Please update your links. My new blog is here:
Please update your links. My new blog is here:
I did some sketching in my journal this morning, including this one of a character in an old idea for a story of mine--I was telling my son the story. Scanned this one in tonight and did some shading in Art Rage. I'm 35k words into my current book, the first in a new series. It's a near-future thriller, and I've been saying I don't think I'll write fantasy again. I've moved on--to the future. (I think I said those exact words several times at Boskone). But you know how it is, a good story grabs you and won't let you go, demanding to be written. So, I'd put money on seeing this character in a book in the...near-future.
With updated pages! I put these back up last night but forgot to tell anyone. I haven't put up the new pages I'm working on--the rest of chapter 12, but you should notice some updates through the first couple chapters. I'm still a bit embarrassed about a lot of the art and lettering in chapters 2 through 8, and I'm working on new panels for 12, and redrawing existing pages as I get time.
See Saltwater Witch chapters 1 - 11 + the first page of chapter 12 here.
Here's a new page from chapter 2 followed by the old page--I just realized Kassandra is pointing the wrong way in the old page. The windows should be to her right:
Again. After serveral months on "holiday", Kassandra is back--or will soon be back. I'm certainly back, working on new art, repainting a dozen pages over the last four days. Some things are going to change, like how often I post new pages. It's just not going to be every week. For a few reasons, the main ones being time and quality. I tried to race against the weekly deadlines and failed. It became all about the shortcuts, how to draw, paint faster, use whatever tools I thought could help me get Saltwater Witch pages out faster, and I think the art suffered for it. So, it's going to go slower, but I am hoping you see much higher quality. Those of you have already seen my pre-holiday updates to the first ten pages or so, won't be seeing entirely new pages at first--although I repainted faces, clothing, and backgrounds in some.
Here's the current cover art--front and back, reusing existing cover themes. Still working on it, but what do you think? Click for the full view.
I sent off the final manuscript today. I can't tell you the title...because it's a secret. I can tell you this is my sixth novel, it took me a little over three months to write, it's YA contemporary fantasy, set mostly in California--and it's very California. Except for that bit in Nova Scotia.
I finished this book in June, put it away for a couple weeks, and then picked it up again for an edit pass in the middle of July, handing out copies to a few readers, including my daughter Chloe, who is like a reading machine. She reads twice as a fast as I can, with complete comprehension. So, when I give her a book, she'll have it done in one day with feedback the following day. Crazy. I think she should be an editor. Or a lawyer. She's pretty good at arguing her points and suggestions.
1. Idea. We all have story ideas, and they can spring into our heads at any time. I keep a journal so I don't lose them. Story ideas are all around us. Look at this (Mystery trader buys all Europe's cocoa beans) and this (Man detained at airport with 18 monkeys) and you try to convince me the news isn't full of stories. You don't even have to look very hard.
2. Characters. I always--always--draw or paint my main characters at least once (See my painting at the end of this post for a typical character study). I think it's necessary to see what your characters look like. If you don't want to draw them, find people in the world who look like your characters, and use those--cut them out of magazines, do a google images search and print them out. I also interviewed my primary characters in this book, which really helps to nail down personality and motive--which then drive the plot. Here's a tip: if you're stuck on a particular scene, stop writing the story and interview the characters involved in the scene, pretend you're the director of a movie and you've said "cut" to take dinner break. Even better, pretend you're an outsider who's wandered onto the set and doesn't know anything about the story. Write it all down. Ask them questions, and answer in the characters' voices--why do you have blood on your hands, what's with that ridiculous t-shirt--don't you ever wear anything nice?
3. Plotting. I usually write my query at this phase of the process--and I always write a query, at least a paragraph in language that sells the story. Even if you have an agent who will do his or her own pitching, or you're writing this for a proposal that's already signed, it's important to give everyone including yourself the means to briefly tell your story to someone else.
4. Writing. This also includes some plotting because unless you're an outline god who can document every footstep of every character before the first line goes on the paper, there's just no way the concrete of your plot is entirely dry when you start writing. (At least that's the case with me). I always leave some sea room to maneuver in the outline. That said, I started this book with a mostly clear and complete plot, with less room to wiggle than I've ever left before.
5. Put the manuscript away for a little while. Go off and write a short story or two.
6. Do an edit pass. Read your story all the way through, make corrections, cut, move, expand scenes, scratch your head over that paragraph that makes no sense. Every book I've written has at least one of these.
7. Print out some reading copies. Get some feedback on plot, characters, everything. Print out the book because you will see and read your words differently on paper. My standard reading format is two columns per page. I usually do this in Word. I'll format the whole thing into two columns with a .2 inch gutter, Times Roman, italics, no underlining. I guarantee that you will find textual problems that would go right by on the screen.
8. Read aloud. To yourself, or even better to your friends, spouse, kids, complete strangers.
9. Second edit pass.
10. Format the manuscript.
11. Send to your agent, editor, submit query to publisher, all that other good stuff.
12. Go back to step one.
Here's the original sketch and painting I did for this book, with my POV character in the middle:
This one's young adult, part of a completely new series for me, coming in around 61k words--about half of what I typically write for a mainstream book. It's first person POV with a male protag--which is different. Last three books have had female leads. I'm going to put it away for a week, do an edit pass, and then send it along for proof reading. Told my agent I'd get it to him early August. I'll tell you more when I can!
Oh, and you want to know something crazy? I wrote most of this book on my iPad (dockable keyboard, not the screen keyboard).
Nanowhere...it's a love story with all the usual elements: rogue soldiers, computer hacking, tyranny, cryptography, hit-men with an affinity for rolled adhesives, rebellious skateboarders, and sentient billion-node self-organizing nanotech ghosts.
Here's a clip of Cory Doctorow's kind words on Boing Boing in May of 2006. Hard to believe that was four years ago!
Chris Howard has released a young adult sf thriller called "Nanowhere" ... along with a bunch of supplementary materials that purports to be the lab notes and publications of one of the book's characters. I just read the first couple pages and they're interesting and well-written ...
Download and read the entire book with illustrations and "collateral material"--journal articles on artificial consciousness and "how to create a new order of being" all in one doc:
NANOWHERE (PDF 2MB)
I spent half the afternoon painting pages 201 through 203. Kassandra finally gets a good look at the Nine-cities, but they're not hanging around.
Check out all of Saltwater Witch!
I just painted and posted the next set of pages (3 of them) for Saltwater Witch. Go check it all out here, and as always I'd love to hear what you think! Here's a detail crop from the second page--Kassandra already looking fierce:
First, my collaborator Chloe (my fifteen-year-old daughter) has abandoned me, citing--if I boil it down--too much work. I am the sort who will live, breath, draw, and dream the story once I dive in. There's no looking back, there's only forward and a story to tell.
I also didn't want to push Chloe, told her I'd be perfectly happy with her being a reader, doing critiques, and participating in plotting exercises. I think that's really what she wanted to do from the beginning--that's the fun part, as she sees it, going to coffee shops and SF conventions to talk stories and characters and whole new worlds.
She thinks the writing part is too much like work. I guess I can see that, but in another sense that's a problem that can be solved: you do enough of it, and it won't be. The story's already in my head. I just need to be awake and have access to a keyboard to write it, and I can even get pretty far without waking.
So, Chloe and I will definitely collaborate on a book at some point. She's an amazing reader, she has a gift for writing dialogue. It won't be long. And this is only book 8. I still have 92 stories to tell! (probably more, but I'll start out with an even hundred).
As far as progress goes, I busted through 15k words, with a planned total of 60+ thousand. This is YA, and I'm going to stay inside the typical word count range. So, I'm a quarter done, and sailing for the halfway point.
Who's got the damn tiller? And who's making coffee?