Chibi Dynamo!

Roffles Lowell, the official illustrator of Jake and the Dynamo, is hard at work on the interior illustrations for volume 1. He sends along this image of Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo completing her transformation sequence, and he invited me to post it, since he has a different picture intended for the book itself.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work making the changes recommended to me by L. Jagi Lamplighter. I have a window of one week before I’m back at school, and I hope to get it finalized in that time.

The State of the ‘Jake and the Dynamo’ Project

Featured image: “Dazzling Bijou” by puddinprincess.

I have my notes back from L. Jagi Lamplighter, who graciously agreed to provide editing services for Jake and the Dynamo. She tells me that she and John C. Wright both found the book very funny, but she also made some incisive criticisms pointing out how it could be improved.

Writers in my circle had praised Lamplighter for her abilities as an editor, which is one of the reasons I had hoped she’d take me on. The praise was accurate; I had heard with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eyes have seen. She has an excellent command of story mechanics, and she knows exactly how to pinpoint problems precisely while at the same time framing her criticisms broadly enough to leave the author maximal freedom to work. On top of that, she criticizes in such a gracious style that she short-circuits the “you’re kicking my baby” response, which can be the knee-jerk reaction of some writers, especially newbs. Upon reading her advice, instead of the dismay I might normally feel when having my shortcomings explained to me, I felt an eagerness to get back to work.

Most of the changes she requested are minor, and she said I could probably make them in a single sitting. I think that would be one of her sittings, but it’s likely to take three or four of mine.

I have not had much time to write this summer as I’m currently working while getting a master’s degree in half the usual time. However, my summer term ends in two weeks, and then I’ll have a two-week break from schooling. That’s when I plan to make all the edits, put together a submission package, and get this sent off.

Lamplighter urged me to contact the editor of a particular press I probably shouldn’t name in a post yet. She said she’s already pitched my book there, and that the publisher is interested. That’s no guarantee of anything, of course, but it’s encouraging. I originally started this novel as a lark and expected to self-publish, but if an indie press wants to pick it up, that would be great.

I have my fingers crossed that the as-yet-unnamed publisher might be interested in not only the novel, but also the illustrations by Roffles Lowell—which he is hard at work on and has shown me preliminaries to prove it. I hired Lowell when self-publishing was still the plan, and I’ll be sure that he gets compensated and gets his work displayed one way or the other, but it would be awesome if I could convince a publisher that this is a light novel and thus needs illustrations. Obviously, an indie publisher such as the one to which I’ll be submitting is more likely to be persuaded on this than a big-name publisher, who would laugh contemptuously at any author who submitted illustrations with his written work.

I like working with Lowell, and I like seeing what he produces. We’re both newbs, so if we could break into the market together, that would be cool.

Since I’m now planning to submit to a publisher, I think it best if I put a halt to the web postings of the novel at least until I have publication matters squared away. Thus, the book is now on indefinite hiatus, for real this time.

If I end up self-publishing as originally planned, I’ll go back to posting the chapters here, but if I’m going to be publishing through a publisher, I should stop posting chapters for free consumption until further notice.

I’m not going to take down the already-published chapters (unless instructed to), but I don’t plan to add any more for the time being. Besides, as noted, I have no more to post at the moment, as I simply haven’t had much time to produce them.

On top of that, I’m going to be changing the way I tell this story anyway. My original intention was to write the whole thing and dump it on Amazon Kindle, but having realized that I have multiple novels’ worth of material, I’d like to switch gears. I will be (at Lamplighter’s recommendation) rewriting chapter 19 to make a better conclusion to volume 1, and then I’m going to take stock of chapters 20 and beyond to see how I can better shape them into a self-contained book. Now that I’m doing this as a series instead of one giant novel, I wish to ensure that each volume has its own complete arc, so I’ll probably be rearranging plot elements.

That’s all for now. Jake and the Dynamo is on hiatus, but the reviews and essays will continue until morale improves.

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 27

Monday: Getting waterboarded by a magical girl is just another day in the life of Jake Blatowski!

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 27: MONDAY

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Dana put on her uniform, complete with the safety pins in her collar, the pen in her pocket, and the untied tie. While she stood sullenly by the front door, Mil gave her several kisses and tousled her ratty hair. She endured it with a silent scowl.

“Oh dear, Mommy didn’t get to make your lunch today,” Mil said, tutting. “I guess you’ll have to eat the school lunch … well, I suppose it’s all right. It’s only one day.”

Dana grumbled.

Mil bit her lip. “Just … I don’t know, just try not to eat anything that looks over-processed.”

Dana made a faint growling noise.

“Like, no ketchup. It’s full of corn syrup. And no chicken nuggets or anything. There’s no part of a chicken called the ‘nugget.’”

Dana rolled her eyes. “Can I go now?”

“Of course, sweetie. Walk with Jake, okay?”

Dana grumbled again. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 27”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 26

The Morning After: Jake’s in the doghouse after Pretty Dynamo catches him with Sukeban Tsubasa!

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 26: THE MORNING AFTER

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After changing back into her magical form, Tsubasa left by the window. Jake had to press himself into the corner at the foot of his bed so she could—with her eyes squeezed shut—dash past him and leap to what she considered safety. Soon after she was gone, he closed the window, finished undressing, climbed into his pajamas, and lay down.

After all the commotion, the room seemed strangely quiet. His heart thudded in his ears, the only sound.

He tossed back and forth for several minutes, but no position felt comfortable. He had been having trouble sleeping for the last few months. Over the previous week, whenever he had slept, he had slept soundly from sheer exhaustion, but now that he had spent a weekend without anything trying to kill him, his insomnia was back.

The bed with its disarrayed and rumpled bedclothes felt desolate and empty. Thanks to Dana, he didn’t even have his Triceratops toy—not that he actually slept with the thing anyway; he just set it on his pillow on the rare occasions when he made the bed. Most of the time, it was buried somewhere under the covers or squeezed between the mattress and the wall.

He rolled over onto his stomach. In an ill-defined way, he had an inkling of why he couldn’t sleep. Now that he had come firmly and irrevocably into his adolescent years, going to bed alone at night had grown into a crushing, almost intolerable burden. It was worse now because he had tackled a girl in this very bed only a half hour earlier, an event that had provoked a bizarre mixture of fear and desire, leaving his nerves frazzled. He could still smell Tsubasa in his bedclothes: she smelled like roses and sweat—heady, salty, and exciting. The scent made his stomach ache. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 26”

Team Pizza! (and a J&tD update)

Art by Roffles Lowell

My schedule is still fairly harsh through this coming week, but after Saint Paddy’s Day, things will slow down a bit for me. I hope to be posting more regularly.

Things are coming along smoothly so far on the publication process of the first volume of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO, which is currently under the working title of Down and Out in Fifth Grade. There’s no projected publication date yet, but some of the earliest preliminary work is done. I’m working on the bonus content: I had originally produced an extra chapter, but now I’m unhappy with it, and I’m considering instead including a novelette featuring Rifle Maiden’s misadventures while babysitting the Bubble Princesses.

I believe I’ve chosen a studio for cover art, and I don’t think he’ll mind if I say that I’m talking to Roffles Lowell about the possibility of doing interior illustrations. No commitments have been made, so this post isn’t an attempt to pressure him or anything. But I really enjoy the YA look of his style, and I appreciate that it differs from the standard style of Japanese light novels or Japanese-influenced work. This is obviously a weeb novel, so I like the idea of the art being non-weeb.

In the midst of our conversation, Roffles sent me the above picture of Team Pizza to show me what his work looks like in black and white, and he told me to do with the image as I wish. So this is me doing that. Featured up there, of course, are Pizza Margherita, her faithful dog Pepper, and Crazy Annie Shové, all riding comfortably on the Pie in the Sky.

Glossary of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

ALTER EGO: A magical girl in her non-magical state. While prolonged magical activity has certain effects on the alter ego (analogous to intense physical exercise), she cannot use her magical powers unless she transforms (see TRANSFORMATION).

ANSIBLE: Technomantic device for instantaneous communication employing quantum entanglement.

ASCENSION: The transference of the MOON PRINCESS from Earth to Earth’s moon. Occurred approximately two hundred years ago.

AUTO-TURRET: Computer-controlled anti-personnel or anti-tank weapon, typically situated at a street corner. Designed to harry invaders of URBANOPOLIS.

BOSS: Informal term for the individual responsible for coordinating MAGICAL GIRL activity in the city. Appointed by the Mayor, the boss’s identity is top secret.

CATCH PHRASE: A MAGICAL GIRL’S introductory speech encapsulating the nature of her MAGIC and her motivations. Love, friendship, and justice feature prominently. Most magical girls recite their catch phrases during TRANSFORMATION and sometimes before fighting a MONSTER in order to give themselves a sportsmanlike tactical disadvantage.

CITY FATHERS: The civilian, secular government of URBANOPOLIS. Consists of the elected City Council and Mayor, and the Mayor’s appointed officials. To offset the considerable power of the TEMPLE, the MOON PRINCESS decreed at the city’s founding that women would be ineligible for public office.

CONTRACT: Binding and irrevocable agreement between a MAGICAL GIRL and a FAMILIAR, written in blood. Because only children can serve as magical girls, the contract, being a legal agreement, terminates on the girl’s eighteenth birthday when she reaches her legal majority. Continue reading “Glossary of JAKE AND THE DYNAMO”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 25

Wake Up Call: Finding a girl in your bedroom is an unpleasant experience when you’re Jake Blatowski!

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 25: WAKE UP CALL

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Jake spun around. There in the corner next to the door sat a girl, curled up in a ball with her knees against her chest. She must have been hiding behind the door when he came in. She had her right arm pointed at him, her hand bunched into a fist. That hand was shaking.

“Who—?”

With a loud clatter like tumbling kitchen utensils, several objects jumped out of her wrist: white knobs, spheres, and lozenges, all with long, gray tubes attached to them. The tubes pointed at him.

Tears ran down the girl’s face. She shuddered and ducked her head. “I’m … I’m r-really s-sorry—”

So dumbfounded was he that it took him several seconds to realize she had a dozen guns trained on him, enough time for her to shoot him several times over. Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 25”

Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza

Revenge is sweet, but obligatory Valentine’s Day chocolate is sweeter still.

Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza

It was late afternoon on St. Valentine’s Day. Now that school was out, Jake and Ralph sat on the floor in front of the couch and played a video game.

The game, specifically, was a port of Magical Girl Rumble for the Nintendo Ultimate. Although not a bad fighting game, it didn’t compare to the arcade version: it had only twenty playable girls instead of thousands, and somebody had decided not to bother taking advantage of the Ultimate’s motion sensor technology, so they had to play the old-fashioned way with handheld controllers.

“Boom!” Ralph shouted as he executed a devastating triple combo with Razor Urchin’s monomolecular filament. “You’re dead, dude. Just a few more hits, and—”

Jake mashed buttons until his Pretty Dynamo avatar jabbed and slashed with her spear, finally pinning Razor Urchin against a bombed-out building. Once Urchin’s health bar slid down to zero, she bounced into the air in slow motion before slamming hard into the pavement.

Jake dropped his controller. “Thank you, thank you. I’m here all night.”

“Ah, you got lucky! Where’s your stash?”

Jake reached behind himself, grabbed a plastic grocery bag off the sofa, and tossed it into Ralph’s lap.

“Ya gotta admit,” Ralph said as he dug through the bag’s contents, “going back to fifth grade has its perks.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“Are you kiddin’? Just look at this haul. I haven’t seen this much obligatory chocolate since—”

“Since fifth grade?” Continue reading “Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza”

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 24

Bitter Tears: Does Dana Volt’s dark secret conceal a deadly threat?

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

CHAPTER 24: BITTER TEARS

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Jake sat on the sofa with his parents and fidgeted. He swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and tried to steel himself for what was likely to be the most awkward meeting of his life.

“Don’t mention Pretty Dynamo,” his mother said for the hundredth time as she patted his shoulder. “Just don’t mention her.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “I won’t, Mom—”

“And if you go out with Pretty Dynamo again, maybe you should wear a mask,” she added. “And if you talk to any reporters or anything, change your voice.”

“Change my voice? How?”

“I don’t know. Pretend you have a smoker’s cough. Like Batman.”

“Mom, Batman is fictional. I’m running around with magical girls, not cartoon characters.” Continue reading “JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Chapter 24”

Pizza Margherita! Part 3 of 3

When health food goes bad, pizza gets mad!

Pizza Margherita!
A Tale from Urbanopolis

Part 3 of 3

READ PART 1 | READ PART 2

Pizza Margherita flew over a desolate, broken landscape. The moon and the twinkling stars offered only a little light. The distant horizon glowed a faint red, but that wasn’t an approaching dawn: it was the glow of lava from the volcanos that had sprung up across the globe during the upheavals of the First Invasion, the onslaught that wiped out most of humanity.

Margherita never veered from her course. The Pie in Sky was swift and silent. The land below was nothing but a dark blur, so Margherita and Pepper were spared the sight of broad plains of glassy sand fused by alien weaponry, of vast seas of rubble that were formerly human cities, and of the bleached bones of the countless dead. Urbanopolis was the Earth’s one remaining habitation. All the rest of the planet was now the tomb of a once-great species.

“I’ll show you, Tosser,” Margherita whispered. “I’ll show you what happens when Pizza goes bad.” Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 3 of 3”