Archive for category Rants: Life

On Black Lanternhood

Since I last blogged, I got the Atop the Fourth Wall fancomic started. I also started working as a research assistant at GSLIS, looking at data provenance. And the fall semester started, my penultimate as a Master’s student.

Oh, it went great, at first. But apparently this is what I look like now:

This is a reference pic for page 5 of the fancomic, in case you're wondering why I'm adjusting invisible glasses.

Which is to say, I look positively undead. “Positively,” because, hey! just in time for Halloween! All I need is a Black Lantern ring, a few silver marks on my shirt, and someone’s heart to munch on.

But, seriously, this month has been terrible. I’m sleep-deprived and often nutritious-food-deprived. I’ve been teetering on the verge of being sick for two weeks.

My mental health has deteriorated more slowly, but I’m very close to rock bottom now, which is why I’m blogging about this in the first place. I am spending more and more time detoxing, getting myself to a point at which I can work again. I spend most of my days not feeling much at all besides disappointment in myself. Like a Black Lantern, I’ve been devouring things that make me feel something again, muted though the emotion is under the layers of exhaustion. Sparks of feminist anger or nerd rage are best, but really, I’m just searching for my Fangirl Squee.

But, yes, the reason I’m writing this. I have no energy to spare for other people right now. I’m an introvert – I lose energy in social situations. And I am very low on energy right now. I write this to hopefully excuse myself from people wondering why I’m not posting much on Facebook. I’ve been active on Twitter, but I really haven’t been feeling that either for the last few days. It’s possible I won’t be feeling it for awhile yet. I’ll almost certainly be around if anyone needs to contact me, but please don’t expect much from me until I recover from this month, both mentally and physically.


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Project descriptions and teasers!

It feels like I’ve a ton of projects open at the moment, and it’s been long enough since I’ve blogged regularly that I might as well explain them. Not shown: looking for a graduate assistantship, my Project Management final paper, and all the conceptual ideas that haven’t made it to paper yet.

A nerdy recipe

It involves meatloaf. And that’s all I will say for now. 😛

Green Lantern masquerade dress

early progress photo

The only way I’ll ever be able to cosplay Green Lantern Kyle Rayner is if I do it rule 63 style! I decided on a masquerade costume, so this isn’t quite cosplay, but rather me in a dress that will be reminiscent of Kyle’s old costume. I’m really excited for this. The pic above is an old progress shot – I have since acquired white cloth and a black choker, and soon I’ll make the mask and ring too.


Ian McLoring

Yes, work on Multivers’d continues, mostly in character sheets, height comparisons and chapter descriptions. Expect some pin-ups and one-shots while I get used to the characters interacting with each other on the page. Progress will be slow for a bit, though, because I’ll primarily be working on…

“Day In, Day Out of Character,” an AT4W fancomic

panel from thumbnailed script

During Spring finals, I managed to get addicted to Linkara’s Atop the Fourth Wall comic reviews (found here and here). After finals were over, I was free to binge and plow through the entire archive. I may just be a bigger fangirl for Linkara than Doug Walker now, and – ahem. Right. I decided to make a fancomic.

Yeah, a fancomic. A long time ago I swore I’d never go down the dark, addictive path of writing fanfiction. Ah well. The odds were against me keeping that promise anyway. I can justify creating this fancomic because it’s a longer comic than I’ve worked on thus far (current estimate is 15 pages), but not nearly so long as Multivers’d will be. In other words – this is great practice for the comic-creation process. I already feel a lot more confident about being able to pull a script together for Multivers’d (although I may have to script an entire chapter before starting on art duty, so keeping a buffer will be key).

This is also the likeliest project to see fruition before the others, so keep an eye out! More pictures and comics will be up here soon.

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Hello, Internet

After a few days without it, I’ve returned to the internet feeling very happy. I had a great time at Christmas celebrations with both sides of the family. My Uncle Pete cooked us a feast on Christmas Eve, and Dani put her chef skills to work on Christmas. I gave out tins of cookies to each family unit, drew a manly chest for the Christmas Pirate, and generally had a great time.

And I can see that the internet has been busy while I’ve been away, having a life like I don’t normally do. While I’m catching up, I’d like to share some of the internet’s awesomeness.

Angry Birds Peace Treaty

Dinosaur Comics 12/24/2010

“EXHAUSTION FROM HAVING SEX WITH A MINOR”, by Yahtzee Croshaw: The podcast of the story from the anthology Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die, read by the author. Sarah was unwittingly one of the first to get Machine of Death in stores, rather than off Amazon or Topatoco. While I wish I could have bought it on MOD Day (when it hit #1 on Amazon through pure word of mouth, with the awesome side effect of pissing off Glenn Beck), I was very happy to receive it from my little sister for Christmas. I was also pleased to note that the slip inside the book contained not only my death prediction (“GIFT RECEIPT”), but also the place of said death (“BORDERS BOOKS MUSIC AND CAFE Mt. Prospect, IL”).

My Little NON-Homophobic, NON-Racist, NON-Smart-Shaming Pony: A Rebuttal: I found “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” through the /co/ board on 4chan, and I fell in love with it. Excellent animation, voice-work, and yes, my inner feminist rejoiced to see the female characters as characters first, not stereotypical girls. It embodies feminist ideals without overdoing it – I only noticed because I’ve spent my life reading media as a feminist. (Yes, yes, cue the “feminist =/= /co/mrade” argument.) In the article, Lauren Faust puts forth the ideas she was trying to put into the show, and I do believe she has succeeded.

White Wine in the Sun: Via Neil Gaiman. I’m agnostic, so I sometimes feel embarrassed at how much I still enjoy Christmas. As Tycho put it in Penny Arcade, it feels like going to the party, refusing to acknowledge that they exist, and then robbing their house. But is that my only choice? To be a Tycho or to be effectively assimilated into the prominent religion? Well… no. I played this song to my family on Christmas. My parents were fairly unmoved; Sarah wrinkled up her face and said “It’s weird”. But Dani just looked at me and said, “It’s about Ashley.” And it is.

Oh hell. While I’m at it, I might as well belatedly share my other go-to feel-good Christmas thing: By the by, Dani got me a GL hat for Christmas. Do I have the best sisters or what? Rhetorical question. I do.

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Tossing and turning the page

I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently. I go to bed and I toss and I turn, and I think about Multiversed. As a result, I’ve made a lot of progress in figuring out the chapter storylines. The prologue and chapter 1 still need some work, but chapters 2, 3, n-1, and n are more-or-less planned out in my head (where n is the magical chapter when shit goes down, yo). I even have chapter titles for some of them. It’s an exhilarating feeling, having solid plot to work with.

And, if you check my Multiversed references page, you’ll see that I’ve posted an update with Damien’s character sheet. I’d hoped to have Valerie’s revised character sheet done by today as well, but… see for yourself :

Heh heh. To misquote “Bend It Like Beckham,” when drawing, I tend to make even mosquito bites look like juicy juicy mangoes. ^^;;

Sleeplessness led to another awesome turn of events besides Multiversed progress. One night I stumbled back out of bed, and went back to my computer. I was looking for a couple of documents in which I keep spare ideas (for incorporating into a Multiversed storyline, say). But instead I ended up reading the beginning of Strength of the Fallen. Then, amazed, I read bits of Areopagus. Then Spyder, Spyder.

They were actually good.

It’s been long enough since I wrote these projects that I don’t remember anything but the barest details of them. It was as though someone else had written them, some writer who knew what she was doing.

For the first time in my life, I agree with my mother that I should try to get these things published. …Which means I should probably finish writing them. 😛

Therefore I’m proud to announce that I will be doing National Novel Writing Month again this year. This time, I will be writing the ends to the drafts from my previous three NaNo’s. This month, my prep reading will be the drafts; my homework to brainstorm endings. I’m incredibly excited for this. NaNo is the most hectic but brilliant time. I feel so alive (if tired) during it, and I’m sure this time won’t be an exception.

(And look at those pep talk guests! Holly Black, Dave Eggers and Lemony Snicket. SQUEE. :3 )

Last but not least, I’m including an excerpt of Strength of the Fallen. There are a few things I’ll change in a later draft, of course, but it reminded me of all the intrigue that’s at the heart of this story. Click to read the excerpt.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A quick catch-up post

Heya! I’m still alive. Still working on things, still dreaming of others, still discovering new obsessions. These days I’m at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, doing grad work in their Library and Information Science program. I have a fellowship for this semester, which means I do not have to work but can instead spend my four-day weekends lolling around playing Pokemon or playing The Whispered World (a gorgeous point-and-click 3rd-person adventure game; more on this later, perhaps).

This is the first apartment I’ve had on my own, in a city where the only person I know is my childhood friend Jessica. It’s still strange and weird and scary, and I’ve had a few breakdowns in which I’ve been convinced that I’m meant to die a hermit. I have no idea how to make friends, truthfully. I’ll have to work on that.

In the meantime, I’ve kept in touch with Liz, Vince, and Dan in Des Moines. I’m working on initiating conversations instead of believing myself a nuisance. I’m keeping busy with homework and artwork, and I spend my nights working through X-Files and Supernatural. I cook; I take care of bills and laundry; I practice 3-point perspective. Besides the whole “making friends” thing, I’ve done a lot, and I’m proud of myself.

I’ve come to a few conclusions, and I have some news about Multiversed and a few other open projects, but those can wait. For now, I wanted to share Dan’s long-overdue birthday present:

Are You Gonna Give Us Trouble?


There are lots of problems with it, I know. Perspective, for one thing. But I still like it, mainly for the adorable Dan-chibi. This was trace-inked with nib pens over a makeshift lightbox. I gave this version to Dan and kept the original sketch. This process means that there are no pencil/eraser marks on the above version, and I got to keep a physical copy. However, the tracing introduced a few of the errors (e.g. the way Dragonite’s wing mysteriously matches Arcanine’s fur), so unless I can get/make a better lightbox, I won’t be doing that again.

I’m currently working on Sarah’s gift (overdue since Christmas). Then I’ll work on one for Vince (just a week late, but promises to be longer :/ ). There are more things to show off, but I’ll leave this post as is. More next week!

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Fake it ’til you make it

Since last I wrote, I have:

Overall, though, I’ve been struggling against apathy. Senioritis has hit, and I’ve stopped caring about most of my classes. The homework, the projects… Little seems relevant anymore, and truth be told, the apathy is preferable to my previous panic. I can do this, I know I can. But I’m so very ready for undergrad to be over.

Regarding the capstones, I’m ready to talk about Dread Summons a bit. The premise is that a novice from a supernatural control agency gets sent to a haunted apartment, where she must summon a spirit and return the apartment’s inhabitants to normal. It is a third-person adventure game, in 2-D and with my own artwork. Dread Summons will not be completed in time for my capstone presentation, but I hope to have the interface, controls, and a puzzle ready by then. I’m using C++ with OpenGL for the code. Even though I’d hoped to use Squeak Smalltalk, it would take way too much time to learn. And I don’t have a lot of time right now.

The prologue of Multiversed has been rewritten. I decided it would be better to leave out all the fancy foreshadowing and flashbacks, focusing instead on what happens after Ian and Bea start world-traveling. They’re perfect for asking, “What the hell is going on?!” and demanding answers.  The sooner we get the explanations out of the way and into the narrative proper, the better.

Nearly all the character sheets are done too.  Only Damien’s and Cecelia’s are left.  Unfortunately, even if I finish them today, I won’t have the time to draw roughs of the revised introduction to show my classmates.  I’m a little disappointed about that, considering how greatly it could help them understand how the script would be translated into comics, but at the same time… I dunno. It’s a lot of work I just don’t want to do right now. Ah, apathy strikes again. :/

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Semester of OMGWTFBBQ

This is my last semester at Drake. I’m a senior now, and everything’s winding up. I’m taking my last computer science class, my last two English classes, and a couple of others I thought sounded interesting (“‘History of Punishment and Evil’? Hells yes!”). Despite my not-so-rigorous class selection method, I will not be resting on my laurels this semester. No no no. These classes are going to be tough, homeslice. Lots of reading, writing, and *gasps* speaking up in class.

And that’s not all. Within this semester I must complete two capstone projects, two gift arts, and a shiny new version of the Writing Workshop website. At the beginning of every semester, I’ve said that I will push myself to do more out of class, to write everyday, to work on a project every Friday. I never have. Look at how many times I’ve promised to keep this blog going, only to abandon it when the semester got tough.

That’s not to say I won’t fail this time, too. It’s happened before, after all. But unlike previous semesters, I absolutely must push myself this semester. The capstones can’t be put off, nor the gifts, nor the website. I have to plan ahead, make lists, keep from procrastinating. And though I don’t think the process will be interesting for very many people, this blog will help me keep track, keep a level head. I’ll post when and what I can.

Semester-long commitments:

  • CS capstone (as-yet-unnamed computer game): I’m trying to figure out plot and aesthetics and whether or not I can use Smalltalk to make it work. This is definitely the one project that makes me feel I might’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I have to start working on it immediately, before fear paralyzes me and procrastination takes over.
  • Writing capstone (Multiversed comic script): An excuse to draw more concept art, partially. ;D  I’m looking forward to working through the plot. I also like that I don’t have to spend tons of time drawing the comics themselves – I really don’t have the time for that this semester.
  • Dan’s gift art: Shhh. It’s a secret! Suffice to say I have most of the references, I just need to sit down and draw it! Biiig plus side to this project – it can be drawn a little at a time.
  • Sarah’s gift art: No idea if Sarah reads this blog, but just in case… Shhh, it’s a secret! This requires a bit more work than Dan’s gift. I will need to practice 3-point perspective, drawing detailed buildings, and… girls in swimsuits. Ah me, life is hard. 😛  Small comfort to this project – if I do this right, it will be the most epic-ly awesome thing I’ve ever drawn. Yes, even beating that one. Less of a comfort – if I do this right, I won’t want to give it to Sarah at all…
  • Writing Workshop website: I spent tonight making sure I can test the HTML and CGI files now that I’m running Ubuntu instead of Windows. Kyle’s recalibrated and up for the challenge. Next up is to play with the code, making the site user-friendly and a heck of a lot more aesthetically pleasing. I have a list of a functions I want to add, but a lot of this is going to be just seeing what looks nice. I want the new site put up during Spring Break so I’m there if anything goes wrong while it’s in action. (Also so that no one complains their appointment got lost in transition.)
  • Thank you cards: What for Christmas presents. I need to draw something to put on the front, otherwise I wouldn’t dare list this alongside the capstones and website.
  • Start flossing again: Speaks for itself, I think. 😛

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