Joy: Working with Artists from Around the World


A friend who heard me speaking about the 87 remarkable artists who submitted so many beautiful illustrations for the contest on the Web site 99Designs said, “And knowing you, you want to find some way to use them all!”

It’s true, like many, I have a global heart—hopefully one that mirrors God’s heart for his world.  Just reading through the names of the artists whose work we want to use in a calendar for 2015 makes me glad.  Perhaps they will inspire you to pre-order product for our Kickstarter campaign—a way of crowd funding the reprinting of the Tales of the Kingdom trilogy.

Just look at the following names and the countries they represent:

January 2015: WidhiSaputro // Jakarta, Indonesia

February 2015: Zoltan Tobias // Szeged, Hungary

March 2015: David Lojaya // Lampung, Indonesia

April 2015: Lorraine Barreras // Nampa, Idaho

May 2015: Kovacs Katalin // BăileTușnad, Romania

June 2015: RoniYulianusNurak // Bandung, Indonesia

July 2015:Leo Leonardo // Manila, Philippines

August 2015: Milan Glozic // Kucevo, Serbia

September 2015: Irina Voloshina // Chisinau, Moldova

October 2015: ZhivkoZhelev // Plovdiv, Bulgaria

November 2015: Edi Jatmiko // Yogyakarta, Indonesia

December 2015: Gil Geolingo // Tagum, Davao del Norte, Philippines

Kickstarter Artist: Roni Nurak

Kingdom Tales Kickstarter Artist: Roni NurakWe found that when we put together our contest in 99Designs that we were working with artists from all over the world.  One such artist, Roni Yulianus Nurak, is a big fan of the Website, not only because he has an opportunity to win assignments, but also because he enjoys immersing himself in the huge community of designers it provides, allowing him to test and improve his skills.

“Too,” Nurak, who was born in Indonesia but now lives in Bandung, West Java,  added, “I have the opportunity to learn lessons from not only the artists in Asia, but from artists all over the world.”

Like so many of the artists who competed in the 99Designs contest regarding the Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy, Nurak has been pursuing his skills and talent in art since he was in elementary school.  While he enjoys working with pencil and paper, he also enjoys computer design.  In fact, he is most interested in discovering what new things can be accomplished with graphic design, illustration and animation.

“The Tales of the Kingdom project,” he shared, “allowed me to develop a project in my own unique style.”

One of his favorite parts of the assignment was the fact that Tales of the Kingdom is not only an excellent read, but so effectively brings the Christian message in a non-overbearing way.  He knew that his efforts would help to provide inspiration for all those who read it.

His challenge, as he worked, was to create a quality illustration that would correspond to the core story.  He accomplished this by first presenting the character, and then developing the “atmosphere” the illustration presents!

You can view Roni Nurak’s online portfolio and see his incredible illustration of Amanda and the Dragon, created for the 2015 Princess Amanda and the Dragon Wall Calendar, by going here:

When you Back Our KICKSTARTER Project you’ll RECEIVE 3 Award-winning CHILDREN’S BOOKS to READ & ENJOY WITH YOUR KIDS (or GRANDKIDS) — each story teaches character lessons for life, and comes fully Revised, Re-published in print and all eBook formats, and Re-illustrated with Captivating, Original Art!

If you would like to get the Wall Calendar and/or back our Kickstarter Campaign to revise, re-illustrate and re-publish the Kingdom Tales Trilogy, go here:

Love Working with Artists

Author: Karen MainsI am enough of an artist that I love working with other artists.  I can remember the first time I was invited to attend a two-week laboratory where one of my books was being turned into a film project.  The screenwriter was a friend who had talked me into letting her submit this entry, and I rather reluctantly made my way to New Harmony, Indiana where I realized for the first time in my life I was with a whole group of people and we were all speaking the same language (artist-ese).

So some thirty years ago, when Jack Stockman, the artist who illustrated the first two books of the Kingdom Tales trilogy, began scheming and dreaming with me of collaborating on his first fully illustrated book project and my first venture into creative writing, it was pure joy to see how Jack’s mind interpreted my stories.  I loved his work and still love it.

Jack’s process, however, is not cost-effective for a tight publishing budget.  It takes Jack a week of work to paint one illustration.  His work is detailed, imaginative and leans back into the classic children’s illustrated books of another generation.  The artists who submitted illustrations for the contest we ran through the 99Designs Web site are using computer technology.  Consequently, the winning artist (from Bulgaria) Zhivko Zhelev, can turn out two to three illustrations per week.

However, David and I (and countless other readers) love the Stockman illustrations.  (The publishers hired another artist to do the third book, Tales of the Restoration—one of the headaches of being an author is being subject to the whims and fancies of the publishing industry.) If the Kickstarter Campaign exceeds expectations—and many do (many also don’t even reach their goals)—there will be enough money to pay Jack to complete the third book with his gorgeous artwork.  This then, will give us the “classic-illustrated set” in addition to the newly-illustrated set with more of a multi-ethnic representation in the art.

Check out this link to see how we are doing in reaching our goal.  Check out the Backer levels to see if there is anything you would like to pre-order for your own family or to give as gifts.  Pledge an amount if you are led to do so.  Then, would you tell your friends about this campaign?  We need lots of buzz, not only to reach the goal but to exceed it so that we can get Jack Stockman started on finishing a long-unfinished project.  Thanks so much.

87 Artists

Kingdom Tales Kickstarter ProjectOne of the amazing adventures of the Tales of the Kingdom crowd-funding Kickstarter Campaign was the contest that our son Randall Mains’ Pathmaker Marketing Group ran, searching for an artist to re-do the illustrations of the three books of this children’s trilogy.  The Web site, 99 Designs, offers opportunities for artists from all around the world to compete for places to design logos and marketing ventures or, as in our case, illustrate whole books.

When the participating artists who were given the pdf file of one of the stories from the first book of the trilogy, Tales of the Kingdom, climbed to 87 participants (with eventually, some 300 submitted illustrations) David and I were hauled onto the team just to help with the intensive decisions and interaction with artists from a variety of countries.

The first story sent to them was “Princess Amanda and the Dragon”.  The process goes like this:  The artists are e-mailed the story—remember that most are reading the English narrative as a second or third language—a sketch is submitted, the panel makes suggestions and comments, another more completed illustration is sent back, final comments are made, then the artist sends a final submission.

Many aspects were judged.  Was the artist’s English facility high enough for us to communicate clearly with one another?  Could the illustrator turn in work on time? (We are needing to receive 36 illustrations by September in order to go to book design, make revisions to the copy, flow the content into the design, choose a cover, design a cover and have copies ready for Christmas mailings!  Remember—we are re-doing three books.)  Were the artists’ attitudes collaborative and cooperative or did they display an unwillingness to be directed?  Were the illustrations appropriate for a children’s reading audience or were they more young adult art?

We received so many superb illustrations that we agonized over our choices.  There were next to no submissions that we cancelled because of poor quality of workmanship.

In fact, we had so many gorgeous artistic renderings that we purchased 12 of the “Amanda Slaying the Dragon” entries and will offer a calendar for 2015 as part of the Kickstarter Backer Campaign.

You can see the winning artwork plus the calendar artwork (with a few quotes from the story).  Eventually, each 2015 month will have its own quote from the book. Go to back our project, and choose this beautiful calendar as an add-on.  In Kickstarter lingo, you will become a Backer, but you are really pre-ordering products so that we will have the money to buy the art and pay for the publishing process.

Final Project – Just in Case

Kingdom Tales Kickstarter ProjectAgainst the urgings of three doctors—my general physician, the ear and nose and throat specialist, and for a second opinion, an endocrinologist (chosen because he believes his profession is too eager to perform thyroidectomies)—I delayed my thyroid cancer surgery for several pressing reasons.

After our son Jeremy’s death from lymphoma, I discovered that I was not healthy in a variety of ways; for one, years of living with publishing and broadcasting and travel deadlines—not to mention a long and gruesome journey for our family into a losing battle with a rare form of lymphoma—my adrenals kind of got stuck on the fright and flight button leaving me doing life at a kind of constant “warp” speed.

There was a family business crisis that demanded the full attention of David and myself.  We were required to spend countless hours each day in phone consultations, and cumulatively we dedicated some twenty days to bring our gifts and understanding to help avert disastrous outcomes.

But mostly, our son, Randall Mains and his Pathmaker Marketing Group, were studying the science of crowd funding and had taken the better part of three months to design a Kickstarter Campaign to revise, re-illustrate and redesign our prize-winning children’s trilogy, Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance and Tales of the Restoration that David and I had started writing some thirty years ago.

It’s amazing what a cancer diagnosis will do to force you to think about which legacy projects you want to leave behind.

These books, although highly thought of and generously reviewed (check them out on, have sort of languished in the hinterlands of religious publishing.  Out of print/ back in print/sub-rights granted helter skelter.  Finally, the publishing rights (those legal permissions authors grant to publishers) reverted to us, and we all felt it was time to give these books, which some have compared to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and some to C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, appropriate attention.  If anything I have done in a lifetime of writing deserves my intensive focus now that I am 71, these three books (written for children of all ages) are certainly the legacy I want to leave behind.

Probably the delay on a cancer operation (I canceled it twice) was motivated by the thinking:  I’ve fought for the life of one son and lost.  I need to fight for the lives of these literary children and give them a chance to dance forward into the future—even when I am no longer around.

So the work has been done, revisions have been chosen, an artist has won a contest, the contract has been written for him to re-do some 36 illustrations, a video has been shot and edited, the project has been submitted to the Kickstarter panel, the word has come that The Kingdom Tales campaign has been approved and we launched on-line last week.

I made an appointment and saw the ENT physician last Thursday and a thyroidectomy has been scheduled for Monday, July 14.

I am healthier than I have been for some time.  A business collapse has been averted.  These well-loved but woefully under-marketed stories that deal with conflict and terror and delight are being redesigned and re-illustrated for another generation of readers.

Will you help us?  Think beautiful Christmas gifts.  Think stories that emphasize moral virtues and character development.  Think about a King who is the most beautiful of men.  Our goal is $20,400 but we would like to earn much, much more.  If we don’t reach our goal, we won’t receive any of the financial pledges for pre-orders.  Do me a favor, won’t you, and check out our page on Kickstarter.  I would love to reach our goal by the time of my cancer operation on July 14.  (The campaign ends August 5.)

Kickstarter Artist: Zoltan Tobias

Kingdom Tales Kickstarter Zoltan TobiasThe artist in us all can be sidetracked, but it can never be eliminated.  That’s a fact that Zoltan Tobias, of Szeged, Hungary will readily attest to.  Though currently a university student who is about to become a medical doctor, Tobias still pursues his love for art.

“When I was ten years old,’ Tobias explained, “I saw an extremely inspirational movie about a young child who was drawing comics.  And,” he added with a big smile in his voice, “I discovered that I could do the same thing.”

Like so many artists around the world, Tobias is self-taught.  He prefers digital art, but when dealing with more traditional mediums, he is attracted to markers and ink.  While searching online for digital paint jobs, he came across 99 Designs.  He followed through with signing up because he realized it presented him with a number of promising projects, opportunities to improve himself, and good financial offers.

“I think I was probably attracted to the Tales of the Kingdom project because I have been fascinated by dragons since I was a child, making this an obvious choice for me.”

This particular project did prove to be a challenge for Tobias, especially creating Amanda.  While most of his projects are completed in four to five hours, this one took closer to eight, due to the fact that he made several changes to the piece as he received feedback about the art he was producing.

You can view Zoltan Tobias’ online portfolio and see his incredible illustration of Amanda and the Dragon, created for the 2015 Princess Amanda and the Dragon Wall Calendar, by going here:

When you Back Our KICKSTARTER Project you’ll RECEIVE 3 Award-winning CHILDREN’S BOOKS to READ & ENJOY WITH YOUR KIDS (or GRANDKIDS) — each story teaches character lessons for life, and comes fully Revised, Re-published in print and all eBook formats, and Re-illustrated with Captivating, Original Art!

If you would like to get the Wall Calendar and/or back our Kickstarter Campaign to revise, re-illustrate and re-publish the Kingdom Tales Trilogy, go here:

Imagination Garden

Imagination GardenAbout ten years ago, our septic system started leaking and after the septic crew tore up the lawn under the great ash tree (to connect the underground boxes that had never been connected), I sat on the back porch surveying the BIG mess and just cried. It would take me years, going at the speed most improvements take within the system of the Main’s family schedule, to make things right. I was overwhelmed with the thought of the effort.

Then one morning, I looked at the mounds of overturned clay (we live on a nasty streak that has demanded I build my own black soil) and thought, “Well, OK. Why not turn those mounds into a spring garden?” I moved the 10 peonies bushes, piled on black soil, added some grass and variegated hostas, and over the next decade, cultivated a rather lovely garden where there had formerly been piles of despair.

This took some imagination to see beauty instead of desolation. To me, that is the role of the artist, to imagine what could be.

There are some people, many of them well-meaning Christian folk who think the imagination is a bad thing. To me, I don’t know how any of us go through life without an imagination. How can a cook plan a lovely meal for family or for guests without imagining what it will look and taste like?

How can a decorator redesign the look of a home without imagination? How can a farmer plant vegetable gardens without imagination regarding a harvest to come? More importantly, how can we become intimate with a God we cannot see without imagining his personality and his characteristics and his everlasting love working in our lives as well as the life of the world?

Imagination is essential. I looked at the devastated mounds of lawn in my back yard and imagined that a beautiful garden might exist under the ash tree.

One day some thirty years ago, I also imagined that a book (eventually to become three books) could captivate readers with the scriptural concepts of the Kingdom of God told in literary formats. Those books became The Kingdom Tales trilogy and have brought both tears and delight (not to mention) to the minds of readers.

Imagination (particularly one that becomes persuaded and informed by holiness) is essential.

We are mounting a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds to revise, re-illustrate (with multi-ethnic characters) and re-publish these award-winning books Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance and Tales of the Restoration. Without imagination, great literature of any kind, would not exist. It also takes imagination to conceive of a campaign that will provide some $22,500 to reach this goal.

Can you help us by becoming a Backer (we have the imagination to believe that several thousand people will support this effort)? The Backer levels go from $3 to several hundred dollars. All the levels are basically pre-orders that provide the funds for the republishing campaign. Check out our Kickstarter page.

All it takes is a little imagination to create beautiful things in the world.

Karen Mains

The “imagination” garden this spring/summer as seen from David Mains upstairs study window.

First Backer

Kingdom Tales KickstarterWe have the first two Backers for the Kickstarter Campaign to revise, re-illustrate and republish the Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy, which David and I began writing some thirty years ago! These Backers have come in at the $157 and $300 levels, which insures (if we meet our goal of raising $22,500) that they will receive the exclusive, limited edition Kickstarter hardcover Trilogy—all three books—with their names printed in the books, and personalized autographs to the recipients of your choice.

These particular editions will only be available for a limited time in a limited quantity through this Kickstarter Campaign. Our goal is to mail them to your door in time for Christmas giving. For those of you who have loved these books through the years, this is a wonderful legacy project to give to family and friends. Thank you first donors! You have kicked off the campaign! For more details, visit