Batton Lash in Good Company at ArtLabs Studio

Durante el panel de Troma, comentando sobre el...

Batton Lash: at Troma Panel

Batton Lash, The Author of Supernatural Law and one of the writers of Radioactive Man comic strip among many other hats (mentor and friend to C.K.Garner among them) launched his new studio this evening!  See his comic book series here: Batton Lash/Supernatural Law

Located within ArtLabs Studio on San Diego’s famous Adams Avenue, a street long known for its antique galleries and Street Fair, Lash’s new studio found perfect company with four other artists who share the ArtLabs Studio space, and whose works were featured on every wall.

The opening of the new studio coincided nicely with the annual Art Around Adams event, here’s the link:
Art Around Adams

A constant crowd of folks flowed into the Art Lab building from the two mile long Art Around Adams Walk, which features art and music incorporated into local businesses, a truly unique format in San Diego, checking out the art on every wall, chatting with the artists, and sharing champagne toasts all around, accompanied to live music.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with James Hudnell author of “Aftermath: Humanoids” who gave me a great mini lesson about “theme” and “character arc” in writing, which I will be thinking about as I continue scribbling my own manuscript, you can see his work here: James Hudnell Aftermath: Humanoids.  I enjoyed the fine company of one of Batton’s long-time artist assistants, the charming Madame Melissa, as well as meeting Batton’s famous wife, at least famous for all Geekdom and comic book fans, Jackie Estrada.

Though though you may not have met her, if you are a Comic-Con International fan, you’ve likely seen Estrada’s name and work.  Jackie is the administrator of CCI’s Eisner Awards, which represent an Oscar equivalent for best of the best in the Pop Art and Comic industry, and has for years been the editor of several Comic Con related titles as well as holding the position as co publisher of Exhibit A Press.  So, this was a night of high falutin’ company indeed for this very new Writer!

Hats off to Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada; pioneers of the small press industry!  Congratulations on the new studio!

C.K. Garner

Ode to a Brainstorm

storm cell #9

Brainstorm!

A couple of Blogs back I promised that this week would be add a few new characters week for my manuscript.  I played with a few ideas in my head, none of them bearing real fruit until I had a waking vision.  I was munching my dinner in my car when suddenly my mind opened up with a great picture of  a creature; a scary, but beautiful night creature.  Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all thinking Vampire, right?  Nope.

I have been re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which I mention last Blog.  Ala J.K Rowling‘s experience on a train, no pen or paper handy with the idea for Harry Potter in her head, there I was with no pen or paper available, only my mind for a page.  To make matters worse, my dinner break was ten minutes from finished.  What to do?

I brainstormed that new character in my head for that ten minutes until she looked completely fleshed out and real.  I drove my car back to the job, thinking hard about those ideas of her made whole, got out and locked the car, walking a little blinded by the vision in my head. I was so desperate to hold onto her.  I could see her eyes becoming more and more real.  They haunted me until I was through the doors of my work.

So, my vision stayed with me.   My lovely one grew taller.  She gained hair and skin and a lithe physique.  Her eyes were her best feature, but all of her, well, I think I’m in love, like a parent of a new daughter I just wrote into being…except I hadn’t written her down, yet.

By the time I left work, headed home in a happy, calm mixture of thought, she gained personality traits, had a way of moving about, something of her very essence was captured.  She now existed.

So, after a start with no paper or pen, last night I finally wrote her character into my manuscript.

I added this character so readers could connect with my protagonist better, see her through the eyes of her newly created friend.  I went further to decided how she looks, speaks, acts, and interacts with my main character and the others thus far introduced.

She worked like a charm but for one thing; I love the new character so well I’m afraid she’ll take over the story!  But, if J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter could function well with such appealing characters as Hermione and Ron Weasley, okay, Ron was comic relief, perfect foil for serious Hermione, maybe I’ll be okay with this new creature just as she is.  And perhaps later on she’ll get her own story.  Could happen…

Manana I’m adding one more character to the mix, a villainous type, and perhaps two other minor characters for this book, that will grow into their own in this and the next book.  Yes, Virginia, there is a sequel to the manuscript I haven’t finished…yet!  I realized that to tell the story I have brewing, I will need more than one book unless I want it to be two thousand pages long.  Thus I’m splitting the tale as I write it into two sections.

I have yet again, through close reading of Harry Potter and a bit of knowledge about J.K. Rowling, moved ahead in my manuscript.  J.K. Rowling really does have a touch of magic…if you look into her first Harry Potter Book long enough, you will find everything you love about a good tale…and then you get to keep it and apply that magic hand to your own writing.  I could find it and keep it, and even apply it, you can, too.  Tag, you’re it.

Well, gotta add more characters, and work on catching them all up into the tale.  Cheers!

C.K. Garner

J.K. Rowling plays nicely with all the tropes and genres..

Our love worn copy of Harry Potter

I’ve been thinking about Harry Potter today in relation to writing my own novel.  I dusted off my son’s battered old copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, abandoned now that my son is twenty and moved out into the muggle world as a young adult, and began rereading it, with an eye for what drives this little volume that started a worldwide reading frenzy.

After a few chapters, I caught up on a few things that I had seen before in many, many books happily read over the years.  At the most obvious, this is a classic coming of age story.

Harry has the ability to grow, and the reader, if he starts reading this as a child, will mature right along with him, can relate to him from every aspect of what it is to be a kid.  From what he is required to eat as opposed to what he wants to eat, from  the tedium of studies, to happiness with professors  he enjoys, and the schoolyard bullies, lurking around the corners, kids, and adults who remember being a child, can relate to him.

Then there are the friendships that develop as Harry gets to know Hermione Granger, Ron and the whole Weasley clan, and learns how to relate with the other students.  He goes from a lonely child to a boy with close friendships.

Finally, there are the adult figures.

Harry has absolutely no experience with adult characters beyond the Dursleys, and he has no reason to trust any adults.   But with the arrival of childlike, if intimidating Hagrid, Harry begins to see adults in a new light, and this will continue as he grows and meets Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and the rest of the cast, keeping in mind, he meets the not so nice ones as well, but chooses who he will associate with, once he has freedom of choice beyond the Dursley House.   Thus, Harry Potter comes of age before our very eyes through his interactions with humanity, or rather Wizards and Half Bloods and Muggles who touch his life, and change him mostly for the better.

Next, Harry Potter is a rags to riches story.   He sleeps in a cupboard, and lacks bedroom, pets, toys, friends, family and good inside or outside activity.  He has no one who sees or cares what is happening to him at the Dursley’s hands.  Creature comforts as simple as a decent bed and a good meal are denied him.  Just a couple of chapters in, he is eating savory sausages,  has a protector and companion in Hagrid, and finds a new place, richly vibrant and alive in contrast to his life with the Dursleys.  The money wealth is only secondary with all that comes his way.

Last, but only because this is such an involved subject, the tropes available just endless, Harry Potter is the classic tale of Good against Evil, and the struggle of our protagonist to learn about himself, the sacrifices his parent made, the eventual knowledge that his father wasn’t always the nicest kind of guy, the ambition to push forward and become a leader, albeit reluctantly, and the battle against the Ultimate Foe, one who goes after children…well, the need to choose between the good and the ugly and the middling ground in between lay in at the door of this classic Genre series.

So, what to do with this deluge of information?

I take it as a lesson that my novel doesn’t have to fall into just one category or subject arena.  Sure, it’s nice to bust out with something original, but the tropes laid down in stories past are still going because they are beloved familiars.  I can twist and tweak them at will just like J.K. Rowling did and does.  The good guys can become bad, the bad good.  The rich can become richer, and the poor stay poor, or the poor can gain wealth to no good end.  The lonely find a host of company, or just the reverse, find delight in the art of being alone.  It’s all up to me, and to you, the writers.

Sometimes all it takes is Hello.

A bonobo fishing for termites using a sharpene...

Something to chew on...

So, there I was, frustrated and ready to toss in the towel, bots 35, CK nada.  Then something magical happened.  Five legitimate hits made it through the mire! Each one of them a gem, a treasure, because not only were they encouraging, but they have interesting sites, really great things to say about life and pondering lies, to write or not to write and why they keep going, or what makes them feel, etc.  All of them combined kept me going, gave me new reasons to be happy, to keep writing. Ready?  Makes me think of a trip to the San Diego Zoo, I took recently.

The bonobos (very close cousin to chimps) were lounging about, engaging each other in various fashions.  One pair in particular was interesting to watch.  A bonobo was trying to scratch a spot on his back and shoulders.  I could see that he just couldn’t quite get the spot.  This went on for some time, the bonobo looking frustrated and ready to throw something, when a second bonobo knuckled up, assessed the situation, and began scratching the first ones back.  They both looked immensely pleased with themselves.  Finally, massage and scratching service finished, the second bonobo sat there, not moving, but still looking content.  The first one stretched, reached next to him, and producing a piece of fruit, inspected it, then handed it to the back scratching bonobo who saved the day.

That bonobo smiled hugely.  I swear he grinned ear to ear.  He broke the fruit open, sniffed and gloried in it, sat down next to the other and began to gnosh.  Then he stopped.  He lifted a chunk of the fruit and gave it to the one next to him, and they both sat and finished the snack, happy with the excellent agreement.

Moral of the animal tale?  The more I watch those bonobos the more I understand what it is to be human.  So to the back scratchers who made me feel like continuing the blog was worth while, I thank you, the fruit I offer will be in the form of telling everyone about you and providing links to your words from my words.  Merci, to you all, you keep me in good spirits, may those good spirits be returned to you tenfold.:)

http://ontopofthehighestpole.wordpress.com/

http://christyfarmer.wordpress.com/

http://foetalpositions.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/shenanigans-writers-block-and-inspirationalism/

http://jonathanpezman.wordpress.com/

http://storytellingnomad.wordpress.com/

Blog while you write to promote your manuscript, and learn the ropes of publishing before you finish.

Interaction + Sales

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

>There is a lot of advice about writing out there, but many sites fail to mention that you need to learn the ropes about publishing before you finish your manuscript.  Since I’m a new writer long the path to author, I was concerned when I got to the halfway point that I didn’t know a thing about how to get published once I have my manuscript completed and edited a thousand times.

Then I stumbled across Nathan Bransford’s Blog about Writing and Authorship. Bransford, a former agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd. and now an Author,  talks about what you need to do ahead of time, things you should be researching ahead of your completing a manuscript.  Under the title, “How to find a Literary Agent” you can connect to his straight talk about the work you need to do.  Blogging is a start.

You can read Bransford’s solid advice about how to begin, HERE.  Bransford champions learning about and beginning to promote yourself by connecting with other Writers and Authors and learning about agents before you need them…makes sense, right?  So let’s get Blogging!  Meanwhile, KEEP WRITING.

>Back to the Reason for the Blog: The Writing!

On Writing

Stephen King advises, "Kill your darlings" for better editing.

>Now that I’ve finished for the most part with creating a Blog and then transferring that Blog to WordPress Blog, I can get back to the parts I like!  Writing and Editing and Research for my manuscript. Yay!  That is today’s plan.  So, lets focus on tips for writing and editing.

I have a magic wand for you, Dear Reader, to use when editing! It is Stephen King’s formula for writing, then cutting out the clutter. This was good advice that he received from an agent after one of his manuscripts was, yet again, rejected.

Here is the formula King uses:   Second Draft = First Draft -10%

I read about the formula in Stephen King’s book, “On Writing “ recommended to me by Tone Milazzo, Author of Picking Up the Ghost , and Batton Lash, Author and Artist of  Supernatural Law . Thanks guys!

Much of  King’s book is a humorous tale of his background, and his life as a constant Writer before getting well published. But once you get to a chapter he calls “Tools the book really takes off!

The “Tools” chapter and beyond are some great, solid bites of getting your words on the page, and then editing, and to quote King, “Kill your darlings “.  What this means is, after you have decided you have edited out all you possibly could from your manuscript, after you think it is finished, do it again.  You do not have your final draft until you have killed the passages you think are “Darling”, i.e. your “keepers”, etc.  When you have rewritten your best scenes, then you are on your way to a better manuscript.

If you think it sounds nit-picky, try it.  Are there any adverbs you left in play?  Get rid of them and rewrite those sentences that contain them.  Do your Beta Readers (Also called Betas, people who read your manuscript before editor or agent) yawn each time they hit a certain passage?  Kill it!  Got a long tirade that really doesn’t move the story forward, or back story that doesn’t clearly have a reason for being there?  “Kill those Darlings!”  I’ll chat at you later after I’ve revamped my favorite passages.

>What’s in a Name? How do you choose a pen name and should you?

Mask

Do you use a Nom de Plume?

>Do you recognize any of these Author names?  Richard Bachman, Mark Twain, J.D. Robb, Paul French, David Axton, Joanne Rowling, Dawn Cook.

Give up?

They are Stephen King, Samuel Clemens, Nora Roberts, Issac Asimov, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Kim Harrison.  So when do you use a pen name?

There are several reasons to publish under a Nom de Plume instead of your own.  In some cases, for an already established Author, a switch to a different genre is the push. For instance, while Auroa Hartsmith might be an okay name for a romance author, it might not work for a horror author…unless she is rewriting a new version of Frankenstein.

Another reason is privacy.  Some authors are pretty quiet in their home lives.  They may not want to share so much of their real persona with the public until they are putting on their game face for press reviews and panels and signings.  There are also authors who are writing about controversial or adult subjects.  Their privacy is important because of possible harmful repercussions to their dayjobs or public reputations.

An author may want to write more books than a publishing house is willing to commit to, so writing under a different name helps the author avoid legal entanglementsif they move to a new house, or even publish for themselves.  It all depends on the contract entered in to originally.

A new Author may want to keep their options open for future publications to varying audiences.  Perhaps the voice you are writing in now is suitable for children’s literature, but say you want to use the same name to write a horror or adult novel.  The voice would change according to the audience, and the subject matter would be inappropriate for the kiddies, so the name should follow suit, to avoid complications.

Some Authors simply don’t feel the name has a good ring to it, and they want a name that sounds younger, or older according to their tale.

Choosing a pen name that does not give away your gender can be helpful in marketing your book to a larger audience.  Unfortunately, it is still common that people tend to buy books leaning toward a certain gender for a specific genre.  J.K. Rowling’s publisher felt that her gender might limit her target audience in marketing a book with a boy protagonist.  J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Rowling is a gender neutral choice.

And here’s an interesting snippet: When an author chooses a name, they may be encouraged by their publisher to select a name that comes after the letter “E” and before the letter “N” in the alphabet.  This is because, according to market research, people have a tendency to look at titles from those that are near the top to middle of the shelves.  They are less likely to choose a title from the lower shelves.That means that if you have a last name starting with a “Z” your work will not be as visible to the customer trying to find a good read.

So, many authors do use a pen name for many and varied reasons. I didn’t see a whole lot of cons discussed, and in fact, the pros are numerous, so I wrote this Pen Name Blog in a positive light.  Have fun choosing yours!

C.K. Garner =^,^=

>Two Important Links for Writers!

Traps

Image by Gabe Racz via Flickr

If an offer for your manuscript smells funny, say because you will have to buy copies of your own books, or the agent’s offer still seems too good to be true, though you will be handling the printing costs, the perfect publishing packaging of your dreams may be an Author’s trap.

So, how does an anxious Writer, eager to get published, avoid the pitfalls and bad guys that lurk around every corner of the publishing business?

The answer is do your homework!  Do some research on those editors, agents and publishing houses to whom you intend to submit your manuscript.

Here are two must see resources for Writers and Authors:

Writer Beware, go to their site here  is a direct affiliate of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site (SFWA) which has included members such as Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, and Anne McAffery. Writer Beware exists to aid Writers and Authors in avoiding literary scams and unscrupulous editors, agent and publishing traps.  They do not accept manuscripts, but offer advice on staying clear of fraud, and if you have been scammed, a place to begin the process of reporting it.   Their site is well respected and the advice is sound.

Preditors and Editors, go to site here ,was recommended to me by Nishi Serrano, Author.  The site has inside information about agent listings, editors and publishing houses, along with basic and advanced Writer and Author manuscript submission advice, query letter and synopsis guidance.

In Preditors and Editors Agents and Attorneys section there is an alphabetical list of possible sites for you to query with your manuscript.  There are some that are listed as NOT Recommended, and others that have a High Recommend, according to feedback from aspiring Authors and Published Authors.  Still other listings are marked as Highly Not Recommended for various reasons.

From what I hear the industry is trying to shut down Preditors and Editors, which says to me, go print it out just in case the information is gone one day!  But I hope that will not be the case.  Just out of curiosity, I checked a couple of NOT recommended agencies, and sometimes no address is posted, link won’t go to the posted addy, etc.  Take a look for yourself!

Preditors and Editors alongside Writer Beware and SFWA are a Writers and Authors goldmine of protection and writing advice.

Thanks so much Nishi, for the Link!!

Writer’s Break: >I think today deserves a big fat beautiful quote…about writing, of course!

Ray Bradbury

Image via Wikipedia

>”If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
Ray Bradbury