The Pixelvania Proclamation o’ Progress, August 2020

The Pixelvania Proclamation o’ Progress is a semiannual post detailing what’s going on around here, and what might show up in the future. It also includes reviews of shows, books, games, products, etc. you may also like. It’s only posted twice a year so as not to clog up your valuable, beautiful brain space.

Cute kitty photo at the end.

Recap

Here’s what’s been published since the last post:

Cover for HELLO, WIZARD. Eerie glowing text pops off a wrinkled piece of paper against a stone background. Cover for THE CAPRAMANCER NEXT DOOR: A laughing woman wields a glowing shepherd's crook while a goat leaps through a portal overhead Cover for MIDWINTER MAGIC: A stylized glowing reindeer leaps against the blue Northern LightsCover for THE GIRLFRIEND WHO WASN'T FROM DELAWARE - A giant hand made of blue static reaches down to pluck an apartment out of a building like a Jenga block

It was fun working on Midwinter Magic and Girlfriend back-to-back, because those stories are POLAR OPPOSITES in terms of tone, one being a mythic fairy tale and the other a gruff guy’s modern horror nightmare.

I also added most my books to Book Cave’s content ratings site, in case you’re trying to decide if a book’s content (violence, swears, etc.) is appropriate for yourself or a youngster.

Currently in Production

I was already an author working from home when the pandemic struck. Routine is priceless in a work-from-home life, and I was fortunate that I’d been building one since the past year. So on the one hand, my day-to-day life didn’t change much. Writing and writing-related projects got done.

On the other hand, I’ve definitely been absorbing the extra stress around me…and the malaise weighing down the air was something I’ve also had to do battle with (as I’m sure you did/are doing!). So…sometimes not a lot of writing got done. But some did happen!

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom (SCVK) – Print Books

Still in production! They’ve been revised twice now (basically spellchecks) and are set for another round of look-overs. They’re gonna be beautiful.

The Purrfect Christmas – Illustrated Paperback

Just getting spun up on this project; right now I’m planning the illustrations. Doing a chapter book with spot illustrations isn’t something I’ve done before, but I think the resulting product will be a really fun Christmas book for families to read together.

Chrystine’s Sleep Solution

This midlength horror story is still making the rounds at the magazines. Let’s hope it finds a nice home out there!

Nosferatu Novel (previously The Horror of Hriana)

A Worlds of Everlush novel/novel sequence. This SCVK spinoff is currently on hiatus for reasons you’ll see below. I’m thinking it’ll get split into three books with awesome titles, which I’m very excited about…If that’s the case, The Horror of Hriana will probably be dropped as a series title, so that it’s a little more obvious the stories are about a vampire. Lately I’ve been itching to get back to this one.

Post-SCVK novel (working title: The Bad Host)

A Worlds of Everlush story (already at short novel length), a low-key sequel to Steel City, Veiled Kingdom. Just felt like it was time to start it.

Writing it, I feel like this:

Cat using a cat-sized computer with the caption "I have no idea what I'm doing."

Another short horror story with a cat

Currently titleless. Wrote it as a quick break from The Bad Host; need to type it and start sending it to magazines.

Future Plans (AKA Plotting and Scheming)

Love Potion Commotion! (Magic Fashion Frenchies #1) – paperback formatting AND cover refresh

This will complete my backlist titles that need to be in paperback. But I wanna do it right, so I’m not gonna start it until Purrfect is in paperback. I also have to rethink the cover so it not only fits this novel, but the second book in the series, AKA…

Salute a Pooch! (Magic Fashion Frenchies #2)

I’ve got a few chapters written, but it’s been on hiatus for some time now. I think getting Love Potion Commotion! off my plate will revitalize this one.

Crazy Rich Dragons stories

Still wanna write these!

The Gardeners of Palomar

This was actually the first novel I started writing after finishing SCVK back in 2016. I dropped it because someone said I really ought to do a sequel to SCVK (that impulse turned into Nosferatu Novel)…Anyway, I’m starting to miss it, it was a real weird one, hee!

Finish Ancient Unfinished Shorts

…including a post-apocalyptic banjo fantasy, a cybernetic take on Sleeping Beauty, and I can’t even remember what else.

A thriller novel starring Ternerr from SCVK (previously The [Something Something] Conspiracy )

This will be a Worlds of Everlush novel, spun off from SCVK. Wanna clear the deck summore (and finish my course on writing thrillers) before I take a crack at this nut!

Start a Pixelvania merch shop

Thinking it’d be fun to put some of my book covers on shirts. And maybe some cat jokes! Could be fun!

Recommended Reads, Watches, Plays, and Products

Book cover: The Twisted OnesThe Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

Kingfisher (AKA writer-artist-comic superstar Ursula Vernon) writes in a lot of different genres, but this book is her first horror novel—folk horror, if you force me to get specific. A woman discovers a dark secret cleaning out her deceased hoarder grandmother’s house out in the sticks. You’ll love the main character’s down-to-earth voice and there’s some deliciously creepy stuff in the middle (the HILL man, the HILL!!). I was considerably less enamored of the ending, but the first parts are so strong, I still want people to read it.

3.5/5 Pixel Snackies

TV Series Image: Samurai CatSamurai Cat

This is a live-action TV show from Japan about a samurai learning life lessons from an adorable white kitty that he was originally supposed to assassinate. 5/5 Pixel Snackies.

Oh, you need more info before you watch? Well, it’s formatted weird on Amazon (with big gaps of dead air in the first season, as though the commercials had been cut out, but the time for those commercials left in), they’re missing the movies that go in-between each season, and none of the show’s translators can seem to agree if the kitty is a girl or a boy (my vote is girl).

Despite these goofs, Samurai Cat is ENTIRELY worth watching, 110%. It’s heartwarming, it’s hilarious, it’s family-friendly, and it proves there’s nothing unmanly about being a cat guy. (If you’ve ever searched for cat-themed gifts for a man, you understand my pain.)

I saw it on Amazon Prime Video. If you’re having trouble finding out extra info about it online, search for Neko Zamurai. 5/5 Pixel Snackies.

Video Cover image: Duke Bluebeard's CastleDuke Bluebeard’s Castle (1988)

One of the YouTube comments for this reads: “…if Hitchcock had written an opera.” So naturally I had to click. I LOVED IT. It’s suspenseful, only an hour long, and, if you’re so inclined, very fun to yell comments at (“She discovered his model train room!”). And this Bluebeard smolders.

Béla Bartók’s music is mostly eerie…but in some parts it shimmers like the best parts of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Wonderful. I saw it here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Aq2WWds8k

When you realize it is awesome you can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Bartok-Bluebeards-Castle-Robert-Lloyd/dp/B002NY7YVY/

5/5 Pixel Snackies.

Game Image: Toki Tori 2+Toki Tori 2+ (PC and other consoles)

This little-known gem deserves to be right up there with legendary environmental puzzle games Braid and Portal. You start the game with two moves: a stomp and a whistle. With these two moves, you can reach anywhere on the map, as soon as the game starts! The catch: to do this, you have to first know how those two moves interact with the other little critters in your environment…

No tutorials. It’s Inductive Reasoning: the game. I discovered it from this GMTK video. Definitely worth the buy—I spent 32 hours total runnin’ my little chicken around, and it was grade-A jumbo puzzle platforming at its best. Check out the little explanation of the map first, that’s helpful.

5/5 Pixel Snackies.

Game Image: A Short HikeA Short Hike (PC)

A friend gifted me this. It is SO relaxing, so charming, and so much fun to move around in. I wish I could climb and glide like this in real life. Alack!! I can only do it in this game—but I’m grateful I can.

This game will take your blues away.

5/5 Relaxing Pixel Snackies

Product Image: T-Gel ShampooNeutrogena T/Gel Shampoo

Come winter, my scalp always goes flaky—dry air + indoor heating = the itchies. Last year, I told my hairstylist and she recommended this shampoo. “You don’t use it every time. In fact, it’ll probably live under your sink,” she told me.

Now, because this is life, there’s an upside and a downside to nearly everything. The upside of this shampoo is that IT WORKS. I used it once every 2-3 weeks during the cold months and my flakes disappeared. Wonderful.

The downside of this shampoo is that it leaves your head smelling like the smoker’s lounge of a museum basement from the 1970s.

Is it pure, unfiltered tobacco gel I’m rubbing into my scalp these days? I’m not sure. Is smelling like an ashtray worth a flakeless ‘do? I think it is.

4/5 Pixel Snackies.

Our mascot, Pixel J. Cat

Our mascot, Pixel J. Cat, lounging in a camping chair

We moved “our” camping chairs to our patio earlier in the year.

Now they’re not our camping chairs anymore.

The Pixelvania Proclamation o’ Progress, February 2020

The State of the Pixelvania Pixelvania Proclamation o’ Progress is a semiannual post detailing what’s going on around here, and what might show up in the future. It’s only posted twice a year so as not to clog up your valuable, beautiful brain space.

The Recap

Since the last post, I’m happy to announce the publishing of:

(As you know, that last one’s been a long, long time coming!)

Additionally, I upgraded Pixelvania Publishing’s site theme and tinkered with the organization some. Hopefully, it’s easier to find any story to match the mood you’re in. If there’s an organizational category you’d like to see added, please drop me a line.

Currently in Production

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom (SCVK) – Print Books

Funny story—up ‘til December 2019, both me and my lovely print formatter, Colleen, thought we’d be publishing this behemoth as a one-volume paperback. One book. But after she received the final manuscript, she realized this CHONK of a novel was too big for Amazon’s Print-on-Demand to handle. She notified me of the hiccup and advised me to do the paperback in five separate chunks, to go with the five different sections of the story.

I agreed.

I spent all of December scrambling to get 6 ebooks—each of which needed slightly different cover designs to differentiate between parts—out by January 11th.

But none of the ebook OR print work could go forward until I created five new book descriptions, one for each of the now-separate parts. Keep in mind the original book description (currently in use for the Complete Edition) took me over a year to develop. Read More …

Four Reasons to add KLAUS to your yearly Christmas movie rotation (or: A brief KLAUS review)

Being an animation enthusiast, Sergio Pablos’ movie KLAUS has been on my radar ever since I saw its original teaser trailer years ago. Fast-forward to 2019, and suddenly NETFLIX has an official trailer out…which changed the original, charming British voiceover to a David Spade soundalike. Eek, I thought. This character just went from charming to obnoxious. But since we’re ditching Netflix in December, I vowed to watch it before our subscription ran out.

BOY WAS I GLAD I DID. I’ve been jonesing for a new Christmas classic for years (hence why I wrote A Gingersnap Cat Christmas), and now I’ve found one! Here are four reasons why:

  1. Gorgeous 2D animation. Yes, folks, that’s 24 frames-per-second of hand-drawn love oozing into your eyeballs as you watch. Juicy lighting effects were added to give it more of that 3D glow Hollywood’s indulged us in for some time. But 2D is king of my heart, and it’s done beautifully here.
  2. The story doesn’t feel like a suit dictated it to the studio. You know how in animation, sometimes you get that poop joke or that current pop culture reference and it just doesn’t fit with the world? Like someone stuck it in there because some suit required them to? This movie is void of that feeling, save for three pop songs that…well, while they’re okay, *I* wouldn’t have used them. (Perhaps that’s why they stick out so much to me.) KLAUS feels like it’s in its own self-contained world, and I stonking LOVE that, especially for holiday movies.
  3. Genuine reactions. In the beginning, Jesper (the postman) reacts to the weirdo nowherestown* world the exact same way I reacted to seeing his world. Exclaming the same things, staring wide-eyed at the psycho Addams-Family-esque kids stabbing carrots into snowmen bodies in the exact same way I was. I hadn’t realized how often in other movies I’d been watching character reactions from a mental distance, watching their “antics”, unmoved…until this.
  4. It’s got positive messages…without being preachy about them. It’s easy for Christmas movies to get schmaltzy; all fluff and light and ignoring how real people feel about things. The pendulum (especially for live-action Christmas films for adults) has swung far the other way, with cynical stories all about how awful the holidays are because you’re stuck with crazy family or commercialism or whatever. I think KLAUS hits the sweet spot of having realistic character cynicism and wariness…but also having characters having their hearts softened–in realistic ways.

It’s a movie of such superior story and animation quality (especially when compared to other contemporary big-budget AAA-studio efforts *cough*FROZEN 2*cough*) that it reminds me of another dark horse animation classic from years ago: THE IRON GIANT (released the year as Disney’s TARZAN). I was angry for a sec that KLAUS didn’t get a wide release in theaters (because it’s worthy of it), but then realized…families with kids who see this will probably stream it over and over…and I think that’s great, because KLAUS has just the kind of uplifting message everyone of us needs in our story diets.

Don’t let this movie pass you by.

To everyone at The SPA Studios: congrats on making such a terrific movie!

To Netflix: you’d darn tootin’ well better release it on Blu-Ray because I want to own this movie SO BADLY YOU GUYS.

KLAUS is streaming on Netflix right now.

*Seriously, this is the most bizarre, Halloween-ic town I’ve seen in a Christmas movie since Nightmare Before Christmas. I mean this as a deep compliment.

State of the Pixelvania, August 2019

Introduction

Like a lot of entertainment, much of story writing is an invisible process to the end audience. While I’m hard at work on projects, y’all see nothing but a silent website. I want to change that.

At the same time, I don’t want to post for the sake of posting—that would just add to the tsunami of digital clutter that’s already got us addicted to checking our devices (read: miniature slot machines). With that in mind, I’ve decide to start a semiannual post, tentatively titled “The State of the Pixelvania” where you can get a picture of what’s going on around here and what might be showing up in the future.

This semiannual post was inspired by a recent video by Christopher Barnatt at ExplainingComputers.

What I’ve Been Working On: New Stories

Last year I realized I had a fair amount of stories under Horror and Humor but not even a scant handful in Wonder. Yet here I am on a purple website, calling myself a scifi/fantasy author! So I set out this year to fill out the Wonder section of my works, starting with a one-story-a-week challenge in Feburary! It…didn’t go so well.

This was also the first year I’ve tried submitting to the magazines. It’s been a good experience, though I haven’t had any stories accepted yet! Let’s look at this year’s crop o’ stories so far. Read More …