GREEK KEY has been out for two weeks, so this is the obligatory getting-my-working-life-in-order post.
Why’s it “pickled peppers” anyway? You can’t pickle vegetables on the vine…Or can you? she asks, turning to Google… Oh. Hmm…an entire subculture dedicated to the Crabtree effect and aerobic fermentation…BUT I DIGRESS.
So. Last week I asked for feedback on my Patreon and what could be changed or improved. Answers were varied. And thoughtful. And varied. Extremely varied.
A brief post on worldbuilding.
STATE MACHINE has been out for five days and is doing quite well (thank you for making this happen!). The post I put up on Monday had several good comments about the structure of the Rachel Peng novels, and questions about the upcoming Hope Blackwell novel. Lemme try and answer these in the time-honored fell swoop:
A GIRL AND HER FED should be considered the original source material. Thus far, the only thing I’ve abandoned is aligning the comic and novels to “real world” time, mostly because I’m a stupid-slow artist and the Rachel novels would take place back in 2007 or so. Nope, our world moves too fast for that continuity nonsense.
(…she sighed, wistfully remembering how she really enjoys that continuity nonsense…)
I’ve also placed one red herring in the comic. It’s in Chapter 8 if you want to start guessing, but that’s all I’ll say about that.
The Josh Glassman Novellas
Short pulp novellas, between 35k and 50k words. Wacky sex comedies featuring our favorite Pornomancer, and told as a retrospective fantasy to Mare. Josh has been married eight times, to seven different women (and Mare twice), and this is how he bedded and wedded each of them. Josh loves who he is and what he can do, and he revels in the collective. Josh and Mare know about the ghosts, so ghosts are permitted, but will only show up if it makes sense within a given story. THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING is the only one out so far.
The Rachel Peng Novels
Full-length novels, between 110k and 120k words. Mystery-thriller format, with a central crime that sets off the action and must be solved over the course of the book. Over the seven books in the series, Rachel Peng takes down Richard Hanlon, the villain who tortured and manipulated the 500 young kids who would grow up to become OACET. These novels take place in the five-year break between Parts 1 and 2 of the comic. Hints of ghosts here and there, but no koalas whatsoever! DIGITAL DIVIDE, MAKER SPACE, and STATE MACHINE are the three books in the series that have been published.
The Hope Blackwell Novels
There might just be one of these? I need to see how it performs before I commit to another series. I’m expecting GREEK KEY to come in around 80k to 90k words. Yes, Speedy will definitely be in this/these. The ghosts will be there, too. Not sure how to categorize this book…the draft is reading like Percy Jackson forgot his Adderall and decided to put on a modern-day reenactment of the ODYSSEY, but it’s only half-done and might take a Turn. Due out near Halloween.
(…screaming sounds forever…) Now that STATE MACHINE is done, getting the audio edits done on the books is my new full-time job. Again. Whee.
Hopefully this gives some general non-spoilery answers to any questions you might have had about the different overlapping series. Now, I’m gonna fall down for, like, six days and maybe twitch a little when Brown pokes me in the eye to check if I’m still alive.
It looks as though I’ll be starting a Patreon campaign soon, which I said I wouldn’t do until everyone and their sister had one, and since everyone and their sister now has one, I should really get my butt in gear. This means planning bonuses to entice readers to donate. Here are a few ideas I’ve been playing around with…
The Return of the Joshsmut
Josh has been married eight times (Mare was both Wife Three and Wife Eight… Look, they’re complicated), so there are seven novellas left in the series. I’d love to do these as some sort of serialized incentive program for Patreon donors, then turn these serials into a finished product for everybody.
The Disasterhouse Blog
This house, man. Today–this very afternoon!!!–a structural engineer will conduct an assessment of what must be done to keep the southern side of the house from collapsing. Guys, this house is literally falling down and the problems keep getting worse. We’re also trapped in it due to financial reasons: what was supposed to be an investment in cute structurally-sound fixer-upper has become a freakin’ nightmare. And we’re forced to live in it!So you can forgive me if I load up the home blog, look at all of the topics that would make a great (for you) update, and think, “NOPE.”
In addition to updating that blog at least once a week, Brown and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast. Or, as he says, “I will happily argue with you in public if it means I get to review new tools.” Patreon donors would have access to this podcast before it goes live.
Speedy has over fifty kids throughout the United States, and will soon have a couple hundred more in Australia. None of his offspring can talk, and they aren’t quite as bright as he is, but they still have human-level intelligence. I’ve wanted to do a simple one-panel inkwash comic featuring four of these young koalas on Tumblr for ages… Think Chopping Block, only cuter and much, much darker. Patreon donors would have access to each comic before it goes live.
I dunno. What do you want from me?
None of this will happen immediately. Kickstarter fulfillment takes priority, and I need to also finish the thank-you gift for people who bought the serialized version of Digital Divide before it went live. Which was over a year ago and… ugh. Anyhow. In my opinion, it’s dickish to ask for more money before fulfilling prior obligations, so I’m at least going to get the bonus gift, the Digital Divide audiobook, and League Night (the .pdf of the Kickstarter bonus story) sent out before putting up a Patreon campaign.
Thank you for reading. Please enjoy these owls.
As I sit here, watching the pool we uncovered this weekend slowly turn through multiple shades of green, it occurs to me that the year is already slipping away and I should post a project update.
Big success. Huge. On many different levels. Most of the rewards have been ordered, or are being processed in some way. The release of the bonus story, League Night, has been held up, but for a very good reason that I can’t talk about until it’s confirmed. However, once all this is over, I will be writing up a post about how difficult it’s been to interact with many organizations which work with seeing-impaired persons. Not all organizations, mind! Just almost all.
The JoshSmut series has been indefinitely postponed. Sales of The Russians Came Knocking weren’t nearly as strong as I needed them to be, and it hasn’t earned out its costs, This is sniffles-sad for me, as sex comedies are too much fun to write. I’ll see if it’s feasible to return to the other seven wives of Josh Glassman at a later time.
The Rachel Peng Series
The third book is taking shape. I’m much more hopeful about this one than Maker Space; by this third book, the world’s nicely established and now there’s some adventures to be had. As for when this is supposed to come out? Well. Last night, I realized there was potential for a spinoff novel from this book, but told from Hope Blackwell’s perspective because it involved the ghosts. Since there won’t be any ghosts in the Rachel books (or talking koalas. sorry), this spinoff novel would get shifted back to Hope. So what is essentially a series of books spun off from the comic is now spinning back to the comic’s characters… and now I’m so dizzy I’m going to throw up. The question is, do I write two books and publish them simultaneously? I would love to do this to make sure consistency between events carries over between them. Downside? These novels are now my primary source of income and I will be hella broke by then. Mull, mull, mull…
As of this weekend, Intelligence has been cancelled. We behaved like sensible adults and let the show do what it was going to do, and now we can move on with our lives. I’d love to see OACET on the small screen one day, Scandal-style. Maybe we should see their version of the straight-up cyborg procedural as testing the television waters for what would need to happen with full-on OACET conspiracy theory sexytime weirdness.
Now, have a baby possum.
This story will never be sold through the comic’s store because it has smutty bits and my service providers have very strict terms regarding what can be distributed through my site and storefront. I’m a little skittish about putting something with sex scenes out there, but our house is costing us thousands of dollars each month in repairs and the Romance genre is the main seller for e-books. So, I’m letting Josh be Josh. He does not mind in the slightest.
Except for slightly more explicit sex scenes, TRCK follows the typical pulp fiction format. Adventure, mysterious foreign persons, suspicious murders, and so on. There’s some damseling, but I’m not overly fretting; I had to add an entire chapter where Josh talks to a male character, or the entire story would have failed a reverse Bechdel Test.
I also wrote TRCK for long-time AGAHF readers. The story is very much Josh being Josh — a large part of Josh is Teh Sexytimz, but it’s a 36k-word novella and the sex scenes take up 4,000 of those. The other 32,000 words are Josh being Josh in his many other marvelous ways.
Man, I’m apologizing too much for the sex.
I’ll apologize for the squirrels instead.
I’m sorry for the squirrels.
This has been a terrifically lousy week. We have seriously ill family members and close friends in hospitals all over the place. This was the year I was supposed to go to Comic-Con but nooooo, my friend needs emergency cardiac surgery. Also, the tree which crushed our fence at the end of June has resulted in some huge unexpected expenses and insurance headaches, which I will discuss at length at the Disasterhouse blog once I regain my sense of humor about our money pit of a house.
(Don’t hold your breath on that one. We’re so sick of this place…)
Jenny tells me the next phase is to turn this into a painted piece, and then formal text layout (current text is a placeholder), and then textures to make it look like a well-beaten pulp paperback. As for myself, I’m in the “very excited” phase.
*Yes, I need a copy editor. I am a copy editor and I need one myself. I sent DIGITAL DIVIDE off to him with the note “I’m ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE I’ve caught them all, which means I’ve definitely missed at least 10-20.” He came back with nearly a hundred errors. Hire a copy editor. They are awesome and necessary.
In between paid work, comic work, and slow progress on MAKER SPACE, I’ve been writing Josh smut. Well, no. Josh pulp. It originally started out as a erotica novelette but I was shocked at how quickly that became the most boring thing ever. Ever. Like, ever. Apparently I need to have a plot or a conspiracy or something other than genitals banging together if it’s going to form a book. I abandoned the project for a while and then it hit me: Pulp.
Classic pulp fiction is… oh God. It’s delicious. It’s utter madness in a tight hundred-plus pages. There’s sex and gun battles and explosions and more MacGuffins than in all the British Isles. So Joshsmut has been heavily edited and changed from porn to pulp, and is much more fun to write.
Which means……*drumroll*…… A classic pulp cover!
Classic pulp covers are beautiful. Just tears-to-the-eye perfection. Every one of them screams the story of a gifted artist struggling to make rent. Sitting alone in their studio apartment… The phone call comes… The voice at the other end gives them a title, a deadline, and, if they’re lucky, a description of the characters. “Make it sexy,” says the voice. “Put them on a boat or something. Boats are sexy.”
“But the title is Love in the Desert,” the artist says, already knowing the answer.
“Sand boats, then.”
It’s decades after the fact but when you look at these covers, you can still hear the artist sobbing madly on their canvas. Sometimes they got the characters on the page and then gave up (see: Weirdo Stud). Other times, the minimalist background really works (See: original cover for Bare Trap). Some of the best ones still stand out as examples of top-notch design layout, and are better than the covers available on many current mass-market novels.
But there is definitely a Male Gaze issue to be considered. As in: the ladies are usually there for one purpose, and it is not to save the world through science. So while it can be said that these vintage covers are Quite Awesome, it is better said that these covers were Quite Awesome for the Times but Have Become Extremely Squicky.
With this in mind, I’ve been working with my good buddy Jenny to do a modern version of a vintage pulp cover. Same painted styles, same great textures, same over-the-top titles and fonts, with text galore! all over the cover page. But, you know, no exposed ladyparts* or submissive poses.
So here’s a sneak peek at the roughs for the first Josh pulp: THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING.
I’ll post an update when it’s completed.
*There are exceptions, of course. This lady from MANHUNT is scorching.