I was watching some old wrestling from 1998/99 while i was unemployed and decided to do a picture for fun of all the characters of that time. Coloring it was hard, it all muddles together, it might look better just in black and white.
Book Three - Shrowded in secrecy still, been working on this since 2011. Should be out summer 2015. Announcement, title, etc, hopefully real soon!
I was watching some old wrestling from 1998/99 while i was unemployed and decided to do a picture for fun of all the characters of that time. Coloring it was hard, it all muddles together, it might look better just in black and white.
I’m thinking of beefing up my online presence over the next year or so as I prepare for my next book to come out. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, as I would think a lot of other authors, illustrators, etc might. Every time I think I’ll make more of a presence, I’m good for a week or two and then I fall off.
It’s good to have my site here, I think of this as my “hub” where anyone who’s found a book of mine can come see whatever I’ve posted last, find my twitter and facebook links, learn about my other projects, etc. I do have difficulty in keeping the main blog portion updated, as often I just don’t have much to say, or I would be talking about things I can’t really talk about (upcoming projects.) In fact, most of my thoughts go towards new ideas and stuff I feel odd talking about online, though some creators do that.
The main things I use are this site, twitter, Instagram, facebook. This site I don’t update often as I feel like I should have something substantial to talk about. Facebook I have a regular account and an author page. The regular account I use much more, though it’s for complete randomness. The author page I stopped using because only a small percentage of people who have liked your page actually see what you post, from what I understand, which is frustrating. I also run into issues of not having much to say, particularly between projects. Twitter I rarely use, and again mostly use it for randomness and being silly. Instagram I post cat pictures and skies.
So, I’m not the best self-marketer out there. The idea of simply linking to posts other authors make seems off-putting to me, though again, some creators do that. Writing more how-to’s and insider stuff is a little more appealing, but also time consuming. Writing more personal posts has appeal but isn’t really marketing, and likely most people don’t care.
I’m trying to form some kind of game plan to have a presence and build a fanbase. It’s odd that I can sell a decent amount of books and get some really nice fan mail but still not really have anything approaching a recognizable name. And having a new book coming out and wanting to speed up my output, I want to be out there and approachable and have a give and take with my audience, I just have a difficult time wrapping my head around it.
Tumblr is appealing because it’s so shareable. If I post something and people like it, it can spread. So then I think, what can I create that’s shareable. One idea I had was coupling art from my books with quotes. When I search myself on Tumblr a lot of book quotes come up, so coupling quotes with art and a website link could be good, say I put out one of those every couple days. Maybe once every week or two I can write something on my blog that’s more beneficial to my audience, tips, behind the scenes kind of stuff.
I thought of doing the occasional short story or comic strip, or a Happyface-style autobio thing whenever, every few weeks or month or two.
Once I start listing out schedules like that, though, I think eh, I won’t do that, I’ll fall right off. And I do want to have my next next project out much faster than it’s taken this book.
At the very least I could make more effort to communicate with my audience and fellow authors aside from my completely random weirdness, but let’s face it, I am random and weird, so that kind of stuff is fun and easy to do for me.
Anyway, that’s just some stuff on my mind and this itself is part of the effort to keep updated and “out there.”
Contract is signed, so hoping for announcements soon!
The big update since my last post is that I have found a new day job! It’s bittersweet because ultimately I want to be writing and creating full time and I enjoy my “work days” like this, but it’s overall good and needed still. I think I’ll get to that point, or I hope I do, soon, but right now I am not fast enough or making enough money to live on my own and not work a day job.
So the good things are I don’t have to move out of my apartment, I can keep paying rent and stay where I am. The money I’ll make for my book can now go toward savings and debt payoffs instead of using it to pay bills and rent for a few months like I was thinking I’d have to. And I still have 2 weeks before I start. When I was working full time last, 2 weeks would seem unfathomable; I hadn’t even taken a full week off for a good decade or so. But after 2 months of being unemployed, 2 weeks seems like a blink.
The timing is really funny, I was unemployed essentially the exact length of my severance pay. My more-or-less final deadlines for book materials is June 16, the day I start the new job. I basically got a couple months to wrap up my book, who knows how long it would have taken if I’d been working full time still? I probably would have had to push the release back.
The book is in copyediting now, so the only things left are fixing whatever copyediting finds, and doing some smaller things like dedications, acknowledgments, any back of the book material I want to include.
And art. I still have art to do.
I was looking at my contract for the art portion and part of it essentially gauges your “platform,” what you sell and how it’s sold. If you advertise on Facebook or twitter or any of the current media sites, if you promote on your website. I HAVE a Facebook, and a twitter, and a website, but I sure as hell don’t “sell” on it. In fact my last few posts have been about not having a day job or any money and essentially the exact opposite of advertising. Honestly I’m just not good at it. I know as an artist or creator you’re supposed to go out of your comfort zone to promote yourself but I lack that gene. I’m overly honest and detrimentally humble.
I thought maybe during this break I would have no trouble making time each day to take an hour tweeting and communicating and talking shop but that didn’t happen. Because of effort and because of time. I definitely have learned time is very slippery and hard to control. I could do certain things each day but at some point it all would slip out of my hands and suddenly the day’s passed.
Now I have another deadline, two weeks, what can I accomplish in that time? I do have some things to do, like the back of the book stuff, the art. That will take up most of my creative time, but I was hoping to get another project rolling before going back to work. Right now I’m not even sure what it will be. I’m open to work in almost any genre right now. I could continue the YA path i’ve been on the last half decade; I could move back towards comic work. I could do a graphic novel. I could try my YA fantasy series idea, I could try a middle grade book, or a children’s book. I have a list of about 10 projects I could feasibly dive into but I’m not sure where to go just yet. I’m going to meet up with my editor in New York before I go back to work so maybe I’ll get some direction then. I’d kinda like to sit in the quiet and think up a few new ideas still, too.
So my free time will close up a good deal but there’s still a wide open future and hopefully I can sell something new, have some luck with this next book, and before you know it I’ll be back to full-timing it. I’ve thought that almost every year since 2008, though, and it hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. I’m just not there yet.
haven’t blogged in a bit so I guess I’ll write something here and keep this updated. Let’s see, where am I at…
Nothing happening on the job front. Applying to similar jobs, finding less stuff to apply to each week, finding days where I’m busy enough that I don’t get a chance to even look. Thought this was my 3rd week of unemployment for most of the week until today I realized I’m actually on week four so that’s scary.
My editor at Little Brown, where my last 2 books were published has moved to a new company, Roaring Brook, part of MacMillan Publishing, and I’ll be going with her, starting with this book I am wrapping up. To keep our schedule and release by next summer we’re basically in overdrive right now, which, being unemployed, is ideal for me as I have plenty of time to devote to getting this finished.
I wrapped up my latest draft this week, I’d been reading the manuscript from start to finish and marking it up for my own big polish, and I think we’re just about done. I also pitched some covers, which I’ve never done for any of my books so it would be pretty cool to do my own cover. It’s also fun to see someone else’s interpretation of the work, and I did love the covers for Happyface and Winter Town.
Currently trying to secure song lyrics permissions and it’s been a confusing hassle. Every person I write seems to be the wrong person and I’m on some kind of goose chase, and there’s several songs with lots of rights holders so I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what happens, it’d be a shame to have to rewrite scenes to take the lyrics out but I guess it is what it is.
The other big to-do is the art for the book, and my editor and I discussed some interesting new ideas for the art today, so I need to be working on that pretty much constantly. I’m pretty sure if I WAS still employed right now, this book wouldn’t be out until late next year or maybe 2016, so I guess everything happens for a reason.
Trying to fit in some exercise but I’ve been working more or less all day and night on stuff; when I don’t have plans I’m working, which is what I like anyway. I went for a hike this morning and I’ve felt tired all day from it which isn’t a great sign, so I just need to push myself to do more.
That’s about where I’m at. I actually really enjoy not having a crappy day job and in an ideal world i’d somehow make enough money over the next year to not actually need another one but I doubt that’ll happen. I’ll be working on this book still for the next month or 2, and pitching and selling a new project and actually getting paid for it won’t happen before I run out of money.
All that said, I have to go research another company and figure out what rights they hold, this is not my favorite activity! And off I go…
Into week 2 of unemployment and still feeling weird. It also feels weird to talk about, like when new parents blog about being new parents even though it kinda happens to most people, but when it happens to you it feels like something worth talking about. ???
Anyways, there’s about a zillion things to do between finishing up my book and starting new projects but it’s more difficult to manage large amounts of time than it was to manage the few hours I’d get to myself when I worked full time. It’s almost like there’s too much time and I only know how to work in small doses.
I wish I could illegally download groceries.
Lots of big things happening behind the scenes with this book, not even sure if it’ll be out by next summer now. That’s still the goal at least but it could feasibly get pushed back even more. Nothing I can really talk about unfortunately but stuff just keeps happening, big changes that are out of my control. Hopefully it’s all for the better and things work out well.
Currently reading my last draft, marking it up as I go for a self-edit/polish. It’s kinda tough, for me at least, to sit and read your own book because you pretty much know the whole story and I worry it’s going to stink, but I guess that’s the reason I’m doing it. For the most part I’m adjusting sentences so it flows better, cutting lines that feel repetitive or out of character. I did really enjoy the last chapter I read which was nice, like a ‘there’s something here’ kind of feeling. Hopefully people like it when it’s out.
Still thinking about a comic strip, generating ideas for my next pitch, but I haven’t taken any time to sit and sink into it, go to that dark morbid place in my brain where comic strips are born. I have the time for it, but damned if it doesn’t keep slipping away.
I was also sick for like over 2 weeks but just today I’m finally feeling better. It somehow kept getting worse.
I guess that’s it from the Emond compound!
I’m watching the kickstarter funded documentary “Stripped” by Dave Kellett and Frederick Schroeder. So many mixed emotions on comic strips. I just love the art form so much, it really kills me how much has changed over the past 20 years. Even a few weeks ago, thinking about this job loss and wrapping up my next book really soon, I thought “I should give syndication another try…”
My last attempt was doing a “Steverino” submission back in 2006, which was declined but with a “please keep trying” from a few syndicates. Even in the 90′s and early 2000′s when I was frequently submitting comics but wasn’t great at them, I frequently heard back from the editors who were always encouraging and informative. Once I segued into comics and then into young adult novels I got further from those syndication goals. And in that time I think it’s only gotten harder to make it in syndication, as there’s fewer papers, fewer spaces for new comics to even go.
In this documentary Bill Watterson talks about the regularity of the comic strip – it’s something people read EVERY day. Week by week, month by month, all these people you’ll probably never meet are reading all your thoughts, and jokes, and observations, and they buy into your point of view, your world. There’s a very strong bond that’s built.
My first YA novel Happyface came out in 2010, and here 4 years later I still get email from people who’ve just found it at least a couple times a week. It’s very rewarding, but there’s also a frustration in releasing books years apart from each other. Or in the case of my next book, there’s a 4 or 5 year gap in between projects. It’s a real far cry from a daily comic strip, or even the bi-monthly comic book I did, Emo Boy. That was an exciting time because every 8 weeks I had a new story come out, the review cycle would start up again, I’d get the box of comics in the mail, new fan mail. It’s exciting to have a regular product coming out. With books sometimes it feels like you disappear. I’ve been working real hard on this project for years now and I can count on one hand the amount of people who even know what I’m writing. To all the people who liked Happyface or Winter Town, I may as well be doing nothing right now. And when it comes out next summer, I’ll be starting the process from scratch, building an audience all over again. I can’t even say that teenagers who may have bought Happyface or Winter Town even read YA anymore.
Of course I don’t plan on giving up writing and going back to cartooning. If anything it was just a thought of “what if a comic strip could replace my day job,” what if I could build up enough projects to be doing this full time. I’d like to do a comic book series again, too. I’d like to make a movie, but we have to pick and choose what we spend our time on.
If I did a comic strip again, I’d have to put more thought into what it would be. Not Steverino, for sure. Something I never fully grasped all those years working on Steverino was that eventually, in the syndication process, some agent would be traveling around trying to sell my comic to newspaper editors, who never actually had a blank space in their newspaper waiting to be filled. It’s a real hard job getting in there, essentially kicking out another comic. And I never pictured the poor agent having to sell Steverino. “Well, it’s by this kid, his name’s Steve, and it’s about him and his friends, talking about stuff.” SOLD!
I had another comic strip I always wanted to do more of, “The Stigglefinks,” that was supposed to be a riff on the typical “family comic” which always seemed to me to be like an 80′s sitcom, also family-centric and broad audience-targeted. The Stigglefinks was going to have the family dynamic and hokey joking but it’d be absurdist, too, lost of weird stuff we never explain, a family that makes no sense together. But even that I’m not sure how you sell it. But I feel like my art has grown and my storytelling has grown as well as my ability to understand marketing and part of me is really curious to see what I could come up with.
I guess the future’s wide open so we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. If I do it, I’d probably post it on Facebook daily for the 24-odd strips it takes for a submission. I think it’d be fun.
Well, today is the second day of my unemployment. Yesterday was the first, but it snowed a good 3 inches over here, early spring snow so it felt like I had a long weekend, like it was just a snow day. I had some chores to do, a friend came over in the evening. Today was the first day where it felt like something was different. It was a lot harder than I expected it to be.
I guess in my head I figured it’d feel like the weekend still, I’d go out to write, get a lot done. I’ve worked full time pretty much since I was in my late teens, so I had this idea that if I didn’t have W O R K taking up 40 plus hours a week, this huge energy and time drain, I’d be able to exercise, read, relax. I’d have time for all the things I normally don’t, AND I would have a ton more time to work. It makes sense, right?
Somehow it doesn’t feel that way actually being in it. It still feels like time slips away real fast. It’s hard to take control of the day, it’s hard to focus. Maybe it’s just because this is new still, maybe my brain hasn’t wrapped itself around this concept, or maybe I’m adjusting still.
Today I had a phone interview for a call center job; the interview itself went okay but I’m not keen on working nights and weekends which it turned out this job offers exclusively. On the one hand, I lose any semblance of a social life, but on the other, I’d get paid again and could keep my apartment and things. Right now I’m leaning towards declining, I’m fairly certain I’d be miserable working nights, weekends and holidays.
So the stress of money and work followed me as I went out to write. The morning was spent with the interview and doing my laundry. By the time I went out, I was in a daze. I couldn’t really focus at all on my book. The people in my peripheral vision were horribly distracting and of course there was a crying baby. I sent my editor a life/book update to try and get focused on something but it was no use. So I went for a walk for about 20 minutes. Yesterday was snow and today was warm and sunny, go figure.
I’ve spent the afternoon in something of a daze, applied to more jobs, did some house chores, made lists. Writing this blog.
It could be that I’m not used to this kind of freedom, it could be that I need to do some difficult research on this book, to be fair I have been procrastinating for a while on this. I’m not sure. There’s definitely plenty I could and should be doing, but mentally I’m in a funk. As of 5:30 est, I’d declare today a mess. Hopefully the night goes better, hopefully tomorrow goes just swimingly.
Thus concludes life blog #2.
Every now and again I feel like blogging, I end up posting things for a few weeks, and eventually bail on it, so I guess this is another attempt. Inspiration this time came from author/editor Maya Rock, every few months or so she’ll tweet something that catches my attention (not that her tweet hit/miss ratio is that bad) and I’ll wander to her blog, which isn’t all promotion like some blogs, and it isn’t just writing advice and relinked articles like other blogs, but when I read hers, I feel like I get to know her a little bit, which is ideally the kind of blog I’d want.
So, with that goal in mind, I’ve had this idea the past few months that this is a “transitional year” for me. And I’m not sure what the transition is, exactly, but it’s a feeling that’s lingered and seems to be coming true enough, 3 months in.
For one thing, I’m finally getting really close to finishing my 3rd book. I’ve been working on it since 2011, which is definitely the longest I’ve spent on a book so far. There have been many times I thought I was close to finishing only to have a new angle or focus in the book reveal itself, ending in major rewrites. But each draft I’ve done, I’ve been more and more happy with, and it really feels special to me. You never know if it’s going to do well, or go unnoticed or just coast on the shelves for a month or two, but it’ll feel really good to finally put it out in the world, regardless. Ideally that happens next summer.
In the meantime I’m starting to think about what comes next. My muse is fleeting there; I have lots of ideas but each time I settle on one, something else catches my interest. I’ve thought about a fantasy series, a children’s book, something middle grade, and I have ideas for YA, new adult and adult novels as well. At this very second I don’t know which one to pursue, but I guess I’ll go over that with my agent soon enough.
Another transition is I’ve lost about 25 pounds in the past 4 months or so. I’m not sure if that sounds like a lot or not, but I feel very different. Energetic, lighter on my feet, more confident in myself. I feel GOOD, basically, at least physically but mentally, too. Clothes that didn’t fit before fit again, people have been complimenting me unwarranted, which is nice.
Some of the transitions are bad, or maybe good disguised as bad? I guess this as good a place as any to talk about it, but I work a day job, nothing great but it’s pays the bills, and my position there is being eliminated, in fact this is my last week of day work. There’s no shortage of emotion wrapped up in it, good and bad. I never LIKED the job, it was actually stressful and annoying and worked completely against my skillset as a human being. It took up most of my time, not just working 40 hours a week but having to work 2 nights a week made it really hard to do much of anything. So, in a lot of ways it’s a massive relief and I’m glad to see it go. Also, a job elimination is way preferable to a firing, seeing as I’ll get paid for a few months and it’ll be somewhat easier to find new work. I think.
Finding new work is it’s own stressor. Do I look for clerical work, insurance stuff, what I know from the past 15 years to pay bills? Do I try and find work in art or literary fields? I can write a book and get paid for it but not enough or with any predictability or regularity to live off of it, at least not yet. My agent and editor suggested I could build a portfolio and try to do some book cover art. Again, a good option but won’t keep me in my apartment past the next month. Truthfully, I never really learned how to “make a living” doing what I love. Poor me, I know most people are in that boat. I grew up wanting to be an artist; got old enough to move out and had to pay the bills, and here I am now.
On the precipice of something, but never quite there.
Those are just the “big” things. I’ve been thinking about dating (hey, hey, unemployed bachelor!), there’s some family grief in the air, I’ve gone to some meetings that are helping me discover some stuff about myself. It all seems like a lot, there’s a lot in the air. I’m glad to see winter passing, and I’m ready for spring, cliché as it is.
I’m hopeful and optimistic, confident things will work out, but I’m not quite there yet. Still waiting to see.
Side note: I intended this blog to be funny when I first started it. Make of that what you will.
This is pretty neat, I did a Tumblr search for myself and saw all these bits and pieces people pulled from my books and posted quotes from! It’s really neat. Half of it I don’t even remember writing, which is pretty amusing, I can be really cynical and I love it.
The one I saw the most was this line from Winter Town:
“The best music for her was always the stuff you could relate to, the stuff that spoke directly to you and twisted and knotted itself so far into your life you couldn’t tell where art ended and reality began.”
I do recall being really excited when I thought of the line. The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds was going to play a much bigger role at the end with Evan pouring over the lyrics and finding a better understanding of Lucy through it but there were rights issues.
The other one that got posted a lot was the affirmation at the end of Happyface:
“I swear, with Chloe Bear once again as my witness…
That my problems and failures will not stop me, nor will they dictate who I am.
That I will continue to be my own person.
That life is too short, and I will live every day as the best person I can be.
That I will grow and that I will change.
That I will smile and hold my head high.
That this is a new start and a new day.
That I will allow myself to cry or sit by myself when I need to.
That I will find things to really smile about.”
It’s a pretty good mission statement and it’s cool to see a lot of people took meaning from it.
People also seemed to like this quote from Gram in Winter Town:
“Really? And how do you know?”
“I’m on the internet. I stay informed. They let old people on the internet, you know.”
No recollection of writing this, but of course it’s true:
“We’re bonded by eighties music. It’s like superglue.”
And this one is good and cynical:
“Any meaningful writing is just depressing anyway. The further we get to know our own human nature, the uglier it is.”
Hopefully my next book will be as tumblr-worthy. My editor said it’s one “people will mark up their books, tagging all their favorite lines.”