Artwork, Road Trip, Music (Part Four)

The Glister Journals: Chris and Merle

This is Chris and Merle from The Glister Journals as imagined by artist Katelynn Chambers, the last of four pieces commissioned from her to coincide with the release of the hardback edition of Bronze. I absolutely adore her style and her sense of color. All her work affects me quite deeply. I look forward to commissioning (and/or working with) her more in the future.

The Road Home (A continuation)

As usual for me, I didn’t get on the road until much later than I had planned, but still wanted to try to make it to Roseburg, Oregon for the night. It began to rain steadily soon after I left my friends and Blaine behind. By the time I reached Mount Vernon, it was pouring so there wasn’t much to see and I was preoccupied with just seeing the road ahead. But beyond Olympia the rain subsided, the sun came out, and all was green and beautiful.

Around Kalama, a large body of water to the west sparked my curiosity and I began looking for possible offramps to get closer and explore. Keeping in mind how far I wanted to get today (and how far I still had to go) I didn’t want to get too far from the highway. Unfortunately nothing presented itself until Woodland. There, signs for the mysterious ‘Port of Woodland’ and the even more exotic sounding ‘Dike Access’ proved too alluring, and I had to strike off in search of whatever I could find.

Adding to the sense of adventure was what appeared to be a fair sized fire not too far distant.

Fire in the Distance

Considering how green everything was, and that it had been pouring all morning, I felt relatively safe and determined to find water, if not the source of the smoke.

What I didn’t realize then (but see now that I am looking at a physical map) was that the river, the Columbia, is actually the border with Oregon, though it lay north to south (or vice versa, I don’t remember which way the water was flowing) and that the other side of the river was in fact Oregon and had been for quite a while. Isn’t geography wonderful. Anyway, it was very pretty, but I couldn’t find any free river access so headed back the way I had come. I sorely wanted to stop and take pictures of all the emergency vehicles and the almost completely burned down house, but wasn’t sure whether that would be okay. It was obviously a training exercise, but I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about my taking pictures. Sometimes I don’t mind risking a little trouble, but trouble takes time and I still had a long way to drive.

I finally found a place to take some decent pictures just before turning back onto the Dike Access Road.

Columbia River, Washington

Having quite a way to go before reaching Roseburg, I pulled over at a rest stop somewhere in Oregon to stretch my legs and snooze for a few minutes. It was an extremely pretty area and I wish I had written down the name of the place (if it had one).

Somewhere in Oregon

Somewhere in Oregon

For this leg of the journey I listened mostly to Keane’s latest album, Strangeland. It wasn’t until I had got it home from the store and ripped it onto my computer that I found that it was a Japanese release with bonus tracks. Goody. The bad part of that is that all the track information is in Japanese, which meant manually renaming everything. Luckily the song titles transferred just fine to my MP3 player so at least I could see what they were while I traveled.

Now, I have to say that, if you like Keane’s sound, you will probably like this album, but I can’t say there was anything that surprised me or bowled me over right away. The opening song, “You Are Young,” is nice but the second track, “Silenced By The Night”, jumps out as definitive Keane:

The following track has an even more distinctive sound. Keane utilizes very similar (sometimes exactly the same) interval patterns revolving around 2, 3, and 5. For example, “Disconnected” uses the pattern: 5-3-2-5-3-2-5-3.

This same pattern can be heard in “Day Will Come.” Past Keane songs you may remember with distinctive 2, 3, 5 patterns are:
“Is It Any Wonder” (2-2-3-3-5-5-3-2)
“Nothing In My Way” (2-3-2-3-5 2-3-2-3-5 2-3-2-3)
“Crystal Ball” 5 3-6-5 2-3-L7 2-3-L7 5-5-5-3-2-3-L7
There are other motifs Keane uses, but these are the ones that jump out at me and make the songs so darn catchy.

“Sovereign Light Cafe is another that took hold of me immediately but for a completely different reason. The opening melody is exactly like a song I wrote eons ago. No, you’ve never heard it and you never will, but it took me way back to days when I spent my time writing music instead of words. The lyrics grabbed me next; so evocative. It took me back to days and nights spent in Santa Monica, along the beach front, on the pier; it also took me back to England where I lived for several years, and time spent at Brighton, Southampton, other seaside towns. When I got home and saw the video, it resonated with me even more. It’s now one of my favorites.

I enjoyed the whole album, some tracks standing out more than others, and even the bonus tracks are good. My favorite of these (also reminding me strongly of England) is “The Boys” but I couldn’t find a video for it. I guess you’ll just have to buy the album!

I will leave you with this, set to beautiful locations and subbed in Spanish, “Somewhere Only We Know” (3-2-3-5-3-2 LOL)

All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd (including music reviews) are copyright 2012-2013 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here:

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Artwork, Road Trip, Music! (Part two)

I’m very pleased to present a piece created by an exceptional illustrator and comic artist, Jeff Stokely.
Jeff has, since doing these pictures for me so long ago, worked on some pretty impressive projects, including illustration for one of the first stories and the first cover of the new Fraggle Rock comic, as well as work for Mattel and TokyoPop. I am especially fond of his “Wonderland” take on Alice’s world, and his “Labyrinth” piece which was recently chosen as design of the day by Tee Fury. Among many other things, he is also doing the illustration for a new comic, “The Truth About Dragons” which is looking great! It will be available through Archaia in 2013.

Jeff did two commissions for me a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t quite ready to share them. And now with the release of the hardbound edition of Bronze I am! I was originally going to defer artwork for this post as I was hoping to perhaps lay some color on this, but the way things are going it won’t happen soon, and I’ve waited too long as it is! This first piece is Jeff’s concept for Dave and Chris from The Glister Journals and I really love it. I don’t quite see them this way, but that’s the point! They could look this way! Those of you who have read the book (or at least the online chapters), what do you think?

The Glister Journals; Dave and Chris

Back to my Northwest road trip:

Knowing how to give good directions should be a requirement of people who work front desks of hotels. After all, if you’re staying in a hotel, it would be reasonable to assume that you might not know the area. At all.

On asking the hotel clerk if there was a Starbucks close by–wondering if, in the wilds of Medford, Oregon** they’d even heard of Starbucks–the nice lady said, “Oh, yes, of course! There’s one right over in the plaza by Fred Myers.”

She might just as well have said, “It’s over in the blahblahblah by the blahblahblah.” Who or what the heck is Fred Myers? More importantly, where exactly is he/it? I headed out in the direction she had vaguely waved in and eventually saw the big “Fred Myers” sign. I guess it’s like a WalMart or something? Enlighten me. I didn’t venture in. I was on a mission.

Fortified with my caffeinated substance of choice (black tea), I hit the I-5 again.

Roseburg is where I decided to stop for gas (and more tea). Buying gas in Oregon is a strange experience. It feels weird to let someone else pump my gas for me; makes me feel guilty as if I’m being selfish or acting entitled. I’d forgotten about “no self-serve” in Oregon, but I could probably get used to it. Especially the gas prices! At least fifty cents a gallon cheaper than what I usually spend. Apparently it costs MUCH more to transport gas into California. You know, because it’s so inaccesible and everything.

I love California, but Oregon is, of course, gorgeous. Most of California (that I had passed through) was brown already, or almost brown, but Oregon was emerald still. I appreciate that.

Somewhere north of Drain (yes, Drain–one of the things I love about road trips is noticing place names!) I passed a pasture where a horse was lying down and standing behind him, obviously nuzzling or licking the crest of his neck and mane, was a small calf. Was this a random occurence? The calf just happened to wander over to the horse and, curious about a different creature, start nuzzling? Or is the calf actually a minion of the horse, subjugated to serve it? Or is it a symbiotic relationship: you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours? I can’t help but wonder about these things. I wished I could have stopped to take a picture, but it’ll make a cute drawing if I ever get around to it.

It seems impossible, but Washington is even more lush and green than Oregon. I have to admit that, so far, it’s my second favorite state (I’ve only been through fourteen). Just from a driver’s point of view, some of the things I noticed:

    The “keep right” law. We have signs in California that state, “slower traffic keep right,” but few people pay attention to it and I’ve never heard of anyone being pulled over for blocking faster traffic in the left lanes. I wish I had! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves (that and people not using indicators…grrrrr.) In washington it’s LAW. Awesome.

    Signage stating, “Litter and it will hurt,” a vague, non-specific threat that kept my imagination endlessly occupied and made me smile every time I saw it.

    Washington Highway Patrol is on the job. Noticeably. The only reason I mention it is because driving through Washington was also noticeably pleasant with people (for the most part) yielding and merging respectfully, using their indicators, driving an acceptable few miles over the speed limit (instead of ten or twenty under or over) and driving on the far right whenever possible unless they were overtaking. An amazing system that actually works.

For the first part of the journey through Oregon I listened to Gotye’s Making Mirrors. By now I’m sure everyone’s heard “Somebody That I Used to Know” which I still like in spite of it being overplayed, but just for the record, I do NOT like the remix version. Whose idea was that I wonder? Wally’s or a producer’s? The song was fresh and original and they took and made it sound like every other pop tune on the radio. Thankfully the remix is not on the album.

Wally DeBacker (Gotye) has one of the most versatile voices I’ve heard in a long time, not just in range–there seems to be quite a lot of male singers out there right now with incredible range–but in quality and tone. He really works his voice, which I can appreciate. I also love his tendency to use tribal rhythms in much of his music rather than straight-up rock drumkit or electro-dance rhythms. I guess that’s why i don’t like the STIUTK remix. Ah well…

One of my favorite tracks on the album, and which I’d already become familiar with through the video, is “Eyes Wide Open.” This took on even more meaning as I drove through Oregon’s gorgeous pine forests and over blue rivers.

Another track that I really enjoyed on the trip was State of the Art. I admit it took a little while for me to really uderstand what he was talking about, but then I had to listen to the whole thing again and laughed quite a bit. It may not mean much to a lot of people, but it reminded me strongly of someone I actually knew, who had one of those keybords that have rhythms and whatnot programmed into them. It probably cost about a hundred dollars. He thought he was a pretty good musician. He also only used the one-finger chord setting and sang in a “lounge”-y style. Hahaha…oh, memories. Anyway, I like the song better than the video (I think it’s ugly and annoyingly repetitive) so gave you the link in case you want to check it out, but I don’t expect it would mean much to most people.

“Bronte” had me driving through tears, thinking of beloved pets, past and present. When thoughts of people creep in too it’s almost overwhelming for me. I have posted it before here, at the end of the post, so I won’t post it again.

I will leave you with this song which is another favorite. The video is kind of repetitious and annoying too, but the animation is pretty cool (though very simple) so I like it anyway. Haha. Enjoy and I’ll see you next time!

**No offence is meant to Oregon or Oregonians. It’s just my sense of humor. I LOVE Oregon and find the people warm and friendly, even when they know I’m from California!

Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here:

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

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Artwork, Road Trip, Music! (Part One)

Sorry again for the hiatus. I had hoped to post before now, especially as I am officially on vacation, but life’s been go, go, go!

First of all, another piece from wonderful Katelynn Chambers. This time it’s Robin and her horse, Gali. I don’t quite picture Robin this way myself, but I love the picture anyway. The relationship implied between the characters is perfect, and I love her jeans! The colors and artwork in general is amazing. I just love her work so much!

Robin and Gali
Robin and Gali from The Glister Journals: Bronze

On to the road trip.

On Monday I headed north, destination: the northernmost part of Washington (state) to visit a person very dear to me. I got a very late start due to errands that needed to be run, and tried to get as far as could without stopping. I don’t often get further north than Sacramento, so, especially once past Redding, I began to be a little more interested in the scenery. I was also looking for a potential Starbucks stop, but didn’t want to have to go looking for one. There were no signs, so I kept going.

I admit to being tempted by the little city of Dunsmuir (apparently “Home of the best water on earth” and, according to the city’s website, “the small-town home of 2,000 you wished you had grown up in.”), but eschewing the potential delights of the Dunsmuir Historical Gardens, I continued on. It was probably closed anyway.

I wanted to take pictures along the way, but there are very few places to actually stop, especially not where there’s anything interesting to photo. Here’s a picture of Mount Shasta, northern California

Mount Shasta

Not a terribly good picture; it’s much more impressive in person. By this time I was in need of tea and ready to venture off the beaten track in search of it, but this mountain town (I didn’t write down the name)

didn’t look like it would have a Starbucks. Just finding the way back onto the I5 was an adventure. Of course that could be said of most large cities too.

I took some better pictures of Mount Shasta on my “good” camera (which I will add later–I have to wait to get home to download them) some place north of a town called Weed. Yes, that’s right, Weed. There’s actually a South Weed, a Central Weed, and even a North Weed Road (or something similar.) Weed is obviously a Very Important Place.

I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the time I crossed over the border into Oregon, but finally rolled into Medford about 10 p.m.

To finish off with MUSIC:

I had picked up three new CDs for the trip: The Black Key’s El Camino, Keane’s Strangeland, and I finally got Gotye’s Making Mirrors, which is wonderful. But more about that next time. For now I’ll leave you with Keane’s Silenced By The Light which is on the radio quite a bit right now. I got to listen to the CD once through, but I’ll listen again and have more to say about it on the trip home. I hope you enjoy!

Note: All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012 to China Blue Publishing.

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

Reviews for The Glister Journals: Bronze

More Glister info and chapters at the book’s website here:

The chapters can also be read here at the top of my blog. (and also in a menu in the sidebar!)

And please “Like” us on Facebook!

Continue Reading