Monday, December 9, 2019

Today's writing notes:

Working on: Gravity's End (Neopets fanfic)

Okayyyy I guess I could start updating this blog a little more often and talk about my writing! (Although, to be honest, I have been updating my Facebook author page more frequently, so I suggest you follow it if you want all of the latest ramblings on my novels, as well as the occasional useful things like free book promotions.)

I am about 7,000 words into this fic and I've only just started the plot! I did not anticipate it becoming this long. (You'll notice that I say that every time... when will I learn?)

Remember the pink Grundo "random character design" from this post? I know myself too well. She has indeed become an actual character: Colonel Eris Cassegrain of the Virtupets Strike Infantry. She and Hyren were acquainted back when Hyren was commander of Dr. Sloth's space marines, and one day Eris crash-lands on the family's lawn with an important (and unusual) request: help her get Dr. Sloth back from the Space Faerie Token so he can run Virtupets again.

Of course there is much more to the plot than that, but I can't give away everything. :) I am, however, very excited at how it's going to bring closure to a lot of things I introduced in "Worth Fighting For". I am really considering this my final Neopets fanfic, and as a writer I do like to wrap everything up in tidy little plot packages. Unless I purposely feel like being frustratingly ambiguous... but honestly as a reader, sometimes I find it fun to speculate and not have everything about a plot spelled out for me. (But I am aware that not everyone reads that way so it is a writing habit that I'm trying to keep under control.) (Also I definitely enjoy giving my characters nice closure.)

I've also been having lots of fun figuring out worldbuilding logistics, because, worldbuilding logistics! For example, I had to put together a faster-than-light travel system that was feasible and interesting without being a copy of warp principles found in, say, Star Wars or Star Trek. I think I've come up with something good, and something that hopefully will not make too many theoretical physicists mad at me. :) And I'm also super excited because the cast will visit a Dyson sphere at one point in the plot, and I'm trying to design one that looks cool and unique (I'm thinking something more like a network of nodes and lanes rather than the usual sort of geometric shell of rings). (Also evidently Freeman Dyson doesn't like that Dyson spheres were named after him, so let's come up with a different name! "Megasphere" maybe? "Asterosphere"? Who's in charge of these things?)

I do still have plans for another novel after this. But I hate leaving projects unfinished, so I will complete this fic before starting on the novel. (It also gives me a nice buffer zone in which to enjoy the holidays.)

While I still don't want to say much about that one, I can tell you that I'm very excited to write it. The two main characters are a responsible, kindhearted workaholic who'd decided video games were getting in the way of college and then her very boring and exhausting accounting job, and her irresponsible, freewheeling, fun-loving younger brother who is still in college and wheedles her into buying a cutting-edge virtual-reality MMORPG to play with him like when they were kids. What they don't anticipate is that the AI programming is a little too advanced, and some of the NPCs decide they don't like the plot roles they were put in... and that humans shouldn't be the ones in charge. Of anything.

(cue suspenseful movie trailer music)

(But also there are lots of NPCs who are friendly toward humans, befriend the two main characters, and help them save the world. Just in case you were wondering.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Arbitrary update

Hi all! It's been a while, I know. I just thought I'd drop an update so it doesn't look like I've disappeared off the face of the planet.

After the release of my latest novel, I decided I needed some downtime to catch my breath, decompress, and enjoy the holidays with my family rather than stress myself out about work during a time of year when I'd rather be soaking in the joy of the season and focusing on making others' lives brighter. So I've been in the middle of taking a break in the creative department. I'm not sure when I'll be ready to dive back in, but I don't need that pressure hanging over my head, it doesn't help.

I am definitely still planning on another novel, it's just a matter of when I want to start it, because once I start a novel I tend to engage in a massive writing binge and can't get much rest until the manuscript is done, and that's rather exhausting. After completing Thunder Girl in record time (thanks to some awesome editors), I need to recuperate.

Putting "Worth Fighting For" up on the blog was an enjoyable process and I'm still planning on doing that for the rest of my (important) Neopets fanfic, I'm just not sure when. Might be a while. Especially because I actually started a new fic that I consider my final bit of closure for the body of work. It brings full circle a lot of elements of "Worth Fighting For" and will probably make Dr. Sloth fans very upset as I ruin everything (in a good way, of course). :) But it's a story idea I've had on my mind for a long time and I'm excited to be moving forward with it.

So yes, just an update to explain why things have been slow and probably will continue to be for a bit. (Not to mention Pokemon Sword and Shield are coming out tomorrow...)

Friday, November 1, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 21

Hyren closed his eyes, feeling his breathing slow. He vaguely discerned a murmur of activity above. There were voices, excited voices, and he picked out the word “faerie” a few times. Opening his eyes again, he saw a gentle, deep blue glow fill the command deck, and he thought he glimpsed stars on the ceiling far above.

“What’s happening up there?” someone shouted from beside him.

“Space Faerie!” another Neopet said from above. “The Space Faerie’s here!”

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 20

Hyren brought his sword back for a sweeping strike and it clanged against Garoo’s weapon. The two locked blades, clashing and withdrawing in an intricate dance as blaster fire flew around them. Both their eyes blazed red as the two titans faced off.

The din of battle seemed to mute as Hyren poured all of his focus onto Garoo. He watched each twitch of the Blumaroo’s muscles, trying to stay a step ahead of every strike, knowing Garoo was doing the same with him. They exchanged blows and blocks at breakneck speed, their blades a blur in Hyren’s eyes. He had better swordsmanship—that and adrenaline were the only things keeping him matched with Garoo right now, considering his physical condition.

The Blumaroo twisted his blade and Hyren expected it a moment too late. The Grundo’s sword flipped out of his hand and he withdrew with a hiss, dropping to one knee.

Garoo pointed his own weapon at Hyren’s chest. “Time to finish what I started at Sakhmet,” the commander said, his face twisting into a malicious grin.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 19

“I hope you know where you’re going,” Blynn said as they turned a corner into a larger corridor. The halls were empty—for now. As soon as someone realised Hyren had been sprung, security would be all over them.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on this ship between deployments,” Hyren said. “So I know my way around it. The closest bank of escape pods is on the next level up. Too bad I can’t fit in the ventilation ducts.”

He stopped them at a small, nondescript door. “I’m pretty sure I know where this goes,” he said. It opened into a large, unoccupied office space filled with tables and chairs, as well as a few exotic potted plants collected from various planets. “From here, I think there’s a hallway we can take to—“ Hyren’s antennae perked at the sound of heavy boots and clanking machinery. He looked up to see a large set of doors on the other wall slide open.

A squadron of armoured Virtupets troopers and robot Petpets poured in. “We’ve sighted the hostiles,” a blue Lupe soldier said into her comm. “Neutralizing.” She and her unit trained their weapons on the escapees.

“Was this part of your plan?” Blynn asked, reaching for her slingshot.

The troopers answered with a rain of blaster fire.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 18

Hyren woke to the sensation that he had been dreaming but forgot what the dream was about. Honestly, he was surprised even to find himself awake, albeit sore all over. He blinked his eyes open and found himself standing up, his arms stretched above his head. Trying to move them met with resistance, and he looked up to see his wrists shackled to the wall. He still wore his armour, although it had seen much better days and his visor had several holes blown in it from blaster fire. Cracks spread across the clear, blank plate like Spyderwebs, making it difficult to see his surroundings.

He was in a very small room—no, a cell with dark, bare walls. Something mechanical hummed distantly below him. A few metres in front of him, a containment field sizzled red.

Looking down, the Grundo saw that his utility belt and blaster were missing. His sword was also gone, and he bowed his head in a moment of silence. Garoo had probably appropriated the weapon, and that close-minded idiot didn’t deserve it. Not to mention it reminded Hyren of all of the adventures he’d gone through with his two best friends. Space Faerie, if you’re out there, get them home safely, he thought.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 17

Taking a deep breath, Hyren ushered them out into a long, tall hallway with windows on both sides. Mutant Grundos in full powered armour similar to his own, but painted in black, silver, and crimson, stood motionless at regular intervals, cradling blaster rifles. At the far end of the hall was a large door emblazoned with the Virtupets logo.

“Oh wow, look at that,” Terra said as they marched along. She pointed to one side of the hallway. Outside, a spiral galaxy gleamed like a pearlescent cosmic blossom wreathed in oil-dark, light-absorbing clouds. Several smaller satellite galaxies hovered nearby, suspended in their eons-long dance around their gravitational governor.

“Man, space is neat,” Blynn said.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 16

They emerged from warp, and the first thing Hyren saw was the Triumph blotting out the stars, a gleaming behemoth of a command ship covered in lights and bristling with armament. Its hull contained wide swaths of windows, many of them lit. The Triumph carried the population of a small city—including countless test subjects in its depths. All in all, the vessel couldn’t help but command respect, Hyren thought. He wondered what Blynn’s and Terra’s reactions would have been to seeing it from the outside.

They were headed for a different view, though.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 15

“What’s a starship doing in the Haunted Woods?” Terra asked, staring up at the forest canopy.

Blynn glared at Hyren and said, “Explain yourself.”

He took a breath and leaned forward, hooking an arm around the owner’s middle and pulling her back in. “I don’t have the time to explain,” he said. He stared hard into the girls’ eyes. “Make a break to the east. Terra, use everything I taught you to defend yourself.”

Hyren hated the idea of leaving them alone in the Woods. In spite of their weapons, the past night had taught him well why they did not relish coming here, especially this deep into the ancient forest. But he hated the thought of bringing them with him even more.

Here's some character design work that... did not need to be this complicated but I got carried away. :) It's for a Neopets fanfic that I just finished, and even though I don't think I'll ever submit it to the Neopian Times because I don't play the website anymore, I'm just too attached to the cast I created, and I was inspired with a story idea that gives them some really good closure. So even if it's the last Neopets thing I write, I think it went out on a good note. I'll put it on the blog once I'm done uploading everything else because I'm a stickler about chronological order, and this story makes much more sense if you've read the previous ones. I had a ton of fun with it because I got to throw in some characters from previous stories (Connor! Zoltan! Kass!).

Interestingly, the seed of the plot was actually something I came up with all the way back in high school, during my earliest writing forays for the Times, and originally would have had Hyren as the main character having nightmares. Because back in those days, Hyren was the only one of my Neopets who ever did anything interesting. I remembered the idea down through the years, and finally realized it would actually work a lot better and make more sense with Pharazon as the main character instead. It just goes to show that sometimes, when you keep old story concepts, they'll end up fitting better into something in the future, often something you never even conceived of back when you first got the idea!

As for this character, he's appeared in a previous story, but not in this form. That's all I'll say for now, but I'll also mention that the earth magic might give him away. :)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 14

“Funny, I didn’t invite you to the party,” the Werelupe King said as he stepped out in front of the monster, ignoring its thrashing to narrow his eyes at Hyren. At his side, he held a blade infused with fangs and jagged bits of bone. “Tell me, what makes you think you can invade my domain and steal my rightful tribute?” he asked.

“I’m sure you’ve done worse,” Hyren said, moving to take a swing at him. The king brought up his sword and parried the blow. The commander swept the blade around again, and the Werelupe twisted aside.

“Don’t think you’ll get the honor of dueling with me this morning, trespasser,” the king said. “No, I have a better fate for you.” He grinned as he backed away. “Gnarfas here doesn’t get a chance to come out and play very often. I think it’s about time he had some fun.” Glancing over at the Werelupes holding the beast back, the king gave a nod, and they released the chains.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 13

Hyren flattened himself against the wall, using his arm to sweep Blynn up against the stone. “Don’t. Move,” he breathed.

The two Neopets silently looked up to see a long, fanged snout poke out above them, sniffing the air. Hyren held his breath, hoping the wind and rain had already dispersed their scents—and that the Werelupe wouldn’t think to glance down.

After a few agonizing seconds the muzzle withdrew. “Ain’t nothin’,” came the retreating reply. “Cursed wind makin’ noise, is all.”

Hyren exhaled, placing a hand on his chest. “That way,” he said, prompting Blynn to sidle off of the crates in the direction of the cliff edge, which was hidden by a labyrinth of terraces and roofs. Craning his neck upward, he could see the sole spot of green in this red-infested hole, high above them to the northeast. A crimson dot was now descending—he probably didn’t want to miss the festivities.

The Grundo and the Zafara picked their way around the castle’s exterior, scaling broken-down walls and veering around patches of rooftop that appeared particularly unstable. Nearly all of the Werelupes seemed to be gathered in the great hall, but one stationary, unflagged neutral-orange biosignal lingered far below Hyren’s feet. Most likely another prisoner, Hyren guessed. And all the while, the rain and wind were picking up.

Thunder Girl is out (digitally)!

If you're at all interested in steampunk fantasy westerns with a nerdy paleontological twist, give it a read! I had a ton of fun working on it!

The print version is coming soon; that one takes a little longer because I have to re-format the manuscript for print, order a proof copy, and wait for it to arrive so I can approve it before they make the print version live. But if you have any device that supports Kindle (smartphone, tablet, PC, actual Kindle, etc.), you can download it right now!

I am also pleased with the fact that this is probably one of only about three books in existence with mosasaurs on the front cover. #NerdLife

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 12

The moon sunk deep beneath clouds, cold rains came and went, and Hyren and Blynn rushed on through thick woodland and tumultuous terrain. The mutant Grundo was willing to keep his pace for days more. And Blynn continued to run just ahead of him, with astonishing endurance for her small size.

Finally, chilled and soaked to the bone, the two burst out of a thicket and stopped. Tattered, rain-torn clouds near the horizon allowed silver moonlight to illuminate the landscape. The forest petered out around them, and to either side the land, too, dropped off, sheer and jagged, into a black nothingness. Only straight ahead did it extend as a peninsula into a sea of mist. On that outcropping of stone sat an enormous castle, built of thick-hewn blocks of dark granite, brooding silently over the deep.

The castle had seen better days – one of its corner towers had collapsed, and the walls were crowded with thorny vines – but firelight flickered in a few of the windows. From the rampart hung a torn crimson banner, sporting the crudely-painted symbol of a white crescent moon above a large pawprint.

Hyren had scarcely enough time to take the scene in when a throaty howl echoed from the castle, joined by several others rising in unison. Blynn caught her breath and then began to dart out into the open, but Hyren grabbed her pack and held her back. “Hold on,” he grunted, watching his HUD’s biosensor. “That place is swarming with life forms.” He tagged her as an allied unit, making her presence register as a green glow in the corner of his visor. The biomass in the castle still glowed orange-neutral—for now.

The cover art for Thunder Girl is done!

You can see why it took me so long! I had fun with the lightning effects. :)

Now I'm working on the ebook formatting!

Friday, October 11, 2019

See, I am working on the cover art! :) (Dark border is not part of the final illustration, just left over from the background of Corel Painter when I screencapped it.) As you can see, I've got the bulk of the background done. The going's been kind of slow because I've been a little busy with other things (including but not limited to the MLB postseason), but it's going, so that's something!

Also, I have not forgotten about posting the rest of Worth Fighting For, but like I said, I've been kind of busy, and getting this book out is my topmost priority.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 11

The Grundo dropped the Zafara and the two made a mad dash back through the woods.

“Why did you leave her by herself?!” Hyren asked.

“Me?! You’re one to talk!” Blynn said as she raced beside him on all fours. “I told you I’d be watching you!”

They found the camp in disarray, the fire smothered, and Terra nowhere in sight. “No…” Blynn breathed, covering her mouth with her paw like she was going to be ill. She trudged toward Terra’s disheveled pack and bedroll, smoothing down the sleeping bag as though trying to find her owner in it. “She—she’s gone…”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 10

They spent the rest of the day descending the mountainside. The three adventurers wound their way through rough-hewn canyons and over rocky ridges, following cold crystal streams that splashed away from their origin in some glacial peak and spilled down sheer cliffs into deep blue pools. The forest rose up to meet the three travelers like a great, dark wave, engulfing them in shadow as they passed the first gnarled old trunks of heavy-boughed trees.

By day, Hyren found, the Haunted Woods was not really all that Terra made it out to be. The Grundo had been expecting ghosts and ghouls to pop out at every turn, but the Woods had more dignity than to stoop to petty shock tactics. Rather, it was quiet, incredibly quiet, and the air hung dense around them. Nothing chirped overhead or scurried through undergrowth, although if Hyren listened hard enough, he thought he could almost catch indistinct whispers far in the distance. He got the impression that the entire Woods seemed to be holding its breath, waiting dormant for something, but not asleep. Never asleep.

First off, some writing news! I finished painstakingly combing over the latest draft of Thunder Girl, and I've sent it off to my proofreader! She usually works pretty fast, so we should be done with that round of editing pretty soon. After that, the next big hurdle is the cover illustration! I feel very unqualified to draw Mosasaurus skeletons, but I'll try my best!

Also, thought I'd share a bit of concept art I doodled for the novel I'd like to work on after this one:

This is the leader of the thieves' guild in a cutting-edge virtual-reality MMO, and the captain of those who choose the job path of the rogue. She amasses a large fan following among players of the game, many of whom play as rogues just because of how cool their leader is, much to her bewilderment and exasperation as she'd prefer to keep a lower profile. Although she struggles with having double standards when it comes to social ethics, she's a good person beneath it all, and when things in the game start to go haywire and affect the real world, she's right there working with the player characters to set things right.

Finally, I've been tossing around ideas for a sequel to Skydwellers! I only like to write sequels when I have solid ideas for sequels, and in this case I think I've got a pretty fun idea. It takes place five years after the events of the first book, and involves a teenage Kieri and Miette uncovering some incredible long-lost secrets about the unusual world they live in, including an explanation for the Aether Sea and the origins of the civilization that constructed the aether weapons. By this point I think Fraa would be officially retired from journeywoman warrior business - in part because her friends worry about her - but she is currently training her young nephew who wants to engage in the same line of work.

Anyway, this is all super tentative, and I have several other novel concepts that I'd like to work on first, but this was an idea that I got super excited about when the inspiration struck, so I think it will come to fruition someday. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 9

“All right, in you go!” Blynn said. “Come on, now!” She was having trouble getting the fire mote back into the lantern, as it seemed to prefer the hearth with its ample fuel.

Hyren watched in amusement, while out of the corner of his eye he made sure to observe where Terra was aiming her strikes during their after-breakfast sparring, so he could respond with the appropriate blocks. She stopped suddenly and he turned to her.

The girl was doubled over, clutching her stomach, and Hyren’s antennae jerked back in alarm. “What’s wrong?” he asked her.

“My stomach hurts,” she said. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”

“Nightmares?” Hyren asked. He worried that she’d overheard his and Blynn’s conversation.

“No,” Terra said. She grimaced. “I—I get sick if I get too stressed out.”

Hyren glanced over at Blynn, who gave him a knowing look. The commander stowed his sword and put a hand on the human’s shoulder. “You’ll be okay,” he said. “Keep drinking plenty of water, all right?”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thunder Girl character sketches

More "Worth Fighting For" is coming, but first I wanted to share some doodles I did of the main characters in this upcoming novel! My editor should be getting back to me soon and I'm super excited! Also, apologies that the art is a little wonky, but I'm kinda rusty because I've been busy with other things. Like writing.

Catherine "Cat" Clauson is an anthropology student at Columbia University who is currently on a summer internship at the American Museum of Natural History. She's very rational and no-nonsense, traits that do not serve her well when she suddenly finds herself in possession of a magical Native American amulet that reanimates fossils.

Cat was fun to write because I intentionally made her not so much like me, personality-wise. I've already written plenty of main characters who I can relate to better, so I wanted to break out of that and write a heroine who's outspoken, kind of pushy, hates the idea of anything outside the realm of scientific fact, and dislikes adventures. But she means well, and beneath it all she's a good friend when she opens herself up to the possibility.

Hermes is a Cooper-Rutherford Automatonics 84-C2 administrative mechanoid in the service of the Museum's paleontology department. As such, he has developed a keen interest in the subject and is like a little kid who loves dinosaurs... i.e. me as a child. Friendly, excitable, and a little naive, Hermes has absolutely no problem with the idea of magical amulets that reanimate fossils--in fact, he's overjoyed that now he can finally see how prehistoric animals moved in life. But also he's distraught that he can't actually tell anybody because they'd never believe him.

I enjoyed making the mechanoids in Thunder Girl thoroughly non-humanoid, because honestly I think humanoid robots are boring, and most robots in real life - unless they're specifically engineered with human-like builds - are actually built in an optimal configuration for their job, which means they usually end up looking nothing like humans. Hermes's physiology was inspired by octopuses and myovirus bacteriophages. The other mechanoid characters are equally alien-seeming; Ceres, for example, is an agricultural model who looks like a giant centipede with enormous clawed upper appendages. I just love the idea of never judging anything by its appearance, and I don't think something has to look "cute" or human-esque to be sympathetic and an engaging character.

Iapetus is a freakishly strong giant of a young man who works as a strongman for a traveling circus, although he loves to write and harbors dreams of becoming a published fantasy author. He's shy and insecure because of his appearance and physical stature, but is kindhearted, a loyal friend, and wise beyond his years. Also he is probably not human, but no one seems to know quite what he is. Well, Iapetus knows what he is, but it's not information that's usually safe to divulge.

Out of all the cast, Iapetus is probably most like myself. I think he makes a good foil to Cat, who can be sort of close-minded and short-tempered, while Iapetus is more emotionally even-keeled, diplomatic, and apt to look at the bigger picture and examine things from multiple angles. He also developed an unexpected dynamic with Valéry, and the three of them ended up being a lot of fun to write.

Valéry du Bois is an enigmatic railroad tycoon from France who came to the United States to expand his company--including building the first transcontinental railroad across the Native States in the center of the nation, something that has created much controversy among the tribes. He suspiciously arrives at the Museum to inform Cat that the amulet is cursed and offers to take it off her hands, but she doesn't trust him one bit and refuses, sure that he has ulterior motives.

I can't really say too much more about Valéry without giving away major plot spoilers, but he was a lot of fun to write. I just hope his character arc comes across okay, but I'm sure that's something my editor will help me with.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 8

They trekked through the vast subterranean city without stopping, following the flickering light of the little fire mote. Hyren entertained his companions with more stories of his interstellar exploits, while Blynn and Terra amused him with their anecdotes about life on Neopia. They passed through vaulted halls covered in murals depicting scenes of celebration and warfare, rooms where decaying furniture sat under a thick draping of cobwebs, and corridors whose walls were inlaid with precious metals in the shape of maps of the night sky.

Terra kept looking around anxiously as though she expected to see windows somewhere. None ever appeared, and it seemed they still had a way to go before reaching the surface. Even Hyren started to grow tired of the gloom.

Finally they came across a room with a few scattered tables and benches pushed against the walls. It had probably once been a dining area, judging by the presence of toppled storage urns, scattered ceramic dishes, and the large hearth on one wall. “Let’s make camp here for the night,” the Grundo said, setting down his bundle of weapons. “Oh, how nice. They left us enough fuel for a fire.” He pointed to the meager stack of chopped wood next to the hearth.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 7

Terra and Blynn knelt on the other side of the spread, gaping at the sword. “Are you serious?” Terra asked.

“No wonder they’re impervious to corrosion,” Hyren said. “And I’m guessing the blades don’t dull, either.” He gave it a few test swings and relished the singing of metal through air mingled with a faint hum of magic. “Amazing. I’ve never seen one of these in the flesh before.”

“Then how do you know about ‘em?” Blynn asked. “Aren’t you from space? Why do you know so much about Neopia?”

The commander paused after a stroke to look down at her. “Just because I’ve never been here, doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about this world,” he said. “Sloth has had scouts and spies combing this planet since far before his first takeover attempt. And I make a point of never landing somewhere unless I’ve done my research first.” He put the sword back in its sheath and the blade made a satisfying sound against the hardened leather. He’d found his compensation. He motioned to Terra and Blynn to head back out, gripping the hilt of his newfound prize as he tried to figure out how to carry the rest.

“I want one,” Terra said, staring down at the blades.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 6

“So that’s when the space fungus started swarming our ship!” Hyren said. They had to have been walking for at least half an hour, now, but Hyren had scores more stories to tell. The tunnel was now so narrow that Hyren barely fit in it, and if it got any narrower he was going to have to turn to one side. “I turned to the Navibot helmsman and—“ He stopped short, drawing in an uncertain breath.

“What is it?” Terra asked from behind him.

Just ahead, the tunnel ceiling abruptly dipped, reducing its navigable area to a mere crawlspace a few feet high. It looked just large enough for Hyren to squeeze through. He shuffled awkwardly aside so Terra could see.

“Blynn, you go first,” he said. “I’m sure we’re nearly to the end. Maybe.”

Blynn started toward the hole, dropping to all fours and holding the lantern ahead of her with one forepaw. The firelight receded until it was barely visible.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 5

“All right, let’s go,” Hyren said as he leaned over Blynn, shaking her shoulder to wake her.

“Huwhuh…” the Zafara said as she rolled over. Her eyes blinked open and focussed on the mutant Grundo, and she glared at him for a moment before sitting up suddenly, and Hyren had to jerk back before they collided. “Oh, hey! Is it morning already? Wow, I slept like a Pet Rock!”

She jumped out of her sleeping bag and stretched her arms high above her head, letting out a huge yawn before looking over at her sleeping owner with a mischievous grin. Blynn leaped onto Terra’s stomach and stuck her nose in the girl’s face. “Wake up and smell the streaky bacon!” the Zafara said.

Terra’s eyes flew open and she let out a shout of surprise that dissolved into laughter, hugging her Zafara close with one arm and feeling around for her glasses with the other. “It’s still dark out—” she started to say. “Oh—right.” She looked around at the gloom that hadn’t changed a bit since she’d drifted off. Hyren had opened up the lantern again before waking Blynn, but other than that, the shadows around them persisted, the air as still and silent as ever.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 4

The three ate in silence after that. Neither Terra nor Blynn said anything. Hyren couldn’t blame them. He had become quite good at getting people to hate him. Not that that made him feel any better, but Hyren tried to swallow the emotions along with his dinner.

Once he finished his sandwich, Hyren removed his helmet and fiddled with it, as per his evening routine. It still didn’t respond, and he decided to finally let go of the meager hope of it ever working again, but it provided protection for his head and face, at least.

After Terra and Blynn had finished their food, Hyren said, “We should camp in here for the night. Despite its age, this room looks pretty stable, with no signs of decay except for that hole we fell through. In the morning, we’ll start finding our way out.”

Terra nodded slowly, wadding up her paper and stuffing it in her backpack. She glanced over at Blynn, who returned the look and took a sip from her canteen before trudging over to the piles of treasure, systematically inspecting each gold coin and string of pearls.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 3

While the owner and the Neopet wasted their time screaming, Hyren reached out and grabbed the Zafara. She’d had the good sense to at least hold on to the lantern, and it lit their way through a cloud of dust and fractured rock as they slid down a sinuous shaft that finally spit them out into a larger space.

Hyren hit the floor with such an impact that it briefly blacked out his vision and sent the two children flying out of his grasp. Rock rained down on him and something heavy slammed into his leg, forcing a cry of pain from his throat. Then all was dark and silent except for the last remnants of the collapsed floor that trickled down and clattered against his armour like hail.

“Terra, are you okay?” the Zafara asked from somewhere in the murky gloom. “Oh, come on, little fella…” With the sound of tapping on glass, the Fire Mote’s steady glow dispelled the shadows in a small space around her.

“Yeah—yeah, I’m fine,” the girl said. “Looks like my pack made it, too. Oh, there’s my glasses... Are you okay?” Their voices echoed emptily, which meant this room was much more voluminous than the entrance.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 2

The heat woke him. Hyren opened his eyes and realised he’d chosen the wrong side of the dune to fall asleep on. He was already sunbaked and sticky with sweat, his helmet unbearably stuffy. With a groan, he pulled it off, letting the desert wind cool his head for all too brief a period before it turned to hot again. He was sore all over, although he guessed that being trapped under a collapsed building did that to a person.

He’d been in wilderness survival situations before, on other worlds. But this time he had no troops to command or other officers to work with. He kept reminding himself to just be grateful he didn’t have to deal with incompetents, but the sudden isolation felt too strange.

Hyren took a moment to assess his condition. He’d certainly been in better shape, but he’d also been in worse. His wounds would heal with time and rest. His blaster still had some energy, his armour was in good physical condition, and he had a week’s supply of ration capsules. Really the only loss besides his sword was his armour’s power. The shock of the collapse had probably damaged the electronics, and the dust and sand didn’t help matters, either. Hyren just needed to find a place to recuperate and wait to be found.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Worth Fighting For, Chapter 1

This story holds a special place in my heart because it was really the turning point in not just my Neopets writing, but my writing career as a whole. Finishing this story helped me realize that I could actually write substantial stories start-to-finish - that long-form fiction wasn't an impossibly daunting task - and it inspired me to keep working on my novels. 

It was also the Neopian Times story that truly served as the catalyst for nearly everything that came after. With it, I tapped into a world and a cast that I became so deeply interested in that I couldn't help but want to explore them further, and the whole thing kept building on itself like some kind of wonderful literary snowball.

Ever since I'd adopted Dark_breed_Hyren as a teenager, I'd wanted him to have some sort of cool mysterious past, probably involving combat training because he was my dedicated Battledome pet. But everything I tried to come up with was kinda lame. After I took a break from Neopets for a while and came back to it in college, I found myself tinkering with the idea again, and settled on something that I actually liked--and that gave Hyren a lot of great character development. (And Blynn and Terra too, I guess. And also the Werelupe King? But that has more to do with "Worth Searching For" so I'll talk about that later.)

Another side note to this story is that I wrote it while going through an extremely rough college semester fraught with health issues and prodigious amounts of unnecessary stress (I don't recommend attempting that, not worth it). Plotting this story out in my head, and writing it down when I had the time, gave me something to cling to when it felt like the rest of the world had gone insane. So I have to credit this story for doing that. (Although nowadays I've learned that it's much pleasanter and more efficient to just take better care of yourself in the first place.)

Please note that this story does not read the same as what got published in the Neopian Times. I edited it quite a bit to bring it more up to speed with my current writing skills, and made it less intense because nobody needs that, seriously.


Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7

Hyren woke up to voices outside his door.

“Hey, Blynn, isn’t tomorrow Grundo Independence Day?”

“Oh snaps, you’re right! How could I forget?!”

The diminutive blue Grundo rolled over in his bed to stare out the window of his room. An almost-full Kreludor, high in the sky, cast its silver light across undulating hills and towering cypress trees. His family had moved to Altador some years ago, from Mystery Island. His owner had been ecstatic over the rediscovery of a lost civilisation. Hyren was more excited to live in a place where it didn’t rain several times daily.

“What do you think Hyren wants to do tomorrow?” Hyren’s brother Pharazon asked from out in the hall. “Maybe we should throw him a surprise party!” The faerie Draik spoke in eager but hushed tones, as if not to wake Hyren.

“Ooh! Awesome idea!” their sister Blynn said. The disco Zafara, on the other hand, had a distinct lack of volume control.

Hyren smiled. With Blynn and Pharazon in cahoots, a party for him would be quite interesting indeed.