Friday, February 14, 2014

Building A Popsicle Stick Factory



Here are the first three steps in assembling the empty factory room that I'll use for a few different shoots for AHT, Noir Town, my comic series or whatever I need it for. I wanted a lot of texture so I brushed on rough aquarium sand (photo 1) and then added a very thin application of air drying clay (photo 2) this is my first time working with air hardening clay I hope it sticks to the wood, I lightly applied a coat of wood glue to it to help it hold I also added wood glue to the grey basecoat (photo 3). I can't wait to start painting in the highlights it should look pretty boss.
In book news I am on hiatus from the Any How Town series, I just need a break from it, I have to write a new query letter, firm up the intro and then send it off to an editor for corrections. I just can't deal with it right now I get bored when I open the file and I shouldn't be bored, it's an exciting book and I want to get it out, it has been one hell of a learning experience but I'm going to work on the first book when I have the urge and the necessary commitment. I have made mistakes along the way , it's my first book I can't be too hard on myself but I really thought I would have secured an agent by now. The book will still be finished and published (along with the rest of the series) but I have to do something else so I'm working on a new book this time for a young adult audience, I've nailed the concept and the period I'm just doing a tonne of notes today to get it firmed up so I can start writing.
Happy Valentine's Day
A.Shay Hahn
 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Popsicle Stick Loading Dock




Hey folks Happy 2014!
I always wanted to make a cool loading dock set and got to it this weekend. I was shooting the whole process and I may put up some photos if anyone has any questions about the build.
I want to mention that at the Home Depot in the offcuts area you can buy 24x24 inch sheets of luon or masonite for about $3.00 it's a great deal and really handy to have around for large walls or getting a good base for your building.
The total cost of this build was less than $20.00 it's comprised of popsicle sticks, coffee stirrers, corner bits from prestretched canvases and tooth picks.
In the world of Any How Town I'm going to go for yet another pass on Book One and rewrite my
query letter which seems to be the biggest problem with the book - I thought I had a good one and then got some feedback on it during Pitch Wars and it actually isn't very good at all, so it's time to start that over.
A.Shay Hahn
 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Day Four - Double Mandarin Orange Crate Tank WIP



So after getting the base coats on and adding highlights, dirt and shadows it was time to make the walker legs. I figured that it would take up less space if I built tank treads instead and here they are. I have no idea why I'm still doing this or what I'm going to do when I'm finished this piece - but that is a question for the New Year.
A.Shay Hahn


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mandarin Orange Crate Walker - Day Three WIP

 Day Three Two Colour Basecoat is on. This is the day when I start to question why I built the thing in the first place. Basecoating is dull, but you have to do it - and detailing is even worse. I think I really just prefer building the things. I think I would prefer to make more fortune just leaving them unpainted.
A.Shay Hahn


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Double Mandarin Orange Crate Walker, Ready for Paint!




I've added the adjustable helicopter launch pad, I also beefed up the front walls of the walker to get rid of the straight lines. I'm going to paint this soon and then see if I need to add legs to it or if it can pass without them, it's pretty.
A.Shay Hahn
 

Double Mandarin Orange Crate Troop Carrier WIP



I've started a tradition every year I take a couple of mandarin orange crates and make walkers out of them, it's a fun thing to do while watching holiday movies. This year I decided to up my game and combine TWO crates. As usual all materials are purchased from the Dollar Store -except the oranges of course. This is Day One - I've since added a moving platform and I'll try to get some work done on it and post a photo tomorrow.
A.Shay Hahn


Monday, December 9, 2013

More Sketches During Pitch Wars


Pitch Wars announcements are on Dec. 11th, I've been drawing a lot since the contest began, my skills are pretty rusty and I'd promised myself a few months ago that I would do a drawing a day - man that sure was forgotten about quickly.
The top drawing is off Oliver (our hero) getting on a Sputter Jack, I have know idea if he's going to be able to start it or even control it, we'll just have to wait and see
The second drawing is of Brinker one of his brother's best friends - how did he get the scars on his face? What's up with that bat? You'll just have to wait for the books to come out.
Took down my show of paintings at the Cameron House today (see my other blog, the mad craft shoppe) but I still have work hanging at Snakes and Lattes and Super Jet Intl. for the month of December.
A.Shay Hahn
 
 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pitch Wars Sketched (cont'd)



Here are the rest of the sketches, there will probably be more especially if crazy events like Gmail actually crashing from mentors accessing their pitches (second photo) and of course the "PitchWars Hangover" as one writer called it this morning. I've been sketching as things have been happening over on twitter - who knows what's coming next?
Thanks to all who have come and checked out the pics.
A.Shay Hahn


Pitch Wars Sketches





I submitted to Pitch Wars this year a contest that pairs writers with mentors who work on manuscripts together and then go on to an agenting round. You can read more about it at Brenda Drake's blog here http://www.brenda-drake.com/2013/11/pitch-wars-mentor-wishlist-bloghop-submission-guidelines/
While tweaking my query letter and the first five pages of my manuscript I would take breaks and do sketches of Oliver and Eaglet to post over on the twitter hashtag "PitchWars" to let folks know how it was going. This is the first batch of sketches, I'll post the rest later.
It's been a lot of fun chatting back and forth with other writers on twitter, it's the first time I've really felt a part of something in a long time.
I haven't heard anything from the mentors I submitted to but the announcements aren't until Dec. 11th so I'll do my best to not be too distracted and keep on working.
many thanks to Brenda Drake for putting this contest together.
A.Shay Hahn


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Growing Ranks of the Adventure Fellas

(Click to see the Adventure Fellas Team!)
We're up to six figures now (which sounds like I'm talking about money, but I'm not) I'm just calling these guys the Adventure Fellas for the hell of it. I need lots of folks who look more like the figure at the end (which is an Indiana Jones body with an AT-AT driver's head) who I'm calling Clark Gregg for now.
Painting is going extremely well today for the show at the Cameron House (head over to the mad craft shoppe blog to see the work) the Reception will be Saturday November 2nd from 6-9pm with music by the Rattlesnake Choir.
Get in touch with me if you have any questions
A.Shay Hahn

Friday, October 4, 2013

who's next on the mod block?

Now what you see here are a Star Wars Mandaloran Clone guy (on the left, I cut off his "dress" in an earlier blog post) and a fantastic Russian soldier from the last Indiana Jones film (which really that bad, except for how they treated Ray Winstone) we're going to first switch heads, then add some gear and make two completely new figures - stay tuned.
In painting news (see the mad craft shoppe blog) things are going really well, the show will be up in a couple of weeks and the Opening will be on Saturday, Nov. 2nd from 6-9pm with music by the Rattlesnake Choir- at the Cameron House of course, it's gonna be a good one folks.
A.Shay Hahn

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mr.Fantastic man of plastic

Just a quick paint job and the addition of a G.I Joe Retaliation bomb disposal vest that I cut down the middle to make a jacket. I'm going to paint some high lights on the tabs and other bits to give it some dimension.
A.Shay Hahn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Character A Day


Right now I'm up to my elbows getting work ready for my annual November show of paintings at the Cameron House so I haven't had any time to write or build anything, it's all paint, paint, paint.
What I am doing is taking one figure a day and modding it and getting it painted, here are some G.I Joes that I've been swapping heads and vests etc. to make new characters.
I hope to do one a day and then when I'm ready to switch back to building dioramas and writing Any How Town I'll have a whole whack of characters to work with to pose and make some cool photo prints or perhaps, maybe, just maybe build some scenes that I'll illustrate as comic panels.
I am still stinging a bit from the amount of rejections that I received about Book One so I'm going to do another pass on it, but I've been doing my research and my optimism is high that a literary agent will see the value and talent and work that I've put into this world. I've been reading summaries of other books in the MG market and I'm still at a bit of a loss at the lack of interest in the series, but that's a problem for another time.
A.Shay Hahn


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reindeer Moss and that is all

Picked up some Reindeer Moss today at a Dollar Tree, it's less tightly packed than that combat coloured thick ropey fake moss that is usually sold at Dollar Stores, should come in handy filling in well, grassy spots I suppose.
A.Shay Hahn


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Marvel Girl, Mods and such

Once I get myself a little further ahead than I am now with my paintings for the November show at the Cameron House (see "mad craft shoppe" blog, sidebar) I may attempt to do some modding. I picked up this Marvel Girl figure at a Toy'r'Us and I figure that she'll be perfect for the experiments in painting, application and sculpting that I want to try. I won't be doing anything to crazy I just want to take this figure and make it look like 1) it's clothed 2) it doesn't have a mask on 3) cover up those ridiculous boob marbles.
The ending of Book Two (which I'm on a short break from) is really coming together, I even surprised myself with a couple of new revelations in the story, which felt great.
cheers,
A.Shay Hahn


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Canvas Supports, Wood Kits and Rest


Got a great chunk of Book Two transcribed yesterday so I'm taking the day to do some drawing for my annual show at the Cameron House in November (mark your calendars now) and maybe this evening I'll get around to do some building. The top photo are the canvas supports that come with the prestretched canvases you can buy at most art supply stores, these things are awesome for your diorama builds, I use them to make wheelbarrows, crates, stair treads you name it.
The second photo is one of the wood kits that I posted yesterday, just look at those circles! Circles punch outs are great for adding detail to wheels, so if you see a kit with circles I suggest you snap them up.
Alright down to the studio to cause some chaos, head over to the mad craft shoppe blog (see links, right side bar) to check out my paintings.
A.Shay Hahn


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wood Kits, Pellet Guns and Edits

Back from a great weekend out of town, hikes in the woods, digging through abandoned Mika (how do you spell Mika?) pits, shooting pool,buying Wasabi Horseradish and all the while doing edits on Book Two and finding some small holes that have to be plugged in Book One and Two.
I thought I was really and truly finished with Book One but I have to go in and make some changes, the first chapter has to change, it moves, but just a little too slowly for my liking compared to the rest of the book, I did say that set ups are set ups, but I found a more fun way into the book. Here's a tip don't start with your character waking up, that's a start for you, not for the reader, so kill it and find something better.
The Book Two adds are going to be great, look forward to getting them in there, as long as it may take  I might hold off on pursuing agents until I'm finished the third book, not sure about this yet, but maybe that's the way to go, it's going to be killer on my pocket book but I want these books to sell and be loved, as much as I have loved working on them.
Picked up these great wood kits just outside of Ottawa, I've never come across these ones before (Canadian Made!) they will make fine additions to the models.
On a sad note I came home to hear that James Gray has left us, he was an incredible musician, a great keyboardist, accordion player and one of a kind curmudgeon. The stages across Canada will miss you James, I'll miss hearing your music in the many darkened bars I frequent.
A.Shay Hahn
 


Friday, August 2, 2013

Query Letters, Climaxes and the Editing Dog



First off, I wrote a great chunk (22 pages) of the end of Book Two yesterday, sure it's barely legible and covered in notes and scribbles, but it's a huge leap forward. I've mostly been editing in the second book, clearing out stuff that was either slowing down the pacing or just sounded awkward, but I hadn't written the ending yet. I had notes that told me where I was going, the last chapter was pretty firm but I had to get my characters there in a way that was fun, action packed and clear, and I did it, very, very happy.
 
Secondly, I hate my query letter, when I first wrote it and revised, it was very concise, very clear about the first book in the series, but it wasn't any fun, it really didn't reach out and grab you, this was a huge mistake on my part as I've sent it out to 25 agents,  this is a big set back, in hindsight I shouldn't have starting contacting agents without spending more time with the letter, I am doing some revisions on it and making it more unique. In fact the word "unique" was only one of the mistakes I made writing the letter, of course it's unique, I have to tell them why.
 
I've also stopped drinking coffee, one in the morning, and then switching to non caffeinated tea, I was guzzling the stuff while editing and all it did was upset my stomach and reduce my patience, so that also was a mistake.
 
I don't always know when to take a break and walk away to collect my thoughts, luckily my dog Double tells me when it's time to go on his walk. First he waits patiently for the right time, then we discuss the matter and then he puts the full weight of his tiny head on my arm and stops the writing before I put something down that I might have to change later, it seems to be working.
have a great day,
A.Shay Hahn
 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tragedy, WorldBuilding, Big Questions

Does a character have to have a personal tragedy in their lives to be the catalyst and motivator in their quest?
I wrestled with this a lot during the early days of writing the first book (as yet unpublished) of the series. Did Oliver need something to happen to him that helped propel him forward - when writing query letters is it important to include this information? Oliver's family has suffered tragedy, his brothers have been injured in the war, both in ways that have changed them, would it be too much to add another dead brother to the mix?
 
Should I start off a book with a nightmare about a dead brother?
 I thought and wrote about it a lot in my notes - it felt moribund to me and played out in books - "Oh look he's got a dead brother, he's an orphan etc. etc.
Death is not that romantic to me.
 
I wanted these books to be about a young kid who grows up on his adventures, he brings villains to justice, he exposes ugly truths, why should he be crippled emotionally too ? If we was, it may have made him weak, unable to find the reserves that he needed to complete the journey that he's on, he's a young kid, if he was already fragile and something upset him wouldn't he just run home to his Mother ? What would his parents be like if they too were getting over a tragedy ? The book would begin with such a heavy pall over it I wouldn't want to read past the fifth page.
Why do some authors insist on beating the crap out of their characters so they can find just a little bit more courage inside them? It reads like total bullshit to me.
 
I want my books to be entertaining, I want a kid to have fun, yes fun, reading my story.
I want this series to fool the reader, not in a malicious way, it begins as one story and gradually as things are discovered a larger picture is revealed that changes the main character and everyone around him. I think a middle grade reader wants to identify first with the characters, they want to see themselves and if the world I have built presents itself as sunny first, so be it, because by the time we get to the end of the quest that world is a very different place, darker, and more dangerous.
 
Here's a link to literary agent Gemma Cooper's blog entry on world building, there some good stuff here and some great shots of the Harry Potter Studio Tour, she makes good points about time, how long does it take for a character to get from one place to the other? This was a major issue for me when writing my series and I had FUN, yes fun figuring out all kinds of methods that I could use to move my main characters around in good time.
http://jennybent.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/world-building-with-harry-potter-studio.html
 
I have received two rejections in the past two days, one from what I would call a "Longshot Agent" one that I submitted to but who wasn't quite looking for my type of project, close  but not quite a match and the second was someone I would have liked to work with. It's tough I guess I've set up a couple of challenges for myself that would be better explained in a conversation but if your query/writing sample doesn't give enough or hook them immediately, just move on.
I don't mind the rejections, I've received 11 so far of about 25 queries that I've sent out, it's a competitive time in publishing especially for MG and YA fiction.
 
No pictures for you this morning, maybe later on.
A.Shay Hahn

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Villains, Sea Shanties and 12,000 words

I really enjoy creating villains and the books are full of them, there are all kinds of dastardly and nefarious gangs running amok in the streets each with their own distinct uniforms and preferred methods of combat. In the second book I've also written one song and am finishing another that ends the book, luckily I have many musician friends and I can already picture one group in particular performing the songs at a book launch. There is just so much I enjoy about these books that I'm able to take everything I loved as a child from comics to movies and mix it all up and pour it out.
I've got room for a lot of new pages and I'm currently writing the first climax of book two, feels good.
The above drawing is of one of the gangs, not giving away their name just yet but I do have a couple of Marvel Universe Juggernaut figures that I could mod pretty quickly to look like the guy above, but that will have to wait, gotta get to the end of this book first.
A.Shay Hahn


Monday, July 29, 2013

Modern Times, Airport Trucks and 12,000 words to go


As you can see while I was laid up with a mangled jaw I did do some small builds for the dioramas I made a bunch more of these cogs for another "Modern Times" themed diorama, this time I'd like to do a classic Clock Tower set complete with moving hands and all kinds of ropes and pulleys. The second photo is of a small fuel or baggage truck like you see at the airport.
I'm back into editing on Book Two and really enjoying chopping out the dead stuff to make room for the 12,000 more words that I need to get to in the next couple of weeks, I did get a bit stuck for awhile, obviously the break at the cottage has done me some good and I'm hacking crap out like there's no tomorrow.
As always if you have any questions about the Book Series or the diorama builds send me an email.
A.Shay Hahn


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lions, Tigers and Oh Wow! Monsters!




If the first book of Any How Town is like an Indiana Jones film and the second book has shades of the Goonies I'd have to say that book three is Jurassic Book and it's chock full of beasties. Yes there are beasties in book one but book three is a full on beastie overdrive. I've been waiting months, even years to get to all the beasts and transcribing/editing the third book today has given me the chance to experience the thrill of describing and encountering these beasts all over again.
If you click on the label "bestiary" you can see other photos of the beasts and see how they were made.
your monster keeper,
A.Shay Hahn

Book Three, backyards and trees.

The first three books of Any How Town were written in long hand in our backyard about two summers ago, I sat in this yard (above) and wrote all day and into the evening only stopping to make dinner. I was shocked at how much I was able to accomplish in just over three months, all of the notes, drawings and dreams just poured out and when I was finished and returned to painting in the studio I had a giant stack of pages, more importantly I had what was to become my first (second and third) book.
I sat under the shade of a great tree and was able to work for hours hidden from the sun, sadly that tree died by the end of the summer and there was little shade in our yard.
The night before we left for the cottage a freak storm blew through Toronto and the tree that had once shaded me, now dead, was unable to battle the wind and half of it came down in our yard.
If you look closely you can see the branch is balancing on the wire.
Now we're back and the tree branch has been cleared, I woke up early this morning, around 5:30 am with a great idea, a nice change from waking up with a pained jaw like I had been for the past two/three weeks. I pulled out my notes and rough draft pages for Any How Town Book Three, set up the lap top outside and got back to work. I thought when I returned that I'd be finishing Book Two but the idea I woke up with was so solid and realized I had to get it down on paper, typed not handwritten, and it's 9:30 and I've gotten to about the twelfth page and I couldn't be happier.
I'll be getting back into Book Two tomorrow but for now getting the through line of Book Three is taking me to some great places.
A.Shay Hahn


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back into Book Two and tiny pilots

It seems like it's been about three weeks since I've done anything of consequence in regards to the book series, my injury really took me out of the game for awhile there but we're back after a great week at the family cottage and I'm ready to finish Book Two and do some tiny edits in Book One.
I took the time while I was at the cottage to do some beta testing of my own with the help of my nine year old nephew, I read about thirty pages to him and am happy to report that I had his attention almost the whole time, there were just a couple of little dips that pointed me towards a couple of new edits, thanks N. you were a great help.
I forgot how much I enjoyed reading to him, if there ever is an audio book edition of Any How Town I'm the man for the job.
It's great to feel positive again about the work and I'm ready to get the second book finished in third draft form before the end of August, get an agent or begin submitting directly to publishing houses. Still not 100% sold on ebook self published formats, when I picture kids reading the books, I see the physical book in their hands so we'll keep that on the back burner for now.
expect more posts and progress to come. Also excited about these eight pilots showing up at my house sometime soon, just because the dioramas are on hold doesn't mean I can't still pick up some folks to populate them when I get back to them in January.
all the best,
A.Shay Hahn

Monday, July 8, 2013

Character Sketches MG series, Sweet Relief and Concentration


I've started to label each post here on the blog, if you're looking for pictures of the characters go to the "Character Sketches" label on the right, for my thoughts on writing a book series and trying to get published etc. go to "process notes". Diorama and building stuff is labelled under "Diorama", "Vehicles", "Bestiary" and "Tutorials" where you can see how things are built.
I can't remember the name of the character in the top photo, I have notes on him, his family etc, but his name escapes me right now, he's the son of a famous Sputter Jack racer and also the first person Oliver and Eaglet meet from the Capital City, so his outlook and world view are very different from theirs, his appearance also opens up the possibility of O and E travelling to the Capitol city further down the line.
The second drawing is of the fourth member of the band of soldiers that the books were originally about, he's a fun character to write who walks the edge between being totally out of control and the life of the party, the wild card, there' usually one in every group of friends.
I'm getting so damn tired of not being able to write, I can't focus so well on the words and editing with this pain in my jaw, I can draw, sketch, etc. but writing is just too hard, so I can't wait to get to the dentist today and start getting this sorted out.
As always you can email me any questions you have about the books, characters, diorama building or whatever you like,
A.Shay Hahn