I’ve been doing art for my After Atlantis series lately. I feel like my skill has finally gotten to where I can do justice to the way my characters look in my head. So here we go:
First off is Jayesh, one of my favorite characters. He’s the team healer, but is granted fire powers that were supposed to kill him. Instead, he conquered them and learned to use them without quite blowing up everything around him. Well, maybe one gas station. You know how it goes. 😀 His story begins with Bloodbound.
Next up is Gladiolus from the Guardian’s Awakening books. She’s half-Atlantean and has wind powers that she’s never been allowed to use. She’s also under the effects of a curse and is dying of the super vision in her left eye … unless the curse can be broken. Unfortunately, the only way to break a blood curse on a woman is for her to marry out of the cursed line. And the only one left of the uncursed bloodline is Tane, Guardian of Mercury Island. Cue the sparks and conflict!
Max is a teenager with a broken ice power. Zero is an Atlantean superweapon. Together, they make an unstoppable team. I’m still writing this book, but it will be called Oceanloft, and chronicle what happens when Max joins the team from Islesworn.
This series is hard to explain. On one hand, it’s framed as superheroes fighting all kinds of crazy villains. On the other hand, it’s solidly fantasy, with Atlantis and the Lost Isles. There are three Lost Isles: the Mercurion, Sanctuary, and the Lighthouse. The last two are still being built in their pocket dimensions (which is what Islesworn and Bloodbound/Sanctuary are about), but the Mercurion has already been deployed and is out in the world, where bad guys are constantly trying to hijack it.
On the other hand, you have all the drama with supers working on their HeroTube channels and being courted by networks and advertisers. You have the awful witch hunt in Bloodbound, when the HeroTubers have decided that the wrong man is the villain and do their best to kill him.
So, the nearest thing I can compare the series to is urban fantasy, or contemporary fantasy. All kind of fantastic things happening in our world, if our world had been given magic when Atlantis fell.
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.”
Been working on a commission to start the year, and it’s been nice to be back in the saddle again. I’ve been studying a bunch of different art techniques, and I’ve been quite happy with the results.
This is the cover art for Power Burn (title under consideration) by H.L. Burke. It’s part of a series, so look her up for the others. I had a lot of fun painting this one, and I think it’ll be a great cover once it gets the text on it.
I did this artwork as an entry into deviantart’s Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker contest. Competition was stiff, but it was fun to participate. I haven’t actually done a lot of art for FFXIV, despite enjoying the heck out of it. Certain plot points in the Heavensward expansion made me ugly cry. I played World of Warcraft for years and never got kicked in the feels the way FFXIV does.
Anyway, I’ve been over here writing fairytales in space. I just finished a little novella that is Beauty and the Beast in space, and I’m currently working on Cinderella in space. I have no idea who will want to read this nonsense, but I’m currently in love with my alien spaceships. Hoping to do Snow White in space and make it a little trilogy. 😀
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:
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:
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:
I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 14 lately for a change of pace. It’s an MMO like World of Warcraft, and it’s kind of slow and relaxing. I’ve been drawing the adventures of my character Jayesh. Here’s a few:
I’m getting a bit burned out on Destiny, and I need new clothes and costumes to draw. Final Fantasy has a satisfyingly large amount of both. Plus it’s so dang pretty. Destiny is many things but it’s not exactly pretty.
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.
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)
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.
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. 🙂
I’m so excited to announce that the second Vid:ilantes book is live!
One by oath, one by blood, one by election.
In a world of superheroes, Jayesh has a rare healing power that he uses in the local hospital. When teenagers are admitted with feather-patterns burned into their backs, Jayesh is reluctantly drawn into the underworld of black market magic smuggling. A chance encounter with Omniscient, the villain in charge of the smugglers, leaves Jayesh with his magic shattered. A portal to the hospital goes wrong and Jayesh is instead sent to an island in another dimension: an island that has awaited its Bloodbound for centuries. In exchange for healing, he is magically bound to the island, and half his magic is turned into a tiny dragon. Now, with the help of the Islesworn, James Chase, Jayesh must go undercover to recover the mysterious Pandora. But this means facing off with Omniscient, a villain who can bring a person’s fears to life—and who is increasingly ruled by his own power.
This is one of those stories that was just so much fun to write. Jayesh is the gentle, quiet, introverted type, very much a healer. And he goes and gets himself into very hot water, just because of trying to do the right thing. I wrote it as an escape, mostly, so all the parts where he hangs out on the island Sanctuary, just walking on the beach or resting, were because I wanted to go to a place like that, myself. I hope readers enjoy the visit as much as I did. I’m already messing with a followup because I just can’t leave this universe alone.
The third book in the trilogy will take it full circle and plug everything into the After Atlantis trilogy. Tane might even appear in Bloodbound. Everybody from After Atlantis will meet up with the Vid:ilantes, and things are going to get really crazy.
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.