The Jaguar’s 2018 Retrospective and 2019 Plans

It’s that time again! In lieu of a monthly round-up, we get the yearly. Side note: I went full-time as a writer/artist on June 16th, so you can fill in the blanks with tumult in the transition, and sudden changes in plans and goals. I’m looking forward to not having to radically switch gears in the middle of the year this year, God willing and the creek don’t rise.Anyway! Here’s my creative year in bullet points.

Books Published in 2018:

  • Business for the Right Brained (January)
  • Dreamstorm (April)
  • Sword of the Alliance (August)
  • Girl on Fire (October)
  • PG Summary Project (December)

I did not publish as much novels last year as I should have; I’m not even going to make excuses for it. I don’t regret my two nonfiction projects: the business book was a ‘pay it forward’ so making money off it wasn’t my goal, and the summary project has helped more than one person get into the Princes’ Game series. But this year my focus is definitely going to be on novels, where it should be.Did you miss picking up one of these? Go get them here!

Books Written and Not Published

  • Coracle 1
  • Healer’s Wedding

This is not a bad count. I like having inventory.

Books Begun/in Progress

  • Farmer’s Crown
  • Alysha 5
  • Kherishdar’s Exception
  • Coracle 2

This is also not a bad count. Farmer’s Crown only needs final edits, and Alysha 5 should be ready for a May release (my third book of 2019, after Healer’s Wedding and Farmer’s Crown). Kherishdar’s Exception is about a fifth done and proceeding at the pace I want. Coracle, I’m trying to decide how to handle. More on that when I figure it out.

Short Stories Completed in 2018:

  • Healing Waters (Jahir and Vasiht’h)
  • Leadership Lessons (Alysha)
  • Disengage (Jahir and Vasiht’h)
  • Jackal Chest Jahir and Vasiht’h)
  • Ariihir (Jahir and Vasiht’h)

I wrote a lot of short fiction this year, which is odd because I thought I hated writing short fiction. It turns out I don’t mind writing short fiction if it fills in gaps in existing novels, and as long as I can see a future for it beyond ‘they’re lost on various download sites that are frustrating for fans to remember’ or ‘they’re in eternal limbo while editors decide they don’t want them.’ In this case, most of these are earmarked for a Princes’ Game companion collection. (And in at least one case, ‘short fiction’ is a bit of a misnomer; “Jackal Chest” is a novelette.)

Short Stories Begun/in Progress in 2018:

  • Air Dancing (Queen Ransomed)
  • PG3 Incentive Short (Vasiht’h and Sehvi)
  • PG6 Incentive Novelette (Vasiht’h and family)

All of these are also destined for that collection, and two of them are already over novelette-length: lots of nice, juicy stuff for fans. Particularly people who love Glaseah! That PG6 incentive is a bridge between From Ruins and Healer’s Wedding, and it’s full of Glaseah doing Glaseah stuff. *grin*

Kickstarters Run in 2018:

  • Strand Print Edition (Feb)
  • Dreamhearth Print Edition (Apr)
  • Transcend Print Edition (Aug)

You know, I thought I ran more Kickstarters this year? I had a fourth in my pocket but I never unleashed it. Expect more fun campaigns this year.

New Editions:

Print

  • PG2: Some Things Transcend
  • PG3: Amulet Rampant
  • PG4: Only the Open
  • PG5: In Extremis
  • PG6: From Ruins
  • PG Summary
  • Girl on Fire
  • Blood Ladders 1: An Heir to Thorns and Steel
  • Blood Ladders 2: By Vow and Royal Bloodshed
  • Blood Ladders 3: On Wings of Bone and Glass

Audio (Complete)

  • A Bloom in the North
  • Sword of the Alliance
  • Either Side of the Strand

Audio (in Progress)

  • PG2: Some Things Transcend
  • Blood Ladders 1: An Heir to Thorns and Steel
  • Dreamhealers 1: Mindtouch

This was the year I finished getting all my backlist into print! Which was a ton of work, and I’m glad it’s over with. From this point forward, the print and e-book editions will be available simultaneously. Audio is also finally in train, since I engaged actors to deal with both Blood Ladders and Dreamhealers, and Jim’s still making progress on Princes’ Game. I’m hoping to make 2019 the year of the audio edition, and Patreon folks will get access first!

Sketchbooks

  • 2 Large Filled (117 and 118)
  • 2 Large Partially Filled (116 and 119)
  • 2 Small Filled (AP and AQ)
  • 1 Small Partially Filled (AR)

Figuring out how much art I did this year is too big a task because I was messing around with Clip Studio, animation, painting, and sketching on paper, and all the bits are scattered all over the place. Instead, I checked to see how many 100-page sketchbooks I filled (with the numbers/letter designations in case I need to remember which ones correspond to 2018) and noted that. So I’m guessing at least 400 pieces of art on paper, and maybe another 400 doodles with Clip Studio? Something like that. Not a ton, anyway. There were years I was filling more than one sketchbook a month. But I’m not unhappy with the numbers, since I suspect they represent an increase over 2017’s number.

2019 Plans

So my plans for this year:

  • 1 Novel Published Every Two Months.
  • 1 Kickstarter Every Quarter
  • 1 Art Stream Every Two Weeks
  • 3 Patreon Posts a Week
  • Halve Book Expenses

I feel like this is a good plan: gives me enough space for sicktime and vacations while bringing in enough income to pay my salary and accommodate my growing audiobook empire. I’m also going to go after some of my expenses, because I anticipate audio production eating a lot of my money and I’d like to offset that. I’ve already got one of those Kickstarters drafted, and January and March’s novels are ready! So I feel like I’ve hit the ground running. 2019, here I come!

A final aside: Some of you might notice that I don’t track words written. That’s because I don’t care about how many words I write. I care about how many books get into your hands. If I focus too much on wordcount, I start drifting off my goal. Finishing things is hard, y’all. You can procrastinate a lot by deciding to ‘work on’ something else to make your wordcount goal. If there’s one thing working in Network Operations taught me, it’s that you get more of what you measure for. If measuring wordcount gets me more wordcount, but that wordcount is spread over a dozen projects, then at the end of the year I’ll have 500,000+ words and maybe one finished book. If I’m lucky. If I measure by novels published, though, suddenly there’s no wiggle-room left. I’m on the hook for actual books in your hands, and that means… books get done! So that’s the rationale there.

So important: you get what you measure for. So choose your measuring goalposts wisely!

Anyway, the year in review, and the coming year. *cracks knuckles* We’re gonna have fun!

Mission: Discontinued Paper, Divine

My very favoritest paper to work on is Fabriano’s Artistico, a paper from a company so old that Michelangelo bought from them. I cannot describe how lovely this paper is. It is not the perfect paper for every artist, but it is the perfect paper for me, and I have been using it exclusively since I discovered it.

And then Fabriano decided to “improve” it. And the reformulation is awful.

This paper was so much a part of my joy in painting that for several years I simply quit. I dabbled in acrylics and oils in an attempt to find some new way of working, but none of those attempts clicked. And I didn’t think about it again… until I found my paper in the discontinued rack of a local art store.

…since then, I’ve checked the discontinued paper section of every art store I’ve visited, and I’ve scored several more finds. There have been days I’ve left with $300 worth of paper and no regrets! But I’ve run out of places within my reach, which means it’s time to put out an offer to the world at large.

If you find this particular paper while you’re browsing and are willing to buy it for me, I will pay for it and shipping and bribe you in some other way. Food, books, art, money… tell me your price! But it’s got to be the right paper. Which means you won’t find it in the regular aisle. Fabriano still sells Artistico, remember, but they’ve changed it. The stuff you want is sold by the sheet (see below), not in a block, and it’s discontinued. It should have a watermark (see top photo). It comes in both 300 lb and 140 lb and I’ll take either. (I’ve photographed the 300 lb below so you can see how thick it is).

I only want hot press. The surface should be smooth as a plate!

If you happen to run into this stuff and are leery of shipping it, I don’t mind you having the art store cut it in half, which should make it a manageable size to mail. And yes, if you are international, I’m still interested… but you will have to cut it down, because oversize packages from overseas are gut-wound-expensive. But I will happily take a bunch of smaller sheets of this stuff if it means I can have it!

If you do run into the stuff, email/tweet/DM me before you buy it, just so I can make sure I’ve got the budget. (And if I don’t get back to you, then it wasn’t meant to be!)

Thank you, Jaguar Agents. I appreciate your help. <3

Conlang Book List

A handful of you asked after my books on constructing artificial languages, little realizing what monster you would release by asking! This is my excited face. 😬I used to get all these books as paper references; recently I’ve moved to e-book, which makes photographing the full stack hard. Here’s a list, then!
Language Overviews
These have been useful because they give you a sense of how other languages do things, and they teach you useful things about what languages need to work. Also note: I find it useful to have access to a basic textbook on linguistics. Mine is a relic from my college days, which isn’t sold anymore. There are probably better ones out there; pick one up!
  • The Atlas of Languages. A great overview that highlights interesting features of various languages while discussing basic linguistic concepts.
  • The Languages of the World. A page by page, language by language, catalog, with a sample bit of text translated. Great way to look at lots and lots of different orthographies (alphabet systems).
  • The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language. Mind-blowing theory book about how language features develop and how cultures define them. *hugs this book a lot*
  • How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation, by N. J. Enfield. Also mind-blowing book about how language handles conversation. Especially important because a lot of people create languages… on paper, by writing them down. Spoken language comes first, and has a lot of different priorities. *also hugs this book a lot*
  • The Language Instinct, by Steven Pinker. It’s hard not to read some of the big name theorists in the field. The Language Instinct was an important book, and while it’s not a proven theory it’s still a great look at the link between neurology and language.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming. This is a textbook, and so far the only extensive resource I’ve found about names. I tend to take it a chapter at a time… it’s dense.
Useful Books About Real Languages
Any book that makes you think about how languages develop is helpful. In addition to meta-analysis of languages, like the ones I’ve mentioned here, I also collect “Learn to Speak X” books whenever I can…. I have eleven or twelve of those? Cherokee, Hebrew, Thai, Irish, a book on Inuit naming customs, my Latin and Spanish textbooks from school, Mandarin, several on Japanese (one specifically on writing systems), one on Egyptian hieroglyphics, etc. And I want more. >.> Here are some more overview-like texts:
Conlang Books
These are either specifically about how to make languages, or about other invented languages.
  • The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building, by David J. Peterson. This is the guy who did the conlang for the Game of Thrones TV show.  Of the books about constructed languages, this is the one I’d hand to someone who knew nothing about making them and wanted to: it’s a charming overview, very readable.
  • The Language Construction Kit, by Mark Rosenfelder.  This one, though, is far crunchier, by one of the internet godfathers of conlanging…
  • Advanced Language Construction, by Mark Rosenfelder. …and this is the crunchiest of them all, because he goes into topics in this one he didn’t bother to in the first. You’ll be completely lost if you don’t have a good grounding in linguistics. But if you do, it’s great!
  • The Conlanger’s Lexipedia, by Mark Rosenfelder. A handy introduction to semantic categorization. If you want to make up words, this book will give you a sense for how people group them.
  • In the Land of Invented Languages, by Arika Okrent. This is less about how to make languages and more about the history of people making languages for various purposes. (Apparently we’ve been doing it for a long time.) 
  • Create a Language Clinic, by Holly Lisle. For people who want to make languages specifically to use them for worldbuilding as part of a story, this is the book you want: the priorities of someone making a language to speak it with friends (or in movies) are not the priorities of someone writing a novel with it.
  • The Languages of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  There’s no getting away from studying Tolkien’s languages if you’re a worldbuilding fantasy writer who wants to include a constructed language in your work. Or well, I guess you could get away from it, but you shouldn’t, because he did the most amazing job with it and if you follow his footsteps you’ll avoid the ‘that author just threw some words that sound sort of alike together and none of it makes sense’ phenomenon.
Misc Resources
  • Vulgarlang: This website will try to generate a conlang for you! I haven’t played much with it, but you might lose some productive hours doing so. *grin*
  • Lexique Pro: At some point, you will have enough vocabulary that tracking it will be an issue. Lexique Pro is a lexicon-organizing language intended for natural languages so native speakers of more obscure languages can share their vocabulary with other people. It works for conlangs too, thus.
  • Polyglot Language Construction Kit.  However, if you want an “intended for conlangs specifically” lexicon program, this one is it. It’ll even generate new vocabulary for you based on morphological rules. Which you have to define. So you can see the level of understanding you should have before you dive into it. >.>  Also allows you to put in your conlang’s orthography, though, which is keen. I got both these links from R. Coots–thank you, R!
Note that I use neither of those programs for my lexicon. I’m using a spreadsheet.
That’s all I can think of for now! If I remember anything I’ve forgotten, I’ll add it. Feel free to make suggestions, too! I’m always hunting for new resources!💖

2018 Plan!

So this is my tentative plan for the beginning/middle of 2018… and I say tentative because we know what happens with plans and surviving contact with things. But hey, it’s still worth it to start with a plan!