An Unlooked for Update

As you can see, The Overlord’s on quality control for my newest project: a boardbook without the boards. I’m using the same print company as my previous two projects, and while someday I hope to have a real publisher backing me, until then boardbooks will come just as floppy as “The Hatastrophe” and “The Bump Under the Bed.” “Wanda Won’t” clocks in at 43 words and 28 pages, making it decidedly less wordy than the combined 2,298 words of the other two. Projected deadline is was December 1st, and now I’ve got my fingers crossed for the week of the 4th. I’m fantastically productive when I wait long enough for the panic to kick in.

And I would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids

I nearly managed to skip today’s post, but if you’re in Mountain Time I’m coming in right under the wire for my Thursday update. I blame meddling kids entirely, because my sister’s got three of them and they’re all here visiting. Add my brother’s daughter (they live here so we get to see them everyday too), and that’s four kids four and under. Yea, verily, that’s also four excuses not to get around to my blog post today. I decided to get around to it anyways.

Unfortunately, I have very little to say. Fortunately, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Marker coloring is officially done for “The Bump Under the Bed” (though you can actually see a tree I missed in the bottom right corner of one of the pages – though that’s officially rectified at this point). Since this picture was taken I’ve hunted down a paper cutter at the public library, chopped off the borders, cut these in half for easier scanning and editing, and scanned them into my computer. Next step is to use my art program to clean up any mistakes and fill in the grays of the background. Most of this book takes place in the dark, and I decided to try and save ink, money, and time by using Clip Studio to do the boring shades. I hope to have all the text placed by the end of the month as well, with the book ready to go to the printers for the first draft proof copy by the first week of August. But once more with feeling:

MEDDLING KIDS.

I say this with love, if in all capitals. The good news is that I’m a week ahead of schedule, which gives me a few extra days to fritter away. I may even skip Monday’s update and just wait until I have at least the title page ready to show off. Like zoinks.

King Friday Speaks

Montana in July, anyone? Oofta, I’m tired of it being 80 degrees by ten in the morning. I can hear my relatives in Arizona laughing at me from here, but to a Montanan this is the closest thing we have to a death sentence. We’re used to the temperature dropping back into the 50s at night, which it has not been. Worse, because it’s so hot so early in the summer, there’s a good chance we’ll spend the next three months or so on fire – or at least under a heavy pall of smoke. Hopefully rain will break the heatwave soon.

(We actually did have a little hail earlier today, but it didn’t last long enough. There’s still an unholy haze sitting along the horizon, but it doesn’t look near promising enough.)

And now, an announcement from a higher authority:

Doo-doo-da-doodaduhdoooo:

Sketches and inks for “The Bump Under the Bed” are done! Huzzah! This is an artful representation of what my work space looks like when I’m trying to set up promo shots of all the work I’ve done:

I’m officially taking a break from illustrating for a day, but I’ll be hitting up ye olde Prismacolor markers tomorrow. Yesterday at lunch I actually put together a list for the order in which I plan to color things – beginning with skin tone, then moving on to hair, clothes, bed sheets, and on through the bedroom carpet – because there’s nothing like illustrating assembly-line style to really take the emotional thrill out of coloring. Boy oh boy, I love my job.

Streeeetch that clothing dollar

I was looking for a way to squeeze blood out of a rock this morning (in lieu of writing any original content – particularly since I keep forgetting to borrow that poem from IT Guy), and came up with this:

  • DUNA Mining Corp
  • Guttersnipe
  • Mr. and Mrs. Fox Come Calling
  • Selective Mutism 1
  • Selective Mutism 2
  • Sir George and the Dragon Lady
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The Art of the Catapult – Series idea
  • The Fools
  • The MacWitts
  • The Marquis of Fools

These 11 documents currently reside in a folder called “_WIPs” which is, in turn, hiding in my “Short Stories” file. I’m working on a novel (I’m always working on a novel, however, so this is hardly remarkable) but that doesn’t stop the ideas from coming. I’ll throw a bunch of thoughts into a Word document – occasionally packed around a few descriptive paragraphs and a handful of dialogue – and then let them percolate in the back of my mind for upwards of three years. I have a very vague plan to keyboard mash these short stories into existence once my young adult novel is finished, if only to check them off my mental to-do list. But as today is not that day, feel free to admire these working titles.

The shortest of these documents is “The Art of the Catapult – Series idea” with 217 words, and at 5,186 words “The MacWitts” clocks in as the longest. Most of the rest of them sit between 2,000 and 3,000 words, and because I really wanted to stretch what little I had to say, I pulled out my calculator and came up with 23,218 words for the entire lot. Have I mentioned lately that I’m terrible at keeping my short stories short? Because I’m terrible at keeping my short stories short.

I wasn’t kidding about needing to work on my focus. That’s over 20,000 currently unusable words, which is 19,500 more words than I have written for my novel. If you don’t count the following:

  • 15 versions of chapter 1
  • 4 versions of chapter 2
  • 2 versions of chapter 3
  • 26 paragraphs from a long discarded chapter 4
  • 3 versions of a prologue – also long discarded
  • 5 Word files acting as a repository for both notes and lines
  • 2 paper-and-pen notebooks filled entirely with unreadable cursive
  • and a document that is literally titled “Waste of Time”

Fortunately, my picture books are heading forward at a more productive speed. I’ve inked eleven two-page spreads for “The Bump Under the Bed” since Saturday, with six left. I should have the inks done by next week and, though coloring is a much slower process, I actually have a decent chance at making my self-inflicted deadline by the end of the month. That gives me another week to mess around with backgrounds and text, which should leave me with three more for ordering proof copies in time to make any edits. If I don’t make my September 1st deadline, I should, at the very least, be close.

Finally, I watched “Little Shop of Horrors” last night with my parents and had some barely conceived notion of using today’s post to talk about the differing psychological impacts between movies and plays, but that’ll keep for another time. I have a novel to put off write.

I congratulate, it seems remarkable idea to me is

My personal spam minx is only a few short compliments away from coaxing me into approving her comments. “I congratulate, it seems remarkable idea to me is” now officially ranks as my go-to commendation in any and all situations. Engaged? I congratulate, it seems remarkable idea to me is. Having a baby? I congratulate, it seems remarkable idea to me is. Bereaving the death of a loved one? I congratulate, it seems remarkable idea to me is. There is no end to the uses I have for this comment.

I have nothing of particular note to say, so have a piece of an idea I was working on the other day:

“What did you do?”

“I humiliated my CO in front of a superior. He blamed me for this assignment. Thought it was my fault he was passed over for promotion.”

Sanderson gave him a look. “Was it?”

Barnaby snorted, more disdainful than amused. “You don’t need to scuttle a sinking ship.”

“But you did scuttle it,” Sanderson clarified, grin starting to form around his mouth.

Barnaby coughed, trying to look less pleased with himself. “I did at that.”

I say “the other day” but that actually translates to “a couple months ago.” I should probably work on my focus.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure if I’m productive or lazy. A new poem, “Color this Land,” is the juxtaposition of trying to be both simultaneously.

24 – 72 Hours

Well…this was supposed to be a more significant update, but I have to wait 24 – 72 hours while Amazon is reviewing the ebook version of “Small Town Super Nobody” before I can offer it for sale to anyone who’d like the convenience of downloading the story on their kindle. I did actually suspect that they had a review process, but my many* attempts to somehow find secure internet yesterday were foiled (which mostly involved me looking like a creeper, sitting in the parking lot of my place of employment). My IT guy is willing to let me yoink internet from his house (which I actually tried to do on Tuesday, only to fail, again; my batting average is not great), but I was in a bad mood by my second thwarting and didn’t feel like facing anybody. So I went home and finished watching “Band of Brothers” instead.

In related news, my original plan for today’s post probably wasn’t going to be enormously exciting for my two watchers anyways, as they’ve already read “Small Town Super Nobody” here. I’ll get into why I’m charging money for a novella that I plan to keep freely available on my website later (say, in 24 – 72 hours).

In the meantime, I spent twenty minutes staring at the completed cover of the ebook (which can be found under the “Store” tab) because I was so absurdly pleased with myself over how it came out. I even researched road marker fonts to make sure I had it accurately depicted, and found out that here in America we use a font called Highway Gothic, developed in the 1940s by the United States Federal Highway Administration. This was the standard for decades, until about ten years ago when they switched to Clearwater; only for someone in the Highway Administration to roll it back about a year ago. There’s a debate raging among civic engineers about why and whether they should (I started to read an article that offers a big, resounding “NO!” – apparently the “e” and “a” in Highway Gothic are hard for old eyes to differentiate after sundown), and that’s about as far into the subject as I got. This is Highway Gothic, as “Small Town Super Nobody” takes place before Clearwater became a thing.

Follow-up confession: it was longer than twenty minutes.


*Two

Shmidiot

So my initial plan for dealing with the hilarity caused by my comment about uploading the next three chapters in six months (my editor did not think it was a joke, let alone a funny one; my IT Guy, on the other hand, laughed, assuming that it’ll eventually be a joke on me) was to upload chapter 4 this week. What I’ve done instead is removed chapter 3 and turned “Small Town Super Nobody” into a five chapter story. Practically the same thing.

Or maybe not. Point of fact: I actually have a good reason for this. I wasn’t as pleased with chapter 3 as I was with the first two chapters, and after a frank discussion with my editor (“I should’ve just waited until you’d uploaded the whole thing before I read it…nothing happened in this last chapter”), I realized why. She’s right: nothing did happen this last chapter. While the background information in the chapter is necessary, the story stagnates until the action in the next chapter, which is a crappy way to write a short story. It’s padding. I added padding to a novelette*.

What I’m going to do is take the background and emotional heart out of chapter three and add it to chapter four, which is going to end up as the official chapter three instead. I lose some things doing this (Greg beaning Rick in the head as hard as he can with a football, for one; the sentence “Jeremiah turned and saw that his dad was leaning back against the water table with his arms casually folded, a pose that could get most women within visual range to perk up and take a second look” for another), but it’ll be a tighter story for it.

A couple of editing notes related to this re-post plan:

  1. I moved the “domo arigato” thing to chapter 2, where I originally had it, and
  2. I added a very small line (a parentheses, in fact) to chapter 1, straight-out admitting that Teddy is basically an impossibly advanced robot. That last one was for my IT Guy, who pointed out that, though I’d heavily implied as such, I only ever said so in my author’s notes. Because it’s fun to make people guess at the framework of my stories.

So, uh…sorry? Hahahah, I’m lucky I only have two watchers.

*weeps a little anyways*


*Apparently a real thing, according to Wikipedia. That I do a lot. Who knew?

Rhymes with Idiot

Shmidiot.

Can anyone explain to me why Microsoft Word’s thesaurus doesn’t contain any synonyms for put-downs? Nothing for idiot, moron, or even dork, though “nerd” (drip/bore/geek/weed, in that order) makes the cut. “Jerk” also qualifies, but only as a verb. Interestingly enough, so does “dipstick,” which I’d forgotten was another term for a measuring stick. This is unfortunate for someone who depends on her thesaurus for insult-rich vocab, but less so when I remember that I carry a pocket thesaurus with me at all times. However (and unfortunately), it too has no entry for “butthead.”

Still, you know it’s a good day when you scan over the tabs open above your browsing window and “Moron Synonyms, Moro…” is the third tab to the right.

It gets better when you find a great quote like this one, attributed to Albert Einstein (but also possibly not):

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Regardless, it’s an excellent quote, one of many extremely random things I find in the course of my absurd need to research the minutiae of my characters. But sometimes only the minutiae. For example, that little gem was found while researching football positions and the breakdown of the skill-sets needed, because I wanted to figure out what Jeremiah would like to play – for a line I may end up cutting. On the other hand, crap like “where is Teddy’s power source?” will get a pass. I’m not even going to try and scrape the surface of the mountain of research done into robotic engineering, because it’ll only tell me I’m wrong. Comic Book science it is.

(Why is that man a Supervillain, Mommy? Because he fell into a vat of toxic waste, dear.)

(Obviously.)

This is my overly convoluted way of saying that I’ve finally uploaded “Small Town Super Nobody” Chapter 3: In Which a Boy Almost Has a Talk with His Dad.

3. In Which a Boy Almost Has a Talk with His Dad

And, to fully immerse yourself in Chapter 3, here is an equally pertinent link:

As to the rest, I should be done with the last three chapters in about six months.