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On the road again
Well, my family and I are staring nervously at the imminent prospect of a trip back to the east coast this summer. Some people are easy travelers, but that's never been me. Even short trips involve much dread, and throw me off for days - and that was before the pandemic. I'd postpone, but there's some stuff I've put off since my mom died two years ago, that just can't be put off any longer.
Luckily, my setup for making Margo is extremely portable - I've managed to condense my entire drawing setup (minus a desk, of course) into one shoulder bag. If you're curious, here's what that looks like:
I could travel even lighter if I drew digitally, but again, that's not me. If you’d like to know about my drawing tools, let me know!
Mostly what I'll be doing for the next couple months is writing. I mentioned in the last newsletter that I've been using Scrivener, which is such a deep program I feel like I'm only using the iceberg tip of its features, since it's really designed for prose writers. The other program I've used extensively for writing is Evernote, which as the name implies, is a note-taking app. It's main strength is in keeping piles and piles of notes organized and searchable - reference photos clipped from the web, rambly freewriting sessions, lore notes, etc. Evernote's really useful for reference - I've built a sort of wiki of Margo lore there for my own reference (maybe I'll put it all online when the series is done). But it's just not really built to organize small bits of writing into a coherent timeline.
That's why I like Scrivener's corkboard function. My writing process is very non-linear - I come up with vast piles of little fun scenes and ideas and revelations, then try to piece them together in some sensible way. My cool premises too often end with something like "Margo solves the problem in a clever way to be determined." Scrivener lets me put all of those bits into notecards, and rearrange them to my heart's content. It always feels magical when you realize one of your notecards is actually the missing half of another notecard, and you can just stick the two together. Tools are only tools, they don't do the work for you... but sometimes using a new one makes the work more fun. I always like hearing about other people's writing methods, so I'm happy to share some of my own.
I recently got a package in the mail with two new foreign Margo releases - volume one in German, and volume 2 in Spanish. Every foreign edition has been really been attentive to details -some go so far as to translate even the tiny bits of graffiti and signage in the backgrounds! Margo’s now available in Spanish, German, French, and of course English. How odd to think about Margo roaming all over the world… I’m sure she can take care of herself. Now that I've got a stack of these different overseas editions, I'm inclined to figure out how I can find some way to give them away to readers. I'll let you know when I figure out how!
Reader Corner: Questions and fan art from readers!
If you’d like to send questions or art, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Margo Newsletter”.
Henry (8): What's the name of the goblin that got eaten by Marcus?
The name of the goblin Marcus ate was Nic! And believe it or not, he's going to come back in book #4! (He didn't get all-the-way eaten, just a little chewed on).
Norah (6): How did Margo discover all of the monsters?
Margo grew up with the monster files in her attic, so she's been reading all about monsters since she was barely able to walk. It was really only a matter of time before she started investigating herself. As for where the monster files came from - that's yet to be revealed.
Fanart from Henry and Norah below!
Book: My friend Joey Weiser's new kid's graphic novel is out now, Dragon Racer. This one's got some returning characters from his last one, Ghost Hog - but is totally standalone. This one's got some Speed Racer vibes, and Joey's books are always very warm and sweet and totally appropriate for very early comic readers. Check it out.
Website: I've been addicted to several of Tor's "book club" series over the years, and Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth's Reading the Weird is one of them. Each week they summarize and comment on a short piece of "Weird Fiction" through a modern and feminist lens. They started with Lovecraft (never ignoring all his problematic aspects), but have branched out with longer discursions into Shirley Jackson and others. This is for you if you like reading chatty discussions about horror stories more than, you know, actually reading the stories.
Picture Book: With an about-to-be-2-year-old, we've become picture book aficionados. I wasn't super familiar with the work of Janet and Allen Ahlberg until Eleanor introduced me to their work some years ago, and it's been a real pleasure to introduce their books to Danny. The Jolly Postman is probably their best known (it's the one with a bunch of little envelopes inside you can open and read) but Danny's favorite is probably Each Peach Pear Plum (he loves when all of the characters get together at the end for pie). It's funny to realize that he doesn't have any cultural experience with the fairy tale characters within like Jack and Jill, or Tom Thumb - these are forming his first impressions.
Life in the Desert
Danny’s vocabulary exploded this month - in the space of weeks he went from single words to two and then three word sentences. Of course, he does require some interpretation - for instance, you need to know “Nana ee baboo!” translates to “Horse eats blueberries!” Suddenly he’s telling little stories of his own with his plastic animals, and really picking up on the threads of his storybooks. His two year birthday is fast coming up, and I’m already slightly regretting taking him away from his grandparents for the next few months - he’s changing every day. But I won’t miss the Tucson summer heat. Some pictures below of us at the Reid Park Zoo train, and at El Día de San Juan festival.
That’s all for this month! Next time I’ll probably be writing you from the Virginia woods! Take care.