alanajoli: (Default)
I've been working with Scott Colby for some years now -- he's been my editor for several of the Baeg Tobar pieces I've written, all of which have been better for his input. Now, he's just released his first self-published novel as an e-book! (It also features cover art by the awesome Jeremy Mohler, who was my editor on Cowboys and Aliens II.)

Shotgun is now available at Amazon, and if it's anything like the quality of Scott's short stories for Baeg Tobar, it will be well worth checking out. You can also keep up with news on Scott's novel on facebook.

In honor of the recent release, Scott wrote up a guest blog about his writing process. Without further ado: Scott Colby!


--

When I self-published my debut novel, Shotgun, a few weeks ago, it was the culmination of years of hard work, several dozen gallons of coffee, and lots of time spent staring off into space debating whether my latest idea was a brainstorm or just a brain fart. I wrote the first version of the story ten years ago, in the back of my high school classrooms, when I should've been taking notes. Following several rewrites later and a decision to finally get serious about it this summer, I've got a story I'm very proud of and a world I plan to play with for a while.

One of the most fun parts of this process has been looking back at how my work has changed. I'm not sure what happened to my original spiral notebooks, but thanks to the magic of technology, I can look back at what I wrote in college and directly after. I didn't do much thinking ahead back then, but for some reason I had the presence of mind to save multiple versions of Shotgun rather than just overwriting my previous attempt at literary stardom. I can find the point where, after reading Frank Herbert's Dune, I introduced a reluctant traitor and commoditized an item that had previously just been a plot device. There's a few discarded documents where the comedy went way over the top, and there's a version where I brought it back down to Earth–well, as close to Earth as contemporary fantasy with a dash of very silly magic can get. There's the point where I ditched my terrible original first chapter which featured my main character singing along to “Sweet Home Alabama” as his pickup truck bounced along a dirt road on his way to meet his soon-to-be-murdered friends in a hunting cabin. And there's the time I decided to stop taking my elves too seriously and just let them fall off the rails. I've got fifteen chapters of an unfinished sequel that doesn't work at all anymore and another twelve of a prequel that might be salvagable with a bit of finagling and a strong pot of coffee.

What I've got is a complete record of my favorite hobby. It's proof that even though I don't know all there is to know about writing, at least I'm improving. It's an in depth look into a corner of my psyche throughout the years, flavored with elves and magic and terrible, horrible ideas I'm glad I got rid of but which I know seemed awesome at the time. Nullet the talking donkey? Pike's live-in groupie? Good riddance! None of you were as good as the pound cake summoning scene that's survived three iterations.

Anyway, to the point: keep copies of what you write, even if you think it's absolute garbage. Maintain files for different versions, too, rather than just overwriting what you've all ready done. I've been lucky with my computers, but I'm not foolish enough to keep anything in just one place anymore. I'm a big fan of Dropbox and I suggest you find something that works for you. Losing work is one thing; losing memories is another.

Oh, and check out Shotgun. I guarantee it's worth at least the $2.99 I'm charging. And if you read it and you think it isn't, well, just be glad this easy self-publishing technology wasn't around when I was an even crappier writer.

Linkville

Aug. 20th, 2011 11:03 am
alanajoli: (Default)
Attempt number two at posting: I don't know if it's having so many tabs open (with links I've been collecting to share here) that's making Chrome slow down. I'm also not sure how my last livejournal tab got closed before posting (though that could have just been my slippery fingers). But I figure I'd better share some of this stuff and see if that speeds up my work process on this end.

  • In Reads takes a look at the Amazon royalty structure for Kindle books, and questions whether the cut off point for high royalties at $2.99 is fair. (Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 receive 70% royalties; below $2.99 they receive 35%.) With Amazon pitching a new tablet to compete with the iPad, I bet we see this type of conversation keep cropping up.

  • When the agency model first came out, I, and others, questioned who was benefiting. From what I knew from working with physical books at a bookstore, the publisher sets a cover price, charges retailers a percentage of that price, and the retailer decides how to price it to best sell the books to their customers. The agency model takes away the retailer's options to price the book for their customers -- which looks to me like it's shorting the consumers. I couldn't figure out the benefit to the publishers for this, but apparently, it's that they could sell their books to Apple. And now, according to Business Week, Apple and the publishers who have embraced the agency model are facing a suit for e-book price fixing. So my feeling that there was something fishy about the model is not a unique thought!

  • A writer for the Guardian asks, again, if e-books are ushering print out. According to the commenters, the answer is still no.

  • Via Rob Schmidt from Newspaper Rock, National Geographic tested the representation of the Apache in the Cowboys and Aliens movie. Some of the things I mentioned in my review came up; other things they caught I did short pieces on in the history bits of C&AII. For example, War Hawk (who doesn't have a traditional Apache name) talks a little about naming conventions here. Apache names reflected something about their personal nature, and during the time in which C&AII is set, a lot of those names began with "Angry." I can't track down my original sources on that information, but photographer Rico Leffana wrote about some of that same history in a short essay on Fort Apache.


In the meantime -- plenty of writing and editing work keeping this Abbott busy! On the fun side, Bug and I both went on our first ride on the electric trolley, which I've written about briefly on Branford Patch, and had a great time.
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens)
I've been meaning to write up my thoughts of the Cowboys and Aliens movie since we saw it on Friday night. Twostripe and I actually caught three movies last week, which is a record since Bug's birth. In Howard Tayler-like ranking (by how much I enjoyed it as I saw it, rather than by any more sophisticated ranking system), Cowboys and Aliens was my number two movie of the week: I had more fun at Captain America and not as much fun at Harry Potter part 7 part 2. However, I will say that of the three, Cowboys and Aliens was the only movie that exceeded my expectations. I wanted it to be amazing; I was worried that it wouldn't be. It succeeded in surpassing my worry while still falling short of amazing -- but it was a lot of fun, and that goes pretty far with me. It also had more elements of the original plot than the trailers had made it look like would be involved.

Doing an LJ cut here for those who don't want spoilers, because I'm cracking this wide open.

The Good, the Bad, and the Aliens )
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens)
So, along with the new C&A trailer, Twostripe spotted the trailer for The Warriors Way, which is, of all things, a ninja western. For all you twitter writers who can't seem to get your head around cowboys in space, is Old West + ninjas any easier? (Also, Spacewesterns.com has a list of all the space westerns that have gone before. Nevermind the fact that you missed Firefly or Serenity or even Cowboy Beebop. Cowboys + space = awesome.)

I think this just goes to show that the western is now the cross-genre component of choice for Hollywood.

--

For folks who are interested in reading the original Cowboys and Aliens before the movie comes out, you can still read the original C&A comic for free at Drunk Duck. Cowboys and Aliens II is also still up, in all its half-finished glory, for your reading pleasure.
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens)
As promised!



Does it look much like the comic? In tone, yes. In plot? Generally. In characters? They seem to have renamed them and given them different back stories... so, you know, not really. Zeke and Verity are replaced by Jake and Ella (though I have sneaking suspicions that Ella may combine Verity and Kai... we'll have to see what they decide to do with the alien element in the film). Instead of War Hawk, we've got Nat Colorado. Padre Breen is missing (sadness!), and rather than the ineffectual mayor of the first volume, there's Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde.

Will it be fun?

I'm betting on yes.

(Will they invite me and the C&AII team to the premiere? Alas, I'm betting on no!)
alanajoli: (Default)
I wrote the subject of this post, then thought, "Wait, didn't I write something with that title before?" Took me a minute to remember, but yes -- an adventure for Living Forgotten Realms (Cormyr 1-3, to be exact). It's kind of fun to have written enough stuff that's out there in the world (albeit most of it modular adventures) that it takes me a second to place the title.

But that's neither here nor there. The title is intended to reflect what I've been doing lately -- as in, "Keeping my." Things never seem to slow down at Casa Abbott any more, and a couple of unfortunate events -- currently a cold, previously an epic saga I'll explain below -- have made things even more of a kaffuffle than usual. But, hopefully, I'll get back on top of the pile and start feeling just regularly-whelmed instead of over-.


  • The saga: Editorial assistant Tollers decided on Sunday the 7th that he was going to go out for an afternoon walk and just forgot to come home. For three days. Monday morning it snowed here on the Shoreline, and we were worried something had happened to him. So, we put out posters and spread the word among local friends. Bug and I wandered out into the woods behind our house whistling for him (the Editorial Assistants are trained to respond to a whistle) and polled the neighbors to see if anyone had seen him. Then, three days later, he showed up at the door, meowing to be let in as though nothing had happened. Whew! We kept him in for a couple of days to remind him where home was, but since then, he's been back out on his regular afternoon walks and has checked in more frequently than usual, as if to say, "I know I worried you. I'm okay. Feed me?"


  • I wrote a short story! "Shotgun Wedding" is out on submission for an anthology that will be edited by Matt McElroy, my editor at Flames Rising. Two of my crit buddies (Twostripe and niliphim) said that the biggest problem they had with it was that it ought to be a novel. Considering that it's urban fantasy, and Twostripe doesn't even really like UF, that made me very excited. So, I'm hoping to start a bigger project featuring those characters -- I wrote the short story with the idea that it might be a prequel to an urban fantasy series. While doing research for the story, I came across the Chinese saying "All that is needed is an East Wind" -- I think All We Need Is an East Wind would be a nifty title, so I'm going to use it (or just East Wind) as a place holder for now for the soon-to-be WIP.

  • I had a wonderful and too-short visit with my mother, who flew out from Michigan. She reminded me again that the only reason she let me go off to college at sixteen was that I promised I'd develop a way to tesser (I'd planned on going into physics), and I still hadn't fulfilled my part of that bargain.

  • The current set of autobiographies is coming to a close, which means I need to get a lot of editing done this week! I've got a fun bunch of writers as usual: I already have edits back from playwright Jean-Claude van Itallie (who teaches about writing and theater, meditation, and healing in the Berkshires, not too far from where I went to college) and friend of the blog Jeff Duntemann (who you should be reading over at [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann if you're not already). If all goes well with the editorial process, I'll have five essays in this batch (instead of the usual four), which should be a plus for my in house editor.

  • I'm also studying, through a correspondence course, fitness for pregnant and postpartum women, in hopes of a) passing a practicum in early December, and b) teaching for Dancing Thru Pregnancy, the group that I've been taking classes with to get back into shape after having Bug. The material is really fascinating, though I struggle with some of the information, since I never took anatomy in school -- it's a lot of new content to work through. I just need to get on top of the material before my test deadline!

  • Lastly: more copyediting. Bread and butter keeps a person from starving, no?



And, of course, I want to keep up with blogging again. I've got a great guest blog coming up from Dylan Birtolo ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf), and hopefully there will be some fun news on the Cowboys and Aliens front to share, since word on the street is that there's a movie trailer coming out soon...
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens - verity)
I keep seeing items in the news about the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens film, in part because my name occasionally gets dropped in with heavy hitters like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Adam Beach, and Jon Favreau. This tickles me to no end, since I've got absolutely nothing to do with the film, although if I'd been in Arizona not long ago, I would have sent Favreau a private tweet (apparently he checks his twitter) seeing if I could get a spot as an extra since I was part of the sequel's creative team. I like to think he'd have said yes. (Too bad they're not filming any part of it in New Haven, like so many other films lately!)

One of the articles that recently came up in my Google alerts is a (scathing) review of the original book on Panels on Pages, with very nice things said about our sequel at the end. Despite our long, long hiatus, it's nice to know that folks are still finding what we worked on and enjoying it. I keep hoping that one of these days Platinum will put us back online, so to speak.
alanajoli: (cowboys and aliens - daiyu)
I had an absolutely fabulous time at Anonycon this weekend! I got to play games with several gamer friends and substraters: I was a student at a special school reminiscent of PS 238 (the superhero kids comic by Aaron Williams), Emily Post (yes, Miss Manners edit: apparently Miss Manners was Judith Martin, who wrote in the 1970s, not, in fact, Emily Post, who wrote Etiquette [via [livejournal.com profile] holmes_iv]) in a horror game, and an epic level paladin in a 4e game. [livejournal.com profile] banana_pants puts on a heck of a party!

Now I'm getting back to my regular schedule, finishing up a review for PW today and working on obituary writing and coding the autobiographical essays this week. Just a few thoughts in the meantime.

Paul Green interviewed me and Jeremy Mohler about Cowboys and Aliens II on Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. Pop by and see what we have to say (and what we're hoping for the future!)

As the Mystery Writers of America delisted Harlequin due to their new "self-publishing" (in actuality, vanity press) arm, the debate about whether Harlequin is in the right is still going on across the Web. (The RWA and SFWA have also spoken out about Harlequin's new "imprint.") I would hope that people who read this blog know I'm in favor of self-publishing, and that I think there are great scenarios where it's the best venue for the work. [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann is, to me, one of the most sensible people on this topic, and I very much admire the work he's done through Lulu.com. [livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf has done great work in both self-publishing and small press. Self-publishing makes it possible to market your own work when traditional publishing isn't working for you (for whatever reason).

Edit: Jeff commented below: "Your readers should understand that I've been as successful as I have as a self-publisher largely because I've worked in publishing since 1985 and did quite well at it, both on-staff for other companies and in command of my own. Now, in (slightly) early retirement, I have the time to pursue it with the energy that it requires. It's a lot tougher being a writer AND and a publisher AND a worker at a day job." He's right -- I probably should have mentioned that to provide the context. If I ever have questions about self-publishing, he's my first go-to person. :)

Vanity publishing is an entirely different creature. As Jackie Kessler wrote on her blog:

  • Self-publishing: author keeps all the money after paying expenses.

  • Vanity publishing: publisher keeps majority of the money and the writer pays all the expenses.


Given the information available online about what the new Harlequin imprint's process will be, I'm astonished by how many supporters it has. There are a lot of people reacting to the PW articles defending Harlequin as forward thinking and showing their willingness to try something different from traditional publishing. The thing is, vanity publishing is not new -- and a big, respectable house like Harlequin offering expensive packages to would-be and rejected authors while dangling the carrot that if their book sells well, they might bring it over into a regular Harlequin imprint seems unethical at best.

I do see that some of the publishing services that I respect, like Lulu.com and CreateSpace (with which I'm less familiar), also offer packages that would make me dubious, rather than the free option (which is the one I associate with the companies) where they just take the cost portion of the proceeds from each sale. I think I agree with Victoria at Writer Beware that one of the qualifiers of self-publishing is that you own your own ISBN. Short of owning your own POD press, however, Lulu.com and CreateSpace seem like the best options out there for DIY publishing. A company that's going to take your money for the same services a traditional publisher would front for you strikes me as taking the vanity press option, and it's a move that I'm sorry to see Harlequin making.

Interviews

Nov. 25th, 2009 02:53 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
I got interviewed! I'm over at Weird Westerns talking about Serenity Adventures. Something will go up there about Cowboys and Aliens II soon, also.

Is it because the holidays are coming up that my brain is fried? If others are experiencing the same fried-brain symptoms, then I'll be happy to blame the season rather than myself. To everyone celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. tomorrow, I hope you have wonderful time with friends and family (and food)!
alanajoli: (advice)
I had the privilege yesterday of visiting Dona Cady's science fiction course at Middlesex Community College. The class sounds like something I would have loved to take as an undergrad: they study the hero's journey, talk about myth and literature, read a lot of really excellent books, watch some great movies, and are required to play Warhammer as part of the course, using that character as the voice for a travelogue that takes them through the hero's journey as a creative writing project. Amazing, right? Dona has a real passion for her course material, and is really dedicated to giving her students a really good picture, not only for what the academic/critical side look like, but also for what the industry looks like. That's where I came in. She has several other guests coming, including Christopher Golden, and all of the guests talk about their career and their writing.

For me, that meant telling the story of handing out business cards, getting my first gigs through EnWorld, and talking about Dungeons and Dragons. Most of the students weren't tabletop gamers, but a couple who were asked some really great questions. More of them were familiar with the Forgotten Realms through the fiction, so we talked a little bit about the way games and comics do ret-cons, and I discussed not only the Spellplague (more of a reboot than a ret-con), but also taking over Cowboys and Aliens II from a different team, and thinking about what details (sometimes culturally and historically incorrect) we felt we had to keep to prevent ourselves from doing a ret-con. It was overall a great experience, and there are things that I'll do differently when I return to the class next year, hoping to get a little more cross-talk instead of Q&A. But we'll see--I studied in a very conversation based environment for all of my undergrad classes, so I acknowledge I'm a little more on the everyone-talk-around-the-table side of things than the lecture side.

That said, sometimes Q&As are great on their own. [livejournal.com profile] devonmonk did a great Q&A on her blog the other day and addressed one of my questions about online presence (since I've been thinking about that since Monday). I loved her thoughts on the topic (and they reassert my opinion of her as a genuinely sweet individual). The online presence and how it impacts how people read your fiction is definitely I'll continue to explore--not only because it's relevant to me as a writer, but because there's something really interesting going on with virtual worlds and how we create ourselves. According to Professor Cady, there's a correlation between virtual worlds and Asian philosophy, and that's a paper I'd love to read once she has it published.

Thanks again to Shelley/Dawnsister, one of the original New England Browncoats, for the introduction and encouragement to come up. She's another person I'd only known virtually until yesterday, and it's lovely to put a face to her online identity. :)
alanajoli: (orb)
My main character is now twelfth level. Huzzah! We had a great fun weekend, with an official RPGA mod, a tailor-made DM's Mark, and outdoor cooking on the grill. We even started one of our games out in the back yard. How can that not be fun? (We didn't even lose any dice outside, which is the real challenge to backyard D&D.)

In other news, I got the trip itinerary for Greece and Turkey today, so the countdown can officially start. Here's what I have outstanding before I leave:

1) I have the rough of "Don't Let Go" out with Dylan ([livejournal.com profile] eyezofwolf). I don't know if edits will actually happen on that before I go or not.
2) I have an edited version of "The Best Things Get Better with Age," my contribution to Serenity Adventures, out with Jamie Chambers. I don't know if I'll be getting any more edits back on *that* or not, either.
3) I have three essays and eight obituaries to write.
4) I have a scanning project that I had fully intended to get done before I left.
5) I was hoping to actually do some comic writing before I left, in case C&AII possibly comes off hiatus while I'm gone.
6) I've been asked to finish two more reviews for [livejournal.com profile] flamesrising and two for School Library Journal.

There are some other incidentals (like following up on contracts, etc.). But really? That's a lot to get done by the 20th. Along with plans to get together with friends (including lunch/coffee with [livejournal.com profile] jenlyn_b and [livejournal.com profile] amanda_marrone tomorrow--so excited!) and attending graduation at Simon's Rock on Saturday to see some friends get their shiny new pieces of paper that kick them out of being undergrads, I'll be cutting it close. Eight days left. Wish me luck!
alanajoli: (Default)
I went to my very first Gilbert and Sullivan performance tonight. I'd sung parts of The Pirates of Penzance before. Heck, I've been to Penzance, England. But I'd never seen the show. The awesome Junius (who may or may not have an lj identity--I haven't internet-stalked him *g*) invited us to go, and so we went. The orchestra was awesome, the performers were quite excellent, and I learned something I'd long suspected. Gilbert and Sullivan are right up my alley as far as humor goes. The whole show is very, very silly--and that's what's excellent about it.

Now, I really want start singing again. I don't think that I really should ever have sung Mabel (I trained as a soprano in college, despite being rather more an alto naturally speaking, though my range was good enough to sing Handel arias and such). My voice remembers quite a bit more of the "O Wandering One" than I would have suspected, though, and it felt good to sing just a little bit when we got home. One of these days, I'll have to get myself back into good training. I fear that my instrumental training may be too far gone at this point to recover, but the singing, I should be able to get back.

(We discussed at one point this evening how stereotypes are associated with different instruments to those who have been instrumentalists, and I always wonder what people suspect I've played. Most people probably wouldn't peg me, I suspect--but I'd be entirely amused if they knew right off!)

On a completely different note, I just discovered that Lindsay Archer has a whole bunch of LJ icons available on her website, so you'll be seeing several new pieces of art by Lindsay in this blog. (I've also added a number of icons from Cowboys and Aliens and Steampunk Musha recently just to spice things up a bit.)
alanajoli: (verity)
For today's guest blog, we're doing something a little different. Rob Schmidt is a journalist who produces Newspaper Rock: Where Native America Meets Pop Culture whom I met through a review of Cowboys and Aliens. What I didn't know at the time was that Rob is also the writer of Peace Party, a comic dedicated to promoting fair and accurate images of Native America while, of course, telling a good story. A couple of months ago, Rob gave me permission to excerpt some of his essay, "Why Write about Super Heroes?" for the blog. The full essay gets into the idea of the hero (from Cambpell through cowboys), compares gunslingers to Greek gods, and generally links the desire to perpetuate hero stories that has shown up in written culture time after time. The full essay is here, and it's well worth the read, but for now, just a quick excerpt from Rob's conclusion. Thanks, Rob, for letting me "reprint" an excerpt!

--

Who we write about is far from arbitrary. Rather, it reflects the deepest, most significant trends of history. Our choice of hero literally tells us where we've been and where we're going.

Let's grossly oversimplify world history and look at who our heroes have been. Note the following reflects the dominant Western/European/American view of history, not the reality:


  • The creation of civilization. The law-givers and philosopher kings. Moses, David, Jesus; Plato, Socrates, Aristotle.

  • The spread of civilization throughout the "known world." The warrior kings. Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar and the Roman legions. Charlemagne and the knights in shining armor.

  • The spread of civilization across the Atlantic. Explorers such as Leif Ericsson, Columbus, and Magellan. Pioneers such as the Spaniards (in New Spain), the Pilgrims, and the Colonials. Civilizers such as Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.

  • The spread of civilization around the globe. America as the world's source material (Walt Disney, John Wayne, Michael Jordan). America as the world's shining beacon (American GIs, JFK and Camelot, the astronauts). America as the world's superpower (Reagan, Bush, Powell).


The line that began with Moses and the first gathering of the "chosen people" has ended with America atop the world's heap. Our righteous country stands for truth, justice, and the American way and so does our righteous superhero. An archetypal character like Superman is the embodiment and culmination of human history.

Attentive readers will note that this conclusion neglects the 85% of the world that isn't Euro-American. Precisely. Though some people would wish otherwise, history has yet to end. The next challenge in our historical development will be perhaps the trickiest.

Unless large-scale space travel becomes a reality, we have nowhere left to spread. The dissemination phase of civilization is over. The next challenge is integration: meshing the dominant Euro-American culture with the non-dominant but much larger and older non-Euro-American cultures.

We can keep going in a straight line: "taming" and developing and building the world until it's one paved-over shopping mall and parking lot. As the last fish is caught, the last tree is cut, the last well runs dry, we can watch the great American civilization collapse into rubble. As Ozymandias put it, "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Or we can turn in a new direction: blending America's can-do drive and technology with the rest of the world's cultural norms. Living within our means. Valuing community over competition. Thinking seven generations ahead.

The choice is between seeing the present world go up in smoke or evolve into a kinder, gentler place. If we want the latter, we need a new kind of leader and icon. We need a new heroic paradigm.

Superman's brawny, know-it-all attitude won't cut it here. Brute force was fine for beating the Indians and digging the Panama Canal, but now we're dealing with bioengineering and nanotechnology. We need the subtlety and cleverness of a Trickster to merge the old and the new.
alanajoli: (scc-writers-strike)
My feet are kicking and I'm trying to get my head back above water. I just turned in an assignment, so I thought I'd surface for a moment and check in.


  • Update on the Writers Strike? What Writers Strike? Strike is ovah, baby. The vote on the contract happens on the 25th.

  • Reeses is trying to kill me. As some of you may have noticed, I've got quite the thing for chocolate and peanut butter. So what does Reeses do? They take those yummy chocolate bunnies that people put in Easter baskets--the ones that are usually hollow--and they fill them with peanut butter! The temptation is too great. I am going to suffer a painful, agonizing death due to overdose of peanut butter and chocolate.

  • The wonderful Jamie Chambers has my script for the Serenity RPG adventure that I wrote, and the remarkable Lindsay Archer will be doing illustrations for the Serenity Adventures book in which my adventure will appear. Whether or not we shall be reunited on the page has yet to be seen...

  • And did I mention the oversized Reeses Eggs? Doomed I tell you!

  • I'm sending out C. S. Lewis devotionals to friends over Lent, which has been a great way to reengage in theological conversation via e-mail. If anyone knows of a Tolkien devotional book (I suspect one doesn't exist, but you never know), I'd love to have another Inklings kind of Lent next year.

  • In ice cream news: Save the honey bees or your favorite flavors could be forfeit! Possibly even peanut butter and chocolate! (Are you getting the theme here? 'Cause I might stop now.)

  • I'm putting the guest essays on hold until I can reliably update. I'm having trouble keeping the *comic* reliably updated (Jeremy is being good about nagging me when I'm behind, thankfully), and I get paid for that. I expect blogging to resume its regular schedule after DDXP, where I will be next week, at ur con, checkin' out ur 4e. Yup, that's me.



And now, after hours of writing essays about Brad Paisley, Ben Bernanke, and the Spice Girls, as well as obituary for Jerry Falwell, I am so getting off the computer.

P.S. "Water of Life" did not get accepted into the Fantasist Enterprises anthology, though I did get a very nice letter inviting me to their critique forums. I'm thinking about heading over. Any of the rest of you doing the same?
alanajoli: (Default)
My deadlines have reared their ugly heads. They pace back and forth, watching as I scramble, my fingers raging against the keyboard, brow dampened with sweat, stomach twisted with anxiety. Also, we had two super cloudy days, which sapped all my motivation--this only adds to the anxiety when I manage to come back to myself out of the gloom. Add to this that before I got the contract from MWP I'd planned my social life for the month (yes, lots of D&D, as that's pretty dominantly how I socialize), and you can imagine that I'm going a little nuts trying to fit it all in. So, my poor journal has gotten left behind!

To give you the quick update (if you're not already listening to Secret Identity Podcast, where I guest host the gaming segment Action Point Counter Point with evil mastermind Max Saltonstall of Anonycon and Secret Identity super star Brian LeTendre, and which just had its 100th episode--congrats, guys!), I have one week to get a draft done of my Serenity adventure. The working community over at MWP is just awesome: they have community boards that aren't quite the same as forums, where you can upload all of your progress and edit joint documents. Thus far, I've suggested art-work to be featured in the adventure and have posted my original pitch. Tomorrow I'll start inputting my actual work into the template and hope that my progress goes quickly!

The reason I haven't gotten further on that is that I've also got three assignments for reference projects due this month. One is technically due in March, but since I'll be at DDXP over the deadline, it needs to be finished before I go. Which means you're probably not going to hear much from me the rest of the month, except in short spurts.

Since I do have guest blogs ready to go, however, you may start seeing those this month as planned. Writers in the line-up include Melanie Nilles ([livejournal.com profile] amsaph), the founder of [livejournal.com profile] fantastic_realm; Mark Vecchio, faculty at Simon's Rock College and mythology expert; Lora Innes of The Dreamer, who is one of my comic buddies from over at DrunkDuck.com; and Carrie Vaughn, author of the "Kitty the Werewolf" series. So stay tuned! Good things are happening, even though I'm vaguely in absentia.

And don't forget to keep up with Cowboys and Aliens II, as exciting things are happening over there, as well. I can promise you some real action coming up--hand to hand, even! We also appreciate all the folks who vote for us on Buzz Comix and Top Web Comics, as the more attention we get, the happier we (and our publisher) are. :)

Links

Jan. 25th, 2008 10:43 am
alanajoli: (Default)
Yesterday was a huge day for links coming into my mailbox, so it's a good day to share.

This news article from the Telegraph shows why rogue should be the favored class for dwarves in fourth edition D&D.

In the United States, gamers who read vampire novels can also be criminals, according to the New York Times. Very nicely, it doesn't accuse us all of being such. Really, these two should have been playing d20 Modern or Spycraft to learn how to cover up their tracks after a heist!

And for those who were interested, the bonus content about circuit riding preachers went up today at Cowboys and Aliens II.
alanajoli: (Default)
That's the beginning of a camp song we used to sing at the church camp I went to for two years back when I was in elementary school. The rest of it went, "What a terrible death to die" (repeated again), "What a terrible death to be talked to death, what a terrible death to die." And then back to the beginning. I often think that singing songs like this before announcements are made at staff or business meetings would make everyone feel better about going.

I've actually been thinking quite a bit about the songs I learned as a kid lately--not just because I have an announcement I'll make today (which will come in the next paragraph or so), but because it occurs to me that I actually know some *history* through my church song education. I just wrote up a "microcorder" entry for Cowboys and Aliens II about the circuit riding preachers that used to travel the West, going from church to church (or community to community in places that didn't have a building yet) to spread the word of God. I did a little research on it, and apparently, this is primarily a Methodist thing, so it's a little piece of frontier history that I might never have learned if I hadn't grown up in a Methodist church west of the Mississippi. The image of the horseback preacher who carries a Bible and a rifle always stirred my imagination, and I'm glad I finally got to use it somewhere. It'll probably come up again one of these days.

But the aforementioned announcements! I got confirmation the other day that my short story, "The Valley," is going to be published on The Edge of Propinquity ([livejournal.com profile] t_e_o_p) this February! If you're not familiar with tEoP, it's a zine for serial fiction that features a guest short story every month. I had the opportunity to meet editor Jennifer Brozek at Origins 2006, and we had a great time chatting about the format and the opportunities that exist for fiction writers in Web publishing. She knows her stuff, and I am honored that I'm going to be included as a guest writer to the site.

"The Valley" is a story about true love (albeit in a sort of horrific way), and is the closest piece to a horror short story I've written, directed that way by editor extraordinaire Abigail Greshik, who worked on the tale with me as part of her (masters?) thesis. I'm pleased with how the piece turned out, and am absolutely tickled that it's going to be over at tEoP next month. So please, be sure to stop by and give it a look!

In other news, Cowboys and Aliens II is available to be voted for at Top Web Comics and Buzz Comics. We've only been on for a short period of time, so breaking the three hundred mark for most popular comics over at Buzz yesterday just tickles me. It goes without saying that we'd like to get higher on the list, so if you feel like visiting the comic and voting for us over in the right hand margin, we'd muchly appreciate it! The C&A team is also taking part in the Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards. Despite being the writer and not the cartoonist, I filled out our nomination forms yesterday, featuring such other comics as The Dreamer by Lora Innes, who's going to do a guest blog entry for me one of these days, Shades, and Hero by Night, among others. Those are three that I feel comfortable recommending to everyone: the two latter are super hero tales and The Dreamer is a fantastic historical fiction/romance with supernatural elements.

That's it for the announcements segment today. At church camp, this meant we all could eat. Here, I suppose it means you can go about your business as usual.
alanajoli: (Default)
Not to brag (I really don't mean to here, since I'm just the writer and the art is what makes me clap my hands with glee), but today's page for Cowboys and Aliens 2 is definitely worth going over and taking a look at. We did a splash page divided in panels with one moving part that goes throughout. It worke so well that some people even missed the moving figure the first read through!

I'm just gleeful at how well it worked. Yay paneled storytelling!
alanajoli: (Taru)
I'm a victim of the Con Funk. At this point, I should know that it takes me at least a full day (in this case, two) to recover from a weekend convention, because my immune system is run down from lack of proper sleep, and I've been in a large room with a lot of people, several of whom are suffering from colds. So I'm all sorts of run down and incoherent, which is not great for my upcoming deadline...

Aside from that Anonycon was great. It's a wonderful small gaming convention in Southwestern CT that happens in early-to-mid December every year. Of the slots, I played two, ran two, and slept through two. I did my first DM's Mark--which is a cross between a home campaign and a living campaign in some ways. You used the organized play structure, but you create your own adventure for your players. Of course, since it was at a con, there was far less tailoring, but I got to use some fun monsters and my table had a good time.

Since returning, the only think I've actually gotten done was writing up a page of bonus content for Cowboys and Aliens II, for which I really need to get several more done, and a forum entry at Drunk Duck about language use in the Old West, Westerns, and space Westerns. I think it's a nice little post, and if you're at all interested in the way I'm writing dialogue at C&A, I hope you'll give it a look!

Now, back to deadline.
alanajoli: (Default)
Wednesday I finally got around to stopping by my new local comic shop, Curt's Comics and Collectables. This was in part because I'd gotten e-mail from Things from another World, the official Dark Horse store, about the new Serenity comic. (As it turns out, that doesn't release until March, but I'm an e-mail scan-reader, and so I missed this vital piece of information until second reading.) I also wanted to order the new Hero by Night hardcover, as Jason Embury, who used to be a member at Empty Room Studios, is working on the art. I've been following it and wanted to support these guys for telling a good story.

The shop is great. It's a small space, and Curt told me he's planning to get more lighting to brighten it up, but the displays are excellent. Best of all, all of the comics are open to the air, instead of packaged in plastic. I'm not a huge fan of stores that don't encourage a read-while-you're-here mentality, and Curt's seems like the kind of place where someone like me (who likes to look before buying) could fit right in. He did have a couple of long boxes, so I imagine he'll cater a bit to the collector crowd as well. :) And hopefully one of these days, we'll see Cowboys and Aliens II on the shelf!

In other news, I lied to you all a few days ago. I said I wasn't going to write a story for the Fantasist Enterprises submission period. As it turns out, the story I'd been planning to write for it congealed in my head, and I wrote all 4600-odd words yesterday, just in time to submit! (After listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn discuss the Grimm's fairy tale "The Water of Life" and correlating it with a Buddhist understanding of consciousness, I thought it would be extremely fun to set it in an ambiguous, Asian-flavored fantasy setting.)

Whether or not it's a great piece of work, I have no idea--I'm still far too close to having written it. But it's the story I wanted to tell, and now it's off in the mail!

So, the works-in-progress bar currently looks like:

"Saving Tara"
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
359 / 5,000
(7.2%)


"Choosing Fate"
Zokutou word meter
0 / 5,000
(0.0%)


"The Water of Life"
Zokutou word meter
4,600 / 4,600
(100.0%)

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Alana Joli Abbott

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