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.

Arts from before Christmas

Here’s some artwork I did leading up to Christmas!

Unhealed Wounds for Destcember
Concept art for a character named Sorrel who is learning why you don’t touch weird black globes with stars in them.
Commission for a friend’s DnD character

This is a spoof news article based on the one about the family that found a live owl in their Christmas tree.

Family finds Ghost in their Dawning Tree

A City family was surprised last week to find an unexpected Dawning gift in their tree.

Gera Hurst and her two children, Freda and James, were eating dinner last Thursday when Freda, 10, made the discovery.

As Freda cleared the table in another room, Hurst heard her exclaim, “Traveler’s Light!”

“She enters the room very dramatically and goes, “‘Mama, that ornament frightened me!’ Then she burst into tears.”

Hurst explained that she’s a big fan of Ghosts. She had about a dozen Ghost ornaments on her Dawning tree. That’s why Hurst thought Freda had just seen an ornament. As she took a closer look at the tree, Hurst saw the ‘ornament’ blink his eye.

“And I’m going, ‘Oh, that’s a real Ghost,'” Hurst remembered as Freda ran into another room crying.

If that wasn’t strange enough, the Ghost had been in the family tree for more than a week. Hurst’s husband, Rand, told the news they had bought their tree two days after the Festival of the Lost.

“It was about to snow, you see,” said the Ghost, who called himself Dusk. “I was hanging out in the tree lot, looking for my Guardian, when this family picks the tree I was hiding in. I figured this was a great way to get out of the cold for a while, so I just kept quiet and hidden.”

“But didn’t you spy on the family?” our reporter asked.

“A little,” Dusk admitted. “But I stayed in the tree, and they seem like a nice family. I didn’t mean to frighten the little girl.”

That was all we managed to get out of the Ghost before Gera Hurst chased him out of her house with a broom.

Artwork in color for once!

I was tired of all the black and white, so I decided to do some art in color this week. Each pic took a few days, so there’s not as many, but they’re pretty.

Another artist was talking about using the selection tool and a gradient to make backgrounds very rapidly. So I tried it and this was the result. I kind of like it.

Fluffy fur collar! Hot chocolate and marshmallows!

“Merry Christmas, Guardian.” From a lore page that made everyone sad.

I wanted to draw this character named Osiris because he has a crazy complicated design. Look at all the feathers! He’s designing a new shell for his ghost.

Just trying different styles this week, studying artists I like and trying to figure out how they do it.

Week 1 of Destcember art

I’ve been participating in Destcember, which is Destiny art or stories for the month. Here’s what I’ve managed to crank out:

And there were a few very short stories in there for days I couldn’t do art. No point in posting them here, though, since they’re pretty Destiny-specific.

We’ll see how next week goes! There’s some blank prompts, and I plan to draw dinosaurs on those days.

When roleplay is appropriate … and when it's not

Roleplay, or ‘RPing’, is a form of storytelling that’s been around for a long time. “I go here and do this and now this thing happened …” You pretend to be yourself in some funny situation. Or you pretend to be one of your characters and play with people pretending to be their characters. Kids do this all the time with toys.

But there’s a time and a place for everything. RPing on your social media? Okay, whatever. RPing in a chat with your friends? Perfect. RPing on your blog? Now it’s getting weird. RPing your characters advertising your books in your newsletters? No. Just … no.

Authors, for some reason, have this idea that since people liked their characters enough to read about them, readers want to interact with these characters. In fact, people want these characters to give them all their news updates! They want the characters to advertise other books to them! So authors fill their newsletters with cutesy RP, pretending to be their characters.

Some people enjoy this. Other people silently unsubscribe and never read any books by that author ever again. Characters belong in books. They’re not Muppets.

So, this is my unpopular opinion: save the RP for a chatroom, or when you’re writing a book and RPing in your head. Keep it out of the newsletters. Notice the “NEWS” in the word? We subscribe to get news about new books and sales. It’s for business. Not to read a random character rambling about the events of their imaginary lives … sometimes for pages and pages.

Rant over. Go RP, people. But not in your professional correspondence.