Character concept sketches

I’ve been building a new character for some stories. Actually, he’s kind of an old character I’m adapting, but whatever. This is Jayesh, and he has a tiny dragon that is actually half his magic. I had to draw them hanging out.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? These guys have had a short story so far, and I can’t wait to put them in a book. Thinking of tossing the story online somewhere so folks can give it a shot.

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Resolutions for 2019 (or not)

Here we are in 2019, and the year is nice and shiny. I’m sitting here with a baby asleep in my lap, coffee with no sugar in it, and Switchfoot’s new song Native Tongue blasting on my speakers. The kids are playing New Years events in their various Nintendo games. I’m going to come back to this post at the end of the year and laugh at this.

I’ve been thinking about a word for this year. Last year was Steadfast. This year, I think it’ll be Kindness.

Last year, being pregnant and miserable, I wasn’t very kind to anyone. I had to work very hard, because I felt so bad. This year, I want to make up to my family for being such a grouch for nine months. My poor kids are troopers, but they need a mom who is much nicer. So does my husband, who puts up with so much.

And now for resolutions!

I resolve to read all the unread books on my Kindle.

Yep. That’s it.

Come on, I have a two-month-old baby. I’m not going to plan anything deeper than that.

Usually I have a list of all the books I want to publish in the upcoming year. But … same problem. Baby. If I release anything, it’ll be a bonus. At this point, I can’t promise anything. I do have three superhero books in the hopper, two finished, one half-written. Those are probably a lock. Beyond that, I have no idea. Right now I’m finishing up a self-indulgent romance fanfic that nobody asked for, but I’ve had fun writing.

I’ve been really brushing up on my artwork, trying to plug a lot of holes in my education, and really tackle the areas I’m afraid of. Like human eyes. Do you know how hard eyes are? ARGH. Thankfully, Google reveals billions of tutorials. If I work through even a tenth of them, I’d have a fantastic art education.

Kind of like all the tutorials I did to make this pic. It’s this joke about Bioshock Infinite … and this Sonic villain named Infinite … so it’s like … a crossover … yeah. But I had to do a ton of tutorials to make it, especially that logo. UGH especially the logo.

Anyway, that does it for resolutions. Read more books. Maybe write something. Maybe draw something. We’ll see how this year plays out. 😀

What I learned in 2018

I went back and looked at my first post for 2018, back when the year still had that new, fresh smell. Ah, I was so optimistic.

My word for this year was Steadfast. And that was a good word, because it wound up describing everything I did, including getting unexpectedly pregnant and hanging on to life by the skin of my teeth.

I had mentioned wanting to publish a new Spacetime book, as well as the second dragon cozy. Welp. I published the cozy. But the Spacetime book got 30k in, and I had too much of the old books in my head. So I set it aside to get some distance.

I had planned to write a fairytale book. And I did wind up writing a short story with the idea I had, and it appears in this anthology. (A guy and a girl share a psychic link, which gets more interesting when she is cursed and turns into a dragon. The idea of the story was that psychic links would let you share too much information with the other person, so the story is called Too Much Information.)

I also revised and launched the first book in a series that is superhero fantasy. People with powers fighting each other and such. I have two other books in the hopper that only need revisions and editing, but I didn’t have the brain.

What did I wind up writing? Fanfiction for the game Destiny. The space opera setting just appealed, for some reason, so I wrote 17 fanfics in it. I really wanted to read official novels in the setting, but there aren’t any, so I had to write my own. It was kind of a self-therapy, working through being pregnant for the sixth time. I was so very sick with this baby, and when I stopped being sick, I was in massive pain. And I was so scared of labor. So all that got rolled up and dumped into the fanfics.

I now have a whole bunch of readers who like the slush I was cranking out, and I don’t know if I can write it anymore, since I had the baby. Sorry, readers!

I did come up with some really great characters who I’d love to transplant into other stories someday. And I found that I really dig writing space opera. Writing the physics of space ships and battles and space marines on other planets was totally fun.

But yeah, this year went nothing like I expected. I’ll write a goal list tomorrow, so I can laugh at them next December. 😀

Destiny fanart. Nell is sitting in a tree, chatting to her ghost Hadrian.

This week’s art dump (mostly Destiny)

Well, here it is Friday again. I’ve tried to draw something every day this week, just to get back into practice. I’ve been trying out different styles and techniques for things. So, without further ado, the eye candy:

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An anime take on a Destiny Awoken Hunter … with a ghost in a shell shaped like a rose.

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Trying to do the impressionistic concept art look. It’s harder than it sounds. The background is screencapped from Destiny 2 because no way was I going to try painting that.

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Further adventures of the baby with a Destiny ghost.

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And even more further adventures of.

Art stuffs and writing stuffs

Time for another art dump post!

I know I should really be writing my superhero youtuber book. (And it’s an amazing story!) But I keep getting distracted by Destiny 2. Like, distracted to the point of fanart and fanfics.

Like this tiny little flash fiction I cooked up, just to have the excuse to put a comic at the end.


The ghost had wandered for a thousand years since its birth, seeking his Guardian. He had watched empires rise and fall, witnessed humanity’s retreat to the Last City. And he still had not found the spark that sang to him, the heart destined to bind to his own Light.
Weary beyond expression, the ghost made his way back to the Last City in the Traveler’s shadow. He might have to return to the Traveler, admit his defeat, and hope the Traveler accepted him back into the Great Consciousness. He had failed. He couldn’t find his Guardian.
But then, as he flew above the buildings of the City, he halted. Was that the pull of a spark? He hovered, turning this way and that, feeling for it. Yes, surely it was his Guardian! Here, in the City, the last place he thought to look. Guardians usually didn’t appear among the living, so he had never bothered looking.
He darted downward, scanning the rooftops and walls, searching. The sense of the spark drew him onward, through the neighborhood to the smallest house at the end of the street, nearest the city’s wall. He was so desperate to find his Guardian that he phased straight through the wall to enter the house.
The ghost entered a small bedroom. A woman sat in a rocking chair, holding a newborn baby.
The baby’s spark sang to the ghost’s core.
How could it be possible? He had waited all this time for his Guardian to be born? It staggered him with confusion. But there was no mistaking the glory of his Guardian’s spark.
The mother saw the ghost and gasped. “What do you want?”
“Your son,” the ghost said, still shocked, himself. “He’s my Guardian.”
The baby turned his head, gazing at the ghost with a deep, wondering look. And the ghost’s heart was lost forevermore.

littleguardiancomic1


Oh yeah, I’ve got it so bad. Like, here’s a sketch of our fireteam:

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My husband’s character, my character, and our friend Josh. We each play a different class and have a ton of fun. Well, until we burn out. 😀


As for fanfics, here’s one of my fanfic hero, Jayesh:

destiny-jayesh-firesword

Story excerpt: Jayesh inhaled and drew on his stored Light. He was still tired and sore, but that slid aside, becoming secondary. He pushed through his own doubts, his disillusionment with his own people, and his secret fears that maybe he really hadn’t seen the Traveler, that he had dreamed it somehow. The Light was real. He could feel it. In his mind, he was back with the Traveler, feeling the Light around him and inside him, warm, electrical, and alive. Its voice spoke in his mind, along with the Light, saying in recognition and approval, “Guardian Jayesh.”
He hadn’t made it up, after all. Sudden courage filled him. He had been telling the truth–the Traveler knew his name. No amount of sneering media could change that. The Light surged inside him, though him, empowering him as its chosen Guardian.
“I fight for you, Traveler!” Jayesh cried. Fire burst from him, wreathing him in a cloak of burning light. It billowed from his shoulders like a pair of wings. A glowing sword appeared in his hand.
He shot into the air and hurled himself at the Gate Lord.

fanfiction.net link

AO3 link


So, there you have it. A peek into my latest obsession. That’s what I’ve been up to lately in my small bits of free time.

Sketches of people and stuff

School started today in Arizona, so I’ve been running all day. It’s kind of nice to have the structure back, though.

Anyway, WordPress has informed me that on August 1st, Facebook will no longer let WordPress autopost to our personal feeds. They’re only allowed on the Pages … you know, the ones you have to pay to let anyone see. So I expect my traffic to drop by half. If you enjoy this blog, consider adding it to your reader of choice. It’ll still autopost to Twitter, of course.

And now, without further ado, my artwork practice!

human-sketch-practice

Sorry about the Destiny stuff in there, I’ve been playing it a lot and it’s taken up residence in my brain. As you can see, my grasp of human anatomy is tenuous at best. Ah well, practice practice.

Then it dawned on me that I have very little grasp of values, so I practiced those, too.

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I’ve gotten so rusty, it’s been good to practice the basics again. I’ve seen so many artists do amazing things with very narrow value ranges, and I just … cannot think that way. So I’m going to LEARN to think that way.

Landscape painting practice

Lately I’ve been trying to improve my neglected art skills. If I drew as much as I wrote, I’d be fantastic by now.

Anyway, the internet is awash in tutorials. People are so generous with their knowledge! So here’s three landscapes I’ve painted lately, with the tutorials I used. You know, in case you’d like to try them, too.

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Landscape with ruins, painted from this tutorial

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Draconic horizons, painted from this tutorial

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Misty forest, painted from this tutorial

I’m trying to do very different color palettes and styles, here. Keeps them different and interesting. Eventually I’ll work up to painting landscapes from real photos. 😀

Choosing a word for the year

I don’t think I ever picked a word for last year. I was looking over my resolutions post from last year, and I seem to remember that it was something like Fun or Moving Forward.

This year, my word is Steadfast. It goes along with this Bible verse:

Hebrews 10: 35-36: Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised. 

This year, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

Last year, I was trying to take my art in new directions, trying out streaming with my husband, trying out new school things for the kids. Over the course of the year, what I discovered is that simplicity works best. When it comes to school, a pile of workbooks and read alouds has been great for us. I’ve found some holes in my kids’ education, and we’ve been fixing those this year. It’s been great to have that focus.

Streaming fell by the wayside when we found out that we don’t have the hours and hours of free time necessary to make streaming work. We’ve just been playing games together for fun. Same effect, less stress.

Books published last year were books 2 and 3 of the Puzzle Box trilogy, and the first book of a paranormal cozy mystery with dragons. I also made the decision to unpublish the Spacetime books and completely redo them from scratch. I was still learning when I wrote them, and they were pretty much an unreadable mess.

I also wrote two book-length fanfics toward the end of the year. I just couldn’t get the stories out of my head, and I was very pleased at the way they turned out. It also showed me that it’s better to write for fun than to try to write for money. I’ve been so money-focused for so long that I lost track of the fun. And my writing wasn’t very fun to read. So this year, I’m going to try to balance my writing with more fun. I want to dare to dream and experiment and write crazy things.

I do have the new first Spacetime book in revisions, as well as the second dragon cozy. I’m looking forward to publishing those in the early part of this year, before summer, probably. After that, I want to take a crack at writing a stand-alone fairytale fantasy. Kind of Sleeping Beauty meets Howl’s Moving Castle. Since it’s barely in the concept stage right now, I have no idea if that will be out this year or next. I’ve observed that fairytale fantasies tend to balloon to massive length their authors didn’t intend.

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Howl’s Moving Castle from the Studio Ghibli film

If you followed my blog last year, you saw all these little discoveries and growing pains. I want to thank you deeply for coming back and reading my strange little scribblings. I now have more blog followers than I’ve ever had before, and I’m excited and humbled to see you all.

I also want to blog more regularly–once a week, if possible. And good pithy topics. It’s hard to be pithy once a week, but it’s a good goal to have. Let’s see if I can’t knock the chupacabra blog post off the #1 spot for the year.

My top blog posts of 2017

As we hit a new year, it’s fun to look back and see what bonkers things people came to my blog to read. As usual, the Google image search sent lots of people here for my chupacabra pictures. But aside from that, here’s what else got hits:

#1. Stuff about the chupacabra, or Texas blue dogs

#2. Shouting into the void

#3. Shut up and take my money – a conversation about book piracy

#4. Marketing (and how nobody knows how to do it)

#5. 14 things I learned from urban fantasy

#6. The real reason that Christians don’t read fantasy

#7. Five worldbuilding tricks I learned from the show GRIMM

#8. Waterfall City vs. Theed, Naboo

#9. 23 books reviewed in a minute

As usual, my clickbait headlines did really well, as did anything with interesting pictures, like the angry post comparing Star Wars episode 1 with James Gurney’s Dinotopia. (I later realized that Disney’s Atlantis ripped off his second book, The World Beneath. But I don’t want to watch that movie again to prove it.)

I’ll do some more posts soon about what I learned in publishing and marketing this year. 2017 was a year of revelations, and it’ll be fun to boil them down.

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Sunrise of Baishi Mountain, from InterfaceLift

Audiobooks are hard to do

Audiobooks are exploding right now. There’s lots of articles talking about how everybody likes to listen to books on their phones, like this one. Listening to books on your commute is another one. I’m constantly seeing cozy mystery readers who are frustrated that their favorite series aren’t available on audiobook yet (especially people whose eyesight isn’t so good.)

I’ve been tossing around the idea of narrating my own books, for example, my cozy dragon mysteries. They have a female protagonist, and I think it would be a good fit. But I need to practice. So when somebody asked me if I planned to turn my fanfics into audiobooks, I thought, why not?

The fun thing about fanfics is I don’t have to mess with Audible. I can drop them on Youtube without worrying about Audible’s strict sound quality requirements. I can flounder around and make production mistakes and have volume issues and nobody cares because, hey, fanfic.

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Thunderhead and pirate ship by Ebineyland

My hubby gets up at 4:30 AM most mornings for work. I get up with him, and after he leaves, I have about an hour before the kids wake up. Beautiful, beautiful silence. So that’s when I sit and record a chapter, which usually takes about ten minutes. My hubby has a very nice microphone that I commandeer.

I still had a bit of echo after my first few attempts, so I scoured the internet for workarounds. A lot of people record in their closets, where the hanging clothes muffle the sound. My closet is about eighteen inches deep and filled with junk, so that’s not an option. Then I found a podcasting tips website. This podcast is more like a radio drama. They recommended recording with a duvet draped over you and the mic. I tried it, and my background echo vanished. People are so brilliant.

Over the course of several weeks, I recorded all fourteen chapters of a fanfic. I learned to repeat a phrase if I stuttered or coughed or something, which made clipping it out during editing so much easier. I used an old, free version of Adobe Audition. I had used it years ago, when it was Cool Edit Pro, before Adobe acquired it. I know how to use the program well enough to remove background noise and things like that.

Then I actually listened to my recording. Egads, I thought. I’m BORING. I read like a robot. I enunciate very carefully, and I do the voices decently, but the straight narration! It’s so dull! How do professional audiobook narrators pull it off?

Well, the best ones are all actors, for one thing. You’re giving a performance.

I went ahead and posted my boring performance–it’s just a fanfic and it’s good practice–and now I’m starting on a second one. This time I’m trying to be more expressive and really perform. It’s quite a bit harder than just reading!

I thought I’d put this out there for other authors who are considering narrating their own audiobooks. Practice first! What sounds good as you read it may sound pretty dull when you’re playing it back.