29 October 2014

Writing Wednesday: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in a few days, and I'm planning to do it again this year. I'll be writing the next Others book (unless I change my mind at the last minute). In the meantime, I'm working on a story -- maybe a novelette or novella -- about a big old museum on the odd people who work there. I was hoping to have that done by the end of October, but with only a few days left, and one full 8-hour shift at the video game store (I usually do 3 or 4 hour shifts as a part-timer), plus a variety of errands and a dog to entertain, I don't think that will happen.

So I'll be trying to finish "The Curator's Tale" (working title, and probably won't stick), while also starting Koldun (book 4 of the Others series). This could be disastrous, because I also have a lot to do throughout November for the Halifax Crafters winter market, and I'll be getting more hours at the video game store because of the holidays. And I'll be looking for a regular freelance gig to replace my About YA Books writing, when ends at the end of this month.

In related news, my novelette "Ichneumon" (under my Nic Silver pen name) is now free on all the Amazons and will be until the end of day on Halloween. It's a creepy story and not for everyone, but if you like that sort of thing, here are the links:

Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
Amazon India
Amazon Germany
Amazon France
Amazon Spain
Amazon Italy
Amazon Japan
Amazon Brazil
Amazon Mexico

Remember that you don't need an actual Kindle to read Kindle books -- most devices these days have a Kindle app that works just as well (you just have to buy through the website and not through the app). But if you have a Nook or a Kobo, let me know and I can send you an epub version.

Now I need to get at those errands so I can do some writing this afternoon.

24 October 2014

Flashback Friday: Bird Wizard

Here's another cringe-worthy old drawing for your enjoyment. I was still rather awful at adding colour to pencil drawings. Right after I drew this (but before adding colour), one of my younger cousins was so impressed he wanted to draw one himself, so he copied off my drawing. I think I used to have his version, too, but it seems to have been lost in the mists of time. Or something.

I can't remember how old I was when I made this, but I'm pretty sure I was in junior high, so I must have been between thirteen and sixteen. I had probably just re-read The Lord of the Rings. Again. (I still do that from time to time, though I haven't drawn any wizards in ages.)

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...