So I'm madly doing the mock up lettering for Modo: Ember's End...when I suddenly channeled this lettering instead. For Game of Thrones enthusiasts:
We've made out funding goal! Thanks to everyone who participated! As of this writing there are still a few hours left to join in on the steampunk fun--just click this amazing link: http://igg.me/at/modo/x/2317118
One of the traditions when you make your funding goal is to have "stretch" goals. These are new perks for people if you make a certain amount beyond your original goal. We don't have enough time to do a campaign for a stretch goal (only 13 hours left!), but I thought I'd share the stretch goals that we had in mind:
If we hit $100,000 we would have given all contributors a steam powered eye.
You can both see out of it and make tea at the same time. Zounds!
At $500,000 we were going to ground all those noisy jet planes and give everyone personal airships to travel in. No Hindenburgs, though!
At 1,000,000 we would create a steam powered superman who would go backwards around the world and take us all back in time to the Victorian age and we could live in that era forever...but get this--we'd be able to bring our iPods and smart phones along. And dental floss!
Ah, the world was going to be so different!
But wait...just $84,000 more dollars and it's steampowered eyes for everyone!
Thanks for all the fundraising help!
For the last twenty days I've been deep in the world of crowd fundraising with a project @ indiegogo.com. It's a graphic novel inspired by my series The Hunchback Assignments that I cooked up with artist Christopher Steininger.
I thought I'd share what I've learned up to now. First, in order to understand the whole crowd funding process, I followed (and supported) several campaigns, asked for advice from those campaigners, saw what worked for them and attempted to emulate that. I chose Indiegogo to do my crowd fundraising because Kickstarter is not open to Canadians (unless you have an American partner) and Indiegogo has flexible funding, which means you keep the money even if you don't make your goal. This was appealing to me as I will be going ahead with the project either way.
This is what I've learned so far:
1) It's work: Okay, I knew that going in but there is a lot of "informing" to do. I've written to my newsletter, posted on Facebook, approached family and friends directly, posted on listservs, written and sent out a press release, finished up the final details on the script, emailed those who contributed personally...well you get the picture. There's a reason why campaigns that are 30-40 days long tend to do better than longer campaigns. It's because of how time consuming it is to keep the momentum up.
2) Think very carefully about the amount you need. We've asked for $15, 000. That's almost exactly what it will cost to do a print run and pay the artist a decent page rate. But I now wish I'd only asked for $10,000. The reason is that since I'm willing to foot the rest of the bill (write offs are fun) we would make our goal earlier and look more successful (we're at 31% right now, but if I'd chosen 10K we'd be closer to 50%). Apparently more people buy in to a project when it is closer to meeting its goal (and afterwards...we all want to be part of a success story). Of course, you don't want to ask for a very low amount...
3) Be prepared to educate your buyers. It turns out not everyone knows about crowd fundraising and Indiegogo or Kickstarter. And the idea of fundraising for an item before it is created is not that common. So there might be some explainin' to do! Many of my books are sold to schools and libraries. They're not used to buying something before it's created. Clearances have to be given, etc., etc., So education is key.
4) Dream big. Deal with the reality. Yes, there are many projects that make mountains of cash. But buried back in the archives of Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the mountains of campaigns that didn't make their goal. When we started we had big dreams of fans and friends chipping in, then the social networking magic would happen, and a giant sized snowball would carry us the rest of the way--maybe even in the first week. After all, my books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies...I just have to convince about 500-1000 of those fans to pick up the graphic novel. The problem is reaching those fans. They may have enjoyed my books, but they might never hear of the graphic novel. Also remember, apparently the last week of a campaign is when the most contributions happen. Nothing like a deadline to motivate people.
5) Be Social. Of course you should do all the social networking you need to do (without becoming annoying...very hard to find that middle ground), but you should also be social with other people who are crowdfunding. Follow their campaigns, cheer them on--they're in the same boat as you. You can learn from each other and support each other's campaigns...getting the word out to more people.
There. That's most of what I've learned so far. Time to march forward into the 2nd half of the campaign.
Of course I'll add my fancy widget to this post. If you like what you've read or are interested in graphic novels and steampunk, just click on the image below or right here. Or if you just want to simply support us then hit the link and use the "Tweet" or "Facebook" buttons to tell the world. It gets the project out there and also puts the project higher in Indiegogo's rankings. Every little bit helps.
Thanks for listening,
Star Wars (Episode IV): The 1st Date
OMG. She's amazing. She like drives super fast spaceships, she wields swords made of light, she's adventurous and yeah, she whines a bit about her farm background and "getting off this boring" planet, but everything she says and does is so new and exciting. I love her wild hair! She's the type who shoots first. She even makes getting her trash compactor fixed sound sooo interesting. And at the end of the meal: Wow! Wow! Wow! Everything just explodes and she gives me a "First Date" medal. I am totally going to see her again.
The Empire Strikes Back (Episode VI): The 2nd Date
All the potential of the first date is realized and then some! She is deeper and more interesting than I thought. She likes snow vacations, but would dive into a swamp for adventure (heck she even once scooped out the innards of a large animal to survive the cold--now that's hard core). She knows even more groovy zen things and martial arts. Yeah, she has some father issues, but that just makes her sooo much more interesting. When the date ends it feels unfinished. She just leaves me wanting more. I HAVE to see her again. We are SO going to go steady. We might even get married.
The Return of the Jedi (Episode VII): The 3rd Date
It starts off like the first date all over again. Excitement! Action! She rescues the conversation when some rather sizeable fellow stumbles into our table. Then things get a little weird. Her friend who she almost dated is really her brother. She spends the last twenty minutes of the date talking about her cute stuffed pets and concocts an unbelievable story about how they could take on an army and win. Yeah right! But then things explode with excitement (again) at the end of the date--alas it's not as cool as last time. She still looks great though. I'm sure that was just a lull. I'm gonna move in with her.
The Phantom Menace (Episode 1): Going Steady
Okay. We're living together. Finally! It's been a long wait. But then she starts talking about politics and trade taxation and everyone she mentions has a hard to remember name. And she buys about ten thousand of those robot vacuum cleaners and makes them fight each other. Boring! Then her cousin, JJB, keeps hanging out at our apartment. I can't understand a word he says. Like who invited him? She gets a little spacey at times and talks more Taoist philosophy and about the virgin birth of her father. Huh? I tell myself be patient. Every relationship has its rough patch.
Attack of the Clones (Episode 2): The What? Moment
It's really hard to remember that first date now. We just sit at home in our apartment in our sweats. She's still talking and talking about politics and voting and clones and plots against her life ...you know I can't pay attention. The robot vacuums fight each other again. At least her cousin isn't hanging around. She just can't stop talking about her dad having to marry her mom in secret. It would be interesting if I wasn't already so bored. I'm starting to look at other women...there's a cute one with pointed ears who catches my eye. I don't do anything about it, though.
Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3): The Breakup
I am so tired of hearing about her past. It's completely, mind-numbingly boring. I think she's joining a republic. Apparently her dad didn't get some promotion he wanted and he went all wacko. What a suck! I look at her and think: can't we just go on one more high speed chase in space? Please? Or swing across a chasm with stormtroopers shooting at us? But no, she is so full of angst and hatred. I guess her mom died giving birth to her. Sad. She starts wearing black armour. At first, I thought, "kinky." But now it just freaks me out...plus she has a bit of a skin condition and all her hair falls out. And she rasps everything she says. Everything.
I move out. I'm never coming back. Ever.
I don't see her for years and years.
Then I hear that she changed her hairstylist and she wants to get back in touch with me. Yeah, sure. Maybe I'll see you again, darling--just don't bring your cousin.
Arthur Slade is the author of seventeen bestselling novels for young adults and the soon-to-be released graphic novel Modo: Ember's End
Okay, it's hard to put "referral" in the title of a blog and make it exciting.
How about this: whoever refers the most people to our Modo: Ember's End page on indiegogo.com will receive a page of original art from the comic book. A collector's item that is only available at the $150.00 "perk" level. You could win it shipped directly to your door by steampunk storks.
All you have to do is sign up at indiegogo.com and click on our campaign page. You'll see something like the image below:
From there you just hit the "tweet" or "like" or any of the other "share" buttons. Indiegogo will do the rest (alas you do have to sign up with indiegogo before you share the campaign because that's the only way we can track who has done the referring...but hey, you don't have to buy anything). The more people you refer to our campaign the better your chance of winning (at this point the highest referrer is at 12 people referred).
It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway--Chris Steininger and I are really thankful for all the word of mouth that is going on with this campaign. And this is a concrete way to reward one of you for that help.
I love comics! And I've always wanted to do a graphic novel inspired by The Hunchback Assignments series. So I'm kicking off the Indiegogo campaign for Modo: Ember's End. It's a stand-alone graphic novel that takes place in the wild west--72 pages of fabulous full colour in hardcover. This is going to be one beautiful collector's item!
The artwork is done by the awesome Christopher Steininger, who did the Canadian covers for the novels (and has been working in the comics industry for years now). He's chomping at the bit to get to work! Please drop by the campaign page and check out his artwork. And feel free to leave a comment, too. We'd love to hear your opinion. And if you want to help out, please share this information with your own networks. Every little bit counts.
The story takes place in Ember's End, a wild west town built by a mad scientist. Intriguing? Well wait until you meet his beguiling daughter. And then there's the ruthless mercenary Ogden Bull who has come to town searching for a device that will either end all wars...or start them. Oh, and did I mention that there'll be a steampunk ninja? Modo is going to have his hands full.
For those of you unfamiliar with indiegogo.com, it's a crowdsource fundraising website. What that means is that people fund a project before it's created. It's a way of supporting some of your favourite artists and of getting a collectible item out of the deal. We've added some real sweet deals to the pot.
It's great to dive back into the world of Modo and Octavia, especially in this format.
Cheers and all that jazz!
What? Where did those two years go? Back in February 5th of 2011 I launched my novel DUST as an ebook (for sale in the US and UK, because those are the countries where I owned the rights myself).
Those were heady days! But I've blogged about them on previous occasions, so I won't retread that ground. Just start reading from the beginning or skip ahead to the amazing 1 1/2 year report.
Well not much has changed in the last six months. Overall I've sold 8406 copies of my ebooks. Last year that grossed me around $6000. That's like sixty iPods! I could wear them as an iPod suit. Anyway, I expect my ebook income to drop this year. Why? Because as I've noted before there has been a downward trend in my sales since my last report. Here's an amazing graphic to show that...
Hey, that number in the bottom keeps going down each month. 249 copies seven months ago. 53 copies sold last month. I do think there is much more competition out there now and that there was a big blitz on sales while everyone and their pet got an eReader then filled it up. And the drop in sales is also because of the algorithmic changes Amazon made to how they weight the price of books on the sales chart (if you sell a 9.99 book, it'll jump higher up the sales chart than a .99 cent book). It became harder for my books to climb the charts and get noticed by buyers.
Yet, I'm happy with the sales. It's still passive income for me that will go on as long as there are eReaders in the world. I really don't do much extra work to earn that income. And I'm very much a less work for more money kind of guy!
As a public service I'll attach these clickable links to my books, including the two "grown up" books I've published under the name Stephen Shea. If a book isn't available in your area as an ebook, it's because I'm still negotiating the erights for that book. So sorry for any confusion.
There is a relationship that develops between the reader and the writer, or more specifically, the reader and the writer's words. How you treat the reader and this relationship is one of the most important decisions you can make as a writer. Do you trust in your own work? In how it will be received and interpreted? Or do you feel that you have to lay out every single detail. Often if you don't trust in your words you'll end up writing dialogue like this
He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said, happily.
What this sort of adverbial description shows is that you don't quite trust the reader to receive the message so you tell them exactly what is happening. But it's important to remember that this is a give and take relationship and that the reader is paying very close attention to what you're writing. So instead you could create the scene this way
He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said.
Only the word happily has been dropped from the scene. But because of that, the reader does the work. They assume that the "gorgeous" statement is made in a positive manner. They know this because h gently ran his fingers across the table. It indicates what his feelings are about the table.
As the writer one aspect of your job is to get the reader to do much of the work. It's the perfect relationship that way. Yeah, you might have some heavy lifting to do, but they should be lifting along with you. Or, for that matter, if you're painting a beautiful portrait of a scene with words, let them finish the painting. Don't give them every single detail, slowing down the story. Pick the pertinent details. They will automatically create the rest of the scene
Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the kitchen table, the tall, red vase by the window, and a cloth flour bag on the counter. The De Laval crea separator, with all its bowls and pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a Martian instrument of torture.
Notice that this doesn't describe the floor. But you likely pictured it because...well...kitchens have floors. Nor is the colour of the cupboard mentioned. Though you likely filled that little detail in. And by reading about a cloth flour bag on the counter your brain may have been twigged to the fact that this is written in the past
This could have easily been
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There is a relationship that develops between the reader and the writer, or more specifically, the reader and the writer's words. How you treat the reader and this relationship is one of the most important decisions you can make as a writer. Do you trust in your own work? In how it will be received and interpreted? Or do you feel that you have to lay out every single detail. Often if you don't trust in your words you'll end up writing dialogue like this </div>
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<em>He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said, happily.</em></div>
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What this sort of adverbial description shows is that you don't quite trust the reader to receive the message so you tell them exactly what is happening. But it's important to remember that this is a give and take relationship and that the reader is paying very close attention to what you're writing. So instead you could create the scene this way </div>
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<em>He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said.</em></div>
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Only the word <em>happily</em> has been dropped from the scene. But because of that, the reader does the work. They assume that the "gorgeous" statement is made in a positive manner. They know this because h <em>gently</em> ran his fingers across the table. It indicates what his feelings are about the table.
As the writer one aspect of your job is to get the reader to do much of the work. It's the perfect relationship that way. Yeah, you might have some heavy lifting to do, but they should be lifting along with you. Or, for that matter, if you're painting a beautiful portrait of a scene with words, let them finish the painting. Don't give them every single detail, slowing down the story. Pick the pertinent details. They will automatically create the rest of the scene </div>
<div style="text-align: left;">
<em>Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the kitchen table, the tall, red vase by the window, and a cloth flour bag on the counter. The De Laval crea </em><i>separator, with all its bowls and pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a Martian instrument of torture.</i></div>
<div style="text-align: left;">
Notice that this doesn't describe the floor. But you likely pictured it because...well...kitchens have floors. Nor is the colour of the cupboard mentioned. Though you likely filled that little detail in. And by reading about a cloth flour bag on the counter your brain may have been twigged to the fact that this is written in the past </div>
<div style="text-align: left;">
This could have easily been </div>
<div style="text-align: left;" <em>Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the old, tired-looking kitchen table with its fou </em><i>spindly legs, the wooden floor, the tall, red vase by the dirty window, and a grey and torn cloth flour bag on the green counter. The massive De Laval cream separator, with its three bowls and seven pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a giant and frightening Martian instrument of torture.</i></div><div style="text-align: left;">
The reader doesn't need all that extra info. Our job is to get ride of the distractions in the scene. And then we let the reader finish the painting </div>
<div style="text-align: left;">
It's their job, really </div>
<div style="text-align: left;"><a href="http://arthurslade.com/">Art</a></div>
One of the curious things about writing is that we often get to write about dead people.
By that I don't mean the living dead, or vampires (though they take up a lot of fictional space on the shelf), but real human beings who once existed. Who walked in the real world. Who were loved or hated, held or rejected. Our interactions, our love, our frustrations with the people who once breathed the same air as us cannot help but have an influence on our writing. And that influence, that presence, allows us to draw inspiration from them and to honour them (or, if they were not the most pleasant of souls, at least recreate how they walked in the world).
When a friend or a family member has lost someone dear one of the kindest gifts we can give is to say the names of the dead. Often something simple will suffice. "I remember how much Tim enjoyed laughing." Or "Shelly had a real knack for finding the right word and the right time." Why is it important to say their names? Because for those few moments for the listener it will feel as if that person is still alive. By saying a name we essentially say, "Yes, he existed--yes, she was here on this earth." It is a way of paying honour. That's why we put names on gravestones. As long as the person is named and not forgotten, in some small way that person still exists.
Writing can be another way of naming the dead. I could not have written Megiddo's Shadow, a world war one novel, without being moved by all the deaths I'd read about in my research. But I drew most of the inspiration from the death of my own great uncle Percy, who was killed a short time before the end of the war. His death still ripples across the shared memories of my family. His photograph is on the wall in my parent's home, beside the letter that was written by his sergeant to say that Percy had been killed in action. We name Percy every Remembrance day. We honour who he was. Obviously I never knew Percy since he died a long time before I was born. But we have spoken his name enough times that he is alive in my family's shared memory. It is that loss, both the imagined and real, that helped compel me to write the novel.
David, my eldest brother, was killed in a car accident in 1980. Though I never want to draw direct lines between real life and my fiction, I do know that the loss that Robert feels when his brother Matthew disappears in Dust is echoed in my experience of loss. As is the loss Edward feels when his brother Hector is killed in Megiddo's Shadow. All of that is echoed. My daughter, Tori, who died in 2008 due to complications from Leukaemia, had Down Syndrome. Her presence in my life had been one of several things that inspired me to create The Hunchback Assignments, a book with a hero who had a handicap. I don't know that I would have been able to approach that story without knowing what her world was like and how the outside world often reacts to those who have a disability. Of course, the book itself is not about her. But as writers we can't help but draw on the knowledge and experience we gain from the real world. And by this I don't mean we have to recreate the person we loved (though I did, for my own purposes, place my own version of my grandfather briefly in Megiddo's Shadow).
Of course, you never want your writing to become a rote story, a lesson to the world. We should always be loyal to the story first. Instead use that knowledge and emotion you've experienced in your loss to make the world of your writing a deeper and richer place. Take that emotion and let it be the engine of the new worlds, new characters you want to create.
We should never be afraid to name the dead.
It turns out the doomsday theorists were right. The world will end.
Not today. Or tomorrow. They just had the timing a little bit off.
In 4 to 7.9 billion years the sun will become a red giant. No, this is not a character from D&D with a thousand hit points (though that would be awesome). It means the sun will blush, turn red and slowly expand outwards as if it had just consumed 10 trillion turkeys. Speaking of consuming things, this giant red star will either consume the Earth or the Earth will be knocked to a more distant orbit. No, the Earth won't go flying around the galaxy like the moon did in Space 1999. That was a TV show.
Anyway, The good news is that we (as in humanity) won't be around on the planet to see the red giant effect. We will likely have died off long before that. Maybe in as little as 600 million to a billion years from far too much heat on the surface of our planet (unless someone invents a really great sunblock lotion).
But don't worry about that. Before any of that happens ET will phone home and call in the flying saucer cavalry and save us all.
Meanwhile, wear a hat on sunny days.