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Q: I'm having trouble navigating your website. Where can I find ____ ?

Check the sitemap, accesible via the footer on every page. Or go to my error page to Google search my site. If you email me, I'll consider making that section more accessible.

Q: Why is your website so crappy?

Hey now! I just revamped the entire thing in summer 2012. But since I'm engaged to a web developer, I'll probably revamp it again.

Q: Why is your Art site its own separate subdomain?

My website grew huge, and I wanted to make it easier to navigate. So I split it into Art and Writing.

Q: Why are you taking so long to reply to my email?

I have trouble keeping up with email. It's a chronic, lifelong condition that I've been unable to cure. I'm very sorry.

Rest assured that I have read your email, unless it bounced (check to see if you received an error message). I reply quickly to simple, non-spam questions. If your email merits a thoughtful response, then I am grateful that you took the time, and I will eventually write you a response in kind, if I feel that I can give you a worthwhile answer.

Q: Didn't your site used to be called Abbyland?

I gave up trying to compete with the Abbyland meat factory in web searches. They're not going to relinquish their web domain, and they got there first. So they can be Abbyland, and I will just be Abby. Except on Twitter.

Q: What's up with your redhead avatar?

I may change it to a photo, but I think the drawing is easily recognizable, so it's serving as my online representative. It started life as a doodle in my sketchbook. I added color, and liked the result. Is it me? Not really. I'm less of an artiste and more of a cartoonist. But I do have red hair.

Q: What's up with the winter/snowflake theme?

I was thinking of my Torth series, which starts in New Hampshire (but soon moves off our planet). I wanted a pleasant and simple design, with a cool color scheme, so I made snowflakes.

Q: Do you design websites?

I can make a website similar to this one (or simpler). I can also create graphics and optimized art for websites. If you want something better, I can recommend an extremely skilled web developer.

Q: If you've written six novels, why aren't any of them published?

Five of them are a linear epic saga, meaning each book picks up where the last left off. Three won't sell unless I sell the first one.

The sixth is a trunk novel, awaiting major edits.

I also wrote two full-length novels when I was a pre-teen. Those novels don't count, and they will never see the light of day.

So although I've written a total of eight novels, only one is saleable, and I'm eternally unsatisfied with its beginning, so I keep rewriting it, submitting it to literary agents, rewriting it, submitting it … however, I am determined to see my epic series published. I didn't write five Torth books (with two more pending) for nothing. One way or another, it will be available to readers someday.

Q: I read one of your stories, and I didn't like it. Do you really think you're all that?

Successful creative people need several ingredients: talent, practice, persistence, and self-confidence. Even Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have outspoken critics. I've been a writer/artist for more than twelve years, and I've developed a thick skin.

Please send me your criticism. If it rings true to me, or if other readers have given me the same feedback, then I will take it seriously and make edits, or approach future stories differently.

Q: What's the worst thing anyone has ever said about your writing?

An editor at Random House wrote that "it sounds like a mentally retarded person wrote this," and a slew of other unfortunate comments. It should be noted that I was 12 years old at the time, and the editor read the entire novel (my very first attempt at writing one). She apologized when she met me and saw that I was a child. But I took that first scathing critique very hard, and stopped writing until I entered college.

Q: How long are your novels?

They average 100,000 words. That's about 400 pages in paperback format with normal-sized print.

My shortest novel is 60,000 words (240 pages). My longest novel is 125,000 words (500 pages).

Q: What is your writing cred?

I've sold a short story (reprint) to Escape Pod, and an article to Fantasy Magazine. I'm a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, which is similar to Clarion, where I studied under George R.R. Martin, Catherine Asaro, Barry B. Longyear, and other genre writers. I won two Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future Contest, and I'm a member of Codex Writers. I'm also a co-founder and active participant in a local novel writing group, with published and agented members.

Yeah, it's not a super-impressive credibility list ... yet!

Q: Why is your reader feedback anonymous?

I haven't asked those readers for permission to quote them yet. In some cases, years have passed since we last exchanged emails. I may have trouble getting back in touch with them.

Q: You're an illustrator/animator. Why don't you write graphic novels or animate your own films?

If only there were enough years in a lifetime to accomplish everything I want to accomplish! But working full-time hours, writing an epic novel series, and trying to have a life outside of those things is enough to occupy my time. I wish I had a crew of assistants, or a big budget to work with. Then I'd get a lot more done.

As it happens, I did make four student films, and they're on my YouTube channel. I also shoved a fifth incomplete short film online.

Q: Have you written any screenplays or teleplays?

Yes. I have a rough draft of a feature-length scifi thriller, and a few episodes of an animated primetime comedy show, which I submitted to Amazon Studios.

Q: Do you write for theatre or performance?

No. I have writer friends who do, though.

Q: Are you married? Do you have kids? What's your personal life like?

Ah, aren't we always curious about the personal lives of people we find online? It's not a big secret, and if you ask in a non-creepy way, I'll probably tell. But you have to go to the trouble of asking.

Q: Why do you rank so many books with four or five stars? If you read evenly, you should have just as many negative as positive reviews.

I don't read evenly. I only read books that sound interesting to me, or that trustworthy friends have recommended. Life is too short to waste on books that I have to struggle through.

Q: What do you do for a living?

I'm a video game animator and artist. Here's my résumé and my game credits. As of 2012, I'm a freelance contractor, but I've worked as a full-time game studio employee for more than five years. I've also taught 3D Animation at a community college, illustrated books, and designed logos and things like that.

As an artist, I consider myself a 'jack of all trades.' I'm very flexible on style, and I know enough software to adapt to any project. My strengths are cartoon illustration, mobile, Flash, & web graphics, and low poly 3D character animation. I'm a traditionally-trained animator from the CalArts Character Animation program.

Q: Would you recommend going to CalArts for Character Animation?

I got a lot out of the program, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life. However, you'll only get out of it what you're willing to put into it. If you're expecting to smoke weed or goof off, you'll be disappointed by the high-stakes ambition of your peers. Everyone who lasts for more than a year in the Character Animation program is serious about their future career in the film or game industry. That means they're very competitive. If you don't like that sort of peer group, or if you'd rather not challenge yourself to grow as an artist, then you won't like the environment. This advice may sound like common sense, but not everyone is completely honest with themselves. Be true to yourself. There is no shame in choosing a career that speaks to you personally, rather than a career that your family or friends expected for you. If you're not 100% sure you want to spend the rest of your life as an animator or artist, then examine your self-doubts.

As for choosing CalArts over, say, Ringling or Animation Mentor ... things were a bit different back in the last millennium, when I went there! Animation Mentor didn't exist back then, and very few schools taught animation at all, let alone 3D animation. My top choices were CalArts and Ringling. I was accepted by both, and I chose CalArts mostly because it had a stronger reputation, and it was founded by Walt Disney. I've heard from Ringling graduates that their dorms were a bit run-down and unpleasant, but otherwise, it's a very similar experience, albeit with more of a 3D focus.

Q: Would you recommend going to the Odyssey Writing Workshop?

Yes! This was an awesome experience, and I have only good things to say. It exceeded my expectations in every way.

However, you will be challenged to grow as a writer, no matter how talented you already are. If you go to Odyssey expecting nothing but praise, accolades, and recommendations to editors at major publishers, then you'll be disappointed. No one escapes Odyssey without some brutally honest feedback.

If you go, be prepared to meet people who are extremely ambitious, talented, and serious about their writing--just like you, I assume. Fortunately, writers seem to be among the most good-natured and supportive creative types. The competitive atmosphere is there, but I found it to be a help rather than a hindrance, pushing me to write better, faster, and to try new methods.

Since there are only 16 students in every annual class, I understand that each year has a different dynamic. Some years seem to be more friendly, others more prolific, others more multi-cultural, or skewed younger/older, or more published, or skewed towards screenwriting, or award-winners, etc. This is just a general factor rather than something for you to worry over. Odyssey also provides an ongoing supportive program for all graduates, bringing them together regularly, and keeping in touch through a mailing list and gatherings at conventions. The roster grows annually by 16 new graduates.