Aug 14 2017

In Which I Need to Start Getting Somewhere

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So recently, at Barnes & Noble, my attention was drawn to a hardback on the “fantasy new releases” table, featuring what was described as “flintlock fantasy with airships, a touch of humor, and an engaging female hero.”

I nearly burned the place down. ¬.¬

After the writing, revising, submitting, re-revising, submitting again, and so forth that Sky Pirates of Calypsitania has gone through, to see this thing sitting there made me want to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS SHOULD BE MY BOOK!”

So. Yeah. I was upset. Deep breaths. Let’s work this thing out.

On the positive side, clearly someone must think there’s a market for the kind of books I want to write. I mean, there it is. But I have to connect to it.

And to be clear, I’m pretty sure that the author of that book worked just as long and just as hard on it as I did on mine. My own personal green-eyed-monster popping out notwithstanding, I wish them success.

That doesn’t alter the fact that I had this extreme, intensely emotional reaction to seeing “my book with someone else’s name on it” right there on the very table where I have been trying to get my book for years now. What I have to do, is direct that energy in a positive direction.

If this is the team that put the book on the table, I reasoned, then it could serve me well to hook up with that team. A little research turned up the agent of not-my-book. I went back and rewrote the opening, again, to address feedback the book had received on the previous round, getting thumbs-ups from my beta readers, and sent it to that agent. Given that this particular agent has a strict “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” policy, however, the response could easily range from an excited followup any day, to chirping crickets until forever.

I don’t intend to wait. As far as I’ve been able to make out, the main thing that makes a writing career succeed (besides lightning in a bottle) is sheer volume. The most popular and well-paid writers I know get that way by writing a lot of books. And as much as I love Sky Pirates of Calypsitania, it is only the one.

What this boils down to is, I need to work on another book. I’ll keep shopping Sky Pirates around as long as it takes, but I can’t leave my career on hold waiting for any one project to move.

I have been trying to write a more “mainstream” fantasy, and I got maybe a third of it done as part of last year’s NaNoWriMo, but I keep running into a fundamental paradox: in trying to adhere to more standard tropes in order to make the book “sellable,” I feel like I’m just aping other people’s work, which in turn makes for a book that I’m not sure I would read, myself.

Of course, it’s just the first draft of said book, and so there’s an argument that I should just finish the thing, with “rip out all the Tolkien” being one of the goals of the second draft. But if I know all the Tolkien needs to come out anyway, then leaving it in there for the first draft feels like creating work I don’t need to do.

So perhaps I should just leave that one in the drafts folder and start a whole new project that’s more like what I want to write.

But I need to do something. I need to get somewhere.

-The Gneech

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Aug 09 2017

Mercy Me

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Draaaaaag.

Me, in the summertime.

It’s weird how I go through these phases. Like, I haven’t played a game of Overwatch in months. I have signed on once or twice to update the app, but I haven’t actually played any.

It’s a side-effect of energy level. Since the heat wave around AnthroCon, I have spent most of my time pretty much as pictured above. What productivity and energy I’ve had has focused on my writing, because that mostly uses my brain and my fingertips. When I log into a game, it’s Lords of the Rings Online, for the same reason. (And also because LotRO finally got to Mordor, and there are lots of rumblings about the state of the game and the company that runs it. There’s a non-zero chance LotRO may not be around forever, and I want to get the most out of it while I still can.)

I still like Overwatch and at some point I’m sure I’ll get excited about it again. I’m a little surprised the Summer Games event hasn’t lit that spark, considering how much I loved Lucioball the first time around. But right now I’m just not feelin’ it.

But one thing this has definitely taught me: I am not cut out to be YouTuber/streamer. Not in the way the industry exists right now, anyway. I can’t (and don’t really want to) knock myself out trying to grind out 10+ minutes of content to post as-close-to-daily-as-possible. As a general rule I dive deep into projects and come up for air weeks or months later, producing something big when I’m finished (e.g., that D&D map, or a novel).

This has always been the biggest challenge of doing a comic, fighting with having to keep feeding the beast when there are other things I want to do instead. The only reason the comic actually keeps going is because a) I love it, and b) there are too few good furry comics as it is.

I’m sure that when the Overwatch bug bites again, I’ll be streaming and posting and all that jazz just as I’ve been, but purely for the fun of it. I’m not going to chase viewers or subscriptions. There’s a fair chance I won’t hit master level with Mercy because I’m not competing enough, and eh, that’s okay. It’s an artificial goal designed to give me a destination anyway, not something I had a driving passion for in and of itself. I’m still going to do my best. 🙂

But only when it’s fun. ;P

-The Gneech

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Jul 31 2017

Writing WIP Patreon Tier Created!

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I’ve added a new tier to my Patreon page, specifically for people interested in checking out my writing projects, including the Sky Pirates of Calypsitania and By Elves Abandoned series, plus whatever else I get rolling in the future.

Besides serializing the novel draft (posting a scene every week or so), I’ll also be posting items for feedback, looking for suggestions or ideas, and so on. If/when the novel is finally published I’ll make some kind of arrangements to reward Patreon subscribers who helped with it as well, but that’s something I’ll have to figure out when the time comes. XD

This tier is for supporters at the $3/month level. I believe that $3/month subscribers should start seeing the posts immediately (the first one will come later today or tomorrow), but you might want to edit your subscription to select the Writing WIP tier just in case.

Thanks as always, awesome subscribers! <3 REMINDER! All Patreon subscribers are eligible for commission discounts and early access to Suburban Jungle comics!

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Jan 27 2017

Commission Price Sheet 2017

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Commission prices by type and size.
(click through for full size)

Trying to make my prices a little more easy-to-calculate and a little less “pulled a number out of Buster’s shell.” 😀 Subscribers to my Patreon get a 5% discount.

When not at conventions, I can still sell the books and buttons but they’re easier to get through their respective publishers:

Books: http://furplanet.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=196

Buttons: https://snerksandquirks.com/

Enjoy! 🙂

-The Gneech

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Jan 10 2017

Creating a Dreamwidth-to-Twitter Crossposter

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With the recent decisions and actions taken by LiveJournal’s owners, many people are migrating their personal blogs to Dreamwidth, a “LiveJournal-like” blog that uses a very similar interface and can import existing LJ posts, comments, and settings to make the transition easier.

Unfortunately, Dreamwidth lacks some features of LiveJournal, including direct Twitter integration. But if you would like to have a script that will automatically post a tweet to your followers, there’s an easy workaround, thanks to a handy website called IFTTT (or, “If This, Then That”). IFTTT requires creating a free login, but is more than useful enough to be worth it.

The following steps assume you already have Dreamwidth, Twitter, and IFTTT accounts up and running.

Step One: Find Your Dreamwidth RSS Feed

Find your Dreamwidth RSS feed.A website’s RSS feed (short for “RDF Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication”) is a tagged XML file of posts made to that website, designed to make it easy for other services to “consume” the page.

Every time you post to your Dreamwidth account, your RSS feed updates, and that will be the trigger for IFTTT to send a post to Twitter. Most Dreamwidth styles have a button labeled “RSS” somewhere on your blog posts page. You can either click through the button, or right-click (contextual click) to find and copy the feed URL. If you can’t find it, try simply appending “/data/rss” to the end of your Dreamwidth account’s URL.

 

Step Two: Create a New IFTTT Applet

On IFTTT, go to the user menu on the upper right and select the “New Applet” option. That will take you to the “Applet Maker” screen.
Start a new applet on IFTTT.

 

Step Three: Choose the RSS Feed Source

Click on the blue “+this” link to choose a source, and from there click on “Feed” to select the RSS feed option.
The IFTTT Applet Maker page.

Select the RSS feed option.

New feed item trigger selectionThat will take you to the “Choose Trigger” page. Select “New feed item” to have the service scan for new post entries, and when prompted, copy and paste the RSS feed link from your Dreamwidth account (found in Step One) into the Feed URL field.

 

Step Four: Choose the Twitter Posting Result

Submitting the feed URL should take you to the next step of the IFTTT applet builder, giving you a prompt that looks like this:
 
"If (feed) then +" button
 
Click on the blue “+that” link to select your output destination, and then select “Twitter” as your action service.
 
Choose the Twitter output destination.

"Post a Tweet" selection and options.
 
This will send you to a screen asking what action you want to perform on Twitter. Select “Post a Tweet,” which will take you to a screen showing your various posting options.

A simple entry of “{{EntryTitle}} {{EntryUrl}}” will tweet the title of your Dreamwidth post followed by a link to that post, but you have several other options as well, including a timestamp (“{{EntryPublished}}”) or free text of your choice.

For my own Dreamwidth account, I entered “Dreamwidth: {{EntryTitle}} {{EntryUrl}}”, which produces a result like this:
My auto-posted tweet!

 

Step Five: Finish!

Finish your applet!
Once you have your tweet format set up the way you want it, click on “Create action” and you’re done! You’ll be given the chance to review your applet and make any final edits you might want. Once you approve the applet, it will go into the “My Applets” library. Then all you have to do is add a new post to your Dreamwidth journal, and your Twitter followers will be notified.

This same method can be used to create a wide variety of “cross-posters,” which is handy for anyone who runs more than one blog or other content creation service. The results may vary from service to service— different blogs have different methods of consuming and posting RSS feeds— but it is very flexible tool.

-The Gneech

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Jan 02 2017

SO. MUCH. STUFF.

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Fandom Guy loves you! And fish. He also loves fish.

Skip a week for the holidays, and suddenly I have a billion things to talk about! Let’s jump right in!

The Gneech on a surfboard shape with the title Bringin' the Awesome

So you remember I wasn’t satisfied with the “Three Lions and an Otter” motif because it was too close to M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Three Jaguars?” Sure ya do, it’s like the next post down from here. Anyway! I happened to be looking at my LinkedIn page and noticed a little thing I had dropped into my bio: “I’m all about bringin’ the awesome.”

Well… yeah. 😀

So that’s gonna be my thing. Expect a lot more bringin’ the awesome in 2017! The three lions and an otter are still there– they’re how I organize my workflow and my thoughts– but they’ll probably fade into the background a bit.

Commission Price Reorganization

My last price list update was in the summer and was pretty vague and incomplete. Pricing your own art is always tough– it’s kinda like a magic trick, and knowing how it’s done makes you forget the work and practice that actually went into it. I was told by a few artists I respect that I was undercharging, and I think it may have actually been hurting my sales, if the table at Midwest Furfest is an indicator.

So this is a heads-up, my prices will be going up a bit later this month, but they’ll also be more clearly defined, so it’ll be easier to look at what I offer, compare it to your budget, and decide what’s right for you.

“Learn To Use Copics” Sale!

Also! Part of my holiday splurge was to pick up something I’ve wanted for a while now: I bought myself twenty shiny new Copic markers, and I’m itching to learn how to use them! So in a week or two I’m going to open up slots for full-color real-media commissions at a crazy discount price, with the proviso that your piece will be a guinea pig for Copic practice, so the colors might be a little all-over-the-map. XD

Streaming Is a Thing!

The Gneech Streaming on TigerdileSo I have settled on Tigerdile as my streaming service of choice, and they’ve been pretty great so far. They’ve been responsive and friendly, and the site has a lot of nice features, with more coming in the new year. I’ll be streaming pretty regularly on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday nights, starting around 7:30 p.m. EST, working on commissions, the next comic page, or whatever else happens to be going on at any given time.

Phew! I think that’s everything for now? If not, I’ll let you know. 😉 Thanks for reading, and stay awesome!

-The Gneech

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