Ray Bradbury

Hi friends,

You've probably heard by now that Ray Bradbury passed away a couple of days ago.
One of his daughters is a neighbor of my family's, and I'm collecting some letters, thoughts, and well-wishes into a little compilation to give to her family. (Some of you saw this on Facebook.) I thought I might as well post here, too, in case any of you would like to add your thoughts. If you'd like to contribute, feel free to reply to this post, or email me at illustar (at) gmail (dot) com by the end of SATURDAY. (I told everyone else Friday, but this is the first you're hearing of it, so I'll give you a little more time.) You're welcome to spread the word if you know of someone else who would want to say something.
drink draw

Book recs, please!

Hi, folks. Still unemployed, still trying to figure out my life. I got a call today from SCAD, checking up on me; I haven't sent them my enrollment fee, so I'm not officially going to grad school yet. Expecting to do that very soon. I do feel pretty good about the grad school/comics life option, and it's the clearest path ahead of me. I've just been having a hard time working through things mentally, I guess. Commitment is something I take very seriously, so I tend to push things away unless I'm absolutely sure about them. :/

Anyway. I've been thinking about what I want out of this future-option. One thing I told SCAD in my application essay was that I want to adapt literature, classic and current, into graphic novel format. I see it as a gateway into books for people who don't like reading; if I can get people to fall in love with a world or story or characters by their reading my graphic novels, then they're more likely to pick up the actual book to learn more. I believe that people who don't like reading just haven't found their niche of books yet. I've always been a reader, but still, books like David Wenzel's The Hobbit made a huge impact on me when I was young. I want to pay that forward.

As such, I think I need to add some adaptation to my repertoire. If you want to get hired drawing cars, after all, then put cars in your portfolio, right? But I don't want to take forever doing it, especially when I could be spending that time on paying work, so I'm thinking something short-form.

Can you recommend to me, reader friends, some [preferably genre] short stories that you love? Or short story anthologies? I would very much appreciate it.

Drastic Life Changes

Well, it's been a long time. Again. Here's the short version.

- At the end of January, I got laid off from my job. It was completely unexpected and has caused a lot of frustration and emotional pain. Even though I got a few weeks' severance pay, and assurance of good references, it still hurts. Like the bottom line is, they didn't want me. I miss my work friends, and I miss the life stability. Maybe I wasn't really going anywhere at that job, but I still felt secure. That's totally gone now.

- I'm still unemployed, and it's been a long battle to figure out what I'm good for and what's good for me. Honestly, my battle plan changes by the day. By the hour, sometimes. I keep terrible hours and don't eat very regularly, and I know I should work on that stuff, but it's just hard to care. I'm on unemployment right now, and I'm fine on money, so at least that's not a big concern. The trouble is really just in deciding which horse to chase, and whether I can catch it, so I can get back on. Unemployment rules force me to make weekly contacts for full-time work, but kills my incentive for trying to get freelance work, and makes me feel rather schizophrenic.

- I finished my application to SCAD, and a mere week later was accepted into the sequential art MFA. I think I'm going to do it, but there's the money to figure out (between the scholarship I'm being offered and max federal aid, I'll still be short a few thousand a year, and I don't know about rent and food and stuff after all that), and to figure out what to do with the next four months. Like I said, my plan changes by the day.

- I've been reading a lot of books. That's the real reason I stay up so late; it's like the time between dinner and bedtime is "mine," and I keep trying to prolong it. I'm current on Seanan McGuire's October Daye books (love!), I'm on the last book in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series (very mixed feelings), and I'm listening to book 3 of the Mercy Thompson series (love!).. I have to admit, I'm getting a little tired of vampire/werewolf/psychotic!fairy stuff. (Isn't there anything else out there? And when did "Teen Paranormal" become its own section at B&N??) I also have to admit, though werewolves were never my thing, I really really like Patricia Briggs' take on them. Okay, and I also loved Maggie Stiefvater's werewolf books. Maybe I'm just a hypocrite. Once I'm done with this batch of library books, I really need to stop borrowing and start reading the ones I've already bought, like pretty much everything by Dan Wells and Brandon Sanderson. Also the new Gallagher Girls book, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King, the tv series of which I watched on Netflix and loved.

- Oh, Muse is up and running now. I forgot to tell you all. I officially started it just before LTUE, so I could use the symposium to advertise. So far I'm still on schedule, though some weeks I cut it closer than others. I've done some small advertising gestures, but nothing very big. I figure people will start really reading, and I'll start pushing, once I've got more up. We're about halfway through chapter 1 right now.

So I'm kind of adrift right now, scrabbling for rocks, letting go, swimming upstream, getting tired, waiting to see where the river takes me. Today I'm okay. Tomorrow? We'll see.
lee happy dance

Accentuate the Positive!

It's time! I've been working hard all summer, and tonight is the culmination of all my recent musical efforts!

If you're in Utah this weekend, I'd love you to come to my show! It's tonight (Friday) at 7:30pm, and tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:30 and 7:30pm at the Peteetneet Museum and Cultural Arts Center in Payson (10 N 600 E - it's really easy to get to).

We're singing and dancing pieces from Gilbert & Sullivan, World War I/II, and Gershwin, and there's even live orchestration. It's going to be a lot of fun (and did I mention we've worked really hard?). I'm in approximately 2/3 of the show. :)

Tickets are $6 (or $4 each for a group of 5 or more), available at the door or at (if you get them online, be sure to print out your receipt!). All proceeds go directly to fund cancer research through the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

Storybook apps

Here's another idea, while I'm thinking about it. My brother-in-law and sister (and 2yo niece) came with me to the UrgentCare a couple weeks ago, and while we waited for the doctor to come see me, my BIL kept my niece entertained with a fairy tale storybook app on his iPhone. The app read the book aloud and showed pictures, using a certain sound to indicate time to turn the page (press an arrow on the screen).

I was too far away to see the illustrations, but I was rather unimpressed with the reading. Then I realized that I could probably do better. How hard would it be to write/illustrate a short fairy tale, record yourself reading it page by page, maybe add some simple sound effects or music, and program it to play the slideshow and proceed to the next slide with the touch of a button? (My BIL says he knows of app-building guides online. I haven't researched them yet, but we've been doing slideshows for ages in Powerpoint, so I'm confident it wouldn't be too hard.)

I think the trick to making money on something like that is quality, quantity, and pricing. As David Farland has been talking about recently in his Daily Kick in the Pants newsletter, you can't give away your work for free all the time because it makes people believe you have no value. But I also realize that it's easier to draw people in on something free - how many apps have you actually bought, as opposed to ones you got for free? (My BIL's storybook apps were all free.)

He also says that you can't build an audience for your work if you don't regularly have more to give them. If they try your stuff (writing, art, app, etc) and decide they like it, they're very likely to look for more.

So if I were to build storybook apps, I think I'd want to have a good number of them available at once, or at least periodically, for a reasonable (but not "cheap") price, and have three or so available for free. That way, people could try them out, decide if they liked them, and then pay for the rest.
drink draw


I spent the last day and a half at CONduit, the SLC sci-fi/fantasy convention. It's got mostly the same crowd of guests as LTUE, and a lot of the same attendees. I hoped that by going, even by myself, I'd be able to focus on the writing/art instruction aspect and get more pumped about creating than I did at LTUE, possibly because this time I wasn't running anything.

I took a lot of notes. I'll type up at least some of them and post them to Hands on Keyboard. But something else just occurred to me that I wanted to share.

I just read the latest of David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants, which was an eye-opening assessment of the state of the publishing world. [Dave was supposed to be at CONduit, but had to cancel due to violent allergies.] In a nutshell, the publishing world is a mess because brick-and-mortar bookstores are failing in favor of online bookbuying; print book sales are on the decline because of e-books; and the publishing industry's business model is falling apart because they don't know what to do about e-book sales. Publishers are trying to regroup their losses by starting to demand all e-rights, which means agents have less to negotiate with, and everybody's losing money - the publishers, the agents, the authors. Most publishers already don't accept unsolicited manuscripts (they must come via a literary agent), but now some agents have stopped looking for new authors, since things are so unstable.

It's pretty harsh. And scary. Dave's suggestion is to jump on the e-book bandwagon (little to no overhead cost, and easy delivery) and to self-publish. Hire an editor, a marketer, a cover artist, a book designer, etc, and forgo the agent and publishing house route. In short, he writes, you can probably put out a very nice book for a few thousand (say $6000 to $10,000). I’m sure that you’ll want to do it cheaper, but let’s be honest: getting a good cover and some decent editing isn’t free. You can hire line editors pretty cheaply, but content editors cost more. You might get a decent cover for a small amount of money, but getting great art is expensive.

This is what occurred to me. I've met several self-published authors at conferences like today's. I like them as people; I want them to succeed. But some of them have such awful covers for their books that I'm not really surprised they're not selling.

Maybe this is a niche I could move into. Maybe I should be advertising myself to these people, instead of just hoping for a bite from actual publishers. Not that I've been advertising to publishers, either.. Maybe it would be a perfect way for me to get my foot in the door - having my cover on a book from a very small press is still having my cover on a book. And I know I could do a whole heckuva lot better than some of those self-published covers I've seen. I'm totally not joking.

So maybe now I should get a few of these self-published books, read them, and see about doing them some justice. Maybe I could help them sell their books better.

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Wow, weird! I just discovered that many of my favorite shows, when I was very small, were imported from other countries. I think most of them were on Nick Jr. - I had no idea they imported so many tv shows back then. WAY before anime was a distinct entity.

"Noozles," "Maya the Bee," "Grimm Masterpiece Theatre," and "Maple Town" were all from Japan. "David the Gnome" was from Spain!!

How did I manage to watch so much tv in my childhood, and still play video games, read tons of books, and play outside??

Good times..
  • Current Music
    "Grimm Masterpiece Theatre" theme
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Batman DDR

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This week has been SO MUCH BETTER. My finger is almost back to normal (YAY!!). I had my blood drawn on Monday, and it didn't suck. In fact, the phlebotomist was really nice, it only hurt a little bit, and the whole drawing part lasted less than a minute. As for the tests, the uric acid test came back normal (whatever that means), but the other one apparently said that I'm a little bit anemic. That's not something I ever thought I'd be a candidate for. I have to make another appointment to talk to the doctor about what that means.

Just thought I'd share. Doing better now. Oh, and I had a date - I asked an internet boy to join me for "Les Mis" (the high school show I did those costumes for), and it was super fun. Also, the show was great. I'd change some things about the blouses if I did it again, but the skirt was fabulous!
lee sizzled

Aventures in Volunteer Work

Or, my crazy finger, let me tell you it. About it. Whatever.

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Add to this stuff the fact that my company laid off 25 people this week (none from my team, thankfully) due to restructuring, and you can see it's been really crazy. I've been really off balance. :( I'm grateful for making it through, though. Next week will be so much better, starting with me getting way more sleep than I did this week. Also, "Les Mis," take two. And there's Easter tastiness to look forward to, too. So, yeah.