint of Harper Collins, NY: 1990).
  • WELLINGTON The Years of the Sword, Elizabeth Longford (Harper & Row, NY: 1969) [SOLD]
  • DARK STAR The Roy Orbison Story, Ellis Amburn (Carol Publishing Group, NY: 1990).
  • DEAD CERTAINIES (Unwarranted Speculations), Simon Schama (Granta Books, London: 1991).
  • STANLEY KUBRICK, A BIOGRAPHY, Vincent LoBrutto (Donald I. Fine Books, Penguin, NY: 1997).

If you happen to notice a title or two you may want, that’s wonderful.

Many of these hardbacks were originally purchased at the $29.95 range, but I’m letting them go for $5.00 each (plus shipping and handling). Your order will packaged and shipped within a week. In the case that the same book is chosen by different people, it’s first come, first served.

If you are serious about getting some book(s), let me know by telling me in the comments section, so I can save them for you. Following is to give you an idea of shipping costs via Priority Mail Flat Rate.

Priority Mail Flat Rate:

  • 1 book = small flat rate shipping box at $7.25
  • 2 books = probably medium, depending upon size.
  • 3 books = medium flat rate shipping at $13.65
  • 4 books may fit into either a medium or a large box
  • 5 books = large flat rate shipping at $18.95
  • 6 books = may still fit into  large flat rate box
  • more books may require a combination of 2 or more boxes.
  • or let me know if you want them to go media/book rate
I will pack your desired books into a box to determine shipping costs, add the number of books by by $5.00 and respond to you via e-mail regarding the total. If you choose to pay via PayPal, please tack on a little more for their fees (Thanx). Once I receive funds, I will send the books out promptly.

I shall also update this site every time a book becomes unavailable. 

My Heart Misses You in Waves

I am pleased to show off my latest piece of artwork. This is a cropped version of a much larger submission to the author of a children’s book for consideration to be chosen as an illustrator of her series. Hopefully, my vision and the author’s are copacetic…

If not, I can still use the art, perhaps my image is striking enough to serve as a greeting card. The caption could read: “My Heart Misses you in Waves…” or “Sending Heartfelt Hugs,” or simply “I Miss You.”

The Map of Elvonia


I am so happy that a fantasy map I did last year may finally see itself being published. Not a stand-alone, it is a part of the novel, “The First Fable,” by K. R. Bourgoine. The white space in the middle of The Map of Elvonia  accommodates the gutter margin of a page. The Dragon was a special touch I added, a personal device of the author’s I noted from an old business card of his.

I was really happy to be doing fantasy maps again. There’s something about them that feeds my soul. And I hope my incredible feeling of awe while creating the map somehow gets infused into the printed copies.

The author, K. R. Bourgoine, recently began a KickStarter on his novel, “The First Fable,” and it’s up and running at the moment. Interested individuals, please inquire by hitting this link below:

Thank you very much for your interest.

Book Covers designed by DARLENE for Stephen E. Crockett

This Gallery displays eight recent book covers designed by DARLENE for author, Stephen E. Crockett. Stephen’s subjects and themes are drawn from the mountains and foothills of his North Carolina home and each story is its own little slice of psychological horror…

About Stephen E Crockett:

Before turning his attention to autobiographical, truth-based fiction novels, Stephen E. Crockett started his writing career back in 2001 with the publication of  “The Prophet Code” by Aethyrea Books, which he followed up with “Bible Prophecy” in 2006.

In 2010, he published in Kindle, “The Dark Man” followed in 2012 by the biographical story, “Black Tar: For the Love of Heroin.” Then came “Ocular: The Monster in the Mirror” in 2013;  “Knob Hill: The Grey House Murders” in 2014 and “The Island” in 2015. “Ouija: The Devil’s Doorway” and “Diary of a Drug Addict” were both published in 2016 while “The Puppet Master” was published in 2017.

Stephen’s works are only available as Kindle ebooks on in the Kindle bookstore. Just use your ebook reader and do a search on Stephen E Crockett, or click on the titles below. 

For anyone interested in knowing something about any of his books, here are their descriptions:


  • Black Tar is a biographical look at the use of heroin and the toll it takes on the addict. It is written from an addict’s perspective and details the day to day existence of one junkie as he lives from fix to fix and watches as his life spirals from alcohol, pills, and Cocaine to heroin and intravenous drug use. His attempts to free himself and live a sober life are always half-hearted at best and so his casual drug use spirals from a clean life, with a job and the hope of a family to a heroin addict; living hand to mouth–unemployed and desperate on the mean city streets. In this smack-tinted world, our junkie bounces back and forth between the extremes of overdose and withdrawal, both of which have the ability to kill him. Life is desperate for a junkie and all too often, they find themselves dangling between the fix that will kill him and the sobriety that will let him live.


  • A heroin addict looks back over a life of misery and addiction. From his earliest days experimenting with “gate-way drugs” to his spiraling descent, through every available illegal drug – into the hell of heroin addiction. He gets pushed by his addiction to heroin from a manageable addiction that he can control, through the loss of everything he owns and holds near and dear to his life. Heroin becomes his ever-present companion and over the years it turns him into a homeless, jobless heroin addict living under a downtown highway bridge. At his lowest, suicide seems to be the only way out, but when he finally hits rock bottom he realizes that in the mess, the muck and the blood that his life has become, salvation may still be possible. If only he can stay away from the needle and be as successful sober as he had been as a drug addict.


  • Within every mirror, there is a reflection; and within every reflection, there is a world. It may be as simple as your face in the morning or as complex as the world behind you. But not every mirror projects a reflection of whatever you place in front of it. Some mirrors have depth and in that depth, there hides another world–a realm you will never see unless you go looking for it. Sometimes you can find it, most times you don’t. Those that do open themselves up to a realm beyond our physical world, a place where dreams hide and nightmares come true; where monsters are real, and a man can quickly find himself hunted by creatures he knows nothing about and has no control over.


  • Following Hurricane Donna, a struggling family of four follows their dream to own a house. They run the real estate gauntlet, never finding anything they like until their agent shows them the last house on her list. A run-down Victorian style mansion sitting all alone on a piece of property the locals call Knob Hill. It looms over the valley like some giant gargoyle and is known to the locals as a place of mystery and great horror. Undeterred, the family buys the house and begins remodeling it. But just as they are settling into their new home, the nightmare begins. A silent, residing evil force reaches out to the oldest child and establishes a connection that slowly but surely guides him through the house’s violent past. When he is commanded to exact the same horror on his own family he does as instructed, skillfully killing his family members until there is no one left but himself and the demon who then drives him to suicide thereby reclaiming the house that has been its all along.


  • A group of young friends form a club to investigate occult subjects. From witchcraft, to mysticism, to magic. They get together on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. In the beginning, nothing much comes from their persistence. But then, one of them suggests they test the Ouija Board to see if there is any truth to its fabled abilities. Their main objective is to see if they can use it to summon invisible forces from the other side. Their experiment is successful, but quickly gets out of hand. All but one abandons the project. The last standing member of the group takes the Ouija Board home and continues using it to contact spirits. Demons or Angels? He can’t be sure until they leave little doubt in his mind as to what forces he has been dealing with.


  • Scott Clemmons lives in a world of hurt. Abused by an alcoholic father who murders his mother when he was twelve years old, Scott must deal with his own increasing paranoia and insanity. A big black bird shows up, invades his sanity, helps him murder his father to avenge his mother’s death, and then attempts to protect him from attacks that Scott believes is launched by his father’s disembodied soul. As he spirals into alcoholism, he must defend himself from “The Dark Man” who haunts the family farm and seeks to destroy everything that Scott holds dear. Scott fights hard to live a normal life and for a few short years is able to do so. However, as time passes “The Dark Man” consumes each and every part of his life, from his sanity to the love of his life and in the end this evil aberration consumes Scott as well. This story contains graphic depictions of demonic possession, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, child abuse, murder, death and suicide.


  • On a small island off the Carolina coast, there lives a beautiful woman whose life is marred by grief and tragedy. Her world is dark and loveless. Her marriage is miserable and the pain of losing her only child has almost destroyed her. Her pain is as real as the ocean that surrounds her and she has long made peace with the idea of committing suicide. And then a chance encounter with an uninspired writer turns romantic and although she’s married, she allows this stranger to swept her off her feet and into his arms with promises of a Summer she will never forget. For a time, their affair is a whirlwind of sex, wine, and cocaine. A life of excitement and pleasure await them at every turn and their secret affair is all consuming. As they share their darkest secrets she lets slip the fact that her husband is the island’s cocaine kingpin. He is a shrewd, evil man with illegal resources and no weaknesses. Once he learns of their affair he swears revenge and they are suddenly in great danger. As more and more details of the affair emerge, her husband’s contempt boils into a rage he cannot contain. They know their disappearance would be nothing more than passing gossip and the question is not IF he will seek his revenge but WHEN and, as she knows far too well, his actions will destroy everything and completely.


  • On a south-eastern Virginia farm, a dirt-water, back-woods rendition of fundamentalist Christianity dares to rear its ugly head. Heavily influenced by a little red book–based solely on a deep misunderstanding of basic religion and Biblical principle–written by a mysterious missionary, one believer’s brain is being cooked. He uses his Bible with the little red book to terrorize his family in the name of religion and stews in a vat of ignorance and superstition from which springs forth a most unholy doctrine. He’d totally inflict his insidious beliefs on his family were it not for his wife, who would stand for none of it. She’s ready to protect her children from what she believes is her husband’s religious insanity. And then the puppet master appears. Revealed as the author of the red book, he arrives with extensive plans to build a network of churches based on the dictates of his little red book. The farm is sold and the family reluctantly moves from Virginia to North Carolina where the first church is to be built. It is here that the shellacking begins. The church attracts its fair share of attention, however, nobody hangs around for long as the church evolves from great hope and possibility to empty pews and bankruptcy.

TIM KASK Interview with DARLENE, May 2016

This interview first appeared in Tim Kask’s blog: DRAGON GRUMBLES on May 17, 2016:

DARLENE, best known for her iconic work in illustrating AD&D (1E) and the Greyhawk maps, and I go back a long way together. Even before TSR was buying her art, I was buying it for Dragon Magazine. We share many interests and it was with great delight that I found out about her involvement with this unusual system and that she was “back with us” in the gaming field. 

For the remainder of this piece, we will only use initials—less typing. Tim Kask

TK: So, D, what have you been up to lately?

D: I’ve been up to my share of mischief. But what I have on my mind to talk about today is my artistic contribution to a (virtually) new 336-page hard-back fantasy role playing game published last December, 2015.

TK: So tell us…

D: The book is called Mythos Arcanum and its game system was inspired by old school D&D.

TK: I have skimmed it, mainly to see all the gorgeous art; what makes this different from all of the other clones?

D: The author, Joe Aragon juxtaposes modern day rules with allegorical content. It’s different from older fantasy role playing games in that, during the course of the game, it encourages players to explore meaningful self-reflection with their characters. The first concept behind this game is to have fun. Joe Aragon simply broadens the basic package of fun with a new, mind-expanding component. By allowing philosophical queries of illusion and reality to surface, Mythos Arcanum becomes a gateway for young minds to explore the nature of reality.

Q: How did you first get involved with the project and the author?

D: Joe sorta courted me…

TK: “Courted?”

D: (laughing) In a chivalric sense and only as an artist. I have never personally met Joe Aragon. He contacted me around 2010 via email asking me to create a logo for his company, Mythos Arcanum Games Imagined (MAGI), which I did. After that, he persistently raised the possibility of me creating interior illustrations for his book. We e-mailed back and forth for a spell. At the time, I was closed to that possibility and tried to communicate my reluctance to return to RPG illustration. Joe pointed out that my endeavors in fantasy illustration were not just relegated to the past. He indicated that a lot of people would welcome seeing new RPG art from me.

TK: Wasn’t I telling you that very thing?

D: Yes, you were. You pointed out that people still remembered me even though I was out of the loop for 30 years. Many fans honor the Greyhawk maps as classics and still relate to my illustrations as integral and formative to their early gaming experiences.

Tim, it’s due to your prodding as much as Joe’s that we are even having this conversation today. You have a leading role in my return to the RPG fantasy scene. That’s why I thought you’d appreciate hearing about my new RPG endeavor.

TK: I do. Continue.

D: Initially, I refused Joe as I had not done any serious illustration work for over 25 years. With a full time job, I felt I did not have the time. Then there’s the fact that monetary compensation for RPG interior art in the industry is notoriously low–at least compared to rates in the real world.

TK: What made you finally decide to work with Joe?

D: I relented after I finally grokked (Oooh, a Heinlein reference) Joe Aragon’s innovative concept behind his new game system. In Mythos Arcanum, Joe Aragon improves upon an issue that has never been satisfactorily addressed in RPG game settings. Consequences exist for the taking of life. Joe calls it, “philosophical role-playing” and explains it like this:

“In a standard fantasy role-playing game, a knight might kill a group of bandits. For this, he is awarded treasure and experience points. In Mythos Arcanum, in that same situation, the knight might have to face up to that what he’s doing constitutes murder and that killing the bandits may not be the right thing to do.”

As in real life, it does not matter if the unfortunate man who met his demise was a thief or murderer. Nothing ever condones the taking of life. The laws of karma are in full play.

TK: There have been a few occasions when thinking about our whole genre that I have been somewhat appalled by how casually we shrug off all the killing. I then remind myself that it is all make-believe. This game seems to be a lot less blasé about that.

D: The moral lesson (of there being consequences for ones choices and actions) is a vital lesson to learn deeply in today’s world–especially in the case of young players. So yes, I could easily devote my time and energy to produce something worthy and beautiful for the next generation of table top gamers. All could benefit from knowing some key life lessons.

Oh, yes–another reason I’m on board regards the game’s take regarding the nature of good and evil. He writes this about the issue (page 106): “The intended spirit of Mythos Arcanum is purposely designed to portray the universal struggle of good vs evil. Various archetypal character classes are created as symbols of these principles in order to play out scenarios of good versus evil in a medieval fantasy setting. As the heroes fight against monsters of darkness and villains with selfish agendas, they explore various fantasy realms of the imagination. It is assumed the players will play the side of good or at least neutral as they strive against the ever-present and destructive agents of evil, destruction and darkness. This is not a game to indulge an individual’s attraction to those things both dark and sinister… There are many other game systems designed for such endeavors.”

That’s why I think this is a fantastic RPG system to introduce to young people and why I went the extra mile.

TK: I have a slight issue with his characterization of other games indulging attraction to the sinister, but I still find the premise refreshing. On another note, you mentioned being worried about starting back up with doing illustrations. How did that go?

D:  Well, I got off to a very shaky start. That was five years ago. I was the opposite of prolific. I think I astounded Joe with my snail pace, averaging about one illustration every moon cycle. Since I had not touched pen to paper in years, it took me a while to get acclimated enough to find my groove. Once I finished the art, I scanned it. Usually, this is the final step, but I found it was but the first. Dogged by the perfectionist within me, I found myself “cleaning up” imperfections on the scanned electronic version. I’d readjust the proportions of figures, alter backgrounds and props, re-crop, re-define, and sharpen the lines.

TK: So you like using the computer.

D: Like it? My computer is more than an artistic tool. I love the fact that I can zoom in really close without straining my eyes physically. The best part is the computer’s ability to “undo” strokes–which is impossible with ink on paper.

Also, with the computer, I can contribute a lot more detail. In a piece of art, I love to balance richly textured areas with non-detailed areas. I seem to use the mouse in the same way I use a pen.

TK: Wait a moment–you don’t use a stylus? Don’t all computer artists use those?

D: Apparently not. I never invested in a stylus. I forget the reason. I simply learned to use what was at hand to work with. Every dot and every line equals one mouse click. It’s no different than the pointillist technique I did during the day, and takes about as long.

TK: Let me get this straight; you’re saying that all of your art in this gorgeous book was done using just a mouse? Including this one that looks like a woodcut?

Animal Friendship

Animal Friendship

D: Good eye! And I mean that in more ways than one. (Happy your eye operation was successful)…    Yes, I opted to preserve the mystique of something from yesterday-year. It was not hard because I seem to naturally drift towards doing a woodcut effect anyway.

TK: Wow, D–The book is profusely illustrated.

D: This was the result of a successful 2014 fall Kickstarter campaign. One of the stretch goals was to have me fill in the gaps. I am not the only illustrator. Between everyone, every monster, racial type, and character class is fully illustrated. Jim Holloway created the cover art and about 27 of the interior illustrations. The other artists who contributed are Rowena Aitken, Vaggelis Ntousakis, Laura Siadak and Martin Siesto. So all of a sudden, I had a bunch of illustrations to complete in addition to the book’s design.

TK: How many illustrations did you do?

D: Officially, I created 52 illustrations of various sizes. But while I was designing the book, I thought it would be neat if the Herb Lore section could appear like an old Herbological Guide Book. So I gifted the project with 34 small spot illustrations of plants. Simply to delight the reader, I also created 17 symbolic emblems in the Deity section to fill it out. I think these special little touches entice the imagination. So to answer your question, I did over 100 new illustrations for this book.

Q: Isn’t doing all this detailed work time consuming?

D: Very. But if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well, don’t you think? The successful Kickstarter helped to free me from the 20th century notion that “time is money.” In that world, it makes no economic sense not to declare a piece of art finished as quickly as possible. That doesn’t work for me.

Time is art. That’s my new paradigm. I added detail because I love the richness of juxtaposing different textures. Besides, I consider the time I devote on my illustrations to be a gift to my fans.  Locked into my work is the spiritual substance of my artistic focus, beneficence and devoted presence which can be felt through the images. Sensitive players can touch Joe’s strange and beautiful World of Rocheron within Mythos Arcanum.

TK: You mentioned designing the book?

D:  Before I came on board with the project, around 2011, the book was technically ready to go to press. However, the previous layout person made all the customary mistakes novices always make when they attempt to design a publication. Even if space is dear, people must avoid starting a new section in the middle of the second column of a left hand page. Equally bad is splitting up graphs and text so that a page has to be turned to glean important information.

Amateurs at design also tend to be horrorvacuists (having a fear of white space) so they are compelled to fill up every available area of every page. Unfortunately, this practice produces uninviting walls of text which are a chore to read (decipher). The alternative is to sculpt the white space to improve the reading experience. That’s why I urged Joe to reconsider publishing the book as it was.

TK: And you improved upon this?

D: Absolutely. I wanted the design for Mythos Arcanum to be the best the industry has yet seen.

I took a tremendous amount of care with the design of each page. Stylistically, I adopted the use of a medieval canon as the underlying grid design for the book. This resulted in a healthy amount of marginal white space bordering each page. A page’s superior readability depends on the correct interplay of positive and negative elements and shapes. When plenty of white space surrounds the text, readability always improves. Studies show, when something is more easily read, comprehend is improved.

The medieval layout template created for Mythos Arcanum is phi-inspired.

The medieval layout template created for Mythos Arcanum.

Another important thing about text columns most beginners don’t understand is the optimum ratio between the size of the font to the length of a line of text it’s set in. The optimal line to character ratio is between 50-60 characters, including spaces. That’s why 12-point type set solid in a one-column format is so difficult to read. The eye too easily loses its place when jumping down to catch the next line. The space between lines should be two points above the point size.

TK: Page breaks are sensible. There is an index. Information appears to be easy to find. The illustrations all seem to make sense in conjunction with the text.

D: Superior design never calls attention to itself. To serve the meaning of the text so that information is more accessible, great design steps away from the limelight… It’s neutral, invisible, subtle and unassuming.

TK: I can tell this subject is near and dear to your heart, but moving on…

What final things would you like your fans to know?

D: I went the extra mile in this book for my fans. I wanted to acknowledge and give something back to them for all their support throughout the years. I also wanted to pay it forward to the future generations of table-top gamers. Thus did I place all my time, effort, sincerity, and breath of creation into what I once considered to be my one final RPG project, my swan song.

TK: And now?

D: I’m sticking around. I’m staying.

TK:  OK D, it’s time for your plug. How may people obtain a copy?

D: First, I wish to be very clear. The copies I am offering are among those I already purchased from the author. The copies he may have available on his website are not a part of this offer. Since I am selling these books as collector’s items, purchases will directly benefit me as the artist.

In exchange for their purchase, people will be getting something special from me. For each book sold, I’ll create a special bookplate (ex libris) to be placed into the book, personalized with the name of the purchaser specially lettered by me. I would also affix my signature to the plate, making this a signed copy. Viola! Instant collector’s item!

TK: I get it.

D: I believe collector’s items are worth more if they remain in their original packaging. Therefore, each book sold would remain shrink wrapped. Each ex libris I personally create will be shipped in the same package as the book. I will spring for priority mail within the continental United States.

Mythos Arcanum cover back cover design, June 2015by DARLENE

Mythos Arcanum cover back cover design, June 2015 by DARLENE

Interested parties can send a $100 check made payable to: Darlene to P.O. Box 877, Mount Gilead, NC 27396

She can now accept credit cards on her web site.  This is the link to the payment part of the site

TK: Thanks, btw, for my signed and personalized copy of the book.

D: My pleasure.

There you have it, fans of Darlene’s work.

You can email her at


Entering the Creative Zone

I’d not thought much about it before. But now I can identify the main reason I like creating art and graphics. It’s the gift of being able to enter into “the Zone…”

Recently, I was working on the computer creating a representation of a strawberry plant. As I was manipulating the pixels, this is what was going through my mind: “leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf, curve, curve, up, up, smooth, deepen green, add more yellow, contrast, no, lighter, stem, smooth the arc…” When I worked on the blooms, as I blended colors and shapes, I also imagined smelling their fragrance. This is the moment I suddenly “woke up” from my reverie and became conscious that I was in the state of DOING, not thinking—I was totally engaged in the moment, becoming fully engrossed within my creative endeavor. That’s when I grasped just how much I give myself over to this trance-like process.

After much consideration, I think “Entering the Zone” is a form of active meditation, a means of exercising the intuition (as opposed to the intellect). Whatever it’s called, I believe any artistic thing created with intent retains the artist’s energetic signature and it seems to have a lasting effect. To me, this comprises a sacred act. To impart to one’s art the qualities of what is aesthetically pleasing is special. I’m becoming more aware of how noticeable this energetic residue is to others.

The only other person I know who talked openly about “the Zone” was the cousin of a friend, an Indiana University professor of some renowned in computer language. At the time, a couple of large Texas corporations were courting him to work for them and offered three times his teaching salary. When I asked him why he stayed, he said that whenever he teaches, when he speaks he goes to a place where the words easily pour out of him. He enjoys being on the threshold so much that he would not trade the feeling of being in the Zone for anything. He’d really miss out if he simply worked at a desk all day.

Becoming consciously aware of the value of creating while in the Zone also means taking responsibility for the energy I impart. With Kathleen’s book, I was “there,” in timeless time during the entire creative process–open to Spirit and able to indulge my intuitive nature. Nothing‘s left to chance. Symbolic content was also streaming in. Deciding to illustrate her book using appropriate symbols served to contribute another layer of meaning to Kathleen’s book.

Well, something must have clicked just right because of the book’s phenomenal success just within the first few weeks of being electronically published. Even though the Kindle version has been available for two years, the book has been blessed with unprecedented sales. Maybe it is simply Kathleen’s time to shine. In this case, I’m glad to have been a catalyst. But maybe, just maybe, the energetic is a powerful factor in its success.

But there is a downside of being in the Zone. And that is it can become physically detrimental over the long haul. For the sake of one’s vision, every twenty minutes you are supposed to look up and re-focus the eyes at something in the distance. But all too often, I’ll be submerged for hours. Once I “come up for air,” I have to make a point of standing up and walking around.

One miscellaneous comment: when I am in the creative Zone, the cat loves to sit on my lap. It’s as if he is riding the creative wave with me. Perhaps he might even be actively accommodating it.

Typography Class: Book Design Tips

If I was still teaching first year Indiana University graphics students (after declaring Graphics as their major at IU), I could use the following examples to demonstrate some basic graphic design typographical tweaks and tenets.

Each page of a book should be inviting to the reader. Every unit of text must relate to every other unit and be in harmony while maintaining its typographical distinction. It’s a balance. For instance, the 2-page spread I’m using as an example (created for Kathleen Wiley’s first book, “NEW LIFE: Symbolic Meditations on the Birth of Christ Within,”) perfectly illustrates this. Each chapter’s beginning page has six separate elements to juggle. I managed this by sculpting the white space.

New-Life-spread-loThe first five sections within each chapter have centered text. First, I bunched the three uppermost elements together at the top as a unit because they appear together on the Table of Contents page. As the purpose of the first three lines is informational, I used the easily readable Gill Sans font family: light for the Chapter number (a), bold face for the chapter title (b) and regular to note the scripture.

The next section (4) is Kathleen’s first voice–her insightful commentary about the meaning of a particular biblical passage. I set it using Garamond Italic type and centered it. Usually, centered text in italics is difficult to read. I used italics anyway because I wanted the reader to slow down. I balanced readability issues by increasing the font size and leading and carefully manipulating the collective shape of the text by making sure each line ended with a noun or a strong word. I carefully removed hyphenations and eliminated widowed text (one word at the end of the paragraph taking up an entire line.)

Section (5) is the scripture associated with each chapter. I significantly indented the text block on both sides, making the biblical passages similar in feel to how they usually appear in context. Because it was of the same serif type family as Kathleen’s commentary above, I just used Garamond’s regular text font. I also wanted it to be significantly different from the major text font.

In her major commentary section (6), Kathleen is in a more analytical mode. That’s why I changed the typeface back to the sans serif, Gill Sans, and split the text into a two column format. The tone is different, more intellectually removed from the subject, but contemplative. To set off each chapter head so as to give the eye a focus, I inset a decorative initial capital letter within the first paragraph of text. The major text continued in its two column format until Kathleen’s ideas were complete. To signify the end of the major text, I placed Kathleen’s iconic key lock.

The last section, chapter (7), is “Inner Reflections,” the chapters’ quiet Call to Action.

Although this final section may appear to be centered because of the title, the type is in fact justified left, ragged right. I used Gill Sans Light and indented it within a thin-bordered box to make it easily found for those who wish to quickly refer to the meditation.

Even with all these typographic rules in place, no two spreads appear alike. Each thought is a visual an expression unto itself, yet contributes to the harmony of the book as a whole