26 September 2012

It's Getting So Close!

The Name and the Key.
(c) 2012 by Spikie.
All rights reserved.
Just submitted another batch of my novel to my mentor and email critique partners.

Normally I like to submit a full, coherent chapter of about 20 pages or so, but this time I pulled a half-and-half: the first half of one of the Highgate scenes, and then the sort-of-beginning of one of the Mottledell scenes.  It's probably one of my weirdest submissions yet just because it's so all over the place.

Since I'm writing the book completely out of order now, it's easier for me to refer to the scenes geographically. Highgate refers to the wealthy part of Mariner, the seaside city in which Lily and her family live.

The Mottledell is a little area of nature outside of Mariner. It's a good little hike from town, and it's one of Lily's secret places. Whenever she needs to get away from the bustle of the city (or even take a break from her sister and grandmother), Lily escapes to the Mottledell for some peace of mind.

The Mottledell also makes an excellent training ground for learning magic. BOO-YAH!

Did I ever mention how hard it is to come up with a magic system? It's also difficult to wade through hundreds of years of philosophy and esoteric thought, along with the mysteries of alchemy, and try to find a way to work them into my magic system without making it sound overly complicated, highly self-conscious, and unexciting.

Coming up with a magic system is one of the trickiest parts of writing fantasy. There's the expectation that your magic has to have some rules or logic to it to help suspend disbelief; and yet at the same time, I kind of want to stand up and shout with N. K. Jemisin: "But, But But--WHY does magic have to make sense?"

So yeah. September was a very hard submission month.

Especially since I mentally departed for about half of September after I found out the book wasn't due today.

Ok, on that note, let's end the whining with something awesome. Here's my word count after today's sub:

75,714 out of 80,000!

24 September 2012

Shout-out, Mr. Dixon!

Fellow author, SHUmate, and Troublemaker John Dixon has some pretty exciting stuff happening. Click the logo for the Deadline Hollywood article: CBS Buys High-Concept Drama from Writer Michael Seitzman.

CBS classic logo from 1966. Booyah! (Wikmedia Commons)
That's right. John's book Dissident is the source for the future CBS series Intelligence. To paraphrase TV Tropes, John's book just leveled up. And you can only go up from here--I know you're book's unpublished now, but it won't be for long. I've got a good feeling. :)

To quote the Lost Boys, "You're doing it, Peter! You're really doing it!"* 

For more about John Dixon, check out his blog, The Dark Flibbertigibbet. And be sure to read his stuff!
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*Yes, that was from Hook. Because I can still bangarang. And yes, I'm aware that John's name is not Peter. Just go with me on this one.
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17 September 2012

Lily and Andresh, by Juhaihai... And more!

(c) 2012 by Juhaihai. Restricted Image.
I've been meaning to post this but got side-tracked. The awesome Juhaihai did separate commissions of my lead characters from The Name and the Key...and then she surprised me by reuniting them in a third, bonus artwork. Lily and Andresh looked marvelous on their own, but in this single image, there's a whole new layer of context and meaning. There's a clear interaction here, and I love it. LOVE IT!

For more of Juhaihai's art, visit her Deviant Art Page, her tumblr, and be sure to support her web comic, Oresama no Kanojo.

In other news...

(c) Black Chicken Studios
My friend Sami is a writer and editor for the gaming company Black Chicken Studios. And a new RPG/visual novel she's been working on has officially released! It's called 1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum and you can get a copy of the game here.

Be sure to watch the awesome game trailer. And anime fans, check out the amazing artwork! This is a coincidence, but I can see a Tamaki and Kyoya in the cast of characters. Tee hee.

If you like RPGS, visual novels, character-driven stories, adventure and romance, then this game is for you!

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(c) Ohayocon.org
When I found out I had more free time due to the novel deadline being postponed, I scrambled to put together my next big project: submitting panels for Ohayocon 2013. Panel submissions opened September 1st, and since Ohayocon is an ENORMOUS convention, it's first-come first served, and panel slots close at 200.

Give Good Spec! was a successful panel at ColossalCon, but I didn't want to resubmit it, and it's not just because I wanted things to be new for Ohayocon...it's also because I've tweaked that presentation to better fit the audience. Give Good Spec! worked when I talked about the basics of writing specifically...not so much the speculative fiction genre. So, I wanted to do a more craft-focused writing panel...and came up with Fanfic into Fiction. This panel uses fan fiction as a stepping stone for breaking into publishing. I'm actually very proud of my submission of this panel--it was really detailed and thorough and full of good ideas (toot toot my horn!). I hope it gets selected, and if not...well, I'll just try it again with another con.

Speaking of trying again, I submitted my panel The Alchemy of FMA to Ohayocon today. This is a tweaked version of a panel I submitted to ColossalCon that didn't make the cut (it's OK, though. Panel heads Codi and Cori Durbin liked the topic and content--there was just an issue with scheduling and events and it couldn't fit). In my submission to Ohayocon, I elaborated on a lot of the subject matter and panel topics, trimmed the time from 2 hrs to 1 hr, clarified the art project, and added Xingese Alkahestry to the presentation. Again, I hope this gets selected, but if not...we'll just keep trying! 

One thing I did do differently this time...I posted on the Ohayocon forums right after I submitted the panels. I think this will help me, actually. I posted on Colossal Con's forums for Give Good Spec!, but not until the panel was approved, so the public could only view the description for about a month before the con. By posting about these Ohayocon panels suuuuper early, I hope that it drums up some views, and helps Programming choose it if the post can demonstrate that people are interested in the topic. 

To get a comp badge, I need to come up with a third hour of programming. Ohayocon's 2013 theme is Zombies, which is going to be FANTASTIC (imagine what people will be doing to their cosplays!), and I actually want my third panel to be on zombies, but I'm having a hard time narrowing down my topic. If I can't come up with something soon, though, I'll probably give up on the comp badge. The other two panels I submitted already require extensive preparation on my part...maybe 3 panels is overdoing it. I'll let you know.

And I guess this needs to be addressed--why am I going to Ohayocon again? My first Ohayocon was just last year. And it was my first anime/fandom convention ever. My extensive review of the con probably came across like I hated the thing, but to be honest, it was both an extreme hatred and extreme love, and a lot of that can be attributed to things beyond the Convention's control. The event was overwhelming, and I think I judged it harshly because I had never been to one before. Now that I've been to various conventions and conferences, a lot of the stuff I nitpicked on is really par for the course. And after being to various other events, I can appreciate what Ohayocon has to offer by comparison.  I've already bought my ticket, booked my hotel, and am good to go. To be a panelist at Ohayocon would be amazing, but if not, I'll be going to Ohayocon all the same. And I hope to see you there!

04 September 2012

Fullmetal Alchemist-1940s style



I created this piece with time I didn't have, and I did it all yesterday. But I wouldn't share it here if I wasn't proud of it...this is my official entry for this contest, held by the Deviant Art Risembool Rangers. I thought it would be cute to do the artwork as a vintage postcard, and this turned out waaaay better than I expected it to. I think I'm actually getting better at drawing in Manga Studio... and I've started to learn Photoshop. Anyway, I hope you guys like this!

02 September 2012

Work. Words. Contests. Anime. Book.

Today was an off day. It would be insanity to completely take an entire day off from writing the book but that's what I had to do.

Why?

Had a lot of house work today. Including installing new beds, mattresses, bedding, etc for three rooms in the house. This took waaay longer than it needed to. So most of the day went to this.

Today is also the day Ohayocon accepts panel submissions. So I budgeted out a significant chunk of my day for writing outlines for my panels. Ran out of time tonight, so I'll have to type my subs tomorrow as soon as I wake up.

I'm also working on a contest submission with the DA Risembool Rangers. Trying to get that done by late tonight/tomorrow...

And speaking of contests, I won one for writing! Deviant Art celebrated its 12th birthday by holding all sorts of contests and fun activities for its members. Now, this writing contest was a Mad Libs inspired competition, so it's not like these stories had to make any sense or be particularly brilliant...but my Mad Lib was one of fifty chosen as a winner. This is the CONTEST ...This was MY STORY... and this is MY PRIZE. Wahoo! I'm still in a state of shock about it.
The DVD cover

In other news: as for the anime watchlist, I gave up completely watching xxxHolic. Left off at episode 19, and just couldn't sit through any more. It's not an awful series, but it didn't hold my interest. At its best, parts of it reminded me of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series from the late 80s and early 90s, with some neat, dark paranormal moments and interesting philosophy embedded in the story. But what got on my nerves was the repetition: Watanuki freaks out about Himawari. Watanuki hits his ballistic button around Domiki. Yuko gives a long, explanatory monologue about inevitability, intention, and blah blah blah blah. I remembered the name of this show because a speaker at an Ohayocon panel waxed euphoric over it and made it sound mind-blowingly phenomenal. I can't feel how she did about this show, but I do wonder if I familiarized myself with all of CLAMP's works (their universes tend to overlap), if xxxHolic would be better experience for me because of those connections.

The DVD cover
I'm on the third season of Soul Eater right now. This show is all sorts of weirdness, but I think that's part of the charm. It's definitely a fast-paced, badass series with cool, often frenetic music and its own special aesthetic. Sometimes the animation and artwork reminds me of  Gorillaz, LoZ: Majora's Mask, and FMA Brotherhood...as it turns out, Bones, the animation studio that did both FMA and FMAB, is also responsible for Soul Eater. CONNECTIONS! Anyway, I'm much more emotionally involved with the characters in this show; the plot's pretty solid; and it's nice to hear some of the voice actors that I always hear using their voices a little differently for this series. And Crona, oh man, that character has a spot in my heart for some reason. The character is supercreepy but endearing, and the animation style, the character's dialogue, and Maxey Whitehead's performance is a major part of why I don't hate this character (but I totally understand if other people do). This show has my complete interest and will probably be one of the few anime series I will actually be able to watch from start to finish.

Lastly-- I am simultaneously rewriting three chapters of The Name and the Key at the same time as of yesterday. So I don't know what my word count is anymore at the moment. I have been going back and adding a little bit more romance to the story, and try and make the main conflict come together sooner so readers don't stab themselves to death from impatience. I did get a revelation about my book's magic system yesterday. So that was a plus, and should help make writing magic-related chapters go faster (hopefully).

I want to have the manuscript completed by September 20th so I can proof the thing for the last few days, as I am the Queen of Typos and Stupid Mistakes. So...I have a tremendous amount of work to do in a short amount of time. Don't know how I'm gonna pull this off...