17 October 2014

Flashback Friday: Rainbows and Unicorns

I was going to try to start doing occasional Throwback Thursday posts, but yesterday I got called in to work early and didn't get time. So instead, here's Flashback Friday, in which I will post old drawings of mine.

Some of these, like this week's, are really going to make me cringe. But I think it's useful to look back at old work, especially for me, because I have a tendency to not see the progress I'm making the more I practice. Looking at these really old pieces makes that progress obvious.

I don't now how old this particular piece is, but if I had to guess I'd say I was maybe twelve or thirteen when I drew it. I'll dig out the original later and see if I might have dated it somewhere (I made a book of old drawings for a second year creative writing class about a million years ago -- aka the early 90s -- then photographed that book maybe seven or eight years ago, so I have quite a few terrible old drawings around).

Anyway, here's a lovely crayon image of a unicorn, a pegasus, and a rainbow. Because I was a tween girl once, and even if I was a tomboy I also liked unicorns and rainbows and sometimes even sparkly things.

15 October 2014

Writing Wednesday: End of an Era

Okay, maybe "end of an era" is a tad hyperbolic, but it kind of feels like it. As some of you may know, I've been a freelance writer for many years, and my main gig, the one I could always count on, was writing for About.com. Over the years, the pay has ranged from pretty good to pretty bad, depending on the contract (there were quite a few different ones, using different ways to calculate monthly compensation) and how much web traffic I was able to generate for my articles and reviews. But I always got something for my work.

I started writing for About way back in ... er ... 2001, I think. I took on the Creative Writing for Teens site, and did a lot of work I'm really proud of (some of which I hope to edit and re-use at some point in the not-too-distant future). In 2005 the PlayStation Portable site became available, and since I was feeling a little burned out writing about writing, and had been reviewing games part time anyway, I applied. It was a brand new site, and I built it from scratch. It was fun. But if you play videogames, you know the PSP was never the success Sony had hoped, and it wasn't too long before people just weren't reading about it -- or its follow up, the PS Vita -- any more. Lucky for me, the Young Adult Books site was created in 2012, right when I was feeling most discouraged about the future of the PSP site. I applied, and got it, and once again, I built the site from nothing.

It's been tremendous fun reading, reviewing, and writing about YA books. But my contract comes up for renewal at the end of this month. About has a new (ish) owner, and I knew the contract was going to change. I expected I'd be making less money until -- one hoped -- I could build more traffic. I didn't expect my contract to not be renewed at all.

But, hey, "expect the unexpected" and all that. I'm writing for About YA Books until October 31, and then that's it. I could speculate about why my contract isn't being renewed, but I won't. About.com was good to me for 13 years or so. I'll probably apply to write for another one of their sites, though I don't expect to get the job. But you never know. I may not have a huge socila media presence (yet), but I can sling words.

In the meantime, if anyone is looking for a writer -- I know lots about books, writing, assorted forms of art, comics, videogames, nature, and all sorts of miscellanous stuff -- let me know. I'm going to need the work.

05 October 2014

Inktober Fish

In an effort to climb out of this creative slump I've fallen into (well, a slump by my standards, anyway), I'm doing Inktober, where you draw an ink drawing every day in October. You can follow my efforts on Instagram and/or Twittter if you want to (I'm anagramforink on both), but so far I've mostly done simple things (especially my two for the 2nd and 3rd days, when I got home after work too sleepy to accomplish much).

Anyway, yesterday I drew a fish I was rather happy with, though I could tell it needed more to really make it a finished drawing. Here it is, in green ink with touches of violet and silver ink, drawn with a brush (well, two brushes -- one for lines and one for washes) on watercolour paper.

This is not any particular sort of fish, just something out of my brain, that developed as I was looking at a little print of a flying fish by Charles van Sandwyk that I have on my wall next to my desk (I'd kind of like to be CvS when I grow up...). The head ornaments are loosely anglerfish-inspired, and the fins might have come from a fancy goldfish.

This afternoon I decided to scan it for a better image than the one I posted last night on Instagram, and then, well, I couldn't resist dropping it into Photoshop to play with. I knew I wanted to keep anything else I did to it subtle, so to start I just plopped in an old foxed book paper texture, then made the texture on the fish itself less opaque, which gave me this

Even this little bit of work makes it look more finished, though I still have niggling thoughts about adding some other little touch. Bubbles, maybe? Then I thought how much fun it would be to have this fish on a coffee mug, so I made a version I can use on deviantArt (where you'll find me as feynico) and other places that do POD mugs, with a white background (I might take out the signature glyph, but I also kind of like it).

In this case, I made the paper texture 100% opacity on the fish to show up better. I'm half thinking I might add some muted reds and oranges to the scales, but I'm not sure...

11 June 2014

Writing Wednesday: Plugging Away

I'm still not back to my regular writing output, but I'm determined not to stress about it anymore (dertermined, dammit!). I have been slowly working away at a story--a novella, maybe--that's going well. I'm enoying the main character and the setting, and thinking that it may be a recurring series, probably with different charaters in the same setting. Kind of like what I have planned for my Wonder Island stories (the first one, Ichneumon--the title of which I may change since it says nothing about the story if you don't know what it means--is available at the usual ebook outlets (no link at the moment, as Blogger for iPad won't let me add links)).

Anyway, "The Curator of Improbable Fossils" is somewhere under half finished. As I got closer to what I thought was the end, I realized it might work better as an alternating viewpoint story, since there are things I can't address properly from the one point of view. So I've written most of the Curator's part of the story, and now I'm transferring it out of my handwritten notebook (I don't always hand-write, but I find it helps me get un-stuck sometimes because it seems much less permanent, like I don't have to get it right).

Next, I'll write the Librarian's point of view (and maybe even type it directly into the word processor, since the Librarian is a rather more modern character than the stuffy Curator). Finally, I'll write the end. I don't know yet if the concluding parts will be alternating viewpoints, or from one or the other's point of view, or from something more omnipotent. I hope I'll know by the time I get that far.

01 June 2014

Suspending Stamp Saturday, Sort Of

I just found out that I got a table (actually, a half table) at the Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival in August. Yay! It's only a half day thing on a Sunday, but I have so very much to get done by then. Add to that the fact that I just started a part-time retail job, and retail is extra-exhausting for an introvert like me, and I just don't have time to do everything.

So, sadly, for now, I'm going to suspend my Stamp Saturday posts. Probably not entirely -- I am going to try to work on them a little at a time between other things, but those other things have to take priority for now. Rest assured, though, that I will get back to stamp stuff. I have all that wonderful material to play with, after all!

Just as a taste of the length of my to-do list, here are some of the main things on it:

  • write 8+ reviews and articles each month for Young Adult Books site, plus site maintenance and other odds and ends, and reading the books I review
  • work two or three shifts a week at video game store
  • teach letter press one evening a week (until the end of June) -- this usually takes up most of the day as I also run errands and print some things of my own while I'm in the city
  • make corrections to Fey chapter one digital files and re-print
  • scan, touch up, and letter Fey chapter two pages for posting on the web
  • lay out Fey chapter two in book form, order a proof, correct, and print
  • finish as much of Fey chapter three as possible
  • finish Art Nouveau satyr illustration and print as poster (and maybe other things)
  • make prints of dragons (first test different sizes)
  • text for Monsters mini-comic
  • scan and touch up images for Monsters mini-comic
  • make cover (possibly letterpress printed) for Monsters mini-comic
  • make fairy stickers
  • make Fey business cards and flyers
  • wrangle Wordpress so Fey site looks better
  • make myself a Fey t-shirt to wear at DCAF
  • figure out table set up and buy/make necessary stands, etc

So yeah. Whole lot to do and no time to waste. Plus, in order to be able to do my video game store job well, I need to read video gaming news and reviews so I can better help customers. And I need to decide if I'll have my novels to sell at DCAF, too, and if so, I'll have to lay out several of them for print, get and check proofs, and order copies. Probably I'll just get a few more copies of the ones I already have available in print (though one needs a cover change to match the new e-book version cover).

I think the rest of today may very well be spent scanning. I may also drop dead before I even get to August. Heh.

29 May 2014

Writing Wednesday: Back on Track… ish

Just before I sat down to write this, I found out that I got the part-time retail job I applied for. It means I'm likely to have less time for writing and drawing unless I sacrifice something else. And since I'm determined to keep writing fiction and making comics, it may be this blog that suffers. But it's only a part time job, at least for now, so maybe I'll be able to keep juggling everything else. At any rate, it'll mean being able to pay the bills every month, which is a huge relief.

But not all is lost. I've managed to write a couple more parts of the odd story I started, so I'm up to about 3500 words (hand-written, so my estimate is probably a little low). It's not a prodigious amount, but it feels good. And I'm excited to see what happens to my characters.

I've also been working on a little mini-comic or zine, with monsters reconstructed from fossils -- based on the idea that ancient peoples interpreted huge fossil bones as giants and dragons. It's pretty fun, and silly, and I hope people will like it. And of course, I'm slowly pecking away at the dragon faux natural history book. I've set a goal of November for having that done, but there are a lot of illustrations yet to do, so we'll see.

And, as if I don't have enough to do, I'm tossing around the idea of doing an occasional webcomic about being an almost-middle-aged woman working at a mall video game store. I'll have to see if I have anything interesting or funny to share from the experience first, I guess.

21 May 2014

Writing Wednesday: Nothing to See Here

How the heck is it Wednesday again already? Have I finally reached the age when time seems to kick into fast forward? Wait, slow down!

Er, anyway… I'm essentially still where I was last week. I've been trying to get myself back onto something resembling a schedule and am making slow progress. But those stories are building up in my head and if I don't get them written soon my brain will explode. Or at least that's what it feels like.

I did at least pull out all the pages of my comic Fey that I have done so I can assess where to go with that next. I'm going to have to start re-scanning and re-lettering the rest of the pages soon, as I've almost reached the end of chapter one. And, a handful more pages to draw and chapter three will be ready to scan and letter, too.

So yeah. Not much done, but I think I'm slowly crawling out of the hole of non-productivity. Or at least I hope so.