Battling the Writing Beast & Kickstarter Fanfare

I’ve been a delinquent blogger, vlogger, writer…everything. I know this. Here’s the deal. I go through these periods where all of my best laid plans bottleneck, congeal, and morph into a hideous, screaming hydra. I’m currently chopping at this hydra with a dull machete, trying to nap and be a human being in between swings.

Writing Beast

My problem is that I have more plans than time. As my bestie, Alyssa, puts it, I’m burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.

The bad news is I’m bone-weary and overwhelmed all the time; the good news is that things got done. For instance, illustrator Robert Burrows and I have launched the Kickstarter for the first volume of our graphic novel, Beatrice is Dead!

I’ll just leave the video and Kickstarter link here…you know, in case you want to do something with them.

The video is PG, but please do note that Beatrice is Dead was written for an adult audience.

I should probably put more fanfare behind this, but I’ve decided that this blog is the one place where I don’t have to be a marketer. But I am immensely proud of this graphic novel and I do hope you’ll back us if the story interests you.

Click the header directly below for the Kickstarter page.

Beatrice is Dead, Volume 1: City of Ash Kickstarter

Fanfare Illustration

New Flash Fiction from Beatrice is Dead

Kidnapping. Corpse disposal. There’s little Katerina wouldn’t endure for Madame Dankles. In the third story from the world of forthcoming graphic novel, Beatrice is Dead, learn just how far Katerina fell to preserve the only love she’s ever known. And how that love takes her from a frozen hell, into the City of Ash.

[Update: We’ve removed the Final Hours stories from public view in anticipation of publication!]

Art by Robert Burrows

Producing a Graphic Novel: Starting Out

I never…NEVER…thought I’d write a graphic novel. I knew they existed, and I’d read a few, but I didn’t know a thing about the process. It wasn’t until recently that I got a glimpse into the world of graphic novel production when I befriended Robert Burrows and Meaghan O’Keefe, who were both working on art for separate graphic novels. It turned out my assumptions were completely wrong–you don’t need a ton of money to get started; finding an artist doesn’t have to be a burdensome process; a graphic novel script doesn’t have a rigid and complicated structure; and you don’t necessarily need a publisher.

It struck me that there may be others out there interested in producing a graphic novel, who don’t know what that entails, so I decided to publish a series on Producing a Graphic Novel here on my blog. This is my first attempt so I’m sure there will be as many hiccups as successes to this process and, hopefully, there will be something to learn from both.

Before We Begin

Think of this as a case study, rather than a handbook. Take what you will from this series, but please don’t assume I’m saying this is the only way to go about producing a graphic novel or that what does/doesn’t work for me will/won’t work for you. Also, “Beatrice is Dead” is a creator-owned graphic novel, so you probably won’t find anything having to do with seeking a publisher here.

Starting Out

Really, it started with Rob and Meg and the insight I got from them about graphic novel production. Their work on Something Animal and Identity Thief, respectively, got me thinking about the possibility of writing a graphic novel script. This is where having talented and creative friends really comes in handy.

I started a conversation with Rob, who had just finished his work on Something Animal. I told him I was seriously considering the idea of writing a graphic novel. He was extremely encouraging and sent me some reference scripts by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore. What surprised me most was the casual nature of the writing. The writers varied in their level of description and formatting, but they were all pretty conversational. No worrying about grammar and rules? Sign me up!

As the conversation progressed, I thought about an abandoned story I wrote years ago. I’d abandoned it because, at that time, I had no discipline and was on the all-too-familiar finish half a novel and then move on to the next idea kick. Also, I felt the story would work better in a more visual medium. I immediately thought film, but I had no interest in screenwriting so I shoved the MS in a dark corner and forgot about it. But here was this new idea. A visual medium unfolding with such promise before me.

I told Rob a little about the story and he showed some interest. He asked me to send him some scenes. Even with friends there’s a chance of rejection. If an artist isn’t interested in drawing the stuff you write, chances are they won’t accept the project. I braced myself for rejection but Rob liked the scenes I sent and suddenly we were collaborating on a graphic novel.

I have never written so quickly in my life. A few things helped me get that script out the door in good time:

  • having most of the story fleshed out in the old MS
  • the casual style of writing a script
  • agreeing to keep the novel short (the story is being released in short volumes if the first volume is reasonably successful)

I put that last one in all caps because, really, that one component was 75% of the kindling fueling the fire under my butt. Heaven forbid my collaborator get the idea that I’m a lazy procrastinator (which I certainly can be). I didn’t have time to be precious about every single word. Even though I still freak out about it once in a while, I’m happy it worked out that way.

At the moment, Rob is working on the art, and I’ve just begun to consider the marketing aspect. I predict social media (hey, did I mention the graphic novel has a FB page now!!??) and reaching out to indie bookstores and local comic shops will play a big part in marketing. I have another idea on the burner as well…

But that’s a post for another time!

P.S. I just got my panel tickets for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books being held April 21-22. I’ll be blogging about the event the following Monday!

FB Page for Graphic Novel Beatrice is Dead

The graphic novel, “Beatrice is Dead,” written by me, art by Robert Burrows, now has a Facebook page! This is a creator-owned work and a debut graphic novel for me, so we could use all the support we can get. Feel free to “Like,” if you’re so inclined.


Some info about the graphic novel:

“Beatrice is Dead” is writer S. Zainab Williams’ debut graphic novel, illustrated by Robert Burrows whose previous work includes the graphic novel “Something Animal.”

The City of Ash is the first story in a set of short horror/dark fantasy volumes about Beat, an eighteen year-old girl coming of age in the afterlife. After taking her own life, Beat is assigned to a demon-infested world where dangerous civilizations have developed. There, she must come to grips with her past and protect her soul before she is doomed to eternity as a wraith or something much more sinister.

This is where you’ll find sneak peaks and artwork from the graphic novel, blog posts from the writer and artist, news, and information on the release date!