Scott E. Pond Designs Newsletter
Hello and welcome to our (not-so-periodic) newsletter!
We're so happy to have you here. Thank you so much for signing up for this (or happening upon this by chance or by design). I appreciate you taking some of your valuable time and spending it with us.
Life here on the Pondy front has been hectic for all of us for the last few months.
For the Munchkin, she's been working hard and finished up her eleventh grade school year on a high note: straight A's, leading her very own club (The Writer's Box), volunteering, and various school and external contests/activities, along with her own writing and art journey. We honestly couldn't be more proud of her.
For Tori, she's been on her own journey of discovery about who she is and what she loves. On the small-business front, her Skeleton Key Curiosities antiques and curios shop (her FaceBook page can be found HERE) has been buzzing right along, with a constant stream of customers and products going out the door. She's also been exploring her own creative well, which is a lot deeper than she originally imagined. Creative reuse of materials and objects, exploring jewelry creations, sewing, knitting, and now stamp design, she really is shining (check her out HERE on Instagram). She literally blows me away with the directions she's going and it's not going to stop anytime soon. She's going to be the featured artist for at least August for now at The Scrappy Elephant, and possibly more. I honestly can't wait to see where her imagination and inspiration takes her next.
For me, well life has been seriously cray cray. The day job has been very demanding for the last year, with my teaching load taking up a significant part of my time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE teaching, but man, those classes (taught virtually and globally at all times of the day) take a lot out of me. Not just the in-class time, but also the prep and wrap-up. And of course there are other demands that take up a huge amount of time when I'm not teaching. With the day job workload, family adventures, and other non-creative commitments cropping up, let's just say that the creative space has been a bit small in recent times. But with some upcoming changes to our lives, we're hoping to have a little more time for that sweet, sweet creative time.
Now on to the...
Graphic Design News
Client graphic designs have been a little slim over the last few months and unfortunately I haven't been able to do some of the requests due to a variety of factors. Time availability. Challenging design subjects. Time availability. Did I mention time availability? Like I said, we're hoping to be able to free up some additional time on the creative schedule in the coming months, but unfortunately things have been a smidge slow on the client front (and our commitment availability front).
However, we were able to knock out a few higher visibility projects here and there over the last several months:
Our friend, M. Jandreau was getting ready to release his second novel a few months back, titled Dudley Road. To commemorate this release, he wanted to revisit a project we had worked on almost 9 years ago, his first book, A Sour Chord. Way back in the distant past, he released an ebook-only version of A Sour Chord. For his new book's release, he wanted to go back and re-release A Sour Chord in print for both trade and hardcover. This of course, can be a bit of a challenge. Whenever you have a book cover for an ebook, you only have to focus on the front cover. Fast forward in time. To change the ebook cover to a print cover, now we had some challenges. We needed to make a wrap-around image, matching the colors, fonts, and content of the original front cover. After some challenges, we were able to pull together a pretty good updated print cover.
And life wouldn't be very exciting if we didn't have a little Paul E. Cooley in it. A lot of the last year has had Paul and I playing tag with time schedules and projects, of course mostly on my end. Luckily, we've been able to connect on a couple projects here and there, and (hopefully) have our next project lined up as well as soon as I get my head above water (The Black: Outbreak cover and layout redesign).
First up on the Cooley Docket was a relaunch of his amazing book series, The Black, starting with the first book in the series. For this, Paul was able to get his full rights back from his original publisher, allowing him to get creative control of the books in the series finally. We wanted to give his layout and visuals an overhaul, keeping the look and feel consistent across the books and giving it an updated and book-appropriate visual to draw in the readers, both new and old. I think we knocked it out of the ballpark, don't you?
In rapid succession, we also tackled the second book in the series, The Black: Arrival. Again, while we wanted each book to look like they were from the same series, we wanted to give the reader a glimpse as to what was happening in the story. In this case, we moved from an oil rig in the first book to a research facility in the second. I imagine those security guards at their station were in for a big surprise.
We also did a few odds-and-ends graphic design projects for clients along the way. Some logos, some refreshes to branding, and the like.
One of those logo designs was for our friend, Rick Shaw. Rick is on the cusp of pushing his writing career forward and several other entrepreneurial enterprises now that he is breaking away from the corporate world. To represent his new focus, he wanted a refresh on a logo/branding that he had pulled together several years ago, called Flattened Flamingo. It's a fun, fresh brand that is sure to draw some attention.
Personal Graphic Design
I've been doing a lot of personal graphic design here and there, whenever there is a moment to breathe or knock out a quick design (or four).
One of the things I've been doing is creating various design guides and workbooks on Amazon through their KDP program. This includes D&D character journals, dot-grid journals, character workbooks for writers... the list goes on.
One of the surprising breakout successes of the Amazon KDP experiment has been a fifth edition D&D character journal I designed. It's a letter-sized character journal that can hold a ton of details for up to 10 D&D characters.
One of the challenges I always had as a RPG player was that there never seemed to be enough room on the typical character sheets to record everything I wanted to. To combat this, I designed my own character sheet and then decided to share it to the RPG community through Amazon. It's been one of my surprise successes ever since I made it available about a year ago. In that time, I've sold over 210 units and have made some players very happy indeed.
In fact, one of the reviews pretty much encapsulates what I feel about the workbook (edited for grammar):
This book is super detailed for developing an npc or character, more highly detailed than I'd hoped for... but nevertheless more is better. It's amazing. I was looking for something straight forward and simple, but this thing is more in depth... and very organized, extremely well organized.
In addition to the Amazon Experiment, I also have two Etsy storefronts available for a variety of products.
One of the stores is my Scott E. Pond Designs storefront, my general catch-all for all things related to my overall graphic design business. There's a huge variety of things on here, from original tee shirts to Scott Sigler and Paul Cooley merch, RPG digital downloads, and of course a bunch of my original designs as well.
If that weren't enough, we have also launched another storefront called Scottie's Tee Shop, which is dedicated to pop culture and popular media, including tees, mugs, cups, notebooks, and stickers. We cover anything geek related, giving you the chance to represent your favorite pastimes, TV shows, movies, and general geek/nerd culture.
Last but not least...
The Writing News
One of the things that has captured my interest and time has been to get back into writing and to actually WRITE.
I've always had a love for writing—though most people really don't know that, as it often took a back-burner to my other creative outlets (which are copious and demanding). Not just technical or non-fiction writing (such as my role playing game system I've been working on for well over 20 years, but that's a story for another newsletter), but also fiction-writing.
Over the years I've amassed a ton of partially completed and completed short stories. I've had worlds and universes floating around in my noggin for as long as I can remember, banging around inside my huge pumpkin-sized cranium and trying to get out. In recent years, I've given into the itch and have been working on several books at once (never call me an underachiever).
The one I've made the most progress on is DARK RITES, a novel in what I'm calling The Institute Series. I'll talk about this and the other books (and other series I have planned) in a later newsletter.
Here's the synopsis of Dark Rites if you haven't heard of it before:
1975: A grisly murder occurs in Malison Falls, NY, leaving the local police baffled.
Dan Pratt, special forces Vietnam vet and historical researcher, returns to Malison Falls to take on a senior role for the Behn Institute. He brings back his own personal baggage and demons from his childhood and ‘Nam, issues he must work through to become whole again.
Gabriela Barerra, Special Investigations Detective for the Malison Falls Police Department, is facing her own issues, both present and past. A soon to be ex-husband, trauma from earlier in her career, and now this: a ritualistic killing unlike anything she has ever encountered. With little to go on, she and her partner struggle to solve the killing.
But all is not as it seems in Malison Falls.
A malignant force is gathering, seeking to enter our world and sow destruction and chaos. Can Dan and Gabriela get to the heart of the investigation and figure out the killer’s next move before it is too late?
Before hell is literally unleashed on earth?
I started Dark Rites back before the beginning of the COVID adventure we all lived through. In fact, it may have been around the time of my cancer journey in 2018/2019. Regardless when I officially put the first official words down, this has been a story that has been growing in my head for literally decades.
Progress at first was a bit slow. Around 15K words total the first year or two. Then we moved and life was thrown into a bit of a whirlwind... and progress screeched to a halt. Then came NaNoWriMo 2021 and I was able to knock out several thousand words. I ended up at around 46K words by the beginning of 2022... and the story began to grow and then progress halted again. In the last year and a half, it has expanded and solidified, growing from a vague idea to an almost complete outline with a ton of progress made on it.
Last year this time, I was at about 50K words on it. Since then, it has grown to nearly 130K words. The cast of characters has evolved and expanded, and they've turned from two dimensional characters to living breathing people... at least in my imagination. Based on the outline, I'm somewhere around half-way there with a possible final first draft word count goal of around 240K. That'll be revision 1.
From there, I will be doing a lot of hacking, slashing, and filling in the corners, with an overall anticipated goal of around 200-220K for the final revision.
What is the book like so far? I tend to write like the books I read.
- Take a dash of Ann Rice (à la Lasher, The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, and with a bare sprinkling of Belinda or Exit to Eden for a brief glimpse of the risqué that we keep behind closed doors) and Tom Clancy for their attention to detail in their world building.
- Add a huge helping of Dean R. Koonz, George R. R. Martin, and Richard K. Morgan for their diverse and expansive cast of characters.
Sprinkle in a bit of the realistic supernatural from Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, and Neil Gaiman.
- Mix in a dose of Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, the Zatoichi series, John Carpenter's They Live, and John D. MacDonald, with their flair for tenacious, flawed heroes.
- Top that off with various books on realistic historical fiction, police procedurals, and character studies.
Blend all that together and you have an idea of what I TRY to write.
Key word: try.
(NOTE: I am definitely NOT saying I am of the same calibre of all those worthies, but they all inspire me in more ways than I can explain.)
So when can you expect this ambitious effort to be available? I'm shooting to get revision 1 completed by the end of 2023, with further revisions completed by early 2024, and a release of Dark Rites (plus at least its precursor, Courage to Stand) released sometime in mid to late 2024. That's the current goal, at least. You know what they say... if you can write at least 300 words a day consistently, you can write around 110K words a year.
Hopefully I can double that between now and the end of 2023.
Well, my friends, that's all I have for this time around. I'll try to be more frequent from here on out... but you know how it goes: you never know what will distract me next.
As always, you can comment on this newsletter or contact me with any questions or thoughts.
Stay safe and frosty, my peeps, and I'll talk to you next time!
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