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Sorry, My Give-A-Damn is Broken
So the thing with the rebel tendency, at least for me, is that I am motivated by desire. That is to say, I have to want something in order to make it happen– which is why grief and depression are my kryptonite. Depression makes it hard to take pleasure in anything, and grief makes it hard to be willing to engage in things you like because you don't want to risk facing the pain of loss again.

But I can't just spend my life wandering an emotional wasteland like Hipster Percival. Besides the fact that we live in a pay-to-play society, there's a more primal factor in that I need to be creating in order to be happy. But attempting to create when my heart isn't in it, true to rebel nature, is just an exercise in frustration and resistance.

This creates a kind of feedback loop– I have to be happy enough to get excited about what I want to create, in order to do the creating that will make me happy.

It's kinda like a fusion reaction: once the cycle is up and running, it's nicely self-sustaining, but if something comes along and stops it (or it runs out of fuel), it takes a vast amount of external energy to get it started back up again.

Which is roughly where I am emotionally at the moment. I need to restart my emotional pilot light– what I refer to as my Give-A-Damn. When you hear about artists wailing to the muses for inspiration, same deal. Some writers sneer at this notion, saying that "real writers write whether they feel like it or not." I would argue that those writers have probably never had to really deal with a broken Give-A-Damn, and have no idea how debilitating it actually is.

(They may also be hacks; but that varies wildly from writer to writer.)

There is some truth to the adage that once you start moving, the energy and enthusiasm will come, but it isn't an absolute. Sometimes "shut up and write" works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, a mental vacation is what's needed. Other times, you need to actually get inspiration from a new experience or from some great piece of work that's new to you.

So far, my Give-A-Damn has been very stubborn about not letting itself be fixed– but I am more stubborn than it is.

-The Gneech
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Feel like crap for no good reason today. Trying to grind through because there's a lot of stuff I want to get done and there will always be things trying to prevent me from doing them, so when those things are my own internal bad wiring I can at least say "no" to that.

Through a roundabout path I recently happened upon Gretchen Rubin's concept of "four tendencies" and discovered that, true to form, I have the rarest and most problematic tendency, that of "rebel." The tendencies are based on how you respond to expectations, whether internal or external.

  • Upholders respond strongly to both internal and external expectations. They tend to be sticklers for the rules, but also self-motivated and with a moral code that can override the outer laws and traditions of the world around them. Hermione Granger is listed as an archetypal upholder; I'm not sure if I actually know any personally.


  • Questioners respond strongly to internal expectations, but not so much to external ones. They always want a satisfactory explanation for anything– if they don't think there's a valid reason to follow a rule or complete a project, they won't. [personal profile] laurierobey falls into this category. I suspect Sirfox is as well, but it's harder to tell.


  • Obligers respond strongly to external expectations, but not so much to internal ones. These are people who can stick to an exercise regimen if they've got a buddy or a class, but will immediately stop as soon as nobody's "checking up" on them. Sandy Rathbun was in this group, and I suspect so was Mammallamadevil.


  • Rebels do not respond well to external or internal expectations. They can be summarized as "You can't tell me what to do– and I can't tell me what to do either." Once they decide they want to do something, there's no stopping them, but until they want to do something, you can expect them to resist with all they've got. That includes things they decided a month ago that they wanted to do, but that they don't want to do right now, which can lead them to be just as frustrating to themselves as they are to the people around them. Like I say, I am a rebel. So is Hantamouse, which is simultaneously why the two of us get along and why the two of us fight.


There's a lot more to the framework than just this, and it's also just a tool, not some magical solution to figuring out personality quirks and interactions and things. But within the framework, I think there's some interesting insights.

I was at a presentation by Ms. Rubin, and I tried to ask (but didn't get called on), "If a rebel instinctively says 'no' to any expectation, even their own, how are they supposed to keep from eventually sliding into a Bartleby-esque catatonic state of just never wanting to do anything?" I hoped that her book might have an answer for that question, but I have since discovered that... no, not really. The book had very simplistic reverse-psychology suggestions along the lines of "I bet you can't lose 20 pounds in ten weeks!" Seriously? What am I, seven?

But this is a problem that I have found myself facing over the past few years since being effectively self-employed. I used to hate my day job fiercely, and come home to work on my writing/art/etc. with the zeal of a workaholic because it was what I wanted to do. Now, the writing/art/etc. is my day job, but instead of being energized and excited and kicking ass, I am now fighting with the constant desire to sleep all day or play video games or whatever else instead.

A devotee of the four tendencies would say that's my rebel nature, and it may very well be. But that just puts a label on it, it doesn't actually give me any tools to combat the problem.

I have contemplated going back to a day job just to give me something to channel my resentment back into other than my own work. But as I get older, I don't have the endurance I used to. That Starbucks job I had in late 2015 was only part time and still left me feeling dead most of the time. I can only imagine how wrecked I would be trying to go back to 40 hours of writing code or something similar at 6 am in the friggin' morning. I can't deny the pay would be better, but if it left me too tired to do my real work, it would be literally selling my soul.

I know that I am motivated by desire. Everything I've accomplished was because there was something I wanted to happen. I created Suburban Jungle because I wanted there to be a comic like Suburban Jungle for me to read. I wrote Sky Pirates of Calypsitania because I wanted to read a book like Sky Pirates of Calypsitania. But right now I'm in a mental and emotional spot where desire is hard to come by. Grief has damaged my ability to feel enthusiasm. Frustration has damaged my ability to feel hope.

So right now, I am operating on almost 100% pure stubbornness. Which is frankly exhausting. So I guess on reflection it's not quite so random a blugh, nor quite a case of feeling like crap for no good reason. I'm fatigued.

-The Gneech
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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

Mercy Me

Aug. 9th, 2017 01:25 pm
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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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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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Did a lot of fretting today and agonizing over the status of the Sky Pirates book. No conclusions. The answer I want is "one of the agents I sent it to wanted it," but that didn't happen, so I have to figure out what the next step really should be.

Three Good Things for Today


  • Got the basic poses finished for Blacktigr's commission

  • Finished the "Windswept Sandbox Full of Giants" recap posts

  • Had some Ben & Jerry's

  • Bonus Good Thing: Had some nice kitty cuddles.


Three Goals for Tomorrow


  • Finish Blacktigr commish

  • Pencils for SJ page 12

  • Work on "By Elves Abandoned"/"Fortress of Tears" setting


Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow.

-The Gneech
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In 2014, I missed Suburban Jungle so much that I decided it was time to return to it. But I couldn’t just pick up with Tiffany, Leonard and the crew seven years later. Tiffany’s story was finished, and as she was the star that the rest of the comic orbited around, there was nowhere for it to go except to just sort of string along as a zombie franchise. So I decided instead to for a “next generation” idea, and Rough Housing was born.


I freely admit, I had very little idea what I was doing with it at first, so I just tossed in a bunch of things that I liked and figured it would gel. Possibly not the best way to start a new project, but it was also true of the original Suburban Jungle and that seemed to go fine. My initial vision for Rough House was a lot more pure OTT zaniness and parody. Issue two pretty much exemplifies this, with the S.S. Plot Device and “The _______ of Cangrejo Diablo!” being typical of the kind of jokes I had in mind.


But for whatever reason… I just didn’t love it. Scripting was constantly a chore and instead of wacky hijinks I kept wanting to write shippy or emotional moments. By the end of issue three and well into the scripting for issue four it would be fair to say that Rough Housing was having an existential crisis behind the scenes. This resulted in the scripting for issues four and five taking forever as I wrangled with it.


I knew from the beginning of the “Best Bodies Contest” arc that the big payoff moments were Parker getting up on that stage, and Leonard’s final decision. But I also clung to the idea of wacky hijinks, envisioning lots of sabotage at the contest, Charity doing ridiculous things to stall Leonard and Morrison, and so forth. But while the emotional moments flowed quickly and easily, for the hijinks I ended up with whole pages of script that said things like “FUNNY SCENE HERE.” Fortunately I was able to lean on my wit to come up with gags on a page-by-page basis, but it was a frustrating way to run a railroad.


But as I was working on issue five, two important things happened. First, I began streaming my art sessions, enabling me to get real-time feedback from some of my most engaged readers and see what they responded to and why. Second, I was watching and falling in love with K-On! and examining how I responded to that and why. And when I spotted the overlap, everything clicked.


See, here’s the thing: K-On! hits the sweet spot perfectly. At its core, it’s a remarkably subtle, character-driven story about connections, loss, savoring the moments of life, and so much more– but it sneaks all this past you by being adorable and laugh-out-loud funny. But the humor isn’t the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK humor of Love Hina or Sgt. Frog. The girls spontaneously forming a cheerleading squad for Ritsu as she tries to eat a receipt they don’t want their teacher to see gets me every time, but it’s also a completely realistic moment.


This was the eye-opener for me. The original Suburban Jungle was very comfortable with the GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK style, with its very tenuous fourth wall, aliens hiding in the sun’s corona, and all that jazz, but when people talk to me about it today, what do they talk about? How Tiffany, Drezzer, or Leona impacted them personally. The connection they felt to Mikey and Wally. How they identified with Dover’s codespeak.


The people in my streams, similarly, talk a lot about how adorable Charity is and wanting to give her a hug, being proud of Parker’s overcoming his fears, or how fun it is to see Rufo wanting to make out with anything that moves.


In other words, the parts that were coming the most easily, are the parts that work the best anyway. XD So! Lesson learned.


Langley and Ritsu... separated at birth?

Langley and Ritsu… separated at birth?



The influence of K-On! has already worked its way into rewrites and page layouts. This Langley/Rufo moment, for instance, was not in my original script. It was inspired by the chemistry between Ritsu and Mio and tossed in to spruce up an otherwise dull page, but it’s just as great a moment for these two goofballs.


But the lessons I learned from K-On!, and the realizations I made about Rough Housing along the way, are going to have big repercussions moving forward. Issue six will see a shift away from “this issue’s funny premise”-style writing to focus more on the characters’ goals and fleshing out generally. I also hope to move away from being quite so much focus on Charity to being more of a proper ensemble with stories about the rest of the cast. (Who is Bounce? What does he do all day? What’s the deal between Langley and Rufo?)


This may lead to eventually changing up the cast somewhat, if existing characters aren’t working or new characters might work better. We’ll see. Rough Housing is sure to evolve over the next issues, but I finally feel like I understand it now. Giant monster attacks and wacky hijinks are not and were never going to be the strength of this comic, and really aren’t the strength of my writing generally. It’s the characters and connections, and the humor that naturally arises from them, that will make or break it.


Giant monster attacks may still show up from time to time, who knows? But where before I was saying “A giant monster attacks! What do the Rough Housers do?” I’m instead going to start with “The Rough Housers want X. How does that pan out?”


You’d think after being a writer for thirty-mumble years, I’d have learned that lesson by now. I guess I just need periodic reminders.


-The Gneech

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There she is– Tiffany Tiger!


So, Suburban Jungle launched 18 years ago today. Thanks to the strange time-dilation effect of comics, that puts Rough Housing as due to start happening around 2019 to put Charity at the right age. XD


It’s been a long strange trip and I’m very grateful for all the friends, fans, and extended family I’ve made along the way. Thank you very much!


-The Gneech

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As you may know, I've been sending off lots of job applications. As you may not know, some of those have yielded interviews. As of this writing, I am partially through the interview gauntlet on two different positions, which is a hopeful sign that employment is right around the corner... but it ain't here yet. XD I'm going to keep sending off apps until something materializes, tho.

In other news, an unpublished Michael Macbeth story which has been languishing in publication heck for (mumble) years was freed last night when I received official word that the anthology it had been accepted for was canceled. I haven't decided what to do with it yet; my first choice of the next market won't really work, so I might toss it up on Patreon or something, but it has to be in a paying venue.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I'd love to hear 'em!

-The Gneech
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There's a story floating around the zeitgeist, commonly attributed to a Cherokee storyteller (but I don't know the actual source), generally referred to as "two wolves," which goes something like:

A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth. This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too."

The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The Cherokee elder replied, "The one you feed."


Thing of it is, this is applicable to so much more than a simplistic "good vs. evil" parable. It can apply to anything! Like, say, social media. "Don't feed the trolls" is a mantra that's been around since the '80s at least. In more recent times, I've seen a pattern where some prominent person on Twitter (for example) gets pinged by an asshole and, instead of muting the asshole and moving on with their life, the person either retweets with what they feel is a smackdown, or otherwise engages.

Result? All the assholes start coming out of the woodwork, and suddenly prominent person is flooded with obnoxious messages, all of them looking for attention. The prominent person may feel like they were "shining a light in dark corners" or turning up a log to reveal all the bugs crawling around in the muck or whatever, but all they really did? Was feed the bad wolf. They now get to spend hours/days/the rest of their life wrestling in the digital mud with these idiots. It sucks, yes, but the prominent person invited them in.

This doesn't apply to people who are harassed by assholes merely for being themselves– "Internetting While Female" does not count as feeding the bad wolf, for instance. That's another discussion all together. But people like Wil Wheaton engaging in snark fights, and then having to spend the rest of the day far away from the internet because they effectively cast Summon Asshole? That counts.

This topic is fresh in my mind currently because this year is going to be about broadening my reach and impact in the world artistically and (for lack of a better term) commercially, and I'm already having to be very careful about what (and who) I respond to and where I engage, because I can clearly see the ripples of different types of energy trying to get in. Some are positive, and many are amazing... but more than a few are not.

One of the problems with the bad wolf is that, being bad, it often tries to disguise its true nature because it knows anyone with a modicum of awareness and self-esteem will reject it. What starts off as a seemingly fun and innocent or even benevolent interaction can sour quickly, and it's important to pay attention when that happens. What you thought was a pleasant chat with the good wolf can turn out to have been the bad wolf trying to finagle an invitation the whole time.

If you get fooled by this, it's not a failure on your part– it's the bad wolf being bad. The old saw should go: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you again and stop it, you jerk." But when you realize that it's the bad wolf at work, you need to shut it down quickly and decisively. In my own case, that means even calling out or disengaging with people who are my own fans, if they try to turn my work into something dark or mean. You can be funny without being mean, and you can be smart without being snide or toxic.

What you invite into your life, you will get more of. That's just how the universe works. So make sure you're inviting the good stuff in. :)

-The Gneech
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Three Lions and an Otter


One of the purposes of identifying the three lions and an otter was they made handy touchstones for the tasks I need to get through with my writing and illustration. My plan was (and still pretty much is) that each of them would get a certain day (or days) during the week for their thing, to help me keep focused and on task.


Of the four of them, Content Guy requires the most time, because he’s the one who actually does the writing and drawing. On the other hand, Business Guy’s stuff doesn’t take as long, but it’s such a struggle for him that it feels like it takes forever. Fandom Guy loves what he does and is always having fun, but he has to focus his efforts on the days when people are most likely to be listening.


Muse never does anything directly. So she has no day… or it might be said she has every day.


Thus, assuming a five-day work week (which may or may not be a valid assumption), the week breaks down like so:



  • Monday: Fandom Guy! I haven’t looked into it recently, but for a long time the stats of websites made it very clear that Monday was the day people were most likely to check out links and want to be distracted from their day. So if Fandom Guy wants attention, this is the day to go for it. That’s why Suburban Jungle goes up on Mondays, and so when Fandom Guy has something to say, that’s the day you can expect to hear from him.

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Content Guy. Assuming nothing else gets in the way, these are the days our hard-working lion spends down in the pixel mines. Of course, this can also include work for Fandom Guy in the case of things like streaming sessions or posting commissions and the like. But these days are mostly for just getting the work done.

  • Friday: Business Guy. Last but not least, our frazzled number cruncher does his thing on Fridays, whether it’s paying the bills, keeping URLs up to date, booking convention hotels/travel, hunting down markets/editors to submit to, or updating merchandise availability. Why does he get Friday? So that at the end of a long day doing things for which he has little talent and less patience, he can kick back and have the weekend. 😉 He earns it!


Now given that the average page of Suburban Jungle takes me two days to draw, this means that Content Guy only has one day dedicated to business writing gigs, commissions, book writing and whatever else. But the sneaky trick here is that Fandom Guy and Business Guy rarely need a whole day each week, so Content Guy gets whatever they don’t use. Also, well, weekends are a thing. As the old saying goes, “Find a job you like and you’ll never work another day of your life.” I write and draw because that’s what I enjoy doing (and because I kinda can’t not do them), so as long as I have some time to spend with Mrs. Gneech and the kitties, “working” on the weekend is the opposite of a problem.


And on that note, I’ve got commissions to work on! Catcha later.


-The Gneech


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

So one thing that was made quite clear at the most recent Midwest Furfest is that I’ve really gotta get back in touch with the fandom. Suburban Jungle used to mean room parties and charity auction cameos going for hundreds of dollars, but this past weekend it seemed to be “That comic everybody used to know and remembers fondly.”


Dude. What am I, the Animaniacs? XD Nostalgia is not my brand!


Seriously tho, I think a lot of the problem is that as time has gone on, I’ve just gotten out of touch. I met plenty of people at the convention who’d never heard of me or my work, but upon seeing the art were instantly interested in checking it out. So clearly what I’ve got to do is get it front of more eyeballs!


To that end, I’m working on a retool of my online presence generally, looking for new venues to spread the word and so on. Besides the usual DeviantArt and FurAffinity accounts, I’m going to start posting more of my work on my Tumblr account (which has until now been little more than reblogs), I created a Pinterest board for my art, and I have (finally) started dipping my toes into groups on Telegram.


Sometime by the end of the year I expect to also start streaming fairly regularly on Monday and/or Tuesday nights as I work on the next comic page. Right now I’m still researching that, looking for artists with successful streams and watching what they do. (If you have faves, let me know! I want to see ALL THE STREAMS.)


As a general thing, I also just sorta need to get back out into the world. Over the past years I had kinda retreated into a cocoon as I dealt with the slings and arrows being fired at me by outrageous fortune, and I’m finally sticking my head back out. (What did I find? 2016. For cryin’ out loud, world, I hide away for just a few years, and you turn into a dumpster fire? I want you to go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done while the rest of us clean up this mess.)


…Er, sorry, what was I saying? Right, getting back in touch with the world. I’ve got a few volunteers who are helping me with that, and I’ll gratefully take any assistance I can get, but nothing replaces me getting out there and taking care of it myself. I need to do a lot more connecting with the world than just posting to LiveJournal and Twitter, and that’s going to be a big priority for me over the next several weeks.


If anyone has ideas on what I should do, I’d love to hear them! 😀


-The Gneech


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Three Good Things for Today


  1. Finished and posted issue five page five

  2. Finished a long-overdue commission

  3. Nice dinner and walk around Barnes & Noble with [livejournal.com profile] lythandra

  4. Bonus Good Thing: Agent was "intrigued" by Sky Pirates [1]

  5. Bonus Good Thing: Got some recommendations for art streams


Three Goals for Tomorrow


  1. Post the commish to art sites

  2. Social media management/art posting plan

  3. Layouts for issue five page six

  4. Stretch Goal: Start next commish


Keep on keepin' on.

-The Gneech

[1] Didn't take on the book, alas, but it's still better than a form rejection!
the_gneech: (Keitaro Holy Crap)
Well. It's been a thing, hasn't it? Yeeks.

As I suspect has not gone unnoticed, I have not been my characteristically chirpy, genial self for some time now. This is because the world seems to be actively saying "Up yours!" over and over, and it has me not-unnaturally feeling peeved.

To recount, in the past double-handful of years I have lost...

  • a beloved aunt


  • both parents


  • my former business partner and best non-spouse friend


  • another friend who was the group "den mother" for us in high school and who I was actually much closer to as an adult


  • Frostdemn, a fan and friend who was a joy to everyone who knew him and was way, way too young


  • my job


  • my house


  • Game Parlor


  • Laughing Ogre Comics


  • ...and of course Buddha the kitty, whom I loved dearly


Some of these things are worse than others of course, but it's the sheer number and overwhelming breadth of it that gets me. Like there's no good thing so minor that the Universe doesn't feel like going "YOINK!"

Then last year, [livejournal.com profile] lythandra's job, which was at least paying the bills, also disintegrated, and she's been searching ever since with frustrating results.

Just in 2016, circumstances conspired to kick us out of the place we didn't especially like but had landed in when the house sold, into [livejournal.com profile] sirfox's condo in Maryland. And, wishing no reflection on Sirfie, Maryland just ain't working for us for reasons I don't particularly want to get into here.

Despite my best efforts, and even when it returns praise for the writing, I have not been able to sell my book.

And oh yeah, now the neo-nazis are on the march, and the ice caps are melting at an unprecedented rate despite it being winter, much to the consternation and bafflement of the scientists who study such things. Those who used to be alarmists on the topic are throwing up their hands and saying, "welp, we're fucked," while those who used to be only concerned are becoming alarmed.

So yeah, things kinda suck right now, on levels cosmic, social, personal, and downright petty. What the hell. And it's made me grouchy.

However, as Nick Fury put it, "Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on." And while some people use anger and spite to fuel their fire, I am not among their number. Anger and spite make me cruel and mean, and I don't like me when I'm mean. I renounced it long ago, before anyone who knows me now even met me, but it's kinda like being a werewolf or something– it's always there, trying to sneak back out. I suspect many people would be shocked at sheer volume of vicious thoughts or cutting comments that jump unbidden into my mind, and at the effort I'm constantly expending to stop it before it reaches my tongue or the page. If you ever feel I'm snarky or negative now? My public face is Mr. Flippin' Rogers compared to the crap that goes on inside my head.

Lately, just by having been worn down by the world, this effort has been a real fight. I'm spending as much energy on keeping myself "up" as I am on actually accomplishing the things I want to get done with my day. I had a counseling appointment about this last week, and that helped, but it's still something I am dealing with.

The point I'm meandering my way to here, is that I think I've finally reached a certain equilibrium over the past few days, and hopefully I am now at the "Take a deep breath, stand up, and keep walking" stage of things. The reason I punted on NaNoWriMo was so I could concentrate on more immediately-lucrative pursuits so that when our current lease is up we would have options. I have a specific goal that I am working towards, something that Laurie and I have decided as a result of the recent social events, and that goal has finally given me something positive to work towards, instead of simply trudging on because that was all there was to do.

Hopefully, as I start to make progress, and perhaps even start building more positive things back into my life, the Universe will get the message and start moving in the right direction itself, as well.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)

As things have developed, both public and private, I have decided that my I need to change my priorities in the upcoming months. To that end, I need to put By Elves Abandoned on the back burner and work on other things. Instead of working on those other things and feeling guilty about not hitting wordcount goals for NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to simply let that go.


The book still has a lot of potential, and I expect to pick it up again before too long, it’s purely a matter of timing. Maybe my own personal NaNoWriMo will come in February, we’ll see!


Suburban Jungle will keep going, and punting on NaNo will hopefully give me time to fix up lingering issues I’m having with the current storyline and the direction the comic is taking generally. Fortunately, that only takes me a couple of days a week and could be done at night or on the weekends as needed. I am also still working on finding a publisher for Sky Pirates of Calypsitania.


How Not to Suck at Overwatch is also going to go quiet for the foreseeable future. It was a fun project and I enjoyed it (and I’m very grateful to the friends and fans who made it possible), but at least for now I have other things I need to concentrate on.


As for what I am working on, that’s not in a stage where I’m ready to tell the world. But when the time comes, I will! But until then, I’ve got commissions to finish and a comic to draw, so I’d better get to work.


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Legolas silhouette)

When I started trying to brainstorm for NaNoWriMo this year, I had nothing to go on. Months of shopping Sky Pirates of Calypsitania around to agents had received mostly chirping crickets, with the occasional “You’re a good writer, but… nah.” On the advice of J.M. Frey, I decided to write a more “mainstream fantasy” novel that would help me get my foot in the door, figuring that once I had a body of work, it would be easier to get people to buy in to other stuff.


But again, what to write? I can craft prose all day, but creating a compelling story is much tougher. Finally, with nothing else to work with, I said, “Fine! I’m taking some of my unplayed RPG characters, tossing them into a scenario, and writing it as a book!”


On the good side, it definitely got me rolling. I have some protagonists and a broad story arc, and that’s all good. However, there is one big problem with this framework, which is: most RPG campaigns, even good ones, tend to be a never-ending string of fights. Whether it’s orcs or stormtroopers, the “filler” of an RPG campaign is generally going to be battles with monsters… which can make for dull reading.


Yes, the blow-by-blow of a tense action scene can be exciting. Bilbo’s encounters with trolls, goblins, spiders and dragon (and later Frodo’s encounters with ringwraiths, orcs, trolls, more orcs, more ringwraiths, more orcs, easterlings on oliphaunts, more orcs, a giant spider, still more orcs, and a giant pit of lava) are iconic. But what really makes a battle interesting is not who slashed what or cleft the other in twain– it’s what changes as a result of the battle.


And that’s where the neverending string of fights in a D&D game fall down as fodder for a novel. As a rule, they don’t change anything, other than to nibble away at resources. In a novel, the “five rooms full of orcs” at the front of the level that lead up to the “boss” at the end would lose readers after the second fight. “We’ve seen this already!” would be the cry of the frustrated reader. “Get on with it!” (And they’d be perfectly right to do so.) The first fight with orcs is interesting, because it’s new, which means it changes things. The fight with the boss at the end is interesting, for the same reason. (And presumably the boss has some kind of plot coupon or other thing to make them worth fighting in the first place on top of that.) The stuff in the middle? Gets mercilessly summarized unless and until it makes an impact.


So this is where my NaNoWriMo project actually hits an uphill climb: I have more or less completed act one, with the hero about to set off on her journey with her new companions. While I have the next big change– the “boss” of the next section so to speak– worked out, I need to figure out interesting and relevant things that will take the character from here to there. In a D&D game, this would be an overland journey with some random encounters, ending in a dungeon complex, easy peasy. For a book? It has to matter, or be cut. And that’s the tough part.


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Writing)


NaNoWriMo has launched! The first scene of By Elves Abandoned is written, and I think it’s a good start. I’ll be posting it to my Patreon tomorrow for supporters after my morning re-read.


Woot, woot! And now, on to another Overwatch PotG commish…


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Default)

Three Lions and an Otter


First item of news: Issue Five launches on November 14th. I’m still kinda trying to figure out what I’m doing with it, but I’ve also reached the point where if I don’t set a deadline, it’ll languish, and I need to force my mental waveform to collapse (so to speak). I’m also going to be working on NaNoWriMo at the same time, and posting chunks of the NaNo project to my Patreon page for supporters.


Which leads to the topic of Patreon. I think I need to just come out and say it: I am terrible at running a Patreon. I have never been good at the “business hustle” part of being a professional artist, it’s just an alien world to me– and honestly, mental bandwidth I’ve been burning on trying to figure it out has been not just wasted, but siphoned away from the actual process of making the art. In short, I can run the business or make the product, but I can’t do both, and I need to stop trying.


How does that effect my Patreon? Well, my first inclination was to simply delete it entirely. But the strange thing about it is that many of my supporters have said they don’t really care about the “rewards” levels anyway, they just want to support my work. It’s kinda like the old Paypal tip jar, just a little more formalized.


So I’ve decided to leave the Patreon up, but I’m going to remove the reward tiers and make it a simple binary, “yes, you’re a subscriber, or no you aren’t” system. All subscribers will have access to all the Patreon content, which will include immediate comic page postings, draft chapters of books in progress, and so forth. I am also looking at changing it to a “per posting” model, and would be curious to hear any opinions folks have on the topic.


In any case, I’m going to make this change now, between monthly cycles, to give people plenty of time to adjust and/or bail if they wish.


Thanks for your patience! I hope to have some cool stuff for you soon.


-The Gneech


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the_gneech: (Kero Power Tie)
Although it has been a difficult decision, I have decided to start actively seeking a "day job."

Certainly, the largest factor is money. While I have been earning some money with my art commissions, writing, and other projects, it has never been more than "supplementary" level. That was fine while [livejournal.com profile] lythandra was making more than enough for both of us, but despite having an amazing job history and regardless of the best efforts of an army of recruiters, it's been over a year now since she had regular employment as well, and we simply can't keep living off our savings any more (or we soon won't have savings to live off).

As for what I'm seeking, I'm still working on that. I want to be in an office environment, but I don't think I could go back to writing code all day (and my skills in that department are super-rusty anyway). I'm going to start by looking for admin, data entry, or other sorts of entry level work and see where that leads me in the short term.

If anyone has leads, I'd be grateful to hear them!

How this will impact the writing and comics, I'm not sure. I imagine it will take me a little while to actually find a job anyway; during that time I am continuing to submit Sky Pirates of Calypsitania (rejection number ten or so just came in this morning) and working on other ideas, and I still have commissions to get through. Issue five of Rough Housing is kinda stuck in development heck as I fight through script problems, but I am still plugging away at that, too.

In the meantime, I'm also going to refactor my Patreon, as I'm just not able to devote the proper attention to it and I don't want to be misleading people about it.

I'm grateful to have had the past few years "off" to help my parents in their final days and to deal with other various life crises, as well as finishing the Sky Pirates novel and various other projects. But I can't keep coasting forever.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)

Snoopy Deals With Rejection


Including the first cold submission to Tor, I have now been sending queries for Sky Pirates of Calypsitania to publishers and agents for five months. I have received:



  • Six form rejections

  • One personal response that my writing was strong but the agent didn’t feel a personal connection to these particular characters

  • Four chirping crickets


But today starts a new week, and so this morning I’ve sent off two more queries (including one to an agent who, even if she doesn’t care for the book, just seems like a cool person and I started following her on Twiter). As more responses come in, assuming they are more form rejections, I’ll keep sending more queries out, until this book sells.


Because that’s the thing, I believe this book will sell. It’s the kind of book I keep wishing somebody else would write so I could read it– and if I want a book like this, surely other people must too. It’s just a matter of connecting Book A to Readers B. I don’t expect it to become the sort of thing that makes it to supermarket shelves, necessarily, but I do think it’s a very entertaining first novel and is the good launching point of a career. I have seen (and read, and have in my personal library) books that are weaker on all fronts and yet are quite successful, and if those books can do it, so can mine.


So I keep calm and query on. There are hundreds (thousands?) of good literary agents out there, and if I get through the list, well, I’ll start over. And in the meantime, I will continue to work on the next book while waiting for responses.


We’ll get there.


-The Gneech


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