Thursday, December 20, 2018

I have been painting pets for people!

The first two were commissions from a client, and I had so much fun that I extended the offer on the Facebook group for my local collection of congregations of my church. I thought they all turned out really nicely, so I wanted to share them here too!

I am really enjoying the watercolor tools in Painter! Sometimes I feel like I should be concentrating more on realistic-style painting, but something about ink and wash is so relaxing.

If you're wondering about that big, "different" project I teased a few posts ago, I am still working on it off and on. Life has me pretty busy right now, and of course paid jobs like this take priority. But it's slowly but surely coming together!

And my proofreader has not yet been able to get around to Voyage of the Kaus Media, but I think she is almost done with her current project and then my manuscript is next!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sketch painting of Radnama I did at church. I like the idea of male Noblirim having "facial hair" made of fleshy tendrils. It tends to grow thicker and longer as they age, although the specific appearance differs among individuals. Radnama is in the Noblirim equivalent of his late 20's, so he only has a small beard, but the ancient Menketi elders have full beards and moustaches.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Like any proper nerd with new technology, I just can't stop fiddling with Painter. :)

This time around I was trying to figure out my optimum brush for (oil-like) painting, and I think I modified one to my liking! It's versatile and blends well, and I like the results I've gotten from it.

Subject this time around is Ganzorig, because he's great. I kinda want to do a sequel to "Shadow of Takeryuu" with the same characters... not sure if/when I'll get around to that. First, I have to solve the mystery of where Terra's sword came from.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

More Painter practice! Anyone surprised? No? Okay.

This is a character from an old and not that great story concept I came up with in high school about elemental dragons who could assume human form and, I dunno, had dragon drama going on or something. I'm kind of fiddling with the idea of retooling it as a novel eventually. It would take place in the Middle Ages, and this would be the main character, an intellectual shadow dragon from Persia who has to travel to hopelessly backwards Europe to find three other dragons currently masquerading as humans. One has firmly entrenched himself in the French court, one has joined a Highlands clan in Scotland, and one... is a smelly wizard living alone in the English woods. She's got her work cut out for her.

Also in this picture I figured out what happens if you watercolor on a layer that you left set to "pick up underlying color"! Not gonna lie, I think it looks awesome.

Monday, November 26, 2018

More practice with Painter! These watercolors though.

Subjects are just some old ridiculous character designs from when I was a teenager. I tried so hard to make a Mega Man fan character until I finally realized I'm just not into Mega Man. (Doesn't help that I'm awful at the games.)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Disney's Gargoyles fan art needed to happen. :) This show is legit one of my favorite things of all time--I watched it when it first aired, and knowing there was a new episode on Friday afternoons got me through a lot of weeks of school when I would rather have not been at school. (I was a contrary child.)

Honestly I think a portion of the reason I like Gargoyles so much (besides the awesome concept, great writing, and characters I totally wanted to be friends with) is because I have Scottish ancestry, so basing anything off of Scotland earns huge brownie points with me. :) I had many childhood fantasies about my ancestors somehow being connected with gargs... and of course I wanted so badly to go to Manhattan and find Goliath's clan myself and help out in their awesome adventures.

And then I grew up and learned how to draw not badly and realized that's what fan art is for. :) So here's an epic garg warrior who fought alongside my Clan Cameron, quite possibly the craziest of those crazy highland clans. Camerons fought for King Robert the Bruce, and much much later fought in World War II wearing kilts, scaring the stuffing out of their enemies with their ferocity. Even if they didn't have awesome monster-warriors assisting them, the Camerons sure fought like gargs to defend their families and their homeland and do battle for a valiant cause.

And her red hair is an homage to another of my Scottish lines, the Maitlands from Glasgow, who were apparently known for their red hair and fiery tempers. Carrot-top-ness really does run in that line of my family--my grandpa had bright red hair before it went white (he still has red eyebrows). (Also the fiery tempers bit is true.)

Her tartan is not the Cameron tartan - it's just a random design I made up hence why it looks so bad - but clan tartans actually didn't start being a thing until the 1800s, so I felt it would be inauthentic to have a medieval garg care about what tartan pattern she was wearing.

I have been to Manhattan. Didn't see any gargs. Next time I'll be sure to look harder.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

More playing around with Corel's watercolors. <3 Monochrome portrait of Isengrim who is... nearly monochrome already so it makes sense.

Friday, November 23, 2018

More Corel Painter practice!

Trying out different watercolor techniques. I'm impressed with how nicely Corel emulates the real thing! I actually love working in watercolors, but in real life they are such a hassle to set up, and use a lot of space. It's really nice to be able to get some good-looking results on a computer!

It's Suhel, yay! It feels like it's been ages since I wrote some Neopets stuff. I haven't had anything in the Neopian Times since "Shadow of Takeryuu" earlier this year. I did submit a short story that I'm waiting to hear back about, and I have something planned for around Giving Day too. After that, sometime early next year I'll submit "Shadow Play" because it takes place in early spring and I like to have my stories correlate with real life like that. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

More playing around in Corel Painter, getting accustomed and trying out different brushes.

The character on the top is from a Digimon roleplay I did a few years back, and I had a lot of fun with her character. She was a Digidestined from Digimon Adventure who ended up staying in the Digital World after the events of Adventure, and became a scrappy swordswoman who hung out with Ogremon a lot. During the events of 02 she was revealed to be the reincarnation of an earth goddess Digimon and regained her true form, but she continued to use her human alias during visits to the real world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: The Voyage of the Kaus Media 2nd draft

Or, to be more accurate, I finished the second draft! :) It took quite a while because I've been busy with other stuff and there was a lot I needed to change and add, but I think it's looking a lot better than the first draft.

It's now at nearly 112,000 words, which means I added about 20,000 words... wow.

As for major edits near the end, I added in a scene where Angela and Captain Saixaphas have a good heart-to-heart, because Saixaphas is a great guy and I wanted to make sure he got his due recognition and some character arc closure. He becomes Angela's surrogate father, and I wanted to make sure that relationship got the attention it deserves.

I also ended up greatly expanding the Peren section of the story to give Nir a better character arc and make that part of the story make more sense. It also helps the latter portions of the story to not feel so rushed. I admit that by that point I had run out of ideas and just wanted to get the plot finished ASAP, so it did start to feel more like a bare-bones checklist of plot points to tick off. That's why I appreciate both the opportunity to let the manuscript sit for a bit so I could think about what I wanted to do differently in the next pass, and my editor's feedback.

I think this additional material is also great for giving a more comprehensive look at some of the characters' personalities and dynamics, such as Angela's and Radnama's strong, solid friendship and Nir's ridiculousness. Nir is fun to write because she is a very flighty 16-year-old, but she means well and she doesn't back down from fighting for the things she believes in.

This new material also gives Saixaphas more character development, and I think he's turned into a really likeable character. We can see from his actions now that although he appears stern at first, he is really warm, patient, and gentle, especially with more sensitive types like Angela, Berenice, and Nir. It's said in the story that he has a daughter around Angela's age who is very similar in terms of personality, so he understands Angela like few others can, and knows how to comfort and encourage her. It's these traits, coupled with his steely determination and sincere caring for everyone under his jurisdiction, that make him the great captain he is.

Also this new material includes a new character, the admiral of the secret Pereni skyfleet, and her automatus, because you can't go wrong by adding more giant robots, right? :) My excuse is that her appearance helps the big battle at the end of the book make more sense too.

Friday, November 16, 2018

More painting! I picked Zoltan as my next subject because he's got all these fun glowy effects going on, as well as a nice range of textures. I'm quite fond of how his design turned out. I seem to make a hobby out of creating good guys who look like bad guys... although that's also a component of Zoltan's character, that he likes to allow rumors about him to flow unchecked, so people will fear him and thus leave him alone to do his job which is fighting real bad guys. Except, Terra and her family don't go for that silly nonsense and they feed him pizza instead. :)

Nerd moment: Zoltan is actually named after Zoltan Levay, the recently-retired visualization expert for the Hubble Space Telescope, the individual largely responsible for why Hubble images have turned out as breathtakingly awesome as they have. I find it ironic that Zoltan Arnyek works with shadow magic, while his namesake's profession deals with the manipulation of light data.

If you're wondering about Voyage of the Kaus Media, yes, I am still working on it! It's been kind of slow going because I have been busy with family stuff and other jobs, but I am slowly but surely getting through the second draft. Already it's looking a lot better. I took the liberty of making Princess Nir even more ridiculous, because she is a teenage girl after all. I also added in a scene where Angela, Saixaphas, Berenice, and Radnama play charades while they're stuck waiting somewhere, because what else would you do in that situation, really? :)

Monday, November 12, 2018

More paintings!

I'm having so much fun with painting now! And yes, of course Nemegtomaia could smile like that. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2018



To be fair, this is not something I ever learned in school; my classes focused on animation and concept sketches, not painting. I'm actually kinda embarrassed about how long it's taken me to figure out how to make painting not a terrible pain.

But here's the secret: underpainting. Put down the big color underneath your sketch so you don't lose the shapes and details of your image. Then, paint further on top of the drawing, and you'll actually be able to see what you're doing and not lose any important information from the sketch! No wonder my previous paintings always turned out blobby and wonky and took way too long.

I decided to see if I could make use of this technique in openCanvas, and

this happened! I feel like it looks sooooo much better than any past painting I have ever done, and it was much more fun, too!

I feel awfully silly for taking this long to discover this, but the important part is that I figured it out, right? :)

(I guess I can't get enough of "Shadow Play" Terra being epic. I feel like that story is really where she starts to come in to her own. And gets a magic sword. Gotta celebrate the magic sword!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Voyage of the Kaus Media second draft

Updates may be a little sporadic, since I'm still busy with family stuff. I feel like I've ironed out most of the biggest wrinkles in this manuscript, though, so I'm feeling quite pleased about that.

I did quite a bit of retooling on an important conversation between Janus and Angela that I can't say much about because of major plot spoilers. Hopefully I've developed Janus's personality more, and also given sufficient hints to what seems to have happened early in his life to have made him such a sociopath. I don't find that a pleasant subject, so I purposely did not go into too much detail, but I wanted to paint a picture of someone who had a rough youth, and instead of choosing a higher road like Angela and retaining his sense of compassion and empathy, he just gave up on humanity and decided his research was the only thing he cared about.

In lieu of getting very detailed, instead I added a bit of conversation between Radnama and Angela where they discuss how Janus's background - and his reaction to it - must have produced the sociopath they are now dealing with. Hopefully that will help underline the point of his overall character development without having to fully spell out his backstory.

Also, the manuscript is at about 104,000 words now, and I still have quite a bit to add. I love when my editor's feedback gives me ideas about how to expand stuff. :)

Monday, October 29, 2018

More playing around with my digital Copics that never run out of ink and can be whatever color I want! :) Here's a portrait of King Radnama from Voyage of the Kaus Media.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


I really didn't mean to go AWOL for a month. So at the beginning of October, I went on a social media fast. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Church's president, God's prophet on the Earth today, invited the women of the Church to participate in a 10-day social media fast. I'm an overachiever who refuses to miss out on any blessings that come as a result of following the prophet's inspired counsel, so I decided that included blogging, too. And then I had family in town, and lots and lots of work, which are both awesome, but those things combined do not exactly leave me very much free time. :)

So I apologize for not posting sooner, but here's a doodle to make up for it!

I was fiddling around with the brushes in my art app on my tablet, and I think I made a brush that emulates Copic markers quite nicely! Which is awesome, because those things are expensive. I also made a brush that looks a good deal like a brush-tip pen, that seems like it'll give me some really nice line work. I decided to test them out on a doodle of Angela Marten from Voyage of the Kaus Media, doing her glowy psion thing. Actually I think she gets glowier than this, but seeing as the whole point of this picture was to experiment with the line art and coloring, I didn't want to drown that out with fancy effects.

Speaking of Voyage of the Kaus Media, I have been making good progress on revising the manuscript! I am a little over halfway through it now, and I ended up pretty heavily reworking most of the beginning of the book, trying to make Angela's character arc make more sense. Hopefully this doesn't make the first part of the book seem too morose, but it just wasn't realistic to have her kind of forget about everything going on and have happy fun times with her friends, especially when she was still struggling with low self-worth, lack of self-confidence, and severe trust issues.

I also greatly expanded her conversations with Radnama in the middle of the book because they're just really fun to write together. I guess I can justify it by the fact that Radnama was Angela's first really close friend after she decided to start taking better care of herself and truly letting the right people into her life, and after a lifetime of dysfunctional relationships she needed to spend a lot of time enjoying a healthy one. Especially because after that, Janus enters the picture and Angela needs a lot of mental and emotional stability to deal with him properly.

Also, the manuscript is now over 100,000 words and I regret nothing. It's going to get even longer, in fact, because there's a section near the end that I need to expand substantially.

So, fun stuff! Not really sure when I'll be done with these edits - and after that, I need to pass it to my proofreader - but I am making progress when I can, and I am definitely still planning on publishing it when it's ready!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Today's writing notes

Working on: Voyage of the Kaus Media 2nd draft

I'm up to chapter 4, and this manuscript is already at 92,000 words instead of 88,000. I anticipate even more lengthening to come. I'll be honest, I think it'd be fun if it broke 100,000 words, but I certainly won't try to force it.

I'm trying hard in these early chapters to play up the Menketi Noblirim being manipulative jerks. I want to make it clear that they're the kind of people that Angela is used to dealing with back on Earth, so when she ends up with the Falcarians - who actually care about her as a person - the stark contrast wakes her up to how she used to allow herself to be treated, and helps her start on the path to taking better care of herself.

I also hope it comes through well enough that the Noblirim are not a hopelessly antagonistic species; there's just some stuff that they struggle with culturally, just like humans. As Radnama points out later in the book, the Noblirim are naturally great artists with an eye for aesthetics, but they too often ignore that aspect of themselves to focus on a hunger for power and dominion. Radnama is one of the few Noblirim who has not lost himself in endless power plays and scheming. Even if they are mostly antagonistic in this story, I wanted there to still be the idea that they could be great forces for good if they tried, and Radnama is an example of that and an example to his fellow creatures.

Also, I never meant for the Noblirim to come across as ugly. They look like anthropomorphic dinosaur-dragons, which is an awesome combination. :) So when you're reading, please imagine them as epic-looking as possible!

I'm also trying to clarify a lot of Angela's actions and thought processes, especially throughout the first half of the book. Hopefully now it's easier to understand that she struggles with trust issues, which are not helped by how the Menketi Noblirim treat her, which is why it takes her so long to open up to the Falcarians. She doesn't ask too many questions in the beginning of the story, not because she doesn't have questions, but because she's worried they won't be answered (the Menketi certainly were not interested in answering her questions). It's only when she starts to feel more comfortable with the crew of the Kaus Media that she ventures to get a geography lesson from the captain.

This also explains why Angela spends so much time on the Kaus Media reading fiction and playing dolu--she's filling herself up and taking care of herself, which is something she stood in sore need of, so that she can have the strength and better mindset to do things like stand up to the Menketi elders and Janus. Her voyages are healing experiences for her as she learns that she matters as a person, too, and it's okay to have good friends who care about her, and to have things she enjoys doing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Today's writing notes

Working on: Voyage of the Kaus Media 2nd draft

Yep, that's right! :) My editor got back to me with her notes, and we had a good long talk, and she made some great suggestions that I'm going to act on to help improve the manuscript! I'm moving forward, hooray! I was admittedly worried that she would hate the whole thing, but she didn't have any suggestions for some of my favorite parts like the epic dragon swordfights (that would be dragons fighting each other with swords, not other creatures fighting dragons with swords), so I'm pleased about that. :)

Today I'm tackling the task of rewriting the entire first chapter! My editor pointed out that it moves too quickly, and we also noticed that in my excitement to introduce the plot and the world, I neglected to introduce the main character. :) But that's kind of important, especially in this story where a large part of the plot centers around her character arc and personal growth. It's difficult to understand why she reacts the way she does, and appreciate how far she's come, unless you understand where she is coming from and what her situation was before she arrived in Zabetha.

So this new first chapter aims to fix that; rather than throw the reader into the plot right away, we're given a glimpse of who Angela is and what her struggles are. Hopefully this brief character-development detour before the crazy fantasy stuff won't make the beginning of the book less appealing. I'll have to confer with my editor about that.

But I also don't believe the beginnings of books necessarily have to be aggressively attention-grabbing to be compelling. I mean, The Hobbit starts off with a long essay on what exactly a hobbit is before we get to the wizards and dwarfs and dragons, and while that introduction is not exactly edge-of-your-seat suspense, it's fascinating and beautiful and does a wonderful job of whetting one's appetite for Middle-earth.

But like I said, I'll have to see what my editor thinks of this new direction for the first chapter. Hopefully it fixes more problems than it introduces, at the very least, and I'm on some sort of a right track.

Anyway, see, this is what happens when you write the first three chapters of a novel and then leave it alone for years. You get all sorts of disjointedness. :) Lesson learned!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Portrait of Celice that I doodled in church. I want her cloak actually. She's a sorceress and a snazzy dresser!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Currently working on: Revising "The Spirit of Black Keep"

There is so much dramatic irony in this story and I love it muahahaha. The word count has stayed pretty constant for the most part--which makes sense, as I'm doing very few major content edits, mostly just smoothing out prose.

Celice is fun to write because she's got such an entertaining personality. She's very pro-active and no-nonsense, but she has her quirks, like her fear of heights, her tendency to binge on soda, and the fact that she doesn't know how to light a fire any other way than with magically-conjured flame. I think she plays really well against the shyer and more retiring Pharazon, protective and caring Kass, and grouchy but good-natured Jhudora. I feel like this story has a good cast of main characters.

It's also interesting to note that Eyries cannot turn into werepets like Lupes and Kyrii can. Despite Kass becoming quite feral mentally, he never underwent a physical change (Eyries are just massive creatures to begin with). I really enjoyed writing Kass as well. I like to think he's really a decent guy when he's not listening to malevolent spirits. It's implied in this story that when he's at his best, he is driven by a strong desire to protect and help others, and it fulfills him emotionally. And he took the mistakes of his past and used them to forge an iron determination to never go down that path again, which I think is a valuable lesson.

My headcanon for Kass is that after the first Darigan War and Lord Darigan's disappearance, Kass - whose leadership as a general played a large part in the Citadel's victory - took control of the Citadel out of a sincere concern for the well-being of the Draconians. However, his concern rapidly turned into a paranoid dictatorship as he grew determined to eliminate threats to the Citadel wherever he thought he saw them arise--and even before they could arise. Plus, he had a lingering bitterness toward Meridell that allowed the Three to worm their way into his head with promises of revenge.

... But he's all better now! And working to make things better for everyone else, too. Yay for happy endings! :)

Jhudora was also super fun to write. While on-site she's portrayed as kind of... ambiguously malevolent and definitely not a nice person, I've always much preferred NT author vanessa1357924680's portrayal of Jhudy as grumpy and unsociable, but with a good heart deep down. And I like the idea of a not-so-bad dark faerie wanting to stop some definitely bad dark faeries--away with stereotypes!

I also have a headcanon that Jhudora is quite good friends with Fyora and was one of Fyora's greatest supporters and allies during the Faerie Queen's campaign for the throne; many other faeries did not trust Jhudora, who is an extremely powerful dark faerie, but Fyora insisted that Jhudora be allowed to stay in Faerieland.

I also have a headcanon that faeries are always to be properly addressed as "Lady", unless you know them well enough that they allow you to drop the title. Faeries are powerful beings who command the respect of other Neopians, and they expect to be treated as such. Also, I imagine faeries are truly immortal and cannot die--you have to get rid of them by greying them, magically sealing them away, or banishing them to another plane. They are beings made of pure magic and do not work biologically like other Neopian creatures do. (This is discussed briefly in "Ylana Skyfire: Protector of Spring" where Illusen doesn't show up on Ylana's bio-sensors.)

(I'm a huge nerd for having such an extensive Neopets headcanon. I hope other folks are enjoying reading this stuff as much as I enjoy writing it.)

Also headcanon: faeries love striking deals. It seems to be a sort of game for them, and it's how faerie quests arose. Faeries find it quite easy to increase Neopets' power, but understand the consequences of doing so freely, so they make Neopets work for it, and don't allow pets to take on faerie quests whenever they want. I'm not quite sure what dark faeries do with the toys they ask you for. I want to think they secretly give them to needy children. :)

I'm still not entirely sure what to call Pharazon's hands. "Hands" kind of implies human-like appendages, which they aren't. "Paws" brings to mind something more mammalian, and he's a dragon. "Claws" just refers to his fingertips and not his whole hand. I kind of just go with "hands" nowadays because it seems to be the most fitting, even if it's not perfect.

Being a computer geek who writes about magic leads to some interesting magic systems. Jhudora actually uses Pharazon to magically ping the Space Faerie Mushrooms. I wonder if you could use him as a wireless magic router, too? Make him spread his wings just so to transmit the magical signal?

Also I am kind of amused by how much shorter Pharazon is than the other main characters. Pharazon is about three feet tall, while Celice is 5'7"-ish, Kass is maybe like 6'5", and Jhudora is around the same height as him (I imagine faeries are quite tall). Pharazon is the hobbit of the party. It just makes him all the more adorable. (Personality-wise he's quite Frodo-ish as well. Does that make Celice Gandalf? And Jhudora Legolas? Kass is probably Thorin I guess? I could do this all day.)

My headcanon as far as organized magic in Neopia is that joining a magical affiliation like the Order of the Red Erisim or Brightvale University's Magic Academy is strongly encouraged for mages, but not enforced. Lawless magic is a real problem, but there are enough good, heroic magic users in the world combatting the misuse of magic that Fyora and the leaders of the various lands have not had any reason to crack down on magic as a whole.

Plus, there are so many magic users in positions of power around Neopia - Fyora, Princess Roberta, King Jazan, Jerdana, Lisha, and Lord Darigan, to name a few - that restrictive legislation on mages would be met with much political opposition. It's one of those things that seems to be working out best when left to the populace, with leadership only stepping in when necessary.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Revising "The Spirit of Black Keep" for

Okay, first let's address the elephant in the room: I'm expecting to hear back from my editor about The Voyage of the Kaus Media very soon--like, sometime this week. Any day now. Maybe even today. Here's hoping. I'm sorry it's been very quiet on that front, but I'm sure she's been working on the manuscript as fast as she's been able.

Anyway, in the meantime I'll keep myself occupied with fanfiction. :) My next project is to polish up "The Spirit of Black Keep"! Admittedly I don't think there's much there that needs polishing, as it's a fairly recent piece, but it'll be nice to give it another look over to smooth out any bumps... and add dialogue tags! Always dialogue tags.

One fairly major content edit I'm making is to make Celice nicer. I feel she was a bit too snappish in the original, and while I'd still like her to come across as a bossy-older-sister type of friend, I don't want her to come off as harsh or critical--just a bit overbearing and take-charge. :) I want to make it clearer that she's trying to help Pharazon have more confidence in himself, but she's also exasperated by his whiny wishy-washiness.

Also, a small change near the beginning is that in this version, Pharazon travels to Brightvale alone because Hyren had business on the Virtupets Space Station and Terra and Blynn decided to go with him. The original had Terra make Pharazon go by himself to build character, but even though Terra does believe in helping people build character, she would also jump at any excuse to do some traveling. :) So I feel this new explanation holds water better.

I've also been rewriting much of the text that deals with the events of "Worth Searching For", since I changed so much in that story, especially the overall themes and most of the character arcs, that any subsequent references to it written before the revision now need to be updated. Which I'm okay with, because I think the revision works so much better that it makes the subsequent stories read better, too.

Also I'm playing watch-the-word-count again... currently it's at 37,000 words. I'm not expecting it to change much, but we'll see what happens as I add dialogue tags. :)

I hope at least one other person gets the nerdy web code reference about the hex generator. Hmmm maybe my humor is too obscure sometimes.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Petpet doodles!

Despite Neopets canon seeming to imply that all Petpets are smaller than Neopets, in-universe I just feel like it makes much more sense that Petpets, like real-world animals, come in a variety of sizes, with some being large enough to be ridden as mounts by Neopets, such as Bikas and Whinnies. (Although I acknowledge that Whinnies in canon are portrayed as small creatures, in "Worth Searching For" I established a headcanon that there is a breed of Whinny that has purposely been made larger to serve as war mounts for the Meridellian and Brightvalian cavalries.) Also Gwyneth is just so much funnier if she's enormous and doesn't quite realize how large she is.

I decided to go in a bit of a different direction with the Airax and make it more of an anchiornithid, because Tyrannia is for paleontology geekery. :) Also I guess Gruslens are some sort of tusked canid?

Monday, September 3, 2018

Portrait of Terra from "Shadow Play" because I felt like updating my Facebook profile picture. One nice thing about being an artist is that you can make your Facebook profile as ridiculously fantastic as you want. :) (Not pictured: arbitrary dinosaurs and robots.)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Giving some love to Edaphosaurus, that other sail-backed synapsid. (Sails were apparently very much in vogue during the early Permian.)

Also I kiiiiiind of was not perfectly scientifically accurate with the inclusion of my good buddy Lystrosaurus, which only starts showing up in the fossil record in the mid-Permian, but I am invoking the Signor-Lipps effect clause here. Maybe some edaphosaurs survived until the mid-Permian. Maybe lystrosaurs started showing up in the early Permian. Maybe I just thought it'd be really cute to draw two Permian herbivore pals hanging out.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Concept sketches for a new My Little Pony fanfic idea I've been putting together! And by My Little Pony I mean Equestria Girls, because, gotta love canon alternate universes! It just opens up a whole new can of worms.

So, without giving away like the entire story, Radiant Dawn's and Ironclad's foals Titanium Twinkle and Argent travel to the EG universe for crazy human adventures. Except, this story takes place a hundred years before the show, so everything is Edwardian! Turns out when a unicorn-turned-alicorn and a pegasus get married, they have some oddball foals--Titanium is a brash, outgoing, spunky unicorn, and Argent is an introverted, thoughtful pegasus. Also his wings don't work in Equestria, which apparently translates in the EG universe into needing a wheelchair.

Nightwander is a freshman at Canterlot Senior High School who quickly latches on to the siblings, especially because Titanium Twinkle won't stop talking about a magical land full of rainbow-colored ponies and other fantastic sundry. Nightwander is a sort-of member of the school's fantasy club who wishes magic really existed in her world... and she'll go to great lengths to try to make it happen.

Well, I'm excited for this story, so hopefully it's something I can work on soon!

One of the girls I teach at church asked me to draw a mermaid. I guess she's kind of a yellowfin tuna mermaid?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Until we meet again

This precious little boy finished his mortal sojourn in an imperfect body and is now chasing bugs and destroying furniture in heaven. I can't wait to see him again, when he'll actually be able to hear all of the ridiculous nicknames I called him and the silly little songs I sang to him that (literally) fell on deaf ears.

But I know he could feel them in his heart.

(He did that job on the window shade himself.)

Friday, August 17, 2018

This past week, Neopets held a creative contest on their social media channels, and I decided to join in on the fun! It was like four mini Random Contests! Now that the contest is over, I wanted to share my entries:

Day 1: Create your own trophy!

"It's earned by doing something to serve and/or protect Neopia, such as fighting for the good guys in a war plot (although we haven't had one of those in a while, so maybe it's retroactive?), donating a lot to the Charity Corner, or even being helpful on the Neoboards.

(In-universe, you probably get this trophy for being a super cool hero in any capacity, including great deeds of kindness and charity!)"

Because do-gooders deserve recognition!

Day 2: Create your own Neopian land!

"Tucked into a valley in the mountains between Shenkuu and the Haunted Woods, the Fae Refuge is inaccessible to land-bound creatures due to the steep cliffs surrounding it, and copious amounts of magic laced throughout the place to make sure no one would ever find it. It is unknown even to Fyora.

As for the origins of the Fae Refuge, thousands of years ago, before Fyora's ascent to the throne, there were multiple faerie wars that devastated Neopia. Those faeries who did not wish to fight, or grew tired of the wars, sequestered themselves in this valley, cutting off all contact with their sisters and with Neopets, and there they remain to this day... unless adventurers discover them."

I wanted to branch out from the "base a land off of a historical culture/motif" thing, and think about what kind of areas would make sense in Neopia as a whole (especially working from my headcanon, hehe). Annnddd of course now I actually want to write about this place... what have I done. :)

Day 3: Create your own Neopet species!

"Okay, so, as a paleontology nerd, Grarrls kinda drive me bananas with how they only vaguely resemble actual theropods. So for #MyNeopet, I decided to give Neopia the scientifically accurate saurian species it needs! Complete with fluffy feathers! :)

Dromaeuses hail from the Tyrannian highlands, where they live in their own tight-knit civilization. They are very clever Neopets who are always inventing things and making the most of Tyrannian-level technology. They use the big claws on their feet for additional dexterity in manipulating objects, essentially giving them three hands (or four, if they're sitting down and have both feet free). They use the feathers on their head and tail to signal to one another, and the positioning of a Dromaeus's feathers is the most helpful indicator of their mood.

Like Xweetoks, Dromaeuses are usually primarily one base color, while it is their accent color that changes when they are painted with a paint brush. For example, this is a red Dromaeus."

Seriously though, Grarrls look like a child's drawing of a T. rex from the 50's and it kinda makes me cringe. That, and how... ungainly Chombies look made me yearn for a sleeker, more modern saurian Neopet species.

Also, proof positive that dromaeosaurs can be cute. :) Take that, Jurassic Park!

Day 4: Create your own Neopian food!

"#MyNeoFood is Meridellian Forest Roast--truly a feast for any Neopet!

Long ago, a Meridellian princess who was fond of Petpets decided she did not want to eat the roasts placed on her family's table every night. The palace cooks had no alternative recipe ideas, so they traveled to Illusen's Glade to ask the help of the earth faerie and her followers. Illusen showed them a wondrous plant that was just as hearty and satisfying as meat, instructed them on how to cook it, and gave them sprouts of herbs that would complement it well. Now, this roast is a staple at every Meridellian royal feast so there will be something for everyone. :)

I used a cauliflower steak recipe found here: with a garnish of spinach, chives, and cilantro.

And oh look, one of my Neopets is ready to dig in! :)"

I was already planning on making this for lunch, so when I saw that the day's contest was about creating a food, I decided to dress up my meal and have some fun with it. I also couldn't resist adding a little paper cutout of Blynn.

Well, that was fun! I hope this is something Neopets does again in the future. I think it's great when they interact with their users via social media like this--many players are quite creative and I think they must enjoy these activities as much as I do.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Playing around with costume design for "Shadow Play" Terra. Arrrggghhh I can't decide which jacket I like better... I'll just say she packed both. Yeah. Because one can never have too many cool jackets.

Probably a bad idea to mess with someone with a leather jacket and a sword. Just sayin'. :)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Decided to spiff up my Facebook author page with a custom profile image. I have to admit, one of the nice things about being both a writer and an artist is that I don't have to pay people to do graphics for me. Also I can make stuff look exactly how I want.

I have a running joke about being a Therizinosaurus. It's hard for me to play favorites with dinosaurs, but I think therizinosaurs are kinda underappreciated. They were these big, (presumably) fluffy, lovable sloth-dinos with an interesting combination of physiological features. I've always been an advocate for therizinosaur awareness.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Facebook author page!!!!!

Yep, I finally jumped on the bandwagon and made an official FB author page, separate from my personal page which is very boring anyway. :)

I figure this way, folks can keep up with my novels on Facebook without having to be FB friends with me, and it kinda helps me look overall more professional and like I know what I'm doing with writing (sorta). It also makes it easier for people to tell their friends about my books (assuming people tell their friends about my books).

If you use FB a lot and want to get updates on my novels on your FB news feed, please feel free to Like the page!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Time for updates!

First off, yes, I finished "Shadow Play!" It came in at 50,000 words, give or take a few. So I met my July NaNo goal! NaNo-ing is fun when you're working on a project you enjoy. :) My Neopets-stuff editor is looking at it right now, and then... everybody will have to wait another six months to actually read it. :)

Buuuut to make up for that, I have more awesome news! I spoke with my novel editor yesterday and she told me that she's going to get her notes on The Voyage of the Kaus Media back to me soon! Ahhhh I'm so excited! I've been re-reading the first draft, and I still think it's good, and filled with feels, and Jadia and Menlo are great. I'm going to finish and publish it ASAP--not sure exactly when that'll be, but it feels good to know that I can make more progress on it soon.

Stay tuned for more! I have some fanfic ideas I've been bouncing around, so I'll see when I can get to those. Right now I'm a little burnt out on writing. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Yep, I have been too busy writing to give any updates on writing. :) But I wanted to talk about some stuff here because I am super excited for some elements of the story!

First off, I'm at 44,000 words and coming up on the climax! I'm trying to get to 50,000 by the end of the month... i.e. in six days. Considering I wrote 3,000 words today, I think I should make it, barring unforeseen circumstances. :)

I'm really excited for some of the messages in "Shadow Play", because I think they're important, and they're somewhat complex themes that I haven't seen addressed much in the Neopian Times. Not that I'm trying to outdo the other Times authors, but I like to try to bring something different to the table and look at things from unique angles, and help people think about certain things more. I believe every venue for writing should be given the dignity of an intelligent, thoughtful story that helps make the world better, even silly fanfic on a virtual pet website. Because you never know when your work might be just what someone needs.

This story is about the importance of taking care of yourself, that you inherently matter as a person and you can't let anyone or anything take that sense away from you, because if you don't care for yourself properly then you can't properly take care of others. It's about the love a family has for each other, and how it gives each family member strength. And it's about the fact that goodness, kindness, integrity, and courage are always stronger than evil, and that's not just empty sentimentality but something that has active effects on people's lives and hearts. I hope that these ideas will resonate with readers and maybe help them to take a bit of a different look at their own lives. But also there's plenty of magic and swords and Hyren snark too, don't worry.

Zoltan has proven to be greatly enjoyable to write, as I hoped he would be. He has the most dynamic character arc in the story, as he goes from grumpy, distrustful, and solitary to slowly realizing that not only do other people care about him, but he needs them sometimes, too. And he learns that while it's good to put others first, you can't let that devolve into feeling apathetic toward your own well-being.

Blynn and Hyren kinda don't have character arcs, but I'd rather not try to force development on them if it's not coming. Honestly Hyren got the lion's share of the character development in "Worth Fighting For" and a bit more in "Worth Searching For", so I imagine he's pretty stable by now. And Blynn... is just a mystery wrapped in a neon paisley enigma. She just is and I can't stop her, nor do I want to.

As for Isengrim and Terra, I'd say they don't really go through any changes in this story so much as their convictions are reinforced. But I think that's a valid form of character development, too, to have a character come out the other end of a plot believing and knowing something even more strongly than they did at the beginning.

I'm purposely planning on submitting this series next year. I have a short story I want to get in around September, then a fall-setting short story that I'll probably submit around October/November-ish, and then a Giving Day short story for the Christmas issue, because nothing says Giving Day like Darigan Citadel, am I right? (The story will give you all the feels.) So I want to save what will undoubtedly be a 12-part series for after I submit more specific items.

As for other news... I'm confident my editor is working on Voyage of the Kaus Media as fast as she is able, so hang tight. I also did some fun character design work recently; I'll see if I can talk more about that later. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Some Shadow Play sketches! Zoltan is just too fun to draw. Blynn has a slight obsession with gumballs in this story. You'll see why. Tally is a minor character who comes into play in the beginning of the story. Also an updated design for Terra's sword because I thought of something I liked better.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

So it turns out I've been having so much fun working on "Shadow Play" itself that I haven't had time to write any commentary on it, which I take as a good thing. :) Just wanted to give an update because I've made a lot of great progress since my last post about it!

It's at 23,000 words now, and I'm maybe 2/3 of the way through the story, give or take. I've introduced Zoltan and he is proving just as fun to write as I'd hoped! He really resembles early Isengrim in many personality respects, although a key difference is that Zoltan has always been firmly on the side of good, and is actually selfless to the point of being detrimentally self-sacrificing, while Isengrim was more self-serving until the events of "Worth Searching For". Still, it means that Isengrim can understand and sympathize with Zoltan, and connect with him on a level besides them both being were-pets.

The Defenders of Neopia are still being super fun to write. Hopefully I can find a way to work Kourage Korbat in more, because he's one of my favorites. Judge Hog and Isengrim also turn out to have very similar personalities, but I think that's because they're just both charismatic protector type people, and they do have pretty much identical roles within their spheres of influence.

It's been pleasant writing Isengrim as a 100% nice guy, too. He was great in "Return to Lynwood", and "Shadow Play" is another story where he's successfully overcome most of his past issues, and is able to be the hero and the family member that his family needs him to be. Hopefully, his friendship with Terra will be firmly cemented here--I executed it too clumsily in the first version of "Worth Searching For", but "Shadow Play" takes the revised version of "Worth Searching For" as canon and expects the reader to as well. (Hopefully, anybody who notices discrepancies, or wants a refresher on the family's past adventures, will think to go to my user lookup and be directed to the petpage with the revised version on it.)

One of my other goals with this story is to give Hyren and Blynn more of a chance to shine. Really their last big escapade - chronologically speaking - was "Worth Searching For" (Hyren later starred in "Never Again, Spiced Apple Pie", which was published after "Worth Searching For" but takes place before "Worth Fighting For"), so I wanted to give them another turn to be awesome. Hopefully Hyren doesn't fade too much into the background here, but he's not one to demand the spotlight anyway. I tried to give him plenty of snarky comments to make up for it. And Blynn is just as ridiculous as always. She really writes herself. (They all do, actually.)

Also fun has been figuring out more Neopia Central infrastructure. I'm not sure how much I'm actually going to explain it in the story, but my headcanon is that everything in the city is powered by faerie dust, which is controlled and maintained by sorcerers at a central power station. Any Virtupets technology in the city - unless it's using its own power generator - requires a special adapter mechanism to allow it to run on faerie dust, so Virtupets tech in Neopia Central is doable, but usually not worth the effort for most people. I do love a good bit of engineering worldbuilding. :)

All right--I'm gearing up to write some action-packed parts of the story, and also some swordnerd parts, so I will have more to report later!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I submitted this to the Random Contest on Neopets, and it won!... third place. Alas. Oh well--congratulations to all the first and second place winners!

Anyway, now that the results are out, I can share it here too! The theme was any strange rituals that Altador Cup players might perform before the Cup. My idea was that Team Kreludor trains in Jelly World. It was fun to draw.

Sunday, July 8, 2018


I did not realize how much fun I was going to have writing the Defenders of Neopia in this story. They're really growing on me! I'm really enjoying fleshing out their backstories, superpowers, and personalities. So I decided to do some sketches of the Defenders who have appeared so far.

I imagine Judge Hog as a hardworking family man who does what he does to protect his wife and kids, and ensure the safety of everyone else's families as well. It's implied in this story that he founded the Defenders, and he is their stalwart and charismatic leader. He and Isengrim end up getting along really well, and Hyren can't find anything to dislike about him either.

The Masked Intruder is, in my headcanon, a former master thief who turned his life around when the Defenders caught him, and now he uses his sneaking expertise to nab criminals instead of loot. He's suave and self-assured, but doesn't really enjoy small talk with civilians, who he sees as more annoying than anything else.

On the other hand, the Emerald Amazon (the unnamed Kau Defender on-site) is friendlier and more open to conversation. She's a former archaeologist who got her super warrior powers from the Geraptikan amulet she wears, and she seems to have transitioned well from going on digs to fighting crime. Terra and Blynn talk to the two of them while Isengrim and Hyren are discussing Malkus Vile with Judge Hog.

Nightwing is a bit of a smart-aleck who can be found manning the receptionist's desk in the lobby of Defenders HQ during the night shift when he's not on assignment. He's got a snarky comment for just about anything, and he lobs wisecracks at baddies along with his signature blue lightning. The protagonists met him when they had to return to Defenders HQ at 2:30 in the morning. You'll see why when you read the story. :)

Kourage Korbat (the unnamed Korbat Defender on-site) is an old-timer, a superhero who's been superhero-ing since before Judge Hog formed the Defenders. He's very by-the-book and isn't afraid to keep other people in line, which has earned him the title of "resident fussbudget", but he fusses because he cares--he's earnestly devoted to keeping civilians and his fellow Defenders safe. He and his wife are grandparents, and he will take any excuse he can find to show you pictures of his grandkids. He drives Hyren crazy, but everybody else is more patient with Kourage Korbat's overbearing ways, because who doesn't love a cranky old grandpa superhero? :) In battle, he can let loose his stupefying sonar to confound bad guys.

As you can see, I like to think that Neopets run the body shape gamut, and within most species (except Kikos and Jubjubs, I guess), individuals can vary as to just how anthropomorphic they are (for example, compare Kourage Korbat with Lord Darigan, or the Masked Intruder - who walks on his toes like Isengrim - with Lexora Browning, who walks on the flats of her feet like a human). It's all just part and parcel of the diverse world of Neopia. (And doesn't limit players who have differing ideas as to how anthropomorphic their Neopets are.)