Tale As Old As Time

So.

Any readers who have been following along with my blog will know that my friend and I have issued each other a story challenge, that the deadline was pushed back (twice), and those who are really in-the-know have heard that my short story turned into a novella.

A novella I’m really happy with.

One I think might be kind of…good.

So here I am, having spent quite awhile writing this novella and in rather dire straits financially. This is where you come in, as a reader. I am inclined to submit this story to some literary magazines and see if I can’t get it published for a fee. If I go this route, it will be several months at least before its available to read, and even then it won’t be free. I am also toying with the idea of self-publishing it and selling it at a very low cost, which would necessitate lots of promotion and word-of-mouth to generate sales.

My question is, would you buy something like that? Would you get on PayPal and spend a dollar or two to read a story? Posting two-thirds of the story and charging for the ending seems scammy and likely to make people angry, but how much would you need to see before it was worth the money/trouble to read the rest? Even as I’m writing this it seems silly, I’m not a published writer. Why would someone pay for my story?

Then again, there is the fact that it’s good.

I think I will try submitting while I am at Frogman’s Print Workshops for the next two weeks and can’t possibly obsess over what’s happening or not happening, and if nothing pans out then up on the blog it goes.

What would you do, if you were in my shoes?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Literary Characters Get Real

Today we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, and you might as well enjoy it because it may not last. The Broke and The Bookish have pulled quite the fun topic out of their hats this week. Let’s get to it!

Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me of Myself or Someone I Know

1. Undine Spragg (The Custom of the Country) – Reminds me of my mother. I will let those who’ve read the book make of that what they will.

2. Oliver Wood (Harry Potter) – This fellow reminds me of a college friend who was President of our university. He had been a Boy Scout and was very into sports, an earnest and intent type who poured his all into leading our school. I told him that he reminded me of Oliver once, but he hadn’t read the series.

3. Hermes (Greek mythology) – While I was studying in France I met a guy from Belgium: tall and skinny with a quick wit and sharp humor, who talked a mile a minute. He had a laughing sort of face, with high arched eyebrows and wide grin. Quite mischievous. I mentioned that he reminded me of Hermes and he found it hilariously odd.

4. Witch Baby (The Weetzie Bat novels) – My niece reminds me of Witch Baby, both her lot in life and her defiant spirit. My niece is a spitfire, a total pistol who would make an excellent drummer for any rock band. She went through a Goth phase (which she periodically returns to) and when she dyes her hair black I really see Witch Baby.

5. Cherokee Bat (The Weetzie Bat novels) – My sister-in-law, who happens to be only four years older than my niece, reminds me of the charmed blonde Cherokee Bat. Said niece and SIL happen to live in the same house, and their relationship is a lot like that of Cherokee and Witch Baby. My husband is of Native American descent and his sister embraces her heritage by wearing moccasins and the like, and she is quite assured of her attractiveness and lovability.

6. Rodrick (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) – Rodrick is my little brother. He is so much my brother that when the second film came out most of my family sat with bated breath during the post-party interrogation scene, certain that my brother would be struck dumb by the resemblance. He couldn’t deny it. We had tried to get him to read the series with no luck, but once he saw himself on the silver screen he plowed through them all in one night, chuckling “I would do that” until the wee hours. The underwear-on-the-table has shades of Bro all over it. After the movie he wanted to know if he could pull off wearing eyeliner (No).

7. Chris Chambers (The Body) – I had a friend when I was a teenager who reminded me of Chris Chambers from the Stephen King novella The Body (which later became the film Stand By Me). He was a truly stand-up guy who maybe didn’t always think of himself that way, and a natural leader. Kind and fair, the kind of person who would stop an argument between strangers in a fast food restaurant. Like Chris Chambers, he died young.

8. Will Grayson, friend of Tiny (will grayson, will grayson) – This particular Will Grayson reminds me of a boy I used to date (not to be confused with the short, angry, gay Will Grayson).

9. Gretchen (The Kobie Roberts series) – Gretchen reminded me of a good friend from elementary school who drifted away from me as she entered junior high and found herself the type of tall and thin that the boys were suddenly very interested in. We never really fought, she just rode the tide of junior high romance away from me. By pure chance we ended up attending the same university eight hours from our hometown, and became friends again a full decade later.

10. And because it’s only fair to do unto myself as I have done unto others, I am a sort of Luna Lovegood/Astrid Magnussen hybrid with a dash of Katniss Everdeen (the emotionally reticent and blunt dash, unfortunately, not the badass archer dash).

Charlie Hustle

Posts have been a bit thin on the ground here at Ink lately, because I’ve had several deadlines looming for different graphic design projects. Graphic design is not my favorite thing to do, and I generally do it for purely mercenary reasons (or because a family member/friend guilts me into it), but every once in awhile you get the kind of project that is so fun to work on that it keeps you up at night. I thought I’d share a sketch from the project I am currently working on. The design is for the t-shirts/hoodies/ball caps provided to the attendees of an annual debaucherous biker BBQ in Fort Bragg, CA. They roast a pig every year.

Real-time blogging of life as a creative professional!

Round 1, 9:36 am Monday: Feedback on first sketch. Client feels that pig is too naked. Wants pigs in Levis dancing around a fire pit. Could you sketch again?

How the artist felt about that: You’re joking, right? It’s a pig. You said risqué. You realize this is a shirt and not a mural, right? Pigs don’t have a lot of visible musculature to make fancy rocking-out poses! It’s all smothered in gesture-smoothing piggly-wiggly fat. I’m done drawing crap for you plebes. That pig is in a contrapposto pose! Dance, monkey, dance; for a pittance!

What the artist actually said: Not a problem.

Goes back to sketching

Round 2, 4:41 pm Monday: Sent revised sketch.

11:21 am Tuesday: Still haven’t heard back, which could mean one of several things:

1. She liked the work and sent it straight on to her printer without writing me back, effectively stealing my creative output.

2. She hated it/liked another artist’s better/decided I was wrong for the project and went in a different direction, without informing me

3. She found this blog and became terribly offended and is giving me the “cold shoulder”

Either way, as it stands, I am now at five hours lost to a project without pay. Which is a good argument for only taking on projects you will enjoy working on. Many of them end up here (at least when you’re starting out, like I am), and if you had fun working on it and liked what you made then there’s less reason to get twisted up about it.

I like these pigs, and if it turns out these people don’t want them, I’m going to do something else with them. Maybe I will make Ink stickers and send them to all of my followers. oInk.

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Starting July 1st I will be in South Dakota for a two-week printmaking workshop, and I don’t really know if I will post here. It’s a pretty exhausting event (though it never fails to yield at least one great new piece). My birthday last week bumped me about a third of the way to the amount I will need to get a press of my own. Hopefully these bikers dig my design and I can add even more to the fund!

What are you working on these days?

Random Review: Full Dark, No Stars

Yesterday was my birthday and I spent most of today trying to dodge the impending threat of a migraine, but I think I’m finally up to reviewing the book I finished on Monday:

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

This collection of four long- and short-stories are not among King’s best. I only gave the book three stars on Goodreads. However. As my French VI professor once did with one of my lit tests (with abominable grammar), I graded up pour les idées. For the ideas.

All four stories in FD,NS deal with the shadows inside ordinary folks. People who might otherwise consider themselves “good” people, doing terrible things under extraordinary circumstances. A mid-western farmer, an astonishingly average mystery-writer, a middle-manager at a bank, and one very complacent housewife each take the reader on a journey to the heart of their own personal darkness. King is stretching here: two of the stories are written from a female point-of-view, something which has not always proven to be in his wheelhouse. The first story, 1922, is written in a first-person confessional style. Only one of these characters is a writer, and that one is female. It may be worth a read for long-time King fans, just to see the well-established writer continue to grow and take stylistic risks rather than going for the tried and true.

On a very basic level, each story could be tied to certain vices: 1922 with themes of pride, Big Driver’s wrathful writer, Fair Extension a parade of envy-borne cruelty and greed, and the complacent sloth of Darcy Anderson in A Good Marriage. These stories will keep you thinking beyond that first level. The moral quandaries presented in the female-driven stories are of the grayest hue Each of the male protagonists makes a strong case for why “they done what they did”, but it adds up to a lot of rationalizing what mostly amounts to greed and wounded pride.

None of the stories works perfectly. Housewife Darcy Anderson and mystery-writer Tess are drawn pretty broadly, and at times their inner dialogue is more like the idea of a woman than a fully-realized female. Pacing is an issue with 1922, which hums along in fine voice for long passages only to trip over dialogue straining for authenticity and overlong reflections on the narrator’s guilty conscience. The last few lines were cringeworthy, simply because I had to suspend too much disbelief (someone writing a confession would take the time to write that?). Fair Extension ends up laying on the moral a little too heavily, despite being the shortest story of the four, but it wound up being the story I thought about most when I finished reading. A few of the stories and characters will feel familiar to those well-versed in King’s work: Fair Extension‘s devil is reminiscent of Needful Things‘ Leland Gaunt, the story itself shows shades of Thinner. A Good Marriage follows a course similar to that of Dolores Claiborne, though Dolores proved a far more more memorable heroine than Darcy Anderson.

This collection is worth reading for serious King-fans, or those who are particularly interested in the craft of writing. The author tries some interesting things that work out often as not. For a casual horror-reader or someone just getting started with King’s work, it might be better to pick up another of his short-story collections.

Chair Rating:

For specific tastes, not the safest choice.

 

Top Ten Tuesdays: Summer Reading List

Simple as watermelon and lemonade, here are the top ten books I’m looking forward to reading this summer:

Duma Key by Stephen King

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Gone by Michael Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Top Ten Tuesdays: Best Beach Reads

This week the lit-loving-lasses at The Broke and The Bookish would like us to help you fill your beach-bags with good books! With no further ado, here are my top ten beach reads:

1. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

The story of a decades-long friendship between wealthy wild-child Caitlin Somers and working class Victoria Leonard is the ultimate beach read. Most of the novel takes place during summers at Martha’s Vineyard, which as a West Coast pre-teen I vaguely understood as a place where rich people from the East Coast liked to vacation. Now I know that it is an island. True to Blume the novel features a bona-fide female friendship: as weird and gross, competitive and complex as that can be. There are also a lot of great summer songs referenced throughout, like ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. Bonus!

2. Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, and Frank B. Gilbreth

This sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen finds the Gilbreth clan trying to keep the family together now that the visionary patriarch has passed. They decide that with everyone pitching it to help they just might manage, and the book begins with a hilarious beach vacation at the family lighthouses. The kids are older and the ladies are at the forefront with scandalous bathing suits and unbearable suitors, defending their trim little ankles from lecherous old men. It’s a funny and fast read, perfect for summer vacation.

3. Tricky Business by Dave Barry

As irreverent as one would expect from any novel penned by Dave Barry. A nightly casino cruise fronts a drug-smuggling operation, and hilarious hijinks ensue as one crazy night everyone  from the on-board entertainment to local news crews gets drawn into the action.

4. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Any of these books about sketchy Pennsylvania princesses would make for a great guilty-pleasure beach read. I devoured the original eight in a summer, the tightly paced drama and plot twists never stop! Just when you think these girls can’t be more entertainingly awful, they are. Sex and the City by way of Clue.

5. The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #1: Baby-Sitters on Board! by Ann M. Martin

This was one of my favorite Super Specials as a kid, I re-read it a few times, mostly because I thought a cruise to the Bahamas followed by three days at Disney World sounded like the best vacation ever! The ones where the Pikes went to the beach were usually among my favorites in the regular series. I just like the ocean, okay? Jeez.  Plenty of hijinks in this one, including Mary Anne getting a poorly disguised crush on a girl.

6. Girl Goddess #9 by Francesca Lia Block

Short stories are great for the beach because they provide natural breaks for a swim, beach volleyball (ha!), or sandcastle construction. This collection sticks in my head as a summer book, probably due to Block’s L.A.-centric writing. This book has would-be mermaids, surfer girls, sisters-in-ska, and skater chicks. A bit melancholy for the beach, perhaps, but we can’t all be Annette Funicello.

7. Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker

The second book of the Abarat series finds Our Heroes of Day uniting against the foes of Night, to prevent a permanent midnight in Abarat. I liked this installment better than the first, because it got more into the mythology of Abarat (rather than introducing a rather unwieldy cast of characters). Tough to get spooked by the creepy stuff on a sunny beach!

8. More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs by Q.L. Pierce

A great one to share with friends, maybe at a beach campout? Scary enough to spook those with fanciful temperaments without keeping them up all night. There is an especially good one featuring siblings at a beach, who are intrigued by a mysterious island. Must be read at night for maximum effect.

9. Interstellar Pig or The Duplicate by William Sleator

Beaches figure heavily into both of these slim sci-fi novels. Barney makes the acquaintance of three attractive and competitive neighbors at his parents beach house, and gets sucked into a game in which the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. On the beach after a storm David finds a machine that makes (near) perfect copies of living things, an invention that seems like the answer to his prayers but soon proves to be more trouble than it’s worth.

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader C.S. Lewis

Easily my favorite of the Narnia series, the audiobook once inspired my brother and I to lie on my mom’s waterbed with a fan on while we rocked around to make waves and sprayed each other with a bottle of saltwater. Just like sailing! Actually, a lot more comfortable than sailing, truthfully. Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace’s trip to the magical island locales of this story made for a much more exciting read than some of the other novels in the series. I’m looking at you, The Silver Chair.

The only reason Ship Breaker and The Odyssey aren’t on this list is because they were on last week’s. So, you know. Good beach reads to be had there.

I will leave you with the song everyone is saying will be the summer song of 2012: