Sanctuary artwork blitz

Sanctuary launches on the 11th, so I’m doing a ton of art to show off what the book is like. This past week, I focused on the main characters and some excitement they get into. Next week, supporting cast and some of their shenanigans!

Sanctuary is Jayesh’s book, more or less a direct sequel to Bloodbound. Jayesh is still coping with being magically bound to a magical island, even if it does rocket his healing magic through the roof. As it turns out, he’s the only person in the world who can heal manticore venom stings and bites. But all he wants is for his girlfriend to not run away from him anymore, and to not be so crushingly lonely. This is him and his tiny dragon Suntala.

This is Kari Winters, Jayesh’s longtime crush. She’s a lightning super, dealing with grief from the murder of her boyfriend, and she’s kind of using Jayesh as an emotional life raft. Not exactly the healthiest of relationships, but the events of Sanctuary force her to confront her feelings and actions, and make a choice regarding Jayesh and loving him–or not.

“I’m just going to use my powers on the quetzalcoatl,” Jayesh said to the others. “Maybe diminish his pain.”

“If it attacks you, I’m zapping it dead,” said Kari, fists clenched at her sides. “I wish you wouldn’t do this, Jay. It’s a monster, just like the manticores.”

But it wasn’t like the manticores. Jayesh couldn’t explain the sense of grief and compassion inside him. He placed both hands on the silky feathers and drew on his healing shard.

He sensed the life in the great body, life mingled with magic. It reminded him of Suntala, but not quite. This creature was huge and blazing and alive, as if a shard had melted and run into its bloodstream. But that life was leaking from many wounds, both inside and outside. He found four hearts, one central one and three secondaries. A secondary heart had been shot through, and was draining the pressure of the rest. The creature’s entire magical being strained against the damage, trying to heal it.

Jayesh focused on that heart, first. “Come on, boy,” he whispered, drawing in the creature’s own magic. “Work with me.”

At first, the serpent’s magic blocked him out, like the tide running contrary to a swimmer’s path. But gradually, little by little, Jayesh’s healing magic soaked into the creature’s body and bone, redirecting its native magic. The damaged heart struggled, and the other hearts spasmed. Terror shot through the serpent and into Jayesh, potent as Kari’s lightning.

But Jayesh had enough empathy built into his healing shard to catch that fear and quiet it. “Shh,” he whispered, closing the holes in the wounded heart. “You’ll be all right. You won’t die, I don’t think. Come on, boy, you’re strong. Feel how the healing works? Work along with it.”

Rodion stepped up beside him and lifted the Mender’s Rod. Jayesh’s sense of the serpent’s wounds grew clearer, and it became easier to heal. “Thanks,” he said softly.

“No problem,” said Rodion, flicking his white hair out of his eyes.

After a moment, Kari joined them and laid her own hands on the feathery coil. All along the great body, wounds began to expel bullets and to close up. The serpent’s own magic surged in response to their assistance.

For the first time, the creature stirred, lifting its head out of hiding. For a moment it hung a few feet above the humans, watching them with its yellow eyes, the feathery crest standing upright, like a question mark. Then it relaxed and rested its chin on the coil they were touching. A third eyelid closed over the eyes like a gray film.

“I didn’t know he had eyelids,” Kari said. “Snakes don’t.”

“I notice that he only has the third,” Rodion said, “and not the first and second. Possibly because his flight ability demands it.”

Jayesh said nothing. He was in tune with the serpent’s magic, conducting their healing like a concert, and euphoria crept through him. His weariness, fear, and hunger fell away. All that remained was the ecstasy of healing, directing that energy, mending and regenerating. He was aware of his friends as beacons of light on either side of him, the serpent as an ocean of magic, and life, and potential. And nearest of all was Fith, watching, adding subtle hints to Jayesh’s magic, directing him in ways he wouldn’t have attempted.

He didn’t surface from that sea of bliss until the serpent slid its head forward and touched his forehead with its snout. “Little human,” it whispered, “stop before you die.”

Startled, Jayesh opened his eyes and gazed into the strange, narrow face of the serpent. The eyes were bright as jewels, the mouth turned down in a frown, then up in a smile. The tongue fluttered in and out through a hole in the lips. It brushed Jayesh’s forehead like the touch of an eyelash.

“My magic is overwhelming you, Bloodbound,” said the serpent. “Thank you for closing my wounds. I will manage the rest.” It turned its attention to Rodion and Kari. “I extend my thanks to you, as well. Because you showed me mercy, I lay no curse upon you, but a blessing. May Fith accept this offering.”


Sanctuary launches March 11th, preorder available here!

That moment when your mojo crashes

So, this week wasn’t supposed to be a nightmare week. It was supposed to be a nice week. I was going to catch up with the weeds in the yard, and it rained a bit, and it was nice.

Then on Tuesday one of the big girls landed on the 20 month old on the trampoline and broke the baby’s ankle.

Nice week instantly shot. I’ve gone back and forth to the ER, bounced around appointments for the orthopedic surgeon, etc. etc. all week long. The baby now has a massive cast that she uses to club people with. (Her ankle is already well enough to do that, which I find amazing.)

In the midst of this, I tried drawing a golden age of scifi book cover for a friend.

Me: Hee hee, this is fun.

Her: Wait, the girl is supposed to be black.

Me: mojo crashes and burns because that means the whole pic has to be redone

So now it’s Saturday and my poor hubby has to work. Next week, 3:30 wakeups, which turn both of us into zombies. I just can’t catch the mojo again.

This morning, I scraped out a quick drawing, just to keep in practice:

So that’s been my week. I’ve been so tired and stressed that when I sit down at my computer, I’d rather stare at the wall than create anything. But maybe things will calm down now? Maybe?

The most wonderful time of the year: end of year recaps

I just love December, and not because of Christmas. I mean, Christmas is nice, too. But I just love it when people start writing their end of year retrospectives. What art they made, what books they wrote, what they learned, where their journey of life took them. They usually come along about New Year’s, and I’m looking forward to them.

I haven’t had a chance to go back through my records and see how my books did this year. I’ll save that for the New Years retrospective, heh. But I was looking over the artwork I did this year, and I’m happy with my progress. Here’s my Art vs Artist meme:

artvsartist meme

You can get on twitter or instagram and look for #artvsartist and see loads and loads of people showing off their best work. It’s a neat way to find new artists to follow or commission.

I had other artworks I’m proud of that wouldn’t fit into the eight boxes. Here’s a couple:

Girl and guy back to back, painted in rough brush strokes
“But where has he gone?”
Dark angel of fire and light angel of ice

Each artwork has been a study in a new technique. I’m trying to learn all the time. Starting next year, I want to feature some new artists I’ve found whose work I’ve found to be absolutely marvelous.

On the writing front, I finally finished the next After Atlantis book, Sanctuary. It had to have a giant rewrite the way Mercurion did, because I wrote it while pregnant and stupid. I can write fluff while pregnant, but not action scenes. My brain just won’t do them. Sanctuary needed a some really big action scenes at the end, with everybody getting their Crowning Moment of Awesome, so I redid the climax to make it better. I was joking to my Discord that this book is hurt/comfort, hurt/comfort, cool thing, cool thing, cool thing.

I’ve written enough books now that I can be my own developmental editor, and I am a brutal one. I wrote my own letter to myself. “The first 100 pages are nice, if a bit thin. But those last 90 pages? Garbage. Do them over with more attention to each character.” Crushing when coming from someone else. Pretty grim when coming from yourself, too, heh heh. But it’s done now, and I’m hoping to launch the book late January. Just depends on how long editing and revisions takes. I already have the cover done, which I hope to showcase on the blog soon. It’s already up on my deviantart gallery, if you want to take a peek. 😉

Also, have a merry Christmas! Here is my Christmas artwork from last year:

Father and daughter admire Christmas lights

Various commissions and their painting progress

Had a couple of commissions over the last few weeks. I’m happy with how they turned out. Here’s a peek into the painting process.

Three science fiction warriors on a hilltop in front of a science fiction white city.
Dreaming City Fireteam, commissioned by Wolfram-7

This was a tricky one because it had three characters in complex gear, plus a background I had to paint. I’m not good at architecture (more things to study!) so I had to grab screenshots and meticulously trace them. The rocks and trees were impressionistic painting, just a few colors and shapes to imply trees and rocks. You’re not supposed to look at them, anyway. 😀

(These are both based on the videogame Destiny 2)

Four pictures showing the progress of the science fiction warriors picture, from sketch to painting.
Fireteam painting progress

This pic took a long time to do, and I’m happy with how it turned out. So was my client, which is the best part. 🙂

Next up, another commission. This client gave me the basics of how his character looked, and told me to pick a pose and background myself. I wanted to try drawing the current game season’s TRON look, so I tackled that.

Pretty black girl science fiction warrior uses advanced tech to hack a TRON world.
Hacking the Matrix with a splicer gauntlet
Four pictures showing the hacker girl from sketch to painting
Progress of the splicer gauntlet painting

This one was fun to do because it’s just so colorful. Also, I really love drawing people of different ethnicities. The features, hair, and skin tones endlessly fascinate me, and they’re just so pretty. 🙂

More fantastic girl artwork

You know, since I started doing this series of girls, I’ve gotten more commission requests than I ever have before. I guess people like pretty girls, huh?

Painting of a woman with bare midriff and armored legs
Painting of pretty girl touching her hair alongside a Destiny Ghost

People like midriffs and cleavage. Do you know what is also really hard to draw? Yes.

Cute girl in armor kneeling in grass

I was going more for ‘cute’ than ‘sexy’ with this one. There’s this one Spiderman comic book artwork by J. Scott Campbell that people either love or hate, so I used the pose here. I’m nowhere near Campbell’s level, so it was good practice.

Painted comic: man gives woman fur cloak, woman models it for him

This one became a tiny comic by accident, mostly so I could explain why this character is suddenly rocking a coat with all the fluff. Drawn mostly for the coat.

Woman carries unconscious man into the air while propelled by lightning bolts

And this one, which is telling a story of a dramatic, lightning-powered rescue.

Since I started posting these, I’ve gotten so much positive feedback, and commission requests, and nice karma in general. I’m just over here trying to improve my skills, and people like it. It also helps that my brain is finally coming back after having two babies back to back. I can actually envision action scenes again.

Two weeks until we move, then I can open up for commissions again once we’re settled. 🙂

Drawing more girls plus fight scene

Been trying to make more art lately, try out new techniques! I’ve also had to rip back my last book and rewrite the last third of it. I took a hard look and it just … had to happen. But the new stuff is coming along, bit by bit. Readers will be so glad I did this to the book. They might actually enjoy it. :-p

My personal challenge to draw more girls continues:

Except I have to sneak cute guys in there sometimes. This is Max and Sorrel. Sorrel was in an accident and has road rash scars on her face and neck. Max thinks she’s beautiful anyway.

This one is very purple. This is Lethia Marr Dasa, a voidmage who can rip the life force out of people. When she first got her powers, she hated them and thought she was evil and broken.

Action scene from a fanfic. I wanted to try out the angled perspective with a hero and a villain, and I like the way it came out. Inching ever closer to being able to make my books into graphic novels.

Armored gal

I spent most of the week working on the cover for my next book, but I’m not ready to show that off yet. So have a pretty gal in armor:

I was trying a new tutorial for shading and I liked the way it turned out. But I wanted it to be shinier, so I’m going to try that with my next attempt. Also, my Discord voted that I need to draw more pretty girls, so I’m working on that.

That’s pretty much all I got to do this week. The baby has decided to not sleep during my morning art time, due to the sun rising earlier. So … less art time means less art. :-p

Slow but steady

I keep trying to update the ol’ blog. I daydream about posts. In fact, I daydream so hard that my brain assumes I already wrote a blog post. Then I check it and go, “Why has it been three weeks since I updated?”

Anyway, here’s my latest commission:

Link to the book here

I’m getting better at these covers. I’m looking at my own books and going, “You know, I really need to redo a bunch of these because man, they kind of suck.” My skill was still developing at the time. I mean, it’s still developing, but at least it’s to a point where it looks good. My earlier stuff … well, I tried hard. Theyre probably lurking around lousybookcovers.com somewhere.

Anyway, I took a break from doing commissions to spend two solid weeks drawing a stupid Destiny comic that wound up being way more involved and technical than I had imagined. Click to enbiggen.

At some point, I also drew this forest study that I don’t think I posted. I recently reorganized my art folders. Now, instead of dumping everything into one folder that I can easily sort by date, I dump everything into FIVE folders that I have to sort by date. It loads faster, but I forget to check some of them.

Turned out nice, didn’t it? I need to do some more landscape studies.

I’m currently working on the cover for the next Vid:ilantes book. It’s the book that crosses over with After Atlantis, and I’ve been putting off working on it for some reason. Oh, yeah, it’s because I have to rebrand all seven previous books now. Because they’re officially the same series. This means touching up cover art and stuff.

Anyway, that’s all for now!

Catching up with arts

It’s been so long since I updated, WordPress updated their interface and didn’t tell me. Yikes. Things have been nuts lately around here. I post my art in so many different places, I forget about my poor blog. Anyway! Here’s some new stuff:

A couple of Destiny guardians on a speeder.

Ice powers are hard to control.

That’s the stuff I’ve been drawing in between commissions and stuff. Here’s the giant commission that cleaned my clock for the last month:

This was done for H.L. Burke. These are the main superheroes in her book series, the Supervillain Rehabilitation Project. It kind of takes the drama of the Marvelverse and moves it to the page, where you can employ all the special effects in your mind’s eye. 🙂

Sketching characters

I’ve been working on a commission for the last week or so, so I haven’t actually finished anything. Here’s the sketches I’ve done around the edges:

Kari gets five minutes with Jayesh in his isolation cell.

A character from one of Shari Branning’s upcoming books. Sean. Cute guy. Food blogger. Assassin.

Jayesh and Crow making a big show of meeting for the first time.

Sometimes you get more than you asked for when you kiss a teammate.

I suppose I should actually finish something, but this commission I’m working on is eating my lunch. It’ll be a while before I have the bandwidth for anything else.