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Welcome to Layla's slice of Internet space

This is the blog of Alaskan writer/artist Layla Lawlor. Friend/defriend/follow at will.


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Interview with SL Huang

Over on my Wordpress blog, I'm interviewing [profile] sl_huang about her suspense/sci-fi thriller Half Life (and other books). The formatting went a bit wonky when I crossposted, so I decided linking would probably work better.

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Kismet updates for Monday, Jan. 12


Kismet: Sun-Cutter - Page 56

Now that Kismet has an RSS feed, I created Livejournal and Dreamwidth feeds off of it, which you can subscribe to:

Unfortunately I didn't think to create and test them before updating the feed this week, so I haven't deployed a live RSS update on them yet, but they seem to be working normally. (Well, except for links being doubled on the DW one - it's not doing that on the LJ one, and they're pulling from the same XML file! *baffled* It's not a functional problem, just kind of a weird one.) When you subscribe you may get the last 3 entries in the RSS on your reading page -- at least that's what happened to me ... I think that's just a one-time thing that's happening because I just created the feed and all 3 of those updates read into it at once, and should not happen after the first week. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, these are available to use if you'd like to use them; please let me know if you have any trouble.

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You may have noticed (or possibly not) that I'm once again crossposting some things from my Wordpress blog on my website, which is back to being a blog again, after spending some time as a static page that I occasionally add stuff to.

The Wordpress blog probably still won't update terribly often. I'm going to try to do a weekly post on the general broad topic of books and writing (my books, other people's books, etc), and perhaps the occasional post with Alaska pictures or other such things.

I've also been more active on Twitter lately.

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Sun-Cutter: Page 55

The problem I was having with comments last week has been fixed, so comments are working again.

Don't forget there is now a forum, where you can ask questions or post observations about the comic. If anything interesting comes up (like the current Founder's Day thread) I'll periodically pull this sort of thing out and post it.

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Let the Monday “Booktalk” posts commence! :D

I’ve been on a Diana Wynne Jones rereading kick lately. It started with Hexwood and proceeded to the Chrestomanci books, of which The Lives of Christopher Chant is my favorite by far, and one of my favorites of all of her books — mainly because I think the things I like most about her books are more clearly on display in this one than in many of her others.

I didn’t start reading DWJ ’til I was an adult. I expect I would have liked her books as a kid, but I think I might’ve appreciated them in a different way — more seduced by the sense of wonder, less distracted by how the plots go (or don’t go). As an adult reading her books, I sometimes find the plots very hit-or-miss, and in particular the endings frequently leave me feeling let down or simply frustrated. She has a meandering approach to plot that breaks just about all of the standard plotting rules at one point or another — important characters fail to appear until halfway through her books, critically important plot elements may be held back until the very end, Chekhov’s Gun may or may not fire, etc. It’s a style that feels much more like an oral storytelling tradition — someone telling you a story — than a lot of fiction tends to, and sometimes I really appreciate it for its lack of artificiality, but sometimes it just completely misses the boat for me.

But the thing I love most about her books, that keeps me coming back to them, is the layered-ness of the characters, and in particular the way the characters are presented to the reader. One thing that frustrates me about a lot of fiction aimed at kids is the flatness of the character presentation. Good people and bad people are evident at first glance; they wear their goodness or badness on the outside. (Good people pretty, bad people ugly….) And certainly they don’t do both good and bad things at once, so you can’t even tell how you’re supposed to feel about them …

But DWJ’s characters are complicated and surprising. Her hapless protagonists have to guess, like everyone in the real world, about who the good and bad people are: who to believe, who to trust. And often they guess wrong (frequently misjudging other characters based on superficial attributes), only to figure things out over the course of the book.

Many of her books deal with a particularly challenging aspect of growing up — the way that your perspective on other people, and yourself, tilts as you mature and begin to recognize your own humanity in other people, and become aware of the flaws in yourself.

I enjoy all of the Chrestomanci books to one degree or another — I’m currently reading The Pinhoe Egg, which doesn’t seem at all familiar, so it’s possible I’ve actually never read it before — but The Lives of Christopher Chant has always been the book in the series that stood out the most to me.

(Spoilers follow.)

Spoilers under the cutCollapse )

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The January rewards package has been posted in the Patreon activity feed. See how Signy's redesign is coming along!

(Above: the sneakiest of sneak previews)

The 3-month introductory special is now over, so the rewards package is now available only to the $5+ subscribers, i.e. back to the regular reward tiers. (The last 3 months' rewards will stay unlocked for all subscribers.)

However, you won't miss out because I plan to use the Patreon blog a LOT more in 2015, posting updates of my work in progress, answering questions and whatever else you like. :) I just posted a snapshot of my drawing board this morning, with Page 66 up for penciling! All you need to do is subscribe for at least a buck a month (less than a cup of coffee!) and you'll have access to it.

Handy link to the Kismet patreon!

I've redone the reward levels somewhat. At $50 a month, the comic will pay for itself -- web hosting, software costs, materials costs like pencils and paper, etc. I would really love to get it there in 2015, and when it DOES get there, I'll post a Signy & Jude side story I've been working on that gives a bit more of their shared backstory. I'm also thinking about other goodies for both new and current subscribers (anything new I offer to entice in new people, the current subscribers will also get -- anything else would be unfair!).

What sort of rewards would YOU like to see?

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2015 Creative Goals


Here’s what I plan to do in 2015:

  • Make a writing schedule/marketing plan and stick to it
  • Write two new novels
  • Finish editing the 2 steampunk ones I wrote this year and submit to Dreamspinner Press (which has right of first refusal); self-publish if refused
  • Edit both the novels in my urban fantasy series & start making progress toward whatever I want to do with them (submit to agents if going that route; start prepping for self-publishing if that)
  • Revise my first novel — an ancient, probably unpublishable YA fantasy called Wishmaker — and put it online for free.
  • Update Kismet every week, and finish the year with a page buffer
  • Publish the Hunter’s Moon book via Kickstarter

The first item on the list sounds more formal than it is, and mostly has to do with something I’ve been struggling with for the last few years, namely organizing my time more efficiently. I’ve never successfully managed to stick to a regular writing/drawing schedule, but maybe this will be the year I’ll do it.

Alarmingly (given the scope of the above list), I have a considerably longer private list of Stuff I’m Gonna (try to) Edit/Write/Do in 2015, but I decided it’d be best to keep the public-accountability list to the highest priority items. Especially given my abysmal track record of finishing my lists. This list already amounts to “edit five novels and write two”, plus at least 52 pages of Kismet, which is huge compared to anything I’ve managed to accomplish in past years. Some years I aim pretty low; apparently this is one of those years I’m aiming high. Wish me luck?

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Creative Year in Review: 2014


It’s that time of year again – my annual year-in-review and accountability post. I’ve been doing them since 2006; here’s the LJ tag and the DW tag.

First of all, here’s what I accomplished creatively in 2014:

I also signed up for Patreon (hope to do a lot more with that in 2015) and taught comics-making at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival for the second year.

Under the cut, how I did with last year’s creative goals:

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

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