Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Who's got two thumbs and wants to talk tech stuff?

This week 'Breaking Cat News' made the jump to daily strips! I'm happy about this for many reasons, but the biggest is probably that this forces me to pace myself and spread my workload out. Something I haven't always been so good at doing since BCN began. I have a tendency to write or paint until I fall asleep face down on the page. With two little people depending on me, this isn't a great way to work. It's not a great way to write either. I've been really lucky that I have not faced burn out yet, but it's only due to the grace of God and coffee. MY TWO SAVIORS.
Sometimes Lupin naps while I work too.

Another huge reason I am happy is this brings us one step closer to getting the strip ready for newspapers, which is my goal!

The first online daily strip, announcing the start of the People's dinner party.

'Going daily' has brought up a couple of issues that I could not have foreseen until I actually 'went daily.' The first being, "My God, I can't manually post these every day. I need to finally automate the original site!" The second, "Oooooh, are daily notifications going to be a little much?" And third, "Can my notification service handle sending out 70,000 ish + emails each month?"

The first issue: Automating the site. Last night I was able to automate the strip on the original site, meaning that the strip posted on its own at midnight on the west coast! This means from now on–barring any emergencies/unexpected delays–‘Breaking Cat News’ will post at midnight Central Time on GoComics and midnight Pacific Time on the original site! Huzzah! One issue down! This is particularly exciting, because I also tried this on Monday night AND FAILED MISERABLY.

Military time. The site posts in military time. Who knew? Probably everyone. But not me. However, Tuesday night I realized and set the site to post at "00:00" instead of noon, and it worked!
As I mentioned, new format allows me to pace myself, and that means working ahead of schedule! So far I have been able to catch up to about two weeks out! To put this into perspective, almost every strip before this was painted the night before or the same morning it posted. People have suggested before I create a “buffer” by getting ahead, but the strips were so long and life with two toddlers was so hectic that it was impossible. Where 'The Quote Book' comic and 'Swan Eaters' sometimes had buffers of 3-5 months, 'Breaking Cat News' took off so fast and was such much longer that I never had a chance to catch my breath. I would have had to take time off to get ahead, and life already forced me to take enough time off for Gwen’s arrival and moves and whatnot. As it is, I may have to take some time off this autumn to really buckle down and get examples of the comic ready to pitch to newspapers. However, I will give as much notice as I can, and until then–Daily strips, posted on time! Oh, hooray!
The second issue and third issues: Notifications. I’m still trying to figure out the future of the notifications. The email service I use to send them out has certain “volume tiers” and daily notifications may exceed that, and I’m trying to wrap my head around it. For now, the notifications will still go out when the strips post on the original site. If you are someone who does not enjoy seven emails a week, I completely understand if you unsubscribe and you will not hurt my feelings! (I am actually in that boat when it comes to these things myself). If you really enjoy the notifications throughout the week, I am trying to think of something new and fun to maybe replace those 1-2 times a week if it does turn out that daily notifications are trouble. It’s really fun when Beatrix excitedly emails all of us, and I want to keep that feeling of fun, vs the email notifications feeling stale and canned.
Lastly–thank you so much for all of your patience during this transition, and for just listening to me explain what some of this looks like on my end. It’s nice to be able to tell you what is going on. Not every cartoonist or writer or artist has this kind of audience. And as more people find the comic, one day there will probably be people who are a little more negative or mean about changes or hiccups in how things run. However, we have a really strong foundation and I hope so much that our community of readers can stay a positive place for people to share their love of cats and comics. I feel incredibly fortunate that so many of you are so kind, understanding, supportive, and excited about this with me. I like to hope that when anything goes wrong on the original site computer wise, those of you who have been here from the beginning immediately start to chuckle like, “That’s just Georgia, messing something up on the site!” And hopefully you know I’ll be tinkering until I get it sorted out for us. You should have seen me trying to get the new font right! (Full disclosure: I still am).
Getting the strips to post automatically and figuring out notifications going forward are two things I have to “do” vs try ahead of time or read about. I don’t learn that way, I have to actually do something and then often times (thank God) I get it pretty quick. That was one reason my editor suggested I go daily online as we get the strip ready for newspapers. She has comfortingly encouraged me the past few days, “There’s nothing like time and practice.” Actually having to create a daily strip for you all is going to teach me things that creating examples only a few people see can't. The only way for me to do something is to do something, and I polish and correct as I go. The difference is now for the first time I have an audience of thousands of people watching. NO PRESSURE HAHAHAHA--No, but really, I cannot thank you enough or stress how kind you have been through the changeover! 

"Inky Puck."

Each daily strip is going to get a little better and better. And each round of headlines, (“The Dinner Party” and coming up soon… A vet visit! Yes! Finally!) should get noticeably better, as I still write, ink, and paint the “stories” in batches. So, each new headline will be written, inked, and painted with what I learned in the last one.
I’m so excited for this, and I hope you are enjoying these so far, and they will only get better!

There other things I want to write about that happened in July, but will try to give these events their own posts. To update you quickly, though:

So happily, I attended my first Comic Con in San Diego and it was magical and I made new friends and even did my first BCN signing at the GoComics booth! And then a week later I gave my first talk at a local library! It's been really exciting meeting 'Breaking Cat News' readers and discussing the comic!
Me at the GoComics Comic Con booth for my first signing!

And incredibly sadly, (if you have been a reader on this blog for a long time when I used to post more regularly, you will immediately recall my stories of her), my Nana passed away. She had a good, long life but anything short of her living forever was going to be heartbreaking, and we're crushed. I'm still processing this and I'm pretty sure my denial is currently running pretty high. It doesn't feel real and I know I have not mourned properly yet. I'm just sad. My Mom and my Nana did the most to raise me; she was a huge part of our lives and one of my biggest supporters/influences/heroes. I keep getting ready to call her and remembering. It's tough. I'd like to really write out my feelings on this and what she meant to me sometime soon. I'll try my best to respect one of the notes we found in a little notebook she left on her bed for us, "when writing my obituary, nothing extravagant please." I know she would want the same in anything written in remembrance. So, we'll see if I'm able to gather my thoughts on this at all, and if I'm able to put them down simply. Both will be hard for me. However, if you've read a long time and would like to remember her with me this morning, this entry from 2011 is a good one to revisit.
Nana and Luke, November 2013.
Me,  Nana, Mom and tiny baby Gwen!

The kids and Nana Dee Dee

And I've continued to work on Gwen's birth story too. Gwen turns 16 months today! Boy, I really owe her that birth story! Will I post that blog entry in 2016? TUNE IN AND FIND OUT!

Look how light Gwen's hair has gotten in California!

We break out the Halloween jammies pretty early in this house.
The kids, ready for bedtime!

Elvis, napping next to the fabulous "cat news" dress my Mom gave me.

Lupin, waiting for the next blog update!