This week, I planned on finishing my cover and making headway on the next installment of Ensnared. However, I found myself suddenly prepping to interview a mangaka whose work I once edited on a panel at Anime Expo and prepping to speak at a different panel on Fan Service aimed at Yaoi fans on another panel. Okay, I can adjust on the fly. This is a great opportunity. I hadn't expected to speak at this convention for a long time. I was excited. And then, I get another cool request. I was asked to do a video introduction for Ori Cosplay International, a group at a convention in Belgrade, Serbia. That was great, but I had to do my hair and find my make up and put on said make up. I am so out of practice with makeup that it seemed to take forever. This video was only 17 second, mind you. Of course, Jon did some directing. It wasn't much. Here is a screenshot from the video. I sent everything where it needed to go by a little after mid-day on Monday. Now, I need to get back to the other pile of work.
Jammin' Out of Tune
Keep in mind that I have quite a bit of experience in canning in general and making jam in particular. This year, I have a fancy new pressure cooker with a canning function. I thought I was going to really get down with some jam making. There were a few flaws in that assumption. First, fruit seems to ripen into rot within hours of purchase when one plans on canning. I bought three pounds of apricots on Friday. They were firm to the touch. There wasn't a bruise on any one of them. By Saturday evening, half of them were rotten. That doesn't make much of a yield. I had to cook them down asap and buy more later. When I finally got to try my new equipment, the entire batch was ruined. I think I was too timid in tightening the rings on the lids. It is said being too tight can be explosive. I erred in the other direction. Most of the jam was forced out under pressure. The only thing that saved any of it was I couldn't fit all of the jars in the pressure cooker. I had one jar that hadn't been sealed under pressure. It sealed from the jar cooling on its own. That would keep in the fridge for a good long while. And I had leftover jam that I put in a Rubbermaid container. But a whole lot of work had been for nothing. Luckily, the summer is just beginning. There is still plenty of time to try again. I plan on doing that later this week. Note – The refrigerator jam is delicious. Of course, I had to make some brioche bread (it's really easy. I use a no knead recipe from this awesome book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). The recipe makes four loaves in a batch. The dough can be frozen. It also makes epic donuts!
New Multi-Author Blog!
We're re-activating the Sybaritic Press Blog next week. We realized that we have some very interesting authors with new print books coming out soon. We think readers would like to hear about how they work and what they are working on. I will introduce each blog and contribute something about the editing and marketing of the books. We are really excited to join an author program with Amazon that will link our new titles with bestsellers in the same category. We're hopeful that will mean a surge in sales for past volumes and titles in our catalog. I'll make sure the link is in the next blog!
Learning New Tricks
Jon was working on a drawing for the cover of his new book. That work prompted him to try one of those 3D modeling programs to get his proportions right on the figures. Since it was free, I decided to try it as well. Proportion and perspective have been an issue for me in the last covers. Oy, the cursing. Did I mention that free software tends to have a steep leaning curve? I managed to get the poses I needed after two solid hours to get and elbow to bend in toward the chest. Hopefully, my new neighbors didn't hear that language. I usually don't like to let them know that side of my vocabulary until football season. I also got some help from two lovely artists who are far better versed in these programs than I. Saya Unique and Candy were really essential in helping me get past some problems with this cover. I will reward them both. Readers should see a real improvement in my skills with this print cover and the next ebook. It's even made me faster in the actual drawing part. The posing part was a nightmare, but the drawing is much easier. I'm also going to take an online course on web page development. It isn't anything like coding. This course teaches artists how to customize website templates to suit needs. Jon and I want to revamp our web pages, so that I can host my webcomic there and take advantage of the amazing traffic I have on my Facebook pages. We're hoping to create a viable way to monetize the page and provide an advertising platform for Sybpress and other Indie presses.
Zorthrast The Invincible Gets a Haircut
No, I haven't blown a gasket. That is a title from one of the short stories in Jon's first fiction Life on the Periphery. It is an astonishingly good work. I say that with great pride and equal annoyance. The stories are a combination of Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror and comedy at times. They do not fit easily in a genre niche. Thus, I believe (as a publisher) they will have a broad appeal. We've already gotten some very exciting people to have a look at it! The cover art is to your right. Here is the synopsis:
This astonishing collection of delightfully disparate short stories answers many of the universe's most difficult questions. Like what was life like for a city guard during the Hyborean Age battling the greatest Barbarian of all time? What does a boy find when he wanders into the woods…and beyond the realm of human senses? How does a Midwest farm girl become a pawn in an intergalactic power struggle? How does one negotiate with aliens who have an extremely invasive means of communication? What happens when a Wehrmacht soldier volunteers for a bold and dangerous experiment? Why would the defender of the universe take time off to visit a small town in Ohio? What are the unintended consequences of wish granting genies? What happens to an office worker who has a ringside seat to the end of the world? Can two immortal brothers who pursue very different paths find common ground? Life on the Periphery takes the reader on a journey that is joyful, hilarious and terrifying in turns while searching for many kinds of truths.
Look for the announcement next week!
Book Updates – Warning! There Be
One of my stalwart proofreaders had a brilliant idea for the Ensnared books that I was already working on for the Soldiers Books – I'm going to write a guide to the universe in which they are set as well as the characters and their relationships. I'm likely to do a cookbook for Ensnared as I am for the Soldiers books. For now, I'm going to do a basic guide that I will illustrate at some point. The basic guide will be added to all the print and ebooks as soon as it's finished. It will help me a lot to have one. Right now, I keep track of everything on post-it notes. That's not very efficient.
I'm glad to finally get to the desert and what's been waiting for my characters for so long. I've had this encounter in my head from the beginning of the first volume. Some aspects of the scene changed as the characters veered from how I originally planned on them developing. I believe all the changes are for the better as they happened organically with the way the characters grew. There is magic in the way these creations grew in a different though completely logical way from what I planned. I used to wonder where these developments sprang from and how I couldn't see them from the start. Sometimes, this happens because I'm focused on the moment at hand and don't see that the character's arc had changed trajectory. Sometimes, a clever reader will point out what should be obvious. I am most fortunate to be in contact with some very clever readers. These changes don't change the outcome of the long anticipated scene, but the dynamic is quite different. This shift will impact the fallout of that encounter in ways that shift relationships for some time to come. I am very excited about writing it though it is turning out to be really emotional for me. I always get that when when my guys are going through a traumatic event.
Summer of Fun Update
The 4th of July is on a Monday this year. Jon gets a three day weekend! Along with the panels at Anime Expo, we get to meet Phil Mizuno, one of our gorgeous calendar guys who is also an absolute sweetie. And hopefully, we'll get to hang out with some terrific writers and artists while I enjoy craft beers. We have to bring in beers we like to share. I got hooked on Red Irish Ales during my last trip to Paris (I do things like that). These are really neat people that I usually interact with only on Facebook. It's an exciting addition for the Summer of Fun.