layla: grass at sunset (Default)
This is the blog of Alaskan writer/artist Layla Lawlor. Friend/defriend/follow at will.

Websites:

Active projects:


All entries to this blog are mirrored at both [livejournal.com profile] laylalawlor on Livejournal.com and [personal profile] layla on Dreamwidth.org.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)


I finally have enough of a page buffer that I can announce this: Sun-Cutter will resume updating in August 2014! I'm so thrilled to be working on it again.

The exact nature of when, where, and how it'll update is still to be determined (I'm thinking probably using Wordpress on my website, but I need to look into options -- that's one reason why the relaunch date is still 3 months out). Updates will be announced here, but the main content will be elsewhere.

I've also created a Tumblr for it: kismetcity.tumblr.com. I still don't know exactly how I will be using the new tumblr, but my current idea is that it'll be a place for posting art, process sketches, and page announcements. I'll let you know.

Here is the announcement I just posted on Tumblr, with links to all applicable Kismet comics/sites.

Although the comic's main blog presence is probably moving to Tumblr due to the site being more active, this LJ/DW will still be kept active and all my progress on the webcomic will be announced here as well. So stay tuned. :) I will almost certainly be posting some questions here, in future weeks, as I work out how my updates are going to work and how to redesign the Kismet site to be more user-friendly and intuitively organized.

YAY KISMET! \o/
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I think I'm going to try doing it through Patreon.

This is a new service for creators that basically offers an organized way of letting readers "tip" creators for their work. I am committed to keeping all of the Kismet comics available to read online for free (unless I'm forced to do otherwise by circumstances beyond my control), so I will not be locking Sun-Cutter behind a paywall. However, the reason why Sun-Cutter keeps getting pushed back and pushed back is because paying freelance work and fiction that I have a reasonable chance of selling keeps taking priority.

But my ideal has always been to make the comics and get compensated for it somehow, while still keeping them free to read online. I am currently looking into Patreon as a way of doing that. Since I won't be charging for the comics themselves, I will be offering donation incentives like free ebook downloads, reader "cameos" in the backgrounds of crowd scenes, extra pages per week if donations hit certain levels, and so forth. However, you are still entirely welcome to read them for free - the donation levels are just if you want something extra!

I'm still in the very early stages of looking into this and making a plan, so things won't be happening terribly soon, but I've set myself a tentative goal of the end of July to re-launch Sun-Cutter, if I can figure out all the logistics and get a good backlog of pages finished by then. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but the calendar in Kismet is calculated from my birthdate (July 26, 1976) - originally Hunter's Moon took place exactly 500 years in the future (2476), and then when I decided to move it further out and give them a calendar of their own, 2476 became the Year 1 of their new calendar. So the idea of restarting the comic on July 26 has a certain appeal. .... that said, however, I'm not committing 100% to this date because I've broken SO many promises about restarting the comic in the past. I hereby pledge, however, that I will be devoting a lot of time over the next couple of months to working on it and trying to get it restarted.

I also still plan a Hunter's Moon print book, and intend to do a Kickstarter for it, but since it's been so long since HM ended, I want to relaunch Sun-Cutter first to generate some buzz to draw funders to the Kickstarter. That's actually what got me thinking along these lines, because I was working on my long-term goals for the year, and started working backwards from "HM book" to "what do I need to do first" and came up with "relaunch Sun-Cutter and get some readers" as a necessary prerequisite to publishing the HM book.

So that's the plan, you guys. I'll have to see how it goes -- if I can get back into the swing of working on pages, if Patreon works out as I'm hoping, and so forth -- but I'm pretty excited right now!
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Orion sent me a link this morning to Salina Turda, a salt mine turned tourist attraction in Romania, with the note that it has a Kismet look. And wow, does it ever. Looking through the pictures, this is my mental image of Kismet EXACTLY. These could be panels from the comic!

... Insert the standard reassurance here that I have not given up on Kismet; I even have about 10 pages of Sun-Cutter drawn that I haven't colored yet. I am going back to it! Actually, one of the biggest reasons why it's been stalled for so long is because I haven't come up with a good platform for it yet. I've experimented with putting the archives up on both Tumblr and Wordpress, but I don't like either one of those. (I think Wordpress with a Comixpress skin would be perfect, but you can't use custom skins on a free Wordpress.com account and I'm already using my main Wordpress install to run my website, so I'd need a secondary installation -- which I do plan to figure out eventually, but I haven't gotten there yet.)
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My science fiction short story "Stormrider" appears in the anthology Fierce Family from Crossed Genres, out this month. From the website:
Strong, united families are rarely portrayed in speculative fiction. They’re often dysfunctional, combative, self-destructive, or miserable, when they’re portrayed at all. This is especially true for non-nuclear and adoptive families, single parent families and families with no children, which are easy targets for invalidation.

And QUILTBAG families are almost never portrayed in speculative fiction, regardless of whether their families are loving or falling apart.

15 exhilarating stories of QUILTBAG families experiencing adventure, disaster, and triumph make up Fierce Family. They are families of any constellation: all sizes and configurations, families of choice as well as families by birth. They are caring and connected – when outside conflict arises, they come together to defend and aid one another. Fiercely, and without hesitation.

My contribution, "Stormrider", is action sci-fi about a family who perform search & rescue operations on a storm-torn ice planet, riding native wildlife that resemble giant leafy sea dragons. Because I needed more ice dragons in my life! More info and buy links at the website above.
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The "keep it simple" approach worked great for me last year: keep my goals general, with the specifics to be determined as I go forward. So, here are my 2014 goals:

- Match or beat my 2013 word count
- Get a Paypal store set up on my website so people can buy things from me
- Publish the Hunter's Moon book (I plan to keep putting this on the to-do list until it happens!)
- Finish the urban fantasy novel edits & submit to agents
- Revise the urban fantasy sequel
- Sell some short stories
- Sell some romance (match or beat 2013!)
- Write a novel as me
- Write a novel or novella as my romance alias
- Start updating a comic again
- Blog more regularly

This ought to keep me busy!
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I usually do these a little closer to New Year's, but I'm in the mood, so let's see how we did on last year's goals.

Goals and results under cut )

I did better than usual, I think, although it was mostly concentrated in certain areas. The comics and art got badly neglected. Still, I'm pretty happy with my results.

And here's my list of what I sold and/or published in 2013:

Things I sold or published in 2013 )
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Things look a bit different than the last time I posted pictures.



Winter is definitely here. These pictures were taken early this afternoon.



The plow is on the plow truck ... and the most sunlight we see these days is the sun in the trees at the edge of the yard. Soon we won't even have that. (We're behind a hill, so we get no direct sunlight from November to mid-February.)
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Frost-covered dead leaves on rocks.



We have been having still, cold weather for the last few days, which allowed frost to build up on everything until it almost looked like it had snowed. These pictures don't really do it justice; this wasn't morning frost, but an all-day-long frost that got deeper every morning. Anyway, I took this pictures a few days ago, and then last night it warmed up to 50 degrees, and rained all the frost off. Now there are puddles everywhere, and it's back to being brown and dreary again.



We usually would have had snow for a couple of weeks by now. What an odd year it's been.
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My long-time comics-making friend Jane Irwin is currently running a Kickstarter for her graphic novel Clockwork Game. This is the print edition of the webcomic Clockwork Game, meticulously researched and beautifully drawn historical fiction with a slight steampunk vibe, about an 18th-century chess-playing automaton and the contemporary PR circus surrounding it. This is a gorgeous labor of love on Jane's part, and I know that the print editions will be excellent quality, because I know Jane and she's very detail-oriented about that sort of thing! There's an introduction by SF & fantasy author Nisi Shawl. It's well worth taking a look; you can check out the comic online at the above link.

My ~14K-word Torn World story "The Lichenwold Crossing" has finished its run on the Torn World website. The story begins here and is a part of the Empire Explores the North storyline.

I ran across this intriguingly creepy link today in which the author Alan Gardner talks about the real-life ghost story behind one of his novels. I don't think I've ever read any of his novels nor heard of this one, but it was a fascinating story anyway! Sometimes life is truly stranger than fiction ...
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A few pictures from a walk in the woods behind our property this weekend.


Yellow birch leaves look like gold coins scattered on the ground.


Still quite a lot of blueberries clinging to the bushes! They're much too withered to eat (although the dog seemed to enjoy them) but I hope they'll be good for the birds this winter.


Dog eating blueberries in the swamp on the backside of our property. Silly dog.

So sleepy

Oct. 3rd, 2013 10:47 pm
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This has been a loooong week. But I don't have classes on Fridays, so this is my Friday night, basically.

A couple of things:

[livejournal.com profile] ellenmillion is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Ellen Million Graphics and has lots of cool stuff: new offers almost every day! See yesterday and today. Long-out-of-print Ursula Vernon calendars full of Ursula's lovely art for cheap! And more!

And I keep forgetting to link to the installments of my story The Lichenwold Crossing at the Torn World website, but it's still going. Here is this week's installment (part 6 of 8) and here is the complete story collection in which it appears.
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Most of Wednesday's snow melted off. But it snowed again yesterday, and the effect is much the same -- the trees are more yellow now and less green, but it's still very striking with the golden backdrop under the snow. It's starting to look less likely that we're going to make it back to autumn before winter comes down on us full force! Here are a couple pictures I took yesterday evening on a walk out to the beaver pond near the house:





Today, it's still cold enough that nothing has really melted, but the sun is very striking on the snow and yellow leaves! This first picture was taken from the deck. The one below it is looking down at the creek that runs through our property (the stairs in the foreground are an old set of wooden stairs off the deck that now lead to the creek bank).



layla: grass at sunset (Default)
A post over on my romance-writing blog about what I've been up to this week.

In other news, it snowed this week -- on top of trees that had barely begun to change colors. Looked pretty cool, no? (This was Wednesday.)



Most of the snow has melted, but not all of it. We got another light snowfall on Friday, some of which stuck around in sheltered spots, and I noticed when I walked the dogs today that the ground was frozen anywhere that hadn't received direct sunlight today. I have a bad feeling about this.
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We're already into early fall here in the land of the Midnight Sun. It frosted a week ago, to my shock and dismay, and the utter ruin of my tomatoes and peppers -- woe!

I went out with my camera today in search of some fall colors. There isn't much to be seen yet.


Colors starting to show up along the driveway.

A couple more )
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Part 2 of The Lichenwold Crossing is up on the Torn World website.

In other news, I signed up for college classes this week. I'm taking 14 credits starting in September. This is something I've been thinking about doing for awhile, but the stars aligned this year, or something, and it works out really well with both my schedule and Orion's. Normally we have a car-sharing issue (we're rural enough that there's no public transportation out this far), but this year he's on sabbatical so I have 24/7 access to the car, and no other responsibilities at the moment, so I went for it.

I have a crazy outside idea that I might eventually try to get a B.S. in archaeology, but I'm thinking probably not soon. The thing is, getting a second degree would involve devoting most of my life to it for at least another couple of years, and that isn't really what I want to be doing with my time right now. I have other near-future goals that are more important to me. But I get free tuition because of Orion's job, and I'm not yet too old a dog to learn new tricks, so I'm going to do the college thing for a semester at least.

The two classes that I specifically wanted to take were introductory archaeology (because once you have that, you can volunteer on any of the University of Alaska digs) and a language, any language -- I'm tired of being monolingual, and of my top choices, French fit very well with my schedule, so French it is. (My first choice was Russian, but it happened to conflict with the archaeology course ... so, no.) And then, since I'm going to be on campus 4 days a week anyway, I also picked up another anthropology course and the senior creative-writing seminar.

(The second ANTH class is Biological Anthropology, i.e. the introductory human evolution & physical anthropology class, mostly because it's a prerequisite for a number of other classes I want to take. Flipping through the textbook on Amazon, I'm pretty sure that I actually already know most of the class material (early hominids, etc) because of my extracurricular reading -- I guess the problem with taking an introductory course in anything that's a particular area of interest at age 37 is that you already know the stuff. But I'm sure it will be interesting anyway. I don't think I've ever taken any class that didn't teach me something.)
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This week kicks off my latest (and most ambitious to date) contribution to [livejournal.com profile] ellenmillion's Torn World project: The Lichenwold Crossing - Part 1. For the next seven weeks there will be a new installment every Monday. It's about 14,000 words long, in total.

Torn World is a shared world project -- anyone can get involved -- and I have to say that "adopting" a character (actually two of them) changed my perspective on the whole thing in really interesting ways. I'd been contributing in small ways for awhile, because Ellen is a friend; I've been copy-editing stuff and doing little bits of art here and there. Last winter Ellen talked me into adopting Tiren and Anler, who are major players in the "Lichenwold Crossing" story and other parts of the storyline surrounding it. Somehow this eventually snowballed into me actually writing this part of the story arc, since 2/3 of the characters involved are now "mine".

And it was fascinating for me to notice how my perspective on the whole project changed once I had made Tiren and Anler "mine". I got to write Anler's detailed character description (Tiren already had one) and, while some decisions were already made because they were established characters, I got to make decisions about smaller aspects of their appearance and personality and who in the various Torn World villages they were related to.

But it also made me care in a way I hadn't before. I found myself going back and reading all the stories in which Tiren and Anler appear, trying to get a feeling for who they are as people, especially once I started writing the Crossing Lichenwold story. Torn World has two major settings, the North where Tiren & Anler live (an Alaska-like place with small villages who herd snow unicorns), and the South, where there is a major empire and a rather steampunkish vibe. I'd been sort of vaguely, broadly interested in both regions, but picking Tiren & Anler as "my" characters made me suddenly switch my allegiance to the North -- er, not that it's a sporting event or anything*, but I had never really cared that much before, and now suddenly I'm all invested in the North and what happens to it. It's interesting!

*Although it could be. Now I'm amusing myself with the idea that a century or two from now they might have South vs. North sporting events, kind of like the Olympics.

Anyway, I'm glad "The Lichenwold Crossing" is finally going live on the website so that I can share it with people. It's part of a story arc, South Meets North, which like most of the Torn World arcs consists of a number of (more or less) self-contained stories; the rest of the arc can be found at the Empire Explores the North story collection on the Torn World website. And here's the Torn World intro page.
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My fantasy story The Bride In Furs is online at Plunge Magazine.

I'll also have a sci-fi story in an anthology called Fierce Family from Crossed Genres. I'm not yet sure when that will be out (sometime next year, I'm guessing). That one has telepathic ice dragons in it. Hey, I grew up in the '80s, okay?
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Went to the farmer's market today for lunch (sesame chicken over noodles) and picked up some snap peas and a few pieces of fudge, which I may be eating right now (nom). I thought about going to the fair -- this is its last weekend -- but I don't think I'm going to make it out there this year. I just haven't really felt like it. Orion doesn't particularly enjoy that kind of thing, so I have to either go by myself or round up a friend to go with, and this year I think I'd rather sit it out. The main fun I get out of the fair is the food and the livestock barns, anyway. I'll go next year ...

And it's hideously smoky today, which makes being outside not much fun. We get kind of blase about wildfire smoke around here. My thought upon waking up and looking out to see the hills were gone behind clouds of smoke was "Well, suck, guess I'll stay inside today" rather than "Fire? Where?!"

While I was in town, I also hit the library and picked up a bunch of Agatha Christie and Robert Silverberg -- how's that for a mixed bag of writers. I haven't read much by either one of them, so I'll see how I like it.
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It's blueberry season here in Alaska, and we went berry-picking on Sunday.



Several pictures under cut )

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Layla

May 2014

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