Update: Life and Books (May 2019) + All My #Mermay Art!


So BEA just passed (or maybe is still happening?) and every other blogger will probably be sharing massive book hauls today. Not me. Instead, I just have LOTS OF MERFOLK! (This is going to be a very image-filled post 😬) #Mermay has ended, but I ended up doing six pieces, which is five more than I thought I’d do, and also the most art I’ve done in a month probably ever.

Last month I shared my deep sea merman (I got a head start on him). Here he is again. He’s loosely inspired by the vampire squid (the colors, at least). This has nothing to do with my merman, but in case you didn’t know, vampire squid do not drink blood or even eat live prey—they get their name because of the “teeth” along their tentacles and webbing that looks like a cape. And they’re only like a foot big. They’re kind of cute!

Deep Sea Merman by @whykristenburns

At the beginning of the month, I drew this colorful merman, based on the Bartlett’s anthias. It’s also known as the fairy anthias, and I can definitely see why. Fun fact about anthias: they’re all born female, but some of them turn male for breeding purposes. Also, fun non-fish fact that I learned: reflections in water always come directly toward you.

Merman Watching Sunset by @whykristenburns

Merman Watching Sunset by @whykristenburns

Then I did this shark merman, which surprised me since I’m not usually into shark merfolk. This one is based on the common thresher shark (they use their tails like a whip to stun their prey, and can reach 20-feet long!), and I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Shark Merman by @whykristenburns

Shark Merman by @whykristenburns

After that, I wanted to try something different from my usual style. I also just wanted to draw a starfish mermaid. I needed something for her to cling to, and a mermaid girlfriend seemed like a good solution πŸ˜›

Mermaid Girlfriends by @whykristenburns

Next, vampire merman! His design is based on the red velvetfish. I liked their look, and they have venomous spines on their dorsal fin, which I thought was kinda fitting. This whole picture was a struggle, and at one point it was making me miserable to work on it, but then I decided to half-ass finish it, and I swear it came out better than it would’ve had I tried lol.

Vampire Merman by @whykristenburns

Vampire Merman by @whykristenburns

I snuck in one more merman literally the night of May 31st. Not my best since I did it in a rush, but that’s ok. This one is a land-dwelling betta fish merman on a budget ;-P

Merman on a Budget by @whykristenburns

Merman on a Budget by @whykristenburns

So as you can see, I did a lot of art, and also a lot of learning about sea creatures lol. Let me know which picture or merman you like best!

Blog/Bookish Updates:

I mentioned last time that I won two giveaways, and my books arrived!

I also got a really entertaining spam comment.


Books I Received for Review:

Dawn Slayer by Clara CoulsonThe Un-Queen by Fiona West

Dawn Slayer and The Un-Queen are from the authors. I’m still waiting to hear back on NetGalley about The Monster of Elendhaven :-/ Anyone else heard back about that one yet?


Books I Finished:

Dark Lord of the Night by S.K. RyderDark Child of Forever by S.K. RyderStrays by A.J. ThomasBeauty and His Beast by Bey DeckardDawn Slayer by Clara CoulsonA Ferry of Bones & Gold by Hailey TurnerAll Souls Near & Nigh by Hailey TurnerSilver in the Wood by Emily TeshThe Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

I finished up the S.K. Ryder vampire trilogy and enjoyed it! Beauty and His Beast and Strays were both great audiobooks, but I especially loved Strays! Dawn Slayer was another great City of Crows book, and the Hailey Turner books are a new-to-me series that was also great! Silver in the Wood and The Grand Dark were both books that I felt weren’t bad, they just weren’t quite for me. (I’ll explain in my reviews.)


What I’m Loving:

This month, what I’m loving is…


I don’t know, I couldn’t think of anything else lol.


In Case You Missed It:

Here are the highlights:

– I gave recs for 5 merfolk books you should check out.
– I shared a compilation of funny tweets I’ve shared about my Sims 3 games.
– I reviewed The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova, a high fantasy with cool dragons and a super unique world!
– I talked about how I want more SFF books about different hobbies and interests.
– I reviewed Strays by A.J. Thomas, a sweet paranormal audiobook that made me smile!


Talk to me!

Find any good books this week?
Did you also enjoy all the #Mermay art on Twitter or other sites?
Did you got to BEA, or stay home like me?


Your Thoughts


36 thoughts on “Update: Life and Books (May 2019) + All My #Mermay Art!

I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, too!


Reading your comments makes me a very happy blogger!

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  1. Greg

    Nice art! Love the first one especially and also the vampire one. Vampiric merfolk- what a cool idea! πŸ™‚

    I never really thought about shark merfolk either. I like all the scars- just like real sharks.

    Love those covers on the Ryder books.

  2. suz

    I love the way you’ve based the merfolk on actual fish. I never thought of them being like that before. They’re all really good.
    Don’t forget to update us on the email to the Lord of the Vampire Kingdom πŸ™‚

  3. Roberta R.

    The shark and the starfish are my favourites! I particularly like how you made the first one disabled, and his look is so expressive. It’s so cool that you based your mermaid art on real fishes.

    Looking forward to your Last Bus to Everland review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I’m so happy with how the shark merman’s face out tbh, it’s such an intense look that suits him perfectly.

      I’m looking forward to reading it! πŸ˜›

  4. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Wow! Your mermaid and mermen are impressive. The shark one particularly, because I’ve never seen a shark merperson before, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to give him scars and a missing arm, but it makes so much sense. And I love the tail on the betta fish.

    Nice book haul, too. Enjoy reading them!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you!!

      Damn, maybe I ought to respond then. You know what they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you πŸ˜‰

  5. Olivia Roach

    I love merfolk so I am very happy! I am not at BEA or bookcon so no book haul from me either. By the way, I LOVE YOUR ARTWORK AND ALL THE MER IMAGES. Like, even the little details such as the webbing between the thumb and finger of Vampire merman. I am loving it so much. These make me so happy and I love that you have some diversity and representation to your drawings too. You’re really awesome, Kristen, and I hope you know it πŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      You are so sweet <3 <3 <3 I needed that. I'm glad you like the art πŸ˜€ I'm still working on adding more diversity and inclusion. I'm still so new to drawing my own ideas rather than just sketching something I see, so I keep falling into my comfort zone of what I already know how to draw. But comments like these are encouraging, so thank you again πŸ™‚

  6. Sam@wlabb

    MerMay <– love it! And, all of your illustrations are amazing! I haven't been to BEA since 2016. It's too intense for me, and I don't even want to read physical books.

  7. Crystal @ Lost in Storyland

    I love your #Mermay art and how you shared facts about the ocean creatures you drew inspiration from. It was super interesting to learn these facts! Congrats on all the books you finished and the books that came in. I especially love the cover for The Candle and the Flame and A Ferry of Bones & Gold.

  8. ShootingStarsMag

    I did not go to BEA, but I’m sure I’ll be jealous of all the book hauls. LOL I do hope to do ALA again next year. I had a lot of fun the one time I’d been. πŸ˜‰

    I love all of your mermaid artwork. You did a really awesome job. Love that last one – on a budget. Too funny.


  9. Lola

    I love seeing all the art you did for mermay. They all looked awesome. I saw most of these on twitter or your previous post, but I hadn’t seen that last one and the starfish merfolk. I kinda like pictures like that, that imagine merfolk in normal life situations with a bath or something. I like his low budget solution for water and his tail is pretty! I also like the idea of a vampire merfolk and the starfish merfolk, that’s quite unique!

    I saw some of the mermay artwork on twitter and also did a search on Pinterest so I could add some picture to my merfolk board.

    The Candle and the Flame has such a pretty cover! I hope it’s a good book too. I have Strays on my to listen list for audiobooks. It sounds great.

    I hope June is a good month for you!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thank you!!! I think it’s fun too, seeing merfolk in normal places like bath tubs. Mine are a little big for bath tubs though, I think lol. I hadn’t seen any starfish merfolk, so I just really wanted to try that!

      That’s the only thing I hate about the art being on Twitter, it’s too difficult to save it to Pinterest! I’ll have to go search there since I have a merfolk board too lol.

      I hope you love Strays as much as I did!

      Thank you, you too πŸ™‚

  10. Brittany

    I like the deep sea merman best <3 followed closely by the shark! I love that he looks like a shark attack survivor. Also I love the line "land-dwelling betta fish merman on a budget" That is pretty awesome πŸ˜€