I made a thing!
So, BOUND TO ASHES is getting closer to being a final draft. Some might say that a final draft doesn't really exist, but we're using 'final' as loosely as we can. Anyway, I sent draft number six to my beta readers. (Hi, beta readers!) Just sitting back and waiting for their feedback, now. Resting on my laurels. Basking in my accomplishment. Because even if it's nowhere near being published, yet, it still feels good to have a written, re-written, and polished work under your belt. It's a good feeling.
And I made a book cover, just to brush up on my graphic design skills*, and to finally have an image for my book.
But there is no rest for the wicked, dear readers. I'm back to working on THE CHILDREN OF CADUCEUS, the sequel, right now. (You know, the book that I wrote in two months last year... it's got a sound story, but whoa, do the meaty bits need some TLC...)
So that's what's been going on this past month. Besides the usual-- wedding plans, book reading, doodling, mentally preparing myself for school again, etc.
Until next time.
* 'skills' also used loosely
Two new critters to add to the family today!
Gouache • 11"x17" • Aquabord
(I promise that's how you spell Aquabord. Trust me.)
I started this painting with no plans to make it a macaw-- or a bird at all, really. I just felt like that way was a good day for hyacinth-macaw-blue. And it was! But I didn't start painting a bird until my friends around me spoke of spirit animals, and that my friend Jennise is definitely a macaw. And thus, my subject was created for me.
I think I like gouache because it's the closest thing to digital painting. It stays where you put it, you can reanimate it with water, the colors are always bright... Mmm.
Digital • Painter X
This little guy was also done on a relative whim-- like most of my art nowadays. (Do what works for you.) I saw a post on tumblr of the happiest coyote known to man and decided he needed to be immortalized through art. And, potentially, a tattoo. (It's really just a thinly veiled excuse to do my crosshatching/scratch board technique I'm so in love with.) Click on that link-- the whole photo set is bound to make you smile. Who knew a dead snake could be so much fun? And that magpie is so judging. Have lots of fun, everyone. Until next time~
I had a few thoughts today.
(Yes, I know, thoughts-- the fabled mind activities written in lore!)
I was thumbing through my favorites folders when I came upon the Digger Omnibus Kickstarter, which was outrageously successful to no one's surprise. At the bottom, towards the end of the updates, were two videos of Ursula Vernon. I enjoyed them, but that's not the point of this-- point is, I got to thinking. (There we go with the thoughts thing again. I am on fire today.) I thought, Ursula Vernon was like me, once. In college, working on a degree, but on the side, doing what she really loves. For her I imagine it was art, and an anthropology degree. (I know these things because I'm an insatiable fangirl.) For me, an art degree and writing on the side. And I thought, Maybe she was as determined and dream-ridden as I am now. Maybe once, when she was a starry-eyed college student (ha, ha) she had dreams of being a published author. She probably had no idea that her webcomic would earn a Hugo award or have multiple successful works under her belt.
And I thought, Maybe that's what my future will be like.
I can only hope! And work hard, of course.
As you may or probably may not know, I have two books under my belt-- both unpublished, one in its 6th draft, the other in its 1st (aww, lookit da widdle baby book!) I wrote the second book in last year's NaNoWriMo and haven't touched it or even read it since then. But recently, curiosity finally struck, and I started reading it. Not to proof or edit, just to read and remember. Most of the writing memories were fresh enough for me to think, Oh yeah, this part! I remember the inspirations and process of coming up with that! Those were the days! Et cetera. But one part, one tiny scene, really stood out.
It's inconsequential. It's cute. It involves killing machine spider-robots reprogrammed to be slightly-less-murderous, performing an awkward wave at one of the characters. And this scene made me laugh. A genuine, I-wasn't-expecting-something-this-funny-or-cute laugh. A laugh as if the writing belonged to another writer. I didn't remember writing the scene, but it was apparently good enough to register a genuine response.
And then I started to cry.
I hardly ever cry from happiness, but this was one of those times. Because my writing, even on the first draft, was good enough.
I might be a 20-something college student working a retail job and pounding away on writing projects in my limited spare time, but someday, I'm going to be Ursula Vernon. Or, you know, the Maranda Cromwell version. That one tiny scene gave me affirmation that I can make it, and I have a lot of time to get there.
I hope that when/if I'm a famous author/artist, I'm as humble and easygoing as Neil Gaiman. (And that I'm over my dumb habit of putting the I before the E.)
His book reading and signing at the Town Hall in Seattle was glorious. His reading voice: velvet. He answered the questions with good humor and honesty and allowed us a glimpse into his brilliant brain.
I had fun, to put it simply.
And when it came time to have my things signed, I handed him the painting seen above. He exclaimed, "My dog!" ...But read it again in an English accent. DOG! And bees! And I had mentioned that I tweeted him earlier asking if he would accept gifts. He replied that he was glad he said yes to that.
Then he signed my kindle case and book and said, "Come here, give me a hug." And you don't say no to that. I don't care who you are.
And you know when you're so nervous, or scared, or generally just hyper-aware of your surroundings, everything goes in slow-motion? Yeah. That. I experienced wobbly-knee syndrome and perpetual-smiles for the first time. (Okay, second. Being proposed to did that, too. Or maybe it was just the mead... Kidding babe, love ya. ♥)
Anyway, I'm off to write. Gotta capitalize on the residual inspiration from yesterday.
I've been seriously pursuing writing for a few years. Over this time, I've fallen more and more in love with it. Yes, for the obvious reasons: it's satisfying to create something, I love designing characters, and reader reactions and feedback are solid gold. There is no better feeling than writing the last couple words of a 90,000 word manuscript. But let me tell you why I really love writing and why I continue to do it to this day.
Yeah. They're usually annoying, right? But every once in a while you'll make a typo that you fall in love with. Like in my previous blog post, "Contain your excrement" is way funnier than "Contain your excitement." And it was totally by accident. A Freudian-esque slip of the fingers, if you will.
Take this for instance.
I'm writing a scene in which the main characters find themselves trapped, taken captive by an opposing force. They break out and take down a guard to demand the whereabouts of the rest of their company. The guard is pinned by unreal force-- a superhuman amount of pressure on his back, holding him down, he's sure he's going to die. The main characters almost get him to talk and are resorting to violence out of desperation. If the opposing force catches them, they're sure to get a bullet in the head. And me, on the other side of the keyboard, I go to type, "Jules moves past Ashton to talk to the guard." Or something to that effect. And you know what my hands do instead? "Jules moves pasta." Pasta. So her friends have a guard captive, crushing his ribs on the concrete floor, demanding that he expel his intel, when they turn around to see Jules holding a colander full of noodles.
"What? I'm hungry."
So there you have it. This is probably about 75% of why I keep writing. Goofy typos and my mind running with it.
We all gotta keep going somehow, right?
Yup, drawings. I know, right? Try to contain your excitement! Totally almost wrote 'excrement' right there, and yeesh, what a typo that would have been. Aaaanyway.
Left image features Ashton and dog Punk, characters from my book. (Which at this point might not ever be written completely, ever. Seriously, I've re-written this hunk-o-junk like four times.) But check out them dog feet. All six of 'em.
Lately I've been pretty addicted to the draw-erase-draw-erase technique. Like scratch board that works in both directions. The rhythm is so... perfect. Giving and taking away marks like a benevolent art god. What do you mean, 'power trip'? I just love how it makes everything seem so dense and three-dimensional. And black and white art is always stylish. Always.
And admittedly at this point I'm trying to write enough to fit the giant space this tall-ass image has created for me. Thanks a lot, Ash. You're a pal. A seven-foot-tall-pal. Punk, this is partially your fault, too.
Oh and you can click the image if you want to make him even taller.
Tiefling butt! Gasp! (How lewd.)
Title of this piece: "Your Inner Fire". Alternate title: "Shameful Excuse to Draw Fire". Some of the scratch board techniques I mentioned earlier are here, too, but now in violent color.
Fire is one of those things you don't really have to know how to draw, but if you get the general shapes kind of right, people will fill in the blanks for you. Because, think about it, fire never holds still. When you look at a photo of fire for too long, it stops looking like fire, because it's not flickering and fidgeting like fire does. So what I'm saying is that I know how to get away with crap like that because reasons.
Man, does this artist draw nothing but naked Tieflings? I mean come on.
"Somehow Not Sincere" was the first piece that I really tried out the scratch board technique. Love at first sight, let me tell you. My favorite part is doing deep black things that are super shiny-smooth, like those horns. One wiggly line tells you the texture and color of the object without even trying. Way to go, wiggly line, you're an inspiration. You're doing god's work. Or something.
Even looking at this piece makes me want to do the scratch board thing more. Which is kind of dangerous because it took 100% of my artistic drive to finish the fiery thing up there, so, yeah. Such is life.
Well, there you go. I had to dust off this blog sometime. Hope it was good. Peace be with you, denizens of Internetia.
Good golly miss Molly it has been a while since I've posted. It's been pretty crazy over here, folks. New job, three fine arts classes all one right after the other, re-writing my book, waving my arms at my dog in hopes he'll understand me more clearly. It's a charmed life, what can I say.
More activity in the summer. Pinky promise.
"Very Quietly in a Large Empty Room" Painter X, 8"x10"
When your whole life is a war,
and more battles are fought against yourself than the enemy,
and your own talents turn against you,
it takes a certain type of courage to win.
I am, by any measure of the word, a newbie. I'm only 22 years old for crying out loud. Aren't I too young to be having existential, "What do I want to do when I grow up" crises? I think so. Ideally, I'd be under the impression that I have my whole life in front of me to choose what I want out of it. But, me being me, I can't seem to think that way. I feel lost most of the times. And the times when I don't feel lost, when I have fleeting, beautiful visions of what my life should look like, I can do nothing to achieve it. I'm too bogged down with previous obligations. Pets, school, work, house, the works. I can trim the excess branches that are trying to grow in the wrong direction, but I'm afraid of change. Even though change will do me a world of good.
This fact is underlined by last night. My mother's book club reviewed draft 2.5 (or something) of my book-in-progress, BOUND TO ASHES. I used to consider it a whole book, but now it's "book-in-progress," because of last night.
Dawn, a dear friend of my whole life, said to me, "At first I was shaking in my boots (even though I was wearing Mary Janes) about giving you critique. I felt like I was either going to be the hatchet or the chainsaw."
That, alone, tells you what went down. They suggested more of this, less of that, standard book review stuff. Then Dawn said at one point, "Everything up until chapter 6 is just back story. I think you should cut that off and start on chapter 6."
W-what?! Chop off like a third of the book?! But... so much work... so many good scenes... To the book club, my book is an unfinished novel waiting to be finished. It's not the concrete building I have in my mind. I got so close to that building, got so familiar with the bricks and mortar and could trace the outlines of all the support beams, but I lost sight of the building as a whole. I failed to see the construction flaws and the exposed insulation. Metaphor aside, my whole world was shaken up after that meeting. Like rebuilding after an earthquake. The frame stands, but the bricks and concrete and drywall have fallen away because of builders who didn't know what they were doing. (Ok, the metaphor sticks, but shut up, I like metaphors.)
After the earthquake, I surveyed the building's remains. I can still salvage parts. I can still scrounge up enough mortar to repair certain walls. But whole supports and ceilings have caved in, and those will have to be rebuilt from scratch.
And you know... I plan on it.
Because even though I sometimes think I can't dedicate enough time to my writing, I'm going to re-write my book until it's the best darn thing anyone's ever read.
Or close enough. Shoot for the moon, right?