Hi everybody, this week I thought that I would give you a behind the scenes look at what I'm working on for 2019. Initially, I had planned to complete book two of my series on The Age of Myths and Legends by the winter of 2018, but life sure has a funny way of derailing your plans. However, things have finally improved and I'm able to focus once more on my art and writing. But first, there are several steps that I have to take before I can start hammering away at the keyboard or putting in work on the canvas.
Step 1. Preserve and Transcribe Recordings
I suspect that a lot of my younger readers will have no idea what this image is. So for all the millennials and Gen Y readers, back in the day we didn't have digital recorders that automatically converted our recordings into mp3 format. We had these clunky cassettes tapes that were surprisingly, super fragile. If you left a cassette in the sun for too long, the sound would warp. If you dropped your cassette and it cracked, there was a 50/50 chance that it wouldn't ever play again. And Heaven help you if the actual magnetic tape strip came out of the cassette shell and became entangled into the cassette player. So I'm extremely lucky to still have several tape recordings of tribal elders and tribal members sharing their stories with me. However, some of the cassettes that I have are at least 10-20 years old and the magnetic tape strips are starting to degrade. So right now, I am in the process of converting them into mp3 format with an app called EZ Vinyl Tape Converter. Once I've finished, I will place them into cloud storage so that they will last forever.
Step 2. Categorize and Create Chapters
Once I've preserved my recordings, it will be time to categorize the stories and create my tentative chapters. This is both a difficult and exciting process. Some stories go really well together thematically while other have very little in common. For my upcoming book on the heroes of Native American folklore and Mythology, I've decided to categorize the stories based on what the protagonist were. Some of the old champions were cultural heroes who saved their people or civilizations from certain doom. Other heroes were demi-gods and super heroes, easily on par with Hercules or Gilgamesh. These men (and women) were the monster-slayers. Others still, were powerful deities like Hinon the Thunderer or Tricksters like Grandfather Coyote. These beings helped shape the foundations of the world by destroying or containing the wicked agents of chaos. But my favorite heroes were the common men and women who rose above their stations in order to protect those they loved. So, as of right now, my chapters/categories are:
1. The Gods of War
3. The Lords of Thunder
4. Heroes of Old
This could change over the next few months but I like the chapter sequences and I can't wait to share some of these stories with you.
Step 3. Find an Editor (Upwork and Thumbtack)
Easily the most costly element of writing is hiring a proofreader and an editor. Because an editor's fees can be astronomical, some writers will attempt to bypass this step altogether. But let me tell you, even if you are a great writer, you will become blind to your own syntax mistakes, misspellings, punctuation errors and citation problems. You have to have an editor, there is no way around it. I've found that the most economical way to go about the editing process is to use websites that list freelancer's services. The two that I will be using this year are Upwork and Thumbtack. I like these particular websites because you list your project and freelancers will then bid on the chance to work with you. I've found the price point to be reasonable with most editors and I like that these freelancers are vetted by the sites themselves. Another way that I will attempt to offset the price point is by having an editor work on one chapter at a time as opposed to the entire book. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not take a $500-$800 hit for every full book edit. This time, I intend to treat each chapter as a completely self contained story. I'm okay with spending $70 here and there throughout the writing process.
Step 4. Artwork
Creating the artwork for the book is the most exciting and time consuming part of the entire process for me. Whenever I listen to or read the old stories, I can see images. I can see formations of Thunderbirds, wreathed in lightning, soaring through the ethereal clouds above. I can see mighty Glooscap in his titanic struggle against the World Toad; and therein lies my problem. I have artistic talent but I don't always have the artistic ability to bring the images in my head into reality. Here is a little secret, for every successful illustration that I've created, I have ten more illustrations that I can't stand to look at so I've thrown them away. This year will be different though. I will still be creating most of the artwork for this book, but I am also working with several other talented Native American and First Nations artist who will be helping me bring the old stories to life. I won't list all the artist yet but you will get a chance to see them soon as I will be including an "Artist Spotlight" page to this website in the next couple of weeks.
That's it for now. Be sure to check back next month as I will be posting some preliminary sketches and a few excerpts from my work in progress.
What Reviewers are saying...
"The Age of Myths and Legends will take you on an exciting journey through Native American folklore. T.D. Hill artfully draws together characters from many indigenous traditions including his own, exposing both the uniqueness of each story and the commonalities across them. Hill’s beautiful paintings also give these fearsome creatures full visual effect. A valuable and thorough collection of the earliest folktales and teachings of Native American elders."
"Hill takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the tales of monsters and evil beings in Native American folklore. The similarities among the tales across peoples fascinated me and gave me goose bumps, especially when great distances separated the peoples! Hill's art masterfully adds a visual chill to the image his words paint, eliciting an extra shiver of delighted terror."
"Perfect for those who love mythology, and especially mythology of the First Americans. I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series."