31 August 2011

Writing Wednesday: Little by Little

I don't really have much to report. I've mostly being trying to get caught up and ahead on freelance (which is to say, reviews and non-fiction) writing lately, before I start teaching (Intro Letterpress starts next Thursday!). The requirements for my main gig change starting September (which is tomorrow!), and though I'll have more to do each month, I'll also get paid more, so I'm quite pleased about that.

As far as fiction goes, I haven't written much, at least not as Niko Silvester. As Calliope Strange I've finished chapter 4 of Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective, and have realized that the story is not going to be wrapped up by chapter 5. I always intended it to be a series of short novels (a series of serials?), but it looks like this one is going to be a little longer than I originally planned. Maybe not a lot longer, but I'm not sure yet.

I've also been writing a little as Nic Silver. I've edited the the first two parts of Brother Thomas's Angel and am just about ready to write the next part. I needed to make sure it was really necessary (it is) and from whose point of view it would be (Simon's), and what exactly needs to happen (more time in the police station, alas, and Dr Sutter will make a return appearance). I also have a story outline (I hesitate to say "short story" as Nic can be a little long-winded) (yes, I am talking about my alter ego in the third person, but no, I am not crazy) (it's just clearer for me to think about my different writing styles that way). And chapter two of Newborn is about to burst from my head. I have an interesting experiment in mind for launching this book, but more on that later, when I have a better idea of how I'm going to approach it.

And speaking of Newborn, here's the latest version of the cover. I think it may be very nearly done.

30 August 2011

Monday Mailbox (4), On Tuesday (Again)

Nothing actually arrived in the mail this week (well, nothing bookish), but I did pick this up from the "donate to breast cancer research" table at my bank:

The Renegade Hunter: A Rogue Hunter Novel (Argeneau Rogue Hunter 3)

It's classified (rather to my surprise) simply as "fiction" on the spine, but I'd say it fits better in the urban fantasy or paranormal romance category. I'm not really a romance reader, but the similarity of paranormal romance and urban fantasy (in subject matter, if not in style) has tempted me on occasion. The last one I tried, though, I didn't get more than a couple chapters into and I gave up. And it was a struggle to get that far. And I am super stubborn about finishing even books I don't really like (every now and then, I even end up liking them in the end). It was a case of really great back cover copy masking a truly, truly mediocre book. It really does show that good marketing can sell just about anything. Usually, I read the first page or so before buying a book, but it was on the library sale shelf and only 50 cents. Well, at least I supported the library.

I'm very tempted to link it here, so you can see how the back cover blurb made it seem really funny. And I could see where it was meant to be funny. Only it wasn't. Also, the writer used the word "cybersex" way too many times in the first few pages. Does anyone even say "cybersex" anymore? I don't want to be mean, though. I bet the writer has lots of fans who find her hilarious, and maybe it's just a case of me not liking that particular brand of humor. Or logical inconsistencies. Oh, hell, this is the book:

Must Love Dragons (Immortally Sexy, Book 2)

Unlike the book above, The Renegade Hunter was a decent read. Not an "add this author to my faves and immediately track down everything she's written" good, but definitely "pick up more in the series if I find them in a charity sale or at the library" sort of read. Good bulk reading with a few interesting twists (sci-fi vampires, for example--not totally original, and not really even necessary to the plot, but a nice effort at making vampires a little bit new). There were two things that really bugged me, though. one was that there was never any reason given for why the bad guy was after the main character in the first place. After she meets the love interest, there's good reason, but a line or two explaining why he was after her before that, when she just happened to be in a fenced and guarded and difficult-to-get-into house rather than her usual not-guarded-at-all apartment where she had been mere hours before.

The second thing that bugged me, even more than the first, was that we find out at the end that the love interest has been declared innocent of the crime he was accused of and on the run for for fifty years, but we are never told what actually happened! We know why he was accused and what people had thought he had done, but at the end the two main characters are told he's absolved and he'll be told shortly what really happened, and then the book ends. What! I wanted to know too!

But maybe that's in the next book. If so, it's a cheap trick to get the reader to read the next volume. Anyway. End of rant. Aside from that, the writing was competent, the plot decent, and the characters enjoyable. Good pulpy bedtime reading, in other words.

21 August 2011

A Couple of Covers

I haven't got anything exciting to report, alas, though I have a lot of things on the go. My alter ego, Calliope Strange, did finish writing chapter 4 of Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective, though, and it's now in edits. Here's the cover:

And my other alter ego, Nic Silver, has been working on a new urban fantasy that's probably going to be a trilogy. But first the first book, then we'll see. I posted a cover mock-up in an earlier post, and I've been playing around with some other ideas. Things to make it more obviously urban fantasy, mostly. The painting in the image is by Franz Marc, and German Expressionist whose work I have recently fallen in love with. He was a painter and printmaker in the late 19th/early 20th century who was (rather obviously) influenced by Cubism and Futurism. Anyway, this is the current version, but it still needs some tweaking:

Yeah, the blacks in the photo are too green, and the type needs something yet.

16 August 2011

Monday Mailbox (3), On Tuesday

I meant to write this yesterday, but it's just as well I ran out of time, because a new book arrived today. Here's what's new this past week or so.

Book Girl and the Famished Spirit

As I speculated last week, this one did ship separately from the first in the series, even though I purchased them in the same order. I'm very excited to start reading them, but first I want to finish the book on the Natural History Museum (London) that I'm currently reading.

This is a book I got because of a random library book card I found in a box of miscellaneous stuff the NSCAD library was disposing of. You can read about the card and how it intrigued me on my bone blog, where I'll also post more about it, now that I have the book in my hands.

12 August 2011

Writing Implements

I've been puttering about at various things without much exciting to show for it yet, so here are some pictures I drew today to illustrate an article I'm writing for one of my freelance gigs.

10 August 2011

Would You Read This Book?

Su just wants to sit in a dark corner for a quiet drink when she spots a newborn vampire across the bar. He's confused, and he's starting to draw attention to himself. And he's hot.

So Su decides to give him a few pointers. Then she realizes that the reason this baby vamp is wandering around without a protective escort is that she killed his parent vamp earlier that night.

Now Su feels responsible. A newborn vampire is helpless until he regains his memories and learns how to act like a vampire. Su knows enough about vamps to be able to teach him that. But Su has her own problems. She doesn't have much of a memory, either, and while she's not a vampire, she's not exactly human.

Su doesn't know what she is, and she doesn't have a kindly stranger in a bar to tell her.

09 August 2011

Small Progress

I spent most of the day on freelance writing assignments, but I did get a little bit done on the next Porthole Specimen book. Yesterday I sewed the text block, then realized I'd forgotten to do the endpapers first.

Depending on the style of endpapers one is doing, they don't necessarily have to be done before sewing--for example, it's very common to just attach them by pasting a narrow strip along the spine edge and adhering them to the first and last pages in the text block. But I like to do what's called "made endpapers" when I go to the effort of sewing on cords, as I am with this book.

Made endpapers are pasted to the first and last sections over the entire leaf. In other words, one side of the endpaper will eventually be pasted to the board, as with most endpaper styles, and the other side is pasted back-to back with the end leaf of the text block, so you end up with a free endpaper ("free" as in not attached to the board) that's decorative paper on one side and text block paper on the other. If that makes any sense. I'll try to remember to photograph the endpaper so you can see what I mean, once it's dry.

Anyway, you generally attach made endpapers (ie. you make them) before sewing, or even piercing for sewing. But I forgot. It is possible to do it after sewing, it's just much more likely that one or the other of the papers will cockle and ruin the whole thing. But I've managed it before, so I gave it a shot. They're drying under pressure now, with tins wrapped in waxed paper between them to (hopefully) keep everything flat and to keep things from sticking to things they shouldn't stick to.

And that's about as far as I'm come with that. Once the endpapers are dry, I'll cut the cover boards, and lace them on, then deal with leather. I'm going to have to sharpen my knives before I attempt to pare, and paring is definitely going to be necessary as any lumps show up that much more on a tiny book.

08 August 2011

Monday Mailbox (2)

Not much in the mail this week, as finances are tight this summer. But here's one thing I got:

Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

I ordered the sequel at the same time, but this one arrived separately, though the website says they both shipped. Hmm. Hoping they shipped in separate mailers, and not that one got forgotten.

I also got some comics from a Kickstarter campaign I supported ages ago. I don't have a photograph, but you can read about them on their website:
And that's it for my exciting mail from the past week.

07 August 2011

OsteoSophy Business/Care Cards

I can't seem to concentrate on words today (I suspect too much mucous and not enough sleep), so instead of finishing an article or documenting the adventures of Aeryn Daring and Huxley Grave, I'm working on some craft stuff. Specifically, my copper skull jewellery and the bits and pieces that go with it.

I want to include basic care information with each piece, so people will know what to do when their jewellery starts to tarnish and how to fix it, or even prevent it, and I'd like to have a business card for OsteoSophy, too. It seems to make sense to combine the two--business card design on one side, care info on the other. So I've come up with four different (some only slightly different) designs for the front. I may also include more contact info on the back. If I ever get part of my website set up for these, I'll change the URL on the front to that instead of the Etsy shop.

For the care info, I'll print it on "natural" parchment bond paper and laminate it to the white business card, so it will be a different paper on the back. (This could go awry terribly, but I have laminated different papers before, so it should be OK, unless the glue seeps through and makes the ink bleed, because I sadly don't own a dry mount press.)

Anyway, I'd love some feedback on these. Is there one that especially stands out?

06 August 2011

Assorted Stuff

I haven't blogged much because I'm sick, and it's an effort just to get though the "must do" tasks each day, but I did want to say, "I'm not dead."

Things in progress but without much to show yet:
  • Chapter 4 of Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective is coming along. I'm working on that today and hope to get at least half done.
  • I've started another "porthole specimen" book, this time in a brass-coloured tin lined in red velvet. I discovered that the big erasers I used to used for making stamps are no longer made (or are at least really hard to find), so I may have to buy a block of the stuff they actually make for printmaking, as regular-size erasers are just a little too small for what I want.
  • I'm getting antsy to be working on prints again. Lots of ideas and no energy or time due to this cold. Sooooon.
  • More copper skull jewellery is coming soon. I have four ready to cut, but have had to set them aside to get actual paying work done (now, if they'd start selling like hotcakes, I'd have a good reason to work on them instead).
  • There are probably about six other things I've forgotten.
I also found out I'll be teaching 3 multi-week classes and one weekend workshop for Extended Studies at NSCAD this fall. Full courses are: Introduction to Letterpress, Youth Letterpress, and Pop-Up Books. Weekend workshop is Pop-Up Cards. Go here for more info.

And finally, I put the Nautilus Specimen book up for sale on Etsy. I almost put the price much higher, as I'd be quite happy to keep it. But then I have bills to pay, and I can always make another one for myself later.

03 August 2011

August Giveaway: Mini Print + eBook + ?

So I've decided to have a giveaway here on my blog, every month. It'll run from the first of the month (or whenever I get it posted) to the last day of the month, and to enter all you have to do is leave a comment (see the end of the post for more specifics). I do hope you'll pass this on to your friends via Twitter, Facebook, etc, too.

Also, later today I'll be putting up a coupon code for a free short story download on my Facebook page. "Like" my page and you'll be able to get the code. The story will be available all month, and then next month a new coupon for a new story will go up. This month, the coupon will be for "Hollow Bones," which is the first story in the Frisland series of interconnected stories. If you stick around long enough, you could get the whole series free!

So, the prizes for this month's blog giveaway. . .

First, you'll get one of these:

Second, you'll get a choice of one of my YA/middle grade eBooks. Either The Coming of the Fairies

It is the summer of 1941, and fifteen-year-old Morgan Reilly has just moved to Newfoundland from New York to be with her father, an officer in the US Army stationed in St. John’s. Morgan adores fairies and has a collection of Victorian children’s books, so when she meets John O’Brien, nephew of her new landlords, she is intrigued by his story of being taken by the Good People when he was a child.

As the war escalates, Morgan and John are sent to the small community of Ferryland to stay with John's grandparents. It was there that John says the Good People kidnapped him, and soon after they arrive, he becomes withdrawn and strange. Morgan is more concerned with her own problems to worry too much about John--her father may soon be called into active duty if the US enters the war, and her brother has run away to England and joined the Royal Air Force.

Then Morgan has a fairy encounter of her own and it is up to John to find and rescue her. The Good People of Newfoundland are not the pretty winged beings of Victorian picture books, and Morgan is in real danger.

Or Milk Sister

Maddy has always been able to see things that other people can't, but she didn't know it might have something to do with the mother who died giving birth to her. Now her father has decided to move back to Scotland, and for the first time in her life, Maddy has a chance to learn about her mother's family and the strange circumstances surrounding her own birth.

Maddy was born on a fairy hill--the same hill that the the 17th century writer Robert Kirk wrote about in his book The Secret Common-Wealth, and just like Kirk, Maddy's mother may not have died there. Like Kirk, she may still be alive, living in the Otherworld, and Maddy may even be able to see her.

If Maddy can rescue her mother from the fairy hill, maybe her father won't be so sad all the time. But what if her mother doesn't want to be rescued? And who is the mysterious dark-haired boy who calls Maddy "milk sister?"

Third, you'll get some other little goodie that I'll decide on later, because I like to do things in threes and I like surprises.

So to enter, leave a comment saying which of the two books you'd like and include some way for me to contact you. And don't forget the free coupon on my Facebook page that'll appear later today. And you can follow me on Twitter @anagramforink. Please share with your friends--everyone likes free stuff, right?