Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.


Interview with Maja Madeline LaValley

Maja Madeline LaValley is the cover artist for the 2013 release of the book. View her portfolio at

Interview by Sarah Trick

Could you tell us about the inspiration for the cover image for Hal Friesen's book?

How I got the inspiration and the idea for the book cover was talking with Hal over the phone about some scenes in the book he would like. I made sure I got all the small details and colors so I could piece it together in an image.

What is it like interacting with an author to design a cover? How do you stay true to the story while also making sure the art reflects your vision?

Interacting with the author was a rather pleasant commission experience. He gave me enough information about what he wanted that I could easily come up with a design. To stay true to the story I wrote down details from the scene and sent him sketches to show him my progress and get his advice on how I should modify or improve it.


You do many different kinds of art, from digital work to body paint. What are the challenges of having so much variety in your work?

The biggest challenge of working with many different kinds of art is what works in some formats doesn't in others.  For example, I love the look of watercolor, but it's extremely difficult to achieve the same effect in other mediums, such as digital or any other type of paint.

What is your favourite kind of art to do? Which works are you most proud of?

It's hard to pick a favorite medium to use as they all have their benefits. Pencils will always be my first choice because I use them the most and learned how to draw with them. They are great for getting ideas out of my head quickly and easily. Pencils also shade very well, so when a sketch or idea turns out well, I can make it look finished without needing more materials. Watercolor and digital are next on the list. Watercolor is quick and has great colors; they are also fun to work with. Digital is a little tricky because I'm better at drawing on paper than the computer, but the layer modes can do some amazing effects and can create amazing detail. Here are a few links to some pieces that I'm rather pleased how they turned out:

3D model of the boogeyman from 'the Stuff of Legend' (final project in 3D modeling class): A drawing I did for a competition (the character belongs to the contest holder):

You do a lot of fantasy art and your work has a magical realist quality to it. What attracted you to this style?

I have always loved fantasy. It has this fascinating, organic feel to it. I love how much freedom fantasy gives me and how much easier it is for me to draw than most other genres. I have several different styles, varying from simplistic cartoon to semi-realism. I draw lots of inspiration from other artists and try to experiment with alternate styles. I like having a few different styles to choose from so I can better fit the mood of an image with an appropriate style. 

Could you tell us about some future projects?

As of right now, I'm working on a short animation for school involving a mix of 3D and 2D animation, and I'm in the early processes of writing a book for which I plan to have several illustrations.


Shepherds of Sparrows – The Multivision’d Promo

by Lynda Williams
Reality Skimming Press


This fall will see the release of Shepherds of Sparrows by Hal Friesen, the first title from Reality Skimming Press, and the introduction of a new tradition called the multivision’d promo.

Hal’s stories about Nestor, the Nersallian who fell in love with a Nesak, have appeared in Okal Rel Legacies titles Opus 3, Opus 4 and Opus 5, from the Absolute Xpress imprint of Hades Publications. Reality Skimming Press is stepping in to expand the story of the Okal Rel Universe.

Visit this blog weekly, from now through the end of 2013, to find out more about Nestor’s harrowing adventures assisting Di Mon, Liege of Monitum, with an outbreak of rogue science and a murderous backlash, on Monitum.

And experience what we mean by multivision.

For the promo, it means we’ll be illustrating scenes from Shepherds of Sparrows using the talents of more than one artist.

For books it means we plan to offer a choice of covers: character-focused ones and a Jeff Doten set featuring settings, instead.

Olivia, The Caddy, Dartha

As a sample, the composite image on the right offers two versions of Hal’s teenage heroine, Olivia, getting refugees to board a ship. Maja Madeline LaValley is the cover artist for the 2013 release of the book. Debbie Ha will be assisting in the promo.

Richard Bartrop portrayed Hal’s character, The Caddy, in the Opus anthology where he is introduced. And Yukari Yamamoto recently did the character sketch, at the lower right, of the ordinary-looking Lorel mastermind Dartha, who appears both in Shephards of Sparrows and in the concluding volume of the Okal Rel Saga, Part 10: Unholy Science, forthcoming from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Drop in to the Reality Skimming presence on facebook at to ‘like’ our page and get involved. We love readers, tweeters, kibitzers, reveiwers, bloggers, SF organizers, filkers, fans, pros, artisans, writers, artists, lurkers, educators and kindred spirits of all kinds.


ORU Artifact – Shepherds of Sparrows to production

The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discovery to [email protected]

Saturday, Sep 7, 2013, the edited manuscript for Shepherds of Sparrows by Hal Friesen was dispatched to Brian Hades of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing for layout. Lynda shared this image, to celebrate, on the facebook page for Reality Skimming

Shepherds of Sparrows

Olivia and Voltan

The cover art, by Maja Madeline LaValley, is shown here against the background of a WORD search in the finished MS for "refugee" -- illustrating Lynda's ambition to bring the Okal Rel Universe to life through the creativity of multiple writers and artists. Where the art is concerned, the working title for the idea is multi-visioning.

Olivia and Voltan, pictured in the cover art, are bio-altered children fleeing an outbreak of hysteria in the backwater district of Grianach on Monitum following the slaughter of their science-transgressing parents. Nestor's around, out of frame. Nestor Tark is Hal Friesen's main character, introduced in a series of short stories in Opus anthologies. Olivia and Voltan are new to this title. Di Mon guest stars in Shepherds of Sparrows, as Nestor's friend and liege of his adopted house. They met as comrades in arms during the Nesak war that ending in the controvertial marriage contract between Horth Nersal's parents (Part 2: Righteous Anger).

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