Merry Christmas 2013

2013 was full of family, friends, fun and firsts for us. There were many trips, visits and gatherings, each of them treasured and too many to mention here. Instead for this year’s Rogers family update, we’re going to call out some personal accomplishments.

In May, after many years of effort, study and all-nighters, Zuzi completed her post-professional doctorate in physical therapy from Texas Tech University. To fill her newly-regained free time, Zuzi has become a physical therapist for the Nordic US National Ski Team and will be traveling worldwide to keep everyone healthy and competitive on the road to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Andy finished the rough draft of his second novel and is neck deep in planning the third. He and the kids made up a bedtime story about stretchy, underground creatures called Droblar. The kids wanted to see the stories that they listened to each night and Andy started drawing again for the first time since high-school. The story is now unfolding online as a weekly webcomic.

Lucas (7 years old) spent the entire summer hiking Slovakia and Alaska and now continues exploring AK in his beloved Junior Nordic Program. This fall, he entered the Ignite enrichment learning program at school and is loving it!

Eva (4 years old) is riding her bike and learning how to read. She’s already mastered her online kindergarten math program and is starting in on the first grade lessons. Also, to make her mama proud, she is picking up skiing really fast – both nordic and alpine!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all from the Rogers family.

RogersChristmas2013

SOMNUS First Draft Finished

Done.

… for now, at least.

The first draft of SOMNUS, my stand-alone, sci-fi heist novel is done. I just finished typing future-Andy some notes, corrections, and things to finish. The files are saved. Everything is tucked safely away into Drobbox. And I don’t want to see the damn thing for at least six months.

Minimum!

Hell… maybe not for a year.

In fact, I might never pick this one back up. It was a HARD project. Or is a hard project, I suppose. For, while I’m finished with the first draft, the thing is hardly “done”. But this one may be as done as it’s ever going to get. I need a break from intergalactic corporations and scheming smugglers. I’m ready to work on something new.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud to have worked my way through the first draft of another novel. But this one was an ambitious undertaking. It contained a lot of firsts. Firsts for me, at least.

  • It’s my first far-future sci-fi book.
  • It has multiple overlapping and non-sequential timelines.
  • It was my first fully-outlined-before-I-even-wrote-a-single-itty-bitty-word novel.
  • It was my first project in Scrivener.
  • It’s my first go at an ensemble of POV characters.
  • The main protagonist is not a good guy. I try to make him relatable and likeable, but he’s definitely a bad, bad man.

So… it was hard. And now it’s there. And it’s mine to do with as I choose. Or not.

I’ll take SOMNUS out of the cupboard one of these days. Probably. When I do, I’ll decide if I want to invest more time in it. I might even be excited to do the re-write.

Who knows?

But now, and for the time being…

ON TO THE NEXT BOOK!

News post on Droblar.com

Panel six is up over at Droblar.com and we have our first good look at Dani running from the wolf. I hope everyone is enjoying the story so far.

I’m both surprised and intimidated by the traffic that Droblar is getting. I’m definitely motivated to hold fast to the schedule and to keep the quality of the artwork and writing the best I can make it. Each week feels like a scramble, especially with my commitments to novel and short story projects. That said, I’m still very much enjoying making Droblar.

I wrote a news post to accompany this week’s update. I’m reposting here so that readers of the blog will know that I’m writing text updates to go along with each new panel now. This first post is a little longer than what I think will be the norm. It covers the following:

  1. News updates
  2. Publication times
  3. Image resolution

News updates

As I mentioned, I’m including a short post (shorter than this one) to accompany each new panel. I think it will be a good way for me to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on with the project. It should also save some time answering everyone’s questions. Maybe someday we’ll get some Droblar forums set up. Until that works out, please keep the comments and emails coming. I am surprised and flattered by each and every one. My hope is that a little news-snippet with each update will help people follow along and allow new readers to get caught up. I’m certainly still learning as I go, so let me know what you think.

Publication times

So… my publication schedule is “every Tuesday”. To date, this has meant midnight on Monday. I’ve been excited to get each post up as quickly as possible. The pages take a ton of work to make and it’s pretty rewarding to see them go live.

However, I’m not convinced that midnight Alaska-time is the best time of day to publish. I’m going to play around with the timing on the updates and the announcements over the next couple months to see what gets the best response. I really don’t like to self-promote. I know that I need to, but it’s work to make myself do it. I’m also allergic to spamming Twitter and Facebook with update notifications. I need to wring the most coverage out of each notification.

If you notice the update time changing, that is why. I’ll still update each Tuesday, the exact time of day will vary a bit for the next dozen or so updates.

Just FYI.

Image resolution

Huge shout out to Dave Hamp ( @thedavidhamp ) for suggesting that I up the resolution of my original artwork.

The Surface is great. I love it. But I’ve missed the fine detail that I get when drawing by hand. I’ve been drawing the panels at 600×800 and 300dpi and then saving down to 150dpi JPEG.  It’ve been somewhat frustrated that everything has been coming out looking thick and blocky.

Dave suggested some changes and I’m super enamored with the results. This week’s panel was drawn at 300 dpi again, but I upped the image size to 1800×2400. It takes much more time to illustrate at this resolution and I think the result is totally worth it. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

Check out Droblar.com and let me know what you think in the comments! =)

Take that, Cancer!

Movember 2013November is in the books and with it would normally go my accumulated months worth of face fuzz. This year? Not so much… and not so fast.

In case you don’t know and are wondering why the hell I’m talking about my month-long growth of facial hair, Movember is part of the worldwide war on cancer. Men are encouraged to grow out their mustaches and/or beards during the month of November. This is both a show of support and a campaign raising money to fund a variety of cancer battling programs.

The goal is to kick cancer’s ass so hard that its breath smells like boot leather. Men around the world are helping to swing that metaphorical boot one scraggly snot mop at a time.

So for the last few years, I’ve lent the support of my own greying cookie duster.

I don’t normally wear a beard. My wife’s not the biggest fan of being stabbed in the lips every time I sneak a kiss. Still, she’s insistent about my participation in Movember. We’ve both lost friends to cancer and know people who struggle daily against the disease.

When December rolls around, I usually take the beard off and rush into the holiday season with pale, bare cheeks. This year, I’m keeping the ‘stache around for a couple extra weeks.

A good friend is having an eleven-inch tumor removed from his kidney in a couple days. The beard is my show of support for him and his family through the surgery.

It’s my way to tell cancer to piss off. From Hell’s heart, I wave my mouth brow at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath through my soup strainer at thee!

Good luck in surgery and recovery, Phil. We’re sending our thoughts and prayers out to you and the family.

Character Description – Reprise

DescriptionThe October 21 episode of Drive Write focused on including an appropriate amount of description in stories. I recorded the podcast in response to some comments that David Farland made in an online panel and discussion of those comments in this thread on the WotF forums.

Please give that podcast a listen and read through the comments for more context, but the gist is this:

Many starting authors fail to include enough description in their stories. This doesn’t mean that all stories will benefit from more narrative description. It means that otherwise good stories will suffer if they don’t have the description necessary to engage the reader and drive the plot.

It was a good podcast and well-recieved. I’m sure my thoughts on the topic will continue to evolve as I gain experience and improve as a writer.

The topic generated enough discussion for me to keep it in mind as I worked through NaNoWriMo this year. I was reminded of it again when I saw this Dave Wolverton quote in an email update from the Writers of the Future contest.

Again, I’m not saying that every story needs some hypothetical percentage increase in descriptive content. There are, however, plenty of us who suffer from the white room syndrome. A little reminder to clue listeners in on the whos and wheres of our stories is a valuable thing.

So… this is a comment from Dave Wolverton. Wolverton is the Coordinating Judge for the Writers of the Future contest and this is in response to a question about common mistakes that judges find in WotF submissions.

“Originality is the key element to a story being selected as a finalist in this Contest. It always has been and always will be. You need to come up with fresh ideas to be a successful writer, so we are looking for those who have their own imagination.

“Your story must also resonate with the reader. The main problem that I see are that setting or character description are lacking. The writer has not informed the reader enough about where you are, the circumstances, or the character is barely described. This accounts for 90% of all story flaws.

“Other flaws include the fact that the idea is not new, or the ‘world’ that the story is situated in has not been thought through enough.”

Interesting advice from someone who sees more than his fair share of stories. I felt a quick reprise on the subject of appropriate description was worth a post.

Cheers!

Drive Write: Writing Out of Order

Drive Write podcast

DriveWrite: Episode 13 – Writing Out of Order

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about writing out of order. The gist of my argument is, if there’s a piece of your book that you’re excited to write… write it. Stitch everything together later.

You’re going to have to write the entire story eventually. Might as well write the stuff you’re excited to write when you’re excited to write it. Right?

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, you should be past the half-way mark at this point. Great job!

Regardless of how you’re doing this year on your NaNoWriMo project, you might benefit from a little encouragement and strategic advice. If you’re not already listening to them, I’d encourage you to check out Mur Lafferty’s daily I Should Be Writing podcasts. She’s posting every day through the month of November to help us all accomplish our 50k word goal.

Thanks, Mighty Mur! =)

Until next week. Good luck, be well and write hard.

Drive Write: Droblar.com Launches

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 12 – Droblar.com Launches

This week on Drive Write, I give a mid-month update on my NaNoWriMo progress. I also introduce (formally, and kinda/sorta for the first time) the Droblar webcomic. I talk about why I started drawing, how the story came to be, and some technical and scheduling challenges that I’m learning to navigate as I go.

The artist I mentioned who got my attention focused on #SundaySketch-ing is Jake Powning. Find Jake and examples of his incredible swordsmithing at his website.

Enjoy, please visit the comic site at droblar.com, and feel free to leave questions/concerns/critiques in the comments.