2014: Celebrating Belleville’s 200th Anniversary

Tonight, my sweetheart and I had the awesome opportunity to watch fireworks at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), in celebration not only of Independence Day, but also of the 200th birthday of Belleville, IL, our hometown.

I will admit I haven’t really cared about fireworks in some years, but I wanted to go tonight–and I am so glad I did. It was an utterly magical experience. We had the most brilliant seats in the house; we sat on a little grassy patch near the gym. I have never been so close to fireworks in all my life. We were so close, I couldn’t even capture the entire display with my camera. Debris and sparks rained down, touching our skin. Watching the sparks glisten and cascade straight toward you like that is nothing short of amazing and gorgeous. It’s like watching a giant supernova, shooting stars, and fireflies all at once.

I’ve captured the whole thing here; if nothing else, do watch the last five minutes or so. There was a laser show as well; while the fireworks were great, we did have to suffer through the laser show for some time, and the ending is amusing to say the least (if you were there, you understand what I mean).

Thanks so much for watching, and a Happy 4th to all!!

~ Christine E. Schulze

Artist of the Week: Philip San Gaspar -aka- Kishiro-Kun

Hullo, fellow readers, writers, artists, musicians, and other creative spirits everywhere!

I am going to start something new on my blog; each week, I will be showcasing a new artist I have discovered that I think is really brilliant. This might be an artist I have hired to do some illustrations or cover designs for my books. It might be a musical artist. It might be a fellow author whose stories I find particularly rad.

For my first “Artist of the Week,” I would like to showcase Philip San Gaspar, also known as Kishiro-Kun. For those of you who follow my blog, you know this guy has been responsible for creating the awesome artwork for my upcoming children’s book, my first geared for younger children and featuring full illustrations: The Adventures of William the Brownie.

I absolutely love working with Philip. He is an overall nice, patient, fun guy to work with. He listens to my needs, adds every detail to my pictures that I request, and always finds a way to go above and beyond. The colors in his artwork are particularly amazing, bright and beautiful.

If you’re looking for any kind of art in manga style, I highly recommend him!

Enjoy some artwork of his below, and follow the links to connect with him and learn more. If you have an Elance account, you can also hire him there; it’s where I found him myself.

Links:

Kishiro-Kun’s Facebook

Kishiro-Kun’s DeviantArt 

New Experience: First Cardinals Game!

Journal Entry: April 28, 2014

Going to my first-ever Cardinals’ game with Chris tomorrow: “New experience!”

I tried to go to Wal-mart to get a Cardinals shirt for the event, but my Debit card is no longer working and I can’t call the bank to activate my new one because the bank is dumb and is only open till 3pm while I am working with no lunch break. I’ll try to ask tomorrow if I can step in the office for a second to make a phone call…

In the meanwhile, if that does not work, I shall return to Wal-mart tomorrow with a check-book. I want that shirt. I want to look appropriate for the outing…

This outing is against my better judgment by the way. Doing something outside at night in the middle of spring? Uh, yeah… I really hope I don’t feel like utter crap tomorrow (allergies). Today wasn’t too bad, but you never know what the allergies are gonna do.

But Chris (friend/cute guy at work) pretty much charmed me into a “yes.” I mean, I’m sure he doesn’t know he’s doing it, but when he first mentioned it, he caught me off-guard and I was all like, “I’ll think about it,” type of thing. I wanted to go, but I was weighing the pros and cons—the only cons being how I feel allergy-wise—and then later he was all like, “So, tomorrow? You’re in, right?” Dude, stop catching me off-guard. Stop being cute. Stop catching me when I still have no edits. ‘Cause what the heck else am I gonna say but “yes”?

Ah, well. I am happy to attend. Sports are not my thing, but it’ll still be new and adventurous in a sense. I think we’re going with a group too, so that should help entertain me.

Tomorrow should be an experience, that’s all I can really say for now. You really never know what the heck you’re getting yourself into when you get sucked into one of Chris’ plans…

Ah, on a completely different note: I get home today, and I had this moment where it’s sunny but lightly raining at the same time. The air smells wet and cool. In the distance is a wall of dark blue that you know is rain and you hope approaches you. It was an epic moment…

Speaking of epic, I suppose it’s good to be getting out of the house these days. When Chris talks about pushing himself to go to camp and how there is nothing to really prepare himself for it, it’s almost like Bilbo setting out on his adventure. He wasn’t prepared, and a part of him didn’t want to go, but he returned changed for the better, and it helped make him who he was when he got older.

In that vein, I love writing adventures, but I am quite ready for my own! And yet, at the same time, by the time Chris leaves for camp, I shall have had sufficient adventure to be able to focus hard-core on my edits, which I should definitely have by then. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I still have people I’d like to see and have an adventure or two here and there. But this isn’t like last year where I was trying to edit a five-book series in one year, which DID happen, by the way. No, this year, I am slowing down enough to be able to balance writing with real adventures, though writing takes precedence as ever. I can’t get anywhere in this life by sitting on my bum and socializing all the time.

Journal Entry: April 30, 2014

Mwah, ha, ha! Mission accomplished: in your face, Bank of O’Fallon.

Returned to Wal-mart this morning, picked up my Cardinals tee shirt as well as some earrings. Drove to work, changed clothes in the bathroom: we are ready!!

After work, it was raining and the temp. dropped considerably. This is great, ‘cause cooler weather helps my allergies, and I am already wondering how I will survive this escapade. But you know me—it’s a new adventure, and I’ve already said “yes” to Chris who was nice enough to extend the invite to me, so I’m gonna go.

I go home after work to eat supper and all that. As I was getting ready, I could tell my roomie was in sort of a sulky mood, so I asked what was wrong. I got a, “I hate when you go out with Chris…”

Well, dang, I thought we were past that stage. I didn’t retaliate or anything; I just let it be. I know he was probably more worried about Chris drinking and driving me home than anything else, so I let it be what it was. I know how to be observant and careful; I’m not going to purposely place myself in a situation that I view as unsafe. On the contrary, Chris usually makes me feel very safe and comfortable. He’s all about protecting people; he’s not trying to do dumb stuff to get me killed.

So I go over to Chris’ house, and his roommate Amy lets me in. Now, I have finally figured out why Amy has such a cute face. She has that sort of feline face, as I call it, similar to Sarah Bolger. And if you don’t know who that is, Google her, because she is gorgeous. I’m not saying she and Amy look exactly alike or anything, but there is a likeness there.

Once Chris is outta the shower, we are on the road (dang it, he could have at least let me listen to the end of Firebird Suite Finale; you do not interrupt that song for me—you just do not). We pick up a friend of Chris’ named Dustin. While Chris is getting gas, I introduce myself, because I know Chris won’t do this till half-way through our trip—which is exactly what happens, lol.

As we near the Stadium, I am taking in the different buildings, the intricate architecture, the colorful lights. We enter a parking garage and go up and down all the levels looking for Tyler, another of Chris’ friends; that was pretty fun in and of itself, spiraling up like we were on a carnival ride, the way Chris drives and all.

We eventually park and meet Tyler at the Stadium entrance. I like Tyler; he seems like a nice guy–even though he smoked me in chess that one time. Chris takes his position as leader of our pack and winds us through the Stadium to where our seats are, and I make sure to keep up; the place is huge, and I equate getting lost here to getting lost inside an air port.

Our seats were about half-way up, which was decent; we could see everything we needed to, at any rate. Entering the actual Stadium was exciting; I’m thinking, “This must be what it’s like to enter one’s first Quidditch match!” Everything is so big, and the seats and people are a sea of red encompassing the field.

We take our seats. Chris is looking adorably Chris-ish as usual; he is wearing his red plaid coat, which is absolutely my favorite. Plaid on guys or girls is cute, plus I equate that coat with him always smelling awesome.

Well, the awesome doesn’t last long. Early on in the game, Chris just straight-up ditches us to sit somewhere else, talk to someone else…who knows? We don’t learn till toward the end that he was apparently sitting with a friend of his who’d gotten him a seat down by the dug-out. Now, I really didn’t care, because this is my first time here, so I am focused on the game and taking things in—and on not catching hypothermia ‘cause it is freezing up there, yo. In fact, I sorta feel like crap, sniffling and coughing, and I’m really just thinking, “You know, this is my first time being here, but I will let this behavior slide—unless you are somewhere a whole lot warmer than where I’m at right now; if that’s the case, I will have to kill you…”

Now, in Chris’ defense, I really don’t think he knew it was my first time going to a game at the Stadium, ‘cause I feel like he wouldn’t have necessarily baled the whole time, or if he did, he might have been a bit more animated showing me this or that.

Ah, well. Like I said, I was focused on taking everything in, so it was okay. I actually really liked watching the game far more than I’d thought I would. I’m not really a sports person, but I can understand baseball, and it moved faster than I thought it would. I already knew the basics of baseball, and I was able to fill in an understanding of some of the subtleties by simple observation. Like, everything seems to occur in groups of threes: three strikes for an out, three outs to switch teams, three of…something…to equal a strike…

There were also cute little fillers, like the “Kissing Cam,” where if a couple saw themselves up on the big screen, they were supposed to lean in and kiss each other. One of Chris’ friends was like, “I wonder how many of those people actually know each other.” Heh, I was wondering the same thing…

They also had these people that came out at intervals to smooth the dirt out with giant boards—who knew! Wow, how flashy and glamorous and clean professional sports have become since they first started years and years ago…

We had a home-run and overall scored four points, as did the other team. By the time I realized the game was going to go on for more than the usual nine innings, I was dreading it, ‘cause I really was cold and sick and all manner of miserable at this point. I mean, I am such the hobbit: you think you want to go on an adventure, but then they are always such unpleasant affairs.

Thankfully, Amy gets a hold of Chris, ‘cause we are both so done at this point. I’m not upset or pissed or anything; I just straight up don’t feel well, am exhausted, and wanna go home and sleep! Tyler helps us navigate back to where we are supposed to meet Chris. After hanging out at a certain exit for five minutes or so, Tyler and Amy realized we were at the wrong one and led us to the correct one. This was supposed to be a secret mistake, but by now loads of people are gonna read about it, so…

Anyway, on the trip home, we listen to the remainder of the game. The other team beat us by one point. Ah, well, it happens. It was a close game, a fairly good game by what I could tell, even though it was my first. The only reason I really wanted it to get over with was ‘cause it was so cold and I could tell I was fixin’ to have some major “allergies hang-over” in the morning, oy.

On the way home, Chris was in, like, crazy-driving mode, which was all right ‘cause I was in a hurry to get home to my bed—

Woah! Uh…okay, that was…that was totally a stop sign we just zoomed straight through…

Yes, did I mention the crazy driving?

We passed some interesting landmarks on the way home; my favorite was a club advertising their “Thursday Twerk Contest.”

It was also amusing when they started talking about Cardinals garden gnomes on the radio, which was hilarious to me by now ‘cause I am getting tired and giddy and all that, and I’m just waiting for Chris to comment on the gnomes ‘cause I know it’s coming…hey! And he did, fully meeting my expectations.

Well, at last we are back, Chris drops me at my car, and I head home. As soon as I’m home, my allergies finally just hit me; my eyes feel like they will literally swell shut, I’m sneezing with the force of a tornado… my roomie asks how my night was, and I tell him how things went. When I tell him about Chris ditching us, he’s all like, “Well that’s the best news I could have heard—so you weren’t with Chris the whole night.”

Ass. Both of you—you are both idiots tonight, in one way or another.

Whatever. I made him take a picture of me before stripping my Cardinals garb. I look awful in those pictures ‘cause of my swollen eyes; I truly do look high or drunk or whatever.

Today at work—day after the game—was a bit of a trial, between having allergies, a possible cold, and being utterly exhausted. But it was overall a good day, a calm day.

Chris came to me at some point and was all like, “Sorry for just leaving you guys last night.” I said it was okay, unless he was in a considerably warmer place than me. I then was like, “You do realize that was my first game, right?” And the anticipated answer came: “Really? No, I didn’t know that—speak up next time!”

Whatevs. It was all cool. I got to experience a new adventure and be fully absorbed in my own little world while doing so.

Oh my goodness! My first Cardinals ticket! Frame it!!

Oh my goodness! My first Cardinals ticket! Frame it!!

101_0249 101_0250 101_0254

After I got home from the game: yes, I really did feel as bad as I looked at this point. Worse, actually.

After I got home from the game: yes, I really did feel as bad as I looked at this point. Worse, actually.

Commissions Are Open!!

One of my fave artists is now accepting commissions! She does wonderful work, esp. water colors. If you’re needing any kind of original art done, please consider giving her a try! She is very affordable and well worth it!

Space Case

Since my schedule is pretty much up in the air, I have a lot of free time on my hands. Why not open up commissions to fill the time when I’m not working?

For sketches and lineart, I work with graphite/archival ink and bristol board. For waterolors, I work with archival ink, Reeves watercolor paint, and 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. All commissions will be 8×10″ unless requested in another size.

Commissions will be processed through my storenvy shop. Email me at kiana.r.mccormick@gmail.com if interested!

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Snapshots of My Life

Bloodmaiden Cover

Hullo, world; I think I’m going crazy

At last! A new blog. I’ve blogged before, but I needed a fresh start, a fresh place to share all my crazy thoughts and emotions as of late. I mean, my other blogs are strictly professional anyway. I need a little bit more of a personal approach.

Anyway, so I’ve already posted this to Facebook, but since I’m done over-posting there, I think it’s appropriate as a first post here; feels like it, anyway. So here goes:

I went to my park in the woods today and took a walk. I wanted to get lost, to be surrounded by everything and nothing at once. I paused briefly to take in my surroundings; it was still as death, and I was surrounded by trees who were beautiful but wild, unhinged and dangerous—much like myself lately—unable to speak the words locked inside them.

Then, I ran and I climbed until my lungs burned, my body ached, and my head throbbed. It was almost dusk; the gates to the park would soon close. I got lost; I’d taken the long path instead of the short. But I pressed on, never stopping. I passed familiar things, but none were the same; at least I wasn’t going in circles. At last, the map came into view again. I ran harder, praying I was heading the right direction.

Then, at last, my feet met the steep stretch of ancient steps, the greying sky appeared ahead, and I burst from the trees. The wind whistled, as if the forest was suddenly alive again and had found its voice once more. And I too was free.

Emotions—they make us do strange things. Lately, I feel myself changing. I’ve been on this special diet for months now to fix some health issues. I noticed improvements in my physical ailments first. But now it’s more than that; we don’t just get one thing without the other. We must take the good and the bad—or the good with the strange, as the case may be. Different is not always evil. I feel not only my body returning to how it once was, but my psyche as well. My mind, my feelings—they are erratic during this change, as though I was a newly turned vampire. I have not experienced them like this in so long and don’t know how to handle them, how to release them. I have too much time on my hands with too little to preoccupy my wild imagination. I am trapped inside myself, with no one to draw me out—except my love, but even he cannot understand everything about me right now.

My creativity is incredible; my music and writing excel, rent with so many different kinds of passion. I am anxious and yet excited about everything. I feel unstable. I feel a little crazy even. I don’t comprehend fully what is happening to me, this change.

But I accept it. It is who I am. I have never had to make apologies for being myself. I have never felt the need, nor worried about the acceptance of others. I have always embraced my many idiosyncrasies, so long as they do not bring harm to others.

How inspired I feel. Glad to have started this at last. I don’t even care if anyone reads it. I just need to talk sometimes, and for a writer, writing is sufficient.