I am filled with hope for the future and gratitude for the present. We have the ability to choose the way we experience our lives to a large extent, and that's the mood I'm picking. Part of choosing the experience of our lives is through the stories we take in. I'm a big fan of hopeful stories that work with, not against, what it means to be human.
Lots of indie creators share this conviction that stories should be fun, and should speak to a deeper part of the human psyche than whatever's trendy at the moment. Adventure and romance are timeless for good reason!
Just a few more days are left on the preorder Kickstarter for SoulBound 2: Escape, and we're so close to funding! I know times are uncertain and things may be tight right now, but it's only $3 for the PDF version and you might want some fresh reading material! I do not have a pandemic arc in this storyline so it still counts as escapism. ;)
Finishing funding means I just have to set up the printing - supporting American businesses and freelancers - and that will then free me up for another month or two to build... IndieGen.XYZ, the new virtual con for all kinds of independently produced entertainment!
The progress on the new online indie creator con:
Next up, I need to find out what sort of specs the virtual booths will have. I will be reaching out to potential vendors and I'll need to know what to tell them so they can go ahead and prepare a booth space on their end. I know they will need a nice square picture to represent their booth, but I don't yet know the pixel dimensions. I should probably also create an easy form to fill out so I can see all the relevant information at a glance... but I will need to know what the relevant information will be.
I'll try to report new developments every Friday, I think.
I want IndieGen.XYZ to represent:
I have other ideas as well but I have to find out what's possible and what should be an upgrade down the road.
Let me know what you want to see and do at an online con!
This idea has been on the back burner a long time, and now, I wish I'd moved on it sooner.
I had a long list of excuses why the time wasn't right; it was big and complicated, I didn't know how to start, I couldn't afford it.
None of this is any less true now, but this needs to happen.
I do have a bit of an idea how to start now, at least, and it isn't quite so bad if I focus on one step at a time!
IndieGen.XYZ is a virtual indie entertainment/pop culture con filled with booths from professional independent creators. It combines elements of a curated search engine and an online RPG to simulate the experience of browsing at a con. It will be easily searchable and friendly to casual browsers, and free to use.
The site will start out pretty basic, but the highest priority is making it easy to find whatever you want. The barriers to creating professional, high quality entertainment have dropped so low with the advent of new technologies in every field! Independent creators can - and are - creating stories and art in every media at levels big entertainment industries couldn't even dream of 20 years ago!
Now, the internet can connect us with anything and anyone, and that has opened up a new venue for us to find and get anything in existence.
The trouble is, everything is on the internet, and the first dozen pages of every search are cluttered with big corporations with more advertising dollars than decent stories, and also with creators more comfortable with promotion than with honing their art. The independent creators who spend every waking moment creating are overlooked.
Right now, most of us in the USA, and also the world, are housebound. Our events where we would ordinarily find these creators are cancelled or postponed.
Small shops can't open, and without any traffic, they have no revenue.
Maybe they'll never open again.
We would love to visit and support them, but we just can't.
Meanwhile, we're going stir-crazy at home.
I can't just sit here and let this happen. I don't know how big of an impact I can make or even if I can get it off the ground, but I've got somebody willing to help me build the site if I can pay for the hosting and put a deposit down to get him started. I've bought the domain IndieGen.xyz for it - I've had this name in mind so long and I was so happy it was still available when I looked it up! I'll tell you the story behind it and what it means to me sometime.
If you can help at all, I'd be so, so grateful. Use hashtag IndieGenXYZ , get people looking forward to it, let me know of the best indie creators in Books, Comics, Games, Video (YouTube channels and Indie Animation!) who might like a booth, and if you have a couple dollars to throw in toward it, hit the Donate button below or in the sidebar.
Thanks so much! And I'll see you at IndieGenXYZ!
Hi everybody and welcome to the OtherRealm!
Last year I was blown away by the response to SoulBound 1: Adrift - the first issue in my epic fantasy comic series about a young woman whose grief opens the door to a dangerous world of magic and monsters. If you haven't read it, I still have copies HERE! And also on Amazon for Kindle.
Issue 2 will be a great jumping-on place as well for new readers. SoulBound features two protagonists - Becca, who got in plenty of trouble in Issue 1, and Torrin, who's been in trouble. But now they are in trouble together and it's a wonderful thing to see. SoulBound 2: Escape features Torrin's point of view and I get to showcase a few things about his character - I can't wait for you to meet him!
This will be an action-packed issue that also introduces some of the strange, wonderful, and deadly elements of the OtherRealm. But more than that, it continues a story I want to share with you about a world where there is always hope.
Because of your support last year, you gave me hope - that people still want the stories I love to write, that it doesn't all have to be either depressing and gritty or have all the edges ground off to a plastic corporate sheen, that I'm not the only one left who wants romance and adventure and heroes who give all they've got to get back up again and do what's right. It's still early in the series but I promise you that's what's in store, because I want you to have hope as well. And stories are the best way imaginable to download hope directly to your mind.
This year, I'm getting ready to crowdfund SoulBound 2: Escape on March 1st. I'll run the campaign on Kickstarter through to the end of March, to raise the money for printing and shipping through preorders. The art, lettering, and everything else are already paid for or awaiting completion with the funds set aside, but I need help if we're going to get real physical copies made! Printing and shipping costs have gone up, but I know we can make it. SoulBound has already had such an impact on so many people and it's only getting better from here. I want so much to do well on this campaign so I can go ahead and get Mia started on Issue 3! So please, tell everybody you can about this epic indie fantasy series and help me get the word out!
Thank you so much!
And I'll see you in the OtherRealm!
The last time I blogged here was... January?!!!
What can I say, it's been a busy year so far. Instead of blogging, I've been doing an art stream most days on Twitch and YouTube, and that has worked wonders for my productivity. I'm improving my art skills enormously and getting regular gigs now!
A little over a week ago, I had an incredible opportunity to get in on the first annual Upstate Pop Expo, produced (most assuredly the wrong word) by Richard's Comics and Collectables. I had just seen Richard at Soda City Comic Con and given him a copy of SoulBound 1: Adrift, which he liked, and he offered to let me come to his shop and do a signing.
I did not expect to be offered a book signing event.
Richard also suggested that I ask Mia, the artist, to come and sign books as well. She agreed and we set the date for October 19th (more on this later).
At the time, Richard was also gearing up for putting on a comic con of his own in Greenville. It was the first I'd heard of it and I'm pretty sure all his booth spaces were full.
The week of his comic con, the Upstate Pop Expo, he emailed me and said that he'd had a cancellation on an artist table, and would I want to fill it?
Well of course I would! The first year is the best time to get in a comic con. You get to see all the potential coming to life. It was too short of notice for Mia to make it, but I brought comics and cosplay accessories to fill a table.
Richard put me between Gregbo Watson and Tracy Yardley, who were very nice table neighbors and much more established in the comics industry than me. I am drastically understating this in the interest of moving back on topic.
I mentioned the Upstate Pop Expo in the newsletter but I'm only just now answering the question I've been asked several times now:
HOW WAS THE SHOW?
The Upstate Pop Expo was, for a first-time show, excellent. The only comic con I have been a vendor at that comes close to the level of preparation, organization, and all around thoughtfulness is the Electric City Comic Con, which was put on by librarians. If you did not attend this comic con, you missed out.
This con was a hidden gem. Despite Richard making every effort to promote it, attendance was on the low side. Even so, I did pretty well for the weekend, I think. I don't have very good metrics yet for gauging that since I'm now concentrating on selling comics and reaching readers rather than facepainting and cosplay accessories.
But, for selling comics and talking about my story, this was an excellent con. I could talk to everyone who came by and strive to make a connection with them, and quite a few people took a chance on SoulBound #1: Adrift! What really melted me was that several came back, either later in the day or the next day, to tell me that they had already read it and loved it! A Mystique cosplayer came back and bought extra copies for her friends, and another, cosplaying as Shoto Todoroki, returned to buy the comic and a hatchable dragon egg kit, and we chatted a long time about writing. The fact that this con was less noisy and rushed than others made this possible. I sold double the comics I had at Soda City, even though Soda City is a bigger and more established con.
The only trouble with selling to cosplayers is that I already have trouble recognizing people I don't know very well, and I am at such a disadvantage now if I see them again at another con. I meet the best people and I can hardly ever tell who I've met before!
I think that the only thing the Upstate Pop Expo needed was more attendance. Maybe bigger signs out front and on the corner, too. The Shrine Club center is right across from a nice little park (full of Pokestops), and not hard to find if you know what you're looking for.
Next year, when awareness of this fun and incredibly well-organized event has had time to percolate through Greenville, I expect the Upstate Pop Expo to be even better and at least twice as big. As soon as I know when it'll be, I'll make sure to post about it.
See you in the OtherRealm,
I'm writing this a little bit ahead and scheduling it to post automatically, because I don't want to forget about it and I ought to be gearing up for the SC ComiCon in March. Also, I'm waiting on some news and it probably won't be a good idea to dash off my first thoughts about it when it arrives. So this post is about being an indie creator – not just comics, but any kind of creative endeavor, and still being in that space between isolation and finding an audience. Usually, this is a bit of an expensive space, either in terms of time or money, and it's tempting to look around at other people who are getting all kinds of support from lots of people even if they haven't actually created anything yet.
“If somebody would just give me a chance,” you may be thinking, “I could make something just as good, or even better!”
But you'd be wrong.
Your ability to create isn't in question. Probably, maybe even likely, you could create something just as good or better than the best efforts of whatever current creator is getting resources simply donated to the project. Perhaps even better than what's currently available from major corporate outlets. If you're passionate about your vision and you have the work ethic to create it to a solid, consistent standard, that's going to show.
No, where you're wrong is the part about somebody “giving you a chance.”
Nobody gives chances.
Those aren't free.
Whatever chance you get from someone is a very precious thing, and it's on loan to you. If you don't pay back this loan of the reader's time, attention, or money with interest, you will not be getting another. Whatever you create must be worthwhile and do what you advertised it to do.
If you are so lucky as to get a chance from a reader, your work should repay that reader above and beyond what they paid in. More entertainment, more value, more art than they expected to get. Make your characters compelling so they can capture your reader's imagination. Make your plots tight so they're good on the re-read. Make your setting immersive and intriguing so your reader isn't bored or thrown out of the story.
Treasure the reader who loans you a chance. Some aren't going to think it was a good investment for them, and that's okay. If you advertise exactly what you're offering, and then deliver higher quality than they hoped for, you'll get more readers who will be glad they offered you that chance. Those are the ones who'll give you another, and you can keep creating for them.
At this point, you may be wondering how you can make anything without a chance to get you started. That's another post, and I'll try to get it written up next.
My big goal for 2018 was to learn animation, so let's see how I did. I bought a good, comprehensive textbook on animation, I read it over the summer, I poked around a bit with Clip Studio Paint's animation features, I downloaded the new update to Clip Studio Paint with enhanced animation features... and on December 27th I finally had time to try to animate something.
And I hated everything I did!
I erased and started over about four times, trying simpler forms each time. Finally I just mapped the path I wanted my creature to take with just a dot that represented its head. Once I got the dot to move through space attractively, I put a spine on it. Hated how that turned out. I couldn't get the entire thing to follow believably from one frame to the next. So I went back and erased that, replacing it with a shorter, straight spine for the neck to the limbs. I thought about the placement of the limbs in relation to the path and motion of my creature, and ended up with... kind of a short-stemmed flying lollipop.
But that actually looked fairly decent. It moved in space, growing as it came closer, shrinking as it moved farther, dipping down as the wings came up, and appearing to be propelled up and forward as the wings came down.
Now, adding detail so that it actually looks like the thing I want it to look like... I am so far off model. I've missed something terribly important but I misplaced my animation textbook over the holidays. I'm considering changing my logo to the flying lollipop. I need to make it slow down at three key points, but I think I've reached the limit to the number of cels I can add to my timeline. So I have a few separate problems to solve – I think the off-model thing isn't so terrible, since I can redraw each cel and fix that, and besides, things do get a little stretchy when they move. But the slowing down and pausing needs more cels, and I'm not quite sure how to get the program to add them in for me.
All this and I haven't even tried to export or upload anything. Uploading can't happen quite yet anyway, but any day now the contractors will come out and finish connecting the fiber optic. I am beyond excited for this. I'm going to have to get over my nervousness about being on camera so I can actually make and upload videos.
So I'm going to keep plugging away at it and once it's possible to upload video without timing out, I'll post my logo intro on YouTube and link it here.
Hey everybody! 2018 was quite a year here in the OtherRealm. I was quite busy writing a new superhero novel, which was picked up by Silver Empire Press to be part of their Heroes Unleashed novelverse. It's scheduled for publication this year and you should be able to preorder it in a couple months!
Also, even though there weren't as many comic cons over the summer, I was still able to save up enough to contract Mia to finish the line art for the first issue of SoulBound! I had also been practicing my digital art skills and was able to color and letter the issue myself. So it's complete! I can hardly believe it.
I still have work to get it ready for print, and I have to somehow get the funds to do the remaining nine issues, because once I start the series run, I really ought to publish it on a regular schedule. I'm looking into crowdfunding it but I have to work out the logistics first – it's not hard to figure out my budget for production and print, but then there's shipping and fees to take care of. I kind of want to get some customized goodies to put in – custom pens are a standard item, but I've also seen some really neat stuff like keychain compass/whistle combos, lip balm, hand sanitizer spray (which would be awesome for comic cons) and even journals and hats. But I want to be sure I can pull it off before I get too deep in the catalogs of nifty items – so, logistics. I'd love to hear from you about what kind of nifty custom thing you'd like from OtherRealm Studio.
Another huge step this year has been getting into book cover illustration and more digital painting, which has been a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to doing more of these. I love how my new digital paintings are turning out, and I'm now one of Booklocker's recommended freelance illustrators.
Finally, something I've been waiting for a long time – fiber optic cable! Technically... I'm still waiting. There's yet another set of contractors who need to come out and actually connect the cable. But once they do, I am finally going to be able to upload video, and art, and updates, and all sorts of good stuff. I'm going to get to do art streams and podcasts and everything! I don't know what to do first! Any suggestions?
Yeah, it's a bit past Christmas. I've been kinda busy. How about you? I hope you've all had a great holiday.
I have news!
The first issue of SoulBound is complete!
Not finished, but all the pieces are there and assembled. 20 full-color pages of art and story to get you into a world of sorcery and secrets with our hero Becca, and the introduction of the captive warrior Torrin. It's going to be awesome.
But just to make sure it's awesome, I'd really love for a few experienced comic creators to look it over and give me some feedback on how it can be improved before I declare it fit for print. So I'm looking into that.
It's been a long process, and it seems like the more I work on it, the more there is to do! I want to figure out how to make it easy for stores to sell and how to get it distributed to stores. A bar code would probably be useful for that. I don't want to get an ISBN unless I absolutely have to. Those are expensive and a bit much for an issue of a comic. And probably at least a few people quit reading at the second sentence of this paragraph and said, “Oh, I know how to do that! Just get it listed with Diamond!” Yeah... I've been thinking that over and weighing the pros and cons there. The farther I get in, the farther there is to go....
Related to that, I have some questions for you. If you are reading this, please sound off! I need to get a big sample and everyone counts. (You can answer in comments here, or if you want checkboxes, click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VK662KS
1. Are you interested in my comic miniseries SoulBound (a Fantasy Adventure with Beauty and the Beast tropes that takes place in another world)?
2. Do you shop at comic stores? If not, what store do you shop at that you'd buy comics from?
3. Do you buy comics online?
4. Would you rather buy digital or print comics?
Feel free to detail why or why not for any or all of these questions, and please help share the survey! If you are interested in my soon-to-be-released miniseries and you're not signed up for my newsletter, please sign up here!
If you aren't interested, no hard feelings! It's not everyone's genre or media. Maybe you know somebody who would be interested, though, and I would appreciate it very much if you would share this survey with them. I'm doing all I can to create a great, fun story packed with action, adventure, romance, mythology, and a twisting, turning rollercoaster of a story arc – but getting it in the hands of readers who will love it is the real tricky part.
I need to know how many readers and where they are so I can have it there waiting for them.
After this first issue, I should be able to go faster on producing the rest of the series. I've learned a lot, but there's more to go.
Are we all okay after the hurricane?
This week has tried to kill me, but it didn't have much to do with that. Hurricane Florence didn't blow in far enough to get us, at least not more than a few rainy, gusty days. I did attempt to do facepainting for the 4H art fundraiser at a local fair, which turned out okay considering that I (and Alicia, one of the other 4H moms) just painted as fast as we could before the rain moved in, while getting pelted with acorns and small branches blowing loose from the trees above us and holding down our supplies and tablecloth every few minutes. We lasted until about 11:30 and then had to pack it up when we were spending more time holding the setup together than we were painting.
I brought home a tiny cocoon one of the other ladies found that had blown down. Miss Chaos has been asking for a pet that's easy to care for, and apparently pet rocks are not “legitimate” pets.
The next day when I went to put up my chickens, I noted the misty rain and the slick steps, and told myself, “Self, be careful and don't slip!” Yeah, it didn't help and I landed hard on the bottom of the steps. And the bottom of me. It took a minute of feeling really stupid before I got up again and staggered out to finish putting away chickens for the night.
And just the night before last, I noticed the chickens were acting strange – Gertrude has been molting and brooding and sulking in the nesting box, but this time she was at the bottom of the ramp that led inside, like she wanted to go in but something was stopping her. So I had that much warning before I eased the lid of the nesting box open...
CONTINUED FROM NEWSLETTER
And found a huge black snake!!! It was over four feet long.
Joe clipped his flashlight in the nesting box to spotlight the snake and I stayed out to keep an eye on it while he went to find whatever equipment would be appropriate to deal with it. Unfortunately, my chickens were attracted to the light and wanted to go in the coop! So I had to catch each one – in the dark, by then – while checking to make sure the snake didn't move – and find somewhere to put them. I ended up kind of stuffing them in the upstairs of Oreo McFurry's bunny hutch. Fortunately there was just enough room for four chickens to fit. After we got rid of the snake, I found out they had decided this was their new home and they all complained when I had to drag them back out and put them in their own coop. Oreo McFurry had no comment.
Other than that, the chickens are fine, the bunny is fine, we're fine, and even Pepper the evil cat is fine, though she misses our long walks around the yard. I've been sitting at my desk too much, writing and drawing, and the weather and spiders make it a bit tricky to find a good time to walk.
Until next time,
See you in the OtherRealm.
The kickstarter ends - a new era begins!
The end is drawing near for the Heroes Unleashed campaign - the first of many epic launches for new novel series set in a massive universe of heroes, villains, action, and adventure. These are stories that bring back heroism - times may be hard but they won't be depressing, and the heroes strive to be their best instead of coasting on their reputations.
Soon, the special editions and exclusive first releases will be gone, so check out the campaign today. Even one dollar gets you immediate access to the first chapter of each of the first five novels getting launched! This is especially great if you want to get a look at the different approaches each author takes with their series.
Let me talk to you purely as a reader for a little bit.
I believe in this project. I know the authors are all excellent, and I'm excited to read about new heroes who I can really get to know and journey with, the way that's only really possible with novels. You know what it's like, when you settle in with a book and visit a whole other world for a little while. You know how hard it can be to find a world worth visiting and characters you're excited to meet and grow with. You know how frustrating it is to start getting into a book and then find yourself disliking the people you found there - the cynical "heroes," the golden winners who never struggle, the bland villains, the too-stupid-to-live idiots who stumble through plot hole after plot hole - and you wish for books that make you think, instead of stories best enjoyed if you don't examine them too closely. You want more from your reading than a few hours of forgettable entertainment.
As a reader, I am telling you that there is more here. Give Heroes Unleashed a shot.
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.