the Little Red Reviewer

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Author Danica Davidson and Manga author Rena Saiya have recently released Manga Art for Intermediates.    When Danica told me about this new book, I had a million questions for her – How did she know what text would work best with Rena’s pictures? How did Rena know what artwork would go best with the text? How did the two of them collaborate? How did they find each other? Was it fun?  Instead of trying to answer my million questions over lunch one day, Danica suggested I interview the both of them. Excellent idea!

Danica Davidson is most famous for her series of unofficial Minecrafter adventure novels for middle grade readers.  She’s written articles for MTV, The Onion, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and about fifty other publications.  You can learn more about her work here.

Rena Saiya is a Mangaka (manga author) living in the Tokyo area.  Her flexible artwork style has allowed her to publish manga in a variety of genres, and she has also taught manga-creation in vocational schools in Japan. Click here to visit Rena’s website.

Danica and Rena were kind enough to answer all my questions about their new manga art book,  how they collaborated,  their backgrounds, and more!  If you know someone who is dabbling in drawing manga fan-art, Manga Art for Intermediates is for them!

My Q&A with Danica Davidson:

Little Red Reviewer: This is your second Manga Art step-by-step book. What did you want to accomplish in this book that you hadn’t already accomplished in the first book?

Danica Davidson: The first book was more basic. If you want to draw manga-style characters in your notebook but don’t know how to start, that book has you covered. It starts with how to draw faces, eyes, bodies, really going piece by piece, then gets into how to draw common character types. So we have schoolgirl, schoolboy, chibi, ninja, magical girl, etc. Each character is drawn in maybe 15 or so steps, making it much more detailed than any other how-to-draw manga books I’m aware of on the market.

If you’ve gone through that book or have some background in art, then Manga Art for Intermediates ups the ante. It still shows how to draw common character types in many more steps (this time around we have characters like bride and groom, kendo player, seme and uke, Heian man, nekojin and even some yokai). But we also talk about what sort of papers, pens, inks and software real, professional manga creators in Japan like to use. It goes into screentones and how to use brushes to make black hair look shiny. All of this information comes thanks to Rena, who has a background in manga.

Danica Davidson

LRR: How did you first get involved with manga step-by-step guides?

DD: It happened because of my background in manga. I started reading manga as a teenager, and not long afterward I started writing about it professionally. The first glossy magazine I freelanced for was Anime Insider, and that led me to writing about manga for Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and that led me to writing about manga for MTV, CNN, The Onion and other places. I adapted manga into English for Digital Manga Publishing and have helped in the editing process for Yen Press. I love a good story, and manga is a great medium. Then a publisher reached out to me based on my manga knowledge and experience, saying they wanted to do an art book. That led to Manga Art for Beginners.

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Hello fellow #RRSciFiMonth readers! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite science fiction that I’ve read over the last year or so. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “what kind of science fiction does Little Red Reviewer enjoy?” this list should answer that question. the links will take you to my review.

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

 

The Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee, which includes Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun. I love everything about this trilogy, even though I am still recovering from that scene that made me cry hysterically for most of two days. Here’s a link to all three reviews, but read everything after the Ninefox Gambit review at your own risk because Spoilers!

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – A murderous cyborg who balances a heart of gold, an addiction to soap operas, and hating on humans. My fave entry so far is the 2nd one – Artificial Condition.

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick – Fake news! First half of the book is excellent, second half isn’t so awesome, but this book is still worth the read.

Acadie by Dave Hutchinson – the best fun you’ll have in 100 pages

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – weird, wonderful, post-apocalyptic. I hope one day Rachel feels safe enough that she can take her shoes off.

Nova by Samuel Delany – this story hasn’t aged a day! a compelling read that keeps you turning the pages. Excellent characters, fast paced plot.

I love buying books.  If I read an author and fall in love with their work, I try to buy more of their books.  I can’t seem to leave a bookstore without purchasing a cookbook.

 

I’ve been waiting for Seth Dickinson’s next Baru Cormorant book since, oh, I dunno, about 5 seconds after finishing the first book in the series, The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I was so excited for the next book in the series, The Monster Baru Cormorant, that I reread the first one, managed to purchase a copy of the new book the day it came out, and started reading it that night. It’s super dense, I’m madly in love with all the economics talk (but wait, i thought I hated economics?),  and I really miss Tain Hu. Might have to reread the first book just to be able to spend some more time with her. I’m about half way through The Monster Baru Cormorant, and am pretty sure I’ll need to read it twice if I’m gonna write a coherent review.

About five minutes after I finished Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee,  I ordered a copy of Lee’s short story collection, Conservation of Shadows.    And I finally, finally, after everyone I know has said how amazing this series is, bought a copy of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.  the problem is going to be deciding which one of these to read first!!!   The Lee looks enjoyable because it’s short stories, i can read one or two before bed or in the morning before I leave for work.   If Vicious turns out to be an emotional roller coaster, I might need to wait a few weeks to read it,  as I’m still recovering from Revenant Gun, and a little voice is telling me that Baru is going to take me on another emotional roller coaster!

 

Even if I don’t get to either of these books any time soon, I like that they are in my house.

 

 

And because I apparently can’t leave a bookstore without buying a cookbook, lets make some Gyudon.   and there’s a whole chapter on Japanese Curry!  Curry Rice FTW!

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Dear book bloggers of the world:  I’m worried about you.

 

Yes you, the blogger who said on their “about me” page that they’d being posting 3 book reviews a week, and a month in you’re already starting to get burned out because you’ve been reading 26 hours a day and have  barely slept or walked your dog or done your homework or texted your mom or spent any time with your best friend.

 

And you, the book blogger who clicked on so much shiny cover art that now you have 50 NetGalley eARCs you need to read, like, right now because you need to make sure NetGalley always loves you.

 

And you, the book blogger who decided ten  reading challenges look fun, and you thought reading 100 books this year was a worthy goal (and don’t forget the bingo card!), and then college started up again, you got diagnosed with a chronic illness, you moved cross country, you had to give your cat away, and now you are wondering how are you ever going to meet your goal of reading 100 books this year?

 

And you, the book blogger who feels like you’re doing it wrong because you think someone else’s book blog is shinier or sleeker, or longer, or shorter, or whatever-er than yours.

 

Dear book bloggers of the world:  I’m worried about you. Please be kinder to yourselves.

 

Book blogging is not and was never meant to be something you are required to do every day or three times a week or on any arbitrarily defined schedule.

Book blogging is not and should not be about keeping up with other bloggers. There isn’t some prize for reading the most books, or downloading the most eARCs from Netgalley or getting the most ARCs in the mail.

Book blogging should not be something that comes before selfcare, or before your family, or before the big things in your life. Some days watching TV should come before book blogging, because we all do #selfcare differently.

Book blogging should not be something that causes you stress or strife or causes you to be judgemental about yourself.

Netgalley will understand. They know we love clicking on beautiful cover art.

 

Book bloggers of the world, please be kinder to yourselves.

 

Please, be take some time to be selfish.  Take some time to realize that you have taken your passion for reading, the spark you carry inside you, and allowed it to blossom on a website that is all your own.  With a little bit of clicking, and a little bit of html, you have literally created something out of nothing. You have created something that is completely unique to you – someone else, if given the same exact recipe, could never have made what you have made. Because of you, someone discovered a new-to-them book. Your passion, your spark, it rubs off on everyone who visits your site!

 

Still looking for the magic bullet of how win at blogging? Ok, here you go:

 

Being the bloggeriest blogger who ever blogged is not winning. Winning is showing up. Winning is being your authentic self. Winning is talking about books you care about, books that make you think, or cry, or laugh, or grow. Winning is coming to the bloggish community as you,  not as who you think we want to meet. Winning is recognizing burn-out for what it is, taking a break when you need to, and keeping it fun.

 

Blog when you feel like it. Blog on a schedule that works for you. If you have a schedule that was working, and it isn’t working anymore, change it. Blogs are not made of stone and neither are  you. Your blog works for you, not the other way around.

 

#selfcare comes first. Your health and your family come first.  Take a break if that’s what life calls for. Your blog will still be here waiting for you when you come back. The blogging community will still be here waiting for you when you’re ready to return. We’re patient and we want you to take care of yourself.  If you decide there isn’t room in your life for the commitment of blogging right now? That’s OK too. Really, it is!

 

Please do not think you are failing as a blogger because your blog isn’t as sparkly or as polka-dotty or as whatever-y as someone else’s.

 

The only failed blogger is the blogger who never started a blog in the first place.

 

Book bloggers of the world, please be kinder to yourselves.  If the spark inside you burns out, the blogosphere will be all the poorer without you.

 

I love autumn.  I love sweater weather, and snuggling under blankets, and chili or stew bubbling on the stove, I love the crinkle of dry leaves, the smell of burning leaves, the honks of migrating geese, how the world sounds and smells so different all of sudden.   Orion is in the sky when I leave for work, and I get to watch a beautiful sunrise every morning.

 

Yep, I love autumn.

 

There are also some really fun bloggy, booky, and book-blogosphere events happening in the autumn and into winter!   Here’s a run down of the fall/winter SciFi events I’ll be involved with:

 

As always, I am super excited for #RRSciFiMonth, this year hosted by Imyril of One More and Lisa of Dear Geek Place! For the month of November, if you’re not sure that SciFi is your thing, or if it just sounds too weird, this is the time to dip your toes in!  There will be give aways and twitter threads, and other cool stuff too!  Scif Fi Month has no deadlines, no challenges, no minimums, no bouts of books. Sci Fi Month is a community, a conversation, an invitation.

Science Fiction is basically my life,  and any opportunity to help a non-scifi reader find the scifi book that works for them is a good thing, in my opinion. There are so many flavors of science fiction,  (just like there are different types of TV shows!),  so if the first scifi book you pick up isn’t the one for you,  there are  million other ones out there to try that might work for you.  Yay SciFiMonth!

So that’s November.

 

In early December, I will have a super awesome, super huge announcement about a super secret project I’m working on.  The project will go live (not sure if that is even the right word!) in January.  And I need your help!  I’ll be promoting the living hell out of this thing, so if you’re willing to give me a corner of you blog I’d be happy to write you a guest post (easy content for you!). Want to interview me about the project? that’s awesome too!   Public announcement goes up in early December, but if you’d like to know the secret ahead of time?  Leave me a way to get a hold of you in the comments (e-mail, twitter, link to the contact page on your website) and I’ll be in touch.

 

And in January?

It will be #VintageSciFiMonth!  Hosted by yours truly and Jacob at Red Star Reviews! Yay! muppet flail!!!!!!!!   I haven’t even picked out my books yet!  #endlessscreaming!

VintageScifi Month started on a lark I don’t know how many years ago, and has grown into this wonderful huge thing. here’s how it works:  During the month of January,  read, watch, or listen to something science fiction-y that was written/created before 1979, and talk about it on the internet. on your blog, on facebook, on twitter, on booktube. You can read a book, flip through an old magazine, watch an old movie, listen to some old audio of War of the Worlds.  Have fun downloading old books from Project Gutenberg, visit a used bookstore, find an old gem at the library, ask your parents what their favorite science fiction book was when they were younger.

Vintage month is like taking a community college course in the history of science fiction, and you’re taking the class with all your friends.  Just like RRSciFiMonth,  Vintage month is a community, a conversation, and an invitation.  There is no sign up, you just show up.  Can’t wait!

 

 

 

As of the writing of this blog post, The Apex Publications “Do Not Go Quietly” Kickstarter is just shy of 70% funded, with 15 days to go.  Jason and Lesley have let me annoy them with e-mails and tweets and Q&A’s.  I have to admit, I am fascinated not only by this particular kickstarter project, but by the behind the scenes of crowdfunding in general.  This is the fourth (fifth? I’ve lost count) Kickstarter that Apex has done, so crowdfunding projects must be fun!

 

Well past the 50% funded mark, the DNGQ project is now open to unsolicited submissions, through Sept 19th. They are looking for stories of Resistance. Of Revolution. Of standing up and demanding to have your space, your say, your right to be. Even if it means pissing people off.

 

Looking for some inspirational music? On the DNGQ blog is a Playlist of Resistance with more suggestions and music links in the comments.

 

But you came here to hear what Jason and Lesley have to say about resistance, voting, this anthology, and kickstarter, right?   Onward!

 

Andrea:  You’ve got voting information on the Do Not Go Quietly Blog. Um, why?
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Jason: Lesley and I aren’t violent people. We certainly appreciate the sentiment behind punching neo-Nazis, but we don’t want to endorse any action that would see someone be harmed (particularly those who aren’t neo-Nazis). The simplest and most pain free way to resist in a democracy is to vote the assholes out. We want you to use your power to cast a ballot for those who are not racist, who does not suffer xenophobia, and discriminates against religion.
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Lesley: Jason’s right. The best way to fight back and to resist is to be knowledgeable of what is going on in politics. So many people seem to feel like their vote doesn’t matter, like they can’t make a change by going, but that isn’t true. I would encourage everyone to pay attention. Know who your representatives are and what they stand for. If they don’t represent your beliefs or are actively trying to take away the rights of people they’re supposed to be representing, VOTE THEM OUT. The fastest way to get the attention of people in power is to take that power away when they abuse it.
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Andrea: I am LOVING this cover art by Marcela Bolívar! What else can you tell us about her? Will she be creating any more artwork for this project?


. Read the rest of this entry »

No review this week, but lots of books to talk and think about.

 

I just finished reading Nexhuman by Francesco Verso, wow, what a book!  A gripping (and maybe creepy?) plotline, a future built around so many “what if” questions, discussion of the unintended consequences of uploading our minds into robot bodies,  this book is like a keystone for so much other science fiction that I’ve read. Lots of hard science questions and possible answers presented in a social scifi / coming of age / doomed romance (maybe they are doomed?) novel that doesn’t shy away from visceral violence. Still thinking about it and putting my thoughts together, and I will probably have to read portions of the book again before writing a review.   Anyway, if you’re looking for something different and smart, something that puts the pieces together, keep your eye out for Nexhuman, out in August from Apex Books. Full review coming soon, when I’m able to talk about this book in coherent sentences.

Needing something a little easier on the gut, I picked up Shadows Over London, by Christian Klaver.  He’s famous for his Supernatural Sherlock Holmes novellas, and I’ve had this Victorian urban fantasy on my shelf for a while.  Christian is a super nice guy, and it’s been too long since I read something of his. 70 or so pages in, and I’m up to my eyeballs in the Seelie Court, the Unseelie Court, a stained glass prison, four siblings who give me some super happy The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe vibes, and way too many cats.  Kinda worried now that this isn’t a happy little Victorian urban fantasy with faeries, kinda thinking there is plenty of violence and death in these pages?  And sorta wanna reread Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks all of a sudden.

On the short fiction front,  I found my way to Cat Pictures Please, (Clarkesworld) by Naomi Kritzer, and Fandom for Robots, (Uncanny) by Vina Jie-Min Prasad.  Stories told by sentient AIs? I can’t get enough of it!  A robot figuring out how to act like a human, how to understand all the weird shit humans do. . . it helps me feel normal that sometimes even I don’t understand the weird shit humans do.   You should go read those short stories I linked to. Each one is a five minute read, but they are so good you will wish they were longer. It’s ok, you can read them again.

 

I promised you pigs and jellyfish princesses, didn’t I.  Pigs first! If you are as obsessed with Fullmetal Alchemist as I am (omg, did you see? They are releasing hardcover editions!  Goodbye $300!), then you know the creator behind that series, Hiromu Arakawa, has another manga series called Silver Spoon.  Silver Spoon is just a high school slice of life story – no magic, no fantasy, nothing supernatural. All these students are at an agricultural high school, many of them are expected to take over their family’s farms and agro-businesses. The main character is a city boy, and he chose this school to get as far away from his overbearing parents as possible. He doesn’t know the first thing about chickens or horses or pigs, and he finds himself fascinated by understanding more about where our food comes from.   

 

So much food and animal science, I love it!!! This is a great manga if you don’t think you like manga. It has ZERO annoying tropes, great characters, excellent art, and food science! Like why you need to age pork for a few days.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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