S. J.’s Blog

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Coloring Book Review!

Mar 16, 16

Understand that I am by no means an expert of the new trends in coloring or in coloring books.  What I am is a person who never believed that you could be too grown up to enjoy coloring.  When I received Wendy Martin and Natalie Zaman’s coloring book to review, I was thrilled.  I’ve waited until I had time enough to actually color a full page, and now I can share with you what I think!

First of all, this paperback collection of mandalas is gorgeously done.  The thirty illustrations themselves, all uncolored, made me smile right away.  Zaman’s text is chosen with a bit of alliteration in mind, which serves to keep things lighthearted.

To begin my coloring experience, I chose the last coloring page in the book, not for any particular reason or habit, but because it was the one that drew me in most immediately: the fox page.

^my work in progress. 🙂

If you love having little details and repeating patterns in your coloring, you’ll love this book.  It’s not the most intricate that I’ve seen, but that’s all right.  The designs created by illustrator Wendy Martin are by turns whimsical and real, leaving a realm of coloring and shading possibilities open to the eye and the mind.  Natalie Zaman’s accompanying text only broadens potential inspiration, insight and thought.  I love the selection of animals here, and I hope that the authors will consider creating a second, even a third coloring book of animal mandalas in the future.  I might request that future books be published in a slightly larger format, to allow for even more ease of coloring without losing the level of mandala detail.

An animal coloring book is a natural choice for Wendy Martin, whose colorful animal interpretations have been seen before in children’s books.  These animal mandalas, in Art Nouveau style, are another world entirely, and are very cleverly done.  I am less familiar with Natalie Zaman’s work, but the choices she makes with her text here make me want to learn more about her.  I hope that you’ll feel the same!

I will say that you’ll want your pencil or crayon sharpener handy for the coloring pages in this book, if you’re like me, and want to make a mark exactly where you aim.  This may not be the best coloring book for the under 5 set, as some amount of motor control comes in handy.  I wore out my right thumb at one point because I got really into what I was doing, and I’m a lifelong student of fingerstyle guitar with quite strong hands.  Likewise, this is probably not the best book for passing the time on bumpy bus rides, unless you’re the type to work in a perceived mistake, letting it take you where it will, potholes be damned.

So far I’ve carried this book in my backpack on road trips across five US states, and all over the beach in Cozumel.  It’s none the worse for wear, and I think it won’t be dropping pages on me as I continue to travel North America this year.  Although I do hope for a companion or sequel book of animal mandalas by this duo, I love this one’s size and square format for travel.  It fits snugly into my medium-sized backpack.

You may grab your own copy if you like by clicking here, and I hope that you do!


New tune on YouTube!

Mar 13, 16

This new song prompted perhaps the best fan review of a new tune that I’ve ever received.  John Knecht says “it’s like a homicidal romp through a field of daisies.”  Tee hee!

There is a small part of me hoping this goes viral, if only so that Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin and the rest of the Deadpool movie cast might see it and grin really big.  Just about 700 views in one night ain’t half bad!


Cartoons and Service Dogs

Mar 11, 16

One of my LHS Pirate Lads has posted his fanimation of “Wendy On Board!”  I can haz cartoon mustache!  Well done, Jasper!


And a friend of mine who’s currently battling cancer like a boss is on a quest to find and fund a new pack mate who can help her on her quest.  I strongly believe that pack mates need pack mates, too.  Check out Coyote’s fundraiser for service dog training, please.  All of our help adds up.  Speaking as someone who found herself the recipient of a ton of love, care, and crowdfunded miracles when she was hospitalized seven years ago, I can tell you that it really does add up.


Upcoming Project the Umpteenth

Mar 4, 16

Another of my new songs is about to sprout wings!

My longtime associate Brennan de Soto is conjuring up a new, witchy indie film project about a spooky book, a world in chaos, some messed up magic, and one poor dude trying to hold it all together.  It’s called Possum Ray Bill, and it’ll be filmed in New Orleans.

Brennan has licensed an unreleased song of mine called “Bad Business” to be part of his fundraiser video for the project!  I’ll post when that video goes live.  For now, you can get a feel for what Brennan and Bill are up to at the project’s website – click here.

“Bad Business” was one of my prompt-inspired songs from 2015.  It’s become one of my favorites from that song-a-week challenge.  The prompt was “better arguments”.  The song ended up being about fairy tale monsters, shape-shifting predators who can’t help their own nature, and the nature of stories themselves, kinda from the inside.  It’s got some Big Bad Wolf, some Rumplestiltskin, some Nixies, and maybe a Pied Piper or a vampire or two.  Check out the lyrics and you’ll see what I mean.


Spending my midnights with a shifter of shapes

and a cup of tea gone cold.

My guest has set aside that treacherous violin.

Deep in the hour of the wolf, we hunt for

better arguments and oft overlooked sins,

treading lightly near nightmares, for we know

we are not ever truly safe inside our skins.

Every huckster knows, there are times when

you’ve just got to go someplace dangerous

to find what’s worth bringing in.


Everybody knows it’s bad business

to tell the whole truth

when mystery’s your hottest thing.

Everybody knows it’s bad business

to spin out every yarn right into gold

before their eyes, and never leave them

wanting more.


One more trip to #Fairyland

Mar 2, 16

I realized yesterday morning that I’ve known my beloved friend Catherynne M. Valente for ten years.

March 1st marked the release of the fifth and final novel in her Fairyland book series, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home.

Some of you may know that I recorded an album inspired by the first book, and that I was the audiobook narrator for the second book.

Some of you also know that for a while there I was able to join forces with Cat on her book tours, and that we’ve done many a song-and-story roadshow together.

I wasn’t able to join her for this book tour, so I made a “Happy Bookday” video as quickly as I could.  Watch it below, and visit Cat’s website to see if she’s coming to a bookstore near you!  If you’re not familiar with the books at all, I encourage you to make them a part of your life.  Do not wait!  Here is book one on Amazon, and here is the music that I created to go along with it.

#theGreenAlbum website officially launches today!

Mar 1, 16

#theGreenAlbum is a project I’m very proud to be part of.

Fourteen songwriters and bands are releasing new music in support of The Rainforest Trust this spring, and The Green Album is where you’ll find it all.

Our intrepid web wranglers have just launched the project’s official website!  Go check it out!


Truth Beyond Paradox

Feb 26, 16

Those of you who’ve ever played Mage: the Ascension will get a particular kick out of this.

Onyx Path Publishing released a new short fiction anthology this week.  It includes the first published story that Ryan James Loyd and I have written together!  You can get the ebook version, the book-book version, or BOTH for a great price!  Click here.

Our editor Satyros Phil Brucato has been a heArt brother of mine for more than a decade.  He knows his stuff, and I’m so grateful that he chose to include our story- it’s put us in some truly brilliant company.  Phil told us that he wanted “stories about awesome people like us, doing magickal sh!t out in the world.”  He encouraged Ryan and me, pushed us just the right amount. and here we are at the finish line with the rest of the gang.  You gotta check this out.


Here’s the super sexy description of the book from the web store:

Passion. Loss. Laughter. Fear.

Truth is a paradox, especially when magick is involved. To get beyond illusions of reality, then, a person must reach beyond what we think is possible and find what’s really there.

Set in the award-winning world of Mage: The Ascension, the 17 tales featured in this collection span from the bizarre humor of “The Theogenesis Gimmick” to the aching loss of “Life,” the tangled passions of “Toxic” love, and the grim assurance that “Nothing Important Happened Today.”

Hope, betrayal, fury, lust, even the lack of feeling for another’s pain – it’s all part of a realm where magick is real, and reality is magickal.

Featuring all-new stories by:

Seanan McGuire
J.F. High
Emily Jones
S.J. Tucker & Ryan Loyd
Balogun Ojetade
Antonios Rave-N Galatis
Scott Havens
Kris Millering
Bill Bridges
Travis Legge
Stephen Michael DiPesa
Shawn Connolly
Luna Lindsey
Tina Shelton
R.S. Udell
Janine A. Southard
Sandra Damiana Buskirk

Another Snow Moon Entirely

Feb 24, 16

My friend Leslie Hudson, a fellow songwriter based in Hamilton, ON has a Snow Moon song of her own, and it is absolutely lovely, as is she!

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Moon Song for You!

Feb 22, 16

Trees & Moons & Birthdays

Feb 21, 16

Tomorrow is my birthday!  Let’s do this, 36!

I’m working on a mix of a new song right now that I’m hoping to upload to my music page tomorrow!  It’ll be a special birthday release, and I’m going to make it available for exactly one month.  The song is called “Snow Moon”, and it’s a love song to the full moon in the month of February, which will be happening – you guessed it – tomorrow!  I get a full moon for my birthday, which means YOU get a new song! I’ll update the blog tomorrow with the link to get that new, very limited release, so watch this space!


The weirdest thing happened a week ago.  My mother’s giant read oak tree, whose canopy absolutely covered her back yard and has done so since well before I was born, pivoted into a heretofore unknown hole beneath its roots, and very gracefully fell into the yard.  This was the biggest tree I’d ever seen for about half my life, and it’s at least 175 years old, according to our arborist friend who came to see it to tell us what he could.  I was very glad I’d already planned to come and visit my mother for the weekend.  We’ve been keeping a sort of vigil together, she and I, as the tree gets visits from arborists and insurance adjusters.  The tree hit her lawnmower shed and left some gouges in the yard where it landed, but miraculously it did not hit anything else- not the fence, not the dogs, not the house.  It occurred to me when I saw this with my own eyes that, perhaps when you live for so long and grow to be so tall, you have lots of time to plan the way that you’ll fall.

…Yeah, the song pretty much writes itself.  So I’m likely to write an ode to this tallest friend of my childhood pretty soon.  There’s no stopping it, really.  Here’s a shot I posted on Instagram.  You can kind of get a sense of the size of this oak, but it still doesn’t do it justice.  I want to thank everybody who’s sent condolences since I posted this image and told a bit of the tree’s story on social media.  It really has been like losing a friend.  I believe in dryads.  This tree definitely had a spirit all its own.  I will miss it very much.  I will miss its shade and its presence.


My tallest friend laid low ????

A photo posted by S. J. Tucker Music (@sjtuckermusic) on

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