Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Which the Author has decided to Just Do It

Camp Nano starts in 5 1/2 hours, and I'll be writing Inferno. I've decided not to let indecision and other things upset my writing plan. I may not make my goals, but it won't be for lack of beginning.

No word on the job situation yet. Will update when I know.

Meanwhile: I'm making a Zazzle store. With t shirts and stuff. Oh yes. Soon there will be things to buy. More when I get the store up and moving.

So, August is now "Let's See How It Goes" month.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In Which the Author's plans may have to be changed

Okay, so here's what's going on: tomorrow (Monday) I'm probably losing my job. This causes several problems, not the least of which, see: Fantine, firing of. And of course the extrapolated aftermath (no money, no food, no house, no nothing) which I'm sure we can all agree is, well, not desirable. Or, is it?

The thing is, I'm finding it increasingly ridiculous that I should even try to hold on to a job that has been actively trying to kill me for almost a year. And when I say that I'm being only slightly exaggerating. The toll the stress of this place has incurred is staggering. Last year at this time I was not having facial tics that made my whole right side seize up like a stroke, or nervous coughs 2-3 times a day that are so violent it leads to vomiting. I'm under the care of three different doctors covering three different sides of the same damn problems, simultaneously, and not one of them can tell me what is wrong with me or give me something that will do anything more than not make it worse. In this last year alone I've taken more meds than I've taken in the preceding 45 years combined; last year at this time I took a daily vitamin and the occasional Aleve for a headache. This is what this last year looks like:

And now I am deaf in one ear because I've started grinding my teeth at night which has closed one of my Eustachian tubes. Supposedly sleeping with a mouth guard will prevent the teeth grinding which will eventually reopen the tube, but it hasn't happened yet.

So this is what I'm up against. The classic damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario.

Tomorrow morning I go before HR for a meeting the details of which they have so far refused to disclose to me. I can guess it's not a promotion. Yet if they were going to fire me they would have already done so. I can surmise from other clues that I'm being invited to explain something I may or may not have done, with the purpose of demonstrating why I should or should not keep my job. Schrödinger's Cat was more decisive.

Here's the conundrum: why should I try to keep a job that has been killing me?  For the money? And let's face it, my pay rate is obscenely good... but only when I can work long enough in the day to benefit. Right now I'm working half of a full paycheck. But I can always temp again. For the health insurance? If I'm not stressed by the job I don't need all this anymore, do I? I'd been afraid to lose the benefits, but the stress has actually decreased from the moment it appeared I was about to lose the job. What does that say?

The universe is definitely telling me something. It may look bleak in the short term, as in, where's the rent money going to come from, but if I'm going to starve I'll be sane while doing it.

The upshot of which is that I'm supposed to be starting to write Inferno in 2 days, as part of my "get it all done" strategy. If I don't find work quickly I'm about to have a lot more free time to do it in, but I'm worried that they'll interfere with each other. So, in the next few days I'll know what's what with the book, and hopefully everything else. In the meantime...

There's a button on the right hand side for donations, if you're so inclined. If not, or if you too are broke and scrambling, a good thought in my direction would be just as much appreciated.

Signed: the Artist Currently Known As Starving

In Which the Author shows the original sketches

From the previous post. And if it's not totally obvious, if you haven't read Resurrections, these pictures are extremely spoilery. If a little sketchy. Okay, a lot.

The pencils I got back from the illustrator were only half the ones I sent; if memory serves I sent the idea sketches as a group and told her to pick some that appealed to her and see what she could do, as a test. She did the first half of the whole set.

Images are presented without comment other than what I'd originally written on them for direction.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Which the Author uncovers artifacts from ancient history

Well, in terms of the these books, that is. Ancient history being circa 2000.

As anyone who visits the Gallery knows, I am totes mad about old timey woodcut illustrations. The original Bayard et al pictures are among my favorites, although Lynd Ward's 1930's style images are themselves very cool, with quite a bit of the art deco about them. Nothing I like more than some good illustrations.

So back before Resurrections was published, I was introduced to someone who wanted to illustrate the books for me. Actually, back that up: I wanted an illustrator, and she had been pointed to the online version of volume I and was, according to the mutual acquaintances, amenable to illustrating. So I sent her some very VERY sketchy sketches of the scenes I wanted depicted, some of the more dramatic ones, wanting some appropriately woodcut style images. And she sent me some pencil sketches of her renditions of them.

On the one hand, I was bemused, because they were not the kind of illustrations I wanted. I wanted something like, well, the lineart seen in Bayard, Jeanniot, etc. What I got was, to be blunt, a Disneyesque rendition of the Tenth Anniversary Cast. No, seriously.

But this was twelve years ago, I was about to publish my first volume, and I wanted it illustrated so bad that I was willing to take what I got. It's not that I didn't like them, I did... or at least the idea of them. And I was in that first blush, gee-whiz-someone-drew-my-characters stage. (I have become somewhat more discerning since) So, I sent her a contract for the art. She was not doing me a favor; this was to be a business transaction.

Now, when an artist gets a contract to do work for hire, nothing is in concrete. They are perfectly able to negotiate clauses, payment, terms, the whole bit. In the end it's like any other contract: the artist is free to sign or not, and the contractor is free to accept the artist's revised terms or not. It's called negotiation, and it's usually the province of agents. Anyway, one of the terms I laid out was that I requested to be able to buy the original artwork on completion. I had this weird idea that I could hang them on the walls of my little apartment and enjoy the pictoral representation of my story--this before it occurred to me to just print the dang things out and hang them up that way.

Also, I know a lot of artists who make as much if not more money from the sale of the original artwork than from the proceeds of the project the art is done for, and I have bought art done for smaller projects before with no second thought about it.


This is where things went really bad. I got a very nasty email back to the effect "no one buys my originals, I do not sell my originals, you have no right to ask me this, the deal's off."

This took me quite aback, let me tell you. Because she had been represented to me as being professional, and one of the hallmarks of being professional is to act professionally. A simple "no" would have sufficed. But her reaction was a big red flag in the wtf department. So I went ahead and published without illustrations, and the rest is history. In the end I'm glad I went illustration-less, because the mood and tenor of the pictures I got would have detracted from the story. Also, although I do have a great deal of affection for the portrayals by certain actors in the stage version, I'm very clear in that this series is not connected with the musical version, but rather with the original novel.

So here I am looking back at my archive disks, while preparing the new ebook versions of things, and came across the pencil illustrations again. I present them here for the edification of the readers, to show what might have been, and are covered under fair use. In a followup post, after I get them all organized, I'll post my pathetic original sketches to compare how well they followed the idea, if not the execution, of the original intent.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In Which the Author warms up for August

As if August weren't already warm enough. :-P

So I took a couple weeks off from looking at Honor to let it kind of cool down, and now I'm going back doing some very preliminary edits, which is a) spellcheck, because writing fast means wording sloppy, and b) expanding on some parts that were barely fleshed in at that time. That's my usual way of doing things, on the second pass through I'll add on, layer, explain, flesh out... and then the next time I'll make more changes, edits, add some things... and then after that I'll go between adding to add... at some point I'll reach a place where it looks like some needs to be subtracted. That's when the hard editing starts happening. I don't so much carve out a book from marble as I do sculpt it on a wheel. Throw the clay, shape. Throw more clay, shape. Too much? Start paring and shape more. And so on.

As with former books there are new locations to explore, and those are the most intensive parts requiring by far the most research, not just into the locations themselves, but also the history, cultural aspects, geography (maps! I need moar maps!) and events that are taking place concurrently with the story. Because no matter where they go there's something going on. And the neat thing is that it fits together like a jigsaw puzzle whether I plan it to or not. Most of what's come up in the first part of Honor fit very nicely in with what has happened in earlier books, where I had thought I was done with the earlier stuff, it just comes right back into the storyline. Sometimes I even entertain myself :-)

But starting work on Inferno is not going to be as difficult as I thought it might be under these conditions; while I'm still working around Honor I know where I want to start with on Inferno and where it goes from there. Inferno may even be (gasp!) shorter than the three doorstops in the middle. But we'll see how well that works. Some whole new subplot may decide to smack me upside the head. Lord knows that's happened before...

Okay, done checking in. Next time: a small treat. Way back in 2000 when the first book was being written, there were some grand plans that fell through. I found some of it a while ago in an archived disk. I'll share it with you. Needless to say at this point I'm glad it did fall through, because if not, the books would have come out... well, different... but not in a good way.

eta: found these, was amused by them, probably 15 years old or more. One day I'll do it better.

Javert, Fantine, Valjean

aka "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Which the Author wishes everyone a happy Bastille Day!

hmm? Oh, that's it. Happy Bastille Day.

This is an image, drawn by Victor Hugo from the frontspiece of a collection of Hugo's work, of General Valmy. The girl is Marianne, symbol of France (like Uncle Sam in the US).

Please note that her image is also the figurehead of the Éponine. Because yeah duh.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In Which the Author mentions a SALE!

I posted it on the Twitter feed which shows up on this page but I may as well put it here too: as part of their Summer Reading promotion on Smashwords... 

I've put all three Pont-au-Change books on sale!

You can get them for 50% off with the code SSW50 at checkout, now through July 31. They were cheap to begin with but now they're SUPER cheap! So if you've been putting off getting them, or you've been telling people about the books and they've been waffling, now is the time.

Link to the sale here!

You're welcome! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

In Which the Author revises her schedule

Okay, so, here's how it's working right now:

1: still slushing through Honor. Don't know how long that will continue. Some parts need work (as in, threw in basic chapter structure and need to flesh things out) more than others.

2: prepping to start drafting Inferno in August. Still on track with that. There's parts of this I actually fleshed out 15 years ago I been dying to do. Should be fun. At least I hope it will be.

3: Kickstarter/Indiegogo. Ah. Yeah, about that. I'm putting that off indefinitely (not completely, but not till later in the year than I'd thought or maybe beginning of next year). Not that I don't want to do it, I'm still planning to, but right now for reasons I don't want to get into, it's not really a good idea for me to invest in something like that right now. However. I have restored the donation link on the page where the Kickstarter gauge used to be. If you'd like to not wait for a new Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and send some money in the Author's direction, that would be lots appreciated--and would be counted, when the Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign starts, as earning whatever level donation swag that a contribution during the campaign would earn.

4: and the rest... still working on it. As most of you know I've been ill off and on the last 9 months. The root cause is stress. I'm working to remove myself from the stressful situation. It should be relieved by the end of the year, if all goes well. But I'm beginning now.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Which the Author says Okay

Yeah, so that didn't fund. I'm not the biggest optimist to begin with but I was surprised how well it did anyway.

So I'm going to be trying again in September. That way it won't interfere with working on Inferno in August. So, yay! On both counts.

Meanwhile (since we didn't get enough backers to unlock it) I'll post you a pic we were adding to the donation prints, by Melanie B. It's a pic from Sanctuary, aptly titled "Against the Wind"

And of course if anyone else would like to contribute a picture to the print pool which it has become, please let me know. At this rate we'll have enough to make a calendar out of :-D (yeah probably not happening but it amuses me to think about it)

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and pledged, and tweeted, and posted to Facebook, and everything. I'll do better next time.

Next on the agenda: start rewrites on Honor, and prep for Inferno in August.

"It may stop, but it never ends" -- Matt Howarth

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Which the Author throws a hat over the fence

Just a quick July note. From this point forward this blog will be the main outlet for me unless I decide to create a personal one, but honestly I have a hard enough time keeping up with the ones I have. So, basically, between this and Twitter, that's the extent of my online presence.

If you're here from Livejournal, welcome. Glad to have you around.

Meanwhile, trying not to think about writing Inferno next month, so I'm distracting myself by looking at all the old notes for Honor I have lying around and realizing how much buffing up the draft is going to need. Yay for me.

Oh and three more days for the Kickstarter. After that I'll be working on setting up one for Indiegogo unless the backer fairy smites me with the magic wand in the next 72 hours. But I can promise you that campaign will wait until September. No way am I doing Nano and a fundraiser over the same month again. Seriously. What was I thinking?

Meanwhile amusing myself with the Major Arcana list I found. Some of which are no longer relevant since the characters went and became something else when I wasn't looking (looks like this list was written while I was still doing Sanctuary!) But the most obvious are:

8: le fort (strength) - Jean Valjean
11: la justice (justice) - Javert
15: le diable (the devil) - Thenardier

Any guesses as to the rest of them? Just wondering...

PS: Also need a vote. The closer I get the more I wonder about the last volume. So, opinions: should book 6 be titled Requiem?

or Revelations?