Showing posts with label the craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the craft. Show all posts

Saturday, May 28, 2022

My New Writing Setup!

 

After years of what can kindly be referred to as procrastination, I finally buckled down and pulled my home office/writing space together. Join me now as I share its writerly awesomeness with you, my beloved readers, viewers, and colleagues.

Step one was to upgrade my tech. 

I boosted my desktop and monitor reality from an ancient Dell Dimension 8300 that was slowly failing, to a much more recent refurbished Dell OptiPlex 7020-SFF Core i7, 1TB SSD with 16GB of memory and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 2GB graphics card. It purrs like a kitten and is a HUGE improvement over my previous machine. I got the refurbished desktop from Amazon. Admittedly, this was a budget solution, but it works just fine for me. I'll admit to being a little nervous about a "used" computer, but its been running great since December 2021, and I'm really pleased with its performance. 

As always, your mileage may vary.

I then purchased a new HP 24" monitor with a HDMI connection to take
advantage of the NVIDIA card. Another BIG improvement that I wish I would've done sooner. Age of Empires III never looked better!

Next, I installed a massive memory upgrade on my muscular, business-level Lenovo ThinkPad laptop. It went from 16GB-->32GB. This thing smokes now, especially when its hooked up to my 100ft. ethernet cable. 100ft. ethernet cable?! Yeah, that helps my burly laptop bypass lagging wi-fi in my house (lots of draws on my bandwidth) by directly hooking into the router which is on another floor. 

Step two was to take down my ragtag assortment of animation-related wall decorations and replace the dingy-looking tan walls with a restful/calming/classy "Sage Gray" paint in an eggshell finish. I absolutely love this new color. 

After that, I installed new baseboards and limited my wall hangings to select animation cels (not a typo) 😊 and posters I pulled in from another room.

Future upgrades will include having ethernet wall jacks installed in several key areas of my house and purchasing a lightweight laptop (Microsoft Surface perhaps?) for travel purposes that won't make me feel like I'm lugging around a backpack full of bricks. Recommendations on good quality yet affordable lightweight laptops are welcome.


Finally, I bought some relatively inexpensive yet great-looking office furniture including a wood/metal computer desk, matching finish wood storage cabinet, and, best of all, a comfortable office chair that smashes the thrift shop $6.00 special that's been killing my lower back and posterior for years.

While it took me way too long to start this project, it took less than a month to complete it and I couldn't be happier with the results. 

Want to show off your writing space? Drop a pic and a brief description in the comments.

#homeoffice #writingspace #writer #author #animation #novels #writing #writingcommunity #fortressofwritertude

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Roger Eschbacher is an Emmy Nominated Freelance & Staff Writer, YA SciFi & Fantasy Author, Actor & Groundlings Alum. If you like SF/F adventure novels, feel free to check out his AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE. (affiliate link) Thanks!


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Getting Started, Pt.1


Q: I thought you might be able to offer some advice to a writer jumping head-first into the animation industry. While I've been a writer for some time, I've just now been able to gain representation for screenwriting. Would you have any advice for a writer just starting to get work? Should I rely solely on my agent to get me jobs on shows? How would you recommend getting started with work beyond the commercials and website things I've thus far been hired in? I know it's a tough business, but I'm excited to put the work in and willing to take the advice of those who've been there and succeeded.

A: By getting an agent, you've already taken the biggest step toward gainful employment. Having an
agent is vital as they set up pitch meetings for you and submit your writing samples to the different shows. To answer your question, no, you should not rely (solely) on your agent to get you work. An agent is better viewed as a team member, a person who helps you get work. In the meantime, network and do your best to make personal contacts. The old saw that it's "who you know" has a lot of truth to it. I find the longer I'm in the business, the more work I get from people who've hired me before.

Another bit of advice would be to keep writing script samples for sitcoms, screenplays, anything that your agent can use to submit you for jobs. The more practice/skill you have in writing scripts, the more confidence you'll gain and the more likely you are to get work as a writer.

Good luck!

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Pt.2 of this FAQ will be a follow up to this question.

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Thoughts about the above question or about animation writing in general? Leave them in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Illustrator FAQ: Where do I start?


Q: My mother has been a professional artist for over 40 years and has recently put together a wonderful portfolio of children's book illustration examples. Her forte is definitely in the area of illustration so she would like to somehow team with a writer to put together a book. She has sent her portfolio to a number of publishers, but has yet to be connected with a writer and ultimately published. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: I'm an author. I only restate the obvious to warn you about the questionable value of advice from an author to an aspiring illustrator. That being said, here are some thoughts.

It's good that your Mom has put together a portfolio because, as she has discovered, you must have one to get work. Obviously, a portfolio filled with picture book appropriate art samples would be better to have for this purpose than one of poster art or portraiture. I have heard of writers and illustrators teaming up "on spec," but this seems to be the exception to the rule -- usually husband and wife teams, old friends, etc. Side note: When I first started writing books, I was concerned that I was going to have to find my own illustrator. But a little research quickly revealed that publishers actually prefer it if authors don't come in with their own artwork (unless the illustrations are exceptionally good). Part of the satisfaction that an editor or publisher gets from their job is in the pairing up of the right illustrator with the right author.

So, all that being said, here are some thoughts on getting work as a children's book illustrator...

Your Mom could write and illustrate her own book. Author/Illustrators are a well-respected double threat in the kid's book trade (and get to keep ALL of the money!). If she's not crazy about writing an original story, she might want to think about "re-telling" a classic fairy tale or obscure folk story -- something in the public domain.

There are also agents that handle illustrators but how to find one of them is far outside of my area of expertise, so she’ll have to look into that herself. The links I mention below might prove helpful.



Another approach would be for her to keep slugging away and submitting her portfolio to the various publishing houses. 

Try visiting the FAQs on the Children's Book Council website. They're the trade organization for all the children's book publishers and they provide a great deal of helpful info. Anyway, they're great place to start. The rest of the site has a lot of useful info, too.

I'd also recommend the most recent edition of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books". It really helped me out on the author side of things with practical "how to" tips and I've read that the latest edition provides a lot of useful info for illustrators, too. 

Tell your Mom "good luck" from me!

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 If you have a question about writing books, send it to me via the CONTACT tab or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Can Writers Monetize a Con Visit?

I had an interesting exchange with Shea Fontana, a writer friend of mine. She was wondering if it's possible for a writer to monetize a con visit (Comic-Con, Dragon Con, etc.). Here it is...

Shea:  Does anyone have good resources on how to business at Cons (especially for writers)? I like going to them and hanging out with the fans, but losing several days of potential work every time is not ideal... No paid vacation in freelance life...

Roger:  Shea, I've wondered about this, too. In general, I think it's much harder for a writer to monetize a con visit.

Artists are able to justify renting a booth to sell prints and self-pubbed comics/graphic novels, etc., but unless you have successful indie titles of your own (or are able to work out some sort of appearance deal with your publisher/studio), I'm not sure how it would work for a writer. Plus, those booths can be pricey.

Most of the writer success stories I've run across involve booth rentals and/or popular sci-fi/fantasy/youth authors who do signings (often on someone else's dime).

Over the years, I've been invited to reading festivals (the book equivalent of a con) where, in exchange for appearing on panels and doing readings and signings, etc., they paid for travel and lodging expenses and gave a small per diem. Maybe asking for at least that level of "payment" when you're invited to a con can take some of the sting out of taking an unpaid vacation.

I'm not sure if that's the kind of info you're looking for, but hopefully it's at least a little bit helpful.


Shea:  This is exactly what I'm looking for! Artist can do commissions and sell prints, so maybe they can make a little cash (but from all accounts, not much). But even if I could get wholesale books to sell, being a "merchant" sounds like a certain circle of hell. So I guess it's just a publicity/networking play...

How about you folks? Any thoughts on or experience with this subject? If so, please share in the comments.

Here's a link to an enlightening post by sci-fi pro author Chuck Wendig entitled "The Pros And Cons of Pro Cons (For Writers)" It's a real eye opener!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Top Six 2015 Creative Goals and Resolutions

6) Complete outline for the third book in my 'Dragonfriend' series.

I take my time with my outlines and try to make them as complete as possible (while leaving plenty of room for the little discoveries we authors delight in), but haven't done any work on this one since July. That's unacceptable and I intend to complete it before this fall. Bonus goal: Write a first draft of the novel before the end of the year, possibly during NaNoWriMo (which I happen to enjoy, but haven't been able to participate in for a couple of years).

5) Complete edit of the space opera YA novel I wrote.

I finished the first draft of this manuscript a while back and set it aside until my thoughts cleared. Guess what? They cleared and so this one's back on the to-do list. 

4) Start and complete first draft of short story anthology based in Norse mythology.

 I researched this one extensively over the summer and now need to get busy on it.

3) Finish editing my kid's novel.

Yes, my 18yr old wrote a fantasy novel and it's awesome. It's also 100k+ words and I've got to knuckle down and devote the time to it that it deserves. Deep breath.

2) Complete the pitch bible for a cool animated show I'm creating.

It's funny and character-driven with lots of fun dystopian action. I just have to get off my keister and get it done. Bonus goal: Write the pilot script, too.

1) Get a full-time writing/acting/anything gig.

2014, don't let the door hit you on the way out. While blessed with freelance writing work on a couple of great shows, last year was particularly dry and the gaps between script assignments have been brutal. A regular paycheck over an extended period of time is sorely needed. This one is the priority, hence its ranking at #1.

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There are some serious time-eaters on this list and I doubt I'll get the whole thing done, but I'm going for it. I'll report back at the end of the year and let you know how successful I was.

What's on your list of creative goals and resolutions for 2015?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Question: Pimping Your Animation Idea

From Jojo: 

Q: Hallo there I am sorry to bother you but I kinda need a little help and gaudiness. I have an idea for an animation film but I can't really show it to anybody without having a manager or an agent first and I have no idea how to do that. Can you please help me? Thanks very much.

A: Just like the studios and production companies you'd eventually like to reach, most reputable agents or managers are uninterested in "ideas," especially from unknowns (I assume you're an unknown, if not, what the heck are you doing asking a question like this to an unknown like me?). They're much more likely to respond positively to a well-written query in which you very briefly describe your idea and then offer to send YOUR SCRIPT. That's right, I said script. Aside from claiming a recommendation from J.J. Abrams (don't do this unless you really have one), writing a script is the only way I know of that you, currently an unknown, will get a legitimate agent or manager interested in your "idea." 

As far as your needing a little gaudiness (assuming that wasn't an autocorrect error), I'd suggest checking out Mardis Gras or carnivale footage on YouTube and seeing if you can crib some tips from there. ;)

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Got a question for a self/traditionally published author and TV animation writer (who'd be perfect for that show you're staffing)? I thought so. Leave it here in the comments and I'll try to answer it on the following Saturday.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Feature: Saturday Question

Got a question for a self and traditionally published, TV animation writing, Emmy Award nominated low-level showbiz type, and sometime actor (who'd be perfect for that series or commercial you're casting)? I thought so. Send it this way and I'll try to answer it on the following Saturday.

(Side Note: This feature was inspired by (copied from) comedy great Ken Levine's excellent blog - definitely check it out for more showbiz-y/author-y goodness.)

This week's question comes from Marie:

Q: I am a writer and I've got an idea for an animated feature. I just have the idea and couple of different endings. I have two contacts through my sister in LA who are producers for big animated companies. I spoke to one and she definitely believes it is definitely a full-length feature film,  that no one has done, yet. She told me that I needed to own it as long as I can, write the treatment, screenplay. I have no experience in writing scripts. Do you have any advice or can suggest any materials that someone like me could follow? I get very frustrated when I write. So far I am just watching as many films as I can and reading other scripts. --Marie

A: I would recommend three things. First, even though "no one has done" a script like yours yet, determine an animated feature that your idea most closely resembles, then hunt around on the web for a copy of that script (there are many resources, some free) and use it as a model/template for your own idea. I'm not telling you to copy it, just to use it to see how professionals execute an idea similar to your own.

Next, you may want to pick up a copy of Syd Field's classic how-to book, "Screenplay." It's considered the industry standard in how to structure a screenplay.

Finally, you may want to invest in some screenwriting software to help you make sure your script looks right. I, and most other pros use Final Draft or Movie Magic. Each of these is a little pricey but I think well worth the investment if you plan on writing professionally. I have no doubt that there a few free script formatting programs out there, too. Hunt around and see what you can come up with. Good luck!

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If you have a question for me, please leave it in the comment section. Thanks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

7 Questions: Author Brian Clopper

      Brian Clopper is one of my favorite indie authors. His books are packed with fun and adventure and I'm looking forward to having you meet him. On a side note, Brian and I have collaborated along with three other authors on a fun short story fantasy anthology entitled Wonderstorms. Highly recommended! ;) 

      Here now, 7 Questions for Brian Clopper:

      1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in writing books.


I'm a father of two. I teach fifth grade in North Carolina. The writing bug hit me later in life. I wrote for comic books, mostly self-published projects that I also illustrated. During the time I worked in comic books, I started writing fantasy novels, Graham the Gargoyle and Monsters in Boxers back in 2000. I even had an agent for a time who was shopping Monsters in Boxers, but nothing came of it. 

When my family made a major move to North Carolina, I stopped working in comics and focused on teaching and being a dad. After a few years, my daughter asked me if I would write again as she had never seen me do any of my books. I was so excited by her enthusiasm that I dove in.  I made friends with Keith Robinson who was instrumental in helping me publish my books electronically and four years later, I have sixteen books available, one under a penname.

2.  What effect, if any, does your day job have on your writing?
In my day job, I teach writing and science to three classes of fifth graders. This year, I even get to teach my son those subjects as he is in fifth grade. He is a talented writer. In fact, both my children are incredible storytellers and have surprisingly sophisticated vocabularies. I wonder where they get that from.
Working with students daily to inspire them to be creative in writing is inspiring to me as well.They
love that I'm a writer and push themselves even more to excel. The climate in the classroom when they write is so exciting. Each of them sees themselves as a writer and they drive themselves hard.
When I come home, I write for an hour about three nights a week and then get another three hours on the weekend. I get even more time when I track out. I teach at a year-round school where I am in for nine weeks and then off for three. During the four three-week breaks I get a ton of writing done. I find I can write 3-4 books a year with this schedule and have done nothing under that range in the four years since I started working on writing with a serious desire.

3.  As an author, what draws you to the fantasy genre?
Fantasy is such a rich genre. I love monsters and magic. I love the possibilities inherent in fantasies. I also think science fiction is the bee's knees too. While most of my books are fantasy, I have done two science fiction books, Fractured with Keith Robinson and my penname book. My heart belongs to fantasy though, so while I will dabble in other genres, I come back to fantasy often.

4.  What are some of the challenges and benefits of being an indie author?
The biggest challenge is I lack the knack for self-promotion. I'd even go so far as to say I hate touting my books. I would much rather devote any time I have to writing over promoting, which is probably why so few people have discovered my work. Part of me wonders if that's a form of self-sabotage. Do I avoid drawing attention to myself so I can deliberately avoid the exposure that comes with driving readers to my books? My shy personality draws a little nourishment from going unnoticed. I sometimes fear that success will come only if I let it catch me.

5.  Take us through your process (from idea to publication) when working on a book.
I write very loose. I don't create an outline or a sophisticated map of events. I do write a brief two or three paragraph summary before I dive in, but the final product bares little resemblance to that initial summary. I do jot down signpost scenes of elements I need to include. I let the characters and setting organically grow the plot. I find pleasant discoveries in story elements happen often and never write myself into a corner. 

It takes me three months to write the first draft. During that time, I will reread and edit after completing each new chapter. I reread and edit after I reach the halfway mark and then I read it again when the first draft is complete. I then send it out to beta readers and that takes another two months. One of my trusted beta readers, Keith Robinson, reads the book in a google doc and gives me gobs of immediate feedback. You, yourself, Roger, have helped me in this fashion several times as well. 

I then take another month to do final edits and one more read-through before publishing. During the three months of beta reading and editing, I am busy writing the first draft of my next book. I am a restless soul and find that pushes me to be more productive. This schedule helps me put out 3-4 books a year.

6.  Name a few of your favorite authors growing up and describe the influence they may have had on your own writing.
I loved Andre Norton. Here Abide Monsters is one of my favorites.  An author that not many know of who really inspired me was Sterling Lanier. His fantasy is an assemblage of frontier savagery and mysticism. It also helps that he lived only about twenty miles from my hometown. Something about knowing that an author is so close at hand creates an immediacy to their craft. I  plowed through tons of Piers Anthony and Robert Heinlein. 

In my teen years, I couldn't get enough of Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes when they worked together. Michael Crichton's books made my twenty-something self pleased as punch. I think my short quick chapters and propensity for cliffhangers can be traced back to his work.

 I like stories that explore underground worlds, war-torn futures and can't get enough of zombies. 

On the humor side, I delight in Douglas Addams and rank Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett as one of my all-time favorites. 

In the comic book world, Ty Templeton's Stig's Inferno along with Scott McCloud's Zot! are two series that shaped my writing philosophy.

7.  What are you working on these days and what kind of projects do you have planned for the future?
I am finishing up the last 10,000 words of Irving Wishbutton 2: The Revision Ravines. That series is
set for four volumes and I plan on delivering a new one every May. 

Up next is Overwhelmed, Book 2 of Turncoats. This is my zombie series and has been well reviewed. I get a lot of readers asking me to get book 2 out. 

I just published Graham 3 and plan on working on Graham 4 and Monsters in Boxers 2 in the latter half of 2014. If it sounds like this is the year of follow-ups, you'd be right. I am making a focused effort to finish up the series I start. I want readers to know that I am driven to creating new concepts but won't be ignoring the rich fantasy worlds I have already unleashed.

In terms of new concepts, I want to do Evil Impire as a short 40,000 word novel. It is a zany fantasy that ties into the Graham series but can exist as a standalone.

After all that, I really want to work with Keith Robinson on our follow-up book to Fractured, Unearthed. That series has strong reader support and both of us are eager to finish it off. I also want to do another humorous science fiction book under my penname. 

It looks like the next two years are going to be busy as all get out. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Thanks Brian!
Brian Clopper is an elementary school teacher and lover of monsters. He has been a prolific writer over the past four years, producing over fifteen novels. He enjoys tacos and sushi but never together. When not on the field helping coach his son's baseball team and his daughter's softball team, he can be found reading comics, books and playing far too many video games. His lovely wife Michelle is a big supporter of his creative endeavors.

To learn more about Brian and his books, visit him here:

Twitter: @brianclopper

New Writer Bio for Roger Eschbacher

  New writer bio...   "Main co. alum of the Groundlings, I write YA fantasy/sci-fi novels and animation (preschool, bridge, kids) for ...