RotationOneCoverAbove is the cover for the first collection of Driving Arcana stories, fittingly titled Rotation One. It is available as an eBook from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, and you can also get the paperback edition via Amazon or order it through your local bookstore. The relevant links can be found over at Heliopause.

About the Story

If you follow my twitter, you’ve probably heard me mention the name Driving Arcana in relation to my word count tweets. I’ve been writing a lot of it lately, and Rotation One is only the first three of nine stories which make up Wheel 1 (Arcana is the name of a truck, so the volumes are called Wheels, and a small collection is a RotationI had considered calling the individual stories Spokes but thought better of it). There will be five Wheels all told, each consisting of nine novella-length stories. So it’s early days yet as far as this series is concerned.

Yes, what about the series, then? Well, Driving Arcana was born out of my frustration with a certain television show that, while it had many good qualities, utterly failed in the representation of women, people of color, skeptical thinking, women, realistic U.S. landscapes, women, and…

You get the idea.

Also drawing inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (in the road trip sense, not the dude-gets-eaten-by-a-vagina sense) (sorry was that a spoiler? sorry, sorry), originally I had imagined Driving Arcana to be another serial webcomic, like I had already done with Angeldevil and Year of the God-Fox. What the latter of the two taught me, however, was that if I wanted to actually make a story as epic and far-reaching as Driving Arcana into a reality, it would have to be through pure letters.

So it was, in the fall of 2012, that I began writing the first episode (I think of the stories as being like hour-long TV episodes) as a distraction from my other two major series (Professor Odd and Bouragner Felpz). I had intended them to be short, fun things that wouldn’t require a lot of energy or research.

Ha ha ha.

Driving Arcana shares some similarities with Professor Odd in the style and construction of the episodes in that there is a small main cast who travel around and have adventures, with a different set of guest stars in each story. There is more of an over-arching tale to Driving Arcana, however, though it is revealed slowly, and I have so far refrained from writing “cliff-hanger episodes.”

Another feature of Driving Arcana are the songs. At the end of each story there is an original poem, a bit like an end-credits song, that is evocative of the preceding story. The trick to know is that they are not really poems: they are songs and they can be sung to the tunes of real songs that I listened to while brainstorming the series.

I had constructed for myself a lengthy playlist of songs which I felt were in the spirit of Driving Arcana. This list was originally a mix of Eurythmics and Lady GaGa, but has since been fine-tuned as I figured out more and more about the story, and it now contains songs from everyone from Jefferson Airplane to David Bowie to Katy Perry.

It must be said I picked these songs for their feel, not their lyrics, and I was a little dismayed to find that, when examined, the existing lyrics did not match the world I had created at all. Besides, since I didn’t wish to get sued six ways from Sunday, I couldn’t actually include them in the books. So I wrote my own songs, though I carefully made them scan to real tunes. I also made up fake bands and artists, who are referred to in the stories themselves, to help flesh out the world. Two of these later made in-person appearances, and have become characters in their own right.

Driving Arcana can best be described as dark, contemporary fantasy, with a light dusting of horror. There is some blood and gore and themes such as racism, sexism are tackled head-on rather than danced around, but I have endeavored to keep the language PG-13. I’d like these books to be easily accessible to older kids and teenagers as well as adults because they address issues (like racism, sexism and homophobia and transphobia and a whole lot of other bad stuff) that are usually relegated to adult-targeted books, because these issues are relevant and worth thinking about no matter what your age.

About the Characters

The main cast of Driving Arcana consists of three women, a truck and a motorcycle. The women are (in no particular order; they are all equally important) Jill Hamilton, Clara Nordstern and Selene Shields. The truck is a bright red 2010 Heavy Duty 3500 Ram Laramie—which for those of you who don’t know trucks, is this hulk of a vehicle—named Arcana. He (yes, he) was based on a real truck belonging to a friend of mine. I wanted a truck that was really huge. A beast. And one that had an animal emblem (the Ram part of him becomes very important). Having become intimately acquainted with my friend’s truck, I knew a Ram 3500 “duallie” was exactly the vehicle I wanted for Jill and co., even if it wasn’t the most practical car for a road trip across the continental United States (which is what happens in the series). And the motorcycle is a heavily modified prototype Yamaha VMAX named Unicorn. Unicorn gets her name from the spike of anodized aluminum welded to her headlamp, and is Clara’s preferred mode of transportation. I chose the Yamaha VMAX because I wanted something as big and powerful as a Harley, but not a Harley, and not something as famous as the Hyabusa or Ninja. The VMAX also nicely straddles the line between cruiser and racer, which again is not the ideal thing to ride across the country on, but it fits Clara’s character.

Clara is really Claymore Nordstern. She is the youngest of the three, well over six feet tall, wears all black biking leathers (even in Death Valley), is bald, pale-skinned and blue-eyed, and fights monsters using her namesake sword. She’s taciturn by nature, socially awkward, and there is a lot about her past we don’t know at the beginning—the long, slow reveal of her character is a major part of the main arch of Driving Arcana.

Selene Shields is named after a moon goddess and the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. I imagined her to be a friendly and talkative counterpoint to the Giant Mountain of Ice that was Clara, but the more I wrote, the more I realized Selene plays a lot close to her chest, in her own way. It is through Selene, who is both black and gay, that a lot of the major social issues are explored. She being a triple threat of marginalized people was partly accidental, but once I realized it, it informed a lot about her character and how she reacts to the things the group encounters. Selene is neither exceptionally strong, big, or fast, but she’s an expert shot and an excellent tactician. Her favorite weapon is a vintage 1963 Winchester Model 12 trench gun (an homage to the Winchester brothers from Supernatural), named Elvis.

Finally, there is Jill Hamilton, whose full name of Gillian Sarah Hamilton is an amalgam tribute to three legendary genre actresses: Gillian Anderson (of the X-Files), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 1 and 2). If any of them could be said to be the “main” character, it would probably be Jill, but only because she serves as the audience’s entry point to the story. Jill, unlike Clara and Selene, is not a fighter, but a scientist, and it is through her that the repeating theme of science vs. magic is explored. One of the big motivations for me to write Driving Arcana (aside from frustration) was that I wanted to see what would happen if a proper, skeptical, rational atheist encountered a unicorn. The result spawned a series that I don’t see myself finishing for several years.

Jill is also unique in that her physical appearance remains largely up to the reader. There are a few features (the presence of hair, glasses, and her being the smallest) that are mentioned, but for the most part I wanted the reader to be able to put whatever face or color on her that they wanted. I also wrote her this way so that, in the unlikely event of Driving Arcana being adapted into a live-action production, the role of Jill could be cast without any regards as to the prospective actress’s race.

More to explore…

The world of Driving Arcana, though it is ostensibly not that different from our own, has already caused me to doodle a lot of sketches and concepts, most of which I haven’t shared. In the coming days, however, in honor of the release of Rotation One, I’ll be doing a series of Driving Arcana “bonus feature” post over on my tumblr in which I’ll share some of these drawings, and also the songs for Rotation One and my notes on writing them. When complete, I’ll post the links below, but for now, you can go see what’s been posted under the “driving arcana bonus” tag.

In addition to the three stories found in Rotation One, the fourth, “Sex, Blood and Rock ‘n’ Roll” can be found in the latest Apsis Fiction, while the fifth will appear in the upcoming Perihelion issue.

As of this writing all the stories for Wheel 1 are completed—in the form of first drafts or better—and will appear first in future Apsis Fiction issues.

Links to available titles and a nifty episode guide can all be found on the Driving Arcana page over at Heliopause Productions.

*

Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Yes, that is a Tiki Dalek. Photo by my Awesome Aunt.

Yes, that is a Tiki Dalek. Photo by my Awesome Aunt.

So LonCon3 was pretty awesome. I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet since I had to rush off to another con, but I’ll try to dredge up some memories now.

The venue (the ExCel center in the Docklands of London) might well have been called Spaceball One for how long it took to walk from one end to the other. I got to do this several times, since my hotel was on the opposite end from the one which hosted the events of LonCon3.

The programming, through intimidating in size, seemed to be of pretty good quality. Even the less glamorous panels (such as the FanFiction 101 panel which had been scheduled against George RR Martin and Connie Willis) were reasonably well-attended and had interesting panelists and competent moderators. The fan village was great, and the exhibit hall was fascinating. I particularly liked the Tiki Dalek and the Diana Wynne Jones bench.

The author resting on the Diana Wynne Jones bench. Photo by the WM.

The author resting on the Diana Wynne Jones bench. Photo by my Wonderful Mother.

I’d like to give props to the Art Show directors, Colin Harris and Serena Culfeather, who did so much to promote the show and its artists, and who, along with Sara Felix, put together a lovely Artist Showcase book. I gave one of my complimentary copies to my Wonderful Mother, while I took the other around getting as many of the attending artists to sign it as I could. This led to me getting acquainted with Anne Sudworth, SoMK, and (surprisingly) GoH Chris Foss himself.

I also got a chance to visit with John Picacio and his lovely assistant Tara. John and I originally met at WFC 2009, when the art show directors, in their infinite wisdom, chose to put our panels side-by-side. An intimidating prospect for any artist, but 2009 was my first time in an art show—ever. John was exceptionally kind, however, and has become a major influence and inspiration on and for my own work. I have written effusively about him before, and can only reiterate my recommendation that everyone go look at his site and subscribe to the Lone-Boy mailing list.

At the Loteria demo on Sunday morning: this kid won one of the awesome prizes—a pack of six "grande" Loteria cards!

At the Loteria demo on Sunday morning: this kid won one of the awesome prizes—a pack of six “grande” Loteria cards!

I had a really great time participating in the Diversity in Comics panel—so great, in fact, that I fear I talked a little too much. But I got to catch up with some of the attendees afterwards and we had fun conversations. I want to thank my fellow panelists, Jenni Hill, Dev Agarwal, Michael R Underwood and Kurt Erichsen—I wish I’d had more time to chat with all of you. Also thanks to our brave moderator, Megan Waples.

Tachyon LOVES getting his picture taken.

Tachyon LOVES getting his picture taken.

In a strange mix of genres and personas, on Saturday I also took part in a Meet the Furries panel, where I demonstrated fursuiting and later took Tachyon out around the fan village. A harrowing experience, since practically nobody at LonCon3 had any idea how to treat a fursuiter, but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. It was wonderful playing with the ambient kids and posing with the model TARDISes they had set up. Big thanks to my Wonderful Mother and Awesome Aunt and to Mikepaws, for saving me from the more aggressive kids. Also thanks to the staffer who gave Tachyon a Hall Cosplay Award—we will cherish it always.

Tachyon 1

That’s it. That’s World Con.

The highlight of the weekend was, however, the Diana Wynne Jones fan meet and greet that I hosted (with the help of WM and AA) on Sunday evening. When I realized that LonCon3 was taking place over what would have been her 80th birthday, I wrote to the organizers asking if they had any DWJ programming on the books. They had not. This was in early June. I volunteered as tribute to host such a programme, and was given the Fan Activity Tent for an hour and a half on Sunday evening as a result.

One of the prizes for the book giveaway, with bonus sketch by yours truly.

One of the prizes for the book giveaway, with bonus sketch by yours truly.

For me, the event itself was a bit of a blur: between greeting people, running the book giveaway, and drawing last-minute sketches to put in said books, I had little time for any actual visiting. However, from what people told me during and after, everyone had a great time. I must thank the WM and the Laura Cecil literary agency for sponsoring the books, and my AA for organizing the refreshments. Also thanks to Gili Bar-Hilel who helped promote the event and being awesome in general. And to Meredith MacArdle, whose contribution to the DWJ fandom is incalculable. Thanks to Shana for the brilliant Archer’s Goon-inspired ribbons, and thanks of course to everyone who came—even if we only exchanged a few words, I think of you all as my friends and comrades-in-fandom. It is my hope that we “Wynners” can continue holding such meets, if only because it’s fun to talk to other fans, but also as a way to remember DWJ and all she did for the genre. Now that she’s gone, I feel it is really up to us to make sure her work stays in print and keeps being introduced to new generations.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to email me—just put “DWJ meet” somewhere in the subject and I’ll be sure to see it. I hope to write up a more detailed report, including more photos, in the near future.

In the mean time, here’s the group photo with the bench (and a computer showing the google.co.uk doodle for August 16th) from Saturday. Thank you all!

Sadly I can't name everyone here. We're all DWJ fans—that's pretty much all you need to know.

Sadly I can’t name everyone here. We’re all DWJ fans—that’s pretty much all you need to know. Even the dragon (especially the dragon).

In closing, here are some things I learned from LonCon3:

  1. People are generally delighted to sign things for you, be they authors or artists.
  2. SoMK is awesome. (John Picacio is also awesome, but I knew that already.)
  3. PAs are interesting people. Befriend them.
  4. Always be polite to staff. Always.
  5. Never underestimate the unbridled joy of a child confronted with what appears to be a stuffed animal come to life.

More stories from LonCon3 will no doubt trickle out of my brain as events settle, but for now I think this is enough to be going on. I have other stories to write, not to mention a report from the con that came right on the heels of LonCon3: Eurofurence in Berlin, Germany.

~G

Obligatory Iron Throne pic. No Targaryens here: Dafydd is the real power.

Obligatory Iron Throne pic. No Targaryens here: Dafydd is the real power.

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This weekend I’ll be attending LonCon3 (World Con) in London, England. My first World Con, I am very excited to be on a few of the programme items, namely:

  • The Good, the Bad and the Missing (Friday, noon – 1:30): A discussion of diversity in comics with Megan Waples, Jenni Hill, Michael R Underwood, Kurt Erichsen, Dev Agarwal, and me.
  • Artist in Residence (Friday, 1:30 – 3:00): I’ll be outside the art show drawing, and will be happy to do custom sketches for a small fee.
  • Meet the Artists (Saturday, noon – 1:30): I’ll be at the art show hanging around my panel. If you’d like to meet/chat about art, this is a great time to come find me!
  • Furry Fandom: Not what you think (Saturday, 6:00 – 7:00): Introduction to the furry fandom. I will be doing a fursuit demonstration with Tachyon.
  • Diana Wynne Jones Fan Meet and Greet (Sunday, 6:00 – 8:00): Meet and greet for fans of Diana Wynne Jones. There will be casual readings, a Witchie Dance circle, book giveaway, and cake… if I can wrangle it. More details on that later, or follow my twitter‘s #LonConDWJfans tag.
  • As an addendum to the DWJ panel, Gili Bar-Hillel suggested we (DWJ fans) might want to have a group photo taken with her bench (in the Exhibit Hall). This is tentatively scheduled for Saturday at 5. I’ll be tweeting out about it more as we make more solid plans, so again, follow my twitter (it is all pretty pictures of Scotland, presently, but my access to internet is sporadic so hopefully I won’t bore you too much).

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Feel free to share this banner around if you’d like to promote the event, and if you do Facebook, Gili has been kind enough to create and event page for it!

I also intend to be present for the Gala Art Show Opening on Thursday Night, the Chesley Awards Ceremony/Reception, and of course the Hugos themselves. And of course you can find me bumbling around the con in general Thursday – Sunday (Monday I might not be around so much).

Very much looking forward to seeing you there!

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So many things to talk about! I wanted to do a special post dedicated to Alector Fencer‘s crowd-funded graphic novel project, but would you know the thing passed its goal in two days? It’s still open, however, if you want to take advantage of some of the awesome rewards she’s got going! To give you some idea of why you should help, she has kindly given me permission to share some of her art here.

Myre-the Great Black Dragon

Simply breathtaking. I could go on at length about how much I love this piece in particular, but all her work is really gorgeous. So do go check that out!

In news pertaining more toward me…

For the past week I’ve been blogging over on tumblr about my time at AnthroCon during the first week of July. So many incredible things happened I could not fit them all into one post, so I divided my trip into smaller parts and posted my thoughts on them there under the tag AC2014. Also, my general overview can be found here.

And now?

Now I am packing for yet another trip. This one will take me all the way across the Atlantic: first to Scotland (Edinburgh and the Trossachs National Park), and then to London for LonCon3, where I’ll be exhibiting my art and participating in the programmeTachyon will also be making a special appearance on Saturday evening to benefit the Furry Fandom panel. Most exciting of all, I’m hosting a Diana Wynne Jones fan meet and greet on Sunday evening! There will be a book giveaway, casual readings, and possibly cake—though that’s still up in the air due to restrictions from the venue. I’ll post more details as the date approaches.

After that, I move on to Berlin for Eurofurence, in my capacity as Elrond Drakendíl, before returning at the end of the month.

After that I have a few weeks of rest, where hopefully I’ll have a chance to share some new art with you, and then I must begin preparations for my last con of 2014: World Fantasy in Arlington Virginia.

In the mean time you can expect updates from my travels on the road on Tumblr and Twitter. I’ll also have a few new titles coming from Heliopause, including the newest issue of Apsis Fiction, which is now available in paperback and eBook! You can find direct links to where to buy either on its dedicated page on Heliopause!

Aphelion2014CoverSM

Have a great summer, everyone!
~G

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As you may have noticed from the break in scheduled tweets and tumbles, last weekend I was in Pittsburgh for my sixth AnthroCon. I was there as a dealer of art and merch, an exhibiting artist, and, for the first time, as a fursuiter (costumed performer)! It was an incredible and an incredibly busy weekend, and so much happened I cannot possibly fit it all into one blog post. Instead, I’ll be tumbling interesting anecdotes from the con over the course of the next couple of weeks, so if you haven’t already, go follow me on tumblr. This post will deal with a general overview, and a peek as to what’s coming next.

View of the David L Lawrence Convention Center (with tiny AnthroCon flag), and the adjoining Westin hotel. Rachel Carson bridge is in foreground. Taken from the Andy Warhol Bridge.

View of the David L Lawrence Convention Center (with tiny AnthroCon flag), and the adjoining Westin hotel with Rachel Carson bridge and Allegheny river in foreground. Taken from the Andy Warhol Bridge.

One thing I did differently this year, was I made it a point to do a lot more exploring of Pittsburgh itself. It’s a shame it’s taken me six years to actually look around the host city of AC, but better late than never, right? It helped that I have recently taken up jogging, and so I was able to use my morning runs as an excuse to check out the city—mostly the river trails running up and down the shores of the Allegheny. I also finally got to visit the National Aviary, which turned out to be even more wonderful than I’d hoped. Their exhibits and staff are great, the birds are beautiful, and I cannot recommend them enough. It was fitting, too, because they were the con’s official charity this year, and so I got to see rather a lot of them over the course of the weekend. Still, if you’re ever in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend you set aside a day to see the Aviary—I can especially recommend their daily Soar show. Also, they had hyacinth macaws.

Dafydd regards the Aviary's Hyacinth Macaw.

Dafydd regards the Aviary’s Hyacinth Macaw.

This year was also special because I got to share a room with one of my oldest internet friends: Susan and I met on a Pokémon forum back in 2003, and have since rediscovered each other, first on deviantART in 2004, and then in the furry fandom in 2009—though we did not actually get to meet in person until 2010. Since then we’ve kept in touch, but this is the first year we’ve really gotten to hang out together, and it was a joy. Susan is an amateur mascot performer with two amazing costumes, and it was a lot of fun suiting with her at AC. Our third roommate (and mutual friend) was Mary Capaldi, who is wonderful and amazing and draws the most adorable bugs.

Left to right: Susan as Rin the Dragon, Mary Capaldi, and myself as Tachyon the Elk Angel Dragon. The bandanas were made after a design by Mary.

Left to right: Susan as Rin the Dragon, Mary Capaldi as herself, and myself as Tachyon the Elk Angel Dragon. The bandanas were made after a design by Mary.

I mentioned Tachyon in the caption of that last picture, so I suppose I’d better tell you about him. He is a character designed by a legendary fursuit performer/maker better known as Telephone, who created a species she called angel dragons. These have since expanded in number as other artists have come up with their own angel dragon characters. Aside from Telephone and her mate, Radio, there is also Torch, Tumbleweed, Pearl, Alabaster, and Echo—who to my knowledge were all designed by different people. Tachyon was created by Telephone herself, as a feathery, horned, antlered beast inspired by a bull Elk. She put up the design back in December and auctioned off the custom-built suit to the highest bidder… which turned out to be me. Six months later I was finally able to step into his shoes (and legs and body and hands and head) and fully bring him to life. This was my first experience fursuiting extensively, and I enjoyed it immensely. It is very hot, very hard to see, and you can easily trip over things, but the power and presence of these costumes is incredible. It brought out all my old love of performing and playing with people, and I had a blast.

You can see me (as Tachyon) in action in the video below (taken by my friend Jesse, who had never used an iPhone before; bless her.)

I did not get to play around as Tachyon as much as I would have liked, but that was because AnthroCon is a working convention for me. Like last year, I had a table in the dealer’s hall and panels in the art show, and the work attendant on those things prevented me from taking part in all but the late-night fursuit shenanigans.

Not that being a working artist at AC is boring. Oh ho no. AnthroCon is the largest anthropomorphic fandom (furry for short) convention in the world, and one that many people save up all year to attend. As such, I do more commission work at AC than I do for much of the rest of the year, and most of that is done at my table. So from noon to six on Friday, ten to six on Saturday, and ten to four on Sunday, I am working, working, working.

Oh, but it is fun work. One of the great things about the furry fandom is how creative and colorful its members are, and they are so very generous when it comes to commissioning artists. I haven’t found another group of people that is so supportive of its artists and artisans, and I am warmed and humbled every time I go to AnthroCon and people practically line up to get to me draw things.

(Okay so no lines were actually formed. But there were knots of interested parties. Globs, you could say. It was great.)

Of course, the downside is I can only do so much work at my table, what with actually selling things as well (this year I brought an assortment of Heliopause books, and they all sold, amazingly) and this has always put a limit on how much work I can take at the con… and since most people want their pictures done at the con this means a limit on how much I can take in—because I do like to get out and about in the evenings; see above paragraphs regarding fursuits.

This year, however, I was fortunate enough to be invited to work after hours with several other artists, and the experience of sitting in a room with half a dozen extremely motivated people, who also happened to be amazing artists, just drawing, was an incredibly encouraging feeling. You got to say “ding!” when your piece was finished, and then you could show it around to the rest of the room.

And here is the remarkable thing that might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t met a working artist: there was no critique, no critical feedback, whatsoever. Basically everyone paused in their own work to “oooo” and “ahhhh” over the finished piece. This was not a critique group. These artists were not there to improve their craft; they were there to work. But being able to see the amazing stuff they created also helped me up my own game. It was a nurturing environment, and being allowed to work in it with them was an honor and a pleasure.

The picture that kept me up until 2:30 AM Sunday. But Dark Natasha (darknatasha.com) had kind words to say about it, so that was worth it.

The picture that kept me up until 2:30 AM Sunday. But Dark Natasha (darknatasha.com) had kind words to say about it, so that was worth it.

On the subject of professional artists and critiques, one of the highlights of this AC was getting to hang out with Alector Fencer, who does breath-taking digital painting. Like Giger if Giger had a thing for plants instead of phallic skeletoids. She is utterly amazing and utterly gorgeous and indubitably German in the best way possible, and while we were touring the art show at the Artist and Dealer’s reception on Friday night, we stopped by my panel and she took me by the arm and said, very quietly, “May I give you a little constructive critique?”

I felt my heart sink. I do not like getting constructive critique on my finished work. Most of the time it is either something I already know about (and was hoping would not be noticed) or it is not so much critique as it is a negative statement.

But Alector had been nothing but kind to me so far—and besides, have you seen her art? If she had a critique, I wanted to hear it!—so I smiled and said, “Sure.”

“Okay,” she said. “Here is my critique: your work is fucking amazing.

Now imagine that being said in a sexy Berliner accent.

It was like getting a shot of concentrated happy straight to the gut. I was floored. It was the best critique I’d ever gotten. Especially as it came from the person who painted this.

Alector is currently crowd-funding an original graphic novel project, called Myre (pronounced mi-ré), and you can follow her on Twitter for more updates.

The author with Alector fencer, or: a portrait of two jet-lagged artists.

The author with Alector Fencer, or: a portrait of two jet-lagged artists.

There were so many cool people at AnthroCon this year, I will try to mention as many as I can. Shoutouts of course to my friend Renee, who was working Reg and Dealer’s Den staff and could not be my table assistant but it’s okay, I forgive you; also to Jesse for following Tachyon around on Saturday night and taking pictures—thank you so much! I missed seeing Fox Amoore’s release of his new album, sadly, but I have the CD and listening to it on my drive home made the traffic bearable. So many thanks to my friends Mary and Susan for putting up with my wet athletic clothes hogging all the towel racks—you are both saints! Getting to eat bagels and vegemite with the Aussies at Dr Jenner’s party and having a look inside his personal portfolio was lovely, as was meeting his adorable wife Nonna (thank you for returning the bandana I left in your room!) In fact, all the Aussies were great. I want to go visit you guys so bad. Thanks again to Diana Stein for her support and encouragement, and best regards to all the other SkyPro fursuiters and fellow angel dragons—we will meet again!

Angel dragons, l-f top: Pearl, Telephone, Radio, Tachyon, Alabaster, Echo | l-f bottom: Torch, Tumbleweed. Photo by Justin Cheetah: http://justinthecheetah.tumblr.com

Angel dragons, l-f top: Pearl, Telephone, Radio, Tachyon, Alabaster, Echo | l-f bottom: Torch, Tumbleweed. Photo by Justin Cheetah: http://justinthecheetah.tumblr.com

And of course I have to shout out to my dear friend, 2 the Ranting Gryphon, who got me into this mess in the first place, and continues to deliver top-notch stand up comedy, even in the face of extreme stress (he moved house weeks before the con) and high expectations. It is really hard for me to describe his AnthroCon show; it is somehow bigger and better than any other performance he does, and the kind of laugher he generates is unique. It’s visceral, cathartic, and consuming. Like getting your body cleaned out with the kind of humor that scorches a little, but leaves you feeling better afterwards. All I can say at this point is: go buy his DVDs, and if you are ever in a position to see his live show, do it.

To all the friends I met, however briefly, even if I don’t mention your name here—even if I don’t remember your name—know that you are in my heart, and I will think of you fondly, and look forward to the day when, like a comet to the sun, we all come streaming back to Pittsburgh.

Fireworks over Confluence Point Park, 4th of July, as seen from the docks by the DLLCC on the Allegheny river.

Fireworks over Confluence Point Park, 4th of July, as seen from the docks by the DLLCC on the Allegheny river.

Every time I land in PIT for AnthroCon, and I tell my shuttle driver how happy I am to be back, they usually give me odd looks. I know that Pittsburgh isn’t glamorous the way San Francisco, Chicago, NYC or even Philadelphia is, but to me it will always be special—and now that I’ve had a chance to explore it, I can categorically say that it’s got something to be proud of—even without us funny furry people taking over downtown every summer.

Looking forward… July is going to be a hectic month for me, but hopefully I’ll have some art to post for you. I’ll be busy with take home orders from AC, and then in August I am traveling to World Con via Scotland, and thence on to Berlin (Hallo Alector!) for Eurofurence. I’ll have art in the show at LonCon, and I’ll also be hosting a Diana Wynne Jones fan meet and greet. I may have art for sale at Eurofurence, but there are no solid plans as of yet.

On the book side of things: we are overdue for another issue of Apsis Fiction, but I hope to have that out the door soon. There is also another episode of Professor Odd, and the first dedicated issue of Driving Arcana. Lots to look forward to. Lots to do. I am currently thrashing my way out of a Bouragner Felpz novel, and Corianne has been giving me ominous looks since I’ve been writing this instead of her story. Time to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. She goes by Agent Elrond (or variations thereof) in the furry fandom, and also answers to “Rondie.” To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Last year I was approached about doing a series of four elemental horses in the same style as my Planet Horses. I found the idea attractive, though due to the size of the project I recommended to my client that we take things one at a time. I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be the most wonderful person to work for, and after six months I can now happily share the completed series here! The originals have all gone to their commissioner, but I have prints available (click the image to go to the relevant page in my shop). Originals were 9″x12″, mixed media (watercolor, colored pencil and gel pen) on bristol board.

IgnisHorsesm

Like the Planet Horses, I chose to base each horse upon a real breed. For Ignis (fire) the Arabian was the obvious choice—not only because of their famous hot-bloodedness, but also because of their relative delicacy and flowing manes and tails. I wanted Ignis to look like a hot piece of metal, or an ember. The symbol for Ignis is one I created, and is meant to depict a fire over some sort of dish or other vessel.
AuraHorsesm

Aura (wind) was an interesting challenge, since air is by nature practically invisible. I was also forced to confront the problem of what color to make her. In depictions of the four classical elements, I’ve seen the four primary colors +green used in many different combinations. I think Avatar: the Last Airbender got closest when they used blue for water, green for earth, red for fire, and yellow for wind… but I was still not happy with that. In the end I chose to go a different route: so with these horses, fire is represented by warm colors (red, orange, yellow, gold), water by cool colors (blue, green, purple), while wind and earth (being the other two opposing elements) are white and black respectively. Once I had that figured out Aura came together very quickly—though I added dashes of color here and there, to make her look more interesting and get a nice platinum sheen to her fur. She is modeled after a Thoroughbred horse, which ties in to the close connection between fire and wind (Thoroughbreds being heavily influenced by Arabian blood). Her symbol depicts turbulent air currents.

Aquasm

Aqua was another interesting challenge, since water can come in so many forms. I tried to give her mane and tail some elements of a waterfall, while her body is reminiscent of reflections of light upon a water’s surface. She is represented by a Norwegian Fjord horse—though without the distinctive mane trim, of course. Her symbol, predictably, has a wave motif and a globe—a reference to our own world being essentially one big ocean.

TerraSm

Finally, for Terra (earth) I decided to do something different with his pose. While all the other horses, up to this point, had been drawn in motion, I felt that Terra should be solid, immovable, like a boulder. And the wonderful thing about horses is that they can look beautiful just standing there. I also chose to forgo any allusion to wood or plants (usually associated with the earth element) and instead went for the raw thing. So Terra is mostly obsidian with quartz hooves, and his spine is split with lava pouring out. In this way he provides a bridge between Aqua and Ignis, since he embodies both liquid and fire at the same time. He was based on a Percheron draft horse, and his symbol is a mountain over an incomplete circle—which could represent the earth under the sky, or a volcano over the earth’s circular, molten core.

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If you would like to commission me, my hourly rates are listed here, and you may find my terms of service over here. I am not always able to take commissioned work, but I am happy to give you a quote or discuss a project. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Or: Thoughts on the problem of works left unfinished.

Recently my mother bought me a copy of Diana Wynne Jones’s final novel, The Islands of Chaldea. I haven’t read it yet, because every time I pick it up I start crying. Partly out of sadness because she is gone, and there will never be any more Diana Wynne Jones stories. Ever. But also partly out of gratitude, because we get one more ride. This is thanks to her sister, Ursula Jones, who finished the book after Diana passed away.

Diana was lucky, I think, to have a sister like Ursula, who was able to take up the ropes and bring the ship in, as it were. Other writers had no one. Others had someone, but they were not up to the task.

Thinking on this, and reflecting on my own mortality, it has become obvious that I will leave at least one incomplete work when I go. In the unlikely event that I die in a car crash tomorrow, I will leave three novels, a novella, and a whole series of short stories hanging. And since I cannot see an end to my writing—I will hopefully be writing up until the day, if not the hour, that I die—I have no reason to presume that, should I die in sixty years from a degenerative illness, things would be much different.

So the problem of what will happen to my unfinished work will remain. And while I realize there will (hopefully) be a lot of time for me to refine this idea, here is what I would like to happen to my unfinished works (and I cannot imagine it changing much):

I don’t want any one person to finish my work. Even assuming there is anyone I would trust to do so (there currently isn’t), and assuming that they survive me, I still wouldn’t want someone other than me finishing my stories.

Even so, I don’t want my stories to go unfinished. I want my readers to find out what happens. I want them to have closure. So even though I usually abhor the idea of giving the reader the task of coming up with their own endings, this is more or less what I would like done with my unfinished work.

To be precise, all my work that is functionally unfinished (completed first drafts will not count: there must be significant chunks of story missing, and I must have not gotten to write THE END yet), should be given over to whatever fans I have managed to earn, to complete at their discretion.

There will be no One True ending for the works I leave unfinished. Rather, there will be a multitude of endings. Because if I’ve learned anything from the fanfiction community, it’s that they as a body of people are more creative than most individual writers. I would not trust one person to complete my stories, but I would trust the collective writers of ArchiveOfOurOwn.org. I would trust the people who loved my work to come up with the endings that pleased them best, and write them down for other people to read. And if you were a fan, and saw a fan-ending you didn’t much like, well, you could write your own. And it would be just as real.

Far from being left with no endings, my readers would have a plethora of endings, and could build their ideal ending if they pleased. And it would forever be an open field: a person who discovered my work long after I was gone could still join in.

No one might ever arrive at the ending I had intended, but I think the odds are good, given enough time, that some of them could come close.

I’ve heard some writers scoff at fanfiction, and though I respect their opinions, I disagree. I find fanfiction and fanon (fan canon) a welcome relief from the straitlaced world of popular media—that can also serve to keep original writers on their toes. I read fanfiction (though never fanfiction of my own work—if any exists), in part because I want to challenge myself to be as original and creative and brave as the fifteen-year-old girls writing civil war, space opera, or firehouse AUs (Alternate Universes), or post-canon fix-it fics, or just plain-old, wild, gay smut, for their friends.

I tell a lie. There is one person I’d trust to finish my stories for me, but as she is already in a place where her stories can no longer reach the living world, I will gladly bequeath mine to my fans. I can only hope that, should I live a hundred more years, that vibrant community of earnest, loving, devoted writers will still be going strong—and that, by the time I am finished here, I will have managed to earn some who are ready and willing to take on the task.

My only other request would be that, although they are of course free to come up with whatever endings they liked, they remember that I prefer they make them happy ones.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also send her an email at goldeenogawa@gmail.com.

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There are some ideas that take my mind by storm, blowing it and wrecking all the plans I have already set up. These are ideas that demand to be written now, and usually I acquiesce purely in order to get some peace of mind (literally). Then there are the ideas that start slowly, like seeds tentatively putting up delicate green shoots and buds, slowly growing in the nooks and crannies of my mind—safe from the raging winds of stormy inspiration.

Star Walker was one such idea. Though the concept of a space odyssey set in a magical universe came about fairly quickly and easily, the design of the ship itself (or himself, in this case) remained elusive. I didn’t want him to look like he came from the same world as the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise (any version) or even to look like a real spaceship humans might build in this world.

So it was that I began writing the first chapter of his story last year, without even knowing what he looked like beyond some scaffolding and a huge, hooked profile like the horn of a crescent moon. I knew he had sails (gravity sails) and two appendages that stuck out at the bottom (appropriate for the name Star Walker) but beyond that my designs changed every time I drew him.

The painting below marks the first time I’ve rendered him with any sort of finality. It’s been almost ten years since I first conceived of a spaceship that sailed on gravity through a magic-infused universe, but I’m glad I waited. The idea that began as a seed has sprouted and grown, and now I can say with confidence that this is the FRA Star Walker, and these are his first steps out of my imagination and into our world.

Watercolor and ink on 11"x14" cold press watercolor paper, © 2014. Click the image for a bigger view!

“Star Walker’s First Steps” – Watercolor and ink on 11″x14″ cold press watercolor paper, © 2014. Click the image for a bigger view!

 Print Available!

Star Walker is a 24-gun astroship of the Federation of Reänen. An experimental gravity-manipulating ship, he was built off the hull and core of a decommissioned airship of the same name, which in turn was built off the keel of a sailing ship of the same name. Star Walker has walked oceans and air, but now, 130 years after his first incarnation appeared, he takes his first steps out among the stars.

The original will be for sale at LonCon3 this August!

Some notes about the painting. This was the first time I ever painted a starscape (though I have drawn them before), and I was deathly nervous of messing it all up. Armed with reference pictures from the Hubble Telescope site I set about crafting a nebula that incorporated all the elements most easily rendered with watercolors, while the star field was done using white gouache and acrylic ink, mixed with watercolors for pigments. Along the way, I took progress pictures to help document the process.

How the painting appeared after the first pass of blacks and colors. It should be noted that Star Walker himself is the only object that was penciled in—the nebula was painted entirely in freehand. Click image for full-view.

How the painting appeared after the first pass of blacks and colors. It should be noted that Star Walker himself is the only object that was penciled in—the nebula was painted entirely in freehand. Click image for full-view.

Here I have done a second pass of colors over the nebula, trying to get that multi-layered look of jets of gas at different distances.  I used a combination of washes and "lifting" pigment, and in a few cases white gouache highlights. You can also just see the orange base marks I'm beginning to lay down for the star field. Since this was done white on black paint, I knew I needed to build up the stars in layers, to get them as bright as possible. Click for full-view.

Here I have done a second pass of colors over the nebula, trying to get that multi-layered look of jets of gas at different distances. I used a combination of washes and “lifting” pigment off with water, and in a few cases white gouache highlights. You can also just see the orange base marks I’m beginning to lay down for the star field. Since this was done white on black paint, I knew I needed to build up the stars in layers, to get them as bright as possible. Click for full-view.

More progress with the stars. Here I have laid down a lighter orange over my original dots, adding the "sparkle rays" which really make them look like stars. Click for full-view.

More progress with the stars. Here I have laid down a lighter orange over my original dots, adding the “sparkle rays” which really make them look like stars. Click for full-view.

Here the starfield is complete; I've added the final white blobs and highlights, completing the gradient from orange to white. Star Walker has also got his first pass of watercolors, and his sails have been shaded. Click for full view.

Here the starfield is complete; I’ve added the final white blobs and highlights, completing the gradient from orange to white. Star Walker has also got his first pass of watercolors, and his sails have been shaded. Click for full view.

Finally, the finished piece: I've changed the shadows on the sails and added white highlights to Star Walker's body and rigging. Click for full view.

Finally, the finished piece: I’ve changed the shadows on the sails and added white highlights to Star Walker’s body and rigging. Click for full view.

Altogether I’m intensely pleased with how it came out, and I look forward to doing more space paintings in the future. In the mean time, you can purchase prints of this one here, and once again the original will be for sale at LonCon3!

Star Walker himself will be introduced in the novel of the same name which I hope write over the course of the next year. He (and his crew) will also make a guest appearance in the Professor Odd series.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also send her an email at goldeenogawa@gmail.com.

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I’m long overdue for a good, old fashioned update. No philosophical musings or bitter rants today, just some straight up information.

I may have mentioned this before, but I recently got a tumblr. It is built off the old Year of the God-Fox tumblr; since the comic is complete now there is little to talk about. I, however, keep on doing things. And I blog about them on tumblr. I also try to keep it well queued with pretty pictures—both my own and inspiring pictures done by other people. If you like your updates from me a bit more wordy and picturific, go forth and follow!

02DafyddandJournalsThere is an interview with me over on the Paperblanks blog, which is a pretty fun read. Maybe you already saw it mentioned on twitter, but if you missed it in May here it is again. Ostensibly I was supposed to write about how much I love their journals (which I do, and I did) but there ended up being a lot of interesting biographical stuff about me and my work. It’s rather better than the About page on this website, actually. Give it a read if you were ever curious about anything about me, ever. And the books really are amazing.

I have a new bike. She is a 2012 Trek Carbon Lush, so I named her Mary Sue (after the fanfiction trope of overpowered female characters who solve all the problems and whom all the guys fall in love with; my Mary Sue is an overpowered mountain bike that solves all my singletrack problems, and whom all the other mountain-biking dudes fall in love with). Below is a picture of me and her on one of our rides earlier this year. I need to do a proper write-up for this bike, it is so amazing. Perhaps that is a post for tumblr?

photo 3

I also have some things to say about the amazing shirt and jersey I’m sporting in this photo. They are both by YMX and are absolutely amazing.

What else? Oh yes, I will be attending three conventions this summer over the course of July and August. First I’ll be in Pittsburgh, PA, for AnthroCon in a couple weeks. I’ll be selling books and pictures in the Dealer’s Hall and I’ll have the Cats of the Week and Escape from the Celestial Palace plus some of the Astral Chimera in the art show.

After that I’ll be flying across the pond this August for LonCon3 (World Con) in London, England. I’ll have more pictures in the art show there, and if things work out I’ll also be one of their Artists in Residence. I plan to doodle funny things in people’s conbooks, if they’ll let me. Also (and this is still a little tentative) I’m hoping to organize a little meet-and-greet for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, who would be turning 80 on the 16th of August (Saturday of World Con). Still thinking of fun things to do with this, but I know we’ll have a book giveaway and possibly a Witchie Dance lesson/performance. If you’re a DWJ fan attending LonCon3, please contact me if you have any ideas or suggestions!

After LonCon3 I hope over to Berlin for Eurofurence the next weekend. This will be a 100% fun con for me—no panels to run, nothing in the art show, and not selling anything. But if you find me I might draw you a surprise picture.

That is as far as I can look into my future at the moment. At the same time as preparing for these conventions I’m also hard at work on the Aphelion issue of Apsis Fiction, as well as the first Driving Arcana book. I hope to have both out in a month or so.  But I can show you their covers now!

Aphelion2014CoverSM RotationOneCover

And boy, do I have words about the Rotation One cover—but those will have to wait. Lots of work to be done. I am going to try to keep this blog a bit more active, however, so you can look forward to hearing about all the things I mentioned wanting to talk about in this post.

Or not, if that’s not your thing. Look, one last link: here is a blog devoted to beautiful men and cats. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also send her an email at goldeenogawa@gmail.com.

 

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I am going to AnthroCon next month, and in order to fill up my panels in the art show I decided it would be fun to paint a bunch of cats. Me being me, of course, they had to be quirky, fantastical cats, and thus my Cats of the Week series was born! Each cat corresponds to a day of the week, with a little motto to go with him/her/them. Originals are 5″x6″ in customized to 8″x10″ mats and all done with watercolor and white ink—see the bottom of this post for more info. As always, prints are available (or you can just click on the image to go right to its page in my shop).

Sunday is warm and lazy and also full of smiles. You can hear her purring in the mid-morning and afternoon.

Sunday is warm and lazy and also full of smiles. You can hear her purring in the mid-morning and afternoon.

 

Monday often gets a bad rap, but if you treat her kindly she will get your week off to a great start!

Monday often gets a bad rap, but if you treat her kindly she will get your week off to a great start!

 

Tuesday is fierce and full of fire. He will help you be productive, but be careful you are not burned.

Tuesday is fierce and full of fire. He will help you be productive, but be careful you are not burned.

Wednesday is wise and reflective. His afternoons are a good time to take stock and make plans for the future.

Wednesday is wise and reflective. His afternoons are a good time to take stock and make plans for the future.

Thursday is opportunity with a coat of many colors. They bring the tempest with a voice like purring thunder.

Thursday is opportunity with a coat of many colors. They bring the tempest with a voice like purring thunder.

Friday blooms at the end of the week, like a warm spring after winter. Her nights are bright and filled with laughter.

Friday blooms at the end of the week, like a warm spring after winter. Her nights are bright and filled with laughter.

Saturday is wild and playful as a kitten. His mornings are good for sleeping late, or for going on adventures.

Saturday is wild and playful as a kitten. His mornings are good for sleeping late, or for going on adventures.

Within the series I wanted to have a balance between male and female cats (though since these are technically days of the week you may imagine them all as genderless if that suits you), so Sunday and Monday are female, and so is Friday, even though Friday is technically named after both Freya and her brother, Frey. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are all male, like the gods they were named after (Tyr, Woden and Saturn) but Thursday (Thor) is genderless. I chose to make Thursday the odd one out because they were already the oddball in that their element (thunder) did not have a counter-element within the series (Sunday and Monday are day and night; Tuesday and Wednesday are fire and water, Friday and Saturday are earth/plant and wind/ice). On a somewhat related note: Pokémon fans may draw parallels between these cats and the first seven Eeveelutions (Sunday = Espeon, Monday = Umbreon, Tuesday = Flareon, Wednesday = Vaporeon, Thursday = Jolteon, Friday = Leafeon and Saturday = Glaceon. The only Eeveelution not represented, due to my inability to access the fabled eighth day of the week, is suitably the Fairy evolution; Sylveon).

All the lettering was hand done, though since my calligraphy is not the best, I did use a type-based template to help me block out the size and spaces. Furthermore, the days’ names up at the top were imprinted directly onto the matboard using a print out bearing that word in the desired font, size, and placement. Laying the paper over the matboard, I then used a pencil to press a groove through the paper into the soft board underneath. The result was invisible unless viewed under the proper light, but I was able to use it as a guide to then paint the letters in watercolor, and finally outline them in thin pen. The fonts used for the days are as follows (from Sun – Sat): Dunce Cap, Betty Noir, Herculanum, Albert Betenbuch, Sleuth Serif, Party LET, and Santa’s Big Secret. Dunce, Betty, Sleuth and Santa are all by Nate Piekos, Albert Betenbuch is by Robert Schenk via Linotype, while Herculanum and Party came stock on my computer. I definitely learned a lot about lettering from doing this, and it’s made me more confident with my free-hand calligraphy.

For those of you not going to AnthroCon, I have two more art shows planned this year: LonCon3 in August, and World Fantasy (assuming I get in!) in November. Hope to see you at one or both of them!

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also send her an email at goldeenogawa@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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