(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cover Art Update!

The marketing team is still fighting over the lettering, but the art came in for Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain.  Check it out, because it is SWEET.

I want this book to come out, so bad.

The Lightning Thief

I thought I should check out the Percy Jackson books.  All I'm going to be able to review is the first book.  If that sounds bad... yeah, the second book started out with a 'Insert MacGuffin and random encounter here'.  Not good.

But the first book isn't bad.  Not great, but I enjoyed it.  Greek mythological monsters make for great bad guys, the Cronus and Ares twists were very satisfying, and the 'son of Poseidon' thing was played well.  A distant father who helps him on the sly when he's in water.  Sure, that's how a son of Poseidon works.

The bad parts were mostly that the book is kind of generic.  Misunderstood boy finds out he's a hero and goes on a quest to find a MacGuffin.  The ADHD and dyslexia elements are handled clumsily, although I don't have anything against them existing.  I understand they were put in to help Riordan's son empathize.  There is almost no content outside of the central plot.  Characters are okay, but underexplored.  I had one nitpick that bugged me the whole way.  A major character is a daughter of Athena.  Athena is a lesbian virgin goddess.  She has exactly one child who's one of those freaky magical origin things, not the result of sex.  Daughters are not an option.

So, book is kinda so-so.  I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not enthusiastic about the experience.  #2 immediately dropped below that mediocre standard.

There is an interesting epilogue to this.  It made me think about why the Harry Potter books are better.  The concepts really aren't very different, and the paragraph-to-paragraph writing isn't all that different.  What made Harry Potter's uninspired idea cool was the depth with which the books explored the magical world.  Harry Potter lives a magical life, with magical people, with lots of time spent developing everyone's personality and having cool magical things happen outside the central plot.  Those gave the plot itself meaning, made it gripping.

That's a good lesson for a writer to learn.  I hope I can hold onto it, but I worry that my books are overstuffed just clinging tightly to the plot.

Not As Last As Expected

You know, normally I crave originality, but I think what I wrote on DA says it all:

I have discovered something very strange.  I have two books in progress, and writing one inspires me to write the other.  Lemon and Chocolate is a sensual book, literally.  Touch, taste, smell, and even sight and sound - it awakens me vividly to the senses.  This is something every book needs.  A Sidekick's Tale is a fantastic book, with strange and magical places and people.  It fills my head with wonder, and that is something Lemon and Chocolate needs.  Right now, it looks like I may be alternating chapters.  I finished this HUGE chapter (and split it up into parts) of Lemon and Chocolate more than a week ago.  I've just been procrastinating, and a bit depressed.

I am still not satisfied with the title 'Lemon and Chocolate'.  It's much closer to what I want, but the book is a romance with a little bit of hard adventure.  It's a story of love and hate and transformation.  'Lemon and Chocolate and Steel'?  Hmmm.  'Love and Hate and Candy' isn't bad.  Opinions or suggestions are and will remain very welcome.  A good title is extremely important.

So without further ado... have three more chapters!

Chapter 6, In which we find out what happened to Lem's home
Chapter 7, In which Lem and the chocolate rabbit have it out
Chapter 8, In which Lem finds out what losing means (Warning:  Torture)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Supervillain Progress And Art To Display!

There has been SUCH a comedy of errors with publishing Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain.  I'm happy to say I have progress to report, and really really interesting progress!  Check it out - these are the proposed sketches of two cover options!

They're going with #2, which I completely agree with.  It feels funny to finally see this book in motion, but my main reaction?  'EEE, Vera's going to be on the cover!'

Monday, December 2, 2013

I Forgot About This Video

So I'm filling out advertizing stuff for Curiosity Quills, and I stumble across the video trailer they made for Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth.  My breath was taken away by what a good job they did with it.

It this leaves anyone wanting to buy the book, here's a link to it on Amazon!

As I write this, it is December 2nd, and for the 2nd and 3rd, the book is $0.99.  I wish my readers luck in buying in time to take advantage of that sale.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sandy Golding, Resurrection Specialist

Chapter three!  Sandy is truly a miracle girl, with a little prodding from her best rag doll.  We also meet the mysterious Flops, have our first encounter with the Bundlish, and in general enjoy a fun vacation in the town of Cul-De-Sac!

(Disclaimer:  Flops is not very mysterious.)

Chapter Three in .pdf format

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Random Memory

This memory just popped into my head, and it seemed interesting enough to share:

In middle school, my friend Billy and I loved the board game Diplomacy. We had just enough friends to put together a game sometimes. He and I were the best players, me because I had a knack for the strategy, and him because he was very good at the diplomatic angle. One day, after everyone sided with him again, I confronted a friend in frustration about why. Surely she knew that I would live up to the letter and spirit of my offer, while Billy would betray her the instant it was to his advantage. She agreed that she knew that both of those things were true, but she trusted him and not me.

That taught me a LOT about human thought.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nice Road You Got Here

Chapter two is done, and chapter three is already plotted out!  Sandy's visit to Somewhere got off to a rocky start in chapter one, but she has a much better time in chapter two taking advantage of Here's transit system and meeting stone giants, fake sheep, and of course the Greater House Cuckoo.

Chapter two of A Sidekick's Tale, in .pdf format!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The First Of A New Book!

Okay, so, I've mentioned this.  The horror novel left me down.  My book about candy, transformation, and passion is good, but completely not right for my mood now.  I've been throwing around an idea for a new book, a classic 'Girl gets lost in a magic land' story in the Oz tradition - but told from the perspective of her sidekick.  I've been getting pretty close to ready to write it, so I wrote the first chapter to give me a feel for the book that I could use to finish the outline.

...well, I loved writing it.  I really, REALLY loved writing it.  I feel so good right now.  Just thinking about writing A Sidekick's Tale makes me happy.  Also, it will be suitable for a much wider audience.  So, have the first chapter!

A Sidekick's Tale, Chapter One in .pdf format

The Last Of The Old

...for awhile, anyway!  Probably.  I am unlikely to continue the currently-titled Lemon and Chocolate: An Alien Romance any time soon.  I will almost certainly make it my NEXT book.  Reasons will be made available momentarily.  For now, I did finish Chapter Five, so you can enjoy that if you're one of those people who enjoy things.  (For reference, Chapter Two was so big that I broke it up into Two, Three, and Four.  That's why this one is Five.)

Chapter Five in .pdf format

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Random Book Review - The Golden Compass

So, I got into a discussion with someone about The Golden Compass.  I think it was Ellie on Twitter.  In the process, I realized I only read it once, and it's been years, and all I remember is the truly messed up ending.  I figured I'd better reread it.  It's a classic and a controversy, and it's good to read those for yourself.

Here is my review:  Forget controversy.  It's just not very well written.  Here is an actual line of dialog from the main character:

'Oh, Pan, dear, I can't go on!  I'm so frightened - and so tired - all this way, and I'm scared to death!  I wish it was someone else instead of me, I do honestly!'

That may be the hokiest, least convincing, least realistic and most forced piece of dialog in any major novel.  It has the emotional impact of soft cheese.  In general, all the dialog sounds like a middle school drama play.  All of the characters have this same stilted vocal pattern.  On the very first page, I was pleased by the realism of a tween girl hiding in a closet to spy on important people because she hadn't through through the consequences, but then she discusses every detail of the moral decision involved with her pet, as if she were an adult.

Overall, characterization is very hit-or-miss.  The narrator tells us at one point that Lyra for the first time evaluates herself, her own appearance and actions - and yet a couple of scenes back, she's evaluating which different disguises she can pull off, based on her age and social group.

Oh, yeah, social group.  When the children are held captive, the narrator comments that girls only hang out with girls, and boys only hang out with boys, and that's how they like it at that age.  This is completely contradicted by Lyra's street urchin antics at the beginning of the book.  All these kids come from similar backgrounds, which are depicted clearly as having boys and girls playing together.  There's a lot of convenient plot twists, too.  In an exposition heavy book, Lyra's father has the ability to wish for things and they show up, which isn't explained.  It's just something he can do, apparently because he's a Great Man.  The snow bridge which forced Lyra to leave behind her polar bear protector for the final confrontation got an especially mortified facepalm.  The book is full of this stuff.

I'm hoping the author learned something writing the first book, and the next two will be better.  The basic story is actually pretty neat.  I can kinda see the source of religious outrage as well.  The moral of the book is not that god is evil.  That's just a plot choice.  The moral the book pushes is that the things we repress as 'sin' are good things that help us survive and be happy.  That could be taken as pretty anti-religious.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

'Cadbury Porn meets the Terminator Bunny'

That was the description given to chapter one of Metal, Candy, Flesh (I do need a better title) by my local writer's group.  It felt good that they liked the weirdness.  The horror novel thing fell through in the most painful way possible, and it's taken me a couple of weeks to get back on my feet.

Now that I'm here, the good news is that Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain is finished editing, and I've been asked for ideas about cover art!  The reorganization seems to have worked.  Curiosity Quills is much more efficient now.  That's good news for me - I can't wait to see that book officially released.  You will all love it, trust me.  It's my lightest, friendliest book, but it's a whole lot of fun.

 Metal, Candy, Flesh on the other extremity is weird.  With any luck, you'll love it as well.  I think it's time to find out!

Here's chapter one in PDF format

And here's chapter two in PDF format

Oh, and despite the description, there is no sex in either of these chapters, and I'm not planning on anything explicit in the finished book.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anatidaephobia - The Goosening

In the continuing story of how ducks are following me, I was driving through a parking lot near my home yesterday.  On one of the curbs, a small flock of geese were feeding in the grass.  As I drive by, these geese who have been ignoring everything else in this busy parking lot all straighten up and stare at me until they were out of my sight.

I wish I could have gotten a photo, but I was driving through a busy parking lot.  It wasn't possible.

Waterfowl, man.  I don't know.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

San Diego Comic Con Photo Blog - Sunday

SO SICK.  The best laid plans of mice and men gae aft aglae when Con Crud strikes.  At last, I give you the final day of my photos!

This will be a bit different.  You see, by Sunday we were tired.  Tired beyond tired, physically and emotionally.  We had to check out of our hotel at noon, but our planes didn't leave until the evening.  We'd kinda planned ahead on this.  The hotel was right beside Balboa Park, where San Diego puts all its touristy stuff.  We took a walk down there!

We zeroed in immediately on the San Diego Zoo... and discovered it was 45$ each for a ticket.  Frankly, we decided that money could be better spent elsewhere.  We immediately lucked out.  Circling the zoo, we found an old fashioned carousel.  It was beautiful, and the ride was several minutes long.  Well worth a couple of bucks.  Here we stand waiting for our turn.

And here's a photo inside as the carousel turns!  It was so charming.  We were riding the ostriches.  You can juuuuust barely see a peek of Dana's next to me.  Many off color jokes were made about the roosters ahead of us.

This is a crow.  I like crows.

Oh, no!  BEES!  The zoo is very considerate of them, it seems.

And now life gang even more aglae.  I took a lot of photos that are just gone.  I don't know what happened to them.  Right after the carousel, we saw a pony being exercised.  I don't have those photos, I don't have the photos of the restaurant.  I've forgotten how many photos were lost.  I didn't take as many as the previous days, but it's still disappointing.

But here's what I have!  After the carousel, we found this adorable little artist's village!

The store that interested us the most was about gemstone crafts, geology, all that kind of thing.  One of the lost photos was of their adorable periodicals, but here's the jewelry rack.  Warning:  The photos from the rock store were kept at very large size, because I felt detail would be important.

And a big shelf full of the rocks in their raw form!  I thought this was the kind of things my friends would like.  Missing are photos of the next shelf, with the big black rock I made jokes about being my heart.

Really, really running out of photos here.  I don't have any of when we stopped to eat.  The big thing we did that day was go to the natural history museum.  We saw a fantastic little movie about dinosaurs - fantastic because the dinosaurs had proper feathers.  I grew up in a pre-dinosaurs-have-feathers world, and seeing them feathered delights me.  Too few dinosaur renditions have caught up with that.  But, no photos of the vulture-lookin' velociraptors or the hysterically goofy oviraptor.  All disappeared into the ether.  All I have is this, a downright creepy photo of a duckbill that's half face, half skull!  There was a whole line of heads like this.

Which leaves me with one more photo.  This one wasn't taken at SDCC at all, but at my brief visit to FandomFest.  I am going to try to convince my publisher to set us up a booth there next year.  It's a perfect convention for that.  But there was only one thing I really wanted to photograph at FandomFest.  Adventure Time costumes are everywhere, but they're mostly Fiona and Marceline.  My friends all ask me - were there any Lady Rainocorn cosplayers?

Here you go.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

San Diego Comic Con Photoblog - Saturday

So, conventions cause something else besides exhaustion.  They cause the dreaded Con Crud.  I got home from SDCC, had just enough time to finish a writing project for my publisher, and immediately got sick.  I've only just recovered enough coherency to process images and resume posting.  So let's get to Saturday!

I mentioned the exhaustion repeatedly.  We did not spend a huge amount of time at the convention Saturday.  We started OUT pooped.  As a demonstration, here is Dana Simpson putting a bandage on her toe.  So much walking!

This photo was taken at Dana's request.  Look carefully.  We're in San Diego.  What do you not see?

SUNSHINE.  It was cloudy and often raining the whole con.  This baffled us both, and I used to live in Southern California.

Apparently every year outside SDCC there's a small protest by particularly strict Christians.  They hold up signs with biblical quotes and so forth.  They weren't exciting enough to photograph, but the counterprotests can be pretty funny.

We actually got up early.  Why?  Because Saturday morning had a 10am My Little Pony panel, complete with exclusive animatic clips from the fourth season!

We did not get in.  This photo of what appears to be a crowded hallway is the line.  Notice how it loops back upon itself multiple times.  Notice how it disappears off either end of the photo, because it filled the hallway and there was no room to get a coherent photo of the whole line.

No one showed here got to see the panel, including us.  The panel room was full by the time this photo was taken, the word just hadn't gotten back through the line.  Here is a photo of the panel room I snuck up later and took.  All you can see is the corner, but I think it makes the point about how badly the schedulers underestimated the popularity of My Little Pony.

We did not let ourselves be daunted!  Dana promised to introduce me to Peter S. Beagle, with whom she is Close Personal Friends.  This would be more impressive, except that now that I've met him I understand that he is Close Personal Friends with everyone.  He's just a really, really nice guy.  Still, she's done signings with him and stuff and as an author, he's one of my very few direct influences.

But before we could see him, we stopped by Dana's syndicate's booth, so she could add her sketch to a board their cartoonists were putting together.  Here, in an impulse-driven attempt to be meta, is a photograph of the artist photographing her art.

Here is the actual art (from a photograph Dana took when it was completed).

Off we went to see Beagle!  We got word of what booth he was in.  Finding it was another matter.  How big is the exhibition hall?  So big that when we tried to follow the direction, we found this - an entire half of the hall we had missed in previous explorations.

It included stuff like this puppet talking to a man in a prison yard with a bloody face.  I didn't ask what any of that was about.

We met the Man himself!  While I was waiting as he spoke to another fan, Dana shook hands with Beagle's marketing guy, who begged her to attend some of their events.  Seriously.  I was like 'Damn, girl!'  Beagle is the little man under their shaking hands.  He is sweet and accidentally took a copy of my books, and hey, he can have 'em.  I wish I'd gotten a better picture, because he has the most idiosyncratic expression.

LUUUUUNCH!  I think we got a hamburger.  No, that was the day at the pizza and beer place.  Not important!  What is important is that SDCC spreads out around the convention center itself, and we got more photos!

This is a terrible photo of Tetris cosplayers selling something.

This is a pirate band.  I don't think they're affiliated with anything but themselves.  They're just pirates who started playing music on the sidewalk.  If I understand their poster correctly, they at least knew each other first.  So you know, they're not PROMISCUOUS pirates.

I like Raven and Starfire.  Costumes of Raven and Starfire are a guaranteed photographing.

We plunged back into the con!  Everything left is kinda random.  Ah, here is the area where we found Beagle - the Artist's Alley.  We had no idea this place existed before we went looking for Beagle.

In that side of the hall there was a giant Ice King head.  Why?  I puzzled over this at length, until I spotted the photographer inside.  You can line up and get your photo taken in the Ice King's jail!  I just took my own photo OF the jail.

Okay, I may not be able to explain this photo, but I'll try.  Manga Studio had a big booth, where they were showing one of their programs being used on this photo screen.  I was not able to catch a photo in time, but the gentleman being shown was displayed full body and naked when we got there.  This was mainly funny because he was naked and visibly female below the waist.  I took this photo so I could at least explain the incident to my friends.

We will close up with the convention's final cosplay photo!  I like Avatar, too.

That's all for Saturday!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

San Diego Comic Con Photoblog - Friday

The convention is EXHAUSTING.  Worry not, I took many photos, I was just too tired to edit and post them the last two nights.  Let's see what we've got!

So, SDCC is a big deal, 150,000 people and more that spills all over the nearby neighborhoods of San Diego.  Someone thinks this is a crowd worth advertizing to.  A lot of someones.  Here we have an actual blimp flying around above the convention.

Here we have Game of Thrones based rentable transportation!  You too can sit on the Sword Throne!  Ho ho ho ho ho!  Game of Thrones advertizements were EVERYWHERE.  Giant posters, paintings on buildings, street signs - madness.

And here's that scene from the other side.  Game of thrones had competition!  Very, very weird competition.

This photo is not relevant to anything.  I thought the empty building and the guy standing at the window looked neat.

No more boring on-the-way-to-the-con stuff you don't care about.  I declared Friday to be Cosplay Photographing Day!  I knew it would be when I walked in the door right next to the weapons check booth.  Luck was with me, and Mad Moxxi was checking one of her custom SMGs.

Note the lack of confiscation.  Mad Moxxi ALWAYS gets what she wants.  It's a talent she has!

Here is something you need to understand about San Diego Comic Con.  I only photographed the costumes that whim struck me as amusing, because costumes are everywhere.  I took this next photo when I realized that I could take a photo in any direction and there would be a cosplayer.  That's also why the image quality is so bad.  I pulled out my camera and snapped a random photo.

My whims decided to take pictures that would entertain my friends.  This is for you, Chaos.  Well, that and the costumes are incredible.  I think they may have been professional and attached to the booth next to them.  Cammy was awfully friendly.

Moments later, a photo opportunity to please my friend Lucy, some incarnation of whom finds her way into most of my books.  I pay my beta reader by making her immortal, and also with photos of creepy little girls.

Did I mention that there was a cosplayer EVERYWHERE you looked?

And right next door... this booth speaks for itself.

And for my friend Orv, this place.  This is down the street from the convention as we went to get lunch.  I don't know what this place is, but they have pixel seagulls.

I don't know who this is.  I just liked his hammer.

I'm told this series is finally coming out.  I love gothy cartoons, so I'm looking forward to it and I had to photograph these cosplayers!

And then everything went to Suck.  We tried to go to a panel, and the line was... it's hard to be sure.  Half a mile would not be an outrageous claim.  I couldn't photograph it because it twisted around so many corners there'd be no point.  Instead we took the long route back to our hotel, and stumbled over a little playground with this silly Lego Hobbit display.

And some pleasing serendipity for me.  They had huge Teen Titans balloons, and I took photos of two of y favorite characters in animation!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

San Diego Comic Con Photolog - Thursday

I spent most of the day on the plane, but even there, I got pictures!  You see, the Midwest is so boring it's freaky fascinating.  Imagine miles and miles and miles of flatness reaching to every horizon, divided mysteriously into squares.  Oh, wait, you don't have to imagine it.  I took a photo.

 That is a city down there.  These eerily regular squares are huge.

Even the clouds were laid out with perfect regularity.

Eventually that changed.  White scars replaced some of the squares.  I honestly don't know what these are.

And... the circles.

After awhile, they were just mocking me.

The unifying theme of all of this is flatness.  Colorado was flat flat flaaaat flat flaaaat flat flat MOUNTAINS.

Eventually I successfully reached San Diego, and hooked up with my mysterious patron who got me my badge, Dana Simpson!  She's the creator of the ever-more-successful comic Heavenly Nostrils, and my good buddy, except the female version of that.  Gal pal?  Here she is, in a moment of deep philosophical contemplation.  She's going to be in a lot of my photos, so get used to this expression.

We'd spent a lot of time battling with the bus routes of San Diego, but I knew we were close.  It was something in the air.

Might have been the street signs in Dothraki.  Yes, there were a lot of these.

 The Convention Center was right on the other side of Dothraki Street.  We began with the customary aimless wandering of the exhibition floor.  Here, I record that perfect moment when I walked through the doors and into my homeland.

From then on we wandered.  I'm not sure what order most of these were in.  They're snapshots in time, like when I noticed this weird combination.  I mean, I understand WHY they're together, but it's so jarring.

Since we'd found the pony palace, Princess Pedantia the Magical Pixel fairy had to pose with her mane-sister.

But I kinda like this one more.

Evidence that my beloved Avatar: Legend of Korra will have a second season eventually!

Sometimes you see things you can't explain at Comic Con.

And things that scar your very soul.  He-Man + absolute territory = OHGODNO.

And things you reeeeeally want to buy.

And things you reeeeeally want to buy but are huge so you pose next to them for photos instead.

On the way out, we stumbled across the Chuck Jones Museum, and... well, Chuck Jones Museum.  I hope it doesn't need explaining.

I leave you with this inspiring photo of Dana Simpsons making an elaborate joke about her comic and My Little Pony.