Phreak Show Ink – Tera


Tattoo - Tera (2)

Tattoo - Tera

My Phineas tattoo is very angry this week. So, for Tera, Joe decided to pull back and not hammer the ink in so hard all at once. Once this initial layer heals, he’ll go back in and add cool tones to Tera’s shadows.

Symbolizing Tera’s phreaky gift was a bit of a challenge. We decided to go with some layering on half of her face. This will pop out a little more once the cools are added.

Phreak Show Ink – Phineas


Maestro Phineas Cocteau

Maestro Phineas Cocteau

Maestro Phineas Cocteau

Maestro Phineas Cocteau

The phirst character in my Phreak Show sleeve: Phineas

We’ll go back in during a future session and add a damask overlay to his top hat and jacket.

Phreak Show Ink – A Sleeve of Characters


Placement of Tera (misspelled by my assistant), Romeo, Niko & Phineas

Placement of Tera (misspelled by my assistant), Romeo dropping down from her banner, Niko – Prince of Torture perfectly place by the elbow (gonna suck!) & Phineas w/ his top hat

A funny cylops-blob for Jamie (on the fishbelly, of course) and Jules on the sensitive underside

Doug Doug the Dimwit high on my shoulder, Jules on the sensitive underside (ouch!) & a funny cylops-blob for Jamie (on the fishbelly, of course)

Mantis blob with Lil Diva propped on her hip (top),

Mantis blob with Lil Diva propped on her hip (top), Jules wrapping him/herself around, Mama Snow by my wrist

Twiggy on the outside forearm,

Twiggy on the outside forearm, a glimpse of Mana Snow beneath her

I had to take a pause in my NaNoWriMo drafting for Epistle of Doff this morning. Reason: to consult with my tattooist on the sleeve images for my completed novel, Phreak Show.

Joe has purchased skulls and such from my business & does amazing ink work. When the idea to immortalize my phreaky characters hit me, I decided to return Joe’s patronage. His earliest appointment was 7 months in the future. That future arrives next Saturday.

Since NaNo means slacking on the blog, I figured the email I sent to Joe this morning was a way to show it some love. So here it is, chock full of links and words. I’ll be chronicling the sleeve as it progresses, so y’all might as well get in at the planning stage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe~
 
Lots of multimedia/data resources for this sleeve. Take a breath, give your creativity a good whack to get it cranked up, and dive in.
 
Here’s a copy of the original facebook msg I sent you back in May, with my thoughts on the style.
 
I want to do a sleeve of tats over the next couple months consisting of the characters from my latest novel, Phreak Show. It’s a Young Adult Fantasy, set in a modern-day sideshow with some steampunk/Victorian & magical tendencies.So, the characters are basically sideshow performers/freaks. I’m envisioning a bit of New School flare in coloring and style, with some high-contrast black, fused with some elements of old sideshow banner art.I can, of course, totally dredge up base images and we can work on the designs from there. But, I’m thinking how cool it’d be for the artist to get a vibe for the characters through reading the book. So, yeah, let me know if you’re game.
 
Here’s a link to my Pinterest. There are a few boards with labels starting with “Phreak Show” which have my inspiration images for the characters, clothing, jewelry, etc for the book. http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/boards/
 
This one specifically has the cabinet cards I made up for each character http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/phreak-show-cast-steampunk/  It shows them in their “everyday” forms, but I want the tattoos to add the element of their transformations into their sideshow personas like: Twiggy the Blubber Girl, The Prince of Torture (a tatooist!), etc. The original, color images I used are here: http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/phreak-show-castoff-images/ and these may be more helpful for reference purposes.
 
I’m thinking just head & shoulders for each one, with a ribbon/sideshow banner beneath with their sideshow names.
We have 8 appointments scheduled, right? There are a total of 8 (or 10–depending on how they’re counted) separate character images. Plus the smoky, colorful ribbons of “aether” to fill the spaces in between. So, I guess we’ll have to see how to work those all in? Or schedule some future dates to finish? (If I don’t go broke first!)
 
I laid out the rough outlines/placement I have in mind. Pics of my (roughed in) sharpied left arm are attached.
Roughly, here’s the order of inking I’m thinking. Totally open to your input. Maybe we can squeeze multiple characters with close proximity in during a single session:
– Phineas – top of forearm http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218339/ (This image is pretty spot-on. Love the dark shadows, but would like deep colors mixed in so it’s not solid black. Def want his signature eyes to stand out–they’re milky-blue, covered in cataracts)
– Tera – outside of bicep http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398272931/ In the story, she transforms to look like other people’s worst fears. So, not *exactly sure how to represent that…Also, she wears a heavy hood to conceal her face until the transfomrations are complete, so that might be an element to incorporate as long as her fiery red hair is still partially visible. (Romeo, a copper monkey may hang from her banner into the crook of my arm)
– Niko – perfectly placed for the Prince of Torture…near the elbow. A combo of this image http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218239/ along with shirtless Adam Levine http://www.pinterest.com/pin/354377064398218378/ (For the ink, half of his face ‘normal’, the other half tattooed and pierced
– Jamie – top half underside of my forearm (no image of him on any of the boards – he’s the Tera gets of her baby brother – only effed up into a cyclops baby)
Those are the first 4. I’m thinking we can decide the order of the rest and space them out as we go, using the sharpie template along with sizing as a guide for their placement.
 
I’ve also attached the manuscript. If you want to check it out, the main character, Tera, gets an effed up tat in chapter one, then enters the Phreak Show at the end of chapter 2. After that, the sideshow personas of the characters unfold over the following chapters. 
LAST LINK! lol – http://www.pinterest.com/LucasMight/tattoos-steampunk-otherwise/ This board will give you an idea of the types of tattoo styles/coloring/imagery I’m drawn to. I don’t want to dictate the style so much as I want you to interpret my ideas into your own Joe Crossman style. As long as the ink is helz-yeah-phenomenal, and consistent throughout the whole sleeve, I’m pretty open.
Thanks, man. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Lucas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe doesn’t know it yet, but I plan on typing with my right hand in his shop next Saturday. NaNo is live & Doff wants out of me. There’s no reason [other than the pain of metallic, pissed-off wasps hammering into my flesh] I shouldn’t keep hacking away at the next novel while getting inked with characters from the previous one.

Whether Phreak Show ever gets traditionally published or not, I absolutely love the characters and their story. Will I regret immortalizing them in my skin forever? Absolutely not. As long as Joe doesn’t eff things up for me like Niko did for Tera. Or did Niko really mess up her tattoo of Jamie…?

OFFER OF REP! (and why I said no)


guy kneeling crying

Please, put down the torches and pitchforks.

I know how that title sounds. I never, ever imagined I’d turn down an offer of rep from an agent. But I did. I had to. It was a difficult thing to do, but maybe not for the reasons you might think.

It all started with the most recent #PitMad event. The day job was busy sucking the life out of me, so, the night before, I scheduled a few Tweets to jump in and scrap with the thousands of others vying for attention in the stream. By the end of the day, I had two requests: one from a small pub & one from an agent. Right away I knew I wouldn’t submit to the publisher. Because, you see, I’ve made the personal decision that I want an agent fighting by my side, adding value, experience, and wisdom to this passionate dream of mine.

So that left me with an agent who wanted to see more than the (exactly) 140 characters: Tera joins the crazy-twisted Phreak Show where she must embrace the truth: being a freak isn’t about looks, it’s a frame of mind #PitMad YAF

I’d previously researched the agency *a little*. My mind couldn’t instantly dredge up any black-listed reasons not to submit. Plus: AN AGENT WANTS TO SEE MORE OF MY STORY! Once I got home, I hunted the sub guidelines and shipped off the query, synopsis & first 25 pages. I grabbed some dinner and nonchalantly strolled into my weekend.

5 days later, this arrived in my inbox:

I’m absolutely obsessed with this. Your concept looks really tight and the message is just awesome. I think there is something so real about this, but you are entertaining instead of didactic. I could go on and on, but suffice to say I’m fangirling : ) I would be delighted to give your full manuscript a read.

Of course I did a celebratory jig (a cross between Riverdance & walking on hot coals) & sent it right over. An agent. Fangirling over my words! And only then did I do the in-depth research I should have.

Uh-oh.

As this process progressed, a half dozen of my fellow writers, CPs, and an Assistant Agent friend all suited up & went into research-war with me. There were a lot of questions marks, which twisted into perplexities, which then flared into big, flaming red flags.

– Predators & Editors only noted: slow response time to queries. [Well, hell. That’s 75% of all queries I’ve ever sent…]
– No agents with the agency are members off AAR. [Okay, well I know of some top-notch agents who aren’t…]
– No clients listed on the agency website. [Okay. Wait. What? You’ve been in business for years…Your website is a basic (and easy) venue to champion your authors’ work. If you’re not showcasing your clients & their books on your own website, then what kind of marketing value are you really adding?]
– Twitter digging, following the rabbit down its hole, unearthed a few “clients”. [Hmmm…few and far between. The quality of the book covers look little better than something created in MS Paint. Are these self-pubbers? I smell fish.]
– Even though the agency (and its parent Talent agency) has been around for years: no sales listed. None. Anywhere. [Slow the eff down. Even if the agent (for whatever reason) chose not to post sales, then the Editor, or the even the author most likely would. Right? HOW CAN YOU BE IN BUSINESS FOR YEARS AND NOT HAVE ANY PUBLIC RECORD OF SALES?]

And as a few more red flags were firmly planted: that dead fish smell clung to me, my manuscript, my misconception that landing a full request is always a good thing.

THE NEXT DAY: My phone rings during my commute home. I don’t recognize the number. It’s the agent. I pull over. I whip out my notebook, access the mental database of all those questions & red flags in my head.

I absolutely LOVE this. Love.it. The aesthetic you created is perfect for this concept, perfect for YA. The quirkiness is really good; weird in a good way. Your characters are a BIG strength; they feel so real. The whole story felt really emotional without sacrificing plot. It’s so hard to balance characterization, worldbuilding and plot, and you did it beautifully. That’s evidence of a great writer.”

Lucas’ brain: She’s genuine. She reallymeans every word. Damn, those words feel good. Why, oh why, does this have to smell like a Red Lobster’s dumpster?

I’d like to offer you and your phenomenal book representation.

Lucas’s brain: Oh fuck does this suck. Hard.

I dig into my questions: carefully. I ask about the things giving me major pause (or, actually, damn-near a full-on stop). She answers. She’s super nice. Her personality is vibrant, cheery, and wonderful. We’d get along great outside of the whole agent-author relationship thingy. Oh yeah. That’s the whole point. A knowledgeable agent guiding me through the process, selling-the-hell-out-of-my-book, connecting with contacts I don’t have, championing my story, fighting alongside me to make this passionate dream of mine a reality.

I have other fulls out, so I need to nudge those agents and give them the opportunity to offer. A week ought to do. I ask for a copy of the agency’s contract to look over. I can text or email or call anytime with questions or concerns.

I’m torn. There’s no way I can accept this offer. But, at the same time, in an ooey gooey part of me, this is the call I’ve been working SO HARD to receive for years now. THIS EFFIN SUCKS.

If the red flags smelled fish-like, the contract is the bloody meat of every fish who ever died, piled on a shit-covered beach, rotting in the boiling hot sun while zombie skunks spray musk on the stinkbugs chewing on the eyeless corpses. You think I’m exaggerating. I’ve seen a few agency contracts, so I have comparison points. I work with contracts & legal docs in both my day job and in my own business. This contract isn’t for just this project, but basically for your creative soul. The Author’s Work is defined as:

“…all ideas, story materials, characters, situations, formats, and works of authorship which Author has created or creates during the term of this Agreement…”

That feels pretty all-encompassing. “Ideas” are included? And what’s with the “has created” phrase? The word “irrevocably” is used too many times throughout the contract. The clauses involving how the contract can be terminated revolve around a very specific period in time; not just with 30 days written notice, which seems to be the standard. With each new work, the contract auto-renews & resets the clock & the termination clause. The continuation of residual commissions is scary when combined with the agreement’s definition of the Author’s Work. If things weren’t fishy before, this contract alone would have been enough to lead me to a no.

My deadline for getting back to this agent arrives. My gut wrenches as I dial the number. And I’ve heard agents say this before: rejections suck no matter which side of the conversation you are on. This isn’t true with queries or partials, I’m sure. Probably not even with a lot of fulls. But here, with an offer of rep before me, knowing and believing that (despite all the salmon) this agent truly & genuinely loves my work, I feel so awful saying no. And not for my sake. Not because I feel like I’m losing something, but because this agent feels so strongly for my manuscript. My heart hurts because she has expectation and hope. And I’m the one dashing it against the stones.

It bites when agents give you a generic rejection, which leaves you wondering But, really, WHY? It’s harder this way (on me), but I’m super-honest and straightforward with her on the reasons why I am declining her offer. She is gracious, but sadness tinges her voice.

I received an offer of rep. And yet, I had to reject it.

But the story doesn’t end there. Since I rejected that offer, I expanded the deadline: for reasons. Baited hooks still dangle in the sparkling water, with the possibility of reeling in an agent with the passion, experience, and wisdom worthy of a yes. It may or may not happen this round. I’ll keep you posted. Thankfully, there are fish in that wide, open sea who don’t smell fishy at all.

Dr. Kevorkian and the Miracle of Coffee


Patron Saint of Patience

Patron Saint of Patience

Sometimes you get so close to something you can feel the heat of it.

Like the aroma of coffee warming your nose before the cup ever touches your lips.

I’ve had this health issue thingy for over a year now. So as not to channel my Mama (who expertly lists each and every crick, ache & ooze of her own & those in our extended family, like she’s a hybrid living phonebook/family tree/Ailment Field Guide), I’ll keep it vague. Perhaps you’ve noticed I’m pretty candid at times. (I get that from Mama, for sure.) But, I also have it in me to engage my hush-hush & discretion genes when needed.

Unnamed health issue. Riding on a wave of not-so-good, then okay again. Doctors, meds, co-pays. A specialist. Surgery.

Thursday at midnight, I enter the land of no-food-or-drink-or-you’ll-turn-into-a-pumpkin. Which is to say: NO COFFEE ON THE EARLIEST MORNING IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD WHEN I NEED IT MOST. Java-less Friday dawns. Dread oozes over me as my chauffeur parks the chariot outside the Surgery Center.

Check-in. Consent form signage. Butt naked, then re-styled in surgical couture: graphic muu-muu with this season’s signature slit up the back, a powder-blue cap obviously offering a nod to little Toadstool from Super Mario Brothers, and a pair of grippy-bottom booties—the medical world’s Louboutin.

The second hand of the institutional clock circles like a slow, methodical vulture. The surgeon’s running a half hour late to the fashion show. (And you know what it’s like when you have to wait for things as important as Friday quitting time, to hear back on a full request, to go under the scalpel—agony.) So, decked in my trendy garb, I do what I always do when nervous, happy, pissed, scared, or basically anything other than sad; I joke. My chauffeur plays editorial photographer with his iPhone as I smize & nail risqué poses in my designer clothes. I cause the nurse to chuckle as she enters top-secret jargon into her sci-fi computerator. Nurse #2 (who resembles a young Roseanne Barr) giggles as she inserts the ouchy IV. Anesthesiologist is already jovial (probably hitting a mild sedative), so I surreptitiously prestidigitate, casting a spell to further augment his sunny disposition.

Dr. Sleptthefuckin finally darkens the doorway. Funny bone: amputated.

Questions. Expectations. With nurse #1 carrying my IV bag, my entourage and I own the red carpet (i.e. white linoleum) and sashay to the operating room. Sharp things glisten under the harsh light of the paparazzi flashes. Or maybe that’s just the weapons-grade surgical lighting bouncing off the stark white walls and stainless steel.

I’m horizontal. Action. White-coated bumblebees buzz all around me. I want to close my eyes. So bad. I want to just block it all out. This isn’t fun any more. In that moment, I think, No. Keep your eyes open. Suck it all in, read the visuals like tea leaves, focus on description. Scribble notes in your head so you can fictionalize this experience in a novel someday. 

Electric sensors latch on to my back and chest, cuffs squeeze both legs and one arm, a crab claw clamps down on my finger, sunny-anesthesia-man twists a little plastic knob, my arms get strapped to wings jutting from each side of the table. Dr. Kevorkian palpates the soft skin he’s about to slice wide open. His hands are neither cold nor hot, but they’re definitely not just right. I can barely even feel them.

He grimaces. His unibrow furrows. He pushes with so much force it hurts. He looks at me, mumbles some words that may or may not be proper English.

A complication?

A miracle?

For reasons: the surgery can’t proceed. Not today.

In the recovery room, I cry.

Not because I wanted the surgery, but because I wanted the unknown over and done with. So much build up, months of worrying & wondering, crackling nerves, a coffee-less morning, pokes & pricks, a resolute part of me whispering It will be over soon. Rest well, Lucas. Rest well.

Sometimes you get so close to something you can feel the heat of it. An orchiectomy. A request from a writing contest. A blessed email asking for the full. A surprise phone call and an agent offering your book—you—representation. An editor at a major house whispering yes, blowing the steam over her coffee cup. Just a few more sales to shimmy on to the bestseller list.

Like the way things oh-too-often happen in the writerly world, my health issue and I are back to waiting, to see what comes. It’s a limbo-esque place to exist—fret with hand-wringing, impatience, and the nervous shits. But also: hope. That things are okay for now, and there’s a chance a miracle has happened. That one stage of the waiting may be over. That chauffeurs who take provocative pictures, and nurses who look like Roseanne, will be there supporting you no matter what comes.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, coffee is always there. Even on those most dreaded of java-free mornings, it smiles—warm and comforting—just on the other side of the wait. I’m savoring the heat of it right now. But, Patron Saint of Comedic Coping help me, I’m ready to take a sip.

The Ugliest Mona Lisa I’ve Ever Seen


mona lisa - ral

You know this lady.

Her name’s Mona. You can call her Mo for short. She’s kind of iconic.

She’s here today to help me illustrate this *thing* I’m going through which relates to the world of writing. No, it’s not about visualizing characters, painting a story landscape, or any such helpful advice from a novice. Sorry about that. There are plenty of other blogs with unpublished writers giving profound & sage wisdom…

The topic this blogger is tackling today is: [Well, shit, I can’t really sum it up in a single word. This isn’t Twitter; it’s a post. So eff it, I can ramble if I like.]

Let’s go with this freeform string of thoughts: I have multiple fulls out with agents, which have been out for a while. I recently nudged on one & the agent confessed that she hadn’t gotten to it yet. Cool. No big deal. Another one is past the 10 week mark, at which point I would normally nudge, but I have not because of [keep reading]. The third is in this nerve-wracking, string-a-long sort of web which doesn’t seem to have an end. I am hopeful that it will turn into an offer, but the more pages of the calendar I rip off, the less that feels like reality. So, I have just kind of turned off my wishfulness on this matter until such time as it needs to be either revived, or incinerated.

After all that, I guess what I’m trying to say is: I don’t like to feel like I’m begging.

To be candid, I totally get that agents are busy, clients come first, I’m swamped, it’s conference season–all that. And writers are always labeled “impatient”. “This is a slow process,” we tell each other. Agents say it, too. Yet, still, are we really impatient? 2 months? 4 months? 6 months? 12 months? How long is too long to wait to hear back on a full request? An R&R? At what point has the timing passed beyond simple impatience on the part of the writer?

What it boils down to is that I want an agent to *LOVE* my work. Like, SHAZAAAAM! BAM! YES I WANT IT GIVE IT TO ME RIGHT EFFIN NOW I CAN’T WAIT TO START WORKING WITH YOU AND GET THIS THING SUB-READY BECAUSE AWESOME IN MY FACE AND OMG HAVE YOU SIGNED THE AGENCY CONTRACT YET OR WHAT BECAUSE AHHHHHHH????!!!!!

Instead, thus far, I have felt less like Phreak Show is the real Mona Lisa, and that perhaps it is more like this:

mona lisa - bad

 

And, yes, my loverly invisible ink finders. I KNOW that Phreak Show looks/reads nothing like that horrid ol’ fake. I’m just sayin’ I want that acceptance, that go-get-it agent who believes in me & my story so much that s/he can’t get hold of it fast enough. A dream? Perhaps. But my life has been built on dreams such as this. And damn it, I’m not done believing in magick.

Phreak Show Sub Status


Because the numbers have changed since the last time I posted a Sub Pie.
Also, the other shoe could drop at any moment.
Also, also, there will be times when I will not be able to openly share ooey, gooey, behind-the-scenes goodness.

SubmissionsStatus-20130603

 

So 1/3 of the queries have come back as Form Rejections. Is that the sign of a bad query? Bad matching (on my part) of the agent with the book/genre/concept? Is that above, below, or spot-on with the average? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Wow…1/4 of the queries have been coded as “Non-Response”. That seems awfully high, but, based on the agent’s estimated response times, it is accurate. For a previous novel, I had a query response arrive 4 months later than the estimated 8 weeks. That one made me giggle.

0% Full Request Rejections. (At this snapshot-moment, at least.) A few of those are closing in on the 2-month mark. I suspect that % will jump soon. [No! The glass is half-full. The damn glass is half-full!!!] Querying writers, I’m curious about your experience; have full rejections come soon after the submission, or after many weeks? Months? Part of me fears that delay in response to a full = negative news.

Holding at 25% for Outstanding Queries. As long as my hot-list of agents holds out, I like to keep this rough percentage. Each new rejection = sending a new query (or two).

Q: When do I get to add my “Offers of Rep” slice? Soon, you say? I totally ❤ you from here to the moon.

Pineapples Do Not Camp


Les ananas ne campent pas!

Les ananas ne campent pas!

My 4 fulls for Phreak Show are still in heart-stabbing, conference-season-delayed limboland. Off and on, I’m still tinkering with a few tiny screws and toggles on it. Seriously, (hear me: seriously!) revisions are never truly done.

What kind of screws am I tightening? Minor things—some I’ve wanted to tweak on my own, and others revealed as loose via some uber-useful & promising pheedback. A few elements are being enriched. One small issue has been mentioned a few times, so that’s definitely under the microscope.

There’s this one small thing that an agenty person pointed out, which I can’t fix on my own. So I’ve called in a specialist. There are 5 short passages in Phreak Show that include a little French. I took a couple years in High School, but I mainly walked away with enough savvy to carry on a  20 second introductory conversation. I mean, even if you add in zut alors! and les ananas ne campent pas, I’m pretty sure my teacher would shake his head in quasi-French disappointment.

As for the Phreak Show phrases, I ran them through Google Translate, and confidently popped them into the manuscript. LAUGHABLE. I trusted GT. Je suis un idot! Thankfully, a Canadian Twitter friend rushed to my aid. At least, I hope she took care of me. For all I know she could have translated “Can you believe this arse trusted a computer to translate for him?”

FTR, this is what ^that^ phrase looks like in Google-French:
Pouvez-vous croire ce cul confiance à un ordinateur de traduire pour lui?

It probably might be somewhat close to nearly correct.

I should watch more Téléfrancais! Like this sparkling gem: Pineapples Don’t Camp! In this episode, Jacques and Sophie decide to go camping in a mysterious green-screen forest. However, trouble arises when they get lost. [Yes, sadly, this is the abiding legacy of two years’ worth of French…]

The next time I need some fancy-schmancy foreign words, I’ll go to an expert. Which is to say: NOT GOOGLE TRANSLATE. Zut alors!

If It Itches, Scratch It


My most recent ink. (Of the legal variety)

My most recent ink. (Of the legal variety)

You ever get that itch? No, not that kind…but the kind that is more akin to an incessant craving. An idea sparks. Maybe for a hunk of chocolate you want to gnaw, a trip you want to take, or this thrilling activity you simply must experience. For us creative folks, the itchy idea can take the form of an image which demands to be painted, a character who wants to live, a new recipe which must be tested (and tasted). The crawling need to make this *thing* happen is all-consuming. It refuses to be ignored. And, no matter what, the only way to get rid of the blasted itch is to scratch it.

Yeah, me too. All the time.

Some itches have rules attached, and a decision must be made on whether you choose to follow them or not. For instance, I’ve been itching for another tattoo for a while. Tattoos have rules. Fun fact: Oklahoma finally legalized tattooing in 2006. If you are so inclined, you can now legally get your ink-itch scratched in all 50 states. But some states and localities set their own parameters. Such as:

  • You can’t get a tattoo if you’re under 18.
  • You can’t get tattoos on certain body parts—such as the face.
  • You can’t get a tattoo if you’re drunk or high.
  • You can’t get offensive or hateful words or images tattooed.
  • You can’t get tattooed at home or at a party, even if the artists is licensed, because the license applies only to the shop’s physical location.

Here in Ohio, that last one is law. A tattoo shop must be approved by a local board of health. Tattooing clients outside an approved shop is illegal. I have three friends who may or may not illegally ink outside the confines of a shop. Let’s pretend they do. If so, they have their reasons: indie personalities, lack of funds to do an official (expensive) pay-the-mentor apprenticeship, time constraints. Still, they hammer amazing images into more-than-willing tattooees. This system works because the tattooees have the itch for some ink, and the artists have the itch to create them. Simple supply and demand fueled by a pair of matching itches.

I have definitely been tattooed in official, legal shops. I may or may not have used indie scratchers to handle my itch in the past…

Let’s pretend I have. If so, I’m sure I experienced nothing but great, sanitary, professional scratching with amazing results. Assuming I may have gone the less-than-official route at times in the past, I am choosing to go mainstream this time around. The downside: my itch will have to squirm and twitch for nearly six months! A tattoo is obviously forever. Coupled with my perfectionism and pickiness, I want only the best. Especially for the subject matter I’m hankering.

There’s this guy, Joe, who once bought a human skull from me. (FTR, yes, it was legally obtained.) He happens to be a tat artist. And he also happens to do a.m.a.z.i.n.g. work. One more thing: he’s willing to meet this slightly random request I proposed. You see, the itch I need scratched is a full sleeve on my left arm. The images will be the 12 named sideshow characters from Phreak Show. Fluxxus the Human Chameleon, The Prince of Torture, Jules the Gender Enigma, Maestro Phineas Cocteau, Twiggy the Blubber Girl, et al. Even Romeo, the mechanical monkey, is getting some skin real estate. The negative space between the characters will be filled with the borealis-like aether from my novel.

So, cool, but a sleeve doesn’t sound like a random request. Tattooists execute those all the time. Yeah, but do they read an 86k  word manuscript to get a feel for the characters first? That’s what Joe has agreed to. We have discussed the style I want: hints of New School with bright coloring and exaggeration, along with high contrast, heavy-hammered black, plus skin-break highlights. Oh, it itches the more I think about it! And that itch is going to be prolonged. Remember how I mentioned Joe does amazing work? Well, that means he’s in high demand. He’s booked solid until November.

itch itch itch

I have 8 Saturday appointments scheduled beginning 11/16. In the meantime, Joe is reading Phreak Show while working on the image creation. If I may gush, I think that’s a kick-ass way to come up with a tattoo design. My words and ideas filtered through another artist’s interpretation. Even if I do have to wait six looooooong months.

Okay, confession, I’m too damn impatient to wait half a year to scratch my tattoo itch. I found another great artist of the legal breed, and am getting images for my first 2 novels inked on my right arm. Capritare’s appointment is in 3 shorts weeks. (Only a querying writer considers 3 weeks “short”.) You know what this is starting don’t you? A perpetual itch that will need to get scratched with each new novel.

If the craving kicks in for flash fic & short stories, too…Frankly, I’ll have to look into finding surrogate skin.

The Writer’s Voice Entry – Phreak Show


Plink0

I feel like I’m on The Price is Right. Or something. My entry Plinko’ed through the pegs and channels of Rafflecopter to land a spot in The Writer’s Voice.

Get the skinny here, or here , also here, and let’s not forget here. Mucho appreciation to the lovely ladies throwing this shindig. Barker’s Beauties, or Drew’s Dolls, or Voicy Vixens we might could call ’em: CupidBrendaMonica , Krista, and Kimberly.

There are some wicked-great agents participating, and I’ve got to say, Phreak Show is bouncing up and down with anticipation for the Showcase Showdown. Come on Coaches! Pick this here entry to be one of your 8…errr 9? You know, whatever number, without going over.

QUERY

When Tera sees through the 600 pounds of fat smothering Twiggy the Blubber Girl, and finds a hurting, size 16 girl beneath, she knows something’s crazy-twisted with The Last American Phreak Show. The wicked Phineas is enslaving teens by wielding their warped self-images against them. Sixteen-year-old Tera has enough crap of her own to deal with, but there’s no effin way she’s letting the jackhole Phineas exploit them in his human zoo.

Tera sacrifices her own questionable normality, and becomes one of Phineas’s sideshow phreaks. Once bound by Phineas’s covenant, Tera discovers that she is more like the powerful showmaster than she’d like to believe, and her presence in the Phreak Show is killing him. If Phineas dies before the captive teens discover a way to break free, they will die with him.

The carnies only have a few days to confront the lifetime of lies lurking within their own hearts. And it will require more than Victorian costumes, sideshow tricks, and creepy performances to save them. The dark magic which binds the teens runs soul-deep. Being a phreak isn’t about looks; it’s a frame of mind

Phreak Show, a YA Greenpunk Fantasy where The Night Circus meets Skinny, is complete at 86,000 words.

With published short stories, articles, poetry, and illustrations, Phreak Show is my third novel. When not writing, I’m an artist who works with reclaimed materials, a spreadsheet junkie, and phreak who has learned to be comfortable in his own skin.

FIRST 250

The neon-red TATTOO sign buzzed with the only spark of excitement in Podunk. Or whatever clone of a town I rolled into that day. Slow and gray like all the rest. Railroad tracks stretched down one side of the street while a storefront church and a sorry excuse for a coffee shop sat on the other. A mom wrangled her toddler into a rusty pickup parked against the curb. Old men perched on a bench outside a hardware store, ogling me, some strange teenage girl, invading their land.

At least this Podunk had a tattoo shop. The first I’d seen in two days. Enough stalling. I needed to get it done while I had the chance, before I lost the nerve again, before my money ran out.

A bell jangled as I pushed my way into the antiseptic air. Drawings of hearts and butterflies, daggers and skulls, covered the walls. I slid my fingers into my back pocket and fished out my last eighty-three bucks. And the photo of Jamie. The white crease down its center cut right along the middle of his tiny body. A tangle of tubes and wires snaked in and out of him. All because of me.

“What you need?”

I jerked away from the image in my hand, and followed the voice to the pierced lip of an inked-up guy. Scruffy hint of a beard, jet-black hair, and nerd glasses reflecting the light so I couldn’t see his eyes. I stepped closer, checking out his skinny jeans through the display case of tongue rings and metal bars.

Of course, I had to check out The Price is Right and find out how to get tickets. Not because I’m really going, but just because, you know, curious: http://www.priceisright.com/tickets