So last night, as I was lying in bed re-reading "Deerskin" (one of my comfort books, weird as that may be) and the phone rang.

It was my agent. Apparently we’re now in negotiations for Dragonbreath 4 & 5.

The first book is STILL not out yet. Buying the third book without numbers on the first was good, buying the fourth and fifth…well…starting to become absurd, really.

I’m saying this not to brag, just–publishing is so bizarre! This is not what I expected! Particularly not when the marketing department is suddenly behind this book–Nurk got minimal marketing, and I had sort of internalized that as the norm (and in fact, it IS the norm) so having a marketing department that’s taken to calling me up before book signings to check and make sure I’m ready and do I need to talk to somebody for help composing a speech? and can they book this panel for me ("Well, sure, if I can afford to get down there…" There was a silence on the other end of the line, and then she said, rather gently, "No, we pay for that." "OH!") and stuff is–I mean, it’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic, but it’s just so–what? Wait, what? (The first time someone from the publicity department called me, right before I went to the thing at Quail Ridge last month, I felt like I was getting called into the principal’s office, and they were going to yell at me about something. Actually, I still feel like that. There is a deep-seated feeling that whatever professional authors do, I am doing it WRONG.)

"What you have to understand," Deb said, when I had called her in bafflement and delight, "is the "we pick you" factor. The publishing industry chooses somebody that they have decided is the next big thing. Sometimes it’s because they’re genuinely talented, sometimes somebody’s just got a bug up their butt about a book, but…they pick you. And in this case, they’ve picked you."

"Guh," I said, staring off the back deck into the dark and listening to a whippoorwill sing a cheerful Lovecraftian tune. "What if it’s a flop?"

"Then it’s a flop. And you got a five book deal out of it. Poor baby."

Perspective is good.

From my editor! This is going to be a STARRED (that’s apparently Very Good, as good as it gets for reviews) in Kirkus (this is VERY good, as Kirkus is notoriously cruel):

Dragonbreath. Ursula Vernon. (Dial 978-0-8037-3363-3) 

Young everydragon Danny Dragonbreath hasn’t quite caught the knack of breathing fire yet, but he sure knows how to have adventures—or at least to inflict them on Wendell, his peace-loving iguana buddy. Having failed to impress his teacher Mr. Smaug with a hastily concocted report on the fictitious “snorkelbat,” Danny recklessly drags Wendell off to the Sargasso Sea (on a bus) to gather material on actual marine life with the help of his cousin Edward, a sea serpent. Encounters with a shark, poisonous jellyfish, vampire squid (“Instead of ink, they shoot a cloud of glowing snot at you.” “Glowing snot? That is SO COOL!”) and an aggressive giant squid ensue. Vernon’s text abets the suspension of disbelief with Wendell’s dubious regard for the mythological: “He had somehow maintained a fairly solid grip on reality despite being Danny’s friend, but there were limits.” Presented in a hybrid prose/graphic format with simply drawn, two-tone pictures in an appropriately reptilian green, Danny D’s first outing will leave readers in stitches—and on tenterhooks waiting for the next one, which, according to a preview, will feature ninja frogs. (Fantasy. 8-11)

My editor–who called to tell me this–claims that getting a starred review from Kirkus is like being asked to eat at the mean girls’ table in school, so that’s good!

They’re also giving it a spotlight in their graphic novel issue, which is good, too–they did something similar for Nurk, but it didn’t get a starred review, even though they were nice to it, too.

This is promising. I think.

 

I have finished writing Wurstbreath.

Well, the first draft, anyhow.

I feel…you know, I’m proud of this one. It kinda sucks that it’ll be a year and a half before it gets published, because this one, I really feel like I did some good stuff.

That I feel any confidence whatsoever probably means that my editor will have to send it through a wood chipper, and it will sell like a decaying weasel, but at the moment…y’know, I like this one. There’s finally enough absurdity to it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Well, we’re having some hosting issues–i.e. “OH MY GOD, WHERE IS THAT BANDWIDTH GOING!?”–so while we’re open for business, we’re not doing the big re-launch until we migrate the site over to a new host.

Meanwhile, however, if you’re here, consider it like the week before the Grand Opening. You can still check out the art, order the art, poke the art, even buy the art, we’re just chucking more frogs into the server to handle the eventual crowds.

In the meantime, happy gardening Cthulhu says hi!

Failure to Launch

Well, it’s been an exciting day. There was some screaming. It was, um…well, exciting.

Fortunately, several people came to the rescue, or offered to come to the rescue, and as a result I should have new hosting soon–probably a couple days to get everything re-directed, but expect the re-relaunch of Red Wombat soon.

As site launches go, this was not an unmitigated disaster, in that we think we managed to clamp it down after a mere four hours of radically exceeding the nice company’s bandwidth, but it’s still the kind of thing that drives one to drink. Sorry to get everybody’s hopes up, there.

On the bright side, there’s a pair of great-crested flycatchers courting in the backyard, which is nice. I assume they’re courting, although they could just be chirping and hanging out, I dunno.

And now, do I want alcohol or pie…? 

ETA: Oh good lord, okay, stop–the bandwidth of everybody visiting was far in excess of what was anticipated, and our host came back and said "For the love of god, stop!"

So, uh, temporarily delayed while we get THAT ironed out. (Man, hosting issues are so last decade…)

———————————————–

Ladies and gentlemen and sundry multi-celled organisms!

I am proud to announce that Red Wombat Studio is now up and running! Reroute your bookmarks!

It’s got automated shopping carts and upcoming schedules and little "updated!" buttons to make finding new art easier. It doesn’t have a search engine yet–we’re still working on that–but we hope to get that up eventually, and we’re gonna have some nifty downloadable wallpapers up later this week. It’s easier to update by far, so you can expect actual updatedness on it, and I’m holding great hope for the automated shopping cart function so people don’t have to go through the trouble of e-mailing me (I mean, if you still WANT to e-mail your order, I’ll totally take it! I don’t mind! I just know that people like to click, click, pay, and be done…)

Anyway, take a look!

Welcome to the new Red Wombat Studio!

Ladies and gentlemen, I announce with great pleasure the launch of our brand new website! Welcome to Red Wombat Studio!

The new website is much easier to update and keep track of, so you can expect much more regular updates than Metal&Magic, and it has some handy new features, like the “Latest Image” box up on your left, and “updated!” tags in the Gallery so that you know when new art’s up. We’ve got direct links to a bunch of my books on Amazon, and even a calendar of upcoming appearances!

Big thanks to Kevin of Dark Canvas Media for getting the site up–some parts of it were straightforward, but some of it required black magic as far as I’m concerned…

Most excitingly, we’ve finally got the new shopping cart system up and running, so you can order art on-line! How awesome is THAT? (I’m excited. Mind you, I’m easily excited…)

weewarthog

Now, you may notice that not all of my art is in the gallery. Since I am stupidly prolific, it’ll take awhile to get everything uploaded from years gone by. So I’m adding art over time–there’s hundreds of the things!–but if you’re missing an old favorite from the gallery, you can drop me a line at the contact form and I’ll see if I can’t get it up pronto!

Likewise, if you find any bugs–and we’re still working the kinks out!–please don’t hesitate to drop a line!

Thanks to everybody for waiting on our nifty site redesign, and I hope you find stuff worth waiting for!

Also, I’m in excruciating pain.

I took a header on the walkway this afternoon–skidded on wet grass clippings–and landed hard on my left knee on concrete. It hurt in that cataclysmic way that knee pain hurts, I rolled over on the lawn, sent a peat pot of sweet basil flying, soaked my ass in wet grass, and did all the usual "okay, okay, I can breathe, it’s not broken, it’s okay," things that one does in such circumstances (and would doubtlessly do if I had just trod on a land mine–it’s an attempt at self-reassurance and bears no resemblance to an actual assessment of one’s physical condition) Fortunately it was not broken, and it subsided to an ache and some stiffness. I walked around on it, knelt on it, generally did a lot to try and keep it from locking up, and thought I was doing well. Figured it was a skinned knee, I’d be shaving around scars for the next five years*

As of about an hour ago, I am in the making-involuntary-noises stage of pain. It aches badly. Putting weight on it is no problem, it’s just when I move the angle of the leg at all–to bend or straighten or whatever–I get to spend a few breathless moments suspended in the void with the God of Pain, whom I first encountered when I threw my back out at eighteen. (This was not an acquaintanceship I was eager to renew.)

Threw down a couple ibuprofen, reading Carl Hiaasen’s Native Tongue, and have "Chronicles of Riddick" playing in the background on TV. There are worse ways to spend an evening, but I could do without the shrieking whenever I have to get up to go pee.

*God, I miss being a kid and having a skinned knee heal up scarless in a week.