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.