ACEO Norwegian Forest Cat, watercolor, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" listed for seven days on eBay. Painted from "Astonish Leaving" by wazabees, the brilliant Norwegian catographer and owner of Wazabees Cattery, who raised Astonish and eleven other young Norwegian Forest Cats. He's got his daddy Baltsar's odd eyes, but in the other direction.

I've got a bigger update than today's art though!

I'm working on another novel. Nothing new about that except that this one is going to be available in November, and what I'm working on is the final edits.

The Steel Guardian began as last year's unofficial "Three Day Novel." I didn't budget the $50 entry fee for the official competition till it was too late, but as I have for several years, wrote along with it for the sheer joy of doing another book and seeing what I can do in an immersive, no-sleep blitz. The results have been over 40,000 words every time since the second time when I barely edged over it, and last year's was a whopping 75,000 words. I even slept. Wow. My typing speed is quietly going up every year on the Dvorak Keyboard.

The results were a bit rougher than some of my roughs, in specific ways. I changed my mind on some character names and charged right ahead using the new names without stopping, because I was on the clock. The timetable did one other thing. I reached what I thought was an end, because it did bring all the character's internal conflicts to a dramatic conclusion and the rest seemed so anticlimactic.

But when I reread it, I recognized that I'd put off the final conflict and blown it off in a paragraph synopsis at the end. Handy to have that paragraph to tell me what happened, but readers would probably rather enjoy every detail of the final battle instead of just some note that it happened and who won.

The prose wobbled between pages full of red ink and pages of clear smooth prose that amazed me for coming out strong right from the unconscious. I write the way Impressionists paint, alla prima. I get the idea, find out who the characters are, and jump in to find out what happens next letting them decide what they're going to do about it. So it's all character driven and very fast to get down the rough. I reread it several times during the year. I winced at the character name variations. I grumbled at the amount of work involved.

Then I got down to it recently and plowed through. My daughter, Kitten42, offered to critique. She's got razors. She got trained by an insane genius martinet of an English teacher who actually loves good prose and taught Kitten to be brutal about it -- not an academic who prefers obscure literary tricks but someone who knew the nuts and bolts of good storytelling as much as she did literary history. Kitten learned well, and she's a copywriter now making several thousand dollars a month freelance.

I flagged a slow bit at the start for a deeper rewrite, got red ink on the rest of the first chapter, did that and started editing on through. I got all the bugs and name changes out and sent it back to Kitten, and when I hit the end spent 48 hours painfully shifting gears from "cutting" to "creating" and wrote the final chapter. It worked. It worked so well. Now I'm editing it again every time I look at it, but it's a good solid ending and had some major surprises that weren't in that little paragraph synopsis I threw away. One last very cool twist.

We are both hard at work on it again, while I prepare to send it to Booklocker. Angela Hoy's services looked better for quality and cost than any of the other POD publishers, and Angela does accept-reject on what comes in. It's a benefit. I won't be shelved next to the Mary Sues and the family history with exactly 68 readers. The price went way down with a bonus for doing my own cover -- which I'd want to do anyway with print on demand. This is not the sort of book that would look right with a photomanipulation cover. It needs a decent illustration of something real in the book, either a character drawing or a scene or montage, something that's more like the type of fantasy cover art I've always loved. It's a challenge for me to do it, but being able to use good author art is a perk of going indie. My art's improved a lot lately, but I was decent at design for years thanks to my typesetting past.

The other big news is that next month I'll be launching a new website, themed on writing and especially fantasy writing. I'll eventually have two of these informational sites up, one on writing and one on art, cross connected as they relate to each other. I've been doing a lot of How-To articles online at eHow.com, Hubpages.com and Qassia, especially eHow. My articles are getting lots of comments, tons of views, thriving online... so it's time for me to start pulling them together into one place by topic. The site software has a newsletter function, so I'll be able to set up a newsletter for The Steel Guardian and future works.

This is just the first. Back when I first did Raven Dance, which paid out six or seven times over with no marketing, I had grand hopes. I also had plans that were thwarted by my situation at the time living in a homeless shelter. I could not get online to market the dang thing. I couldn't put sig links or announce it anywhere. I could get two or three hours a week at the library for my mail and that was about it. By the time I got out of the shelter and had online access, I was also sick as the proverbial dog and had lost energy for marketing and staying on topic with something that was already done and had already paid off. I made some efforts and put an AOL page up for it, but that didn't last long. When I switched services I let it lapse.

Things are different now. I understand the processes I was speculating about then a lot better, and I have the resources I didn't at the time. I've never just bought a wholesale order of my book and offered signed copies, though I did a few for readers who sent them to me with postage to send them back. Kitten's become an SEO expert, something I hadn't even heard of when I made my marketing plans for Raven Dance.

So I'm taking both the high road and the low road. The Hunt can go the high road, queries and submission package all over the place, starting from the highest paying publishers on down. The Steel Guardian, which has a great setting I know I can smell more novels in, is my indie series. I'll be doing another book in Arkatyr (the main kingdom of the setting) this fall again for NaNoWriMo, another jolly online event where I can immerse in creating a new book with plenty of other novelists to hang with.

I didn't get the entry fee in for the 3 Day Novel this year either, but I wasn't prepared with my research yet for the one I want to become my formal entry. So the Canadian Dinosaur Novel goes on back burner for next year with a whole year to research it, and this year I've got no idea what I'll do on Labor Day Weekend. Except there's a good chance it might be in the same setting as The Steel Guardian again, because I'll probably be living there till I send off the manuscript to Booklocker.

So this fall I'm digging in, writing and editing a lot. Also drawing, to see my daily art check out my other blog: robertsloan2 on LiveJournal.com where I'm already familiar with posting images. Hmm. I see an icon up there... let's see if I can get this one in. I did it today based on a photo reference from a DeviantART friend.

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