Sunday, December 25, 2011

The cure for too much holiday party

Sooner or later on a holiday, you have to get out of the house.

Everybody, including the cats, is turkey up to HERE.

Merry Stinzmas!

Stinz putting out hay for the birds and the poor half-horses.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Process or DRAW.

So.... do I spend all my time trying to process my books, or do I use it to make new art and pages?

I'm not getting any younger, so it may be up to others to get a lot of the additional book-processing done. I can stick smaller page counts up on Indyplanet or collections up on Amazon, but taking time to re-process into Kindle - considering my hundreds of books - is just going to eat up all my remaining years.  Flogging at publishers before starting a project just eats up hours.

A quicky sketch from many years ago. Yes, you can pay me to do anything from a scribble to an epic.
I'm not trying to be all whiny or gloomy, but there's a reality here.  Art takes time. Writing takes time. It's that or process.  Process disappears.  You can work your butt off on the ebooks and pdfs and paper versions, but all somebody has to do is fail their site or decide to change it, and years of work can disappear overnight.

So I'm sorry if all the stuff isn't going to be available everywhere all at once.  You'll get the new stuff on the easiest sites, or the most long-running sites.  I'm not going to run my head off any more to try to keep it all covered.  When somebody else figures out how to pay themselves by harnessing my author engine, you'll get the full coverage.  It can't be THAT hard, can it?

I'll try to keep updates going on the Bookstore (see it in the links, this page).  I'll very much appreciate any reports to me of problems or broken links.

In the meantime, I'll keep inking, scanning, coloring.  And taking time for commissions, because those are REAL.

I'm going to be SO rich when I'm dead.  Those people in my will to take care of my cats are going to be so happy.



Beans and Eggs for Solstice 2011

Just wrapped spices, tobacco, stick of anise in a page from an art catalog, and added that bundle and the last egg we had - the last egg of the old year from our hens - and gifted it to the roaring fire in Betsy the Stove.  If that doesn't tell the sun it's welcome, I dunno what will.  Boiling beans for the new year. Now keep me well enough after all this crud for the yearly chips-n-chicken (or fish) and Mac-N-Jack dinner at the Clallam Bay Inn.

Fearless and the Solstice Tree (Any pressies for kitties?).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Card 2011

Hi!  Click this image, download it, print it out on 8.5" x 11" paper of your choice, fold it up -- ta da! For those of you would like a paper card.  Let's face it, paper and posting is an 18th-century technology; we might as well get ahead of the curve.  Have a Happy Merry and remember -- after Solstice, the sun starts coming back!  (The gold roses are from our yard).


She Told Me To - Another Interview with Donna Barr

Sarah Coultier sent me some nice interview questions, and I'm posting it here as she suggested.

Hi, Sarah -- I'm typing this with the 'flu, so you might want to proof it.

My answers are marked with "D" (Hers are marked "S").

Donna Barr

S: Hey - I'm a student at Pacific Northwest College of Art and I'm supposed to interview three artists in the field that I want to go into. I actually have some things that I really want to know about how all five of you work, so - I know you're quite busy, but if any of you have time for a few questions, could you please answer mine? Even one would be awesome. If you want to post the answers to your blogs, I follow most of you in one form or another. And several of you have already covered some of these, so don't feel obliged to answer what you've already talked about.

D: Thanks for contacting me. I'll do my best.

S: Work ethic: from things you've mentioned on the internet, I know that all of you have continued to draw and update through depression, migraines, other jobs, and dealing with family. How do you manage it?Does the story have such a strong hold on you? Do you have an unusually strong sense of duty? A particular routine, or a system for getting things done that I'm not seeing?

D: The short answer: we're women.

KIDDING.

The other short answer: YES, to all of the above. I know I'm imprisoned by my Muses, and I'm German (the "duty" thang). The rule is: when not doing anything else, draw and write! Or even better, try to get the other stuff done when not drawing or writing.

My other trick: DRAW AHEAD. Do masses of stuff, and post a month's worth. So you CAN be sick or wrapped up in emergencies if you need to. Bless the internet for chugging along while we're doing other stuff. It's the way I've set up everything: WWWID (Will work when I'm dead).

S: Publicizing: what works for you guys? Who do you talk to? Where? Online or physical? Ads? Twitter? As far as I can tell, success is a combination of luck and just really being interested in your material - but some people do seem to make a success of advertising... and of course an audience needs to know you exist. How much is too much, for you? What's your experience with getting someone else to advertise for you? When did you decide there was enough demand to try to get your stories printed - or, for those who started before the grand era of webcomics and gauging an audience by online fan response, at what point did you decide to print, and where did you try to distribute it? Where do you wish you'd tried to distribute it, now?

D: EVERYTHING. Facebook, Lulu, Twitter, Createspace, Project Wonderful, CCNow and Blogger. You got those, you just do your hour of marketing and contacts every day. It's the online comiccon! You, too, can look at PayPal once in a while (and then regularly) and go, "Oh! Where did that extra hundred dollars come from?"

You print when you have enough pages: Ka-Blam.com (or other comics site) for comics page numbers. Lulu and Amazon for collections. Lulu and Ka-Blam for wholesale to your customers (fan and store). Amazon for cheapest discount to you for shows. Lulu for automatic ebooks.

The paper days? It was Diamond and nothing else. You can still do that, or flog it at book publishers. That world is still in the 18th century, when it started, all the rules still hold. What worked for Dickens will work for you -- but these days it will be pixels, not paper.

And we don't write cuz we're trying to get an audience. We write because demons have us by the back of the neck and are pushing our faces into the paper/screen.

S: Publicizing 2: Did trying to put yourself and your work out there make you feel like a flimsy facade with something ill and rotten behind it at first? If so, how on earth did you get over it, and do you think it has anything to do with how women are socialized to b self-effacing, or more to do with being an introvert, or an artist, or scolded for boasting as a kid...

D: Eh? Does not compute.

My stuff is good, damnit. I write what I can't find out there. Then again, I had a great blessing: I was daddy's little princess, but mom told me I was "enough to gag a maggot on a gut wagon." This taught me that NOBODY'S JUDGEMENT MATTERED BUT MY OWN. Get over yourself. And throw your relatives out of your studio. And your in-laws.

Oh, and I hit myself in the head with an ax when I was seven and immediately became obsessive, fixated and self-absorbed. Artist material! :P

(Fun with creaties; ask them when THEY had their head-trauma!)

S: Collaborators: Who's your favorite editor/collaborator/friend to take somewhere and babble at? What do they do that's special?

D: These days it's my fans on my websites. We have lots of fun giggling like girls over the antics of my characters (I'm not in control of any of this; I'm just management).

S: Collaborators 2: Do you have lots of artist and comic friends? Do you find you work best with engineers and scientists, or writers, or editors, or some other group of interests and traits instead? Do you emember how you collected most of them?"

D: My Facebook page is loaded with artists and writers and other creaties from all over the world. Editors and agents, too. I remember NOTHING about anything; the ax scrambled my memory, too; I have a hard time telling reality from dreams from imagination from tv commercials.

I love engineers; one of them is my BESTEST patron. They are so funny, tongue-in-cheek and self-aware (and they know art is worth money). The Desert Peach is an engineer. It's why my favorite Error Status is "418 I'm a Teapot."
(GOOGLE IT).

Scientists think my 1st rule of writing is hilarious: "If it's funny, it's right."

The other 2 are: "If it's physically possible for its time and place, it happened." And "If it didn't happen, it should have."

Or the short form: "Some idiot has already tried this."

(My rules of writing also apply to historical research).

S: Thank you very much if you have time to answer any of these. Any time would be fine, and you can pick any one question to answer if you want. I think I was supposed to ask how you got where you are in your careers, but this is the stuff I'm actually interested in. I apologize for how awkward this is. If and when you're ever in Portland, I'd love to meet you and say hi, and I'm just as awkward in person.

D: Awkward? NO! So nice and polite and well-thought-out! You should extend your teacher(s) my compliments.

Donna Barr

(and include this: http://www.donnabarr.com )

Sarah Cloutier
http://scloutier.tumblr.com/
http://melukilan.deviantart.com/

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Clallam Bay Totem Returns

Embedded link - and more information HERE soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"How To Draw A Mini"

This Clallam Bay Comicon now has a minion and a musician.  Here's what the local folks have been asking for to get ready for the con:




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 Clallam Bay Comicon

When: Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 15, 2012
Time: until 4:00 pm Friday, and around 11:am to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday
Where: My yard in Clallam Bay - 610 Frontier Street
During this: http://www.clallambaysekiufundays.com/ or until I get tired of it.

AUTHORS of any age who bring their own drawn or prose books, miniis, sketches, art (comics or writing) or any form of cartoons for sale or display get in FREE.

DEALERS who are selling any books or art but those they have created and own the copyright on pay $5.00, irregardless of age.  

Admission for public: free.

DEFINITION OF DRAWN BOOKS ("comics" or "graphic novels"): ANY FORM IN WHICH ART AND WRITING BALANCE ONE ANOTHER. Go nuts. This is your chance to draw and write about life in Neah Bay (for example).  Yes, you can use your nutty family as characters.

Provided: Big gazebo in my front yard on the grass.

NOT provided: Tables, food, water or a restroom (there's one downtown in the county park). If you just want to bring a fancy rug and pretend you're at a Souk, that's fine. I are a author, not a volunteer. I'm not advertising this, except here (and maybe on the post office wall), so if you want an audience, Facebook this.

Conditions: This is by a windy beach, so bring weights and a hoodie. If you want to swim, you'd better bring a wetsuit. There's an undertow. Local surfing, so you might want to bring your board (warning; waves onto a reef among logs. This is only for crazy people, and we don't have a lifeguard, so play Surfer Dude at your own risk. We shall just point and laugh). Bring binoculars to watch our eagle families, seals, harlequin ducks - sometimes an elephant seal pup (do not approach wildlife, thank you).

Housing:
http://www.sekiu.com/  BOOK EARLY.  The towns fill up in the summer.

Spoiler alert: The Mean Stuff: I'm just sayin'.

Babysitting (including letting kids look at books you haven't looked at and then bitching about it): $80.00 an hour. You will be billed.

Trash: TAKE IT WITH YOU. Or don't get invited back. There will be a list.

Table monitoring: This is your job. Either cover the space, or take your stuff with you, or get somebody else to watch it. Not me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brains... BRAINS.....!!!

More fun about brains between me and Sy Montgomery:

"Continuing to read "Birdology." 

Re studies of brain damage and music; my own childhood accident (hit myself in the head with an axe - don't ask) gave me the ability to see whatever I wanted as though it were really there.  I used to play with real dragons.  Probably why I wanted a TRex.

Over the years I've lost this ability.  Brain growing up and re-configuring?  Healing?  No idea.

For the last 30 years I've asked artists and writers if they've suffered head trauma.  The only one I'm not sure about said, "I don't remember."  The rest described what had happened.

Supposedly, some South American tribal peoples hit promising kids in the head, to further their path to becoming a Shaman.  I once wrote a short story about someone talking to a kid, describing what life was like back before everyone was hit in the head as a normal procedure for furthering brain development ("Cracked.").

I've described what happens as "Living on the glass prairie" -- we can suddenly see everything in our heads, all the time.  Many of us suffer from insomnia, and have to take valerian or soymilk just to calm our brains down so we can sleep.  The mention of one thing leads off to all the scenes and files in the head.  We have real Junkbox Brains.

When someone says something like, "Mommy can see angels now!" I always want to ask when Mommy got her head accident.

That's just some personal experience - I don't know if it will be of interest to anyone doing brain development studies.  The one thing I know about science or the arts or any other field of endeavor, we all live in our own file in society, like files in a healthy head.  Passing on odd bits of information helps hook up worlds.

(I have a strange ability to be able to translate between worlds; I once stood in the San Diego University booth at San Diego Comicon and translated between the world of drawn books and academia.  Maybe all research needs one Junkbox Brain on staff?  Not really joking.)."

Sy:

"Holy God, Donna. This is very, very cool. Lately I have been researching ocotpuses, and this has heightened my interest in exploring different kinds of consciousness. (Octopuses, though neither social nor long lived, are extremely intelligent. Their intelligence evolved completely separately from ours. And about half of their neurons are not in their brains but in their ARMS, which if severed can go wandering about catching food items, which they then try to pass back toward the mouth, which of course is no longer nearby.)
I love the title of your story "Cracked." Where can I read it?
How long ago did you lose the ability to see your thoughts as if they were really there? I only once had this experience while waking and it was after taking ayahuasca with a shaman in the Amazon. In my vision, which hit long after the first two and I had gone back to bed, the star ship Enterprise (the old version) appeared under my mosquito net and slowly cruised through it.
Cheers"

Me: 

"First of all, my apologies for sending a pdf file, but it's the easiest and most direct way of seeing the story, "Cracked Baby" (I forgot it was a pun).

Got a bit of a jump when re-reading it; the Tsunami/earthquake drill siren went off this morning.  I'm getting so many of these jumps lately - read a word, hear it on the radio, or see the situation or image in reality (or is it just September, and the black fluttery things and noises about? :)

Octopusses (Greek plural) are the embodiment of "THING" in "The Adams Family?" Authors really do have some kind of weird insight.

Does this mean that "blob of neurons" or whatever it is in the Stegosaur's hips could be extra file attachments?  How does this relate to phantom limbs?  Do our brains function more like those crab parasites that take over the whole body? ("Parasite Rex").

Is our mental capacity, that seems to make humans act like a disease instead of a mammal, the result of symbiosis with a parasite?  Like the toxoplasmosis that makes rats love cats? (And don't we catch it too?  There's internet film of a dog and a deer happily licking a cat - it's SPREADING!  Ha).

And with parasites controlling actions, did Star Trek and the XFiles have it right (and aren't those little crawly things ladybug larvae?).

(A friend works on Star Trek - and yes, the Ferengi tooth sharpener IS a nose-hair plucker with the top off.  And are most of the sets are based on these convention hotels?)

Well, you've just flipped the switch this morning."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bird Brains

I've been knocking emails back and forth with Sy Montgomery,   She's kindly allowing me to release the conversation.  I hope you have as much fun with this as we are!

Here we go, with me contacting her:

"Love your bird experiences.  They got me to thinking about bird brains - or rather, dinosaur brains.

Dinosaurs got locked into a small brain because their jaw structures surrounded the brain with hard bone, right? So, they had to go for a different quality of "thinking."

We've always said we could get along with far fewer brain cells - which dinosaurs do.  But they do it in a way that's so different from us:

To put it in art terms, we have bitmap, they have vector.  They don't think - they LEARN.  Now. First time.  Pattern upload finished, complete, and stored for future use.

When one of my 3 hens, Red, was out in the cage (many predators) making like a rooster at 7:00 am again (and coming up to it in volume), my husband Dan muttered, "The poor neighbors."

I leaned out the door, saw she was just singing to hear her head rattle and yelled, "SHUT UP!"

She gave me that Chicken Look - and has stopped yelling herself.  First time. Done.

They build a file NOW, and keep it.  Or, to try to put a little scientific rigor into this email, they SEEM to.  Now my questions:

1.  Can they change the file?

2.  Or do they wipe and rebuild within seconds?

Thank you for letting me ask, if only to hear my own head rattle."

Sy Montgomery:

"Dear Donna,
What an interesting email! I've discussed this briefly with Irene Pepperberg and my paleontologist friend Gary Galbreath. They can't answer you questions either! But are thinking about it. If either get back to me with further thoughts I'll pass them on to you. 
What you describe sounds exactly like what my falconry instructor says about her hawks. They don't seem to think (as in to ponder or consider), but they learn incredibly fast and never forget.
I would expect--just from my own experience with my own, non-avian brain!-- that while it would be easy to add to a file, it might be very difficult to wipe it clean or replace it. I have a lot of trouble with this. Birds are credited with being greatly instinctual (as if instinct is stupidity instead of wisdom). Their kind of instant learning is similar to how we learn phobias, for instance--which are extremely difficult to unlearn.
I love it that Red figured out what you wanted right away. If only children learned so quickly."

And me again, after she gave me kind permission to post this on the blog, and asked for the address:

"Yeah, that's a blog -- it's how I pay about $15.00 bucks a year for a website.  You know us artists....

And THANK you.  I was thinking I was being a bit presumptuous, but knowing my gang, they'll enjoy seeing this develop.

Oh -- another note:  In "Birdology," a comparison was made between birds as PCs and mammals as Macs.

As a author and artist who uses both, may I differ and propose the reverse?  A Mac is hard-wired to use, with very fast, ready functions - a PC lets us get our sticky little fingers into the pathways.

It's like the difference between the ships of the two villains in "Despicable Me" -- Gru is PC, Vector is Mac.  One is clunky and obvious, with big blobs of sloppy parts to play with, like us.  One is incredibly sleek, hard and fast, and gets around the lack of "thought" by being open to instant learning and wiping, as with a Mac program and dinosaurs.

This is probably just more of my head rattling, but this has me wondering.

(I love saying "dinosaurs" instead of birds.  I wanted my own pet TRex when I was little -- mostly without thinking about the logistics of feeding the thing.  Or being swallowed by it ("No!  It will love only me!").  Now I have THREE - chickens)."

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Whole Film Crew Speaks Up

SR Bissette says what I've never had time to say in his blog posting, Looking for Magic Carpets.

I commented: "To all you writers: us drawn book authors are like the whole film crew. You’re just the guy with the script. And find THAT in the credits, if you can."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby-sitting Contract

"Don't use your children like that -- it's shameful."  It's a paraphrase of a quote from "Dead Like Me," when a woman attempts to use her kid being in the car to cut into line at the post office.

I'm Child Free.  Does that mean I hate kids?  No, it means being a parent is something I would never do to a child.  I'm obsessive, judgmental, hot-tempered and can be downright mean.  So nobody who should be raising a kid (and I could COUNT when I was seven, and saw the future population numbers.  I later realized that being a parent doesn't guarantee permanent effect -- atheists usually come from religious households, after all).

However, I'm a GREAT aunt.  I'll take your kid horseback riding and to cookout parties and down to the swimming hole.  Of course, I'll also let your kid get into the Triple-sec-soaked marshmallows and take turns body-surfing the rapids until somebody's bleeding.  Just sayin.'

However, I never volunteered to baby-sit your kid.

The following is a legal contract, that will be applied in the cases described, and you are required to have knowledge of it:

"The next person who dares to get between me and adult events, books, movies or whatever, because their 14-year-old daughter (for example) happened to walk into the bondage panels at Norwescon (for example), and causes me any loss of time and enjoyment or money for the sake of their kid - he or she is getting a bill for my art rates, and those start at $80.00 an hour.

And if s/he has the gall to squawk, "Are you a parent?" then it will be $120 an hour, as a nuisance fee, under Arrogant Cluelessness.

I will assume you, as the parent, gave the kid permission to be involved in my activities in the first place.

If you miss your payment, you will be billed monthly, and 5% accruing interest will start at the 1st of each non-paid month.

This is a legal contract.

If you claim you've never read it after getting the bill, ignorance is no excuse.  So do your job and explain to your kid that, while THOSE people are doing it -- it's for grownups, and the kid doesn't get to do it until s/he is an adult, too.

Oh - and if you find alcohol on the premises at Comicons run by me, remember that a lot of these secure spaces are in Lion's Clubs, or Elk's Clubs, etc. - and those old farts have booze in the cupboards. Watch your kids' fingers, and remind them that most things are for grownups - they just have to wait a few years.

Signed this day -- September 7, 2011 (further additions, August 9, 2012) -- by Donna Barr

Additional Corollary, 27 July, 2014: This contract applies to people who decide their imaginary gods or other fandoms can intrude on the fun of consenting adults and reasonable parents. Come in here and start spouting how Jesus hates gay people or Allah hates women, and making people feel all sad and guilty, and you'll be billed for the same time, because you're using our space to abuse other people. Amen."

Me and Padawan Learner in the Chehalis River.  So there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Painting Projects Done for 2011

Okay, finally got the painting projects done.  Back room done in a goldenrod I picked up at a garage sale.  I was surprised when Dan didn't want it mixed with a white base to lighten it.

When we got done it resembled a Chinese restaurant.  I had some gold paint, so decided to fix those big, empty closet doors.  Dan liked it so much, he had me do more on the blank walls with the north window.  Now it looks like a grove in here.  I was going to do small birds or doves, but we thought with the gold paint it was fancy enough.

It's just fast and freehand, but it is rather like reading in a grove before we turn out the lights.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Seattle Waterfront Sculpture Park

Park full of straining municipal art; limited, mechanical, sterile.  Then, over the railing, unplanned: did anybody drown?



Seedless city -- native plantings; berries for the un-humaned future?

Waterfront park, lounging apes too lazy to pick up the garbage.  Cleaned between me and a Texan who is on her shoreless city's environmental council:  it's OURs, now.

Giant ship sculptures, rusting through a wedding.

Child hands, in dust on rust.

Adult hands -- fearless wanderer leaving the group?
The last photo is actually of my hand-prints.  No, you're not supposed to touch the art, and on most pieces, nobody did.  But everyone was so driven to imprint hands and feet on these particular sculptures, it triggered a recording to "Please not touch the art." I began to wonder if, at least for this one sculpture, the inability to resist rebellion, despite the electronic warning, was part of a live-action participation piece.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pulling a Huffington

Okay, I'm not even going into the why or should for what The Huffington Post just did. when it sold its site  As usual, comics has been there first.

I'm just going to list examples.
There is ONE professional paper up here -- so far:  The Forks Forum.  No, not in its quality -- it's just a restaurant-and-post-office handout, and the editorials are a huge giggle (I'm blaming the publisher) -- but the editor pays my bills and covers gas money for jobs, and even asks for my bill if I forget (I got 6 hats up here, like everybody else).  And he doesn't even think of asking for rights.  Here's a clue, people; your rights belong to you are the default position.  Any editor who simpers, "I'll let you keep your rights" is going to be Paying You With Sunshine sooner or later.

I no longer work for The Peninsula Daily News. Partly because they don't do their research, have recently published gossip in place of a story, wouldn't listen to me when I warned them a story was very sloppy and Out Of The Mouth Of Neighbors, and promptly used it as an excuse not to pay me for the effort.  They never paid for THIS, either. Even though I kept telling the editor there was nothing in it, she insisted.  Not a $#!! penny came out of this.  Another time, she let our four-hundred pound forest ranger rant at me in public as an excuse not to pay.  She's left me to switchback down hills on foot through the woods, instead of contacting the pertinent parties and getting the !#$!! road gate opened.  I wouldn't be so pissed off, except covering this area and it's piddly stories is like being pelted to death by popcorn.  Those people owe me money, now, and the next time they call me, the rates are $200 per photo AND per article.  They can just pay their staff to come out here to get it.

We have a couple Huffington-level amateur papers, one run by a woman who takes ads and uses volunteer writers, and doesn't pay them.  Her kid paid me $50.00 for my first article in the paper he now runs, but that was the last article he paid for, once he found out what publishing bills look like.  You can imagine what those articles look like.   Her photographer once scabbed me out of a photo sales to KOMO TV.  Partly he's just iggerant -- partly they're just cheap.  But when he pigeon-puffs up to me and crows, "I scooped you!" that's the last straw.  You screwed me, asshole.  Where the sun don't shine.  Oh, and you're teaching your kid your values.  How cute.

I don't do that to the sports photographer up here; sports is HIS rice bowl.  He and I agree on what to cover at an event.  My Forum editor lets me come along on rides for other people, because he knows I'll cooperate with rides and finding things, too. 

I only did one story for this book -- and I do good Yaoi.  The woman wanted full copyright -- for $150.00 a page.  Think of all the nice stories she'd have had from me if she wasn't trying to pull a Huffington in the future.  

I don't get hired a lot -- because I won't work for free, I won't give up my copyright if it's mine, and I won't waste my time.  I've never written for Huffington, either, thank you very much.  The Forum editor's wife said he once told her about me, "It's nice to work with a professional."  Back atcha, guy.  Back atcha.

Huffington went over the edge of the argument WHEN SHE SOLD THE SITE.  She got money, everybody should get money.  As usual, capitalism only works when it uses cheap or free labor and/or resources.  If she's doing a demo of how capitalism works, I think our side knows how that goes already.  Will she be doing demos with cheap cull'd house servants and well-hung native poolboys someplace in the Caribbean soon?  To use another comics reference: " 'nuf said." 

You want to see how it's done, Huffy?  Here ya go.  And don't even try to say you're a more professional or important editor than I am; I know that butt -- and its sunshine -- when I sniff it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kindle's Okay, but...

In response to a message from Amazon:

"Thanks for the Kindle message. 

I automatically get an inexpensive download pdf at http://www.lulu.com/desertpeach

People can search and read it on the format I uploaded on Nook or IPad or any other device that will open a pdf.

Costs me nothing to upload. No extra machinery or reader.  And I do drawn books ("comics").  Kindle not so good with images.

Kindle's nice for prose, but it's expensive for customers, difficult to format, and people have to buy a specific device.

It's okay as the 8-track tape, but there are other trails, now, and people are taking them.

Donna Barr
Author first, publisher second"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who Can We Screw Now?

There's a reason I refuse to publish my friends.  Becoming a publisher meant I Went To The Dark Side:  publishing other people is Going Asshole.

Now Marvel and the Kirby family are at each other's throats. If they discover any evidence Jack (I use that as a comics-industry title of respect) was forced to sign a Yellow-Dog Contract -- had no choice or chance to negotiate -- then the family may have something.  If not, he was working for hire, and let's hope he put money in a good fund for the grandkids.

I had a chance to make good money once, but the publisher wanted full copyright -- for a mere $150.00 a page.  When are publishers going to get it through their heads that copyright is expensive?  I would have gladly signed a work-for-hire contract if there'd been copyright-level money in it.  As it is, I have the art and I plan to share it any old way I want.  Let's face it -- if they can't afford to pay you full price, they can't afford to sue you either.

My editor at the Peninsula Daily News (and I have to cut the poor woman some slack; the publisher is in the same office, right where he can see her, and they have a culture of blame-to-not-pay in that place) is pulling on the next guy what she pulled on me.  After a recent blame game they couldn't resist so they didn't have to pay me, I decided they'd get work from me -- for anything -- if they caught up on their bills.  

Now they've found another photographer, and guess what?  They owe him $300.00.  I wonder how long they'll take to run through him.  My editor at The Forks Forum pays promptly when I bill the company -- and once (I swear to gods!) reminded me to bill him three days into a new billing period!  No, honest to gods!

This guy just started photographing for them, and they owe him triple digits?  WTF?  Years ago I had to virtually beg for $20.00 for a photo and $35.00 for an article.  I'm not blaming the photographer -- he's just doing his job -- but what are they paying him?  And why?  If this is because he has the danglies, they may not know how much trouble they're in.  If it's because he's a very hard and eager worker -- and he seems to be, then more power to him.  If not, they better think about their payment structure.

The Forum pays me even less, but they're the "country weekly" that's made fun of in The Devil Bat, an old movie with Bella Legosi and a couple smart-alecky newspaper workers who must have been written by Ben Hecht.  And you know the shape small newspapers are, with every podunk business up here demanding stories along with the ads.  I think they've finally all heard my joke:  "Ads are like male prostitutes.  You get the inches you paid for."  (Why am I repeating any of this?  Kipling took these people apart in The Man Who Must Be King).

Our county commissioner -- in front of a sheriff's deputy -- sneered about how hard I worked and how little I got paid.  With me standing there (at least he did that much).  The fire department's buddy sent in a rant about me -- and the PDN PUBLISHED IT.  So if anybody's crying about lost coverage up here, you can blame those people.  I won't work for people who won't pay me, won't back me up, and make fun of me.  The commissioner, at least, has realized he better be nice to me.  I'm all they got up here to save the papers gasoline on anything but Bleed Lead stories, and I CAN SPELL AND USE GRAMMAR.  Only one other person up here can do that, and she's smart enough to devote her time to the library.

It doesn't help that there are a couple of amateur papers up here that are taking ads -- and using volunteer stories.  Not a person up here can get it through their heads that, if they want to be part of the arts and tourism industry, they have to be paid for what they do.  Especially when there's ad money involved.  Then again, they think renovating a building makes you a "hero."  Yeah, THAT culture.  

They all run around saying "we" about the Mariners (you know... that fan culture that thinks they're on the field and don't mind guv'ment money getting used to build stadiums while the roads fall apart?).  Do they ever notice the only people who ever really get paid in sports are all those media people, including the artists, writers and photographers?  It's like 1910 out here for industry, and the 1950's for the attitude toward unions and workers' rights.

Maybe if the Photosynthesis Festival comes back again, they can begin to understand artists get paid.  Our local gallery owner -- lovely lady -- was freaked over the prices those people charge.  Welcome to REAL prices and rights for creatives.  The Makah seem to realize this.  Maybe all the trouble I've described is just more Stupid White People tricks.  Then again, the First Nations people invented copyright -- it just took palefaces a couple centuries to try to sort it out, mostly because we don't seem to have the Respect gene.

A local deputy who really enjoyed working the festival was telling people, "Under all those pretty clothes, they're real capitalists!"  His tone sounded as though he thought they were being hypocritical.  I THINK I got through his head that "no socialism = no capitalism."  No roads, no clean environment, no health care, no jobs people really want to do and not used as a stranglehold, and how can anybody buy anything?  I love that moment when the eyes begin to boggle and you can see the ideas leaking in.  I think it was when I said, "I'm a good capitalist -- and a good socialist."

They ARE learning.  Now maybe the Kirby family can help the rest of us learn. Remember, cheap at the beginning, expensive at the end.  Prostitute yourself, and you end up in the hospital -- or the morgue.  Same for artists.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Questions from my German Prof

I'm still friends with my favorite Professor from college.  We've been chatting, and she said I could share:

She's DL; I'm DB, unless it's a blank paragraph, then I think it's her.  This is a couple message after the conversation got started.

Part 1:

DL: I realized that the Desert Peach must receive a brief discussion in my current book project in the representation of the Nazi.

DB: I'm not really interested in the NSDAP.  Party members only show in my books to be made fun of or compared to the idiots we have today (my readers in Germany started asking me if we were crazy or stupid after 9/11).  My READERS knew what was coming, but what was the use of warning anybody else?  And here we are, in the very mess everybody else ignored.  The Desert Peach is actually about surviving in a lethal situation, especially when you don't fit in, and helping other people who might otherwise die survive.

DB: A new story starts tomorrow, at http://www.desert-peach.com  "Beautiful" -- Rommel served in Transylvania in WWI, which makes for a chance to write fun weirdness and spooky stories. 

DL: The main topic is German lit, but I di make reference to some films and illustrated books e.g. Memelmann's illustrated memoir of his mother and Mouse, which I don't like because of the projection of human stereotypes unto animals, making mice the Nazis.j

DB: Yes, besides, Germans are not cats.  They're horses.  :)  In "Maus" the mice are the Jews (a portrayal they often use themselves).  I kinda agree -- when the horses stampede, the mice get run over.  Again with the :)

(The British are dogs.  The Japanese are cats.  I think Americans are razorback hogs.)

Part 2:

(After some remarks about the subversive quality of my work)

DB: I dunno if my stuff is that "subversive."  As I've told readers repeatedly, I base my stories on real things.  "Germans" (does that include the black North African "honorary Aryans" of the Afrika Korps? Or the Jewish soldiers (fathered by Jews = officially German) allowed to visit their relatives (Jewish mothers = officially Jews) in concentration camps until the panic of the Wannsee conference?) ended up in camps (Dachau was originally a "re-education" camp, with all its brutal connotations), kept up fashion and commercial links across and around borders, overloaded a postal box that was supposed to catch spies just to talk to their relatives and friends among the Allies, drafted confused Tibetans, and the first German soldier to die in WWII died defending Chinese refugees crowded into a German diplomatic building in China.  WWII in Germany wasn't so much history as a box of dice.

So I don't even know how any views of Germans can be subversive, when they were all over the map anyway; no people is easily put into a single box, this one included. In fact, common the media representation may be the more subversive of the reality, especially the odd American view that "Nazi" meant a form of fashion and they seemed to have no childhoods and to come from the moon.   Or they were robots.  Or something. 

Oh, God, I've written about this for years.  Don't get me started; I can bore for England.

Part 3: 

Well, Germans. Germans are fiction, the home-spun myths of origin, Nibelungen, racial science, etc. is the stuff of the fantastic. The entire Nazi get up, banners, skull rings, uniforms, (Hugo Boss fashioned the SS uniforms by the way),the gleaming cars and boots, what theatrical staffage, all of which became the stuff of fiction and fantasy. Recently there has been an increasing literary interest in North Africa, i.e. Vertlib's Am Morgen des 12. Tages. Good book. historical characters mix with invented ones (not in the fantastic mode, though).

D:  For a lot of Americans, Germans are our relatives. You want to see a book will make a German-American (I got those in my ancestry) howl, get "German Humor -- On The Fritz."  It's about German Americans, not native Germans, but still.... It even shows you how to NOT make a peanut-butter sandwich, according to a German American ("See if I care.").

D:  There's something going on I've called (tongue-in-cheek) "KrautGrrls."  Girls mad about the uniforms and blonds, who slowly begin to be led into the actual history.  They're very self-aware about their likes and why.  I was one of those as a child, but it made me study the real history.  A German girl, one of my loyal readers, went to North Africa just to see, and married a Moroccan.  And thanked me for it.  So we authors have to be careful what we write.... :P

Just a few thoughts
Spiegelmann: unkind to cats, he unfortunately represented Germans as cats.

D:  Well, he was only reporting his dad's experiences.  I'm sorry, girl, but I've dealt with Germans AND horses, and YOU PEOPLE ARE HORSES.  Same sense of humor, posture and hiearchy.  Gods help you if a horse or a German finds out what bugs you and starts to tease you about it.

The creation of the exceptional unit led by Manfred R., great idea, undermines the notion of Nazi order and organization.

D:  It's what happened after Poland; bits and pieces thrown together to make patchwork units.  I didn't make it up, or the gold-rush (for the Indians) atmosphere of the regime.  If you get into the later part of the series, you'll find that what Pfirsich's up to is trying to rescue people, but, as he said, "THEY've got guns, WE've got paper, how is this fair?"  He gets awfully exasperated sometimes.

Part 4 (I think):
Things were rather chaotic in remote areas.

D:  "Catch 22" is more real than most people know.

Also excellent the notions of the corpse management by oddballs and misfits--"Germans" who did not quite fit the mold were usually not just done away with but relegated to low profile thankless jobs.

D:  Yes, it's NOT QUITE a punishment battalion, but if it were ever really examined, it could become one.  They're lucky the Nazis are running around with their heads up their asses.

And the gay and transsexual theme--it permeates NS history: Roehm, Goering in drag, and the homophobia that made it necessary to hide this "deviation from the norm."

D:  Goering did that to piss off Hitler.  Junker vs. middle class.  It must have been like the Bush whitehouse in there...  "Queer" as a slur was the excuse for the Night of the Long Knives.  The German army was a good place to hide, be you gay or the wrong blood or religion.  "Hogan's Heroes" got it weirdly right when the doctor sarcastically told Klink, "You can breathe and stand up for 5 seconds -- you've passed the physical for the German army."  (What the Germans did in that show was based on 150 years of German military humor.  But who am I telling this?  My old lit teacher!  I'm preaching to the chorus).

At any rate, it's the images that make the characters and the plot subversive. There is humor in the clothes and gestures (Red Baron), and in the creatures (face horse) that are on a level playing field with the Nazi characters. Most of all, the language and the use of German on different levels, vocabulary, accent mixed with English.

D:  Oh, me and my "Barrdeutsch."  It's almost its own language.... spoken by one person.  That's partially your fault, you know...

the annotation for unfamiliar terms as in a Sachbuch, the prim and proper Peach in sexy modified outfits reminiscent of the sexy outfit of young NS adjutants.

D:  Actually, the role Pfirsich is playing at the time is "fop" -- a very masculine role in the German and English armies.  In American, that would be "fairy."  In the military of the time in Europe, waving a handkerchief was the performance of an 18th-century gentleman's personality. It worked as a disguise. I had more and more fun screwing around with what things were supposed to be and what they really were (whatever real means).  But I'm lucky -- I have clever readers who GET it.

  The characters blend some expected accessories of the Germanic type embraced by the NS, but otherwise deviate from the established stereotypes (see movies like Jud Suess), notably in terms of sexuality: according to racial "science" and propaganda,  the Nordic type was chaste critter, a late bloomer, and pure in every way. The Peach has such features but the feminization take him beyond the norm. Immediately oppositional authors created anti-NS types that were grimy, generally unappetizing, and corrupt (e.g. Brecht, Fr. Wolf, Bruno Apitz). You feature examples of those types.

D:  Those aren't types.  Those are people I've seen (I've known too many weirdoes). Most soldiers are grimy and unappetizing all the time.  Most people have to be corrupt in a dying empire (do tell!) to survive. 

Your work is subversive in that it evokes and erodes expectations, stereotypes, and applies humor and the grotesque in an unlikely environment. Undoubtedly it is a very uncomfortable text for neo-Nazis as well as for the sanctimonious.

D:  I'm very proud that the American Nazi Party (at least according to the child of one of the members) declared me an "Antichrist."  I wish I could prove that. I think I converted one of them with the Peach (not in sexuality, but tolerance).  I know I've helped homophobes examine their fears and turn around, helped homosexuals come out and accept themselves and even helped Jews stop blaming themselves. My Jewish readers say that they're constantly taught about the abuses without seeing how it built -- or even that all they were were an excuse for so many things, including economic grab -- and they end up doing what victims with no reasons do; they ask, "What did WE do wrong?"  When they get to see the stupidity and greed of the structure they can lay it back where it belongs.  It's not so much the horses were hunting down the mice as mice, but that the barn was burning the horses started to run, and the mice got trampled.  The war made it impossible for anyone to examine the building process, and as usual when it's all guys, Ejaculation Thinking won out over Pregnancy Thinking (I don't think I gotta explain THAT!"

D:  I'm really disgusted that we've used Nazism to ignore what the Germans went through, and take it as a warning. Or maybe that's just us being our usual stupid City On The Hill Selves ("God loves us so we get to kill everybody and everything and own and steal everything.").  It's fun watching the First Nations begin to use the international laws that came into being after 1945 and were first applied to Germans to come after us.  I'm enjoying it.  Americans are finally beginning to realize that, compared to us and our history, youse guys were amateurs.  We did it longer, worse, to more people and land, with more legal intent, and got away with it.  And provided the studies of race (as an excuse for slavery and manifest destiny) that would poison the future.  "Pioneer" is not so much a term we want to brag about any more.  The Indians are coming out of hiding and using the laws.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

DL:  Be that as it may, I am sitting in the sun room with a lightly snoring geriatric cat next to me who will need her milk to improve den Stoffwechsel.

DB:  Well, you can't ask for better than that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Only White Men Get Fish?

A local deputy is evidently going around telling other people who fish that I "feed the fish to a cat."  Is this gossip?  Why it pissed me off:

Yup.  Price.  Who wouldn't eat anything else.  Yeah, I'm doing a big sinful thing giving precious resources that belong only to these guys to a family member.  A member of my family who was dying.
And if I want to use the few fish I can catch to feed the heads to my cats, the bodies to me, and the scraps to the chickens -- if fact, if I want to use them to fertilize corn -- that's my business.

But evidently only white males are supposed to get anything in this country.

And yeah, make smart remarks about a cat I had to fight for since February to try to keep alive.  When I have a DSL account.  And a blog.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Crampons Keep Tearing Loose.

Okay. Screw it. This stupid Writer's Plateau? First of all, I've spent the last three years processing books for Indyplanet (search The Desert Peach or Stinz or Bosom Enemies or Hader and the Colonel). So the plateau jump is not that old.  It doesn't even have fossils in it, yet.

To best explain a "plateau" think Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry as the moment the ladder pulled out of the cliff.  Think Family Plot is the nice base camp when he got up onto the plateau.  When you're a young writer, there are few plateaus, or they're so small and close, you think they're just orgasm (there's a reason the thrill of writing often shows up down there).  When you've been at this game awhile, nothing -- repeat nothing -- is good enough.  Sometimes plateaus can take ten years.  People who think of them as "blocks" -- with its connotations of entrapment and the inability to move -- have been known to commit suicide.  There are too many examples among artists and writers.

I always have an end-of-project panic.  I go into learned helplessness.  Everything is a plateau, and they keep getting bigger.  Sometimes I scramble up a smaller hill because it's easier.  The recent death of my cat, with all its struggles, doesn't help.

Right now the only writer money I'm making is off the POD books (which is small, steady and growing and very much WWWID*) and checks from the country weekly I freelance for.  My blessing is an editor who understands the insane distances and confusions up here, and who is in charge of his little paper, without a publisher in the same office breathing down his neck who does not seem to understand the difference between gossip and research -- and uses the blame game to not pay the freelancer.  Oh, am I now talking about the county daily I don't ever want to hear from again (unless they PayPal what they owe me into my account and start paying me Canadian writer prices)?

Par'm the moment of bitchiness.  I did hear from my Good Editor's wife that he remarked it was nice to work with a professional.  Pobably because when I do screw up -- and that's often enough -- he asks me to rewrite the correction, and I'm happy to do it).  I told her I like working with a professional who not only pays immediately upon being billed -- but reminds me to bill him if I forget.  

This guy is a surfer dude, by the way.  The supposedly flaky people.  How come the supposedly professional people are such losers, and the artsy types are so laid back and goal-oriented?  Oh.  Well, that explains that.

ANYWAY (I should call my blog "anyway"), to continue what I started up there, I'm going to poke at this very bad prose novel until it rises from the dead.  So to speak.  

And continue to work on A Little Death, because my agent is a comics agent, and he is trying very hard to sell my collected work and is scaring the entire mainstream book industry half to death.  Lord, lord, lord. 

*Will Work When I'm Dead.

Envy and Rage

Is one of the steps in grieving bitterness?

A perfectly nice man's perfectly nice dog ran up to us again.  She's very old, white-faced, deaf, has had repeated strokes.  She's happy, silly, and full of life.

I can't help but be bitter when I see these nice creatures, because all I can think is, "Why did sweet happy Price have to go through such a bad end?  Why is this dog still alive after she's been through so much?"

There is, of course, no "Why."  Shit happens.  This only makes sense if there is no god.  Because if there were, he's an undipt pinhead, nasty, brutal, with a short memory.

Dogs and humans seem to wander along for years after strokes, heart attacks and rheumatism.  Horses and cats seem to be well all their lives -- and then collapse, quickly and often horribly.  Dogs fade and give us a chance.  Felines rip our hearts out.  Dogs don't hurt any less, but they seem to bitch-slap us less.  This is just me thinking with a keyboard, nothing more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Price -- The Day After

Here's my Facebook Page entry (with additions):  "Thank you so much, everybody. We had a lovely funeral, walked the beach, waded around in the mouth of the Clallam river, then went to the Clallam Bay Inn for MacNJack and Fish and chips.This morning I bumped into an invisible kitty hock and accidentally put down the same number of bowls (which I left; I figured he'd get the spirit food). 

Thank all of you so much for all your prayers and thoughts for him. I think funerals let us cry for ourselves, too (why dry-humored Britain went to pieces over Princess Di). I'm sharing the t-shirt quote. It gave me the first laugh today."

The T-shirt line:  "All our kitties and our favorite t-shirts are waiting for us in heaven."  

After a thorough washcloth bathing the night before, and being formed into a comfy posture and left to cool down and compose himself on a red towel in the back bathtub,  Price was wrapped in a grey, silver-shot pashmina I'd found years ago scrunched down in a knot in a filthy muddy hole  in a Seattle sidewalk and not only resurrected, but wore for years.  His outside wrap was one of Dan's maternal grandmother's quilts, on the bed for years and beginning to fray (We use respected old fabrics as funeral wraps). They were both handled by us and the cats, so they would smell familiar.  As we dug the grave, he got to lie in the middle room on the guest bed, which he'd always loved.

The grave was in sand, bedded with salmon-berry branches, then the mummy bundle -- head to the west -- topped with a wooden bowl with milk, margarine and a chunk of freshly-cooked salmon, wrapped in a red silk shirt I'd been saving for a funeral, covered with peach and plum twigs and some sword fern, then more salmon berry, then filled in carefully with goodbyes and hopes.  On top went a crystal vase with a red wrapped beeswax candle, surrounded by four Rainforest incense sticks.  The candle burned all day.  The salmon-berry birds sang in the woods into evening.

We should all get such funerals.

Good traveling, Price.

Price in my Seattle Pashmina

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Goodbye Price -- Running to Catch Up

I won't go into all yesterday's details, but Price has gone beyond all pain.

We sat outside with him all yesterday in the sun.  I asked a good client for time, and was told not to worry (Thank you!).

My editor emailed me at one point and said he needed details for a Fun Days story.  I whipped downtown on my bike and while there, picked up a nice pink salmon from the Jack Mackerel Seafood Company.  Put the body down in salt for smoking, micro-waved the head and tail.  Price hadn't been eating, not really, for days, nor drinking water, so I didn't have much hope of him sampling the food.  He was at the stage where they take a sniff and turn away in disgust.  I ran a little warm water over it, in case he would take some liquid.
This time, his neck arched and he jetted his face into the salmon, gobbling chunks and slurping up the salmon water.  We were surprised and a bit worried; "Is he just packing for the last journey?"  Clouds came over the sun as the afternoon passed, and we all went inside, where I set him up on his nice plaid blanket.

He'd been doing so well, I took a break and went to the beach for a walk.  There, the beautiful rainbow of a sundog pulled me into watching the sun set.  I was probably gone fifteen minutes.

When I came back, I was shocked to hear Dan choke, "He's safe.  He's gone where he can never hurt again."  

Right at sunset, he gave a little meow, that Dan says sounded like, "Wait for me!"  His legs -- all four of them -- ran a few steps as he lay there, and, as Dan said, "He just ran out of his body."

His heart stopped, and he was gone.  Maybe he zipped down to the beach to say goodbye to me, in his brand-new spiffy young spirit body.  But I can't see spirits, I can only hear them; in two weeks or so, Dan should see him run down the hallway and look at him before romping off.  We've done this a lot.

Funeral today.  Thank all of you for the kind thoughts and hopes.  Thank our good vet and his staff for helping us so much.  We remember.

Final video from yesterday: Price licking his favorite rock (loadable to IPad).  This is so Price.

video