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Things I used to…draw

Don’t ask me why I was thinking of this, but I was thinking about things I used to draw as a kid. Usually during class. Usually in my scribbler. Sometimes on my desk. I don’t want to give away any clues, but most of my desks in elementary school still had holes in the upper right-hand corner. Their intended purpose was unknown, but it made a great garbage hole.

The top of the desk had a pencil groove, which didn’t do much good if you lifted the lid. It did, however, provide a handy area to fill with pencil graphite (we still believed it was lead) and coat any of your fingertips with a shiny, gray powder.

Anyway, these are some of the things I remember drawing:

There were some favorites, though. Full points of you guess them all.

– Leon

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Monday Music (on a Tuesday…Tuesday Tunes?)

So I dropped the ball this week. I was going to start posting some of my music on Mondays, but got distracted and wrote a cartoon/humor related post. I think perhaps I will use Tuesday as my music related post (should I still tag it as Music Mondays? Can I?)

Short back story: I play guitar.

Not such a short back story: I have always enjoyed music. I took piano lessons as a child/teen, as well as guitar lessons (wanted to be a rock star – How’d that work out you ask?). After bouncing around college for a few years I decided to pursue music studies, and after 6 years I received my Bachelor of Music, majoring in classical guitar. I wasn’t a great performer. Nerves, stage fright, and blanking memory doesn’t make for a successful career.

Life got in the way. I forgot/lost many of my early acoustic pieces, but then began to write again.

As with performing, recording is a difficult process-perfection isn’t an option-but I am starting to get a few compositions recorded to the best of my ability. I hope that you enjoy them too.

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Miniscule Mondays

I took up sketching a few years ago. I am always amazed at the talent people have to create realistic drawings. I never focused on a specific subject; I just started to draw what came to mind.

Some examples:

I think that I’m a funny person. I like to make people laugh. I also have an odd sense of humor, which led me to try to draw cartoons. But alas, it was not to be. I never quite liked my creations, and it was the content of the humor which was more important to me than the visuals themselves.

That led me to create “The Miniscules,” who find themselves in odd situations (due to their minisculeness), and later, comment on some of the current events. But wait, you are thinking. Isn’t miniscule misspelled?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com:

The adjective minuscule is etymologically related to minus, but associations with mini- have produced the spelling variant miniscule. This variant dates to the end of the 19th century, and it now occurs commonly in published writing, but it continues to be widely regarded as an error.”

So, to answer your question, Yes-kinda. Does it detract from the loveableness of the characters? To answer my question, I hope not.

Now the dilemma was: Where to put them? I’m not a big social media participant, but I had an Instagram account just waiting to be used to 3.54% of its full potential. I created Miniscule Mondays, where, if you haven’t already figured out, I post a Miniscule… OK, I don’t have to explain.

Just get to the cartoons, I hear you say. I have all (most) of them posted on my website, but here are three of my earliest:

Here are a few of the pandemic inspired:

Finally, a few of my favorites:

I hope you have enjoyed “The Miniscules.” Stay tuned for a “Miniscules: Origins” movie. There is a teaser trailer on my website as well.

-Leon

Instagram: @lines_by_leon

PS: Here is today’s:

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cartoons funny friday humor thoughts

Funny Fridays: Humor/Humour

I like to think of myself as a humorist/satirist. Making people laugh was a goal of mine from a young age. Many of my stories, blogs, and poems have a humorous tone to them. I’ll start this weekly segment with some reposts of my writings.

Humor/Humour

What is funny? Anything that makes you laugh, I suspect. Or chuckle, snicker, chortle,  giggle, or smile. The measure of real humor is something that makes you laugh when you are alone. Think about it. When was the last time that you laughed out loud all alone? For most of us, it is rare, if non-existent. But, as they say, laughter is the best medicine. One feels contented after a good, long laugh.

I remember a time when I was sitting in the mall with my sister reading a newly purchased Calvin and Hobbes book. I remember it fondly because of the tears running down my cheeks from laughing so hard. There was the occasion when I couldn’t place my drive-thru order because I couldn’t talk through all my laughter (I don’t remember why, though). Then there was the time my mom said something that no one expected her to say…

You can’t feel angry when you are laughing. Or sad, or alone, or helpless…Pain disappears for a while (not counting the pain in your side). You can laugh so hard that you cry, and those tears can wash away any sad thoughts- at least for awhile. Laughing is contagious. Try to hold a straight face while others around you are partaking in the joy.   

I like to make people laugh. It makes me happy. Most of my writing these days has a humorous edge to it, even with some of the more serious topics. Some of my ideas were the catalyst for my cartoon, The Miniscules.

People’s sense of humor evolves. What was funny as a child (farts) is not necessarily funny as an adult (notice that I said not necessarily, I bet you know someone who still laughs at them). Children get some of their sense of humor from their parents, and they also get it from peers and pop culture. Schools can be a breeding ground for hurtful humor, but I know that our educators do their best to teach what is acceptable.

Humor is constantly changing. What was thought of as humorous in the past is no longer acceptable. Many comedians went through times (some still do) of pushing boundaries and limits, using race, gender, sexual orientation, status, profanity, and taboo subjects in order to get a rise or laugh out of the crowd. People supported this hurtful, questionable content, demanding more profane, edgier routines. 

I know. I was there. I admit, I laughed. Now I don’t.

Comedians now have to adapt their craft and evolve with the times. Many will fall and fade, while others will use their talent to give us the laughs we deserve.

One last thought: Has anybody ever actually laughed at a “Knock, Knock” joke?


Poem

I played around with several items: underwear, pants, shoes, before deciding on the lowly discarded sock.

The Sock

Is there anything lonelier than discarded clothing?
A sign of disappointment, of rejection, of loathing
Threadbare and stained, no fight left within
Wondering what events caused this great sin
Did you wear out your welcome, what did you do?
Was it a weakness of cotton that allowed the big toe to come through?
Was it your owner’s odd gait that wore through the heel?
Taking the blame, how did that feel?
Was your partner discarded or saved for another
Pair that shares the same fate and just the right color?


Cartoons

My attempts at cartooning failed (in my eyes) due to the fact that I just couldn’t draw people very well, and when I could, I could not keep consistency. This was my solution.

The Miniscules: Three of my earliest

Story: Reasonable Hand-drawn Facsimile (Short Story from: The Knot at the End of the Rope)

-Science fiction has a history of humor, from authors like Asimov, Vonnegut, and Adams to shows and movies like Red Dwarf, Galaxy Quest, and The Orville. I actually laughed out loud when I thought of this story (and so did my editor). Here is a free reading link to it on my Medium.com page:

Reasonable Hand-drawn Facsimile

That’s a wrap for this Friday. I hope that I have entertained you!

-Leon

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Thursday Thought: Why Aren’t People Polite?

I suppose I should say, why aren’t people more polite, because there are more polite people in the world than not, right? I hope so.

Politeness is an art. It is a skill. It is a learned behavior. Ahh, that’s the root, isn’t it? Politeness is learned, and like anything, you must choose to learn it. And practice it until it becomes second nature. Ever try to learn something that doesn’t interest you?

Think back to your school days, or if you are still in them—listen up. Didn’t like math? You probably got a B or less. Think that Language Arts is boring? Well, you won’t be writing any novels, will you? Dreaded Phys. Ed? Squeaked by, didn’t you? But if you try to do better in something, you will improve.

All behavior serves a purpose. If you can get what you want without being polite, then why be polite? If it makes you feel good to open a door for someone or say “Excuse me” if you bump into someone, then you are going to do it. If you can make someone’s day by being polite, isn’t that worth it?

You are not going to injure yourself or feel bad by being polite. Will it inconvenience you? Probably not, but it might in rare cases. Is doing the right thing worth it? I think so, but if not, it’s still the right thing to do.

-Leon

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What’s in a Name (or a Picture)

One of my favorite radio shows is Under the Influence by Terry O’Reilly. It is on CBC radio, which is Canada’s version of NPR in the USA. As with most shows these days, you can get it on a podcast. What makes it my favorite? I always learn something interesting about the advertising business.

When trying to decide on how I was going to brand myself, I had to think about how I want to be remembered. The title of my book, Lines by Leon, is a reference to the many lines that I have created. Lines of poetry, plotlines in a story, lines in a pencil sketch, and lines of music. The alliteration was a bonus. It was because of that that I choose it for my domain name. I was able to use it for my Twitter account, but not for my Instagram. Why not? It was taken – by a talented artist who had posted a few sketches 3 or 4 years ago, and nothing since. I messaged him (twice), asking if I could use it, since obviously he was not, but I received no response. I was primarily going to use it for my comic, The Miniscules, so I used @theminiscules, but decided later to keep the brand name consistent over all platforms. My only option was lines_by_leon. Not the end of the world, but I dislike wasting underscores.

My logo, taken from my book cover, is from the sketch that I did called Hopes, Dreams, and Wishes:

It represents how elements in our lives may seem out of our control. Often, it may seem that they are at the mercy of the winds but chasing them sure is fun. The original was quite faint on the first scan:

    So, I darkened it up with Photoshop:

I then moved some of the bubbles around to create a longer illustration for my bookmark:

I printed a bunch to give away in my books and for promotional use. I decided to get the original illustration printed in cardstock for framing. I have them for sale on my website.

It still calms me when I look at it.

Sometimes when I sketch, I just wind up doodling. I started to draw some stylized stick figures:

I thought they were quite funny, so I decided to take this one and use it into a mug:

As a musician, I turned to orchestral instruments:

Then cycling:

Pets? Why not:

So, now I have images to market. After researching printing and shipping costs, I decided to go with Zazzle.com. They do all the printing and shipping (and get a better shipping rate for volume). Otherwise I’d have to price my products too high. That’s never good.

How will I be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as a writer and an artist with a sense of humor, and a dreamer still searching for the one bubble that can be caught.

Till next time,

Leon

Lines_by_Leon: Designs & Collections on Zazzle

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humor readers writers

Interview, Part II: Leon Stevens, Reader, Interviews Leon Stevens, Author

I have done a few interviews on some book blogs this year and have always enjoyed it. But then I thought, what would I say in an interview as a reader? Solution? Interview myself! So I did. As you can see, this is Part II, where I interview myself as an author this time.

Leon Stevens · Leon Stevens, Reader, Interviews Leon Stevens, the Author

Today we have the pleasure [eyeroll] of sitting down with Leon Stevens, the author. How have you been?

   – Considering all that has been happening, I have been OK. You?

You know the same as I do. We share a place, remember?

   – Just being polite, you know.

Moving on. You have some exciting news to tell.

   – Had.

What?

   – I had some news. Like a month ago.

Would you like to share it?

   – That’s why we are here, isn’t it?

Yes, indeed. Let me spill the proverbial beans then

   – I’m not going to clean those up.

[silence]

Do you want me to say it or not?

   – Go ahead.

You published your second book this year, a science fiction book, I believe?

   – That is correct. It’s called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Interesting title. How did you come up with that?

   – It’s the first story in the book, and the rest tells you what is in it.

But what does it mean?

   – You will have to read and find out.

I did. You know that.

   – Then why are you asking?

I thought that other readers would like to know.

   – Well, it’s all about how choices that life gives us are not always good things, I guess. It is the shortest story in the book.

You like writing short stories, don’t you?

  – My stories always seem to come to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later. Say what you want about short attention spans…

Do you have a favori—Wait! Where are you going?

   [from another room] – I thought we were done.

No. We are not.

   – Want some coffee?

Sure. Are you using the press?

   – Is there any other way?

Nope.

[elapsed time: 15 minutes]

   – Here you go.

Thank you. Shall we continue?

   – Fire away.

[sipping sounds]

Mmm, good coffee.

   – Thank you. It’s one of my favorite things.

Before the break, I was asking if you have a favorite story?

   – That’s tough. Each story has its charm in how it came about and what ideas I was trying to convey. But if I had to choose—

You do.

   – As I was saying, if I had to choose, it would be Reasonable Hand-drawn Facsimile.

Because?

   – Probably because it has elements of humor. It made me laugh when I thought about it. My editor said that she laughed out loud when she read it. Now, that’s the sign of good humor writing.

Do you consider yourself a humor writer?

   – Quite a bit of my writing has elements of humor, so yes. I like to make people laugh.

There are quite a few post-apocalyptic stories in the book as well, along with poetry. Poetry? What’s up with that?

   – I don’t know which came first, the stories or the poems, but I recall coming up with the idea that sometime in the future, writings from after an apocalyptic event would be found. So naturally, I named the series Found.

That sounds like the premise of the book, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr.

   – That’s not far off. I didn’t mean it to be, but as I was coming up with the poems, it was a book that came to mind. It is the first post-apocalyptic book that I remember reading.

You write many different styles. Do you think that will limit your appeal by segmenting your readership?

   – Well, I do now. Thanks a lot.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.

   – Limiting my appeal? Or writing different styles?

I thought I was asking the questions here…

   – Can’t we have a spirited discourse once and a while?

How long have you been waiting to throw in that word?

   – Quite some time. Impressed?

Very. OK. Back to my point. I’m just worried that your poetry readers won’t like your science fiction stories and vice versa.

   – I’ve thought about that. But if I am inspired to write something, I don’t want to limit myself. I still write poetry. It took me four years to publish my first book of poetry—I’m not going to be able to put out another right away. I hope my readership will embrace my eclectic writing.  It is about entertaining and keeping readers engaged.

And how do you do that?

   – I began to write a blog, which became more of a satirical/humorous take on life. Then when I started my newsletter to keep my readers updated on my writing journey—

Writing journey. I like that.

   – Thank you. Anyhoo, I try to keep my weekly newsletters informative and entertaining. I hope that people read and appreciate them.

Ever thought of doing a podcast?

   – I wouldn’t know where to start. Do you?

Not a clue. Last question: Who are The Miniscules I keep hearing about?

   – You’ve heard about them from other people?

Not really. I just thought that we should mention them.

   – Oh.

They are dear to your heart, are they not?

   – No. Not really. I’d miss them if they went away, though.

But they’re not going anywhere, right?

   – Nope. They still have lots to say.

Well, thank you for taking to time to answer some questions. Any final thoughts?

   – You’re going to clean up those beans, right?

Yes. Not to worry…

   – Don’t forget to take out the garbage when you go.

I’m not going anywhere. I live here.

   – Oh, right. Another cup of coffee?

Please.

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Why I Write

One of my pencil sketches

I sent this to my newsletter subscribers earlier in October.

I want to thank you for taking part in my writing journey. Writers write to share their ideas, visions, and emotions, and I hope that you find my weekly rambles entertaining. I write in a lot of different styles, which may or may not be the best way to keep a readership.

I think about it this way: My writing is like a box of…(I’ll stop there to avoid copyright infringement). But it is. You know the one, that assorted box that you get at Christmas, the one with the candy map. You always go after your favorites, but sometimes you take a little nibble of the one with the chocolate squiggle. Maybe you discover that you like it, or perhaps it makes you glad you didn’t buy a whole box of strawberry creams.

What was the first thing that I wrote that wasn’t part of a school assignment? Probably a song lyric, but I always scrapped it because I was never happy with the result. When I decided to pursue classical guitar studies, I began to compose, letting the music provide the emotion instead of words. I wrote many pieces, some I wrote down, still others I forgot. I recorded some, but it never came out polished. I make too many mistakes, I can never play as close to perfection as I want, I get nervous performing in front of people or a microphone, so it takes a lot of takes to get something that I am OK with. The first piece that I wrote is called Riviera Galliard, which is an homage to the Renaissance composer, John Dowland. I hope that I can record it and share it with you. There is my incentive.

I wrote a few others in the same style before turning to acoustic guitar after hearing the Canadian guitarist Don Ross. Unfortunately, most of those pieces have been lost. Either I can’t find the scores that I wrote down, or my memory decided that I didn’t need to know those anymore. I can still dig up little snippets, but it is like reading a corner ripped out of a book.

Fast forward to my poetic journey. I ventured back into lyric writing to make sense of a difficult situation. The poems followed as some of the unused ideas became short poetic pieces. Most of my poetry is short and not too complicated. As one reader put it:

 “Lines by Leon is an eclectic mix of poetry and thoughtful, personal reflection. The ideas are straightforward with an understandable simplicity.

I wanted people to reflect on the poems and seek connections without having to try to interpret deep philosophical meanings or search for hidden underlying messages.

During my poetic journey, I started to sketch images that came to me. Some of these images evoked ideas that became my short, short stories-one or two paragraphs that tell part of a story that leaves the rest to your imagination. Some of my stories became longer, but still without conclusion, similar to waking from a dream and lying in bed thinking, what the…?

Enter science fiction: My forever favorite. If you have read my blog post, Returning to Roots (and I hope that you have), you will know that my father introduced me to this genre. We would watch science fiction T.V. shows, and he would read me stories. It was only natural that I would turn to this topic as my writing developed. I was able to cross my styles when I wrote a series of post-apocalyptic poems that are featured in my next book, The Knot at the End of the Rope.

I also want to keep a sense of humor in my writing. Some of my poems and stories will hopefully make you chuckle or smile. My blogs and newsletters give me a chance to poke fun at things, be cynical at current events, and showcase my odd sense of humor.

Some writers stick to the same formula, and their readers stick with them, which is perfectly understandable. A successful author wrote that to be successful, you have to write what your audience wants. I do want to entertain readers, but I’m not trying to make everybody happy. I’m trying to make myself happy, by hopefully providing material that can be enjoyed by others.

If you are here for my poetry, fear not, I continue to write and still have pages to revise. It took me three years to get to my first book, and I promise that it won’t take another three for the next. For my sci-fi fans, I am proud to share my short stories, which could not have happened if it wasn’t for my father. Let’s all gather to share to love of the written word—no matter the style.

Leon

Revised Nov 11 12:00

I almost forgot. When I get reviews like this:

It makes me happy and lets me know that I am on the right path.

-Leon


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poetry thoughts writers

The Changing of the Seasons

Repost from 9/29/2020 – I thought I would add this before the snow fell. I looked out my window this morning. Too late.

As I sit here writing, I can see the leaves—that have already changed color—falling in a cascade of hues, from brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. It makes me think about the upcoming months.  
 
Not everyone experiences the changes in the same way. I suppose that, in a way, I’m lucky. I get to see four distinct seasons, each with its own charms and annoyances. There is something about a cool fall day, with the sun providing a wave of warmth, once the wind dies down, that makes you feel that the year is winding to a close. Fall weather feels like fall weather. That is, even though the sun is over the same latitude as it is in spring, it seems just a little bit cooler. Probably because we have gotten used to the warm/hot summer temperatures. In the fall, temperatures that force us to don long sleeves are the same temperatures in the spring that make us stand in the snow with shorts and a t-shirt.
 
If you live in the higher latitudes, you get those wonderful long days of summer, when the sun stays up late and outdoor activities seem to just keep going. Ever go golfing at 9 PM? It’s pretty sweet. Going to bed is often a challenge since the lingering twilight can mess with your internal clock. Whether you are a night owl or a morning person, those twelve-plus hours of daylight are going to make you happy.
 
Spring always has that sense of renewal or rebirth, as it awakens from its hibernation. Humanity seems to creep slowly out of its shelters, pallid faces soaking up the sun’s rays. There is nothing like seeing the new leaves and flowers bringing color back to the world. My one annoyance about spring? Pick up your dog’s poop, people! I even see it in its little bags, tucked into snowbanks. Oh, and the slush.
 
I have written several poems on the environment, so here is a poem from my book, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures:
 
Cycle
 
The first snow covers up the grime
The dirt fights through a bit at a time
 
A battle of earth and sky
Who will win and who will die?
 
Spring washes the battleground
Rain washes the warrior found
 
Summer pushes up the green
Blanketing evidential sights unseen
 
Fall sheds the season’s growth
Leaving skeletons, nature’s ghosts
 
 
What about winter, you ask? Well, ask me to write about it in January…-

– Leon