My work on Pixels.com/Fine Art America

I’ve been working on my art the past couple of years–in addition to writing, and working, and more.  I recently created several portfolios on Redbubble, and one piece of my work is featured on  Zazu’s House Parrot Sanctuary Pixels site.

I found out Pixels/Fine Art America was offering yoga mats and that did it (well, not just yoga mats, lots of different products, but the yoga mats put me over the edge in deciding to set up there!).  I set up a page there and uploaded my work.  It’s “live” now.  Please check it out and let me know what you think.  Thanks!

My Pixels/Fine Art America Page

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All my art up on Redbubble now…

Got it all uploaded!  So there are 4 art collections and 1 miscellaneous photography collection (older).  The art categories are:

Abandoned/Roadside/Retro

Bird art

Abstract/Surreal

Landscapes/Canada

The pieces are mainly watercolor or colored pencil, or the two mixed.  One is gouache and one is watercolor and pastels.  Check it out.  I’ll upload more as I complete and digitize more pieces.  Thanks!

My Redbubble Profile Page

More of my art collections up on Redbubble now…

Now I have several collections/portfolios of my art (colored pencils, watercolors, sometimes mixed) going:

Abandoned/Roadside/Retro

Abstract/Surreal

Birds!

Coming soon:  landscapes inspired by Canada.

Please check them out and let me know what you think.  Thanks!

My Redbubble Profile Page

My Art Side…

No, I don’t “just” write novels, I’ve also been working on my art.  I mostly work in colored pencil (Prismacolor Premier) and watercolor.  I finally got a chance to post a new collection up on Redbubble, entitled:  Abandoned, Roadside, and Retro.  I have a number of birds and abstract pieces I plan to post in their own collections, as time permits.

Meanwhile, please stop by Redbubble and check out my collection.  You can get the images on various sorts of products to suit your fancy.  Thanks!

Flash Fiction: Stilettos, Take Me Home*

Stella squinted through the smoky haze.  Damn if her drink wasn’t empty again.  She leaned forward and signaled Kevin the bartender to hit her up again.

He cast her an appraising look as he dried a beer mug.  “Don’t you think you’ve had enough tonight?”

“No.  Not hardly.”

“Well, I do.  Go on home, Stella.”

This wasn’t the first time Kevin had cut her off.  Knowing there was no use arguing with him, Stella slapped down a few bills and nearly knocked over the bar stool as she stood to leave.  She glanced around to make sure no one noticed, then straightened her dress and slung her purse onto her shoulder.

Stilettos clattering, she tottered out of the bar and took a moment to steady herself against the building.  Stood up again.  She checked her watch.  One in the morning.  Bastard was supposed to meet up with her hours ago.  Fortunately, she only had to negotiate a few blocks in her treacherous heels and she’d be home.

Late at night, this old neighborhood cleared right out.  She suspected that’s why her dates stood her up so often.  The buildings were tired and run down, so the area just didn’t look like a party mecca.  Even her old girlfriends had deserted her.  They didn’t feel safe coming here, they said.

Well, fuck them.  Rent was cheap, and she could walk to whatever she needed—the corner grocery, the salon.  The bar.  She never had any problems.

She sighed and started walking home.  It wasn’t all that far, but she wondered if she shouldn’t bring flat shoes with her next time.  The cracks in the sidewalk were pure hell on her favorite stilettos.

Stella hardly noticed the flutter of soft wings as, one by one, they gathered, clinging to the eaves and awnings along her way.  She left the spill of blue neon from the bar and ventured into the night, punctuated by the occasional street lamp.  As she turned right at the corner, she saw a couple of the lights on that side had been smashed into oblivion.

The increased darkness made it harder to see the cracks in the sidewalk.  Stella slowed her pace to avoid catching her heel in one.  She had trouble focusing, and admitted to herself that she might have had a drink too many.

Partway down the block, her heel caught and she stumbled, falling against the side of a building.  Pain flashed in her hand as she scraped the skin on the rough brick surface.  She leaned against the building and pressed her injured palm to halt the bleeding.

A shadow emerged from the alley only a few feet ahead of her.  Still rubbing her hand, she noticed it, but made no effort to flee.

“Need some help?”  The harsh voice was not that of a Good Samaritan.  The shadow moved onto the sidewalk and stepped toward her.  As he drew nearer, she could see he looked solid and strong beneath his T-shirt and jeans.  She could also see the menacing sneer on his face.

Shaking her hand to erase the last traces of pain, she stepped away from the building, pulled her purse strap back up onto her shoulder, and continued walking home, right toward the man in the shadows.  As she was about to pass by him, he grabbed her arm and spun her toward him.

Stella laughed.

As the man began to drag her into the alley, they came.  They came on soft wings, like leathery butterflies of the night.  Nearly soundless, they leapt from the ledges where they’d hung and fluttered down.

He released Stella and screamed as a cloud of bats engulfed him.  They swarmed; they closed in, avoiding his flailing arms with ease.  Soon they all dug their claws and teeth into his clothes, his flesh.

Stella smiled as they lifted him up, up into the night.

When he was gone from sight, she straightened her dress, hitched her purse strap back over her shoulder, and continued on home.

She loved her neighborhood and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.

 

*Originally published by DarkFuse, July 2013.

The Making of: THE JANUS LEGACY

JANUS LIGHT AND DARK*

In THE JANUS LEGACY, I return to my obsession with looking at how a potentially beneficial technology can be twisted to serve dark purposes.  I find endless fodder in the daily news to fuel my work.  Absolutely endless.  For me, it’s a matter of coming up with a solid plot and populating it with characters my readers will want to follow into the hell I create for them.

For JANUS, the technology is the manufacture of replacement organs cloned from the patient’s/client’s own cells.  At least, that’s how it starts.  Naturally, things spiral out of control in due course, unfortunately for the characters.  But think about it—wouldn’t that be a great technology to have?  Today, donor organs are hard to come by.  People sit on the waiting list for years, often dying before the needed organ becomes available.  Sometimes a communicable disease or cancer comes with the gift organ, to disastrous results.  The technology in JANUS would eliminate all that.  Well, at least for wealthy clients.  JANUS explores the beneficial side of this technology—and then delves into the tragic consequences when things go too far.

The idea of cloning as the subject for a novel is one that has been bouncing around in the back of my head for so long that it’s on my original handwritten “list of story ideas” that I’ve toted around since I first became serious about writing fiction.  I’ve wondered for quite some time, if we ever did clone a complete human being, what would be the nature of that being’s consciousness?  If he or she only ever experienced a lab environment, what would go on in the clone’s mind?  What sort of point of view would he or she have?  I won’t say any more here at the risk of spoiling some of the plot, but I will say that this was a key challenge I took on when writing JANUS.

THE JANUS LEGACY is only my second novel.  As I’ve mentioned in other articles and forums, I actually wrote the manuscript for my first novel, THE GENESIS CODE, some time back and then disappeared off the face of the earth for several years to attend law school and emerge into a new career and a new place to live.  I began writing THE JANUS LEGACY shortly after DarkFuse accepted THE GENESIS CODE for publication—but before I could get started on it, I had to remember how to write a novel-length work and adjust my methods based on what I’d learned.

With GENESIS, I was in a very different place and time, and so would draft a chapter or two on the weekend, print them out and take them and a medium-sized spiral notebook to work with me, then write/edit during lunchtime each day.  I edited each chapter to completion before starting another one.  While I am pleased with the end result, I don’t think this was the most efficient way to go about it.  Then again, this was before iPads and ultrabooks and such—so it worked for what equipment I had and the nature of my work day and location at that time.

In preparing to draft JANUS, I had to think through what logistical approach would work for me in my current situation.  I don’t typically get out for lunch these days—and even if I did, I’m not located near quick, cheap little places to eat as I was in my Minneapolis/GENESIS days.  It was so convenient to scoot out of the office, hustle to some fast-food place, grab something to eat, and hunker alone in a corner and work on the manuscript until it was time to head back.  Reliving those days as I developed my new approach made me a wee bit nostalgic, and that is one reason I chose to set JANUS in the Minneapolis area.  That and the fact that Minnesota’s dramatic seasons formed an absolutely crucial backdrop to the story.  I spent a considerable amount of time arranging key plot elements to coincide with the seasons before I began drafting.

For JANUS, once I completed the plot outline, instead of editing each chapter to death before moving on, I wrote the entire manuscript, and then undertook several revision cycles top to bottom.  And I did it all on the computer, no printouts.  This approach worked well for me.  It certainly saved an entire forest of trees.  But beyond that, I think it let the entire plot breathe and adjust as needed before committing “final edits” to each chapter.  That was a much more efficient use of time right there.  It took me more than two years to write GENESIS; it took me four months to write JANUS.  Then once I was done, I had the urge to write something noir, and that became ASH AND BONE.  And that’s a story for another day.

I hope you enjoy THE JANUS LEGACY!

*Originally published in DarkFuse Magazine, when THE JANUS LEGACY was first released.

The Janus Legacy on Amazon

The Janus Legacy on Smashwords

The Making of: BLOCKBUSTER

BLOCKBUSTER:  THE FUTURE OF PATHOGENS?*

Lots of things scare me, some more than others.  While this can be mighty inconvenient in daily life, it does give me plenty of writing ideas.  See?  There’s a silver lining in just about anything if you look hard enough.

Several of my biggest fears play starring roles in my BigPharma thriller, BLOCKBUSTER.  For one thing, it scares the bejeepers out of me that some very nasty pathogenic bacteria have become resistant to our arsenal of antibiotics, and that more will likely follow.  So, what if a bacteria got loose that was readily transmitted and extremely deadly—and was resistant to all available antibiotics?  Well, that’s part of what happens in BLOCKBUSTER.  The idea scares me so much that as I was writing the book, if I happened to feel a simple itch on my toe, for example, a part of me would begin to panic because of what happens in the novel.  Can you imagine how frightening it would be if something like that started spreading, and no existing antibiotic could fight it?  Talk about being fresh out of bullets.

Just so you know, I actually completed the manuscript long before the recent Ebola crisis that made the news a couple of years ago.  Though a virus, Ebola shares some characteristics with the bacterial disease(s) in BLOCKBUSTER, in that there is no particular cure, and that it is incredibly vicious and deadly.  However, Ebola is far less communicable than the diseases in BLOCKBUSTER, and because it’s a virus, antibiotics aren’t helpful anyway (except perhaps as prevention for secondary bacterial infections).  When I “created” the diseases in BLOCKBUSTER, I deliberately combined the pathology of MRSA (the flesh-eating bacteria) with the terrible internal ravages of Ebola (and some more grisly features for good measure).  I find it hard to imagine a more terrifying communicable disease.

On another level, I’m scared of disease in general, of being ill and in a hospital, under treatment, and fearing for my life.  I’m sure most people are.  In BLOCKBUSTER, that fear is magnified by the strict quarantine procedures necessitated by the nature of the disease.  What would it be like to be gravely ill and in a quarantine chamber—with no human contact whatsoever—just when you’re at your most vulnerable and frightened?  Unfortunately, that very thing plays out in an Ebola outbreak.  The disease itself is horrific enough, but to be denied even the slightest bit of human comfort is unimaginably heartbreaking—though necessary.

As some of my readers may know, I edited a weekly email newsletter for biotech attorneys, the BioBlurb, through much of my time in law school.  I’d gather stories from the week centered on the legal and ethical issues of various biotech developments—and I’d insert my own snarky little comments that my readers really enjoyed.  On one level, it was fun to do and I learned a lot about what was going on in the biotech world.  On another level, it provided all manner of novel fodder to my twisted little brain.  But alas, in law school, there was little time for anything but…law school.  So all those ideas fermented in the back of my head.  And now I get to reap the benefits of all that fermentation.  BLOCKBUSTER didn’t stem from any one particular story, but from a sort of gestalt of the stories, together with a “what if” question about a particular form of corruption.

Another thing that shaped BLOCKBUSTER is an annoying bit of reality:  it takes a long, long time to develop a new drug and bring it to market.  There are early trials, false starts, human trials (if you even get that far), FDA approvals, and all the activities needed to actually produce and distribute the eventual drug.  If I’d adhered to that reality in the book, readers would have passed out from boredom by page 4.  I had to do something about this!  So, I decided to set it 10 years in the future, and “create” a very lovely and enviable piece of lab equipment that fast-tracks the drug development process, and even eliminates the need for human trials—the fabulous Pathosym.  Such equipment isn’t totally without a basis in reality, however.  There are prototype testing devices “on a chip” for certain things.  I just took the concept a whole lot further.  And this is why writing fiction is so, well, empowering.

And because I’d set the story 10 years out, I couldn’t just slap a fancy piece of equipment in the lab and stop there.  I needed to envision future versions of normal, everyday electronics that we take for granted.  Most such items in the book are either on their way or are based in some part on reality.  For example, wristwatch computers are becoming a reality, or at least early versions of them.  I just imagined something more mature and put it in the book—the PortiComm.  These things had to feel like fairly natural extensions of current devices that might be real 10 years out.  They were meant more as part of the environment, the “set” as it were, rather than stars of the show, like the lab equipment.

BLOCKBUSTER was a fun book to write:  lots of biotech, high-tech, skullduggery, greed, and things going horribly awry.  I hope you enjoy it…and that you have lots of antibacterial scrub handy.  You’re going to need it.

Thanks for reading!

Lisa von Biela

*Originally published in DarkFuse Magazine when BLOCKBUSTER was first released.

Blockbuster on Amazon

Blockbuster on Smashwords