It Is Finished.

I have just put the last touches on the final draft of Jake and the Dynamo. It took me longer than it should have, admittedly, partly because of some procrastination.

After I made all the major alterations Lamplighter requested, I went back through the entire thing to make sure it flowed smoothly and that the new additions didn’t introduce any problems. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to improve several word choices, remove some wayward commas, and fix a few previously undiscovered typos. Three days and half a bottle of bourbon later, I’m satisfied that it’s reasonably well polished.

The process was painful, but it is, after all, my first novel, so I hope I can be more efficient in the future. Maybe I should go cry into a bowl of noodles like that chick in Whispers of the Heart or something.

Anyhow, it so happens that I have also got all of Roffles Lowell’s illustrations. He apologized for being tardy, but from my point of view, his timing was impeccable, as he finished at the same time I did.

I’ve a lot of other things going on. I’m back in school, of course, and I’ve kind of been letting my studies slide while I’ve been finishing this up. Also, I just picked up a new job directly relevant to my educational training, so that’s exciting.

As busy as I am, I can’t promise that posting here will become more regular, at least for a few days. But the book, at least, can go sit on someone else’s desk instead of mine. That’s a relief.

Once This Week Is Over, I’m Gonna Binge-Watch ‘Flip Flappers,’ ‘Made in Abyss,’ and ‘Sailor Moon S’

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, I’m entering the last week of the summer school term, so I’ve been too busy to post regularly, or to keep up with current news in magical girls.

All my assignments are due by Friday. Once that day of reckoning comes, I’m going to sit down with Lamplighter’s notes on Jake in the Dynamo, make the necessary changes, and prepare a submission package. Once I have the art from Lowell, off it goes.

So once we reach the end of the week, I’ll start having some more reviews and essays for all y’all. We’ll definitely continue with Revolutionary Girl Utena and watch the second half of Sailor Moon S, at the very least.

Also, I noticed a couple of months back that my brief posts on the artwork from Made in Abyss were getting a lot of hits. This is because the animated adaptation is getting streamed on Amazon Strike. I’ll probably check it out as soon as it finishes its run; I don’t have time to follow it in real time.

As I had suspected it would when I saw some of the related art, the manga is also seeing an English translation, which I believe will be coming from Seven Seas Entertainment.

Also, based on the buzz, it seems the storyline is more … gruesome … than the puni plush character designs implied. You’d think I’d be familiar with this trick by now, but I guess I got fooled.

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.

The Latest from My Editor

Featured image done got stoled from Kawaii Warrior Princess.

In another forum, my editor L. Jagi Lamplighter had this to say:

And do you know what else is hilarious? Your book! I was reading sections to John last night … when I could read over the tears of laughter … and we were both so amused!

The John here is Lamplighter’s husband John C. Wright, the prolific, Hugo-nominated and Dragon-winning author of such works as The Golden AgeOrphans of ChaosIron Chamber of Memory, and my favorite, Somewhither.

However Jake and the Dynamo fares when it goes to market, I know it has at least brought mirth to two people, and for that I am humbled and gratified. Producing tears of laughter is its only intended purpose.

‘Jake and the Dynamo’ Update

Although I’m way behind where I’d like to be in producing volume 2, things are moving along in the process of formally publishing volume 1 of Jake and the Dynamo.

I recently got back in contact with Roffles Lowell, our illustrator, who’s busy producing the internal illustrations.

I also squared things away with my editor. I didn’t want to mention it in a post before things were definite, but I can now say that the editor is L. Jagi Lamplighter. She’s the author of the Prospero’s Children series and the YA Books of Unexpected Enlightenment. Her editing services come highly recommended by writers in the circles I run in, and she’s edited several respected books including Brian Niemeier’s bestselling and Dragon Award-winning Soul Cycle.

So far, she has this to say:

I finished all the previous projects and have started on yours.  I cannot tell you how hard I laughed when I got to the dark queen questioning the lighting.

And the fifth grade thing is so horrible and funny!

A few chapters in but really enjoying it so far.

Although my original plan was simply to self-publish, there are some small-press efforts I wouldn’t mind being a part of, so exactly what I’m doing once the editing process is complete is still up in the air, but I’ll keep you informed.

Progress on Jake and the Dynamo Volume 1

I have to apologize for my absenteeism, but the combination of work and school has left me little time to sleep, let alone blog.

We’re approaching the middle of June, which means it’s soon time to ship the current draft of the first volume of Jake and the Dynamo to my editor. At the moment, I am thinking I will change the title of this volume from Down and Out in Fifth Grade, which sounds like a Beverly Cleary novel, to The Wattage of Justice, which sounds more like a goofy superhero story.

The bonus chapter is drafted, though a reader in my writer’s group wants me to change some details, and I intend to comply. I’ve also just about decided that the bonus story will be a novelette entitled “Eye of Fire.” It’s set in the universe of Rag & Muffin, but I think it makes for a nice capper because of the way it ends.

Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting my illustrator, and I’ve put off dealing with the cover art partly because I might need the book dimensions first. We’ll make all this happen, but I can’t give an ETA yet.

I’ve been toying with catchphrases and blurbs. I originally was thinking,

The universe is out to get him … but the universe didn’t count on her.

But that sounds kind of … what’s the Internet term? Beta male? I mean, the cover art is almost certainly going to feature a little girl standing in front of a much larger guy, and I don’t want this whole thing to end up like Joss Whedon’s profile picture.

Really, Joss?

I started this project in the first place because I wanted to see if I could create a magical girl’s male sidekick who doesn’t end up looking like a total wuss. So now I’m thinking,

He’s a teenage boy. She’s a preteen powerhouse. They fight crime.

I like it because it’s silly.

The Days of Hiatus

I hate (ahem) to pause the party, because my traffic indicates that our ongoing series of hate—burning hate—for Cardcaptor Sakura is my most popular posting, ever. As they say, hate sells. However, I’m sending my computer in for some maintenance, so I’m going to be offline for a few days.

As anyone reading Jake and the Dynamo knows, hating someone passionately takes a lot of energy. I therefore give you permission to love, honor, and obey Cardcaptor Sakura at least until the weekend.

The hate will continue once morale has improved.

Tomorrow …

I’m getting pinched by school projects as we’re coming to the end of the term, and I wasted too much of my Easter weekend writing that gargantuan post on Shugo Chara! instead of writing my reports.

Nonetheless … look for Chapter 26 (finally!) of Jake and the Dynamo tomorrow. I don’t think I better make a definite promise, but … look for it.

Notice it, senpai. Notice it.

Sailor Moon S!

All right, this review is taking me more time than I expected, and it’s getting pretty long. It’s like I’m writing another frickin’ novel over here. But I’m not done: there are a lot more things I want to say about Uranus. A lot more.

(Adolescent snigger.)

I didn’t get this done on time, and I got stuff to do tomorrow, so I’ve got to call it quits. Expect a discussion of Sailor Moon S to go up tomorrow night.

Art + Update

Featured image: “Mahou Shoujo Cotton” by Maruuki.

I just finished working through my final pass of my upcoming novel, Jake and the Dynamo: Down and Out in Fifth Grade. I was waffling on the bonus chapter I had previously written for the end, but I think I’m going to expand it slightly and keep it. It’s not long enough to be sufficient bonus material, so among other things, I’m going to spend today working on a short story that will also go in the book, the working title of which is, “Young Rifle Maiden Plays It Safe.” That story, like the bonus chapter, will not be available on the blog.

I think I have things worked out with Roffles Lowell. He’s interested in doing the interior art. Right now, he’s just waiting for me to tell him what size, dimensions, and format he needs to work in, and whether I need black and white as well as color. He also offered to produce pictures for the chapter headings and section breaks, and I think I’ll probably take him up on that to give the book the appropriately gaudy YA novel look.

So things are coming together, albeit slowly. In my most recent pass over the story, I expanded a few sections, revised others, and fixed the inevitable typos that slipped through the earlier editing (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a few on this pass, too). Also, because of the way I’m writing the story, posting as I go, a few inevitable inconsistencies have crept in here and there, so I’ve taken the opportunity to correct those as well. They mostly involve minor issues like the length of T.B.’s hair, Tsubasa’s threat competency rating, or how much access Marionette has to her own computer code. These are the same kinds of things you’ll notice in, for example, long-running web comics, even ones by creators who make more careful notes than I do.

The initial drafts go through my writer’s group and also get about three go-overs from me (once before going to the group, once after, and once in hard copy) before they go online, so what you see when the story updates is what we might call “upper middle draft,” as opposed to rough or final. Now that I’ve given the novel version my own edits, I think I’ve done all I can without someone else’s eyes on it. I haven’t lined up an editor yet, but hope to have that underway in the near future.

Presumably, after the editor has given it a go-over, it will need some rewriting.

A few years ago, it crossed my mind that it would be fun to write a light novel series, so I guess I’m living the dream, though Down and Out in Fifth Grade perhaps does not qualify as a light novel, since it’s about 95,000 words, whereas light novels generally run 40,000 to 50,000. So I guess I’m writing a novel series that’s light-novel-ish.

And if you’re following the series online, we’re already six chapters into volume 2, which presently has the working title of Jake and the Dynamo: Dead to Rights. It will probably contain approximately twenty chapters and around 100,000 words, just like volume 1.