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)
Over on my Wordpress blog, I'm interviewing [profile] sl_huang about her suspense/sci-fi thriller Half Life (and other books). The formatting went a bit wonky when I crossposted, so I decided linking would probably work better.

http://laylalawlor.com/wordpress/blog/2015/01/12/booktalk-interview-with-sl-huang/
layla: grass at sunset (Default)


Kismet: Sun-Cutter - Page 56

Now that Kismet has an RSS feed, I created Livejournal and Dreamwidth feeds off of it, which you can subscribe to:

http://suncutter-feed.livejournal.com/
http://suncutter-feed.dreamwidth.org/

Unfortunately I didn't think to create and test them before updating the feed this week, so I haven't deployed a live RSS update on them yet, but they seem to be working normally. (Well, except for links being doubled on the DW one - it's not doing that on the LJ one, and they're pulling from the same XML file! *baffled* It's not a functional problem, just kind of a weird one.) When you subscribe you may get the last 3 entries in the RSS on your reading page -- at least that's what happened to me ... I think that's just a one-time thing that's happening because I just created the feed and all 3 of those updates read into it at once, and should not happen after the first week. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, these are available to use if you'd like to use them; please let me know if you have any trouble.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
You may have noticed (or possibly not) that I'm once again crossposting some things from my Wordpress blog on my website, which is back to being a blog again, after spending some time as a static page that I occasionally add stuff to.

The Wordpress blog probably still won't update terribly often. I'm going to try to do a weekly post on the general broad topic of books and writing (my books, other people's books, etc), and perhaps the occasional post with Alaska pictures or other such things.

I've also been more active on Twitter lately.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)


Sun-Cutter: Page 55

The problem I was having with comments last week has been fixed, so comments are working again.

Don't forget there is now a forum, where you can ask questions or post observations about the comic. If anything interesting comes up (like the current Founder's Day thread) I'll periodically pull this sort of thing out and post it.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

Let the Monday “Booktalk” posts commence! :D

I’ve been on a Diana Wynne Jones rereading kick lately. It started with Hexwood and proceeded to the Chrestomanci books, of which The Lives of Christopher Chant is my favorite by far, and one of my favorites of all of her books — mainly because I think the things I like most about her books are more clearly on display in this one than in many of her others.

I didn’t start reading DWJ ’til I was an adult. I expect I would have liked her books as a kid, but I think I might’ve appreciated them in a different way — more seduced by the sense of wonder, less distracted by how the plots go (or don’t go). As an adult reading her books, I sometimes find the plots very hit-or-miss, and in particular the endings frequently leave me feeling let down or simply frustrated. She has a meandering approach to plot that breaks just about all of the standard plotting rules at one point or another — important characters fail to appear until halfway through her books, critically important plot elements may be held back until the very end, Chekhov’s Gun may or may not fire, etc. It’s a style that feels much more like an oral storytelling tradition — someone telling you a story — than a lot of fiction tends to, and sometimes I really appreciate it for its lack of artificiality, but sometimes it just completely misses the boat for me.

But the thing I love most about her books, that keeps me coming back to them, is the layered-ness of the characters, and in particular the way the characters are presented to the reader. One thing that frustrates me about a lot of fiction aimed at kids is the flatness of the character presentation. Good people and bad people are evident at first glance; they wear their goodness or badness on the outside. (Good people pretty, bad people ugly….) And certainly they don’t do both good and bad things at once, so you can’t even tell how you’re supposed to feel about them …

But DWJ’s characters are complicated and surprising. Her hapless protagonists have to guess, like everyone in the real world, about who the good and bad people are: who to believe, who to trust. And often they guess wrong (frequently misjudging other characters based on superficial attributes), only to figure things out over the course of the book.

Many of her books deal with a particularly challenging aspect of growing up — the way that your perspective on other people, and yourself, tilts as you mature and begin to recognize your own humanity in other people, and become aware of the flaws in yourself.

I enjoy all of the Chrestomanci books to one degree or another — I’m currently reading The Pinhoe Egg, which doesn’t seem at all familiar, so it’s possible I’ve actually never read it before — but The Lives of Christopher Chant has always been the book in the series that stood out the most to me.

(Spoilers follow.)

Spoilers under the cut )


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
The January rewards package has been posted in the Patreon activity feed. See how Signy's redesign is coming along!


(Above: the sneakiest of sneak previews)

The 3-month introductory special is now over, so the rewards package is now available only to the $5+ subscribers, i.e. back to the regular reward tiers. (The last 3 months' rewards will stay unlocked for all subscribers.)

However, you won't miss out because I plan to use the Patreon blog a LOT more in 2015, posting updates of my work in progress, answering questions and whatever else you like. :) I just posted a snapshot of my drawing board this morning, with Page 66 up for penciling! All you need to do is subscribe for at least a buck a month (less than a cup of coffee!) and you'll have access to it.

Handy link to the Kismet patreon!

I've redone the reward levels somewhat. At $50 a month, the comic will pay for itself -- web hosting, software costs, materials costs like pencils and paper, etc. I would really love to get it there in 2015, and when it DOES get there, I'll post a Signy & Jude side story I've been working on that gives a bit more of their shared backstory. I'm also thinking about other goodies for both new and current subscribers (anything new I offer to entice in new people, the current subscribers will also get -- anything else would be unfair!).

What sort of rewards would YOU like to see?
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

Here’s what I plan to do in 2015:

  • Make a writing schedule/marketing plan and stick to it
  • Write two new novels
  • Finish editing the 2 steampunk ones I wrote this year and submit to Dreamspinner Press (which has right of first refusal); self-publish if refused
  • Edit both the novels in my urban fantasy series & start making progress toward whatever I want to do with them (submit to agents if going that route; start prepping for self-publishing if that)
  • Revise my first novel — an ancient, probably unpublishable YA fantasy called Wishmaker — and put it online for free.
  • Update Kismet every week, and finish the year with a page buffer
  • Publish the Hunter’s Moon book via Kickstarter

The first item on the list sounds more formal than it is, and mostly has to do with something I’ve been struggling with for the last few years, namely organizing my time more efficiently. I’ve never successfully managed to stick to a regular writing/drawing schedule, but maybe this will be the year I’ll do it.

Alarmingly (given the scope of the above list), I have a considerably longer private list of Stuff I’m Gonna (try to) Edit/Write/Do in 2015, but I decided it’d be best to keep the public-accountability list to the highest priority items. Especially given my abysmal track record of finishing my lists. This list already amounts to “edit five novels and write two”, plus at least 52 pages of Kismet, which is huge compared to anything I’ve managed to accomplish in past years. Some years I aim pretty low; apparently this is one of those years I’m aiming high. Wish me luck?


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

It’s that time of year again – my annual year-in-review and accountability post. I’ve been doing them since 2006; here’s the LJ tag and the DW tag.

First of all, here’s what I accomplished creatively in 2014:

I also signed up for Patreon (hope to do a lot more with that in 2015) and taught comics-making at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival for the second year.

Under the cut, how I did with last year’s creative goals:

Read the rest of this entry  )


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)


Sun-Cutter: Page 54

Comments on the front page are temporarily disabled; I'm having trouble getting the linkage between the main page and the archives to work correctly. Basically, it's mismapped, and I can't get it to remap where I want it to; I did all the steps to fix it, and even tried re-uploading everything, and it isn't working because something, SOMEWHERE, in the Disqus servers has mapped the front page to every page in the archive with a custom Disqus ID number. I'm hoping that if I leave it shut off for awhile, whatever's going on at the Disqus end of things will remap the front page and then I can set up the pages next week and have them work correctly. Because they WERE working for awhile!

Anyway, you are still good to comment anywhere you see a comment link. It's just the front page where comments are temporarily shut down.

It's been four months since Sun-Cutter started updating again -- can you believe it? Technical blips aside, I'm really having fun with it so far, and looking forward to doing more with it in 2015!
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Xmas-colette-silang-snowman

(If this looks vaguely familiar, a wallpaper version of this was one of the Patreon rewards this month.)

Also, a new page was posted on Monday and I will get better about promptly linking to them in the new year!

If you are celebrating a winter holiday this month, I hope it's a lovely one. <3
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

For some the solstice is an important holiday (and may yours be lovely, if it is part of your faith!) but it tends to pass unremarked in the nonpagan world — unless you’re in the Arctic, where severe annual daylight changes make it impossible not to pay attention to the time of year when daylight hits its nadir and everything starts to get warm again.

Alaska is interesting in that regard because we belong to a larger culture that doesn’t have a tradition of noticing the solstices at all. The solstice, summer or winter, is not a thing in mainstream American culture. But this close to the Arctic Circle, it is definitely an important turning point in the year. Fairbanks has a summer solstice street fair and other events, and the winter one is marked by fireworks, which we went to last night.

My camera doesn’t take great night pictures, so I hedged my bets by resting it on my knee in lieu of a tripod and taking a lot of pictures (with the advantage that I could just enjoy the fireworks without worrying about framing shots). This of course resulted in a lot of fireworks that were mostly out of frame, but some of my pictures came out pretty neat!


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Er, a Kismet update happened. Which I completely forgot to post about. *shifty look*

http://www.kismetcity.com/suncutter/sc52.shtml

In other Kismet-related news, I've decided to add a forum to the website. This came about because I dug up some old comics pages, wanted to post them somewhere for people to look at -- and realized that I have no idea where to put them. On LJ? At the Tumblr, which is terrible for discussion? Feck. Also, I had wanted the comments under the pages to be a discussion zone, but that's not really happening so much. (Not for lack of trying on Rob's part! Thank you, Rob! *waves*)

So I decided that having a central Kismet discussion zone would be nice. It may end up languishing and having very little traffic, but at least it'll give me a place to put stuff, answer questions, and talk about the comic. I'll also link to interesting topics from here/Twitter/etc, as things come up, so you won't miss anything if you rarely check the forum.

At this point, I could use a tester or two to sign up for the forum and help me double-check that everything works. Can you start topics, edit your profiles, and do all the things you should be able to do on a forum? PhpBB has a "newly registered user" category with restricted access, but right now I cannot for the life of me figure out whether new users actually end up there or go into the regular user category (and I may just delete it). In any case, I could use some people to sign up and poke around! Feel free to start new topics anywhere you have access to. I already started a new topic in the Kismet forum just as a test, but the rest of the board is currently vacant ...

http://laylalawlor.com/forum/

ETA: Although, for some reason, laylalawlor.com is being intermittently difficult to access right now. (It just figures, when I'm trying to set up the forum, it'd do this.) The web host shows no problems and all my other sites load, so I have no idea what's going on. I'll put in a support ticket if it doesn't fix itself soon.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

A week before the solstice, this is what sunrise looks like in Fairbanks … at 12:30 p.m.

And this is also as close as the sun will get to our house today. That’s actually the shadow of the hill behind our house, being cast on the hill across the valley.

The trees on top of our hill. This is a little misleading as it’s not actually the sun — it’s diffuse sunlight behind clouds. (Those are also shadowed clouds above the hill in the top picture, not a blue sky.)

Our house, which is really turning into more of a compound now that we have the shop too, all hunkered down beneath the weird wild winter sky.


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Well, I guess I'm a little behind posting a notification, but Sun-Cutter page 51 is up!

I've also been a busy bee on the site updates! There is now an RSS feed and Disqus comments are now on the main front page as well as in the archives.

I'm also in the process of adding a forum to the site. Around here we party like it's 2002! \o/ No, seriously … what made me decide to do this, or at least to TRY this, was coming across some really old Kismet development art that I would like to share with people, and realizing that I had no idea where to post it so that it could be seen and discussed. LJ would probably work, but I don't know if it's the best place to get an active discussion going. And I like the idea of having some kind of central discussion area. The advantage to a forum is that anyone can start a topic and we can talk about things other than Kismet. It might just wither away, but I would like to give it a try, at least. (Unless someone has a better idea? Which I am quite open to! Kismet also has a presence on tumblr and on Facebook, but neither of those are particularly active … which is my fault, I know, and I want to work on developing both of those, but there is also something appealing about going old-school for awhile.)
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
This month's Patreon rewards are up! Two holiday wallpapers (sneak preview below) and a look at an upcoming new characters. (Yes, another one.) The Clay image is an older one, though it's never been a wallpaper before. The right-hand image is new, and in its non-wallpaper version, will be up on the website later in the month. I always used to do a yearly Christmas image back when I was working on Hunter's Moon, and I'm going to start doing that again.

wallpaper-previews

This is the last month of the introductory special, with the Patreon rewards being available to all backers; starting next month it'll be the usual tier structure, with the goodies being for the $5 & up backers. However, I plan to release the December rewards to everyone each year, as a "thank you" for supporting the comic, and the sneak preview stuff released throughout the month in the Patreon activity stream will still be available to everyone at the $1 level and above.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
There's a new interview at Sequential Tart up this week, in which I talk about Kismet and Patreon, among other things.

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