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Faking the Rough Draft

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(And thanks to archangelbeth for the analogy!)

Art derives from artifice and is inherently artificial. I may want to produce gorgeous authentic journal pages in my sketchbook, but I can’t. So I scan the weird little doodles and frantic blatherings in the sketchbook and produce them on the computer, because I grew up on the computer, goddamnit.

And they come out looking like this.

TravelNegativeSeven

One Week

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In one week, I will be on a plane to Botswana.

I am terrified. I have bought two travel journals and they are probably both wrong.

I really want to keep a travel journal–or at least to be the sort of person who keeps travel journals–and I am going with a pack of artists so I totally have to bring one. Sketching will occur. But then I get these books about travel journals and it’s all doodles on Moleskines that are eleven thousand times better than my best day sketching and I KNOW they only put the pretty ones in and not the pages that are like three lines and a doodle of a chicken, but it doesn’t help because ALL of my sketchbook pages are three lines and a doodle of a chicken.

(I kinda like the guy in this one book who just takes photos of everything and jots down notes and then goes back and sketches from the photos after he gets home and colors them digitally. I appreciate that. As a primarily digital artist, I will be at a disadvantage until they really kick up the game on tablets.)

Seriously, though, on some level I really want to be making the journals that look like Hemingway took up scrapbooking and they wind up galleries and then everyone will be terribly impressed at my mad on-the-spot drawing skills and insightful extemporaneous poetry and also how legible my handwriting is.

And while I am dreaming, I would like world peace and a pony.

I know people who take their sketchbook everywhere and draw in them and they are probably better people or at least better artists. I keep trying to get into the habit and it keeps sort of not happening. Possibly it’s because I don’t actually like drawing very much. I love painting. I will paint all day long. Drawing is the chore that leads up to getting to paint. If I’m drawing for fun, it’s basically as a punchline to a joke. This is arguably why I’m in comics.

Anyway, I continue to prep in other ways. I replaced my hiking boots that were pinchy. Apparently my problem is that I am a size 10, not a size 9.5. I was a size 7, once. Mind you, I was also a C cup once, too.

Anyway, everything is as prepared as it gets, I guess, except that you are supposed to make your checked luggage look really gaudy and crappy and distinctive because there’s a major problem with people stealing luggage off carousels, so the safari company suggests making them LOUD. I have purchased hot pink and blue leopard print duct tape. We will do this thing.

General Roundup

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The frogs have been singing non-stop for days. Plummeting temperatures did not faze them, and now it’s warm again and they are all very loud and very happy. The pond is full of concentric circles where they’re inflating their throat sacs and making ripples.

I took my last typhoid pill this morning. I should now be immune for about five years, at least in theory. I am still a little worried that the doctor said “Watch out for cholera.” I read too many books with cholera as a plot point. (Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I am looking in your direction!) We have antibiotics, just in case.

My new middle-grade novel, “Castle Hangnail” comes out next month! Check out the snazzy cover!

(Well, it’s the snazzy ARC cover. I can’t find the snazzy hardcover cover image. It’s somewhere, I’m sure.)

CastleHangnailBOMcvr

And I think that’s about everything going on…

Angus

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It has been a bad winter for pets.

Angus the little orange cat passed away yesterday. He’d been dropping weight faster than I liked, which we thought was a dental problem, but a week ago he started stumbling. It rapidly became clear that he had terrible vertigo, he began falling even with sitting, and his pupils were different sizes, which is a pretty clear sign of neurological problems. Our options were down to spending an exorbitant amount of money on CAT scans just to confirm what the vet was already sure of–tumor on the inner ear, clearly growing very fast.

There’s very little treatment at that point. Even if we could spend an insane sum on brain surgery on a senior cat, even if it was miraculously successful, the inner ear was already damaged and he would spend the rest of his life thinking he was falling over. Since I would not wish my worst enemy to die of vertigo, we put him to sleep yesterday afternoon.

It was a shockingly fast decline and I’m still rather stunned. He was the sweetest little cat in the world, he wanted nothing more than to be on the bed, preferably tucked up against a human. He liked to sleep with his head on other cats’ butts, to their general dismay.

I know this is the price of admission for having pets, and I never doubt that I will do it again and again and again, but god, we only lost Brandon last month. Twice in a row like this is hard. We are as skilled as people can be in making these choices, but I’d really like to not exercise that skill for awhile.

Well. Ben (or at least, Ben’s butt) was the great love of Angus’s life, and I hope they are together again in whatever afterlife awaits cats. And no one else in the house is allowed to die until 2016 at the earliest.

Artistic Sojourns Kickstarter

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So there’s a Kickstarter for a nifty little book put together by the group of artists going to Botswana, being organized by the awesome Foxfeather, and you can see it all here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1729864809/expanding-horizons-artists-journey-to-africa

We’ve just added a couple of tiers, including the chance to be a saint on the Hidden Almanac and two Tuckerization slots to have a minor character in a T. Kingfisher novel. (Obviously those slots may take a while on fulfillment…) Check it out!

Even if you don’t want my tiers, there are some just absurdly talented artists involved and you’d want the book just for their art…

ETA: And apparently people really want me to kill characters named after themselves, because those slots sold in ten minutes. Um. Whoa.

ETA: …and the saints are sold. Ooookay. That was wild! Thank you, everyone! Now I know what to offer next time somebody wants a charity auction…

Seventh Bride Goes Mainstream(ier)

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So now that we have agreed and accepted the offer, I can tell you guys all about it–Seventh Bride got picked up by 47North, Amazon’s spec-fic imprint, and they’ll be publishing an expanded version, mostly likely this November!

Basically, what happened was that Bride was doing really well–4K copies–and one of the editors there was looking for a book that was sorta like a book they’d just published, and happened across it, and then she loved it and wrote to make me an offer. And since I am incapable of dealing with this sort of thing, I turned to my agent and went “AAAAUGHGHH HELP!” and she took it and repped it and got me more money and dealt with all the fiddly bits that I would have been lost with, which is why we have agents and why they more than earn the chunk they take and it doesn’t matter how this brave new world of publishing falls out, I will keep my agent until she takes out a restraining order against me.

As far as you, the reader is concerned, what’s going to happen is that come November-ish, it will be unavailable anywhere but Amazon, as an expanded version with a new cover on it. And it will have a trade paperback edition, and probably an audiobook edition and possibly even some other exciting stuff. (The copy you have, if you have bought it already, will not go away. I checked specifically on that, because that would have been a deal-breaker for me. Apparently 47North aims for–one quotes–“seamless transition” on this.)

I’ll be honest, this is both very weird and a great relief. I’ve always felt like Dragonbreath was a weird fluke that could never be duplicated and either Hamster Princess would tank or someday my beloved editor at Dial would retire and I would never sell another middle-grade book.

So that someone just stumbled over a T. Kingfisher book and said “Let’s make this happen!” made me feel like I suddenly exhaled–it’s not a one-off, I can actually do this, if everything collapses, I can rebuild a career from the ashes, etc.

…and, of course, it’s also weird, because once again, my career is progressing based on the thing happening that never happens.

A lot of people who self-publish express a desire to get picked up by a trade publisher if things do well, and other people clutch their heads and say “Please, no, don’t do that. This book isn’t your audition tape. Concentrate on making a really fantastic self-published book, not on a dress rehearsal for trade. Focus your business on doing self-pub WELL, not on a vague hope for a statistically unlikely event.”

And this is very good advice, and I would give it to anyone and it never actually occurred to me that I would find myself in that statistically unlikely event. Lightning struck me and the shark I was riding.

But here we are.

RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.

I mulled this one over at great length, honestly. A lot more so than I have previous deals. I contacted authors with the house. I talked at length to my agent. This was actual…like…business decision stuff. And it was doing well as a self-pub, so I had to think about it in a way that I am not good at thinking about things.

I am a great flounderer from place to place. This felt like I floundered someplace very unexpected.

Still, I’m going for it. Without getting into details, by going with a trade publisher (any trade publisher!) I am taking a paycut on royalties on Bride…but there’s an advance, and more importantly, it’ll put the terrifying Amazon marketing machinery behind the book, and however mixed my feelings are about it, I still sell 95% of my copies on Kindle. So it could get a HUGE bump. T. Kingfisher is a complete unknown, and if 47North moves this book, even if I never publish another thing through them, the OTHER books I write as T. Kingfisher–including, incidentally, the retelling of Beauty & the Beast that will be out this May–will totally benefit from it.

And it may do amazing. And if it does, they can come back and talk to me about Beast.

And an audiobook and a print book do not suck, even if they won’t get in most physical stores (for reasons I completely understand!)

At the end of the day, though, what basically decided me was–I wanted to be a hybrid author. I went with a pen-name because that was my experiment with self-pub. So here’s the great hybrid experiment doubling back on itself, and we’ll see what happens. I wrote this book to see where they’d go, and I did not expect it to go where it did, but sometimes you just grab on and go for the ride.

So that’s what’s happening. And I totally do not know what’s going to happen next, but I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes!

 

ETA: I feel a vague urge to apologize to someone for having done this all backwards. I think I did self-pub wrong, somehow…

Broken Routine

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I should really try to remember that I am capable of breaking myself.

I am, sad to say, a creature of intense routine. I don’t mind traveling and doing Other Stuff, but then I want to come home and have everything be exactly like it should be and do normal things that don’t change for a stretch of time. I thrive on novelty, provided it occurs when I want it to and that I don’t have to do it all the time.

Between Kevin traveling, Brandon passing, a week trip (a good trip!) two bouts of illness and dog auditions, I’ve managed to pretty much knock myself out of my home routine, though, (some of which was my fault and some of which was just life) and now I am wandering around in an anxious haze, going “This is not my beautiful house…this is not my beautiful beagle…”

I suppose if we were getting technical, it’s something like a mild transient dissociative episode in response to stress. Which basically just means that everything’s a little off. The house seems weird and small and lit wrong. I know where everything IS, it’s not like I don’t live there, but it seems like I’m about a half-step back from where I ought to be, and, most unsettling, days are passing too quickly and I am in imminent danger of lose track of my schedule.

This isn’t that unusual–about thirty percent of the population reports that this happens to them now and again, so I’m not running off to a psychiatrist or try to get a CAT scan for the brain tumor that I could convince myself it lurking–but it’s not all that fun. I know it’s a stress response. I just need to get back in the routine for a week or two and things will gradually smooth back into normal and the world will cease to be weird and out of order. (I am not actually that far behind, truth be told–I have like one project that I need to finish, but everything else is on track. Except for weeding the garden. The weeding is dismal. I am mostly hoping that our bitter cold snap this weekend will take care of some of it for me.)

(Actually, if the garden wasn’t all dead brown leaves and chickweed, I’d probably feel better, come to that. Winter’s always off.)

Anyway, Kevin says that I am not acting weird, and he’d be the first one to notice. I am a more anxious person than I generally let on, but the occasional spike won’t kill me.

Now, I’m older and wiser than I used to be (har) and so I will actually try to DO the correct thing instead of going “An emotionally healthy person could deal with this! ONWARD!” It’s sort of the mental equivalent of feeling my back twinge–if I keep going, I’m gonna throw my brain out, but presumably if I am sensible and take it easy, it will settle. (Have thrown brain out once or twice. Ends badly every time.)

So I am going to stick to my Normal Schedule Of Normal Things That I Do Normally and hope I relax a bit. Woo! Normalcy.

I used to think it was overrated, but the older I get, the more I think there’s something to be said for it…

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