Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 3 (of 3)

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice! The magical girl Halloween showdown comes to its thrilling conclusion!

Featured image: “#PunkinDidNothingWrong” by Roffles Lowell

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Margherita stood by, biting her nails. Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared at all her boxes of ruined pizza. Her eyes flicked back between Jake and Magical Girl Punkin Spice.

“Please,” she pleaded. “Please, no more. Please don’t ruin any more food—”

In spite of the chilly night air, Jake felt sweat forming under his collar. He took another pull on his coffee, but then raised his hands and slowly backed away from Punkin. Her wand still pointed at his chest.

“Wait, hold on,” he said. “You don’t want me to get a taste for pumpkin spice—”

“Oh yes I do,” Punkin whispered. “I want everyone to know the joys of pumpkin spice!”

Jake chuckled nervously. “Look, I don’t know exactly how this kind of thing works, but I’m pretty sure pumpkin spice isn’t my thing. I mean, I’m a guy. I bet I’d have to have a lot more estrogen in my system before I could enjoy something like pumpkin spice—”

“I can take care of that,” Punkin hissed. Her wand trembled in her grasp. Continue reading “Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 3 (of 3)”

Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 2 (of 3)

It’s Halloween night, and a spicy new magical girl has her eye on Jake! Can he survive another magical battle? And can he survive the scourge of artificial pumpkin spice flavoring?

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Magical Girl Punkin Spice leapt lightly from her broomstick, which with a flash of light shrank into a small dust broom. she clipped it to her belt. Flipping her braided ponytail off her shoulder, she cocked her enormous pointed hat, and her bright blue eyes surveyed the scene. The other magical girls stood tense, and the normal humans slowly backed away. Over near the bubbling cauldron of cider, Pretty Dynamo rested a hand on the wand holstered at her side.

Jake shrugged and took another bite of his pizza. Margherita’s pizza was good when it was cold, too.

“You there!” Punkin at last shouted, jabbing a finger toward him. “What is this blasphemy?”

She marched his way. Jake merely raised an eyebrow and sucked up a wayward strand of mozzarella. “Excuse me?”

“Pizza?” Punkin Spice cried, shaking a fist. “You’re eating pizza on Halloween night?” Continue reading “Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 2 (of 3)”

Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 1 (of 3)

For the magical girls, it’s the most important night of the year, a night to renew their contracts with their familiars. But will a mysterious newcomer ruin their joyous celebrations?

Featured image”Magical Girl Punkin Spice” by Roffles Lowell.

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This night was unlike any other. A tension, a frisson of excitement hung in the air like that melancholy tingle of expectation before a thunderstorm. The entire city of Urbanopolis, that last refuge of beleaguered humanity, glowed with multicolored lights and resounded with music and chatter. On every stoop grinned a fiery Jack-o’-Lantern eerily flickering with candlelight. Children laughed and ran pell-mell down sidewalks, their boots or sandals slapping against the concrete. Or they gathered in timid clusters, clinging to the hands of longsuffering parents. They wore garish costumes, like fairy creatures arisen from some dark corner of a half-forgotten world: Here was a ghost, there a goblin, there a ballerina in pink lace. Hastily made outfits of cardboard and brown paper crackled and crinkled as their wearers clumsily walked. A few children shivered with cold. Others had, at the behest of nervous mothers, forced themselves into parkas before climbing into their costumes, so they were plump and round as pumpkins under their elaborate dress. The clear sky was black, a hint of frost clung to the air, and the last remaining leaves hung brown and blood red on the trees.

This was Halloween, the night of nights.

Continue reading “Jake and the Dynamo’s Epic Halloween Blowout Extravaganza, Part 1 (of 3)”

#WaifuWednesday Special: Andalusia Trading Card is 50% Off!

On this Waifu Wednesday, are you alone? Are you lonely and miserable, sitting in your mom’s basement with your fedora askew on your unwashed hair as you scratch your unshorn neck and pick at your acne? Are your hot pockets tasteless, no longer satisfying? Does your anime character body pillow no longer comfort you as it once did? Do you wonder if this is all there is to life? Do you yearn for something more? Are you in need of a warrior dame named after an autonomous community of Spain to lift you out of your doldrums?

I think so. In fact, I know so.

That’s why, in honor of Waifu Wednesday, our one-of-a-kind Magical Girl Lady Paladin Andalusia trading cards are half off for one day only! Featuring Andalusia’s genuine signature and the professional photography of artist Roffles Lowell, this card depicts Andalusia in a striking yet sensitive pose, eyes humbly cast down as she thanks God and the Moon Princess for her latest victory over monsters and Saracens … or maybe she’s just thinking about the Backdoor Boys, because, I mean, Donnie in those tight jeans? Like, OMP.

So don’t delay. Shut up and let me take your money … or something like that.

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”