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. :)