Archive for April, 2014

Update, week 4.

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2014

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…

Week 2

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

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!

Emo Boy

Posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Home and sick today so I decided to draw this for fun.


Comic strips

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

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.

Day Two

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

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.