Thursday, April 28, 2011

Art - Lithograph

Hey, guys -- just a brief art update. I had the honor of creating a limited edition lithograph. It's only available till it runs out, so I thought I'd share:
Here is the link to the description. Hope you guys enjoy. While you're looking, be sure to check out the other merchandise on the site as well.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Author Interview - Victoria Schwab

I've been talking with YA author Victoria Schwab for a couple of years, anticipating the releasing of her book THE NEAR WITCH coming from Disney-Hyperion. Finally, there's a release date! 08/02/11! I've always been intrigued by Victoria's artful writing style and am excited to have her featured here today. Kindly, Victoria is answering not five, but six questions today!

For the illustration, I drew the main character, Lexi. She is described to have wild hair, like tree barks -- "Her hair is never smooth, and tendrils escape as soon as they can." Combined with the description of the book, I had a picture in my mind for Lexi. Overall, I wanted it to look haunting and misty.

1) Thank you for joining us today, Victoria. What is THE NEAR WITCH about?

There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.

Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris, the daughter of a tracker, has heard the stories her entire life, first from her father, and then from old Magda and Marta, who might be witches themselves. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things. Of murders and curses and buried bones.

To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and then the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in them. Could the Near Witch be more than a
ghost story?

2) I love the story description so much! What inspired you to write about THE NEAR WITCH?

I love words. I love the way they sound, and the ripples of sound they can make, so it's little surprise that my stories almost always start with a line. I wrote the sentence, "There are no strangers in the town of Near," and liked it, but had no idea what it meant. I tucked the line away in a file, and six months later, another line popped into my head, "The wind on the moors is a tricky thing." I immediately knew the two lines went together, and the whole book blossomed out from them.

3) What's your character design and story construction process?

For THE NEAR WITCH, it was messy. The setting came first (and this might be why people have called Near it's own character). Equipped with a setting, a line or two, and a short list of things I feel "fit" with the vibe/tone/world of the story, I went exploring. I would write a few sentences about the story idea, and then a scene, this case in the narrator's voice. I then wrote five or six scenes, and just looked at the ways those scenes fit together, and what they told me. The story and the characters and the voice all kind of emerge simultaneously. They climb over each other and grow off of each other. For this book, it was largely about discovery for me. I discovered the world and the characters and their story as I was writing. That said, I always have an idea of the absolutely essential scenes plot-wise. But everything else is exploring, then hacking and pruning and shaping. Messy.

Working on my next book, it hasn't been nearly AS messy, but it's by no means a straight line from none to done.

4) I like your method of just letting things grow. How do you like working with Holly Root?

I am enamored. She is sweet and terrifying and wonderful, hungry, and an incredible grounding force, and she helps me keep my head on. I've never felt so much like part of a team (Team Root FTW!) and an agent's only client at the same time. And to be honest, Editor Abby and Agent Holly together are like an awesome sandwich. Or maybe bookends. Either way, they keep me together. I couldn't be happier.

5) Can you tell us about your journey toward getting your book deal with Disney-Hyperion?

It was longer than it seems! The Near Witch wasn't my first project. My first book was a dark Middle Grade. While it was out on submission, about eight months into its submission actually, I needed a distraction, and started writing The Near Witch (while finishing my thesis and my college education) and for some reason the story just poured out. And I loved it. It went out on submission summer of '09 and just under two months later, I got the call!

6) Wow! And your journey has only begun...What's your next book about?

THE ARCHIVED, about a teenage girl who must return the restless, ghost-like Histories of the dead to their rightful place in a labyrinthine supernatural library known as the Archive; when more Histories begin to wake and escape, she must stop the doors between the worlds of the living and dead from breaking open, all without falling victim to a beguiling History who is more human - and more disarmingly attractive - than the others.

THE ARCHIVED also sounds super awesome. Victoria, thank you so much for joining us today!

Readers, THE NEAR WITCH can be pre-ordered here.




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Portal 2 is out!

I've been working on the Portal series for 7 years with my team (including my college years). Portal came out in 2007...and now, finally, Portal 2 is out today. It's truly awesome to contribute art to a game I believe in and I hope everyone enjoys it.


And here are some links to concept art:

Have you taken the personality quiz? (I got GLaDOS.)

Have fun thinking with portals!


Monday, April 18, 2011

News Week - 04/18/11

News Week time! I've got a lot of catching up to do with this blog, but I am determined.

First of all...Hope you guys are excited as I am for PORTAL 2's release this week! Other than work, I've been going to events as usual. I went to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's (SCBWI) drink night at the Marriott -- it's the pre-conference kick-off! I got to talk with the ever-wonderful Holly Cupala, whom I haven't seen in a while...and met lovely YA authors Liz Gallagher, Kevin Emerson, and Heather Davis.

I've been going to non-YA-writing events as well and I'm going to summarize all the ones I haven't gotten to yet!


Michio Kaku

A couple of weeks ago, I got to attend physicist Michio Kaku's talk. He is the co-founder of string theory and a communicator of science. He has just written a new book called Physics of The Future, describing possible technologies in a hundred years. (Computer contact lenses, health scanners, GPS-controlled cars, etc.) He made a lot of references to Star Trek and Forbidden Planet. He also applauded some sci-fi writers. (Go, writers!) Writing is like making theories, isn't it?

Mr Kaku had laryngitis that night, but he made many jokes regardless (he was listed as one of the 100 smartest people in NY -- Kaku said, "but Madonna also made the list."), and spoke eloquently with his usual storytelling charm. Surely, with all that's going on in Japan, he was a bit down as well.

He said the situation was as bad as Chernobyl when it had just begun...and he's was right. There should be cement over the reactor before it's too late. He said it is difficult for architects to prepare for a once in a thousand year event like that.

If you are not familiar with Michio Kaku, I highly suggest watching his lectures, because he makes complicated things easier to understand.

Kaja and Phil Foglio

The married couple writes and draws a popular web comic series called Girl Genius. I'd like to check it out, but I've never read it. It was interesting to see them, anyway -- especially their animated way of reading their work. They have a strong fan base. Many asked questions eagerly. One performed a fan song. Some wore costumes. The couples are now trying out a novel because, well, it's quicker to produce than a comic. (And do I ever agree! Trust me, I've tried making comics...) Their novel is called Agatha H and The Airship City.

Mozart's Requiem

This is Joey's favorite symphony, so I had to see Mozart's Requiem. It is very dramatic and tragic and something to wear a black dress to...Mozart's swan song! I have a record of the Requiem and enjoy listening to it when it's either raining, snowing, or storming. It's actually an Amadeus soundtrack, if you haven't seen that movie you should -- you won't regret it.

Richard Panek

An author of science, Richard Panek just wrote a book called The 4% Universe. It's all about dark matter, which is something I'm really fascinated with. Basically, dark matter is the unknown force pushing out the galaxies. The highlight of the reading was when an old man that looked like Mr Miyagi approached the stadium, and with a wise voice, asked, "HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF DARK FORCE?"

Richard was like, "You mean...dark flow?"

Brian Greene

Author of The Elegant Universe, theoretic physicist, and string theorist...Brian Greene! It was an honor to attend his talk. Like Kaku, he is also a great talker. He came out with a book called Hidden Reality, about parallel universes. Basically, if you believe in math, you believe in parallel universes. If you shuffle a deck of cards a million times, you will eventually get the same order as an order you once had. Hence, he thinks that somewhere out there, something like Earth has happened. Very interesting perception on how math interacts with our world. When he described gravity, it made me very aware of how I am pulled toward the Earth -- almost made me feel heavy.

Little Dragon

I went to their concert on a tired work night, mid-week...but was pumped once I got there since the music is full of life. Never heard of 'em? Just look at this vid and love it (there are shadow puppets that cry little beady tears and trees that whisper into the air -- you want to see it):

Opera: Songs of Cleopatra

This was part of the Baroque series. The intense Isabel Bayrakdarian wore a dramatic, red dress and sang her lungs out. I particularily enjoyed Morte Col Fiero Aspetto -- pretty and emotional.


I hope you guys found something interesting out of the things I've been up to this early spring! More updates soon!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back from Kauai!

I am back from Kauai! Hope you guys all had a great week. Big thanks to Mark for guest blogging while I was away. I'll admit, Seattle seems so dark upon my return compared to Kauai...I miss the sun! It's really gray and rainy here. Joey and I stayed at the Grand Hyatt by Shipwreck Beach. I wasn't so sure about the beach at first because I heard the waves were rough...but I loved Shipwreck Beach with the waves and the crazy, doomful cliff. If I were to write everyday on the cliff, I'd probably write something dramatic. We got to hike along the cliff to the other side, where another beach is.

We hung out plenty by the resort pool. Eventually, we ventured to the west to go see the Weimeia Canyons. We tried to look for Barking Sand Beach, but it was closed off. (Too bad...I heard the sand makes a barking sound when you walk on it.)

The only thing disappointing was going to a luau, which was very cheesy and touristy -- kind of my idea of tropical hell. I was hoping to eat in darkness while people threw around flaming sticks and drums thundered...NOPE. It was more like full bright with cafeteria food and too much aloha going on.

Joey had his Pentax camera, so he took some awesome shots. We often pulled up by the road to take a pic, like this one below:

This picture was taken at Kipu Falls...a hidden waterfall and pool in the woods:

I took some black and white shots below, and these are my faves...Even with sunny colors, I am a fan of black and white often times:

We found an incredible little beach called Glass Beach. The grains of sand are made out of glass that's been polished over time. Apparently, some factory used to dump glass bottles into the ocean nearby. I got to collect some sea glass here, found a ruby-looking gem stone, and some metal pebbles. Example of "sand" is below:

Some more random shots that turned out well:

Up north, there are some of the most bluest oceans ever. It's a bit windy and cloudy at times, but the beautiful Tunnels Beach was worth seeing:

Now, for the more moody beach...Shipwreck Beach:

One of my favorite thing to do there was to get some L&L BBQ to go and eat at the beach. I know, it's really cheap...but I love it. So satisfying. Look how happy I am with BBQ:

It was truly a magical trip...Looking at the pics, it all seems like it was just a dream. Well, time to get back to work! Even though I was on vacation, I kept thinking about story ideas, things to paint, and my writing.