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.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Shadow Play

3,700 words in and I'm feeling fine! One of the fun challenges about writing Neopia Central is to try to figure out the technology and infrastructure in a land that superficially resembles early 20th-century cities, but without electricity or motor vehicles. I don't want to solve everything with magic because I feel like that's taking the easy way out, and I like representing Neopia Central as a melange of Neopian cultures--I imagine they've also imported some technology from the Virtupets Space Station and Moltara, for example.

When trying to find an acceptable Neopian equivalent for a certain technology, I usually first ask myself, "Did a non-electrical equivalent for this exist at any point?" If the answer is yes, I see if there's any way I can make that technology more efficient in a Neopian way (such as with magic, Petpets, etc.). If the answer is no, it means I get to make something up off the top of my head. :)

Also this particular part just cracked me up and I wanted to share it:

“Howdy!” Blynn said, waving at them as she tugged Terra toward them. “Why are you talking about eating rocks?"
The Kougra gave them an odd look, and the Kau laughed. “Not rocks,” she said, “rock. Kiko Lake rock. It’s a type of candy. I’m going there on vacation next week.”
 “Ooooh, right,” Blynn said. “I like their rock too. It has a good crunch to it.” She pointed to her own fangs. “I get kinda bitey sometimes.”

My headcanon is that Zafaras are basically weasel-dragons, which means they do have fangs.

That's all for now!

Monday, July 2, 2018

I have been a bad, bad blogger during June, and I'm sorry. :( I got really busy with other stuff, like family visiting and the Altador Cup, and when I wasn't busy I just wanted to collapse and play Kingdom Hearts.

But I am going to take the plunge and write that NT series I've been brainstorming/outlining for a while! Also to make up for my absence last month, here are some concept sketches I've doodled for said series, which has a tentative title of "Shadow Play".

(Hopefully it doesn't sound like I'm a dark writer considering both this and my previous long series have had the word "shadow" in the title, but I feel like "Shadow Play" fits the themes of the story. Also the title probably sounds a bit cliche, but I did a title search in the Neopian Times and there is currently only one entry titled "Shadow Play", an ollllddd comic about shadow puppets. So I think I'm good there.)

Terra's outfit for the story, which takes place in Neopia Central in early spring, when it's nice and rainy. I am totally basing Neopia Central off of Manhattan and I don't even care. (To be specific, technology-wise I am basing it mostly off of turn-of-the-century Manhattan, so as to keep in alignment with TNT's vision for Neopia, but much of the overall atmosphere will resemble the 1920's-30's-40's, because that's my favorite. <3)

Another portrait of Zoltan because he's fun to draw. So glowy. And weapon design for a sword, because swords are an important part of life, and this plot will involve a sword. Did I mention swords?

Actually, I had a lot of fun researching sword construction for this story, because without spoiling too much, there's a point at which Hyren disassembles this sword to find the smith's signature on the part of the blade in the hilt. This is done in Japanese bladesmithing, but I'm not sure about Western bladesmithing. Buuuuuttt I thought the whole idea of finding a smith's signature on the tang (hilt part) of the blade was so cool that I had to include it. I'm a swordnerd like that.  (That's totally a real word that I did not just make up.)

All righty... I have to leave things purposely vague for now so as to avoid spoilers. :) But I will probably be making lots of notes and commentary during the writing process, so hopefully that will liven up this blog a bit more this month!

... Unless my writing notes bore you to death, then again I'm really sorry. D: