27 March 2011

Artist-in-Residence and New Card Design

I forgot a couple of things in yesterday's post. First, here's the poster for the artist-in-residence, Jenner-Brooke Berger:

And, my latest card design, which you may recognize from the cover design I posted a few posts ago:

It'll be two colours, but I'm going to hand-roll the ink with a brayer so I can get a sort of mottled effect something like that in the above image (which was done in Photoshop, of course).

26 March 2011

Letterpress & Bookbinding Update

Hey, look, a post that's not about writing! First, here's the finished poster I wrote about last time (this one's not quite registered right, which is why I still have it):

So lately I've been teaching an Intro to Letterpress class, focused primarily on metal type, for Extended Studies at NSCAD. We just finish week 4 of 7 (Thursday evenings) and I think it's going great. Everyone seems to be getting the hang of things, and we're at the point I like best--when everyone is working away on their own and I can drift around the shop and help here and there and advise as I'm needed, but I don't have to speechify in front of them and I'm not running around like a madwoman trying to be everywhere at once.

One project I'm having them do is setting a page--it can be anything they like, long or short, big type or small--that will go in a class book. We'll print lots of copies so that they each get 2 or 3 to take home (and I get a few, too), and everyone will have a nice souvenir of the class. With luck and time management, they'll each have a small project or two of their own as well (in fact, a couple of them already do).

Of course, I have forgotten my camera every single class. And I forgot my camera earlier this week when I did a four-hour bookbinding workshop for a foundation print and paint class. I showed them how to make a simple accordion book with a hard cover, that they can use for the small prints they're doing in class. And because it's so simple, it's also very customizable, so hopefully they'll be able to make them to their own specifications for other projects down the road. At the very least, I inspired several of them to run out and sign up for a whole credit class in book arts. Maybe one or two of them even signed up for my letterpress class.

For things coming up, I'll be helping an artist-in-residence (joint project between NSCAD's Dawson Printshop and the Eyelevel Gallery) to print some posters next week. It could be very hectic as time is short now. I also have a job printing diplomas, but time is also getting short on that and there are apparently some hang-ups on the design end of things (which I have no part in--I'm just the printer), so it could still fall through. They'll have till the end of next week to finalize everything or else there won't be time to process plates, print, dry and deliver to the other side of the country. I'm still hopeful that it will go ahead, but if not, that's how it goes.

And finally, more classes. Extended Studies at NSCAD has asked me to teach the Intro to Letterpress again in May/June (info here), since we had such a good turnout this time. And I'll be teaching the Intro to Letterpress credit class in the fall (info here) so Joe can do two Intro Book Arts classes in hopes of filling up an Intermediate Book Arts in the spring. It'll be my first credit class, but I hope the first of many. I'm very excited and hope I get enough registered for it to go ahead.

And that's it for me in letterpress and books this week. Next post should be on natural history things around my neighbourhood.

23 March 2011

Writing Wednesday: A Week Already?

Wow. That week went by fast, and I managed not to post any non-writing posts, too. Sorry about that. I even have non-writing things to talk about. Soon, really.

So in writing news, on a long drive home one day I realized that "Brother Thomas's Angel" is not finished yet. It needs at least another long part, this time narrated by the angel. I know most of what needs to happen, and I've almost got the angel's voice down. But I have not managed to write any of it yet. Still, today/tomorrow's to do list is almost all crossed off, so I hope to make a really good start on that in the morning, if I don't get to it tonight (fading fast now, though, and thinking about bed with a book and then zzzzz).

I also heard the latest on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award late yesterday, and The Secret Common-Wealth didn't make it to the next round. Oddly, it's kind of a relief. I have other plans for it that I can now carry on with.

And finally, as I write this "Three Variations on 'Sleeping Beauty'"--a mini-collection of three short fairy tales that together barely equal the word count of a hefty short story--is processing at Smashwords and awaiting approval in the Kindle store. The iBookstore will follow eventually. I'll post links here next week, probably.

Oh, and speaking of iBookstore, "Come-From-Away" and "Burnt Offerings" are both available there now, with "Hollow Bones" to follow shortly. I don't have a direct link, but go to iBooks on your device, and search for "Silvester" in the iBookstore and they'll come up at the top.

And one final thing--really--I have an official Niko-Silvester-the-writer page on Facebook now. If you go and "like" it, I'll be posting free story coupons soonish. I'd like to offer free stories in exchange for a review on Smashwords or wherever.

16 March 2011

Writing Wednesday: Novella Length!

Heh. In case you were worried, this post is not going to be novella length. Actually, nothing is novella length at the moment, but the story I've been working on for . . . a month? maybe, is getting pretty close.

According the the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), to which I do not belong, the official lengths for stories is as follows:

  • short story: less than 7500 words
  • novellette: 7500 to 17, 000 words
  • novella: 17, 500 to 40, 000 words
  • novel: more than 40, 000 words
Personally (and I am aware I am currently firmly in the "nobody" category as far as writers go), I prefer the term "long story" to "novelette" because it's more obviously related to "short story" which it is essentially just a longer version of. I'm also pretty sure most other bodies with any claim to being "official" specify that a novel should be at least 50, 000 words unless it's YA, in which case it can be shorter. But what do I know?

Anyway, there's no real reason for this rambling, except that I just finished transcribing "Brother Thomas's Angel" from my longhand notebooks, and it's just under 13, 500 words. So approaching, though not yet at, novella length.

But the thing is, though the story is finished in the sense that it has a beginning, middle and end, the characters grow somewhat and the central problem in their lives has reached some resolution, there is still more to tell. The problem that *seems* to be the central one (but isn't, exactly, though it is a big one) does not get resolved. And I think the secondary main character (the angel of the title, who may or may not really be an angel) needs to narrate.

So the story is finished for now. Until I start writing the next bit. But I think I need to write some more of Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective first.

But before I do that, I have an article about anime and folklore to finish up and hand in.

And for anyone wanting to read about bookbinding and letterpress and the beasties in my woods, I apologize. I'll post about the stuff later in the week.

12 March 2011

Writing Post Not On Wednesday Again: Finished, Sort Of

So this time I didn't write about writing on Wednesday because I didn't have much to report. I had a rather unproductive week, I'm afraid. But since then I've finished the longhand draft of "Brother Thomas's Angel."

Incidentally, I don't really recommend writing longhand. Some writers, like Neil Gaiman, for example, write a longhand draft first and then do initial edits as they transcribe that draft to a word-processed one. That's what I always used to do. Until I had to write some stuff under deadline and simply didn't have time to do it twice. And I discovered that I don't write any differently when I compose on the computer. But besides simply writing speed, there's also physical health to think of. I essentially have permanent tendonitis in my right wrist from many, many years of madly scribbling longhand. I've been writing since I could hold a pencil and make the shapes of letters, and it's hard on the bod. My wrist has a noticeable bulge on the top where the tendonitis has formed a ganglion. I could have surgery, but it doesn't bother me much most of the time. When I refrain from doing everything longhand. Typing has its own problems, of course, but they're generally not as bad, and are more easily preventable.

But anyway. A draft of my latest story is done and I'm working on transcribing it. I'm not really sure how long it is, but I'm almost at 2000 words, and I still have a long way to go. It may be a novella.

On the print front, I submitted a few stories to magazines recently and got a couple rejections back (not unexpected ones). I'm still waiting to hear back about two stories.

And in ebooks, I haven't put anything else up yet, but I'm working on covers for a trio of short stories based on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale and for part one of Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective (the serial novel based on my in-limbo comic The Fabulous Forays of Aeryn Daring). The individual parts of Aeryn will probably get simple typographic covers and then when the whole novel goes up it'll have a more elaborate cover and will also be available in print from White Raven Press. And it'll be under a pseudonym. Not because I am trying to hide authorship, but because of the way it fits into a larger body of ongoing work that includes printmaking, metalwork, bookbinding and whatever else.

And I think that's it for fiction. For non-fiction, you can read my latest article for Mania, "Laputa, Atlantis and Floating Islands: Ancestors of Ghibli's Castle in the Sky," here.

08 March 2011

Books and Letterpress: Writing, Poster, Class

Writing Notebook
I recently used up all the pages in my writing notebook and found myself in need of another one (if anyone's curious, I usually have three or four separate notebooks on the go for different things, plus at least one sketchbook for drawing--currently I have a fiction notebook, a less-used non-fiction notebook, a bookbinding notebook, and a notebook for one of my side blog projects).

As a bookbinder, I of course wanted to make one. Usually I have several on hand, but none of my current stock was a good size or structure. I like simple, utilitarian hardcovers within a general size range for my writing notebooks. Finally, after digging around, I found one that would do in a bunch of sewn-but-not-covered unfinished projects. It's a little smaller and a fair bit thinner than I would have liked, but with no pages left and a story half-done and insisting on being written longhand (not something I do that much anymore, as my gimpy right hand/wrist can't take it), I couldn't be too picky. I ended up starting to write in it before it was done, anyway.

I have a small stash of those lovely craftsman-esque brass moths that I haven't done anything with (partly because I don't like selling things that aren't all my own work), so even though it would get away from the entirely utilitarian, I added one to the front. The cloth is a polyester (I think) bookcloth that looks like silk, with just a touch of coppery bronze in the black. For endpapers, I used a burgundy with a gold pattern that reminded me of William Morris's work.

My latest print job was a poster for an Art Gallery of Nova Scotia event. It's two colours in hand-set wood and metal type, and meant to look like an old boxing poster. Here's the fist colour on, about to be run through for the second colour:

And here's the type inked up in red for colour number two:

And finally, the Dawson Printshop's Vandercook Universal I proof press with the red type and the paper about to go through its second run:

I don't have any images of the final product, but I did keep a copy for my portfolio. It's still in the shop, but when I bring it home I'll try to remember to post it here. This was a fun job, despite some frustrating and time-consuming difficulties with the first press run, and the client was very happy with the results.

Introduction to Letterpress
And finally for this past week, I taught the first of seven evening classes for NSCAD Extended Studies in Intro to Letterpress (metal type). It's another great group and I don't think I bored any of them too awfully much with my babbling. Next week they'll be setting their own type and from there on it's setting and printing all the way, with as little talking as I can get away with. I didn't think to take any pictures, but maybe I'll manage it this week.

Oh, there was one other thing. Several of my art prints (some litho, some intaglio) have been in a show in Brooklyn called Retrofuturology. The show ended recently, but I got an email from one of the organizers, saying their group wanted to buy the little Steam Ichthyosaur. This means I have only one left for sale (plus two that will be bound in an artist's book). The other three pieces should be on their way homeward soon.

04 March 2011

Writing (Not) Wednesday (Anymore): Angel and ABNA

Not counting the last few days, since B is home and distracting (sorry, dear, but you are), I've been writing pretty regularly, pecking away at a new story based on an old idea titled "Brother Thomas's Angel." It was originally going to be an urban fantasy short story, but I'm not quite sure what it is now. Except not finished. It's turned out to be rather longer than I had expected, and I've been writing it longhand (not the best idea in the world, but I like writing in bed), so it's also taking longer than expected to finish. But it's getting there and it feels good to be getting close to done. It'll feel even better when I have a new, finished story in my hands.

And a bit of a surprise the other day. Just over a month ago, I entered my short YA (or maybe middle-grade?) novel The Secret Common-Wealth in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, in the YA category. I meant to go back and write a better pitch, but completely forgot about it, until a few days ago I got an email saying the 1000 entries from each category had been chosen to advance to round two and I should look at the official pdf and see if I'm on it. I entered A Madness of Kentaurs last year and didn't get past the first round, so I expected the same this year. Much to my surprise, my name was on the list. Round two is over in another month-ish and will be judged on an excerpt (round one was judged solely by the pitch). My plan is to forget I entered again. The contest is, of course, to Amazon's benefit because you enter my getting a Createspace account, and every participant gets a coupon for  free proof from Createspace, in case you might want to self-publish via POD. It's also to Penguin's benefit, because they can use the process to sort through some slush and find them something (or perhaps more than one something) good to publish. The "prize," besides the honour of winning, is a standard publishing contract with Penguin. Curiously, the summary of the standard contract made no mention at all of electronic rights, which are a big deal right now what with e-books becoming ever more popular.

And finally, speaking of e-publishing, I've got another short story up (or it will be very soon) at Smashwords and Kindle via White Raven Press. This time it's "Hollow Bones," and the cover looks like this:

That's one of my linocuts on the cover.