The path ahead

In my last post, I went over the tests that have led me to a new workflow. I also said I needed to move to another state.

Well, I’ve moved. It’s time to start up my production machine.

Patreon is having some legal issues, and while I feel like they are liable to survive the immediate kerfuffle, their handling of it does not bode well for a long and salutary future. Fortunately, migrating my Patreon audience to SucribeStar is easy: I don’t have one yet.

My SubscribeStar is not set up fully yet. That’s what we’re doing right here right now, and we’re kicking it off with a preview of the comic book I’m working on.

go on

Gearing up for Hat Trick 2

I was forced to replace my laptop recently, and I took it as an opportunity to test out Clip Studio Paint, as I already have a license for it.

Clip Studio, for those who don’t know, used to be Manga Studio. It is a Japanese program designed for making comic books. I tried to use it to make Alphabeasts, but alas, it does not make PDFs without A) the Japanese version (which I don’t have) and B) a paid plugin for said Japanese version.

But drawing and making comic books is what it’s made for, right?

Well, it works. I like the sleek, smooth lines the inking tools give. I like how buttery and fluid the paint feels. I was very frustrated by the hotkeys and workflow, but that’s to be expected when using a new program. To a degree, you can customize it, and to a degree, you just have to learn it.

Okay, and…

Book 1 Mapped, taking a breath

I’ve got the first book of John Michael Jones storyboarded in its entirety. Now…

Now I’m going to take a break.

If I wanted, I could begin production proper on the first book and produce it, but with John Michael Jones, I’ve decided I want to map out the whole series before I produce the first book, so I know the end while I’m producing the beginning.

I’m trying to summon up the will to work on book II, and it’s not coming. No big deal. Why not produce another Jump the Shark book, or my numbers book, or something else entirely?

Hat Trick was an error. I’m still proud of what I made, but I should not have cut it in half. I should have done the whole story as a single book, or planned out a series and then produce the series once it is already planned. I’m not making the same error with John Michael Jones. We make new errors in these parts, not old errors.

John Michael Jones: The Comic

I have begun production on a series of comic books. John Michael Jones Gets A Life.

This is an experiment on many levels. It will be my first comic book. It will be my attempt at LitRPG, as John Michael Jones gets sucked into a video game.

John Michael Jones is a flat-arc character, like Solomon Kane, or Goku. So this story will be testing out many of the ideas I’ve been absorbing from the Pulp Revolution, and seeing whether I have the chops to execute them.


Here’s the storyboard of the first few pages. This is all very much subject to change.

And so what we have learned applies to our lives today…

Jump the Shark and the Pirate Princess is out!

Get it on Amazon!

Each book is an experiment. I am building and refining my hypothesis of how to make fun awesome stuff every day, and testing that hypothesis with each release. So let’s find out what I’ve learned so far, eh?

Continue reading “And so what we have learned applies to our lives today…”

How to make a living as a kids’ book author?

My custom, every year, is to take the week of my birthday, the first of February, off, and to spend that vacation, after a couple of days sleeping and playing vidya, analyzing how the previous year went and deciding what I want to try with the next year.

My version of New Years resolutions, as it were.

I can’t actually do that this time round. See, I’ve worked at the same retail establishment for 15 years, so for the last several years, I acquired Paid Time Off at a frightening rate. But last year, I quit, and was unemployed for several months. Then I applied for my old job back and got it — but not with my 15 years of accumulated raises and benefits.

I did get three days off in a row this week, which was intended to be spent recording audio for a digital pop-up book. But life circumstances in the month between when I requested the time off, and when the time off occurred meant I was not ready to record. Indeed, I did not accomplish anything on the pop-up book really at all. So I’ve rested and prayed and pondered, and I’ve decided I’ve given up on paper kids’ books too soon. This year, minus January, but plus January of next year (as though the year started February), I’m going to produce a new kids’ book each month. And while I do that, the question I’ll explore is: is there a way for me to make a living producing illustrated children’s books?

Continue reading “How to make a living as a kids’ book author?”

Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles

I recently ran across a take by C.S. Lewis on eschatology. His concept of the end times is that the point of end times passages is not so that we can play Pin the Tail on the Antichrist, but to put our actions in perspective. Christ might return in a thousand years. We’d better make long-term plans and brace ourselves for the long haul. Christ might return tomorrow. We’d better not neglect our neighbor today.

His point was that it is good to plant oaks in whose shade you will never rest. But if you prioritize the long game to the point of actively harming those around you, and Christ decides to end the show tomorrow, that would be pretty embarrassing, wouldn’t it?

Lewis was writing before Eugenics was a dirty word. When everyone thought “if we only let science do whatever it wishes, we shall cure death and suffering in a few years,” instead of having the general distrust for boffins in white coats which the technocrats have earned for themselves in the intervening years. At the time, the idea of breaking a few eggs to make a civilizational omelette was in vogue in a way it isn’t now (though sadly, as a culture, we’ve rejected it not because it is wrong, but because of the teh feelz).

His take, however, ties in quite well to thoughts I’ve been entertaining of late.

Continue reading “Building Castles out of Soap Bubbles”

How to use Alphabeasts

I made a book that’s designed to help teach the alphabet and even basic phonics!

The main idea is just to have a character for each letter that is cool and fun and interesting so that kids memorize the characters for the sheer joy of doing so, just as they memorize the characters on their favorite trading cards.

And toward that end I hope to one day make Alphabeast trading cards and individual books for each Alphabeast where that character has an adventure in a six-minute bedtime story. No attempts to educate. Only to entertain. Just to make each character maximally fun.

But suppose you want to educate. How do you teach your kid the letters using Alphabeasts?

I’ll tell you how

Wildly Imperfect

Today I attempted three times to record a video of me reading Hat Trick. Why? Because parents ought to know what’s in the book before they blithely hand it over to their children. Hat Trick has violence and gore, which I think children’s books ought to have, at least more than they currently do. More problematically, the hero lies and steals and seeks vigilante justice, and I offer zero commentary in the story as to whether this is right or wrong because Hat Trick is not an attempt to fortify young souls with virtue; it is an attempt to tell a fun story.

There is also religion and black magic in it, so some parents might be concerned about that. They have a right to know and decide for themselves, even if I think the stories are perfectly fine for young children.

The upshot is, I read the story three times. Each time, the video was spoiled. The first time by tons of glaringly obvious errors in the text which I had to stop and correct. The second and third times by my child, my child whom I love, bursting in and commenting.

Even were I not reluctant to bandy about my kid on the internet, and I am deeply reluctant to do so, Youtube and I have different ideas on what is appropriate for children, and so releasing the video would be just begging to be deplatformed.

But I was able to make multiple corrections to a wildly imperfect draft.

For some reason, certain errors in every book I write remain invisible to me before I place a book on sale. Once it is absolutely certain, however, that the erroneous work will make its way into the hands of paying customers, the errors bubble up out of the text and dance like evil little happy goblins.

I really ought to reserve the services of an editor. I wonder whether Brian Niemeier will offer me a discount for work that is less than a thousand words long. I wonder how I could get the stories to him in a format that permits him to easily work with it, but also interleaves the story and pictures in a sensible way. I wonder whether an editor would even break the curse, or if my manifold errors will elude the eye until publishing time regardless of precaution.

Corrections have been made and are awaiting approval by Amazon. If you want the wildly imperfect version in hopes that it’s a rare, first edition, grab it here. Otherwise, wait three days and then grab it.