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.

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.

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

FIRST
PREVIOUS
NEXT

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

FIRST
PREVIOUS
<a href=”http://deusexmagicalgirl.com/2017/05/14/jake-and-the-dynamo-chapter-27/>NEXT

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”

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.

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”