Archive for April, 2007

Doughnuts and Art

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

It’s short notice, but I should mention that I’m part of an art show/concert/dance party tonight. I’m showcasing four vector pieces that I did as studies for a book I illustrated for my mom. The book was for a Christmas present for my neice, and the sketches were never used in the actual story, although one of the monsters sort of made it in. I’ve got another piece that I might showcase if I can get it set up, since I had a little extra room on my wall, but I have a flat tire so I don’t know if I’ll make it out before the show starts.

I got to see some of the artists’ work last night at set up, and there is some really quality stuff. If I had the money I’d probably buy an awesome painting someone did of a crow… I think it was called “Tribute to Mercutio” or something like that — I’ll be lusting after it all night, I’m sure. If you’ve read any of David (Caw!), the reason is obvious. Evil, evil birds.

It’s funny — when I left the gallery last night I was the only one showing digital art, and I was having a hard time feeling like an artist with all the wonderful traditional media everywhere. But I got to thinking about it, and art is like writing: it’s there to tell a story and/or evoke emotion or thought, even if it’s solely in the artist. My stuff is usually considered ‘cute’ or ‘whimsy’… and I’m okay with that. If my silly-looking monsters make anybody smile tonight, I’ll be ecstatic.

And actually, I know at least one person enjoyed them — I sold one of the framed prints at the set up last night. yay!

Chapter 16: A Story of Shadow

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Well, it was bound to happen. Sunday marked the first time I missed an update. I promptly uploaded the chapter when I got home from work on Monday, but still… there is much shame.
A Story of Shadows is one of the better chapter titles I came up with — it’s dark, mysterious, and it’s a great name for a metal title. Each of the chapter names are supposed to reflect the title of a song by the fictional band Metal, Inc… which is why you’ll see a run time and album name accompany each chapter. It will all make sense at the end.

Story is our opportunity for a little explanation of the Lurk and the mysterious Child we keep hearing about. They are each different kinds nasty.

Bootcamp Pittsburgh

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

 

 

Bootcamp was a blast. There were sessions on Intro to Blogging, Podcasting, Social Networking, and more, and it was a jolly good time. I participated in a panel called “Building Your Brand”, which was fun and a little terrifying.

Branding is actually somewhat of an abstract concept. If you ask ten people what it is, you’ll probably get ten different answers. Ultimately, it’s you (or your business’s) identity, and the relation it holds with its public. You can spread that identity in a variety of ways: by covering any and all communication and access points with your logo, becoming involved in your community, developing relationships with others in your specific field… and companies spend millions of dollars finding new ways of getting their identity to be recognized, remembered, and then trusted.

Speaking in public is not something I’m particularly good at, although I’m capable of it when prodded. My expertise lies more on the visual end of branding, which for the sake of the panel consisted of ‘logos are great, you should get one’ and then went into other aspects of spreading the word/vibe/personality of your particular corner of the web. Which was great, actually, but I had little to contribute to that.

My goal of being proactive was somewhat successful. I did not mention SoD in the introduction of myself during the panel, which was bad; but I did give out seven whole business cards, which for me is almost prostitution.

Regardless, the whole experience was amazing. I met a lot of really great people, and reconnected with people I haven’t seen since November’s Podcamp. Pittsburgh geeks (and I use the term oh-so-affectionally) are a wonderful breed — I should know, I’m marrying one… New media unite!

Chapter 15: The Welcome Wagon

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

After the rough creepiness of the Red City, the circus is (and was, to write) a wonderful breath of fresh air. We go from the terror and oppressive red glare to the energy, bright colors, and strange characters of a circus.

Secondary characters are awesome. When the spotlight isn’t focused on a character, you can have so much fun building a personality and underlying history for each of them. When Josh was reading this section he would speak of Holder or Tanece or Jameela and I would cry “They’re my favorite!” after each and every one of them. You can polarize a secondary without it seeming over the top, and I think that can help to push/contrast/compliment your main characters.

Back in the summer I volunteered at/attended Podcamp Pittsburgh, which was an UnConference discussing new media. This spring they are doing what’s been deemed Bootcamp, as a way for individuals and small businesses to become acquainted with those new media tools — blogging, video, podcasting, etc. If you fall into one of these categories, or would just generally like to check it out, stop by the Art Institue of Pittsburgh on 4/21. Festivities begin at 9 am and run to 4:30.

This time around I’m part of a panel in two sessions regarding “Branding”. Come and learn about the magic of logos and identity!

Chapter 14: Giant Killer

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

The tides can turn, and thank goodness. The Red City gives way to a lighter environment, at least for a while. The upside to this scene was listening to the Batman: Begins soundtrack over and over again. Mmm, so good.

My life is pretty consumed with wedding planning at the moment, so writing related things have been brief. I have, however, been nibbling at Rachel Vater’s “The Agents Directory” as I commute to and from work everyday. It’s an easy read and very informative, and makes the entire obstacle of finding an agent relatively approachable.

I say relatively because I’ve been doing research online about my different options in sharing tSoD.

I can keep doing what I am doing, and simply keep the story up in it’s entirety at the close of 2007. There are many authors that do this all over the internet, with stories of varying length and quality. Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — many of those posting their tales for free fall under the same genre umbrella as tSoD does: Young adult fantasy. Which means we’re all gunning for the same readership.

I can try to get an agent, who would then pursue the routes of getting the story published. My brain can’t really grasp the plausibility of this option, and keeps swinging back and forth between “possible” and “way impossible”. The attempt is certainly possible, but not until after June. Then I’ll be relatively project free (except for David’s sequel), and can play detective on what agents would be appropriate and somewhat conceivable to send the ever-frightening query letter to.

The third option is self-publishing, which could be done in both physical paperback books and as eBooks for download and purchase. The only way for this to be successful (and I’m measuring success by units distributed, not money made) would be for me to market the thing like crazy. And I think I’ve already established that press and representation for David is not a strong suit for me…

Sigh.

Personal PR

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Okay, I need to find a better way to present myself.

For instance: I had a perfectly wonderful evening playing scrabble. One of my opponents was a friend’s mom, and we had a great time in the game. Afterwards, we had a little small talk as the coffee shop closed up, and she spotted the book I’m reading, The Agent’s Directory.

“Who’s the writer?”

In response, I wilted like a little embarassed flower and said something along the lines of “oh, well, that’d be me.”

I actually do consider myself a writer, under the right conditions and with a tiny little pep talk ahead of time. I know, I know — I write, so therefore I am a writer; but to me it’s kind of pretentious to go around calling yourself a writer when you’ve never had anything published. Other people can do it, but it’s hard for me to wrap my considerations around. Saying “I’m a writer” with humility is better than saying it with snottiness, as far as I can tell — and since I’m petrified of coming across as stuck up about a story only 20 people have seen… I’ll take a little bashfulness.

That particular dwarf doesn’t do squat to instill any interest/confidence when I talk to someone in person, though.

I don’t market David at all at the moment, although I plan to pick it up once the site is 100% complete and the story gets some real meat in it. Whether I pimp it or not, however, I should still have answers to the most common questions I get asked in person so I don’t sound like a bumbling silly-head. I think preparing some boilerplate answers might be just what I need, at least so I sound confident about my ‘product’.

I am a writer!

Chapter 13: Finding You

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

…and they find Chilo. Or Chilo finds them, one of the two. Either way, it’s not a good thing. The monster we saw from afar and luckily got around is back — and she’s pissed. Man oh man, do centipedes give me the willies now. And you think the reader’s got it bad, witnessing all the horrible things the beast does… you should’ve been in my shoes a year ago, when I was putting my poor characters through the wringer while I tried to decide exactly what horror the Chilo was going to rain down on them.

This was a tough chapter because of the swift action I wanted to portray in the chase. I’m generally over-detailed in describing people’s action, so trimming down the adjectives (and fluff) is something I have to work at. A good way of breaking it down, as described to me by one of my blessed editors:

The time it takes to read the action should be comparable to how long it takes for a character to act out that action.

In other words, if you’ve got some wham-bam-punch-pow crazy fast action, then don’t make that exchange four pages long. If it’s a long and drawn out scene — like a battle or a train of thought during travel, it’s okay to let it feel a little long.

Now, that’s not by any means an iron-clad kind of rule, but it helps me determine how something reads… and it helps me keep it shorter than my natural instincts would encourage. For the record, nothing should ever “feel” long, not really… but a story should have contrast in it’s timing, at least in my opinion. Just as there are spikes in your drama, humor, emotion, etc, there should also be contrast to how fast and slow your story progresses — as long as it is moving forward.