04 January 2013

Corvus corax Sketch

Yesterday's entry in my new, giant natural history journal was the usual weather report and list of beasties in the yard. We had a new visitor, though: a raven.

Although we have a lot of ravens in the area, the closest they usually get to the yard is flying high overhead. For a few weeks in the fall they would gather in the evening in the woods just beyond out property line -- I could hear them gossiping and saw them fly over, but that was it.

But yesterday one stopped by to check out the seeds I put out and stayed long enough to pick some of them out of the snow with her enormous beak. She didn't stay long, though, because our resident crows, which are much, much more skittish than city crows, saw me watching from the window and flew off in a flurry of wings. That made the raven nervous enough to fly away, though she hadn't seemed concerned herself that I was watching.

This sketch isn't from life. I ran to get my camera, but when I came back was when the crows decided to cause a fuss, so I didn't manage a photo. Instead, I found a picture online that matched more or less the raven I saw. It's a pretty rough, quick sketch, but I think I succeeded in capturing, at least a little bit, the range of textures in the bird's feathers.

And, as promised, here's what the book looked like in its original  installation. Not very good photographs, I'm afraid, but I hope you get the idea.

03 January 2013

Natural History Journal: Days 1 & 2

I don't really have much to show for my new natural history journal in a giant blank book project yet, but a few people have expressed interest, so here you go.

Here's the book itself, which some of you have already seen on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It's big. Next time I think of it, I'll dig out a photo of the project I originally made it for, which was an installation for a wood type letterpress class I took in 2007 I think.

Here's a shot of page one. It doesn't say a whole lot. Just some comments on the weather (cold and snowy) and a list of birds spotted in the yard.

And here's a close-up of the blue jay feather drawing. As you can see, I need a lot of drawing practice. But that's one of the points of this exercise.

01 January 2013

Looking Back, Peering Ahead

One of last year's beginning-of-the-year goals was to blog more regularly. I did okay with that, up until mid-year, when everything fell apart. In fact, that's about when my fiction-writing goals evaporated, too. I'm not even sure why. Possibly I was just trying to do too much at once, as usual, and got overwhelmed.

But even though I didn't really meet many of my 2012 goals, I can't really call the year a failure, either. Here are some of the things I accomplished in 2012:

  • I wrote three novels, a short story, and a novella. I was aiming for four novels and ten or twelve short pieces, so I didn't meet the goal. But still, three novels! Two of them still need editing and transcribing, but the bulk is done.
  • I printed some new letterpress and linocut pieces, finished up a few bookbinding projects, and came up with a new notebook product (at the last minute for the holiday craft fair!) that I'm really pleased with. Again, I didn't meet my goal of finishing up all in-progress projects before starting new ones, but I did get a few things off my worktable.
  • I spent more time walking in the woods. Though I didn't get in as much exercise-oriented walking as I wanted to, I renewed my love of simply wandering and seeing what there is to see. As a consequence, I felt renewed and refreshed creatively, even though my writing production crashed halfway through the year.
  • I changed jobs. Sort of. Though I really loved my job writing about videogames for About.com, I've been wanting to get back into something more writing or fiction or book oriented for a few years. I've applied for a few other About sites, and even made it to the evaluation stage once (the process of getting hired at About is fairly long and involves writing a lot of samples, but it's worth it). Finally, this fall, I made the switch to writing about books, and I'm now the "Guide" to Young Adult Books. I'm still editing the videogames super-newsletter, though, so I get to keep up on that stuff, too.

Those are the biggest accomplishments, I think. So on to my goals for 2013.

  • I'm going to attempt, again, to blog more regularly. I've just installed Blogger for iOS on my iPad, which I hope will help with that, since I've been doing more and more work on my tablet since I got it. My two pen-name author blogs will probably only get infrequent updates still, but this blog, and my bone blog should start seeing some more posts.
  • Again, I'm going to aim to finish more in-progress projects. I have plans to do a lot more linocut prints this year -- there's the Vanishing Bestiary to work on, and a triptych of fossil-inspired prints, and I just had a request to make my winter raven card design into a larger art print. I have some bookbinding things to finish up, too. First off, though, is to get those dragon pop-ups done and sent off to my IndieGoGo backers.
  • I'm going to focus on getting my fiction writing and publishing activities back on track. This means transcribing and editing Familiar (book 3 in the Others series by alter-ego Nic Silver), and adding needed scenes and editing Dark Stranger (sequel to Milk Sister). Also, I'm going to get the full Aeryn Daring and the Scientific Detective novel formatted and available as an ebook and POD paperback (by alter ego Calliope Strange). As far as writing, I'll be finishing Reindeer Girl, and tackling the next Nic Silver novel. After that, I'm not sure, but I have a list of ideas to choose from.

Of course, I can't start a new year without a few brand new projects. This year, I have two big ones in mind.

  • First, a non-fiction project. I won't say too much yet, because I'm still mulling it over, and it's the sort of thing I have a specific publisher in mind for, and if they don't want it, I probably won't make it a priority. It'll tie together my folklore background and my current writing-about-YA-books in a scholarly sort of book. This month, I'll be working on a proposal and sample chapter.
  • Second, an artistic and natural history project. This is one I've been thinking about for a while, but always put off because it seemed most logical to begin it at the beginning of the year. So starting a little later today, I'm going to use a great big notebook I made for an unrelated art project and start keeping a natural history journal. So as not to be overwhelmed, I'm not going to try to force myself to write every day, though it would be cool if I managed it. I'll just write down observations and make little sketches of the world outside my door as the year goes by.

And now I think I've probably blathered on enough for one day.