This week's art: fake oil paintings

I’ve been in a bit of an art slump these past few weeks, so I decided to try something completely, totally different. How about a tutorial about digital oil painting? Oh yeah!

My first attempt, I couldn’t really get it to work right. Especially since I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Defaulting to my Destiny characters, as usual.

My second attempt, I hunted down Chris Saper and studied how she does portraits, because her portraits are sooooo gorgeous. And, you know, she’s still alive and stuff to give tips. (John Singer Sargent? I love you, man, but you’ve been dead a long time.)

Not sure about the expression on this one, but I was working with fewer brush strokes this time. Kind of hard to control. I’ll get better!

So then, I took what I’d learned and did this one.

Uldren the space pirate

Hey look I made a real art! Again, trying to keep my brush strokes minimal and not over blend. This whole pic was just a black silhouette with highlights painted onto it. And the planet in the background was just derped together with spraypaint brushes. But the overall effect is very nice, and you can’t tell how long I didn’t spend on it. *shifty eyes*

This pic gave me the bug to try to do some spaceships, so I did this one as practice.

I just grabbed some renders of Destiny ships off a model viewer and shaded them up, trying to figure out how people do this nonsense. NASA kindly provided a nice view of Earth to mess with. This whole pic was nothing but ghetto shortcuts, but I was practicing. I’ve never been good at mechanical things, but I have people asking if I can do science fiction book covers. So I need to get good at this kind of art.

So that’s been what I’ve cobbled together this week.

Guardian's Wager launch

Today, the third book in the After Atlantis trilogy is live! These books have been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to have the whole trilogy finally out there.


All’s quiet on Mercury Island after the events of GUARDIAN’S VOW, but Tane has not forgotten Gladiolus, her curse, or his role in breaking it.

But an old threat has arisen–the scientists responsible for the alterations done to Cirrus and Maria have returned. They are eager to recapture their old experiments … and their descendants. They promise Gladiolus a breakthrough treatment for her blind eye, circumventing the curse. Accepting this treatment means Gladiolus must leave her old life behind, including Tane and the Atlantean Islands.

But the monster who laid the curse cannot be thwarted so easily, and accelerates Gladiolus’s sickness in revenge for her choice. Now Tane must rescue Gladiolus from the curse, and his friends from the clutches of the scientists, and he’ll need the full might of Mercury Island’s superweapon to do it. Available on most retailers here!


Book 1 is available here and book 2 is available here, in case you’d like to start from the beginning.

These books have been languishing on my hard drive for two years, awaiting edits and nice covers. Thanks to my husband (a ferocious editor who holds my feet to the fire) and my friend Sherri who is an eagle-eyed copyeditor, I’m confident that these books are ready for primetime.

They also represent my writing struggle of two years ago. Two years ago, I was burned out on writing and publishing. I’d trained myself to outline a book before writing it, and only churned out sub-par stories. The fun was somehow gone. I couldn’t seem to achieve the depth and fun I’d had while writing fanfics as a teen. As a teen, I’d written without an outline, just chasing the characters and plot through all the logical twists and turns of their choices and actions. And I’d written some glorious stuff. What had happened? Was I losing my ability?

Turns out, my brain works best with no outline and a sandbox to play in. I wrote these three books as one long story, just re-learning how to write in a way that gave me joy. These books do have some rough edges that I chose not to remove, because they’re artifacts of my learning process as I was rediscovering my joy.

And the whole trilogy is basically an inverted Beauty and the Beast story, only with superpowers and hecking big lasers. I described book 2 as “Beauty and the Beast with Serenity’s ending.” You know that scene at the end of Serenity when the doors open and River is standing on a pile of bodies with two dripping weapons in her hands? Yeah, that, only with less blood.

So now, this trilogy is finished. And it’s time to shift over to Vid:ilantes, another series in the same world that will dovetail into the After Atlantis books. I’m looking forward to writing a crossover, when my American superheroes and my Atlantean heroes inevitably meet and clash. It will be glorious.

Only a little art this week

I feel like I’ve been off my game all week, and I haven’t been satisfied with my art. I’ve been pushing to get edits done on Guardian’s Wager, and that’s all done, finally. But I think my brain is tired and needs a break.

Here’s what I managed to draw this week:

A sparkly outfit from Monster Hunter World (the Astral set), and I drew it mostly so I could draw sparkles. I’m not really satisfied with it, but I ran out of time, so here it is.

Tane and Glad from my After Atlantis books. For some reason, Glad turned out looking like she’s not wearing anything BUT SHE IS, DANGIT. Not super happy with this one, either. That’s why I shouldn’t draw when I’m tired.

I was trying to make a sweet new book cover to show off today, but it’s nowhere near being ready to share yet. Hopefully next week, when the book launches.

So that’s this week. Brain-dead. Tired. Artistically underachieving.

Art this week: concepts and comics

This week was battling against my own fatigue and lack of inspiration to make art. Surprisingly, once I sat down and started poking around, I was able to come up with this and that. So here’s what I made.

A pic from the end of my last fanfic, where Sorrel is pretty messed up.

Giftart for a friend who needed concept art of his steampunk characters. I haven’t done any steampunk before, and it was fun to mess with it.

In Destiny 2, there was this quest where you could travel through time and find your own grave. I had to make a comic about it.

Concept art for a character I’ve been thinking about. He’s basically a Mad Max vigilante with his Ghost worked into an energy shield usually carried by enemy aliens.

Pretty landscape and sketches

It’s Friday, which means … time to show off artwork!

I’ve been playing with this landscape on and off for a couple of weeks. I figured it was time to buckle down and finish it.

This was based on a screenshot from Destiny 2.

It’s a pretty area in game, but as you can see, there’s always room for improvement.

And now, for some sketches and things!

Character concept from a not-Destiny sci-fi. Just trying to nail down what the characters look like. The robots still look too Ghost-like, so I’ll be doing more concept sketches here in the next few weeks.

Since I’m redoing some Sonic fanfics as Real People Books, I get to reimagine these characters as humans. And they make awfully cute humans. This pic was just traced over a base and done anime because it’s fast and easy. I’d credit the artist who did the base, but I can’t track them down. It’s all over Pinterest, though.

“We’re waiting for your daughter?”
“Supposedly.”

Concept for the absentee father of the heroine of my last Destiny fanfic. I have this thing for forbidding, grumpy dads who are soft, sweet marshmallows on the inside.

And that’s all the art for this week. I’ve been grinding away at revisions on Guardian’s Wager, the third After Atlantis book, in every spare moment. And in every other spare moment, I’m writing this not-Destiny story that amuses me massively. You should have heard me boring my husband to sleep, explaining about the orbits of Jupiter’s moons and why Callisto makes the perfect hideout.

I loved these books (and will not be reading more)

Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? To love books in a series and yet quit on the series two books in. Well, let me explain. (The following is MY OPINION. If you are the author, for heaven’s sake, click away now.)

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I picked up Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart on the recommendation of a friend. Great book, set in a future where magic has been discovered as a kind of new kind of science. Mages can interact with specially-designed spaceships to jump them lightyears through space, bypassing the need for hyperspace entirely. Magic works by sending energy through engraved runes, making it all work like a computer language or a circuit board.

The first book follows a space freighter and its captain who have been marked for death by space pirates. They pick up a young mage who can’t land a job owing to his lack of social connections. However, this mage, Damian Montgomery, has the ability to actually see the energy flow in magic runes. He hacks the ship and turns it into a giant magic amplifier, i.e. a freaking magic wand made for blowing up ships. This is hella-illegal. Now the pirates are after them, and the government is after them, and a Hand of the Mage-King is after them, too.

What made the first book great was the way the characters pulled together as a team. The captain protected his crew and especially his mage. His mage constantly pushed his own limits to save the captain and crew, driven by guilt that all this is his fault, anyway. Such a screaming good read.

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Then I picked up book 2, The Hand of Mars. No more team. Damian is now Uber Leet Trained Mage who is solving massive planetary political problems all on his lonesome. The crew from the first book are off doing their own thing. Damian is kind of the underdog for a while, until suddenly he’s leading the rebels in retaking their planet from a corrupt governor. It was fun and suspenseful, but … I don’t know, without the team all pulling for each other, and Damian being both target and underdog, it felt more like a superhero book. Watch one guy save the day by being awesome.

Slightly disappointed, I checked out the next few books. Again, same thing. Damian single-handedly saving the day. No team. Cheap sex hookups that don’t last and don’t mean anything. No lasting relationships or character development.

Sadly, I decided not to read any more. I don’t have time to read the same book over and over. You can see the series ending coming miles away that Damian is going to wind up as the next Mage-King, so it’s not like it’s even any big surprise. The team dynamic is what sold me on the first book–the team constantly doing the right thing to save their people, and it biting them in the butt hardcore. If the series had continued with Damian still with his team, just facing bigger and badder threats, I’d have probably read every single book and clamored for more. But I don’t have the patience for a James Bond in Space kind of story. I know lots and lots of people love that kind of thing, and if that’s your thing, check out these books! But it’s just not for me. And I’m sad to say it, because that first book was amazing.

Guardian's Vow launched

This week was the final push to get Guardian’s Vow through final edits and out the door. My two proofreaders were invaluable, especially my husband, who sacrificed two whole evenings to catch my missing commas and name-change gaffes. I’m satisfied that the book is clean and ready for primetime.

This is book 2 of the After Atlantis trilogy:

Tane and the rest of the island crew have gotten Mercury Island back and are parked a mile in the air above the islands of Atlantis. They are frantically preparing to meet the attack of the warship Fellstorm, which is coming to capture Mercury Island.

When they are joined by Gladiolus Lark, a half-blind girl with a magical malady, the team dynamics begin to shift. Friends draw closer, and even rivals are persuaded to work together. New powers are unlocked as the team delve into the mysteries of Atlanticite crystal, and even the island, itself.

Now the arms dealers National Weapons Enterprises approach to capture the island, and the sea monster Tyrannith waits in the ocean below. Tane must make a terrible choice–to save his friends from one enemy, he must appease the other. He can’t talk NWE down … and appeasing Tyrannith may cost him his life.

Book available on most retailers now! And here’s Book 1, in case you want to start at the beginning.


This is superhero fantasy, so called because it’s people with superpowers in a fantastic setting. It’s set in modern day, but postulates that when Atlantis sank, it became an island chain like the Bahamas. Cruise ships visit regularly, and there’s lots of people constantly excavating the ruins and dredging up all kinds of magitech. There’s a type of magic crystal called Atlanticite that amplifies or just outright grants superpowers. And our heroes accidentally uncover the biggest superweapon of Atlantis and wind up with targets painted on their backs. It’s great fun, if a bit unconventional.

So far, publishing a book a month has been going great. I also just discovered that I have enough short stories with rights reverted that I can compile and release a short story collection. I am enthused about that. So, February’s book will be the final book of the trilogy, Guardian’s Wager. March’s book will be a parallel book in the same universe, Vid:ilantes, a book about superheroes who film themselves doing heroics and post the videos on HeroTube for those sweet, sweet affiliate clicks.

I am excited about this lineup!

Nothing to show off–yet

Well, didn’t complete any artwork this past week. I have a landscape in progress, but all art is on the back burner as I work on my 12 Books Publishing Challenge.

My new year’s resolution this year was to do Dean Wesley Smith’s publishing challenge, which is to publish 1 book a month. You don’t have to write the books. This is just a way to kick those books out the door that are written, but just need revisions and a cover. I have three books just sitting here, staring at me. So out they go!

I’ve been working on the second After Atlantis book, and also updating the first book to bring it more in line with the worldbuilding in Vid:ilantes (due to be published in March, if all goes well). This is a light superhero fantasy series–hero teams having conflicts, mustache-twirling villains, robots, and superweapons. I wrote it a few years ago just for fun, and I’m just now emerging from my Destiny fugue and deciding to, you know, actually publish some stuff.

I was looking at my vast collection of Destiny fanfics and realizing that they’re all earning ad revenue for the sites hosting them. Alllllll those fanfics and alllllll those chapters … ads upon ads, day in and day out. And they get hundreds of hits a month.

This kind of burns me.

So I’m looking at just writing and publishing my own stuff steadily, the way I did my fanfics. I know how to do developmental editing, and I have a couple of very good copy editors lined up. I can also make my own covers. There’s literally nothing holding me back from writing and publishing as many books as I want. I’m not super concerned about making a ton of money as much as I am about making my stories accessible. Even my fanfics are only available on two websites. My books can be available on dozens and dozens of bookstores.

My end goal is to entertain people. People have hard lives, and a book can help them forget that hard life for a few hours. I want to write more books for my cozy mysteries, for my superhero series, and heck, maybe some short stories. I also want to mess with science fiction, the kind of space opera stuff that Destiny and Star Wars are, that I love so much.

So hopefully a new book will be coming along in the next week or so. Guardian’s Vow is in the second round of revisions, just polishing and deepening a few scenes. Have to do a cover for it and update the cover on book 1, and off we go.

Catching up with art stuffs

I have a bit of an art backlog to post, so let’s see what I have sitting in my files.

There’s this artist who paints these gorgeous landscapes based on videogames, so I wanted to give it a shot. Also I followed this tutorial and it was really fun and interesting.

Fanart for the book Starship’s Mage by Glynn Stewart. I had known of this book’s existence for a long time, but didn’t actually pick it up until a friend recommended it. It’s science fiction with space ships and stuff, except the only way to hyperspace jump between stars is to have a Mage use magic to do it. So the ships are all engraved with runes on the inside, and in the ship’s center is a simulacrum of the ship that the Mage interacts with to Jump. Magic and the runes it runs on work like circuits and computer code, so it’s very logical. I’m very pleased with book 1 and will probably have to read the whole series. The heroes are in constant hot water because they are just trying to do the right thing. I LOVE that.

Also, I sent this to the author and made his day. 😀

This is a comic making fun of the Christmas event in Destiny where you make cookies out of bits of monsters. World of Warcraft had this same kind of event, so I think they must just be how videogames do Christmas-themed quests. These are a couple of characters I’ve been working on, and I wanted to draw the girl with the scars to see what she’d look like.

A look back and a look forward

Welp, it’s 2020. I checked my resolution for 2019 to see how I did … I’d resolved to read all the unread books on my Kindle.

Welp. Failed that one. In fact, I now have more unread books than I did in 2019. Bad llama. According to Goodreads, I only read 15 books in 2019, and half of them were school books I read aloud to the kids. But hey, that counts, right? I’ve been in survival mode with a crawling baby, so that’s my excuse.

Over the course of last year, I wrote 12 more fanfics, most of which were novel-length, including two trilogies I’m very proud of. Now, if I could do that in 2020, only with original books, I’d be golden.

Speaking of which, Dean Wesley Smith is running a class challenge where everybody is supposed to publish 12 books in 2020. That’s 1 book a month. You don’t have to write them, only publish stuff that’s been sitting around, languishing and collecting dust. I think I could do 6 books, since I have three sitting around, waiting for revisions, and I could write a few novellas before June. I have another baby due in June, so after that I can’t commit to any work-related stuffs. That’ll be my sort-of resolution for 2020, is to try to do that challenge and see how I do.

I did start picking up art commissions in the end of 2019, so that was fun to get back into. I think it was Butch Hartman who said something like, “Go out there and do the thing. Eventually people will see you doing the thing, and they will come to you and ask you to do the thing.” And that’s what I’m seeing happen.

Here’s a big one I did and couldn’t post until after Christmas, because it was a Christmas present for the client’s boyfriend.

This pic took about three weeks of back and forth with the client and with critiques from an artist group. It came out all right, but I was kind of overwhelmed by the end.

So we’ll see how the year goes. I don’t really have a word for this year, since I really have no idea what will happen. Each year has been so drastically different from the one before, I’m hesitant to make any real plans. I have a couple of easily achievable goals, and I think that will suffice.