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As mentioned last week, I’m participating in the Next Big Thing blog hop, having been recruited/tagged in by Aundrea Singer, author of Black Hawk Tattoo. Next week, SL Huang will be answering these questions about her novel-in-progress.

What is the working title of your book?

The book is called Freebird. (Or, on the copyright page, Freebird: The Complete Collection. But the other is easier to type.) The protagonist is Karen Bird, nicknamed Freebird, hence the title!

Read the rest of this entry )

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini interview! Come back next week to check out SL Huang‘s answers to these questions, and don’t forget to follow the blog chain back to Aundrea Singer’s blog to check out some more authors’ responses.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

Reviews

Dec. 3rd, 2012 11:06 pm
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There was a great review of Freebird in yesterday’s News-Miner (our local paper) – you can read it here!

Lawlor spins out a slice-of-life tale of the minor mishaps and small triumphs that [protagonist] Karen experiences as she settles into life amid a collection of mostly lovable losers who are in Fox because they’re so cantankerous they can’t even hack it in Fairbanks proper. It isn’t a deep read, but it is a sweet account of a group of people with exceedingly strong and usually clashing personalities trying to find some semblance of tranquility despite their close proximity to one another as neighbors or family members.

Also, I think I forgot to link to this at the time, but SL Huang had a really fantastic rec/review of Freebird at her blog recently:

It can be hard to write flawed characters without losing the audience, but somehow all of the characters in Freebird manage to be human and still keep us rooting for them.  Or perhaps we root for them because they are so human. … They have all different views (politically, morally, and philosophically they’re all over the map) and all different relationships with each other (some hate each other, some love each other, some tolerate each other, and everything in between) and they’re still all people we like.  Three-dimensionality at its finest.

Full reviews at both links. Thank you very much to both reviewers!

I had two local book signings last week, at Gulliver’s and Forget-Me-Not Books, both of which went well! I sold some books and saw some friends, and had a lot of fun.

Today I’m feeling accomplished because I just finished a draft of a story for an anthology called Big Damn Heroines from Storm Moon Press (here’s their open anthology call page). The open call describes the anthology as “plus-sized women kicking ass”, and I really wanted to write something for it, so I’ve been working on that story over the last couple of weeks. (The rough draft clocks in at about 19,000 words, which is a leeeeetle longer than I was aiming for, but the maximum for the anthology is 20K, so I’m still under!) I also finished the rough draft of a 35K novella in November, which I’ve been calling the “lesbian werewolves in Alaska story”. It’s going to need a pretty major rewrite because the villain essentially comes out of nowhere 2/3 of the way through the story, so I need to figure out how to bring him in earlier, and some sort of plausible motivation other than (as it currently stands) apparently just being evil. So now I have both of those to rewrite, and I have my urban fantasy novel to edit and hopefully send out to agents in the next couple of months; I’m definitely keeping busy.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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The winner of the book drawing (via my oh-so-scientific method involving a list of participants and a set of RPG dice) is [personal profile] schneefink. Congratulations! And thank you to everyone else for your webcomic recommendations; I’ve been horrendously busy the last couple of weeks, but I am really looking forward to poking through these!

In other news, I was recently recruited to participate in a blog hop by Aundrea Singer, who was fishing for willing victims on her blog. *g* Typically, blog hops are a way for authors to introduce themselves to new readers by guest-blogging and/or linking to each other’s blogs. It’s really just a way of expanding your circle of possible readers beyond your own blog. The different ones I’ve seen have different rules: in some cases, authors will guest-blog at each other’s blogs; in other cases, everyone links to a big central list of participants.

In this case, it’s operating chain-letter style. Aundrea put up a post looking for other authors on her friendslist who would like to answer a set of questions (it’s the same questions for everyone). She answered the questions here, for her upcoming novel Black Hawk Tattoo from Dreamspinner Press. I will be writing up my own answers for my current/upcoming project (Freebird, naturally!). For you creative people out there, would any of you like to play too? It can be for a book or short story or webcomic, in any genre — whatever you have that’s new and current. Just leave me a comment saying that you would like to participate, and agree to post your answers on Dec. 12 if possible (I will be posting mine on the 5th — it’s supposed to be a week apart) and seek other participants via your blog, as I’m doing here. Ideally the “rule” is that you’re supposed to find five other people to play, but less than five (or none!) is okay too. And I’ll link to you, and you’ll link back to me.

… I have to admit that I kinda feel weird about the slightly chain-letter-esque aspect of all of this, but it’s really just in the interests of spreading the word to new readers, and we authors can never resist doing that! This can be for any project in any genre — whatever you have that’s current, upcoming, or an unpublished work in progress. (If you write all-ages material, it’s probably good for you to know that many of the early & current participants in this blog hop are writers of sexually explicit romance who may have NSFW content on their websites.)

Hopefully I’ve explained that well enough; it took a couple times of Aundrea explaining it to me before I felt like I got it. (And hopefully I’m doing this right!) Sarah Madison has a probably much more lucid explanation posted here.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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I’ll be at Gulliver’s Books tonight from 7-9 p.m.! I’m giving a short talk at 7 p.m. about the book, and then signing afterwards.

On Saturday from 2-4, I have another signing at Forget-Me-Not books (the bookstore division of the Literacy Council).

And you can still sign up to win a free book until midnight; I will choose a winner tomorrow!

In other news, it’s -20 and doesn’t seem to be warming up today. WOE. I did stop by the optician to get a long-overdue glasses adjustment, so I no longer look like I ran face-first into a telephone pole.

In yet other news, if you enjoy clever takes on fairy tales, I really can’t recommend the show Once Upon a Time highly enough! I just marathoned the first season this past week while I was painting and working on holiday gifts, and it’s wonderful.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Happy Thanksgiving, to those who celebrate. (Above: the shelf above my desk, all decked out in fire hazard fall regalia.)

In other news — FREE Freebird!

In honor of my upcoming week of book signings (and the holiday season), I’m giving away a signed copy of Freebird! I’d like to find more webcomics to read, so enter to win by posting a comment below, recommending a webcomic to me. Give me a link to it, and tell me briefly why you like it. I greatly prefer narrative comics (as opposed to single-strip gag comics), but regardless, if you think it’s cool and awesome, tell me about it — the more obscure the better. Just one per person, please! Pick your favorite. :D

If you don’t read webcomics or can’t think of one you’d like to recommend, you can still enter by recommending me a book you liked — again, the more obscure the better, to increase the chances that it’ll be something new to me.

And if you really can’t think of anything to recommend, just leave me a comment and I’ll enter you anyway. :)

ALSO! To be absolutely shameless about the self-promotion aspect of this, if you mention this contest on your own blog, LJ, Facebook page, etc, I’ll give you two slots in my random number table instead of just one. Twice the chance to win! (Just let me know that you did it, in order to get credit.)

Comments stay open ’til Wednesday night, Nov. 28 and I’ll randomly choose a winner on the 29th. (It doesn’t matter if you recommend something I already know about or didn’t like. You’re still in the contest. ;) )

And hey, if you see someone in the comments recommending something you like, feel free to chat about it!

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Wolfen Moondaughter interviewed me for Sequential Tart this month. Check it out! I talk about Freebird, Kismet, the future of Raven’s Children, and my own background in comics. Basically you can’t shut me up. *g* And Wolfen had some great questions — thank you very much for the interview, Wolfen!

And if you’re coming here from the interview, or have managed to miss my shameless shilling over the last few weeks, the book can be purchased here, and you can read most of it online for free.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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For those of you in Fairbanks, there are several places around town where I’m going to be signing and selling books in the next few weeks. It’s almost like a book tour! A very small tour. In one town. Yep.

Sat. & Sun, Nov. 24 & 25 – Fox Lions Club Holiday Bazaar – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
This is a small local bazaar … and I do mean local; it’s at the Fox Lions Community Center, which is only a mile up the highway from me. I’ll have a table on both Saturday and Sunday.

Wed, Nov. 28 – Gulliver’s Books – 7-9 p.m.
In addition to signing books, I will also be giving a short talk, probably something to do with comics. (Yeah, I really need to figure that part out.) The talk will be upstairs in the cafe.

Sat, Dec. 1 – Forget-Me-Not Books – 2-4 p.m.
Forget-Me-Not is the used bookstore attached to the Literacy Council, so a portion of proceeds will be going to support the Literacy Council. There is a really groovy flyer.

There’s also a completely insane part of me that’s thinking about calling the McKinley Holiday Bazaar people tomorrow and seeing if it’s possible to get table space on Saturday. Advantage: I’d probably have a lot of fun. Disadvantage: it’s in Denali Park, which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from here (each way). And I have no idea if I’d actually manage to sell any books, which would make it a really silly way to spend my Saturday if I don’t sell a thing.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Since the Freebird book is now available from Amazon and local stores (and I’ll have it on my website soon) … this is your official discussion post! Feel free to tell me your thoughts, ask me questions, or talk about anything at all Freebird-related! Want to know some of the specific differences between the website content and the book? Have a question about Fairbanks as depicted in the book? Talk to me! (And to each other.) All spoilers are OK.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Freebird comic of the day, brought to mind by this week’s cold snap + vividly clear, beautiful stargazing weather. (Obligatory shill: Freebird can be purchased here, and maybe EVENTUALLY it will have the “look inside the book” option — I’ve uploaded the files for that, so … *crosses fingers*)

I had the bright idea today of doing a “winter holiday gift box” option for Freebird, containing the book and some touristy Alaska swag, like keychains and mini Alaska flags … those cheap little things that local gift shops sell. Maybe a little piece of original art in each one. And then wrap it up nicely in holiday paper. Would people buy that? I guess that if I’m going to do it for this Christmas, I had better get right on it.

In other news, apparently an election happened. I suppose that it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me just exactly which way my general thoughts are trending on the way that things went nationally (*thumbs up*) or locally (*oh noes*). I am delighted beyond belief that marriage equality passed by popular vote in three states (and another one voted down a discriminatory amendment). And now I am looking forward to seeing how the next four years goes, and meanwhile, I’m infinitely glad to have the uncertainty behind us — not to mention all the political ads!

I’ve been reading election post-mortem posts and articles with interest, but the only one I’m going to link to (at the moment, anyway) is for reasons having nothing to do with the election: John Scalzi’s post Meanwhile in Darke County is currently hosting an absolutely fascinating discussion in its comments, starting about halfway down, on pre-industrial disease epidemiology, rural-urban migrations and birth control via infanticide. (Uh, well, I’m a total history geek, so it’s interesting to me!)

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Happy Halloween, everyone! I carved my last two home-grown pumpkins and put one of them out in the snow after dark, with a candle inside. It looks AWESOME. I can see why jack’o'lanterns would have been such a cool thing in the days before electric lights and TV. Doesn’t photograph worth a damn, though.

In book news, the Freebird book is now carried by Gulliver’s Books (our awesome local independent bookstore) as well as The Comic Shop. (It may not be on shelves at Gulliver’s quite yet, but will be in the next day or two!) I also have some book signings scheduled:

Sat, Nov. 17 – Gulliver’s Books (this date is tentative, and may change)
Sat, Dec. 1 – Forget-Me-Not Books/Literacy Council of Alaska

I will definitely be doing a signing for The Comic Shop, but don’t have a date for that yet; I’ll announce it when I know more!

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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LOOK LOOK LOOK! I have a BOOK!

All the info: The book is 8.25×6″, 152 pages, and retails for $12 US. It collects all of the Freebird strips from 2006-2008, the ones that ran in the now-defunct Fairbanks entertainment paper fbx square plus the online ones that I did after square died. There are also new strips (bringing the story to the conclusion that it was originally supposed to have) and two backup stories, plus extra sketches and previously unseen strips from the development process.

How to sample: You can read nearly all of the story online, starting here — although the book contains about 30 pages of newly drawn strips that aren’t online, plus all the backup stuff.

How to buy:

  • You can buy it from Amazon.com. If you’re in Europe, you can get it from your local Amazon in your local currency — I’ve checked Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.de, and both of them have it! (Since I’ve never done this before, for those of you who are in the UK and continental Europe, could you tell me if the price seems really wrong to you? I just based it on the US price — it’s a more or less straight currency conversion from the US price into UK pounds and euros, so you pay just what you would if you bought it in the US. But I have no idea what “common” book prices are like in those currencies.)
  • You can also buy it from my estore on CreateSpace. Amazon still handles payment processing and order fulfillment, but (fair warning) it’ll be more of a hassle for you than buying it from Amazon’s main site, because you’ll have to create a CreateSpace account (if you don’t already have one), can’t get Supersaver shipping, etc. The advantage to me is that I get a significantly higher percentage on sales through the estore than I do through Amazon, but frankly, I am absolutely delighted and flattered if anyone wants to buy my book, and you are definitely encouraged to do it wherever and however is easiest and best for you!

These books will be available locally in Fairbanks at The Comic Shop very soon (possibly even today; I’ve been severely hampered this week by Lack of Functional Automobile or they would be there already!) and subsequently in every other local bookstore that I can convince to carry them. :D ETA: They are available in The Comic Shop now!

At this point I don’t have anything set up for people to buy the books directly from me, aside from catching me locally at a book signing. (There will be book signings, but I don’t have dates/venues yet — more information forthcoming soon!) I did my own book shipping in my last self-publishing venture, but honestly, living in Alaska, so much of my profit is eaten up by shipping costs that it’s just about as cost-effective for me to sell them through Amazon. On the other hand, I know how some people feel about Amazon (I am entirely sympathetic, believe me!) so I’m hoping to have more non-Amazon options available for you soon.

Questions? Please ask! I will have a reaction/discussion post for the book up soon.

In conclusion: BOOK! \o/

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Status of the me:

I’m going on vacation! \o/ … to visit my sister in Ithaca, New York, from Oct. 1-24. So I will be kind of intermittently available; I have no doubt I’ll still be online quite a bit, but I will probably be slow (slower than usual, I mean) responding to comments, emails and whatnot.

State of the books:

I have ordered proof copies of the Freebird book. I’m on track to have copies available the first week in November. Sadly, I’ve missed the deadlines for the local holiday bazaars (… fail, self, fail). But unless something horrible happens with CreateSpace, I should have it available in a few local stores and online by November. Sequential Tart interviewed me for their November issue; I will link to the interview when it’s up!

I’ve also been working on the Hunter’s Moon book, and have realized there is a lot less prepwork to do than I’d thought. I actually typeset it back in 2008 … so really, it’s just a lot of miscellaneous work to update those old pages and make sure they aren’t riddled with inaccuracies. I’ve done updates and corrections on a number of pages since then (fixing typos, changing titles …), and I need to find a bit more filler and proof all the text to make sure there are no references to parts of my website that no longer exist. I still don’t know for certain what I’m putting on the cover, either. But it’s not like I’m facing a blank 360-page document. I think I’m going to shoot for a February or March release date; that’ll let me get through the holidays and then focus on it in 2013.

Now if I could just figure out why I can’t seem to draw pages, despite knowing (at least in general) what I want to put on them. Is there such a thing as artist’s block?

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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I sent out a bunch of short stories at the end of August, which are now trickling back in with little rejection notices attached. Pfoo.

It’s funny; I alternate between two modes when it comes to writing: “I HAVE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD”, and “Why am I doing this again, what’s the point, blah …” Because I really DO have the best job in the world! I know that I am incredibly, incredibly lucky right now to be able to stay home and write all the time. I have a supportive spouse with a good job, and we don’t have kids and aren’t carrying a load of debt, and that makes me unbelievably fortunate. But on the flip side, this is my job now, and sometimes I struggle with the feeling that I’m drowning in a sea of rejection notices and that I’m either not actually good enough at it to make money this way, or just not commercial enough to manage to sell anything. Wah wah, etc.

Of course, there’s always self-publishing. Which brings me to the actual, practical reason why I’m making this post! I’m finishing up the final copy-editing on the Freebird book, and I’m trying to figure out what to charge for it. I have a pretty good feeling for the going retail prices for books of typical size and shape, but this isn’t a typical size and shape. It’s going to be 8.5×11″ and 80 pages. I had initially roughed it out to be 144 pages and comic-strip-shaped (basically, 9×6″ or whatever the closest equivalent was that I could get printed). But it turns out that most POD printers either don’t handle landscape-shaped books, or charge a lot more for them. (Because irony loves me, I didn’t investigate CreateSpace until typesetting the whole book — and come to find out, you actually can do economical landscape-shaped books on CreateSpace. Except now that I’ve got the whole thing typeset at 8.5×11, I kinda like it that way …)

Anyway, my question is – what’s a fair price for an 80-page, 8.5×11″ book? I was initially thinking $10, but for selling it wholesale, I’d be scraping the edge of my profit margin. It really would make better economic sense to charge $12. But is $12 too much for a book that’s so thin? It’s got all the same content as the 144-page book (and I think I’d have no problem charging $12 or even $14 for that) but I’m worried that it’ll look overpriced.

Or should I go back to my original plan and reset the book at the smaller-but-thicker size, so that it looks like a better value for the money?

What do you think?

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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Things have been busy around here on the self-publishing front lately. I can finally say with certainty that there is going to be a Freebird book! In fact – soon! There was a years-long delay involving a publishing deal that wasn’t, but ultimately, aside from being later with the book than I would have hoped, there’s no harm, no foul — I never signed away any rights and I’m still on excellent terms with everyone involved, but now I’ve pulled out completely and I’m all set to self-publish. I’ve spent the last week typesetting files and getting price quotes, and barring circumstances unforeseen, I plan to have the book out in November (using POD through Amazon’s CreateSpace), for the holiday shopping season. Unfortunately I am traveling for most of October — well, it’s not unfortunate at all, really, because I’m greatly looking forward to the vacation, but it’s making it difficult to figure out exactly when the book will be available. Right now I’m aiming for early to mid November; at the very least it will be available by mid-November from Amazon, from me, and (hopefully) from stores in Fairbanks. I’m going to try to do a couple of holiday bazaars and book signings, but this is all quite tentative since I just today worked out a rough publication schedule/plan and haven’t started contacting anyone yet.

The book will be 80 pages, 8.5×11″, with about 30 pages of new (i.e. not online) strips and bonus material. Retail price will be either $10 or $12; that’s another thing I’m still working out. (Currently leaning towards $10, depending on how my cost calculations come out.) I’ll keep you guys posted here, of course.

And here’s the cover:

ETA: And after the Freebird book will be the Kismet: Hunter’s Moon book … at long last! I’m doing Freebird first because the timing is just too good to pass up — Freebird is a book that I think might work very well as a holiday gift (plus I think it’ll sell well locally). So Hunter’s Moon will be a project for early 2013. But at long last, it’s gonna happen.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.

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