Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grace Krispy of MotherLode, Book Reviews and Original Photography, reviews Van Gogh, Encore

Grace Krispy of MotherLode, Book Reviews and Original Photography has kindly posted a review of Van Gogh, Encore

Excerpts from Grace Krispy's review of Van Gogh, Encore:

What if... what if Vincent Van Gogh were alive today, in modern times? What if his life took a different turn, if he met someone he could love? What might be in store for him? Van Gogh is famous for his powerful works of art, and infamous for his mental health issues and resulting bizarre behavior. How would that play out in the context of today?

In this work of speculative fiction, John A. Karr portrays the last 18 months of Van Gogh's life in the United States, and presents possibilities of a different future for the troubled, but gifted, artist. Given a different setting and nationality (Van Gogh is Canadian in this book), and a blossoming love with a vivacious woman, Van Gogh gets another chance at life.


At nearly twice the size of the average ebook, this was a page-turner. Descriptive and eloquent, this book really allows you to feel what it might be like to be Van Gogh, to live inside his tormented mind as he attempts to make sense of contradictory stimuli. The author uses carefully selected words and phrasing to portray Van Gogh's thoughts in a way that really highlights his inner turmoil, as well as his artistic passion. The characters were nicely drawn, but the star of this story is really Vincent, whose character is well-established.

Friday, December 24, 2010

NASA JPL's Blue Sunset on Mars, and did Rhone see it?

Incredible footage from NASA's JPL of the Mars rover tracking a blue sunset on Mars.

Did my character Rhone observe such sunsets? Perhaps only when trekking through Purgatory would the landscape have been so featureless in Rhone's time. Up until his final explosive battle with a god (in an upcoming volume of The Marsii Saga), the landscape had generally been populated with forest and grassy plains and jungle, with a true atmosphere capable of supporting life. In essence, a brother-planet to Earth.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great to have Van Gogh, Encore as the Kindleboards KB Book of the day.

The irony was inescapable. My favorite artist labored daily for ten years without commercial or personal success -- yet now the images he created sell for millions and are found worldwide.

There's even a Kindle cover of his Starry Night:

When I was considering writing a novel about Vincent van Gogh, my first inclination was to make it a purely Historical Fiction piece, where settings and characters would pay strict attention to history. But the overwhelming counter kept cropping up; so many people know at least a few things about Vincent, why not make him more accessible by having him occupy modern time and space?

So I did it.

And took another, far more speculative step by putting Vincent's historical fate into question. If he gained that which he desired for so long (in addition to some commercial success with his art) ... namely, a family ... would he be able to overcome mental challenges and the ultimate lure of self-destruction?

Modern Vincent is French-Canadian. Rides his Harley Davidson motorcycle -- it's economical and appeals to his sense of freedom -- to the North Carolina coast where he encounters a divorcee with a young son. Theo is an art dealer in Atlanta, Georgia. The rest is unveiled in the book.

Van Gogh, Encore

Saturday, December 11, 2010

XERIA -- a space opera short story


Ebook Description:

Xeria's home planet of Iegaké had nearly been purged of life by demons with greater technology and firepower. Their spaceships hold hostage not only the paltry number of survivors -- including her father -- but the entire solar system. If Xeria does not return from a neighboring planet with the Drayden Dust that allows demons to dream, Mizk will destroy the entire planet, and prey upon the next.


Cool banner created by author/artist Daphne Coleridge

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Three versions of Van Gogh's Bedroom

The Van Gogh Museum blog details three versions of Vincent's Bedroom paintings.

The painting

What I particularly find interesting is his seemingly casual prowess at creating the sketches in his letters to Theo and Gauguin. How he could basically whisk them off and have them appear so solid is astounding.

From the Van Gogh Museum blog:

Vincent van Gogh considered The bedroom an important painting. In early 1889, Van Gogh returned home from the hospital in Arles. He had been admitted there after his psychological crisis and the injury to his ear. As he wrote to Theo, ‘When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom.’

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

revised version of Rhone (The Marsii Saga), epic fantasy of Mars, released in Kindle ebook and as second print

The revised version of Rhone (The Marsii Saga), epic fantasy of Mars, is now available in Kindle ebook, and soon as a second printing from Wild Wolf Publishing.

Product Description

Mars has a hero that will defy both god and man ...

Rhone is an ex-soldier of mixed blood, more man than demon but with reserves of hellish power. He has led a peaceful life as a fisherman since his soldiering days and is raising a daughter, Enna. Returning home one day he finds Enna murdered -- or so he believes.

And so begins Rhone's manipulation by Ducain, a demigod hell-bent on ruling the heavens. After avenging his daughter's death, Rhone grieves and isolates himself in the mountains. Ducain tells him his daughter's soul is locked in purgatory but can be retrieved ... and if Rhone also frees the titan who once defied the king of gods, Enna will live again.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Your vote could garner a review for Van Gogh, Encore at

If you get a chance, I'd appreciate your vote for Van Gogh, Encore at
thanks and I promise not to raise taxes,
Dear Finalists,
Congratulations on making it to the final round of the Indie Author Contest. One of you will get the chance to have your book reviewed and promoted to a fast growing audience, but first, we need to get out the vote!
Tell all your friends, family and co-workers to take sec to vote here:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Watched The Wolfman (2010) for Halloween

Watched The Wolfman (2010) last night to get my Halloween on. It was a toss-up between that and the latest Predators flick. Went for the classic theme and was pleasantly surprised at how well done it was, not just in special effects but the excellent build-up that didn't throw all of it in your face all at once. The scenery and mood were perfect, and the plot exceeded expectations. As an intermittent writer of horror, a decent plot almost brings a tear to the eye, as opposed to the superficial monster/bad guy just laying waste around him/her.

The actors were excellent as well. Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Art Malik, Hugo Weaving, and others.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Robert E. Howard: A New Manifesto by Mark Finn

As a HUGE fan of Robert E. Howard's writings, and the man himself, I find it odd there are those who disparage him four decades after his death. Mark Finn, noted REH scholar, has a manifesto on the subject that I have posted here. From the REH Forums:

A New Robert E. Howard Manifesto

I am a fan of Robert E. Howard, the Texas author who created a multitude of unique characters, wrote original and inventive fiction, defined the genre of epic fantasy as we understand it, and inspired me to become a professional writer. There are tens of thousands of other fans just like myself. As fans of Robert E. Howard and his works, we are interested in reading more about our favorite author. We are interested in sharing and exchanging new ideas about his life and work, and we actively seek out these new ideas online, in print, and elsewhere.

What we do not want to see are semi-uninformed retreads of the same discussions that were in vogue circa 1984. The field of Howard Studies is alive and well, with new discoveries and voices appearing all the time. Interest in the author is high and remains so. If you have a thought or an opinion, even a controversial or untested one, and want to share it with the world at large, we encourage that you do so.

We expect responsibility and accountability on your part. We are not interested in your grand pronouncement on a subject which has yet to be settled by people who have spent decades studying the issue at hand. We expect you to do your homework. There are a number of websites and literally stacks of new books that likely cover or answer most of your questions regarding Robert E. Howard. To not utilize those sources when doing your research smacks of willful ignorance and will not be tolerated by the fans of Robert E. Howard.

If you want to write a review about how much you didn't like Kull: Exile of Atlantis, have at it. Take it apart for any and all textual reasons you choose to invoke. We may not agree because Howard's work isn't for everyone, and we understand that. But the minute you start bringing Robert E. Howard's life story into your Kull review, it will garner a much more careful reading, and if you don't have your facts straight, or your opinions backed up by same, then we will call you on it.

The online Robert E. Howard fanbase calls itself the "Shield Wall." Some writers who have been on the business end of the Shield Wall's attacks have accused us of being bullies and overly-obsessed for the protective stance we take.

While it is not our intention to bully anyone, and while we may get a little carried away on occasion, let me be very clear here as to why this is so: Robert E. Howard has not had a voice for 75 years now. For four decades after his death, he had very few advocates who would defend him against the libel and slander of those who stood to profit from his work. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented for years. The Shield Wall's goal has been to stop in its entirety the kind of character assassination employed by L. Sprague de Camp and others who would adopt his methodology.

Consider this a challenge to survey the amount of work that has been done in Howard Studies in the last ten years alone and then try to come up with your own take on a topic or angle of discussion that has not been beaten to death. Do not make the mistake that so many others have made; just because Robert E. Howard isn't considered a "classic" author by the literary establishment that you can beat his literary reputation (or his personal life) like a rented mule and you will not get kicked for your efforts.

We expect you to accord Robert E. Howard the same respect as any other 20th century American author with continued and perennial popularity. No more back handed compliments. No more snide insinuations. No more rampant and irresponsible speculation with no basis of fact or evidence to bolster it. And for God's Sake, no more "oedipal complex" crap, either. Those theories are thirty years out of date, and we are sick and tired of seeing it. Give us something new, or keep your parochial and backwards thinking to yourself.

Mark Finn
Author of Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
And Commander of the Texas Shield Wall

Mexican sunflowers on a beautiful fall day in Raleigh

Temps in the upper 70's to low 80's, and saturating sunshine. Was on the the deck taking it in with my wife and reading Bradbury's Something Wicked. I planted two patches of Mexican sunflowers that come back year after year. Today they enjoyed the sun as much as we did. Couldn't help but wonder how Vincent van Gogh would have painted the photo I took ... even one of our dogs took advantage and did some poolside sunning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Van Gogh, Encore receives first reader review

Reader Review on Kindle site of Van Gogh, Encore:

Interesting idea expertly handled, October 11, 2010
By bandcandy "bandcandy" (UK) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Van Gogh, Encore (Kindle Edition)
I tend to approach with caution any book which starts with a rather original and interesting premise - in this case re-examining the last year and a half of Van Gogh's life in the context of modern America and with the benefit of a genuinely loving female companion - because I often find that the promise of that idea is not always explored with enough thought and sensitivity. In this case, however, Karr as both writer and thinker is well up to the job. Van Gogh, Encore makes for a sometimes gritty, challenging read, - inevitably because we are being invited inside the mind of a troubled, possibly mentally ill and certainly disillusioned genius. We are also witnessing the difficulties encountered by anyone considered an outsider and a failure with all the issues of identity and self-worth that this raises. The balance of the book is good, however, and we are given some lights to offset the darks in the course of the narrative and there are some enjoyable and charming descriptions of how Van Gogh relates to Lynn and her son David. I was also interested to see how Karr handled the tricky job of transporting Van Gogh to modern times whilst keeping the integrity of his life and character and also allowing himself some room for manoeuvre in making the story his own. In this I think Karr was masterly and I found the characters and happenings at all times credible. We follow Van Gogh through familiar episode in his life (Gauguin's visit, Van Gogh's mutilation of his own ear) but there was scope for significant changes and I must confess that right up until the end I wasn't sure how the book would conclude. Suffice is to say that I had tears in my eyes at the end, but whether they were tears of joy or sorrow, I will not reveal.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Van Gogh, Encore now available in print

Van Gogh, Encore now available in print

Product Description

Imagine Vincent van Gogh in our modern world. Suppose, during the last year and a half of his life, when he severs part of his ear and commits himself to the insane asylum, he stumbles into the very circumstance he has longed for his entire adult life -- a family. Would his life change for the better, or would his self-destructive tendencies again prevail? Van Gogh, Encore is a speculative novel based upon the last year and a half of Vincent van Gogh's life. The tale, set in the United States, presents an alternative dimension to the complex and fascinating artist who died impoverished and unappreciated ... while the images he created went on to have global impact, and can be found on everything from vodka bottles to vehicle dashboard covers, television commercials to t-shirts, and whose original works sell for millions.

About the Author

Fiction writing each day helps keep the demons at bay. Van Gogh, Encore is the novelization of my interest in Vincent Van Gogh and the connections I have with aspects of his life and so many of his works. My horror novel, Dark Resurrection, was revised in October 2007. Asylett Press published my medical thriller, Hippocrates Shattered, and Wild Wolf Publishing has pubbed my heroic sword and sorcery novel, Rhone, in trade print. Rhone will soon be available in ebook from another publisher. My short stories have appeared on webzines, including Allegory and The Absent Willow Review, and now Expressions. More novels are in the marketing queue. I work as an IT Analyst in Raleigh, NC, and attempt to balance family life with writing.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (September 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453816828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453816820
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 Early sunflower family fossil found in South America

Neanderthal Van Gogh painted them? Sunflower family fossil

( -- A beautifully preserved fossil identified as being of an early relative of the Asteraceae, or aster, family nearly 50 million years old suggests the plant family, which has now colonized much of the planet, originated in South America after Gondwana separated, forming South America, Australia, Africa, Antarctica and India.

The most striking feature of the fossil, which resembles a painting of sunflowers by 19th century Dutch painter Van Gogh, is a dense (capitulum) like that forming the central part of a and providing a strong attraction for .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Van Gogh, Encore now available in Kindle

Van Gogh, Encore now available in Kindle e-book. Wrestled with the whole endeavor a few times but once I get my own Kindle To PC straight, the book should be in Times New Roman font, as it is in the Download Preview.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Van Gogh, Encore submitted to Kindle for 48 hour acceptance wait

Today I submitted Van Gogh, Encore to Amazon's Digital Text Platform for acceptance into their Kindle publishing program. Took a while to get the html format down, along with encapsulating the cover art image but the Previewer looked good in the end.

Here's the description for Van Gogh, Encore that will appear in Kindle:

Imagine Vincent van Gogh in our modern world.

Suppose, during the last year and a half of his life, when he severs part of his ear and commits himself to the insane asylum, he stumbles into the very circumstance he has longed for his entire adult life -- a family. Would his life change for the better, or would his self-destructive tendencies again prevail?

Van Gogh, Encore is a speculative novel based upon the last year and a half of Vincent van Gogh's life.

The tale, set in the United States, presents an alternative dimension to the complex and fascinating artist who died impoverished and unappreciated ... while the images he created went on to have global impact, and can be found on everything from vodka bottles to vehicle dashboard covers, and whose original works sell for millions.
 Below is a banner Annie Melton made for me to go along with a bunch of her cover art images. Now I'm going to hunt down some places that have contests for cover art and submit hers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Norton museum trades up by swapping Gauguin painting for Van Gogh Portrait

Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait from the National Gallery of Art visits Norton Museum

West Palm Beach , Florida -- 30 August 2010
VINCENT VAN GOGH (Dutch, 1853–1890): Self-Portrait, 1889.  Oil on canvas, 22 ½ by 17 ¼ inches.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr.  and Mrs.  John Hay Whitney, 1998.74.5
VINCENT VAN GOGH (Dutch, 1853–1890): Self-Portrait, 1889. Oil on canvas, 22 ½ by 17 ¼ inches. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney, 1998.74.5

Artfix Daily reports that the Norton Museum has swapped out Paul Gauguin, Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1889, for the Van Gogh Self Portrait at right.

For me, they traded up big-time.

Not only is Van Gogh's art far more powerful than Gauguin's, to me Paul Gauguin was the villain who instigated Van Gogh's ear-slicing incident. Instead of plunging the knife in Gauguin's back, Vincent took part of his own ear. 

A scene in my modern Van Gogh novel -- Van Gogh, Encore -- deals with this incident in detail. The way I see it, Gauguin is to Van Gogh what Salieri was (possibly) to Mozart. That is, the villain who manipulates the more trusting and naive and more talented colleague.

The ArtFix Daily article linked above does give fine insight into Vincent's techniques and expressionism via color and texture:

But the haunting—indeed, the haunted—quality of Van Gogh’s picture is unforgettable.  The dark blue-violet of the smock and ground, the vivid orange of his hair and beard, create a startling contrast to the yellow and green tones of his face and heighten the gauntness of his features and sallow complexion.  The dynamic, even frenzied brushwork lends an uncommon immediacy and expressiveness to the Washington Self-Portrait:  it is not just a record of the artist’s appearance, but a revelation of his precarious psychological state.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Egyptian minister says Van Gogh picture still missing

Van Gogh painting worth $50 Million still missing according to Egyptian minister.

The same painting was previously taken from the same museum in 1978, but recovered a decade later in Kuwait.

Police questioned museum staff and security was tightened at air and sea ports across Egypt in the wake of the theft.

The work, measuring 30cm by 30cm(1ft by 1ft), and depicting yellow and red flowers, is believed to have been painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887, three years before his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

The Mahmoud Khalil Museum was built by an Egyptian politician of the same name in the 1930s, and also holds works by Monet, Renoir and Degas.

Poppy Flowers and Vase And Flowers is not even one of Van Gogh's more popular paintings, and it's worth $50 Mil? Yet Vincent died penniless. Dark irony defined.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A stone's throw away from self-publishing Van Gogh, Encore

Van Gogh, Encore is a stone's throw away from my Amazon Kindle release. From there will look at other formats. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Final cover art for Van Gogh, Encore

Cover art of my soon self-published e-book, Van Gogh, Encore. Annie Melton should get another award for this one. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zombie Phrasology

Thanks to @qcjerusha9b7e for the link via Twitter post. Now you can enter a phrase and get it back in Zombiesee

Here's my 'Run for the hills!'

Zombie Letters from

Thursday, July 15, 2010

prototype cover art for Van Gogh, Encore

... was sent my way by the graphic artist last weekend. Bam! Like that, the novel that has resided on my hard drives for a decade now has a face, and I'm quite pleased. The artist is tweaking a few things, but suffice it to say that the unmistakable imprint of Vincent Van Gogh is half of it. The other half combines the set up for the climactic scene with an object meant to convey a sense of the modern.

I was hoping for July 29 as the release date, as that is the anniversary of Vincent's death, but I am only on Chapter 9 in my light editing at this point. The work was edited by an agent years back, and myself. The agent was not successful in placing with a publisher, as you might guess by now.

Still, I find it entertaining after not having read it in three years. With good fortune, so too will the reader.

Mini excerpt from Chapter One:

He squeezed his eyes shut and sucked in air thick as soup, held it there while straining every muscle in his body. Only when his lungs threatened to burn through his ribs did he allow the air to gush forth. Purple and white dots blinked around him. He gasped and eventually caught his breath. Dots faded ... and were gone. Tension drained from his body. Limbs responded to his wishes once more. The obsidian bands vanished. The tangle of color became a wheat field with cypress trees and a blue haze and fiery sun once more.

A temporary fix. He should get out from beneath the overwhelming sky and punishing sun, run like hell to that thicket over there and huddle against a tree trunk until it passed. That would be the safe thing to do.

Color erupted from the canvas before him.

. . . but he had come so far on the painting. He could not abandon it now, not even temporarily. He would have to pay the price.

He gnawed the end of the paintbrush and eyed the half-empty bottle of tequila that lurked in the shadow of the easel. Another pull might just postpone the inevitable long enough to let him finish.

The air around him swelled.

Too soon after the last. He’d kept it away this long by painting. If he continued, he might be able to handle it. He simply needed to keep —

The air crackled and hummed, as if he were surrounded by live wires ready to fry him with the slightest contact.

As was often the case, the act of painting had warded off its initial advances. He was nearly finished with this, his second canvas of the day. His faded blue t-shirt, smeared here and there with paint, clung to his upper body. His cutoffs were similarly smeared and just as wet, though the denim held true to its own form despite the loose fit at his waist and thighs. Willpower trickled from him as if carried through his pores by his sweat. Concentration slipped. Limbs took longer to respond, as if the sun had thickened the air around him into an invisible quagmire.

Some would say this was no more than the heat taking its toll on a man foolish enough to spend hours out in it, foolish enough to believe a straw hat could protect him from heatstroke. But though formidable, Vincent knew the heat was not directly responsible; he’d painted many times in the heat with far less trouble. Nor was hunger the culprit; more often than not his stomach was empty when he painted. No, this was the work of an adversary so familiar it was intimate, and one that grew stronger with the death of each day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

7/7/2010 -- Hired a graphic artist to create cover art for my modern Vincent Van Gogh novel: Van Gogh, Encore. I'll be self pubbing it via Amazon Digital Text for Kindle. Currently giving the chapters another edit.

7/5/2010 -- An editor is polishing Rhone for the print second edition, and for my upcoming effort at e-publishing, since Wild Wolf Publishing doesn't do e-books currently.

Verbal feedback for medical thriller Hippocrates Shattered has been pretty good so far. Wonder why family sounds surprised by it? Guess they've been living with John's Writing Thing so long it dulled their senses to greatness ;^)

And lo, Dark Resurrection made enough last month to buy a lunch! And here I was starting to request my rights back from Samhain on it.

... btw, this blog name may provide just enough impetus for me to actually read more Shakespeare. Ye olde English can be a chore when reading for pleasure time finally rolls around but there's no denying his greatness. From Hamlet, Act III then:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Resistence worn thin

Must resist ... urge to ... blog. Held off for years now. Why begin anew?

There's only a few billion blogs in cyberspace. I just end up talking to myself with these symbols known as words.

I have some novels out via small press. Check out

It resembles a blog of sorts. So maybe some explanation going forward would be okay, and they won't come 'round with a straight jacket and reserved padded room. Not with the way healthcare is today, boy. Who can afford a sanitarium stay, as my man Vincent Van Gogh had.

He wasn't off his rocker crazy. Just needed to chill.

Will be self-pubbing my modern-day Vincent Van Gogh tale within a month, if all goes right. Amazon Digital Text for Kindle. Requisitioned cover art from a true artist now.


Imagine Vincent van Gogh in our modern world, struggling to find love and to support himself through his art. Suppose, during the last year and a half of his life, when he severed part of his ear and committed himself to the insane asylum, he stumbles into the very circumstance he has longed for his entire adult life -- a family. Would his life change for the better, or would his self-destructive tendencies still prevail?
My novel, Vincent Van Gogh, Encore, explores these possibilities.