Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Frog Supporting Tapirs Reaches a Major Milestone

Well, it finally happened. My etsy shop, which just happens to have the same name as this blog, had its 500th sale. The magic item was a nudibranch cat toy which I am happy to report went to a very good home. Those 500 handmade goodies have also allowed me to donate almost $700 to the Tapir Preservation Fund thus far, with 20% of every sale contributing to tapir conservation.

What does this mean to you? Well, how about free stuff? Yes, I'm talking giveaway time!

Here's what you could win:

A tiny tapir!
And a of course a frog:

and I'll throw in a nudibranch, just so they don't get lonely:
These guys are usually cat toys, but I know that not everyone has feline companions. Besides, some felines don't even like cat toys... So, you get to choose. If you win you can have them stuffed with organic catnip OR lavender.

How to enter? Just leave a comment with either "Lavender" or "Catnip". And a way to contact you, please. If you want to read some of my writing (links are on the sidebar) and tell me how great I am, feel free. If you want to browse my etsy shop and make a purchase, by all means do so. But none of that is necessary since I'll be using a random number generator to pick a winner next Sunday (that's Sunday, December 5th, 2011). Good luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What I've Learned From 6 Months of Freelance Work

This is exactly what freelance anxiety feels like.
Or it might be a photo of a baby seriema from a German newspaper.

It doesn't seem possible, but I've been working as a freelance writer for six months now. That's half a year, folks! Back in May, when I quit my day job, it felt like I was jumping into an abyss. What would the future hold? Could I find enough work? Well, so far so good. Which doesn't mean that working without the relative safety of a steady paycheck isn't continually terrifying. But it does mean that I've learned a couple of things. Maybe you're contemplating jumping into the abyss too? If so, here are some things to consider:

1. Fear is the mind-killer.
Yeah, I know. A quote from Dune. How unoriginal. But here's the thing: in this case it's true. There are ups and downs in any job. Some days you feel like a genius for solving some problem, sometimes you feel like an idiot for screwing up something simple. And some mistakes are epic. But no matter what, chances are you're used to working with people, getting daily feedback from your boss and coworkers, and knowing that you couldn't have screwed up too badly if you come to work in the morning and still have a job. When you work from home none of that's true. Oh, you may get feedback from your editor or your cowriter, but nothing like the feedback loop you find at any "normal" job. It's easy to go through a rough patch, become convinced that you're a horrible fraud, and stop working. Don't let that happen. Instead, let the fear pass over you and through you. When it is gone only you (and the work you cranked out) will remain. And if you start with a Dune quote, you damn well better end with one.

2. Remember to invoice.
It's possible that this only applies to me. In fact, it's probable. But when I finish a project I often feel like it's done. Wrong! Getting paid is really, really important if you want to pay the rent. Don't expect your editor to chase you down and remind you either, because chances are the department that signs the checks is completely separate from the one that tells you how wonderful your final draft is. Plus, many places only pay once a month so missing the invoice cutoff might leave you living off of savings for longer than you'd like.

3. Tell the truth, but don't break their hearts.
When you agree to take on a job part of the deal is doing the work by the deadline. That's a given. But sometimes bad stuff happens and you know for a fact that you're going to miss it. Personally, I hate to miss deadlines. Doing so makes me feel like the photo above. It also leads to the feedback loop mentioned in #1. So, what to do? The best policy is honesty. Tell your editor, and give them a date that they can expect the work by. Talk to them about how to mitigate the damage. But don't give them a long, sad excuse. Even if the excuse is true and really, really sad. 

Here's how it should work: you say "I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like I'll be done on Friday. I can have everything to you on Tuesday though, if that's alright". They say: "That's cutting it close, but we can make it work. Although getting it in Monday would be better". You say: "Okay". Or work out what will work. But don't make them feel guilty. You're providing a service and it's up to you to get everything done. Editors are busy people. Don't make them too sad to do their jobs. And don't flood them with extraneous details.

4. Leave the house occasionally
This one's all about balance. Now that my husband and I both work from home it's very tempting to  simply never go out into the world. There are people out there, and traffic, and other things that interfere with getting a lot of work done. If you find that you're counting days instead of hours since you've gone farther than your driveway, you may want to schedule in some free time for yourself.

5. Learn how to say no, or at least how to say "when my schedule opens up"
There are countless ways to fill up your time doing favors for other people. Many of these people are well-meaning, they just don't understand that "work from home" doesn't mean "unemployed and looking for something to do". It's okay to tell them that you can't do a project, meet them for lunch, pick up their dry cleaning, whatever the case may be. Why? Because you're working. Even if you aren't on deadline, even if you are working on a creator owned property, you're still working. If you let other people forget that you run the risk of forgetting it yourself. 

So there you have it, my five top tips, culled from a whopping six months of experience. Now, back to work!

Monday, November 14, 2011

E is for Equus Bipes - Alphabeast!

Every Monday I am fascinated by the creatures being drawn for Alpahbeasts, a weekly roundup of fictional critters from A to Z. This week is "E", so I decided to jump in and draw equus bipes, the "horse of two feet". This creature was said to be half horse, half fish... But was probably just a walrus, sea lion, or other marine mammal half-glimpsed by some tired ancient Greek sailor. 

Anyway, the rules explicitly state that "no one cares weather you 'can't draw' or you're Gustave Dore". So I suppose drawing like a preteen girl is okay. As a bonus, everyone reading this now knows why I stick to writing and needlecraft.

But seriously, check out the rest of the Alphabeasts. After seeing mine the cool beasties there will look even better.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Origami Day!

Supposedly today is National Origami Day. So, I give you origami insects! 
One disclosure: I know almost nothing about the craft of origami, so some of these may be kirigami. 

Unlike origami, the practice of kirigami allows for some small cuts to me made in the sheets of paper. 
All of these are from a site called Fun Time, by an artist named Taketori. Enjoy!
I'd include instructions on folding your own insect out of a sheet of paper but I've always been hopeless at making so much as a crane. Happy Origami Day to those of you who are more skilled than I!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Very Late NYCC Wrap-Up

Kevin Church makes us look good
Yeah, it seems like ages ago now, but we really were at New York Comicon last month. And let me say, that show is crazy. Completely, totally, unbelievably nuts.

At least that was my impression based on the tiny bit I was able to see. Gabriel and I held down our corner of Artists Alley for all four days and rarely ventured away from it. When we did, we were met by CROWDS. And those crowds were BIG. And INTENSE. So we took the path of least resistance and waited until the surging sea of humanity washed people up at our table instead.

Museum done right
For once we planned ahead and were able to spend almost the whole week in the city. We did a whirlwind tour of the Met (still odd for me to visit since I used to work there), MOMA (where we were happy to find a fabulous de Kooning show - thanks for the tip, Linda!) and the AMNH (one of my favorite spots in the known universe). We also walked and walked and walked, as the sky threatened rain and I basked in the humidity. We even rented an apartment in Chelsea for the week so it was almost like living there again. Except for the fact that all the places that we used to fear to tread even during the day now host Whole Foods and Starbucks every few blocks.

Giant kitty!
The show itself was a lot bigger than it was the last time I attended, two years ago. Gabriel went last year by himself, and I honestly don't know how he did it. He was busy doing sketches the entire time, virtually without pause. Happily, we still managed to see tons of our favorite people over the course of the weekend. We had a lovely time at the iFanboy party (held in a dungeon bar in Alphabet City, yet another place we might have hesitated to go back in the day) despite the fact that jet lag led us to believe that it was only a bit after midnight when we left... At 3:30 am. But what's a con without a bit of sleep deprivation? Tons of people stopped by our table to talk about Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, and more than a few to talk about The Liar. All in all it was a terrific end to our con schedule for the year. So much so that I think it's taken me this long to recover!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday featuring Cooper Momentarily Interested in a Comic

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes is Here!

I don't know where October went, but November is here and that means issue one of our four issue miniseries Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes is on sale at your local comic book shop!

iFanboy calls it "science fiction at its smartest"and gives it 5 out of 5 stars. Needless to say, we've been thrilled and humbled by the positive reviews so far. Spending the last several months immersed in Apes has been a bit of a dream come true for both Gabriel and me. And now we get to unleash it on the world!

Want to see for yourself? November 2nd from BOOM! Comics:


Not sure where your closest comic book retailer is? You can use this handy locator to find out. 

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