Saturday, March 14, 2015

Kickstarter Day 25 (4 to go): Artist announcement and Zion canyoneering

Just 4 days left on The Labyrinth of Flame Kickstarter!  We're agonizingly close to the interior art goal, and I have some news I'm really excited about: should we make the goal, the extremely talented Kristina Carroll will be doing interior art for the book.

I first came across Kristina's work by seeing discussion of ArtOrder's INSPIRED, which is an art book containing a juried collection of works from more than 30 international artists. Kristina has a black and white illustration in INSPIRED that caught my eye, and when I went to her webpage, I found her portfolio even more impressive.  (I also read and enjoyed this Women in Fantasy Illustration interview with her on Kiri Leonard's site.) 

Several pieces in particular made me think Kristina would be a great fit for illustrating The Labyrinth of Flame.  Like this color piece that totally reminds me of Lizaveta (even if Lizaveta would have darker skin):
"Liliana Vess" by Kristina Carroll (c 2009 Wizards of the Coast)
and this black and white one (for reasons that would be spoilers to say, haha):

"Leviathan" by Kristina Carroll
Kristina and I have discussed the project - she's excited to work on The Labyrinth of Flame, and I'm even more excited to have her on board!  All I need is that last little bit of funds and I can be certain of commissioning art for three scenes (and if the KS goes past the goal, I can add more), so please -share the Kickstarter link with your friends, your neighbors, your twitter followers, random people on the street....okay, maybe not that last.  But still - we're so close.  Just a few more backers and this book can be something really special, so enormous thanks for any help in getting the word out to people who might not yet have heard about the Kickstarter or the series! 

Moving on from beautiful art to beautiful landscapes, today I thought I'd share what a day canyoneering in Zion National Park is like.  Most of the Utah canyons I've been showing off in these past weeks have been dry canyons.  The only time water flows through them is during a flash flood (though occasional pools of water may remain in "keeper potholes.")  The canyons in Zion National Park are different.  Many of them are wet canyons, formed by streams that flow year-round, and even those without a full-flowing stream often have deep pools and flooded passages.  Sheltered from the sun, the canyon water is frigid!  The air temp in the open desert above may be 100F, but within the canyon, you need a wetsuit or even a drysuit to stave off hypothermia. 

Today's pics come from a short but fun little slot in Zion called Keyhole.  A typical Zion canyoneering day starts with a hike to the head of the slot, which in Keyhole's case requires a steep, dusty scramble down a cliff:

Our group scrambling down to Keyhole's entrance
In many of Zion's canyons, a broader gorge will abruptly tighten up and drop off into a slot.  Once you reach that point, you set up a rappel:
My husband setting up an anchor while two other members of our group look on

Keyhole entrance: a drop into the dark!

Disengaging from a rappel while floating in a pool of murky, mucky water is a vital canyoneering skill

My husband on rappel

Looking up: Keyhole is a very tight slot!  This is about as open as it gets.

My husband sloshing out of a flooded passageway

Once done, it's back up to the car for another adventure! (Keyhole only takes a few hours, so we went on to do a different slot in the afternoon.)

And for today's book rec, I'm going with M.L. Brennan's Generation V books, which have quickly become one of my favorite currently-running urban fantasy series.  I said this about the first book on Goodreads: "Picked up Generation V after hearing lots of praise for it from both book bloggers and friends - and, yup. Praise was well deserved. I found the book's take on vampirism to be intriguing, and I loved the fraught, difficult relationship that protagonist Fort has with his family. Lots of great characters, an emphasis on family dynamics & friendship over romance, and an interesting plot...I liked the book so much I immediately bought & read the sequel."  Since then, I've read both Iron Night and Tainted Blood, and thoroughly enjoyed each one.  As with Holly Black's Coldest Girl in Coldtown, these books prove that even the most well-worn of tropes can still make for a great story in the hands of a talented author. 


  1. I'm reminded of the river and waterfall I encountered near to the Sand Dunes, that had guide lines on very slippery rocks (and cold water) to navigate

    1. Yeah, your pic of it looked really cool! I need to visit that waterfall myself sometime. Also, you have inspired me to make sure I put up pics of Kit Carson Peak before the Kickstarter's end (Kit Carson is in the Sangre de Cristo right next to the sand dunes).

  2. I've really enjoyed all your updates and recs throughout the course of the kickstarter. I like your approach to selling your book with more books, haha! :) Just wanted to say I upgraded my pledge and posted the link to my facebook again. Fingers crossed for the stretch goal! Carroll's art looks amazing!

  3. Thank you for the lovely write-up! I'm very excited!

  4. I can see why they call it the Keyhole. And who knew one could need a wetsuit in a desert.

    And love the artwork!

    1. That's what I love best about Utah-style desert - it's full of surprises and secrets!