I haven’t blogged much lately because I’ve been working on a new novel. I think I’m about halfway finished with it. Whenever I become engrossed in a book, I neglect my blog. And I don’t draw much either. So here are three old drawings that I haven’t posted in a long time. Hope you’re having a good week.
My job has really taken a bite out of my drawing time lately, but I’m still able to sit down and do some sketching on Sunday evenings. I drew a picture of the Noid, a character from the old Domino’s Pizza commercials, last Sunday. This time, I drew Lillie Mae Rische, Jack White’s fiddle player. I bought his new CD last week while I was buying groceries and I’ve been listening to it over and over again. One of my favorite songs is Temporary Ground, where Lillie Mae sings and plays the fiddle. They performed this song on the Conan O’Brien show recently. It was brilliant. I liked their old-fashioned microphones and their matching silver instruments. I hope you all have a nice week.
I was in my bathroom the other day, cleaning out the cabinet under the sink. I noticed a little green door in the back of the cabinet, a little door I had never seen before. I opened it and crawled through … and I entered a magical shopping mall filled with frolicking unicorns and dancing leprechauns and Lionel Richie music. In the food court of the magical mall, there was a KFC. I went inside it and (behold!) Conan O’Brien was sitting at a table. I asked if I could sit with him and (behold!) he said I could.
Then, as we were eating, he leaned over and whispered something to me. He said he was a risk-taker and a rule-breaker and a cake-baker and a yard-raker. I was amazed! And then he confided in me further and revealed that he was a smooth-talker and a fast-walker and a Facebook-stalker and a bathtub-caulker! While he was telling me all this, I discreetly reached over and stole a chicken wing from him.
Filled with rage, Conan O’Brien transformed into a pterodactyl and flew away, spraying me with dung as he flapped out of the restaurant. I was sad because I had failed to get his autograph … but I happily scarfed down the rest of his coleslaw and mashed potatoes.
So it goes, so it goes.
This is a drawing of Sillysparrow Ness, a YouTube diva who talks about books, chickens, and Doctor Who. (And other subjects too.) I discovered her by accident a couple of weeks ago. She did an amazing job of dissecting and analyzing the episodes Human Nature and Family of Blood. I drew this picture while camping at a motel, drinking coffee and watching cartoons.
Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately. Ever since I took the new job operating the pellet-shooter at work, I haven’t had time to do much else. The night shift is a harsh master. And during the time when I’m not working, I’m recovering from the time when I was working. But it’s only a temporary job. I should go back to my normal duties (and my normal life) in roughly a month. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t mean to complain. I’m thankful to have a job. It’s a blessing. But it demands all the energy I have. I stagger through the front door in the mornings feeling like I just had a lobotomy.
I hope you’ve been doing well. I hope you’re having a good summer … or winter … or whatever season it is in your corner of the world.
The picture up above is my friend Katrina. It’s one of the few drawings I’ve done since I started working on the pellet machine. Katrina just moved to Florida today, so this is my going-away present to her.
Oh, and Citizens of Purgatory is free for the next couple of days. If you have a Kindle, or a Kindle app on your phone, you can click here to download it.
Recently, my friend Liz Fountain tagged me in a “blog hop” series where various writers answer questions about the way they write. Here are my answers.
1.) What am I working on?
At the moment, nothing. (Unfortunately.) Since my writing is a “glorified hobby” and not a major source of income, I have to do work that I’m not so passionate about during the day. Recently, I started a new job at a mill. In an effort to learn how to operate my pellet-spitting machine, I’ve decided to put my writing on hiatus and free up some space in my mind. Later, after I’ve conquered the machine and grown accustomed to my new job, I’ll start another book. (Or maybe just a short story. I haven’t decided yet.)
2.) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
So far, I’ve published two novels, Under the Electric Sun and Citizens of Purgatory, on Amazon.
Under the Electric Sun is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, science fiction story set in a massive underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. While the “after-the-end-of-America-as-we-know-it” scenario is vaguely similar to Hunger Games and other dystopian novels, my book contains a lot of offbeat humor inspired by Douglas Adams. The main character in Under the Electric Sun is a cybernetic raccoon named Tristan, a government-issued tutor. Tristan and his dim-witted student, Jake Sheldon, throw sarcastic barbs at each other throughout the book. When Tristan and Jake climb a secret staircase and see the surface of the earth for the first time, they enter the ruins of an affluent gated community where the locals have turned swimming pools into gardens and golf courses into wheat fields.
Meanwhile, Citizens of Purgatory takes place in Alabama in 2003. I don’t really know which category to put this one in. I suppose you would call it a slapstick Southern gothic comedy. When I was writing it, my biggest inspirations were Garrison Keillor’s radio stories and Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
3.) Why do I write what I do?
I grew up with Doctor Who and Douglas Adams. I’m fascinated with science fiction, especially humorous science fiction. But I’m also madly in love with small town Americana, so I enjoy writing Southern gothic fiction too.
4.) How does my writing process work?
I start off with a vague idea of who the characters are and how the story will unfold. I write one chapter at a time, writing a rough draft of the chapter and fine-tuning it before I move on to the next chapter. Then I go back and overhaul all of them, moving through the manuscript one chapter at a time again. Sometimes I take brief vacations between chapters to avoid a nervous breakdown.
You can click here to order my books.
(The photo above is a paper typewriter made by Jennifer Collier. She’s a genius.)
Here’s a colored pencil drawing of one of my favorite bands, the Black Keys. I heard an interview with them on an NPR show called American Roots last weekend. I don’t remember everything they talked about, but they said they loved 1950s nostalgia. I’m fond of the 50s too, so I decided to draw a picture of the Black Keys and throw in some classic Americana.
This post might not make any sense at all. I have a miserable headache right now. I’m going to bed. I hope you’re all doing well.
From April 10 through April 14, the Kindle version of Citizens of Purgatory will be free.
Nick Youngblood, the main character, just moved to Moccasin County two years ago. He works as a sportswriter at the local newspaper, even though he doesn’t know anything about sports. He stretches out his articles by packing them with lots of adjectives. Since Nick is relatively new to the small community, he hasn’t met many of the locals yet. One morning, as he drives to work, a wild-eyed stranger crashes into the back of his car. The man identifies himself as Angus Rayburn. After hurling insults at Angus Rayburn in the middle of the highway, Nick learns that Angus is a notorious murderer who only served a brief stint in prison. Nick’s heart is filled with terror as he realizes that he’s insulted a very dangerous man.
As Nick struggles to cope with the situation, he throws up on a cheerleader at a football game and loses his job with the newspaper. Next, he finds a job at a textile mill, the same place where Angus works. On his first day, Nick encounters Angus in the men’s room. The demented ex-convict pins Nick against the wall and promises to gouge out his eyes if he ever sees him outside the mill.
While Nick lives in a constant state of panic, worrying about Angus Rayburn, other fears and frustrations also plague him. He spends countless hours thinking of Ashleigh, a girl who sat in front of him in his high school algebra class. Nick desperately wants to find her and marry her. But, most of all, he wants to flee Moccasin County and move back home before Angus cuts out his eyeballs.
You can click here to take a look.
I hope you’re having a fantastic week.
Here’s a caricature of Data and Captain Picard (the head on the left) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I drew it in my sketchbook last night with a felt-tip pen and a Sharpie Marker.