Wednesday, November 5, 2014

22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Entry Title Sally Lightfoot's Journey
Author: C. S. Walkingheart
Judge Number: 4
Entry Category: Children's Picture books

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

*If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.

In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other "symbols". These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc. Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system), you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, dash, quotation mark etc.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Well, I just received a judge's review of a contest I didn't remember I entered! It was evidently a Writer's Digest-thingie I entered purely on a whim, as I don't as a rule enter competitions/contests.

The review concerns "Sally Lightfoot's Journey", and considering the book was written in verse which is NOT a popular venue these days for children's books, it's quite complimentary. However, the things the judge mentions as "errors" I was fully aware of, and it's one reason I don't submit my books to publishing houses but publish them myself. The often-eccentric, quirky verse I use in picture books and the early-20th-century prosaic style of DOPS is not considered marketable by contemporary publishing houses, and I frankly couldn't care less. Which having said is not a criticism of the judge's words (which are appreciated!); it's simply that my often-uneven style is what it is and I don't particularly care how marketable it is. And, "Sally" is a quarter-century old; the original manuscript perished in a house fire. The illustrations are modern, and completely different from the very abstract watercolor originals, which were done in pale pastels! In this case, I do like the replacements better.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here's the whole kit 'n caboodle.

Oh...and in reference to the judge's comment that crabs don't swim, many of them do, one of the most famous being the Atlantic Blue Crab of Chesapeake crab cake fame, which has paddle-shaped fins on its rear legs (I believe crabs are decapods).

Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.

*If you wish to reference this review on your website, we ask that you cite it as such: “Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.” You may cite portions of your review, if you wish, but please make sure that the passage you select is appropriate, and reflective of the review as a whole.

In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other "symbols". These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc. Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system), you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, dash, quotation mark etc.

22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 4

Character Appeal and Development: 4

Voice and Writing Style: 4

Judge’s Commentary*:

This is a beautiful book.  The illustrations are outstanding.  I like the bordered pages.  I like how the text fits perfectly into the illustrations with different colored fonts for maximum readability.  The illustrations contain so many creatures that the adult reader can make a search game out of finding Sally on each page.  I like the glossary of other interesting sea creatures at the end of the book.  The story is slight, but it gave a great depiction of the sea life of a crab.  I like the bit of tension when Sally falls to the bottom of the ocean.  Knowing crabs don’t swim, I did wonder how she could get back into her own world.  Reading a story in verse to a young child is fun.  However, writing in rhyme is one of the hardest genres to do well.  The rhymes have to be almost perfect, which is difficult to do without forcing the rhymes by rearranging the natural order of the sentences. Normally we would say, “Grows careless, not careless grows .”   Forcing also cause us to add words we wouldn’t usually say, i.e., without delay.   The plural of fish is not fishes.  Sometimes we can get away with assonance (as in coasting/approaching or sound/down which have similar vowel sounds) or consonance (leisure/pleasure, which have similar consonant sounds).  It depends on the editor’s standards.  More important than the rhyme is the rhythm of the verse.  Writers who have read their verse many times know how to fit the syllables into the proper stressed and unstressed beats.  However, the adult reading the verse for the first time tends to stumble over inexact rhythm or reads it with strange pronunciation.  Your first two lines have the correct number of beats in each line, but they don’t match.  Sea is a stressed beat while in the second line the word country puts the stressed beat on the first syllable of the word.  That was actually the worst instance; it’s a shame it was on the first page.    I actually liked the “A child’s line” verse that you didn’t even try to rhyme better than some of exact-rhymed verse with forced elements.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and if I hadn’t been judging it for this contest, would have overlooked the minor errors that I mentioned to point out what to be aware of in future writing.  Good luck.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Well, a couple things are in the works, to happen very soon, the most important being the gallery page in my store, where folk art will be for sale at low prices since these are quick and colorful scenes, primarily from DOPS. I have two 16X20s, scenes from Waraq, ready to go; they have to be photographed and uploaded. They'll be $250.00 USD each, which if you check on random artists' web sites, is a steal. I've been an internationally-collected artist, with works sold for thousands, but these are something new for me, quick and easy compositions where in some cases I've just taken the caps off the paint tubes and drawn directly on the canvas.

I don't particularly enjoy either creating art or being around artists; I'm more of a scientific bent, myself, for all that I'm a pro-illustrator. But it's a talent God has given me, and as such I use it and teach others how to do the same, since everyone DOES have the ability--if the can print your name, you can draw; if you can write your name legibly in cursive, you can illustrate. It's simply finding the method of learning how that works for you.

At any rate, as soon as I can, I'll be adding the gallery page to my web site, the store of which is now open for business. Bear in mind, though, that only PDFs are sold at this time, and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your whatsit to read them.

The second thing is the cover for DOPS VI, Nightingale:

This is the mockup of the D6 front cover inset; there were several other designs, one of which I'll probably end up using farther on in the series since it's similar to the D1 cover.

But this lovely lad is Falco Lawrie, the third oldest Lawrie (Baron being the second, and Mar-Ti/Marten, called simply "Lawrie" or "Lor" by his friends, being the eldest). The girl is none other than Akele, and the two of them effectively have given Cass, Lawrie and Abel the boot off the cover-spot for the time being. Change is good, eh?

I'm not sure about who/what goes on the back cover yet; it may well be Anais, the fourth-oldest of the Lawries, and thought of as Falco's twin because they're physically very similar though she's about a year younger than he. But, I'll probably put Cass and Lor on there somewhere, since D6 heralds major developments/changes for them both. Abel is for the most cooling his heels, getting on Baron's nerves (of course) in D6, though he does get into some interesting scrapes...

After all, D6 is where the two storylines, Cass's and Abel's, finally converge!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

IT'S ALIVE!!! (holler)

Well...I hope, anyway. The store is now functioning, supposedly. Needless to say, if anyone buys a PDF and the sucker doesn't download, or there are other problems, contact me at, or (grownups and kids' books, respectively).

For those of you interested in the ongoing nuts-and-bolts progress of this publishing odyssey, I used Adobe Muse CC 2014 to finish the web site (I originally used Muse CS6, which was replaced by Muse CC, and finally Muse CC 2014--note that they are NOT the same, and while you can open older Adobe program files such as those created in versions CS4, 5 or 6 with CC 2014, you cannot open files created in CC 2014 with older versions, including the most-recent CC. You must "save down" to the desired older format(s) IN CC 2014 in order to be able to access your most recent Adobe program files!)

Anyway, once the site itself was up, it was/is hosted by Adobe Business Catalyst; because I have an Adobe Cloud membership I get up to five free sites. The kicker is that if I wanted to turn it to a commerce site using BizCat, I'll probably end up paying fees for embedding a shopping cart, etc.. I don't want this, so I reviewed a number of set-up-your-own-store sites, like Shopify and Wazala, which you can either link to your store, or use their code and embed it directly (gaaah!). I chose Wazala because it's by far the simplest (pronounced "cheapest") and for a monthly fee I created a simple 3-page site which is in effect my Pilothead Press/Sanderling Shores store. As of this afternoon, the store has been taken out of demo-mode and is hopefully "live" so that you can download the PDFs offered there, all 7 of 'em so far (i.e., DOPS I thru V and 2 kids' books).

Thank you, by the way, you who have been giving me feedback on Shadow-Dogs; I had serious doubts about the book and had honestly not planned a sequel, but it looks as if I may continue the story after all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The C. S. Walkingheart web site is now live!

And of course hefty changes are already needed...though not today. Here, however, is the link:

It has a looong way to go, but it's at least in a basic form now that you can wander around and poke at the little buttons to see the funky things they do. The site consists of an Overview (rather a "mission statement" for the DOPS series), and the philosophy behind all my books, which is to entertain and make one think. There's of course a Home page, and Pilothead Press and Sanderling Shores have pages with links to their respective imprint titles. Collin O'Daurc is so far a non-functioning link, as the book isn't due out until next year, possibly spring of 2015.

Again, this is about as basic an author site as you can get, although I certainly hope to refine it; there aren't any excerpts from the books yet, and the store hasn't been activated. Eventually, you'll be able to not only read samples but purchase the fully-formatted PDFs of all titles, with the print and of course Kindle versions of some titles being available from Amazon and other sources. Hardcover copies and box sets too will (hopefully) be offered, since most people prefer print over digital versions of my books.

I'll keep the blog updated as various additions to the web site take place; it was created in Adobe Muse and so has been incredibly easy so far to manage and publish. We'll see how easy it is to update!

For now, chau.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

By the way; in response to questions about the way the names of certain people/dogs/places are pronounced, here's a phonetic list of some of the ones you'll most often encounter in the series:

"Abelyarde", Abel's first name as the Claire's captain, is pronounced "Uh-BELL-yurd".
"Caupoc" = "Cho-POCK"
"Lawrie" = "Law" rhymes with (appropriately) "chow", not "law".
"E-Etrusca" = "Aye-eh-TROOS-kah"
"Waraq" = "Wah-RAH-kuh"
"Marisco" = "MOUR (rhyms with "our")-iss-koe"
"Paruparo" (Coco) = "Pah-ROO-Pah-roe"
"Rube" (Cochrane) = "Ruby"
"Jadzsi" = "JAAHD-see"
"Mira" = "MEE-rah"
"Mount/Glenn Bracken" = "BRAH-ken"
"Espiridion" = "Es-peer-EE-dee-ahn"
"Tumac" = "TOO-mock"
"Ramon" = "Rah-MOHN"
"Kyeto Tlatli" = "KOY-eh-toe TLAH-TLEE" (This last name has a double "tongue-click" that's hard to pronounce; it's a sound common in Nahuatl, which is, by the way, pronounced "NAH-WATT").
"Lazario Belle-Aves" = "Lah-SARE-ee-oh BELL Ah-VAZE"
"Lucjan" (Cass's real first name) = "Loo-KAHN"
"BelCampo" = "Bell-KAHM-poe"
 "Anais" = "Ah-nye-EES"
"Akele" = "Ah-KAY-lee"
"Maiqui" = "My-KEE"
"N'Dolo" = "En-DOH-lo"
"Mbembwe" (Cyrus) = "Em-BEM-bway"
"Tia" ="TEE-ah"
"Mircea" = "MEER-shah"
"Miri (Burningwind) = "MEER-ee"
"Cholley" (Cap'n) = "CHAH-lee" (You'd be surprised how many people mispronounce "Cholley"!)
"Auguste des Anges" = "Ah-GOOST deh-SAHN-jas"
"Antwane Charbeau" = "Ann-TWAHN Shar-BOW"
"D'Senga" (the cabinetmaker) = "Doo-SHANG-gah"

AND: I should have listed it here, but comments regarding the DOPS series should come to; for info/comments regarding childrens' titles, the address is

This, by the way, is the Claire du Lac Cruise Line logo:
(The slogan, in French, roughly translates to "Set Sail & Celebrate!")

Below is the bow-art of the Claire du Monde, Abel's ship:

The latter half of July finds me with a new laptop, another HP Pavilion, which is lighter than the old one, and more importantly, runs much less hot; no more lugging that huge, 6-inch cooling fan pad around! The new machine also has more RAM, always a boon to those working with powerful 3D modeling/animation/graphics programs. The cons? WINDOWS 8.1. U.G.H.. While it only took a few minutes for me to learn the ins and outs of the new OS, I find it to be a tremendous nuisance; every time I'm working near the margins that silly column of icons flies out. There's probably a way to disable it but I'm too lazy after having to download and customize all that software to go hunting for it. The long and the short of it is that despite this machine's being easier to work with (and yes, I could reconfigure Windows 8.1 to look like Windows 7) I still like my heavy old workhorse better; it's outperformed Dell, Apple, and Toshiba (not to mention a geriatric IBM), and I give kudos to HP for this, despite the fact that their printers are not my favorite peripherals (ink-greedy).

This having said, I won't even go into what it took me to update the near-dozen Adobe programs I'm running; at the same time I "upgraded" to 8.1 Adobe decided to revamp its CC software (which is the online-only step above CS 6 versions) to CC 2014, which converted all my legit copies to trial-only versions...there went another 2.5 hours down the drain, chatting with the thank-God-helpful Adobe tech. computer, big deal, it's cool now, I'm cool now.

Since the release of all three versions of The Shadow-Dogs Journeys, work has continued sporadically on Collin O'Daurc, and DOPS VI (Nightingale). I've also done something I normally don't do, which is start on the D6 illustrations! Usually, I have to be pinned down and threatened in order to get me to draw anything, but this time I actually dove right in with a frontpiece of Kanga (who is "the Nightingale" introduced in D5). This was followed by a double-page spread of the captain's quarters of the Claire du Monde, with Abel and Baron; and a bonzer-fine crib it is, too! Then came the title page spread, which for the first time shows the top two DOPS "power duos", Cass & Lawrie/Abel & Baron, together. And, the Claire herself fills the page, behind Baron. This is one of the "really big things" to happen in the series so far, as it of course brings the Cass/Abel storylines together, and they thereafter continue for the rest of the series as an interwoven braid rather than two parallel but separate storylines.

Abel, Lawrie and Cass in Cormorant Atoll
(Baron, who's on the left, is on the other page, which isn't visible in this inset. This detail of the right-hand page of the title spread also give you a glimpse of the Claire du Lac logo on Abel's uniform, which insignia and slogan--"Celebrate & Set Sail" in French--also appears on the bows of all the Claire liners. A tiny bit of the Claire herself is visible as what appears to be a white building behind and above Abel on the left border.)

Readers have asked about character developments, and what happens to whom, and if there will be more major characters introduced; that last part I can't answer, since I've not gone beyond a rough synopsis for D7 and D8. I can't tell you the major things, because that would entail huge spoilers, but I can reveal or elaborate on the "minor" things, since most readers have already begun to note the changes.

Ramon, as everyone has no doubt realized, has become a more important figure than originally planned, as has Caupoc; Caupoc is at least as important as the Calderons (Evito & Tia), and Ramon even more so. (Caupoc's name is, by the way, pronounced "CHAH-puk".) However, in D6 you don't hear as much about Coco or Tumac, though Marisco figures as prominently now as Ramon, whose sidekick he becomes as unlikely as that seems. Marisco has been an interesting one to "flesh out", as he always seemed rather 2D to me, and it's been a challenge to "un-flatten" him and make him seem real. Which brings me to remark that Baron as a major character came out of nowhere; as far as I was concerned, as recently as the end of D4 he was just a leg-in-a-cistern (when he wasn't scaring the wee out of Gus at the beach). Well, THAT sure changed, eh what? He's catapulted to the front row, so to speak, and is now as important as Abel, Cass and Lawrie! 

Another character who's already been introduced but morphs later into a major player is Dr. John Birdee, the fiery Mohawk doc who can't resist piling into Lawrie every chance he gets. And, two important secondary characters who have yet to be introduced in person though I believe I've already referred to them (somewhere)--my guess is they'll become permanent in D7 though I'm not sure--are Marcus and Slate, an electrician and his apprentice who also turns out to be a talented welder/sculptor. Also, the Lawrie clan figures in the rest of the series, as does everybody's un-favorite pirate, Pilea. For other interesting folks like Auguste des Anges ("the Squire"), Pastor Musty and Captain Benjamin Silver ("Cap'n Ben") we can only wait and see. However, as you would imagine, Heidi and Lou Saperstein continue to appear as important "tertiary" characters (folks like Cato, Jon, Mario and Gus being "secondary" characters), and as the kids grow up, so do they, since adult-style tribulations loom...

So, that's the very latest in DOPS news, and as always, thanks for your interest and support, and God bless 'til the next time!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July has been a busy month; Sally Lightfoot's Journey, a children's picture book for toddler thru elementary ages, has been reissued, hopefully in a better Kindle format thanks to Amazon's Kindle Comic Creator software which is still fairly new.

However, the publishing of The Shadow-Dogs Journeys was rather unexpected; it was a project I pulled out of an archived folder, said, "Okay, this isn't too bad, and the pics are fun", and issued in large-print, digital, and 6X9 trade paper format.

This one's quite unusual; we'll see what reviewers think. There haven't been any reviews yet as this is still a brand-new release.

Work on the C. S. Walkingheart web site continues--it has pages for Pilothead Press and Sanderling Shores, and the individual books issued by each.

AND--the first review came back for DOPS V! The reader said it was a "beautiful story" and I'm very relieved, because it was rather a departure from the action/suspense of DOPS IV, dealing as it does with Cass & Lawrie's relationship, which has always intrigued fans of the series. May it continue to be as well the way, here's the D5 cover:

AND/'s the tentative conceptual cover for Nightingale, DOPS VI:

The only problem is that it's quite a gloomy color scheme, and D6 is a happy book! So some adjustments may well take place.

By contrast, here's the cover for Collin O'Daurc, a fantasy that's much more a quick-read than DOPS:

By the way, you can preview Collin in the Preview Gallery at CreateSpace, which prints my books. This book is completely different from DOPS, a for the most lighthearted fantasy about a hair-stylist who has a stroke and wakes up to find himself in Tahiti and in the company of the presumably-deceased artist Paul Gauguin and his (historically undocumented) daughter, Jaune Brilliant. Although DOPS is quite funny in many places, this book could be classified Humor as well as Fiction or Fantasy. The book isn't finished, however, and I'm not sure when it will be.

That carries me up to the present; my main project at present is the web site, which will of course be linked to this blog. Also, I've started on the illustrations for D6 (witness the cover conceptual), which is unusual--because I don't particularly enjoy any type of art other than design work, I always have a fight with myself to get these books illustrated! However, of late it's been better, I'm almost enjoying the process, which is a big, positive thing!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lawrie & Cass celebrating Cass's contract
 Last night's post was cut a bit short, as I was out of time. To continue my reflections on D5, Psalmsinger is mainly an intro to people, places and things that will figure prominently in The Drums of N'Dolo, (D7?) which will likely be another whopper like D4 (Espiridion). There has, however, been considerable interest in the semi-spoiler regarding D6 (Nightingale), which is that 6 characters will be getting married! And, more will be embarking on or rekindling broken relationships--so, D6 is indeed "the book of relationships". 
Mary Beth & Akele

   I should mention that D6 too contains quite a bit of previously-written material, which means that the book will probably be written fairly quickly, even though I'm also currently working on The Shadow-Dogs Journeys (the illustrated version, with the mini-paintings that inspired the Pilgrim's Progress-type allegory in the first place). The unillustrated digital edition is available for online reading at HarperCollins' Authonomy site, and is also available from Amazon as a 99-cent Kindle book. Also being worked on is Collin O'Daurc, a semi-fantasy which predates both DOPS and Shadow-Dogs by at least a decade. I've no idea when these two projects will be completed, as I work on them sporadically--as anyone who knows me is aware, illustrating things is my least favorite part of book creation!
The cover for the unillustrated digital Shadow-Dogs

Shadow-Dogs: Decision Crossing from 2003 (SOLD)

   But, now for a bit more about D6 you learn a bit more about such semi-background characters as Anselm Cochrane, and his vintage feud with his father, who is of course Hiram Cochrane, master of the original Psalmsinger. And, as Cass and Lawrie are preoccupied by distractions such as modeling/moviemaking, you see the "Tunnel-Beast"-hunting shift over to the surprisingly intrepid trio of Heidi, Rachael and Annie. Who knew that sugar-and-spice Rachael had it in her? (Although Annie, who's full of piss & vinegar, and Heidi, proud owner of the "Saperstein Exploration Gene", obviously had it all along.) Which isn't to say, of course, That Gus and Rio are out of the running, by any means, and neither is Cholley (poor Justin, alas, will always be in it up to his neck, thanks to his job description). And Cato and Jon? Well, there are challenges and changes in store for them as well--as there are for Abel and newly-found sidekick Baron.
   Basically, that's the highlights so far. Of course there are plenty of details, but we'll just have to wait and see...
Falco Lawrie (Lawrie's 3rd-oldest sibling)   
Just a note about the above graphic; as you've probably just figured out, it's actually Falco who's on the cover of D3, not Lawrie! Lawrie appears on the covers of D1, D4 (as a pissed-off teenager, along with an equally grumpy-looking Abel and a what-am-I-gonna-do-with-these-two-Aroyo), and D5. I happen to like this particular portrait as it has good reproduce-able qualities, and in its better-known half-face version, is even on one of my business cards (see below).
 Well, that's all for now...happy trails, my friends, until I think of something else hopefully witty to write!

Friday, June 6, 2014


   Well, DOPS V, Psalmsinger, (or "D5", as I and fans-who-have-become-friends call it) has been released, and is out for review!
   This book was a bit of an oddity to write, as I felt nearly detached from the process. I suppose this is in part because a lot of the material concerning Cass & Lawrie dates from about 2006 or so, and I was pulling in huge chunks of it, 25 pages at a time. Let me tell you, a lot of heavy editing was involved, mostly because when the material was written, there was no Mario, Gaston, Cap'n Cholley, Annie, Kevin--or Abel! So, those characters had to be worked into the storyline, and the season changed from mid-winter to summer.
   Inserting older material can be a challenge for a writer, for a number of reasons; for one thing, it's an odd feeling to have started a story and written about people when they're at a certain stage in their lives and personal relationships, and to have to go back and write a prequel. With the exception of the dilemma concerning the Cato/Jon relationship back in D2, D5 contains by far the oldest existing DOPS material. I hope the insertion/transition was seamless, and that there weren't any "blips". But the sentiment of such a large text-insertion is odd--you're thundering along writing about everybody as usual, and suddenly, you come to a canyon you have to leap. Only, there's actually a bridge, and it's the material you've just inserted, which you've written so long ago that even though the editing has it fitting the rest of the book like a glove, you've become emotionally distanced from it.
   I've been very much aware that Cass and Lawrie are the main reason most people keep up with the story, and D5 does deal with the next stage in their relationship. They're obviously very unique people, and therefore have a unique relationship which neither quite knows what to do with. Readers may get a bit annoyed with them in this book, as they do go back and forth exhaustively (pronounced, "Yeah, I'd like to smack 'em both about it.")...but as is generally known, Lawrie has to be absolutely certain about something before he takes a course of action, even while he's driving Cass, everyone else, and himself insane over it.