I’m starting this off by saying that Crio Bru has no idea who I am and I am not being paid to endorse them. This is all just my opinion.
That said, I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest lately, just scrolling dismally through my feed late at night while trying to rock the baby to sleep. I’ve seen a lot of those video ads. But the only one I ever clicked on was for some company that sells ground cacao that you brew like coffee.
Turns out they’re called Crio Bru, this little company that sell organic, fair trade cacao. It’s roasted and ground like coffee. There’s lots of different roasts and varieties, and they’re branching out into flavors like hazelnut and caramel. I stared and stared at that ad, then I went to their website and stared at their pictures. And I knew what I wanted for my birthday.
Trouble is, you can’t make it in a coffee pot with paper filters. Well, you can, but it won’t be as good. So I asked my husband for a little French press coffee pot and some of this cacao for my birthday. I just wanted to try it out and see what it was like.
My birthday arrived and so did the coffee pot and cacao. My hubby had ordered me a sampler pack with a bunch of different flavors in it. So far I’ve tried the Venezuela one and the Double Chocolate one.
Oh my goodness. This is the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted. It has this rich depth of flavor that hot chocolate mixes or cocoa powder can only hope to attain. It’s satisfyingly bitter, and adding sugar and cream just kicks it over the top. I’ve gotten to where chocolate candy is just too overpoweringly sweet, so being able to have chocolate where I control the sugar content is perfect. I make mine with honey, so it’s only semi-sweet.
The kids and my hubby love this stuff, too. We’re currently experimenting with how many times you can re-brew the same grounds before it loses its flavor. We’re up to three times. My coffee pot only holds three cups, and there’s nine of us, so we go through it pretty fast. I think I’ll be upgrading to a larger pot soon.
I’ve read that the Aztecs used cacao as an aphrodisiac, because it’s supposed to enhance your mood. Commercial chocolate never did that for me. Too many additives, too little actual cacao, I guess. Well, this cacao drink actually does boost my mood. I feel very good inside after drinking it, and it leaves me cheerful. The only other thing that does that to me is my calcium supplement, which has MSM in it. (MSM does similar things and makes you feel really good.) Apparently cacao is high in magnesium and antioxidants, so it’s very good for you.
I don’t eat a lot of luxury foods, so this has been very fun to experiment with. I’m also happy to support a cacao company that doesn’t use slave labor to harvest the cacao, like the big candy companies do. If you’d like to treat yourself, especially as the weather cools off, head over to Crio Bru and order a sampler pack. The cacao is about the same price as coffee, so if you can afford one, you can afford the other. Hit up their website and treat yourself!
Welp, it’s the end of the first week of Inktober. I started off trying to do some prompts, but I can never seem to stay on track. I just go off into the weeds and draw whatever I feel like. XD
I didn’t have much time to do this, so I cheated all over the place with stamps and stuff. Still took me two days. :-p
I thought that tracing over a spaceship model would be easy. I was wrong.
This dumb little comic came about from watching a Destiny stream one night. One of the guys accidentally started the boss fight by whacking it from the next room. Nobody knew he could throw a hammer that far. My hubby gave this to the streamer the next day and he thought it was great. 😀
Had a lot of fun with this one. Mom and Dad are being friendly and the kid is oblivious. Just like real life!
Someday I will be good enough at human anatomy to NOT take two hours in the stick figure stage.
Hooray for Inktober! It’s starting to cool off, if this pesky high pressure system would ever budge off the western US. In the meantime, it’s time to draw like mad! In ink, so you can’t erase your mistakes! That’s one of the things I enjoy most about it.
Anyway, I spent an entire week writing and not drawing a bit, so I don’t have much to show in the way of arts. Here’s my scribbles, such as they are.
Not much to show, really. By next week, I will have done a lot more stuff. Trying to get faster at these ink scribbles. I’m all rusty at speed art and I have to work back up to it.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and books on writing lately that are changing my perspective a bit.
It started with Don’t Give Money to People Who Hate You. This book was eye-opening for me. But it also gave me resolve to go on writing the sort of entertainment I’ve been writing. You know, fun, fantastical escapes. People need that more than ever.
Then I picked up The Pulp Mindset, which explores how pulp writers of past decades wrote fun, entertaining books that sold like hotcakes. James Bond, Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage, and other heroes are from this era. With the advent of ebooks, we’re back in the era of cheap, fun entertainment for the masses.
I finished the first draft of Mercurion on Saturday, and immediately started writing a couple of fanfics I’ve had waiting in the wings. As I did, I got to thinking about those books I’d just read. Fanfic is just another form of publishing. People read them by the truckload. Here’s some of my stats from May, which is the last time I published a story:
That is a lot of hits. That is a significant amount of people reading my stories. We’re talking over a thousand unique visitors who came back every day or two to read the new chapter. Some reread the old chapters while they waited for new ones.
Fanfiction is the unsung pulp fiction of today. It makes no money, but people read it for the same reason they read anything–for escape, for entertainment, to have an experience.
It made me sit up and realize that if I write for this hungry audience, they deserve the best content I can produce, the same as my paying readers. I don’t know why I never thought of it that way before. I guess I don’t think of fanfiction as “real” writing because it doesn’t go through a publisher. For me, fanfic is play or practice, kind of like the sketches I’m always posting on this blog. But those are serious readers. A lot of them. So I’m going to work on giving them what they want. And I’m going to try very hard not to do what other writers have done to me and drive off my own readers by chasing the almighty buck.
A friend gave me George Bridgman’s Constructive Anatomy, so I’ve added that to my study alongside Andrew Loomis’s Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth. Now I really feel like I’m taking an extremely challenging art class. Here’s what I’ve done this week:
I left the construction lines in the sketch, so you can see all the detail. I did my yuppie armor treatment (all black figure, three values in basic shapes for the armor, a few details here and there) and it turned out looking great.
This was when I started working on Bridgman’s book. He builds figures a bit differently than Loomis, concentrating on the masses. Lots of twisting figures, so I tried to draw some. Then I tried to figure what in the heck a real person would be doing to get into some of these poses. Looking over their shoulders, obviously.
I figured I’d draw a scene from what I was writing this morning, so here are Jayesh and Tane. Tane is a really huge guy, and Jayesh is average, so there’s quite a disparity in their sizes. My grasp of anatomy isn’t great, but I’m working on it. Wish I could say I only had one problem area, but at this point, everything is a problem area. More practice needed!
It’s been a few weeks since I did an art post, so here’s what I’ve done lately:
A hastily-painted character in a sweater and scarf, just to show off some possible fall fashions.
This last one took me two days to get the perspective working. You don’t want to know how many layers of discarded sketches this file has. I’ve been trying not to use my 3D reference models, but in this case I had to cave in and use them. Argh. I’d like to color this one eventually.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Different styles and angles and experiments. I love drawing other people’s characters for the challenge it offers. If you have a character you’d like a sketch of, let me know. I always need more fodder.
The other night, I was up late with the baby and idly scrolling through Pinterest. Pinterest shows me all kinds of weird, random things, and for some reason, it started showing me Whump prompts.
Whump is a splinter-genre that mostly hangs out in fanfiction. It’s the story of a character who is injured in some way, but conceals it from their friends until they collapse (the “whump” is them hitting the floor). Here are some sample prompts:
So, basically, it’s teasing out the scenes in books when a character is hurt, and then wallowing in just that scene via fanfic. Probably some fetish thing.
Anyway, as a professional author, I wanted to point out both the weakness of Whump, and how it make it stronger:
You have to earn it.
If the reader doesn’t care about this character, why should they care when they’re injured?
This works well in fanfic, because the original writers have already done all the work worldbulding, establishing the characters and their arcs, relationships, etc. Readers come to the fanfic with all that background already in their heads, and thus enjoy a story about their favorite character in peril.
But what if the fanfic writer did a little more work? What if they wrote a character arc and a story with actual stakes? That way, when the character is injured, readers have even more reason to care.
What about original stories? You have to work even harder so the worldbuilding and character arcs make sense. If you’re writing any kind of adventure story, the characters taking an injury is one example of conflict and raising the stakes. “If we don’t get medical help, he’ll be dead in eight hours!”
Readers love caring about characters. Make them care about the character first–make them funny, or annoying, or agreeable, or hateable–anything you please. And then put them through hard things to see them react and watch them grow. Readers love stakes and conflict. It’s what makes a good story. Whump is only a small, small part of it. So if you want to write something like whump, make sure you’ve done the work to earn it. You’ll have your readers screaming in anguish. And the screams of readers are a feast for the author. 😀
I kind of missed doing a blog on Friday because the days are kind of blurring together. Also I don’t feel like I had much to show. I’ve been studying Andrew Loomis’s art instruction books and basically learning the basics from scratch.
I’m just doing a lot of studies and things like this, concepting characters while trying to apply what I’m learning.
I feel like the more I study and practice, the worse I get.
Anyway, I’m basically putting myself through a very tough art class while juggling babies and older kids starting school. It’s nice to exercise my brain. 😀
This past week, I decided that I really need to learn the Disney style of faces. So I started studying and practicing. It’s a deceptively simple style that absolutely demands a solid anatomy grounding. People who diss cartooning as “not art” have obviously never tried it.
The expressions in the Disney style are the most immediate change. It’s very expressive and fun to look at. It’s also an attractive style that a lot of people like. But it’s not easy!
I feel like the longer I practice, the worse I get. But I won’t feel comfortable with this style until I’ve sunk a couple of hundred hours into it.
Random t-rex I painted in 20 minutes. I was thinking of the way reptiles pant, and wanted to draw a dinosaur panting, too. Giving a t-rex a funny forked tongue amused me unduly.
Mist gazed at him, her ears flicking backward, then forward. “All right,” she said after a moment. “I won’t interfere with the Bloodbound. But first, pet me.”
Jayesh stroked her feathery head, scratched the roots of her ears, and the back of her neck. Mist made a purring sound and closed her eyes. Jayesh had always wanted to bury his hands in the mottled gray feathers, but he’d never dared before.
“The touch of the Bloodbound brings blessing,” Mist crooned in her throat. “Grant me your healing touch.”
“Are you hurt?” Jayesh asked in surprise.
Her nearest brown eye opened and focused on him. “No.”
“Oh, so you just want to feel my healing magic. I see how it is.” Jayesh summoned his magic and stroked her with healing warmth in his fingertips. It gave him a sense of her bones and muscles, the vibrant life within her. “You’re very healthy. How old are you?”
“I’ve been here since Atlantis fell,” Mist replied, eyes closed.
Jayesh couldn’t hold back a grin. “So … you’re three hundred years old. No wonder you’re turning gray.”
The eye on the side of her head nearest him opened slowly, the third eyelid sliding aside. “I was born gray. Are you making fun of me?”
“Of course not,” Jayesh said hastily. “I’m just used to talking to the wyvern on my island. He’s kind of a jerk.”
“Oh, him.” Mist closed her eyes and rolled her head against his hands. “Yes, he is a jerk. Also, he is old. Tell him I said so.”
It’s fun to draw these silly little scenes. This is from the work in progress version of Mercurion, third book of the Vid:ilantes trilogy.