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changing parameters

My first fiction “sale” was to a small press with well-meaning but ignorant staff who screwed me over (entirely by accident, i am sure, but still annoying). David Levine, whose beard, work, and career all have earned my respect, was kind enough to look at that contract for me when i received it and point out why he wouldn’t personally sign it.

I signed it anyway, regretted it, and have subsequently taken his advice ever since: don’t go to underground MMA death matches if you don’t know where the emergency exits are, if you’re going to sell your body get the money first, and do not sign away your first publishing rights for anything less than professional rates as outlined by the SFWA.*

cartoon: David D Levine breaking down a door

A mutual friend and writer, the late Jay Lake, disagreed some–he advised me to think of pay as only one of the factors in choosing magazines to which i should submit fiction. He had a system, which he described as “the three Ps.” His concerns were primarily Payment (how much cold hard cash are you going to get for the piece), Publicity (how big is the publication’s readership, how often are they reviewed, etc.) and Prestige (how often does the publication yield work that ends up in Best Ofs or work that wins awards).

cartoon: Jay Lake meditating to create the three Ps

I combined Lake & Levine’s advice into a system that yielded me sales in the $200 – $500 range, inclusion in one Best Of, and consistent chances for high-profile reviewers to shit on my work. hahaha I don’t sell often, but my bibliography still looks pretty good. After i made those rules, i only broke them once, for love. Ideomancer was a fantastic, small online magazine that consistently published quality stories. I’m still proud of “Rendered Down” and often include the sale in my cover letters.


In “Rendered Down,” a woman finds a male selkie.

Lately, i’ve been thinking about that love. I want to add another P to Lake’s advice, a P for my own personal parameters: Passion.

I realized i have been preventing myself from attempting publication in interesting magazines or anthologies if they don’t fit my formula. Because i read submissions for, i try to read lots of other short stories, to keep current with what’s being published elsewhere. For example, i recently discovered Vitality, which doesn’t pay pro rates but has a mission statement that speaks to me.

L.A. Little is nearly finished compiling an anthology called “SF Outliers,” which is working on the high-risk indie model of “no one gets advances, but everyone gets royalties.” Not usually my thing. You know what though? I love that he has committed to sending personal responses for every story. I can’t do that at; our volume is astronomically prohibitive. But i believe it’s important, so i try to be personal when i can. While being a professional writer requires a thick skin, not everyone starts out with it–some people have to grow it. Little’s dedication to the editor-writer relationship made me smile.

So i sent the SF Outliers anthology my best eligible work, with no guaranteed return. I wouldn’t do that for every indie anthology that pops up, but if i have eligible work lying around and they’re committing to something i personally believe is worthwhile? Hell yeah.

potential cover for SF Outliers

If i never see a dime, whatever. Passion is now my fourth P, and while i am sad i can’t discuss my modification to Lake’s formula with the man himself, i have a feeling he would approve of my motivation even if he found fault with the execution. Lake was the first professional to take a personal interest in my work. He consistently encouraged me as a new writer, and i like to promote that behavior whenever i can. I’ll be paying forward his generosity, patience, and kindness for my entire life, however long it may be.


* These may not all be advice from David, but he can’t prove otherwise.


drawing: climber Natalie Duran Natalie Duran (from a photo–not sure who took it)

drawing: climber, from photo by Cody DuncanAn unknown (to me) climber, from a photo by Cody Duncan

I’m trying to remember to practice more dynamic poses/perspective/etc. because those often are my favorite things to look at, and i still nearly always default to easier positions and viewpoint angles.

#inktober 01 – 07

At the last minute, i decided to participate in #inktober. (And i dragged my friend into it with me, so check hers out, too!) If you’re not aware, #inktober is a month-long artist meme in which we post one inked drawing each day of October. I’ll post them daily on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter, but i’ll do a week’s-end roundup here on my blog on October 14th, 21st, and 31st.

Since i don’t have a lot of storage space in my current pad, i’m trying to remember to offer my art for sale more often. So every one of my #inktober originals will be available for $10USD (international orders are okay). I’ll update this entry daily with a master list of the first week’s drawings, their status, and how to claim them.


drawing: skull sunk in sand with two crabs nearby“Those Who Love The Sea”
(#inktober 01)
brush + ink
~5″ x 6″
$10 USD
AVAILABLE – e-mail to claim



drawing: a hammerhead shark with a dog toy in her mouth“Pet Shark”
(#inktober 02)
brush + ink, Faber Castell Pitt pen
~6″ x 7″




drawing: anglerfish with a poppy growing from its face“Let Us Follow”
(#inktober 03)
FW ink, Kuretake sumi pen, Signo white & gouache
~5″ x 7″
$10 USD
AVAILABLE – e-mail to claim



drawing: seahorse in a kelp bed, black & gold“Kelp King”
(#inktober 04)
Kuretake sumi pen, gold mica calligraphy ink
~5″ x 7″
$10 USD
AVAILABLE – e-mail to claim


[I missed Inktober the 5th! Oops! I was late with the 6th & 7th because Instagram kept freezing, but they're here:]


drawing: orca breaching against a splashy background“Thrash”
(#inktober 06)
FW ink, calligraphy ink
~5″ x 7″
$10 USD
AVAILABLE – e-mail to claim



drawing: black octopus on purple background“Thrash”
(#inktober 07)
FW ink, calligraphy ink
~5″ x 7″
$10 USD
AVAILABLE – e-mail to claim

thanks for the free envelopes, asshole

I don’t know why it’s even legal for a credit card company to send you a bunch of wasted dead-ass trees you didn’t ask for and definitely won’t use, especially when it’s a security risk for identity theft.

I would be angrier if it wasn’t for this: I haven’t bought an envelope in over thirteen years.

photo: me painting over pre-printed envelopes with gouache
photo: me painting over pre-printed envelopes with gouache
photo: me painting over pre-printed envelopes with gouache

he ate it >:|

On my walk with Briar the other day, i found some beautiful California poppies in a parking lot.

photo: a flower i found on a walk

I picked one, and when we got back, i put it in a little tiny vase with some water, because i planned on drawing it later. Then i made myself lunch, which pissed off Prince Hanzo the Four-Legged Center of the Known Universe, who stomped his feet and complained that he hadn’t had his walk yet and why did she get to go first (in dog language, which sounds like a drunk Wookie angrily singing church hymns).

Then i heard him making some gulping, snarfling noises. And i turned around and found this:

photo: my guilty pit bull Hanzo, with the remains of my flower

So since i apparently don’t have a flower to draw any more, here’s what i drew instead:

drawing: my flower-eating pit bull Hanzo with a stupid face and stink lines and flies, so there

prank war (spoiler: i lose)

The first thing you have to know is: my boss Alan is awesome. He’s kind, courteous, funny, helpful, generous, knows how to build things, knows how to art things, and his cooking is divine. He carefully marks the store prices so that we’re making enough to run the shop, but helping out the customer the most we can. (My last job? They would increase the price until sales started to decline, then get frustrated with the employees for not pushing the product hard enough. Assholes.)

Just before this story happened, Alan even let me order a retail display unit at nothing but cost so i could organize my Copic markers at home (and therefore they would stop rolling off the desk and getting crunched up by a certain glistening, majestic white pit bull who WILL REMAIN ANONYMOUS).

photo: my pit bull Hanzo licking his dumb nose

Anyway, like all people i love, i constantly give Alan a hard time.

So one night when he’s leaving before me, he points to this Plexiglas shelving unit in the hall and warns me that it’s there, since the unit is transparent and the hall is kind of dark, and he’s worried i might bump into it. And then because i stare at him with the “You’re a hoarder” face like i always do when he brings another piece of furniture into the store, he says, “I’m going to put it up in my office tomorrow, as an organizer. So don’t you know, run into it or mess with it or anything.”

The second he’s out the front door, i grab his precious Plexiglas shelving unit and i lug it through the labyrinthine back corridors of the store and hide it where not even the devil himself would think to look. And then i get a pad of paper and a Sharpie and a roll of tape.


No Keys, or, AAAAUUUGGHHHF*&@#%F&G

For those of you who somehow managed to escape the constant self-promotion of my comic, here’s the run-down: I’ve been maintaining a somewhat-weekly-but-more-often-biweekly-with-catchup-strips webcomic called No Keys, about four friends looking for a place to live and being horrified by each prospect’s supernaturally inhospitable conditions. It’s funded through Patreon, but i’ve failed to deliver some of the promised rewards.

My life was pretty torn up for awhile, the whole reason for making the comic in the first place, but after a few months i settled in to my new digs, and began problem-solving the stuff that wasn’t working. Here are my results:

  1. I now have a computer desk for my laptop & scanner on one wall, and an art desk with accessible supplies + good lighting on the other wall. (I could also use a reliable desktop computer, but i’m still saving for that, so i’ll get there…)photo: my art desk
  2. I decided on solid numerical deadlines for my recurring projects, so i can budget time for them instead of pushing them back because other things with numeric deadlines appear more urgent. These are urgent!photo: my calendar, with deadlines inked in
  3. I was having trouble keeping up, but i took another day off of my retail job (partly for this, partly for other reasons) which is going to give me the time i needed. I’m moving updates to Thursday evenings after i get home from the B.S. of Comics, so if i need to finish pages, i can do it there. I’m currently about one month behind, so to keep my catch-up manageable, you’ll receive the backlog as bonus pages sprinkled over the next two months of updates. Since i had some longer plot arcs planned, that works out well.
  4. From now on, a new wallpaper will go up on the last day of the month. (One of the things that was preventing me is that very few of the houses in the comic turned out to be impressive as wallpapers… To help propel progress, i’m going to allow myself to get silly and do historical sites, fan art, and other sites not featured in the comic for these.)photo: wallpaper (work in progress)
  5. I’ve only sent out a handful of postcards. Tuesday is now mail day, where i go to the post office No Matter What, so the first Tuesday after my Patreon check clears, the postcards go in the mail. (If you haven’t gotten all yours yet, i will catch up on the backlog!)photo: my art-and-writing-related mail all ready to go!
  6. I’m going to actually mention these things in the comic posts, and if it’s content that doesn’t go behind the paywall it’ll go up on this blog, Tumblr, Instagram, DeviantArt, etc. This gives me a broader accountability, if people are tracking this stuff on my social media. (Only one of you has complained! Is my mom threatening the rest of you to keep silent or something?! I understand  if you’re askeer’d o’ her. The woman has like, biker tattoos.)

I’m sorry I failed. D: I have a great track record at doing okay on my own for a large, self-managed project, but an equally solid record of finding a way to screw up part of it, too. I hope you’ve at least been enjoying the comic so far. Thank you for being patient with me sorting out my shenanigans. I’m pretty confident that taking that extra day off of work and declaring a mandatory mail day will be enough to facilitate increased productivity. Crap, i sound like a corporate consultant or something. THESE CHANGES WILL DRIVE PROACTIVE BEHAVIOR HURR HURR SYNCHRONICITY BLARGH SEXY PARADIGMS etc.

I have one other setback at the moment: my failing technology. There’s one sleeping (not dead, sleeping) computer waiting for parts to arrive, and a lightbox that may need to go back to the manufacturer. My resolution is that the changes outlined in this post take place October 1st, when my tech should be back in order. (I had to use MS Paint to format/watermark these photos. PAINT, Y’ALL.)



photo: my sweet pit bulls cuddling each other!

You can juuust barely see one of my elderly cats sleeping on the other corner of the bed.

Romance & bugs

So back in June (shut up, i haven’t had time to post anything in a timely manner) my friends Jess and Matt got hitched. They’re rock climbers, so they did it on a goddamned rock that we all had to climb onto. Luckily, it was a great-grandma climb, and it was also one of the most beautiful weddings i’ve ever attended.

Jess and Matt make watercolor paint, and they make it by hand. If you don’t know how that works, or if you like watercolor, don’t bother with my blog and instead click your way to Greenleaf & Blueberry. Their paint is so good it’s the reason Jess is no longer my co-worker–she quit her day job to keep up with demand!

But if you do want to see me and Seamus hiking and the stuff we found, then keep reading first. But THEN go to Greenleaf & Blueberry.

photo: Seamus standing on a rock like an old west badass

Seamus insisted on dressing like the wild west since the wedding was in the wilderness. Also, he doesn’t often get a chance to wear his dad’s hat. <3


Hanzo had his 6th birthay party yesterday!

photo: my pit bull Hanzo greeting a balloon

Hanzo politely greeting a balloon that he was SUPPOSED TO MURDER.

For the past 5.5 years, any time i have given Hanzo a balloon, he has happily destroyed it with his poky little claws and bitey little teeth. If given a choice between a cardboard box, a stuffed animal, and a balloon, i’d bet money he’d pick the last one first.

photo: happy pit bull Hanzo on his way to his birthday party

He noticed there was a party on the other side of the field and was like WHY ARE WE STOPPING LET’S GET THERE NAO

So i got a bunch of people (and their kids) to blow up a buttload of balloons on his (approximate) birthday and come to this big grassy field and release their share, whereupon we expected that Hanzo would destroy the surfeit of inflated gifts in a fit of balloon-chasy glee.

photo: Seamus unloading the balloons from the car

Briar is only too happy to help Seamus unload balloons for Hanzo’s party.

Only… many of the balloons started to pop as soon as they hit the dry grass, and perhaps thinking this meant they were full of fireworks (which he doesn’t like nearly as much), Hanzo ran away from the others.

photo: Hanzo running away from a balloon gift

Hanzo dashing away in terror from Nupper’s gift.

Fortunately, he still had tons of fun… i think he knew the party was for him, even if he didn’t get the balloon thing, and he got to see other dogs and eat lots of sneaked chips and fruit and pizza crusts that he shouldn’t eat (which i guess is good, because one of the guests accidentally threw away his dinner, haha. Don’t worry, i gave him a second, smaller dinner to make up for it).

photo: Hanzo eating watermelon

At least his historical love of human food he’s not supposed to have hasn’t disappeared.

And like a little stripey superhero, Briar was there to make sure the humans were not disappointed for spending hours blowing up balloons, because she was happy to pop them for our amusement, and then to chase her ball while the little kids threw it.

I haven’t thrown a party in…years? And it reminded me why i don’t, haha. I slept for fifteen hours afterward and i could have slept more if i didn’t remember i owed some graphic design. I had a great time, though, and so did the dogs! Thanks so much to the people who wasted all their oxygen on balloons, because he was pretty happy to see them (and their food) even if he didn’t much care about the presents <3 And Briar was all about them balloons:

photo: my pit mix Briar, gazing longingly at a balloon

LATEX MURDER IN HER EYES (the way Hanzo was supposed to have)

(Hanzo and Briar slept even longer than i did, so also thanks to everyone’s children for tiring them out so i could get some work done! haha)