Today’s ink is just a doodle, but a crucial doodle. I was playing with aliens. I need to come up with what the “Droloni” race looks like since I have 2 characters that are Droloni, Landri, co-pilot of the Mallard, and the antagonist, General Yzan. I’ve never done aliens before, so I decided to come up with a skull and go from there. Here’s what I got after a LOT of drawing and erasing. I’ve come up with a female skull with and without flesh. I also drew a male skull. Thoughts? Criticisms?
Fan fiction: it’s something all writers do (whether they’re aware of it or not). When it’s good, it’s an innocent joyride in someone else’s vehicle. Worst-case scenario, it’s a naive early attempt to be the next ____ (Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin etc.) with new names on the characters and a worn old plot device. In both cases fan fiction is written for the sheer love of a series, created out of a desire to see our deepest fan-desires put into words. There are thousands upon thousands of forums and websites dedicated to fan fiction, probably in numbers to rival the #1 commodity: porn.
While I myself have dabbled in the art of fan fiction, I decided early on, that if I was going to be serious about my writing, I should steer clear of other people’s works and instead concentrate on my ability to write original stories with my own characters and canon. I spent years building the worlds of CRIT! and Skeleton Crew among my other works and I think I did a good job. Fan fiction helped me build those skills, but I was ready to fly on my own now.
So I said goodbye to fan fiction and never looked back. I haven’t written any since 2004. I tell everyone in my panels that fan fiction is a skill builder—an exercise to build story-writing skills without the hassle of creating a new world and characters. It can help form new authors, but no self-respecting author wastes the bulk of their effort on it. Messing with copyrighted works makes publishers uncomfortable and it’s a sign of unprofessionalism.
At least, it used to be that way.
Now more and more big-name franchises are plumbing fan fiction for writers. This decade, entertainment companies have discovered that fan fiction is an untold wealth of hidden talent, and what is more, their fiction is a testing ground for how well they work with a given canon! Doctor Who, Star Trek, and other properties are taking note and are asking to see fan fiction from future writers!
…And I don’t have any.
I’d disciplined myself for so long, with the aim of building my credibility, that I’ve shot myself in the foot. I’ve lost 3 writing opportunities so far because they’d asked for a sample of fan-fiction and I’d had no time to write any.
I’m already struggling to make my mark on the internet. This just seems like an anvil dropped on my head. I also have to admit that I was wrong about fan fiction and lament for the stories I never wrote—ideas that have long since disappeared into the ether.
The game has changed again, and I’m left holding 3 aces in a game of Jenga.
Now that the Rogue’s Guide is completed and launched, I’m turning my attention more to the Must Love Dragons relaunch and it’s been sloooooooooow going. A lot needs fixing which leads to more fixing and further flaws… you guys ever seen the money pit?
(Property of Universal Pictures)
At least the foundation is good. (I’m laughing as I type this because we just found out we have to replace the house’s trimming and get the roof inspected here at Wineberry House. Plus we have ants.)
In the meantime, here’s a draft of the new cover art we’re going to be using for MLD (some alterations in text, and art etc. pending). Overall I’m pleased with it. I love how Linus looks kind of cool, but also like you want to punch him in the face. We’re going to do similar half-face images for the other 2 books in the works. I like the half-face because it leaves a lot of room for the reader to fill in the rest with their imagination. I hate seeing an image of a character I like and not have it match the image in my head.
(Btw, my brother modeled for this. I think he did a great job)
The only other thing of note text-wise is that Wendria’s name will be changed back to Kiyana to match the CRIT! comic, since Both CRIT! and MLD will be launched by the same publisher, Tangent Artists. The Linus Saga, in essence, will be presented as a “novelization” of CRIT! despite the deviating story-lines. Nothing will change storywise other than the names and a few minor details, but the company feels we should unify the whole setting to better match our existing publications featuring Linus Weedwhacker.
Comments? Concerns? Think I’m out of my gourd? Leave a comment.
Well, okay here we go. I’ve been putting off writing this, because I’m still figuring it all out, but I’ll do my best.
Hunt Press and I have mutually parted ways and I am currently without a publisher. They wished me all the best and I wish them the best of luck. I’ll never forget that Angela was the first publisher to believe in my and my work. They were my first break and my first fans. But things came up and they optioned me the rights to my works back and we both agreed that would be the best course. Thanks for everything, Angela, Barrie, Laureen, and Tamala, and I’m glad we’re all still buddies.
I’m excited and scared and a little overwhelmed.
What does this mean? Well it means that currently my Hunt Press works are unavailable for purchase at this time. If you REALLY need one, I have a grand total of 3 books left (2 of Runs in Good Condition and 1 of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. Email or message me if you want to buy them.) I’m working to rectify that which means, for the time being, I will be publishing my past books through my LLC, Tangent Artists. We’re the guys who came up with “The Handbook for Saucy Bards,” and “A Cleric’s Guide to Smiting,” so I think they’re in good hands.
So what now? Well, my top priority right now is getting Book 3 in the Linus Saga, “No Shoes, No Service,” out there for those who have been waiting so patiently (and for those who have been waiting impatiently). I don’t want a five-year-gap in releases to become a six-year-gap. Then maybe I’ll go down the line with re-releases of Book 1 “Must Love Dragons,” Book 2, “Runs in Good Condition.” And maybe then I’ll even be able to release the prequel I’ve been working on, “Must Love Humans.”
The reason I say “maybe,” for all of this is because after all these years I’ve realized that doing it on my own isn’t helping my career any and I will begin soliciting for an agent. I am currently looking for someone to represent me, so if you like my writings, musings, and other things and want to see more of them, any help you can give me in this matter would be spectacular.
This is where you can help: as most of you know, I’ve dedicated several years of my life to working on these projects. I’m also writing 3 webcomic series that I publish every week for free. GRATIS. By publishing books, and doing freelance work, the money I make goes to, not only help my family, but it also pays for the equipment and time spent on providing free entertainment to the internet for all to see. Please consider visiting the Tangent Artists storefront and purchasing something. Every little bit helps. It will also raise funds to help produce Book 3, so I don’t have to go too deep into my pocket to do it.
Tangent Artists also has a FULLY BACKED kickstarter that’s ending in only a few hours. If you like to play FATE rpgs, or know someone who does, the Fate Accompli erasable game aides are a great product, and a SURE THING crowd-funding-wise.
Okay. I know you all got my back on this. I’m so honored and blessed to have so many people gunning for me, buying my books, asking for more, giving me assurances and encouragement, and spreading the word. I’m so grateful that my fellow Tangent Artists have got my back too and are willing to set aside comic-making time to help me get this done.
And you. You, the person reading this, you are my reason for doing this. Thank you. Thank you for everything and let’s continue in this vein and grow old together as I work hard to make more stories and art to entertain you. It’s going to be a wild and crazy ride, and this is just another hairpin turn in the “flying dutchman” coaster that is life, so let’s just throw our hands up in the air and scream for the fun of it… and hope we don’t get clobbered by a random seagull like Fabio did.
Love to all,
Monica Joanne Marier
It’s high time I covered a baddy, so this week’s post is about Tyrrus Gruthsfield. Now, I don’t like to think of him as a baddy, although he’s definitely a villain in books 1 & 2. I just dislike characters who are evil through and through. I grew up watching cartoonishly evil bad guys in movies and on TV that were evil simply for the sake of being evil, and those always bothered me a bit (I should probably write a post on this later.) The point is, Tyrrus isn’t a villain because he wants to be evil. Like all proper villains, Tyrrus thinks he’s the hero of his own story—in this case a story of loss, love and abandonment.
We first meet Tyrrus when he appears in the last act of Must Love Dragons as the ruthless head of the corrupt Rangers Union. But we also know he and Linus have a history together. Let’s look into that, shall we?
Linus met Tyrrus when upon passing his entrance exams at the Rangers Union to become a Pre-One Ranger, or a Ranger-in-training. This is an apprenticeship period where a Ranger is usually assigned to an E-10 Ranger in good standing to have as mentor. The trainers assigned Linus to Tyrrus Gruthsfield, who was in his late 30’s at the time. Tyrrus was a rugged, jovial dandy bachelor, with a love of adventure and a lust for high living. He and Linus bonded straight away. Linus was in awe of this rugged expert of the wilderness and his bombastic personality. Tyrrus fed off of Linus’ admiration, and his youthful outlook made Tyrrus feel like he himself was a young teen again.
When Linus had finished his year under Gruthsfield as a student and graduated to E-1, he continued to travel and work with Tyrrus as a friend and compatriot. Linus became a family to Tyrrus, who had grown up as an orphan in the Rangers Union’s boys home for foundlings and had never known a family. And Linus, who had always had to fight with his dozen siblings for attention, enjoyed the singular attention Gruthsfield was giving him and eventually left his father’s house to live at the Union boarding house with Gruthsfield and other young bachelors.
Tyrrus tried to advise Linus as best he could on how best to navigate the rocky path of his late teens into adulthood, but it was myopic and sometimes self-serving. Tyrrus had avoided growing up, and didn’t really want Linus to either. It’s possible that a lot of Linus’ early missteps (bad relationships, hijinks, faux pas, his drinking habits) were either from Tyrrus’ lack of direction or from simply bad advice.
It was about five years after their pairing, when Linus began to make friends and peers in his own age-group, that his relationship with the then 40-something Tyrrus became strained. Tyrrus became more controlling of Linus and his free-time and assignments. He subtly tried to orchestrate fallings out between Linus and his friends, and when that didn’t work, he would bombard Linus with accusations of betrayal and callousness.
Linus didn’t take well to Gruthsfield’s constant intrusion on his life—feeling like he was tied to the apron strings of a clucking, nagging mother hen. By the time when Linus was beginning to slip into depression, alcohol, and a dangerous affair—a time when Gruthsfield genuinely wanted to help Linus—it was too late. Linus had already stopped listening to Grusthfield.
The incident with Tchineline (as outlined in Runs in Goods Condition) was the final breaking point and, soon after, Linus severed ties with his ex-mentor. Tyrrus and Linus most likely had no contact with eachother until the events of Must Love Dragons. Linus was more than aware of Gruthfield’s rise to power in the Union, but was only a disinterested bystander at the time. He had no idea that during that twenty-some years in-between Gruthfield had spent it brooding on the loss of his only friend and family, and becoming harder and more twisted as the realization of his own mortality grew more apparent and tortured him with the passage of time.
*The name Tyrrus is (rather obviously) taken from the Greek tyrannos meaning monarch or King.
*Gruthsfield’s actions have always been chiefly fueled by his fear of aging and death. It’s what draws him closer to true villainy as he begins to enter old age.
*He probably assaulted Linus a few times in their younger days, but played it off later as nothing. That unrequited attraction, as well as his emotional manipulation was a key factor in their falling out and later turned into the hatred we see in the books.
*Tyrrus was the one who blackballed Linus from renewing his Ranger’s E-10 license prior to the events of Must Love Dragons. After failing to ban him entirely, he brought up the motion to make Linus restart as an E-1.
* In my head, his voice sounds like the late Tony Jay.
“Ah, c’mon! It’s the first day of school!”
“I don’t want to! Everyone hates me.”
“It’s your job. You’re an internet writer and artist. And now that the kids are going to school today you have to update the blog.”
“I can’t. I’m sick. I have to stay home”
“You work from home.”
I actually had it pretty good this summer. I spent oodles of time with my kids coming up with stories and adventures and projects, and introducing them to my MMORPGS. But I didn’t get much work done. That’s how it goes, and frankly I’m not sorry I had a blast with my kids. But it’s time to dust off the parts of the keyboard that aren’t: QWEASD and get my working pants on.
So, here’s some stuff I’m working on now:
Book 4 of the Linus Saga: Working Title “Inquire Within” It’s a more serious missal where we get to meet all of his brothers and sisters and see how they interact.
Linus Saga Prequel: I’m working on a novel where we see a young asshole-ish Linus meet Deirdre for the first time and what eventually culminates in their marriage. Should be fun.
Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid 2: Working Title: “The Lost Mines of Nadoras” in which Kelly and Lynald become claim jumpers hoping to strike magic in an abandoned zynythstite mine.
I’m also working on some commissions that I might reveal in the fullness of time, if the clients should allow it, and I’ll be bringing back Character Spotlight Wednesday this week starting with Quince.
Pass the Coffee. It’s going to be a long 9 months. Goodbye, Lord of the Rings Online. It’s been fun.
In incredibly late character spotlight goes to Linus’ second son, Orin.
We first hear about Orin in Must Love Dragons, in the following exchange:
“Why does the little boy look so worried?” asked Morf.
“Oh that’s Orin, my five-year-old. He was just a little scared. The artist had a mustache. Orin is terrified of people with mustaches,” Linus clarified.
“Smart kid,” laughed Morfindel. “Is it only mustaches?”
“No,” sighed Linus. “He’s also afraid of dolls with glass eyes, crows, the kitchen stove, coat stands, that spiders will crawl into his shoes at night, and the hole in the privy…to name a few,”
It’s plain to see that Orin has a lot of anxiety over seemingly ordinary things. He’s very sensitive, high strung, and imaginative. He snaps out of it often enough to pal around with his sisters (who he gets on well with) but will then lapse into a thoughtful daze or suddenly panic and run for his room. This is because while Orin has a brilliant imagination, he doesn’t know how to control it or separate it from reality. He spins beautiful stories that enchant him, but he also has a flair for the macabre that broods and festers in his mind until it haunts his dreams and torments him daily.
Linus is at his wits ends over what to do with such a boy. Carson was bad enough with his fondness for staying indoors reading, but he was tough enough that Linus didn’t worry too much about him.
Orin is the one he worries about. Linus is most worried because Orin is acting now very much like his brother, Palmer, had as a child. Linus is frantically trying to find a way to “snap Orin out of it,” for fear that he’ll turn into a cold snobbish sociopath like Palmer did. Sadly this involves a lot of hamfisted attempts at therapy,usually resulting in Orin developing new and original fears at an even faster clip.
Orin is somewhat based off of my son who is also very highstrung and imaginative, but he’s also in part based off of myself and all my myriads of irrational fears. My nickname at school was “crybaby,” and I was constantly scaring myself with my own morose imaginings.
Over time Orin is going to find ways to deal with them, but he’s going to reach out to another family member who understands a bit more about what he’s going through—Palmer. We’ll just see how that goes.
*I got the name Orin while remembering Little Shop of Horrors, although there is NO similarity between my sweet boy and the homicidal dentist.
*Orin is classic case of a child with Asperger’s with ADHD (which I have), but of course in Linus’s world he’s simply labeled as “flighty,” “particular,” and “having an old soul.”
*Orin is a philosopher by nature. He’s always one to argue about why things must be done, why that is the case, and whether there’s any sense in it.
*Orin doesn’t get on with Carson, the latter of which sees Orin as a pest and an annoying tail.
*Orin is very clever but gets poor marks at school for not paying attention and for going on tangents about his flights of fancy to his classmates.
I’m not going to go into the three youngest children, Fia, Lenny, and Elsie, since they are really too young to talk about. I may do after a few more books with them come out.
That’s it for the brood of Linus. Feel free to make any suggestions for next week’s character spotlight!
Having trouble with the Blog right now. My hands can’t art and even the simplest circle is causing problems. Between severe thunderstorms, checking on my basement to see if it’s flooding, and migraines, my writing demons have been tormenting me and I have to exorcise. It’s not as bad as that one time back in ’07 when I stopped eating and sleeping for two weeks. It’s not even a constant thing, it’s just 20 ideas seizing me and pulling me in a million different direction. I feel like a wine-glass player trying to play Owl City’s Fireflies.
So among the many brain diseases in my head, are the following:
2) Madame Bluestocking Pennyhorrid Book 2 (working title, the Lost Mines of Nadoras)
3 Linus Saga Book 3 Edits
4) Linus Saga Book 4 finishing
5) Weird elseworld involving the cast of CRIT! in Arkham MA with Lovecraftian Monsters (trust me. this will come in handy)
6) Skeleton Crew scripts, current one featuring another Dunstan and Avi flashback.
And various other ideas and projects of indiscernible value.
If you would like these projects to keep existing, please consider helping me to afford a new computer while my old one continues to die tragically.
So please donate and share my Gofundme.
Next week will proceed as usual with various posts and Character Wednesday of Orin Weedwhacker.
In keeping with the Offspring of Linus theme, this week’s spotlight is on Linus’ oldest son, and second-born, Carson.
We first get to know Carson as a sharp-tongued 13-year-old in Runs in Good Condition. Carson is in every way a typical teen-aged boy of the intelligent bookish variety. He’s opinionated, insightful, sensitive and has the cynicism of a 70-year-old crank. Carson has had frequent troubles with bullies in his peer group (as mentioned in Must Love Dragons) and it’s made him a bit fragile and distrustful of others. It doesn’t help that Carson has inherited some magical ability from his mother’s side and wants to be a wizard more than anything. His dad, Linus, (who has had more near-death experiences by the hands of wizards who “had meant well” than by any other cause) is horrified and disappointed. Carson deals with his frustrations by venting them out his mouth most of the time. If he inherited magic from his mother, he’s definitely inherited his father’s mouth and inability to know when to shut up. We all know he’ll go far one day if he can survive puberty.
*Carson is more-or-less based off of all of my brothers (a grand total of 5).
*Like his other siblings, Carson is the spitting image of his Elven grandfather, with blond hair, long pointed ears, and green eyes. As time rolls by we’ll see that of all the children, he looks the most like Hilmiel.
*Carson’s middle name is Rudolph, after Linus’ favorite brother who died when he was a young man.
*Carson will one day be mentor to another wizard, the Great Meriwether Maydock (his grandson) who will grow up to be the idol of Evelyn Kelly of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. The whole story of their meeting was written in a holiday short story Called “Meri’s Christmas.” You can read the whole story FREE on my old blog. It also reveals some later facts about Carson’s life.
*When at University, Carson has a great magical adventure with his sister, Irene, and their transvestite cousin, Kevin. That story may one day get its own book, and will not be told in any future Linus novel, since Linus isn’t in it. A rift in dimensions, a mirror, an afternoon tea, and a hedgehog are involved.
*Carson will try to learn a trade in the next book to please his dad.
That’s about it for Carson. Next week, we’ll take a look at Thisbe, the impossible girl.
As always, please consider donating to my GoFund me, to help me get a new computer. Every little bit helps me keep earning for my family.
Coffitivity is a site that that hosts a continuous loop of ambient coffeehouse noise. The theory is that it creates an atmostpheric atmosphere that enhances your home office. I got to say, I love this idea. I always work best when there’s a clear divide between working at home and just “being at home.” Coming up with rituals, sounds, smells and other devices to make a work place special can really help you get your head in the game and work efficiently.
I love the atmosphere of coffee houses, myself and I love writing there when I can, but it’s a luxury I can only afford rarely. Usually I only get the chance when I have to take my car in for work! As much as I love this sound, I can’t help but think it’s missing the smell though. I really need the smell of fresh dark roast wafting in the air to make this experience complete. Fortunately that’s easily remedied in my house.
I’ve used atmospheric soundscapes before, actually. One of my favorite sites is RainyMood which plays the sound of gentle rainfall or storms. It’s good for decompressing and warding off headaches, and sometimes can help me feel reenergized.
Another site I love (WARNING ADDICITIVE!) is Nature Sounds For Me which gives you the chance to mix your own soundscapes! I can do anything from a medow full of sheep, to a storm on the beach, to campfire on a snowy night. LOADS of fun!
So when you eventually DO get back to writing or drawing, your mood is set.
A coffee-shop on a rainy day next to a busy street? Yes please!! 😀
All of these sites provide their services for FREE by the way so please consider donating to their site if you enjoy it.
And please see my GoFundMe page if you want to help me out. Thanks.