Mantra, Nature, Art, Writing

Well, my birthday came and went and I did not finish re-editing my draft like I said I would. There are many excuses, including the fact that I sit in front of a screen nine hours a day and have deadlines five days a week and sometimes just don’t feel like doing any more writing when I get home. (Same excuse for being such a sporadic blogger.) But the fact of the matter is, if I want anything to happen with this book, I need to deal with it. More on this later.


BFF Dianna asked if I had a mantra, and I decided on “Deal With It.” It applies to everything. If I don’t feel like doing something? If I am intimidated by something? If I’m feeling emotional? Deal with it, deal with it, deal with it. Then I got this bracelet in the mail:

Deal With It

It’s perfect. I wear it every day and it totally motivates me. Thanks, Dianna!

Bonus photo I found at my parents’ house last weekend:

Dianna (right) and I hanging out in the tree my parents' front yard, circa 1992-ish. Check me out... writing!

Me (left) and Dianna hanging out in the tree my parents’ front yard, circa 1992-ish. Check me out… writing!


Last month I joined my sister, aunt and aunt’s sister at Government Canyon State Natural Area for a workshop called Mandalas in the Park. If you follow this blog, you know about us and mandalas. For this, we could only use items found in nature, and only items native to the area. Here are some photos:

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A photographer from Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine was shooting our stuff, so we may be featured in the May issue. Cool!


It’s Fiesta time in San Antonio, and so far I’ve visited the Fiesta Arts Fair — my favorite event. I try not to go insane and buy everything I see (especially because it’s all pricey), but I tend to get a couple of things every year. This year I gave myself a budget, which I was adhering to beautifully until I saw the print of the woman. Budget, shmudget. I had to have her:

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Support these artists: Lorena Angulo, Rick Loudermilk, Dolan Geiman.

Support ALL artists!


So, I may not have met my birthday deadline, but I am slowly but surely working on the book. I spent six hours on Chapter 2 yesterday. I’ll get there, y’all. Deal with it.


Cover Art

A handful of months ago, I blogged about commissioning my wonderfully talented friend Iris to create a cover for my book. Regardless of whether or not it’s ever published, I want to have a piece of art that reflects my vision. Regardless of whether or not it’s ever published, I want to have something to hang on my wall that makes me happy and reminds me that I did this thing I set out to do.

While waiting for the finished product I’ve been doing some Facebook stalking on Iris. She posts about her projects, sometimes with visual aids, sometimes not. for StefWhenever there was a “Yay, I love how this is turning out!”-type post, I hoped that was my cover. Whenever there was a “I totally just spilled paint everywhere, grrr!”-type post, I knew that was my cover. (And it totally was. We laughed about it.)

The other day, Iris and I met for coffee and delivery. She wrapped the art with a lovely purple cord (my signature color, which I don’t know if I told her or she heard it from the universe) with a couple of sweet little charms.

Now, without further ado…

There With You, A Novel by Stefanie Arias

As I told Iris, I am Jessie Spano-level excited about this. I still need to find the perfect frame, and I will soon receive all the digital versions of this to share as I please, but this, this right here, is by far the coolest collaboration I’ve had with a fellow artist.

The three people who have read my original draft (which I am still in the process of improving upon) will understand the concept immediately. I’ll explain it to the rest of you someday, I promise. (I really do. Leave me alone.)

In the meantime, look at this and be happy. Like me.

Putting the cart before the horse, or, how I’m commissioning cover art before getting published

Or, how I’m commissioning cover art before even getting an agent. I know this plan seems to have hubris all over it, but hear me out.

  • First, I’m not stupid. (Unless you’re only thinking of the part of this plan that’s going to cost me a lot of money. In that case, I might be. But let’s talk about that later.) I know that there is an order of operations here: get an agent, get a book deal with a publisher, then do this kind of thing.
  • Second, I have wonderfully talented friends. I love collaborating with them, as you can see from older photo prompt posts on this blog.
  • Third, it’s my party and I’ll do it if I want to.

My friend Iris is an artist/graphic designer who has recently been doing work with hand-lettered typography. It’s beautiful stuff that’s right up my alley. Her regular posts on Facebook showing her works in progress gave me an idea… why not ask if she’d be interested in creating a book cover for me?

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I have an idea of it in my head, you see. And I’d love to see that idea exist, no matter what. Now, I’m no stranger to art. I can draw and paint, but there’s something… legitimate… about hiring a professional to do this kind of work. I want to have a gorgeous framed copy for myself and gorgeous digital copies to send out, should I choose.

Also, I barely had enough patience to muster acceptable-looking cursive on my new chalkboard label kitchen canisters (below). And I have a canvas with a fourth of a painting finished that’s been propped up against my bookshelf for like two years. So, no, if I want this art done right, I cannot do it myself.

It took me a really long time to get these to look even this good.

It took me a really long time to get these to look even this good.

Iris and I met at a coffee shop the other day. I told her why I thought she’d be a good fit for what I want, and I summarized the story for her. She made my Grinch heart grow a few sizes by saying that it sounded like exactly the type of book she would read. I told her my vague idea of the illustration. She made my inner art geek do a cartwheel by saying that she was thinking of the exact same thing.

Here are the scenarios that could happen with this:

  1. I go through all the above steps and the book gets published; however, the publisher prefers to use its in-house artist/graphic designer to create cover art.
  2. I go through all the above steps and the book gets published; they like Iris’ art and let it remain the cover.
  3. I spend the rest of my life trying to get this book published; it never happens, but I have the cover art I envisioned.

No matter what, I will have the cover I want. Even if it’s just for me.

Commissioning an original piece of art is no joke, and it’s not going to be cheap, either. I’ll eat Ramen noodles for as long as it takes, if that’s what it takes, to pay for this. Even if nothing comes of the book itself, I know I’ve done something big, and I’ll have two beautiful things to show for it – the story, and the art.