The Purpose of Witch's Cats (0 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Star Trek: Discovery
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Michael Burnham & Philippa Georgiou
Characters: Michael Burnham, Philippa Georgiou, Original Cat Character - Character
Additional Tags: Halloween Costumes, Fanart, Drawing, Pre-Canon
Michael Burnham is spending Halloween with Philippa Georgiou. As they hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, Michael is trying to figure out the purpose of dressing up. So far she's only sold on cats.
This is chibi and pure adorable. The huge eyes! Georgiou with her jack o' lantern bag o' candy! Michael and the black cat!
Sketchbook #37 (0 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Aral Vorkosigan/Ges Vorrutyer
Characters: Ges Vorrutyer
Additional Tags: Sketches
Aral tries to draw Ges.
A great pencil sketch of Aral (well, his hand) drawing Ges Vorrutyer! Lovely delineation of form and a loose, relaxed style.
recently or not so recently finished
Michael Cooper. Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!
This was recommended by helen_keeble. I have never run a FB ad and never intend to since I'm not really in self-pub , but I have friends who are in that business and I was curious about the terminology and methodologies involved. This is clearly written and really interesting, and I've heard people vouch for it, although I can't vouch for it myself from experience.
 I have a self-published collection of flash fairy tales but it just sort of sits there on Amazon and maaaaaaybe once in a while someone buys a copy. If you're going to self-pub flash fairy tales, go Patreon, not Amazon. :p
- JoAnneh Nagler. How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass.
I read this a while back and forgot to report on it (one of the problems with my Kindle is I keep losing it around the house). The gist of this is "don't quit your day job before you're bringing in enough income with your creative job." It's pretty pragmatic and I generally agree with it. There's really not much else to say about it.
- Anne McCaffrey. To Ride Pegasus.
This is a nostalgia reread for me, and this is one of those fix-up novels made of short stories in a sequence as far as I can tell--I think this and its sequels are precursors to The Rowan and Damia, etc. I really enjoy reading about the early era of psionics in this setting, although I have to *facepalm* some at parts of "A Womanly Talent." ( spoiler )
- Tim Harford. The Undercover Economist Strikes Back.
It would probably have made more sense to read the first in the series (?) first, but this one was on sale and the others weren't, so I picked it up. I'm about a third of the way through and really enjoying it. This volume is on macroeconomics and has given me the first explanation that made any sense as to why money works. (I tend to get stuck on the fact that money is a mass delusion and stutter to a halt.) Of course, this is me, so econ explanations don't stick in my head, but now I know where I can look.
- Penelope Bloom. His Banana.
This self-published romance has a killer blurb (formatting aside) but I'm only about 10% in and not sure yet whether the book itself is my kind of thing.
My new boss likes rules, but there's one nobody dares to break...
No touching his banana.
Seriously. The guy is like a potassium addict.
Of course, I touched it.
If you want to get technical, I actually put it in my mouth.
I chewed it up, too... I even swallowed.
I know. Bad, bad, girl.
Then I saw him, and believe it or not, choking on a guy's banana does not make the best first impression. [etc.]
- Paul Bloom. Against Empathy.
Bloom appears to have some kind of argument against emotional empathy (Where you feel what you think someone else is feeling) as opposed to cognitive empathy (cognitive ability to anticipate/predict other's emotional states). As an example of the kind of argument he makes, he points out that because empathy (emotional empathy) is innumerate, people will make knee-jerk judgments based on a single shocking case where statistically the other decision would be of benefit to more people. Color me extremely curious--I'm doubly curious because I have weak to nonexistent emotional empathy when dealing with people face to face. (I can't even figure out why you would want it. When Joe is really upset about something that's gone wrong, my getting upset as well is rarely if ever going to help me do something rationally useful about the situation? On the other hand, I know cognitively he's upset and wants X done for reassurance, so I can make whatever soothing noises are required, or whatever.) ANYWAY. I'm kind of skeptical but willing to read the book to find out. (Could have been useful Kujen research if I'd found the book earlier, ahahahaha.)
... but if you could get me to write anything at all, what would it be? Like, a fandom I'm not (still?) into, a pairing I don't normally write, tropes that aren't my usual thing -- or maybe an even more indulgent version of something I do write, or
that epic 300K post-Agent Carter fic that addresses all the plot points in the series finale, or whateverwhatever gonzo Angel crackfic I never got around to finishing.
Let's say you could commission me to write anything at all. I'm not looking for prompts because this is likely to be things I probably wouldn't write. I'm just curious.
(I'm goofing off after day two in a writers' room--we all worked hard!)
Meanwhile, woe, it went from snow in NYC to freezing rain. I don't expect it to affect my flight home tomorrow evening, but I had forgotten that puddles of slush WILL soak my sneakers. I am not really attired for a NYC winter...fortunately, I didn't have far to walk from the sandwich shop back to the hotel.
At long last, book two of the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse is out in the world! Today is the official release of Terminal Uprising. In this book, Mops and company return to the ruins of Earth.
We’ve already seen a couple of reviews for this one.
“Subtle absurdist humor permeates the narrative, derived from faulty translations, cultural references without context, and unconventional solutions to problems. Clever characterization and action-packed moments round out this thoroughly satisfying outing.”-Publishers Weekly
“Hines writes a crackling good action scene… Hines is also damn good at banter and witty repartee, and at evoking strong feelings of empathy in the reader … I really enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to another installment in the full course of time. I can’t imagine what Mops and her crew will get up to next — and that’s, of course, four-fifths of the fun.-Liz Bourke, Locus
You can read the first chapter online, if you want to try before you buy (or check out from the library, or whatever).
Finally, I’m hoping to get another newsletter out today, and will probably give a book away to a random subscriber. So sign up now if you want to be included in that giveaway.
Purchase links below. Thank you to all of my readers, and to everyone who checked out the first book, posted reviews, pre-ordered, and/or just offered support and encouragement along the way.
- HARDCOVER: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Mysterious Galaxy | Schuler Books | Indiebound
- EBOOK: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Kobo | iBooks
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
BTS presented the Best R&B Album Award at the Grammys last night. HER won! I'm glad she did, and I'm glad the boys looked so excited about the whole experience. (And it was cute to watch TaeTae give the actual award to an artist he loves.)
BTS's junior group, TXT, is set to debut in March. I'm really curious to see what their concept and music style will be.
As for (G)I-DLE, they ended up winning 10 rookie awards! I think that's the most ever won by a rookie group? I'm excited to see what the future holds for them, although I guess we won't have to wait for too long. They're releasing a new EP the day after my birthday! I hope they keep coming out with good stuff this year. I listened to the debut song of JYP's new girl group and it sounds like noise to me. I do like that it's another girl power-style song, but I'd rather listen to CLC's new lead track, "No" -- partially written, composed & arranged by Soyeon of (G)I-DLE) -- for that sort of thing.
This is a really great, balanced look at comic book creation, with an emphasis on the collaborative process and hardheaded, with-the-numbers sections on the financials and self-promotion that are involved in the business. The tone is more informal than the Kneece text, although it doesn't get as deep into the technicalities and theory of comics as a medium. As a bonus, the book walks through the creation process for Pak & Van Lente's eight-page comic Swordmaids.
The first chapter deals with the writer's end. This includes a thankfully brief section on basic Writing 101, then the two big ways of formatting comics scripts, full script vs. Marvel method, with examples of both.
The second chapter is about how visuals work in comics, and is addressed toward the artist or art team. This includes a lot of handy rules of thumbs, e.g. "You really only need to establish spatial relations once" and "Action progresses from left to right" (at least in the English-speaking world; I have no idea about comics in Arabic or Hebrew?). It also talks about considerations such as finding the right style, and by extension the right artist, for a given script or project.
Chapter 3 gets into the jobs of individuals later in the pipeline, with "commandments" for each member of the team. This includes the inker, the colorist (I found this section particularly fascinating as it's the job I know the least about), the letterer, and the editor. It ends with "Golden rules for comics collaboration" to make the process go smoothly for everyone involved.
Chapter 4 is about the art of the pitch, from the elevator pitch and logline to what happens next. For example, there's a brief section on the difference between creator-owned and work-for-hire, and examples of how beautiful covers and promo art can help seal the deal (e.g. Pretty Deadly).
Chapter 5 gets into the nitty-gritty of actual print comics, distribution, and some of the history of the comics business that explains why it is the way it is today. It also compares print comics with digital comics. Note that this book is ©2014 so it is already dated (mentions of LiveJournal as an active blogging platform, for example). Don't miss "Swordmaids: The P&L" (starts at p. 124), where the authors take you through an estimated profit & loss statement for what it would cost to produce their comic if they could get it distributed through diamond at a sales price of $3.95. The gross profit...isn't pretty. (I ran best-case scenario numbers for my weekend project single-issue comic and concluded that it would literally make no financial sense to do offset printing and that I could more easily make a profit just by writing a short story and selling it--and trust me, I know exactly how much it is not possible to pay the rent through sf/f short stories alone, since I am not a Neil Gaiman). However, they do point out Kickstarter as an alternative model.
Chapter 6, also of interest to me, is about self-promotion. I'm pretty sure these are all basics and that some of the social media advice is dated, but it's still a useful to think about.
Overall, this is less in-depth about actual creation than the Kneece or some other texts that I've read, but covers more of the money and marketing aspects, and is definitely worth a read. Recommended.
- Mark Kneece. The Art of Comic Book Writing: The Definitive Guide to Outlining, Scripting, and Pitching Your Sequential Art Stories.
Sorry this is a brief report--I speed-read this while we were running errands today so I could return it to the library (yay libraries!). This is a slightly dry, "textbook-y" overview of writing for comics. However! It features copious examples, runs you through the entire process, and spends a necessary minimum of time on writing basics and more time on constraints and advantages unique to comics as a medium, and which require the writer's particular attention. There are a lot of examples of weaker "beginner" scripts and ways to revise them to be stronger, as well as example finished pages. Kneece talks about every member of the comics-producing team (writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, editor) in those cases where it's not a single person shoulder two or more or all of the tasks, and ways for the writer to collaborate more fruitfully with the rest of the team. I actually really love a well-run collaboration (Serial Box's The Vela, fancomic collab with astridv, an aaaaaaages-ago fanfic collab with my friend Brent Morgan) so this kind of makes me wish I were collaborating with an artist or artists on my weekend project! Alas. XD
Anyway, this is extremely thorough, and I found it really informative; I wouldn't mind adding my own copy to my library someday. Highly recommended.
- Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente. Make Comics Like the Pros.
Another library book, which is why I'm trying to get through it today since I fly out for NYC tomorrow. XD I'm liking this a lot so far.
As a minor note, I'm seeing discrepancies in camera shot definitions between the Pak & Lente and the Kneece above. For example, according to Kneece, a "medium shot" is head and shoulders; according to Pak & Lente, it's the full body! That's not a small difference! I imagine the important thing would be consistency (to the extent that the writer specifies that at all, as opposed to leaving it to the penciller's discretion) and making sure that the artist understands the intent.
There are some things that I overdetermine in terms of camera angles and whatever in my scripts because they're notes to myself as to how I'd like to do things. If I were writing a script for an artist who wasn't me, I would probably leave a lot of that to the artist's discretion!
Meanwhile, I have to decide what to take for airplane reading for NYC (work trip), which is agonizing. I want a nice light book, both in size/weight and subject matter, which rules out things like R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War (that book is waiting until I have the emotional endurance for it, because I have heard about its second half) and a ton of delicious nonfiction that will have to wait until later in the month when I am no longer travelingtravelingtraveling. I think I'll take that Alpennia novel by Heather Rose Jones; it looks delightful. :D
1 Amnesia Fic
2 Body Swapping
5 High School/University AU
5 Enemies to Friends to Lovers
7 Vampires/Werewolves AU
7 Supernatural Creature/Human Romance
7 Magical Connection (Telepathy, etc)
10 Fairy Tale/Mythology AU
10 Coffee House AU/Food Service AU
10 'Everyone is Evil'/Mirrorverse AU ( more behind cut )
Jedao Two: "I'm your gun, but that's not all I am."
If you are going to tell me to rethink this whole hand lettering business, I will not argue. I screwed around with calligraphy during my misspent youth but never got good at it, didn't bring a ruler to Kevin's Starfinder campaign tonight, and just made this up as I went along. /o\ I honestly should have scanned the lineart before I committed watercolors/inks on the poor thing, but I suppose I can always trace it using my light pad and make another attempt. Among other things, this is more ambitious than I usually am with color, because I don't really understand how color works and I don't know how colors will look until I actually do them. Watercolor makes this even harder because specific textures are nonrepeatable. :p
The short version is that I was going to do a character portrait of Jedao the Escaped Experimental Subject, who is my Starfinder campaign character, except I forgot that he can't actually use a regular rifle (he's proficient in handguns and sniper rifles but apparently can't use a regular rifle WTF Starfinder?! ) so the pose reference I had brought with me was not applicable and I have to find a different one, sigh. Anyway, since I apparently can't go through a gaming session without drawing something, I pulled handgun reference I'd shot of my toy gun and then started adding things randomly.
 This reminds me of Ara's blood-rager Angmura in Pathfinder Society. Angmura was proficient in heavy armor but not light armor, which I call, "I can put on a full suit of plate armor but can't figure out how to wear a T-shirt." XD
BTW, so my new go-to for actual black blacks is Dr. Ph Martin's Black Star matte. However, Deleter 4 Black is still better for cool smoky wet-in-wet effects, so both of them have a place in my art supply toolkit.
Footwork: three advances per tap until the end of the piste, then three retreats per tap all the way back. We then paired up and Coach gave each pair an exercise band. I wound up paired with poor Ara by dint of having picked a piste adjacent to hers. The first exercise was to advance while your partner held the band around your hips, letting you get far enough ahead to build up some decent tension to work against. Then retreats, same deal, and finally lunges. Ara got a bad case of the giggles because we were "in harness" with each other (taking turns). :p Poor kidlet!
After that, Coach gave us a talk about the importance of the right sound when you parry. This is because the director is human and fallible, and they often listen for the parry. That means that if you parry and your blade does the thing where it hits your opponent's blade twice and makes two clicking sounds, it can be called your parry then your opponent's counter-parry because that's what the director heard!
Coach went on to explain (for foil) that this is relatively easy for four, which is a pretty percussive parry, but harder for six, which is a leverage parry where a certain amount of weaker blade-slidey noises are par for the course when it's properly executed. (Hahahaha I lack sound-vocabulary for this. We need a Foley artist.) So you need to adjust your parry six if you have a director who's not acknowledging your Righteous Parry Sixes!
We split up into foil, sabre, and épée after that. On foil: Bruce, Ryan, Joe, and me. Renee  was present for part of the class and gave Ryan pointers (he is the newest foilist, from Ara's Adult Beginner class), but left early and did not fence herself as she has bronchitis and is still recovering. I hope she feels better soon! On sabre: Arabelle, with whom Coach worked since there were no other sabreurs present. On épée: Neville and Erin.
 I finally Googled her based on information she'd given me. It's Renee without accent marks. Whoops, I should have done that earlier to figure out how to spell her name! I do not feel bad about Googling her because she Googled me when she learned I'm a writer. (She tried Ninefox and said sci-fi, especially military sci-fi, wasn't her thing, which is fair! Hee.)
Today was pretty straightforward. We started by practicing assertively loud parry-ripostes in four. Bruce noted that my parries became much faster when he actually lunged at me as opposed to when he simply extended and stepped. Probably because I was feeling much more threatened. XD (Even more threatening was Monday's class, when Bruce had two swords because he was playing the part of a lefty with a left-handed pistol-grip foil!) He also told me that when I'm being the attacker and lunging, I need to recover faster, and that helped a lot!
We then practiced the same drill but with parry-ripostes in six. I was a disaster. XD So part of the trick to a nice crisp parry six is to turn your hand over and tense your grip just as you reach the parry position, so that you go to the position but no further (remembering that a parry is a position and not an action). I don't have good grip strength so I kept death-gripping my hilt and then getting tired quickly. It's still dismaying how much faster Joe's reflexes are, sigh. Why couldn't we be doing competitive pitch identification? I would pwn him. :p
( spoilers, plus spoilery icon request )
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: A collection of short stories set in the world of her Grishaverse series. They're basically remixed fairy tales. My favorites are "Ayama and The Thorn Wood," "The Witch of Duva," and "When Water Sang Fire."
I ended up not finishing The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. I know it's the kind of book that Shakespeare geeks will totally love, but I am not one of those people. On its own, the first couple chapters didn't hold my attention so I put it down. I wasn't the only one in my bookclub, LOL.
Nothing! Work has been pretty busy the past few days, so reading kind of fell by the wayside.
The Six of Crows duology.